Stories behind crops quiz photos

Your December Indiana Prairie Farmer featured 10 pictures in the annual Indiana Prairie Farmer/Beck’s Hybrids Crops Knowledge contest. If you don’t have your issue handy, visit www.IndianaPrairie
Farmer.com
on the Web, click “More Indiana Prairie Farmer,” then “Magazines Online.” You’ll find the story on Page 7 in the December issue.

Now it’s time to reveal the winners of free seed and the details behind each picture.

Key Points

• Winners announced for Crops Knowledge contest.

• Up-and-down year produced near-record corn yields.

• Plenty of unusual symptoms were observed in 2009.


No one could have forecast near-record corn yields when the bulk of the crop was planted during the last 10 days of May. Rules of thumb went out the window. So did weather records. It was the coolest July ever, no doubt contributing to better-than-expected yields.

But it also contributed to the highest moisture contents in years. And it turned out to be the toughest fall harvest since 1972. A strong dose of ear molds wrapped up the season.

Before bidding adieu to 2009, see what you can learn.

Meet the 3 top winners of the Crops Knowledge competition

03103440a.tifCongratulations to Allison Coble, Brownsburg; Joe Little, Ambia; and Ed Malecki, Kouts, for taking first, second and third, respectively, in the Indiana Prairie Farmer/Beck’s Hybrids Crops Knowledge contest.

Coble answered nine questions correctly and received six bags of Beck’s Hybrids seed corn. Little and Malecki both gave eight right answers. By the luck of the draw, Little earned six bags of Beck’s soybeans. Malecki took third. He’ll receive either six bags of Beck’s seed wheat, or an equivalent prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Correct answers are listed along with the picture that prompted each question.

03103440b.tifSPRING FEVER: Six bags of free soybean seed will help Joe Little get excited about spring planting.

 

 

03103440c.tifREADY TO ROLL: Taking third place in the contest put a smile on Ed Malecki’s face.

 

 

A classic case: Do soil testing

The fourth cutting was dark green and tall. Hay already cut smelled like a million bucks. Who knew trouble was only a missed fertilizer application away?

Here’s question #4: The soil is actually running low in: a) potash; b) boron; c) phosphorus; d) can’t tell by looking at crop. Both answers c and d are correct.

“This is why you must have soil tests,” Jim Camberato told a Purdue Forage Day crowd on the Eric and Carrie Miles farm in Wayne County.

Camberato found 13 to 16 parts per million of phosphorus, or 26 to 32 pounds per acre. The critical level is 15 ppm for many crops, but 25 ppm for alfalfa.

“It could be limiting growth, but it still looked green and healthy,” he notes. To raise phosphorus levels, he recommended applying DAP or MAP fertilizers containing phosphorus.

Potash lesson

Alfalfa is a big user of potash. However, potassium levels were 130 to 140 ppm, well above the critical level of 100 ppm. The critical level for potassium is also tied to cation exchange capacity.

You wouldn’t likely get a response to potash at those levels, Camberato notes. However, alfalfa removes 50 pounds per ton. Annual applications of potash are recommended, typically after the first cutting.

12093448d.tif#4. GREEN GOLD: Phosphorus soil test levels were “iffy,” even though this crop was still healthy.

 

 

12093448f.tif#7. TINY TIM-SIZED: Lack of rain, not genetics, produced this small ear.

 

 

12093448j.tif#10. LOOK, MOM — No brace roots! One hot, dry week in an otherwise wet, cool summer fried these roots.

 

 

Who said it was a cool, wet summer?

Not everyone was blessed with rainfall and cool weather. Photo #7 was snapped in Jasper County in early September. The question was: Shorter-than-normal ear size due to a) dry weather; b) insect feeding; c) wet weather; d) gray leaf spot. The correct answer is a.

Soils are sandy there, notes Ben Grimme of Beck’s Hybrids. Nevertheless, rainfall was scarce, too, even though it was plentiful elsewhere.

This field was next door to the field with western bean cutworm. Herculex stopped western bean cutworm.

Starve in land of plenty

Late June featured the hottest five days of summer. Photo #10 was snapped in early July. The question: Dark, stubby roots developed because: a) weather turned dry; b) herbicide injury; c) too wet; d) felt like it. The answer is a.

This set of roots tried to develop during the hot week. Tom Jordan, Purdue University weed control specialist, looked closely for herbicide injury. Instead, he concluded hot, dry weather at the wrong time cooked these roots.

It’s tough to show that strip cropping will pay off

Various early-adopters, innovators and those on the bleeding edge have experimented with strip cropping. Here’s the question from the December Crops Knowledge quiz: Farmers try strips since: a) corn yields more; b) beans yield more; c) can’t decide what to plant. The answer is a.

Providing more outside rows to capture extra sunlight should boost corn yields. Proving it and making it work consistently are two different things.

Beck’s Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind., studied strips in its practical farm research studies for five years. Toby Ripberger, in charge of Beck’s practical farm research plots, notes in a recent report that the strip-crop system lost an average of $65.60 per acre last season. Corn yields were 222.4 bushels per acre for strips, versus 224.5 for blocks. Soybean yields were nearly 14 bushels per acre less in strips.

The system produced a profit compared to block planting only in 2005, at $24 per acre.

