From the Field 6-3-2020

The good weather that we saw in April and early May has transitioned to rain—I have recorded measurable rain in eight of the past 20 days, with thunderstorms in the forecast. Corn is at the stage when it progresses from getting energy from the seed to taking all of its nutrients from the roots. This change is referred to by some as the ugly duckling phase. During this stage, the plants lack the root and leaf structure to keep up with growth, and the addition of cool, wet weather has made for ugly fields. Some heat and sunshine should create conditions for improvement.

On the soybean side, we are just starting the post spraying. I have included a chart below on current soybean traits; there are seven different traits available for planting this spring. Make sure you read the seed tag and understand what each trait package means.


When you drive around the countryside right now, you can see side dress bars and spreader machines getting prepped for second pass nitrogen. Corn is up and has that yellow hue to its leaves. In this time frame in the corn plant’s life (v3 to v5), it’s transitioning from depending on the seed for nutrients, to eventually acquiring energy and nutrients through the roots and leaves. So how can we maximize corn’s favorite nutrients and get that dark green hue back faster? First and foremost, we need the correct application of nitrogen. During the v3 to v5 stage in the corn plant’s life, we’re trying to give that plant the energy it needs to make it to the finish line of a complete grain fill.

Shortly after tasseling in the R1 stage of its life, a corn crop has used approximately 63% of its nitrogen requirements for the season. We want to gear up the crop with an adequate and cost-effective approach to make sure that nitrogen isn’t causing you lost yield and lost potential net income. Using the chart below, universities, seed companies, and other research firms can hold true to this data. Understanding this chart can also help you gear up for second pass nitrogen. The Field Forecasting tool, available at Landmark, gathers input to set up the application of a correct nitrogen rate. Call your Landmark agronomist—he or she can create an accurate, cost-effective program for you.

When applying nitrogen, it’s worth understanding how other nutrients can benefit you. Sulfur is key to helping the corn plant make proteins, and it enables the nitrogen to work more effectively as well. Products to use to justify a source for sulfur are AMS 21-0-0-42s for a top dress dry application, and KTS 0-0-25 17s and/or ATS 11-0-0-24s for liquid. KTS is a product that is gaining momentum and being applied in side dress applications for corn. This liquid potassium form is easy for the corn to uptake through the roots, and acts as a funnel or a leader going into the roots. Other nutrients and water will follow the potassium into the plant, which gives this product a great ROI.

Using the charts below we can see nutrient uptake time in a corn plant’s life. With this data, and some help from tissue sampling, let’s make plans to get the best income per acre we can. To generate more income, we need to find ways to get the extra bushels. Let’s keep this crop rolling.