From weather to pests and disease, Four State crop and hay producers have been in a never-ending battle against Mother Nature this spring.
“Weather conditions have limited normal farming practices this spring,” said Terry Halleran, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist. “Corn can still be planted, with good success, as late as the first of June so do not panic.”
Halleran and Mike Dennigmann, agronomy intern for Barton County, scouted fields west of Lamar and saw some corn fields which have not yet been planted.
The fields scouted saw corn about 6 to 8 inches tall and looked good with low weed and insect pressure.
“In most of the fields scouted, the plants were showing a yellowing or purpling of the leaves due to the excess moisture which is making the nutrients in the soil unavailable for plant uptake,” the report by Halleran and Dennigmann said. “In some areas, corn has been lost due the weather. Corn planted by the end of May still has the potential to make a strong yield.
Halleran added, “If you are switching to soybeans, be aware that seed selection will be limited as many have already bought up the most sought-after varieties.”
Many producers have been put on alert for scab and smut in wheat this year due to moisture levels and humidity. “We strongly suggest precautionary spraying to control this,” Halleran said.
In the fields scouted west of Lamar, Halleran said he and Dennigmann found wheat fields to be in very good condition with all fields in the anthesis stage. One field, however, showed heavy evidence of disease including Septoria and stagonospora. They observed other fields with some evidence of powdery mildew, smut and leaf rust, which is due to the cool, wet weather for an extended period of time.
With Missouri flagged as a red state for possible scab infestation, the University of Missouri has recommended all fields be sprayed at the proper stage of development to prevent this problem, Halleran continued. “Most other diseases associated with the same pathogen will be controlled with the same chemical. The proper stage of treatment is early to mid-anthesis.”
Halleran and Dennigmann’s scouting report also found decreasing numbers of aphid populations in fields.
In the cool season grasses scouted no evidence of armyworm was found but high numbers have been reported in the area. Halleran advised producers to be on the lookout for armyworms as the conditions are right as well as alfalfa weevils in early production.
The past week has been a window for those wanting to make hay, and farmers were seen cropping as much as they can at this time. Those with alfalfa should keep in mind that mowing early is sometimes an effective way to control alfalfa weevil.
“Hay production should be in full swing so watch the weather forecast and try to get on it as soon as possible,” Halleran advised. “Quality will begin to drop soon as the cool season hay crops mature.”
James Coover, crop production agent for the Wildcat Extension District, gave an update on wheat in southeast Kansas.
"We are currently in prime time for fungal diseases like rust and Septoria," Coover said. "It is likely too late to spray for the leaf diseases, but we will likely see more of them with all the wet weather."
The main disease concern, according to Coover, is Fusarium Head Blight.
"Right now, the wheat is flowering right when we are seeing lots of rain and cooler weather," Coover said. "This is perfect conditions for this head fungus."
According to the Fusarium Risk Assessment tool, most of southeast Kansas is in the medium or high risk levels, he added.
For corn, Coover said there isn't much to do but wait for the rain to stop.
"Corn roots can sit underwater for a couple of days but then the plant will start to die after that," he explained. "Many fields are washed badly so while some parts of the field have a good stand, some areas don't." Unless entire areas of a field are gone, it might not be worth replanting as corn seed is expensive and the markets aren't great."
Another consideration is that the final planting dates for crop insurance will be past by the time farmers can get back into fields.
"It is possible to get a good yield out of early June planted corn," Coover said. "It all depends on the summer weather."
Coover said farmers are going to be behind planting soybeans as they were for corn.
"Soybeans also can't sit underwater but for a couple of days," he said. "Root fungal diseases increase in wet conditions, as well.
"One good thing is that we have plenty of water in the soil profile, if we can get the soybeans planted," he continued. "Soybeans have a pretty big planting window so no need to worry just yet."
Johnny Gunsaulis, Benton County extension agent with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, said isolated incidents of true armyworms have been reported. Though the armyworm infestation is not widespread, it has been devastating where they’ve been with some fields left with nothing but stems.
Gunsaulis added silage and baleage harvests are going well with good yields on cool season annuals. Some dry hay was baled last week but many are waiting on the next sunshine window.
Summer weeds have started to emerge with buttercups in full stride, Gunsaulis continued. Bermudagrass in the area is starting to grow now but hadn’t done much up to this point.