Corn Crop 2016: Advice from John Viertel

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Corn Crop 2016: Advice from John Viertel

WOW! In all my years of traveling the state of Missouri during the month of April, I don’t think that I have ever seen the corn crop go in the ground faster or under more ideal conditions than it did this year! After scouting some fields on April 28, the newly emerged plants look excellent. One field was almost in the V-2 stage, and there are probably some fields in Missouri that are further along than that. Emergence and population were virtually perfect. Weed control – excellent!

So now what? Are you worried about dry weather later in the growing season? Is the nitrogen that was applied last fall still there? How can the yield potential of this crop be maximized from this point on and still get a good “return on investment?”

These questions can all be addressed very easily. In 2013, we did a one-half rate fungicide trial on the corn that was in our Soil Health Study Field at the V-5 to V-7 stage. That year, there were good planting conditions and good moisture early in the season, but then it turned hot and dry in July and August. The whole field’s average yield (across the scales) was 180 bushels per acre (bpa). Good corn! The fungicide trial in particular stood out. Half-rates were taken of three different fungicides, some alone, some with 2 gallons per acre of Max72SRN®. The average of the five different trials was 12 bpa better than the whole field average. The 2 gallons per acre of MAX 72 SRN alone yielded 19 bpa better than the whole field average.

Got your attention now?

Here is what I observed during the dry period of the summer. Where the fungicides had been applied in that V-5 to V-7 stage, the corn plants were healthier looking, and they showed very little stress. That is what the fungicide companies are saying is the benefit of applying earlier in the season. The application can be made with Soil Service’s MAX 72. If you want or need more potassium and sulfur, our NEW 2075 SRN® could also be used.

How do you know if the nitrogen fertilizer applied last fall is still there or not? Do a soil nitrate test, along with tissue tests of your corn. The time to start doing that is now! We are in a rain delay at the time of this writing. As soon as it dries up, soybeans are going to be planted just as fast as the corn got planted. So during this delay, soil and tissue samples could be pulled and sent in.

So will you get a “return on investment” using this crop management strategy? As of April 30, new crop corn was at $3.55 in central Missouri. At just a 12 bpa increase, that’s a $42.60 per acre increase gross, at a cost of about $27 (not including application). It could be lower depending on the fungicide of your choice. That’s a net of $15 per acre. Plus, you get the benefit of healthier corn that can withstand heat and drought stress better. In these times of uncertain markets and lower margins, that $15 per acre looks pretty good!

So here is my recommendation at the V-5 to V-7 stage of growth:

  • Stratego YLD at ½ rate (or the fungicide of your choice)
  • 2 gallons per acre of MAX 72 SRN (or 2075 SRN)
  • 16 oz. per acre of SOIL BOOST PLUS® (fungicides work better at 5 to 5.5 pH)
  • 16 oz. per acre of LANDOIL® (for a better spray pattern, coverage, and penetration and absorption)

If you have any questions, you can call or text me at 573-680-6951. My email is