Category Archives: Soil Service Info

Assessing Corn Emergence – Derek Porter

I spent last week out in the field assessing corn emergence. The warm weather we finally received last week really helped corn jump out of the ground. However, uneven emergence due to the cool wet conditions over the last 2 weeks was evident in most fields I was in. Cool wet conditions while the corn is trying to germinate can cause the seeds to rot, failure of the radicle root to emerge, the mesocotyl to corkscrew, or the plant to leaf out underground. I saw all these symptoms in the fields I walked but none of these symptoms appeared to be severe enough to force a replant.

 When assessing corn emergence and seedling health in your field, first check the corn seed for firmness by squeezing it with your fingers. The corn seed should be firm to the touch and not mushy. A mushy seed likely means a rot has set in and emergence is likely not going to take place. If the radical root and mesocotyl have emerged, these should be creamy white in color and the mesocotyl and coleoptile should be intact. The mesocotyl is the portion of the seedling that pushes the coleoptile (the portion that contains the first true leaves) to the surface. If either the mesocotyl or coleoptile are severed, this ensures death of the seedling. If both the mesocotyl and coleoptile are damaged, the plant could still survive and emerge. It’s likely this year to see some mesocotyl corkscrewing or leafing out underground before the plant emerges. From what I’ve seen, a combination of surface crusting along with cool soil temps and wet conditions are the root cause for this. When conditions are cool & wet, damage to the cell membranes of the seedling disrupt normal function and energy transfer within the seedling causing the leaves to prematurely emerge or mesocotyl to corkscrew. If the seed imbibes (takes up) cold water within the first 24-36 hours, damage to the membranes within the seed could occur preventing the radical root from emerging and the seed not to germinate at all. I saw this be the case where water had stood for a few days. Seedling injury could also be the result of herbicides that leach into the seed zone shortly after planting. Mesocotyl corkscrewing and leafing out underground are the common symptoms of herbicide injury during germination and emergence. Typically the herbicides that cause this are the growth regulators (2,4-D & Dicamba) or the group 15’s (acetochlor, metolachlor). If used at high enough rates or if the product does not contain a safener, injury could occur if heavy rain pushes the herbicide into the seed trench and cool conditions prevail preventing metabolism of the herbicide. An open seed trench while the herbicide is being applied is a great way for herbicide injury to expose itself. I have not seen any injury from herbicides yet this year but with the amount of rain most have received accompanied with cool conditions and the potential that some fields were planted wetter than ideal means it could show up this year.

Unless water has stood over a field for an extended period (1 week or longer) it appears that most corn is emerging just fine with the expectation that’s some of it is uneven. Unfortunately, many around my area received substantial rain over the weekend with more rain in the forecast for this week. Try to stay positive and remember to always stay safe!


1:Picture showing the mesocotyl and coleoptile of a corn seeding

2:The seed imbibed cold water shortly after planting forcing the radical to abort failed germination

3:This plant leafed out underground due to the cool wet weather and surface crusting

Wheat in the MO Soil Health Study Field

Cold and dreary Thursday morning, but I decided to look at the wheat in the Soil Health Study Field. Very wet and soggy, with conditions ripe for wheat diseases to be in the crop. This field is just heading out and in just a day or so of sunshine and warmer weather, it would be the optimum time to apply a fungicide (Prosaro or Caramba) to control Fusarium Head Blight (scab). This was a huge problem for wheat producers in Missouri just a few years ago.

Didn’t walk out in to the middle of the field today. Looking at the plants around the edge, there were no signs of any diseases. We did apply two gallons 2017 SRN per acre and one quart per acre of 7.5% copper when this field was sprayed with herbicide. Using the copper in the mix early in the spring, helps keep the wheat plant healthy (in my opinion) and in a year like this the only way that a fungicide application could have been made (at the flag leaf stage), was by air. It would be the same with an application at this time (flowering).

If you are considering an application of Caramba or Prosaro, remember that there is a short window of application. Two to six days after the main tillers of the plant start heading, those heads start blooming. This is the optimum time to apply. You can apply through late flowering, but that is not going to take long with the warmer weather anticipated in the upcoming week.

One other thing. If you can also apply one to two gallons per acre of Max 72 SRN along with a fungicide app at this stage. We have been doing that that for the past several years. Very safe for the wheat and that shot of nitrogen at this stage will help the heads fill out and should help increase the test weight.

If you have questions about your wheat crop, give me a call @573-680-6951 or you can send me an email – 

John Viertel

Spring Anhydrous Ammonia

It’s hard to believe we’ve already turned the calendar to the month of April, especially when one looks around and sees the small amount of field work that’s taken place up to this point across much of the corn belt. If I had to guess, I would say about 50% of the anhydrous ammonia (NH3) has been applied around central Illinois which lags where we typically are at this point. Applying NH3 in the spring can be a risky business to the health and establishment of a corn crop, especially when application is within 1 week of planting. The reason is NH3 acts as a strong desiccant to the young corn seedling by sucking water from seedling roots and tissue. The result is a burning of the root or plant tissue leading to uneven emergence and a stunted sick looking crop. Most injury occurs when soil conditions are less than ideal and when little to no rain (less then 1 inch) occurs after application. When NH3 is applied it starts to rapidly convert from ammonia (NH3) to a more stable safe ammonium (NH4) form of nitrogen. Ideally waiting 1 month or better gives the best odds of this conversion fully taking place and not causing injury to the crop but waiting that long is likely not an option this spring with some applications possibly occurring the day of planting. So, what can a grower do to prevent NH3 injury? Following these guidelines can help especially if your NH3 has yet to be applied.

