Owen Taylor, Editor
Freezing temperatures hit wheat in portions of the Atlantic Southeast this week. We’ve picked up reports in both North Carolina and South Carolina of temperatures dropping enough to cause frost. How much damage resulted in individual fields won’t be immediately apparent. And how much damage wheat took will partly depend on the growth stage at that point. See comments from Randy Weisz.
Rising urea prices over the last week may pull a few late corn acres into the soybean column. We’re hearing more about that in rice and, secondarily, with cotton, but some of these unplanted corn fields may end up in soybeans, too, especially in areas where corn planting has stalled due to poor soil moisture.
Corn planting has stopped in several parts of the region because of that lack of moisture. We’re hearing about that in portions of the upper Delta and laos in Virginia.
Insects are still a factor in some Midsouth rice and corn, particularly true armyworms. Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Coordinator, issued an advisory Tuesday. Brown stink bugs also have been infesting some small corn stands in Mississippi, according to an advisory from Angus Catchot, Extension IPM Coordinator.
Wheat disease remains apparent in parts of the region. In places, it's too late to spray. But extended cooler conditions may provide a small remaining window, depending on the material and timing.
Combinations of nematodes and low soil pH are leading to stunting in some Georgia corn, despite a very favorable start this year. Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist, filed an advisory late Thursday.
Corn injury due to fomesafen carryover is turning up in Tennessee. See comments from Larry Steckel for more on the conditions leading to the problem.
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “True armyworms just keep coming on. They’re moving into seedling rice and also into corn where people are burning down vegetation ahead of planting, especially where fields have grown up with a lot of winter grass.
“The call volume on this has been huge. These armyworms also are in pastures in both the northern and southern parts of the state, and some treatments have been made in south Arkansas pastures. This is probably one of the largest outbreaks in a long time. It’s a big deal, and it all gets back to these warmer-than-normal conditions and the way they’ve pushed bugs in general.
“We sampled wild hosts last week and found extremely high numbers of tarnished plant bugs, which will be a factor in cotton and probably necessitate a couple of extra treatments in that crop. We’re also seeing rice stink bugs in wheat and getting a few calls about them in corn, too.”
Randy Weisz, North Carolina Extension Wheat Specialist: “I’ve had a number of calls about cold weather this week and what effect it might have had on wheat. I know of air temperatures down to 33 to 34 but there maybe was frost on wheat in places, too, which means the wheat, itself, got down to 32. In Robeson County today (4/12) one person said they had ice on cars and the ground, so it sounds like it got pretty cold there.
“Based on what I’m hearing, some places definitely had temperatures that could cause damage. The wheat is pretty far along, and in most places it’s fully headed out, with some fields already flowered. Where it’s already flowered, wheat can take temperatures down to 30 for 2 hours. That might do moderate damage, although not severe damage. Where wheat is flowering, we could see quite a bit of damage.
“You can’t tell yet. Over the next 5 to 10 days we’ll get a better idea about injury.
“A lot of rust is developing across large portions of North Carolina. It’s developing fast and needs to be sprayed anywhere it’s showing up. Resistant varieties are still looking good, but susceptible varieties are eaten up with rust in numerous fields. The weather has pretty much stopped powdery mildew, but it’s still out there.
“With wheat headed out, our common wheat fungicides are off label. But if it stays cool like this, grain fill could extend over the next 6 weeks. In that case, the easiest approach is to go with Folicur or an equivalent, which would still fit in that situation since it can be applied up to 30 days before harvest. It’s perfectly good on rust and powdery mildew. So if guys are seeing those diseases, they need to find that material and treat – sooner rather than later. If it remains cool I think heads won’t finish filling across much of our crop until late May.”
Wayne Dulaney, Dulaney Seed Co., Clarksdale, Mississippi: "Corn looks pretty good. We’re doing plant counts right now (4/10) on one customer in the Shaw area, which has received a good bit more rain than we’ve seen in the upper Delta. Corn, overall, got off to a good start and has never stressed. Since March 2 when we really started planting corn in this area, I’ve left the house only one morning with a jacket, and I shed it by 9 a.m.
