WORTHINGTON — The hot and steamy weather that has kept many people indoors with the air conditioner running has made for ideal growing conditions in corn fields across the region in the past week.
The warmer temperatures are needed to help the corn crop catch up, according to New Vision Cooperative Agronomist Court Baumgard. As of Friday, he said the number of growing degree units lagged by about 150 to 160 — the equivalent of seven or eight days behind normal.
“A lot of the corn I’ve been in has been in the late milk stage, dough stage,” Baumgard said. “That would equate out to hitting maturity around the first of October.”
Despite having to play catch-up in a summer that has offered cooler temperatures along with heavy rains in June that caused some drown-outs, Baumgard said this year’s corn crop is looking good.
“Most of the ears are filled out to the tip; the kernels look nice and deep,” he said. “We’ve got the possibility for a nice crop. Things just have to fall together for us now.”
The same can be said for this year’s soybean crop, which Baumgard said is also about eight or nine days behind average in development.
“They’re looking good too — there’s a lot of pods on the beans, a lot of clusters,” he said.
In the soybean fields he’s walked through, Baumgard said many plants have 60 or more bean pods per plant, with a lot of three-bean pods.
“That’s a good sign,” he said. “All in all, I think the crops are looking pretty decent.”
Bruce Potter, integrated pest management specialist with the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton, said that while it’s been a good year in places for this year’s crop, there are a number of insects farmers should be watching for.
Soybean aphids are reaching treatable levels in fields throughout the region, and Potter said he’s started to see some of the aphids move back into buckthorn.
“Every field is different,” he said, adding that some of the higher aphid populations are in the more mature fields, and those areas where soybeans were replanted after drown-outs.
“It’s a field by field thing — some fields have populations; some don’t,” Potter said.
Also in soybeans, the presence of soybean cyst nematodes appears to be on the rise.
“With this recent rain, we’re probably going to see some soybeans yellow up on top,” Potter explained. “If you see that, that’s a good reason to go out and look for nematodes.
“It seems like late in the season you get a shot of rain, and (it seems to) stimulate a hatch.”
In the corn fields, Potter said that while the presence of western corn rootworm seems to be lessened this year, he has seen more northern corn rootworms causing problems.
“I’m finding them in weedy spots and they’re starting to go into soybeans, but they won’t hurt soybeans at all,” he said.
Potter said farmers should also be on the lookout for waterhemp this year. The weed is starting to show up in fields, which could create problems.
“The last couple of years we’ve had a lot of waterhemp seed,” he said. “We have to fight those — they’re starting to get through the canopy.”
Despite some of the pest and weed issues, Potter said recent rains are “going to make the soybean crop,” while the corn might be a little on the wet side.
“Little rains here and there have definitely helped (soybean) pod fill and grain fill on the corn,” added Baumgard. “I’m optimistic right now. We just don’t need an early frost.
“Give us a normal fall and I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised at the yields,” he said.