12093448g.tif#6. DOUBLE-TAKE TIME: You see random fields of strip cropping, but it isn’t mainstream.

 

 

12093448c.tif#3. BUGGED BEANS: Japanese beetle’s bark is usually worse than its bite.

 

 

12093448e.tif#5. UGLY! UGLY! UGLY! Western bean cutworm larvae started this mess, then left.

 

 

No pests welcome

One perennial problem that looks worse than it is and one new problem that winds up worse than it looks made up the insect portion of this year’s crops quiz.

The question for picture #3 was: Insect likely responsible for damage: a) Japanese beetle; b) aphid; c) Mexican bean beetle. The correct answer is a.

The Purdue University “Corn and Soybean Field Guide,” compiled by Corey Gerber, says it takes more than 40% defoliation in prebloom, more than 15% during blooming to pod fill, and greater than 25% defoliation after pod fill to justify spraying. That refers to defoliation of the entire plant, not just a few leaves. Spraying wasn’t justified here.

Tough pest

Here’s a fooler. Mold and sprouts weren’t the root cause of trouble. The question for #5 was: First cause of damage was: a) pink mold; b) white mold; c) rain-soaked husks; d) western bean cutworm. The answer is d.

Three to five western bean cutworm larvae attacked this ear in late August. This triple-stack hybrid didn’t contain Herculex. Corn with Herculex or SmartStax traits is resistant. Secondary pathogens poured in later.

Purdue confirmed western bean cutworm larvae in Indiana in 2009.

Weed control vs. weed eradication

Do you want to minimize yield loss due to weeds, or annihilate every weed? Your answer determines how much you’ll invest in weed control.

Here’s the question asked in the December crops quiz. This field was sprayed with glyphosate: a) once; b) twice; c) three times; d) wasn’t sprayed. The answer is a.

Good burndown ahead of no-till soybeans is key, notes Tom Jordan, Purdue University weed control specialist. Some folks get by with one pass of glyphosate on Roundup Ready soybeans. Others rely on two passes. Still others use a soil-applied residual herbicide first.

A one-pass approach certainly won’t be weed-free. But if weed pressure is light and your goal is minimizing yield loss, it may be sufficient. On the other hand, this year’s lower price for glyphosate may entice you to invest in a second application.

Get most from herbicide

Other tips for getting the most from glyphosate include:

Don’t cut rates. Stick to labeled rates, especially to get tough weeds.

Choose correct nozzles. Use nozzles that reduce drift.

Avoid poor weather conditions. Glyphosate won’t work as well if applied when cool.

Use recommended surfactants. Follow label directions when deciding what to add.

Consider adding other herbicides. Some newer herbicides help on tough weeds.

12093448h.tif#8. ECONOMICAL WEED CONTROL: Mike Mouzin and his father, Joe, Vincennes, raised soybeans with minimal herbicide expense using glyphosate over Roundup Ready soybeans.

 

12093448i.tif#9. WHERE DID ALL THE GREEN GO? Experts suspect the cause was nitrogen burn.

 

 

What made green corn turn brown?

It was the tallest, greenest corn anywhere one week, then speckled with dying tissue the next. Here’s the question posed in the December Crops Knowledge quiz: Bleached leaves resulted from: a) liquid nitrogen; b) too much sun; c) herbicide injury.

There were two possible explanations — herbicide injury or nitrogen burn. The correct answer is a.

Tom Jordan, a Purdue University weed control specialist, unrolled the leaves and took a closer look.

The pattern of damage didn’t match herbicide injury. Instead, he suspected nitrogen burn.

As it turns out, liquid nitrogen was applied with drops. However, it’s possible booms rode up occasionally, allowing liquid N to reach leaves. Higher spots were affected most.

The corn soon grew out of the damage.

What’s the take-home message? Nitrogen can burn leaves if it contacts them directly. Make sure your application equipment functions properly.

Both disease and nutrient deficiencies hurt leaves

Dave Nanda of Indianapolis, a crops consultant and plant breeder, expected a long summer when he held the leaf in photo #1 in early July. Question #1: These disease lesions are: a) southern leaf blight; b) rust; c) gray leaf spot; d) due to air pollution. The answer
is c.

The Purdue “Corn and Soybean Field Guide” says, “Warm, humid weather with long dew periods favor the disease. Symptoms may appear on lower leaves during early July, but late July and August are the periods of greatest disease development on upper leaves.”

When Nanda returned later, symptoms looked the same. The shift toward cooler weather slowed the disease. It wasn’t a factor in this field, even with a susceptible hybrid and no fungicide applied.

Tell-tale signs

Here’s question #2: These plants are deficient in: a) sulfur; b) nitrogen; c) potash; d) phosphorus; e) tender care. It’s b. According to the Purdue field guide, classic symptoms are: “stunted, spindly plants with light- green or yellowish-green color, and/or V-shaped yellowing of older leaves, starting at the leaf tips.”

These were end rows where someone didn’t turn on the applicator in time.

12093448a.tif#1. DISEASE HIT EARLY: What looked like a gray leaf spot fizzled.

 

 

12093448b.tif#2. HUNGRY CORN: Deficiencies this severe usually result in yield loss.

 

 

This article published in the March, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.