Thursday, April 26, 2012

This morning as I was mowing roadsides, I noticed that at the “Crook” farm, there were some rows of corn that were not up and growing.  I wondered if there had been some error by the planter that skipped dropping the seeds into the soil.  I called Ross to let him know about it, and he came very quickly to investigate.  He walked through the areas where no corn was emerging, and began digging to see what was going on.  He came to get me, and together we looked closely at those areas, and dug into the soil to see if the seed was missing.  To our relief, upon closer inspection, the seeds were sprouting, and the tiny spikes were mostly at the soil surface.  The other corn plants were at the ‘two leaf” stage.  The question remained, “Why were these very clearly defined areas so delayed compared to the rest of the field?”  Ross called Troy Clawson, our DeKalb seed representative.  Troy picked up Greg Anthis, our crop consultant from Crop Production Services (CPS), Wheatland, and they met us at the troubled field.  After their close inspection, they made the determination that confirmed our suspicions.  Because the the extremely dry conditions in late March and early April, the preplant anhydrous ammonia NH3 (nitrogen fertilizer source) had done some damage to the sprouting corn, in areas where the nitrogen applicator and the corn planter ran in the same space.  The good news is that instead of damaging the sprouting corn seeds, the development is only delayed.   Troy and Greg both agreed that no replanting would be necessary, that the population that was coming, albeit later, would be sufficient.  Ross remembered a similar situation from 2001, when in similar dry early-season conditions, the emergence of the corn was delayed by the action of the NH3 in the soil.    This was just one of those extremely rare events when the scarcity of water affected the nitrification process in such a way as to delay some seeds’ emergence.  I guess it was a kind of ‘perfect storm’ where the weather, soil type, application and planting locations, and the timing of each one of these factors created a problem.  But it turns out not to be a giant problem.

We will monitor this field especially closely during the next two weeks.  Troy and Greg suggested that we evaluate each corn field, and we have done so.  There seems to be no problem in any other corn field.

This reaffirms that there is never a time when our work is a “no-brainer”.  Our diligence must never waiver.

Otherwise, it is a beautiful warm and sunny day in southern Indiana.

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