“We’ve sprayed wheat for a few armyworms and did some fungicide treatments, too, for a little stripe rust and septoria. I hope this wheat surprises me. It looks good but not great, and I’m wondering if we ever had a cold enough winter. The later planted wheat actually looks better than the early planted wheat, and that later wheat was flown on due to rain delays and worked in roughly. It was nothing to be proud of but looks pretty decent now. Wheat planted in the early part of October has been big all year, but we don’t see the heads on it like we’d want. One thing about it, this wheat should come off plenty early, maybe starting around May 25, subject to the weather.
“A lot of soybeans already are up and have their first true trifoliates. This has been a crazy season in the seed business. Usually, you see somewhat distinct planting periods – people start with corn, maybe go to either soybeans or rice – but this year we had rice, corn and soybean seed on the same truck going to the same farm.
“Ryegrass has been a big issue across everything. It liked this warm winter. I’ve already got a mat of pigweed in the rice I’m planting today. We’re back to the good ol’ days on weed control. Roundup isn’t going to fix everything.”
Wade Thomason, Virginia Extension Grain Specialist: “In the mountains the lows dropped to 28 to 29 but just for a short period. So, we had some frost. That left alfalfa a little piqued but I don’t think it hurt much, otherwise. Our wheat probably isn’t as far along as it is south of here, so it’s not as vulnerable.
“Wheat is just heading out. I’m looking at some right now (4/12) in the boot.
“Corn planting has stopped in more places because of dry soils. Growers aren’t consistently able to get seed in moisture, so they’ve pulled back on planting. Just a few have stopped, so far, but that number increases a little more each day that it doesn’t rain. Some areas haven’t had more than a tenth of an inch in over 30 days. That is a unique situation for us at this point in the year.”
Curt Johnson, CRC Ag Consulting, LLC, Lake Village, Arkansas: "Corn looks pretty good, all and all. We’ve gotten enough rain in some areas that buckshot ends look pretty week. And we had hail in the Portland area about 6 days ago (from 4/10). But I think that corn is coming back. I can see green across a field that adjoins one of my client’s fields. Soybean planting is underway, and I’m told that some of my beans are up around Lake Village. Planters are running everywhere. Areas that got heavy rain last week are just drying up.”
Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist: “In many cases, wheat fields are being abandoned where plants have had issues with poor vernalization and heading. That’s the best choice in these cases. Yield potential is so low that it’s better to scrap the wheat and move forward with a full-season summer crop that has full yield potential.
“Some fungicides are still being applied in wheat, but most of the crop has reached the stage where you can’t legally apply most materials or even expect the crop to respond. Some growers are still irrigating wheat to help meet its needs and also ensure adequate subsoil moisture for the next crop.
“We’re not out of the woods with this crop, and I fully expect a few more problems as wheat matures. We still could see fusarium, scab and dry rot. Just because you haven’t seen them yet doesn’t mean they won’t still appear.
“We do expect good yields, overall, in a year like this where the crop was planted on time, managed well and has had generally favorable growing conditions.
“We’re already watering corn like we did last year. And we have fields where things aren’t going as well as we might hope. In places this is either due to low soil pH, nematodes or some combination of the two.”
John Kruse, Louisiana Extension Corn and Cotton Specialist: “We’ve gotten isolated reports of green snap or brittle snap in a couple of places near the Mississippi River. This was associated with one of the thunderstorms that came through recently. We saw this same situation last year. It’s somewhat varietal-related but never is a big consideration when people pick their hybrids for the coming year. It’s not widespread by any means.
“We’re seeing some continuing zinc deficiency, even as corn gets older, and people are trying to do what they can with foliar zinc. But that won’t provide a lot of zinc, and these are almost cosmetic application. Once you’re behind, you’re behind. Producers mostly have corn planting finished and are going full force into soybeans, cotton and other crops.