Focus on the spacing between the injection point and where the seed is placed. Leaving enough distance between the injection point of application and where the seed is placed will be key this spring. Free NH3 within the seed zone or when roots move into a zone of free NH3 can lead to plant injury. A good solution if the grower is equipped with GPS on his planter and applicator is to move the planter off the NH3 band by 4-6 inches. Doing this insures the seed is far enough from the NH3 band yet still close enough to take up nitrogen when the time comes. If a grower plants off the band 4-6 inches, planting can safely take place the day of NH3 application. If a grower is not equipped with GPS, applying NH3 at an angle or planting at an angle relative to an NH3 band is the next best alternative. This insures that at least some of the corn seedlings are far enough away from the NH3 band instead of all of them being directly over the band. I would still advise a grower wait as long as they can (ideally 1 week or better) after the NH3 application before doing this.

Make sure NH3 application is occurring at the proper depth. In heavier type soils (CEC 12-15 and greater) it might still be possible to plant over a spring applied NH3 knife track but depth of the NH3 application will be highly important. Applying at depths of 6-8 inches is a good rule to live by. The lighter the soil the closer to 8 inches you need to be. When NH3 is applied it typically stays in a concentrated area 2-6 inches in diameter from the point of injection. The drier the conditions and the lighter the soil the further the ammonia will move from the point of injection. In higher soil moisture conditions, particularly in heavier clay type soils, NH3 stays more concentrated to the point of injection. Therefore, an inch of rain after application usually helps mitigate the risk of injury. This concentrated band makes uniformity of depth during application extremely important. An application too shallow (4 inches) can put the seed within 2 inches of the NH3 band and if the concentration zone expands, there is a strong likelihood the seed is in contact with free ammonia. Keep in mind that when application is done in wetter conditions, staying at a deeper depth could be challenging due to how hard the toolbar might pull. Also making sure the bar is running level and all cylinders are set properly is key to applying at a uniform depth. In fields with a lot of hills and rough terrain, applying at a uniform depth could also be a problem and needs to be taken into consideration at planting.

Make sure the knife track is closed properly. It will be important to monitor that proper sealing is taking place when NH3 is being applied. With above average soil moisture being the norm across most of the corn belt, smearing of the sidewall can easily lead to failure of closing the knife track. This can lead to NH3 diffusing up into the seed zone and even worse all the way out of the ground into the atmosphere. Checking for proper closing can be as simple as looking for gas over the knife track or getting a strong whiff ammonia as you work through the field.

Summary. My advice to growers this spring is to plant off the knife track or apply at an angle if NH3 is going to be applied within 2 weeks of planting. The heavier the soil (CEC >12-15) and the greater the moisture content, it’s possible to apply over the NH3 band if 1 week has passed and a uniform depth of greater than 6 inches is achieved. Also be very vigilant of proper sealing over the NH3 knife track. Shallow tillage could be done immediately after application baring the NH3 was applied at the proper depth and conditions are not too dry to allow NH3 to escape the surface. Keep in mind that there are other forms of N out there, such as UAN or Urea, that could be used as a replacement for NH3.

Uneven emergence due to NH3 injury







NH3 damage appears burning at the roots


Derek Porter


New for 2019!!!

We have put a lot of thought and design to get true vertical tillage in the Rogue VT®, a machine that is not only versatile, but also simple to adjust and use.

We were able to get a Rogue VT down to Missouri last fall for some limited field work and where we did run it, the results were fantastic! We had some more demos and rental acres for it to run, but Mother Nature kept us out of the field. There are some videos of the machine running in various locations, posted on our YouTube Channel that you can view ( ). There is also a video from Machinery Pete of Brent talking about the Rogue VT. Check them out.

We have had the Rogue VT at least one indoor farm show last fall, and interest was incredible! Plans are to have a machine at the Iowa Power Show later this month. We are still trying to get space at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville in February, but currently it doesn’t look like that is going to be possible. Same for the Western Farm Show in Kansas City.

If you are looking for a new vertical tillage machine, come to our booth at any of the farm shows coming up this winter. We answer any of your questions, explain why the Rogue VT is true vertical tillage, and how it can help your operation.

 John Viertel, CCA

Missouri Sales Manager 

Finishing 2018…

2018 is finally behind us and to many it ended none too soon! As we head into 2019, there are several things to look forward to from Soil Service, Inc.

First, the EPA finally cleared several our products for use with Xtendimax and Engenia herbicide chemistries. The products will be listed on their web sites soon. If you have questions, call us. 217-755-4400

Second, we introduced our new vertical tillage tool at the Farm Progress Show last August, The Rogue VT®. We were lucky to get them in the field this fall, seeing just what they could do. Very happy with the results. The wheat pictured below, was sown after running the Rogue VT after wheat harvest. It left a very good, smooth seedbed to plant into. The guys in Illinois were able to run it on corn stalks, and they were very happy with the its performance. If you are looking for a new vertical tillage tool this winter, you need to take a long look at the Rogue VT!

Finally, we had good results from our Sugar E-Boost® again this season. My plots in Missouri, where we put a 1 pint per acre with our corn and soybean starter programs, showed us a 3 bushel per acre yield boost. For less than a $1 per acre investment, you are going to get a very good ROI no matter what the commodity prices are.

We hope that you and your operations have a great and prosperous 2019!

John Viertel, MO Sales


Wheat planted in the Soil Health Field in Central Missouri