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Agronomy Talk

W. IOWA - PAT HOLLOWAY, CCA

Late Season Stalk Quality

Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By late August, corn is close to completing its life cycle and is approaching physiological maturity (black layer). During this period there is not much we can do to impact yields, but it is still important to monitor crop
progress. Not only is it important to watch grain moisture after we reach black layer, it is also critical to monitor for development of stalk rot before and after black layer. When looking at late season stalk quality, look for discoloration in the lower portion of the stalk, both inside and out. Using the pinch test to determine how rigid the stalk is can be a good predictor of how well the stalks will stand as the corn dries down. Fields that experienced in-season stress such as too much or too little moisture, low fertility, or foliar diseases are often more prone to stalk quality problems. 

When checking for evidence of stalk rot development or stalk quality issues, start noting fields and hybrids that are showing signs of weaker stalks to prioritize harvest. While those fields may not have the lowest grain moisture, they may require harvesting at slightly higher moisture than typically desired. This could prevent having to harvest corn that is down or reduced yield loss due to lodging.

Author: Pat Holloway

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