“This situation with nitrogen has been very frustrating. While the price of urea has gone up sharply, the price for solutions didn’t go up as much. Most producers in Louisiana sidedress with a solution as opposed to a granular urea. Still, though, it’s kind of painful to see the price of natural gas go down – keeping in mind that it’s the source of urea – and still see the price of urea go up.
“When you combine that with strong soybean prices, it will change some acres. A producer in Franklin Parish who has stuck with cotton through thick and thin told me this is the first year that he won’t have cotton and will put that land in soybeans. Through the winter, I thought our cotton acres would stay about what they were last year, but that number is going backwards now. I don’t think we’ll have the 570,000 acres of corn we saw in 2011. A lot of farmers are holding off for soybeans now, I think, after dodging around earlier with all the rain to find places to plant corn.”
Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension Grain Specialist: “Initially, I don’t think temperatures went low enough this week to affect the wheat. What I kept seeing were lows into the upper 30s, nothing really below 36. That will slow things down a little but there’s no big negative effect. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook like you’d expect with a widescale frost or freeze, and that’s maybe a better indicator than the thermometer about how temperatures ran.
“The chance of frost or freeze has certainly been the big concern for the last 6 weeks. With this cold snap, we appear to have dodged the bullet.
“USDA estimated that we’re 84% finished with corn planting, and it’s normally 50% for this period. In reality, I think we’re about done, just the stragglers now. Overall, the crop looks good except this last little bit planted in northeast Arkansas where they’re running short on moisture. We’re starting to see skippy stands there.
“People are asking if they should water up corn or water beds and then plant. We simply don’t have research on that to draw conclusions, and there are a lot of different ways to look at those questions. The one thing I can say is that an inch of rain would do us a lot of good and eliminate those concerns. If anything, this is still some of the best looking corn, generally speaking, that we’ve had over the last five years. A lot of early planted fields are up to 4 to 5 leaves.
“People are sidedressing, which is a whole other can of worms. Farmers are frustrated with nitrogen prices. Those who took a chance and booked urea or 32% back in the winter probably felt a good deal of stress about that commitment. But it turned out to be a sound move. One guy booked some 32% in December or January and said that it was $45 an acre cheaper than if he’d bought an equivalent amount of urea at today’s prices. It’s a tough situation. One dealer said he didn’t have any and was waiting for a barge. Another said he had urea but was only selling it to his regular customers.”
Larry Steckel, Extension Weed Specialist, University of Tennessee: "There have been a number of calls on corn that is showing some stunting and interveinal chlorosis. In some cases the injury is more substantial, with some leaves showing some burn. The reason for some of this injury is fomesafen - Flexstar, Prefix, Reflex, Dawn, Rhythm - carryover from last year. There have not been many calls yet, but I would expect more as folks evaluate fields over the next week or so. The last time I recall a significant number of fomesafen carryover reports was back in 1994. That scenario was very similar to what we have this spring with an early planted corn crop, although not this early, following a soybean crop that was late planted the previous year." Read his full report here.
Arkansas: Nitrogen Recommendations for Corn 4-11 Arkansas Row Crops
Georgia Corn: All These Stunted Plants – What’s Going On With This Crop? 4-12 Georgia Grain Crops
Kentucky: Current Wheat Crop and Risk for Head Scab 4-12 Grain Crops Update
Kentucky: Potential Wheat Freeze Damage 4-10 University of Kentucky Wheat Science News
Louisiana: Brittle Snap Reported in Corn Following Storms 4-12 Louisiana Crops
Mississippi: Brown Stink Bugs Show Up in Small Corn 4-10 Mississippi Crop Situation
Tennessee: Fomesafen Carryover in Corn 4-11 UTCrops
Texas: Wheat Better Than Anyone Dared Hope in Some Areas 4-10 Texas AgriLife, Crop Weather
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