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Agronomy Update

Missouri Field Observations From Early Season Scouting

Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Planting is well underway in Missouri. It is always exciting to be part of the prospect for an abundant harvest this fall. I’d like to share the following field observations from my early season field scouting.

Tillage on High Silt Soils
Every year I observe the impact of tillage on high silt content soils (those famous productive Missouri soils developed in silty loess) when conditions are too wet and before hard rainfall events. Silt loam soils with a greater percentage of silt in the surface are highly susceptible to crusting after hard rains. Soil crusting after pre-mature tillage and planting results in uneven emergence and less than desirable stands.



Corn seedling leaf out below crusted high silt content soil surface.


Learn how to differentiate the soils on your operation that are more forgiving when working ground ahead of hard rains, and those which are not. Examples in Missouri include Macksburg and Putnam/Adco silt loams being more susceptible to crusting after hard rains than their Marshall and Mexico silt loam counterparts, respectively. 

Aphid Control
There has been a significant amount of oat-bird cherry and green aphid feeding in winter wheat this year. I have walked fields that not only have the obvious risk of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) infection from aphid activity, but that also are being impacted by direct feeding damage. On some fields, aphid populations were high enough to reduce yield by direct feeding losses of essential water and nutrients.



Aphid feeding next to a leaf with BYDV symptoms.


Make sure to scout early and often for aphid feeding and to incorporate adequate protection measures in your intensive wheat management program.

Planter Performance
May and early June is a great time to evaluate your fields or planter monitor data for planter performance. Look at your corn stand for skips and doubles. Improper calibration of or failure to calibrate planter meter units results in poor singulation (high percentage of skips and doubles) and reduced profitability per acre.

  • If using row cleaners or trash wheels in high residue systems, make observations on whether you have achieved the desired objective of moving residue without trenching the planted row.

  • If using a row-shutoff/clutch system, assess if your look-ahead distance is accurately set to avoid overlaps and gaps where rows come into your headlands. 

  • If using guidance or auto-steer when planting, check for GPS drift, large gaps between rows, or rows slammed together between planter passes.

As always, feel free to contact your Beck’s dealer, seed advisor, or myself if we can help you with anything. Stay safe and thankful for what we all get to do for a living!



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