2020.07.09 CFS Growing Insights

Jul 09, 2020

Conditions Update

Crop progress across MN from the week ending July 5th, 2020 has corn conditions at 27% excellent (25% last week), 58% good (59%), 12% fair (13%), and 3% poor/very poor (3%). Soybean conditions are at 21% excellent (20% last week), 62% good (61%), 14% fair (16%), and 3% poor/very poor (3%).

Tassels popping out in corn fields with early planting dates have become visible from the road the last few days and soybeans hitting full-flower stages. In the next 10 days, a majority of corn acres will have tassels totally emerged. Once the tassel is out, silking and pollination will occur over 4-8 days in normal conditions, but stress from heat or moisture speed up the process to 2-3 days. Fortunately,
temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid 80’s with a few chances of rain, ideal for pollen drop. As silks emerge, it will also be important to scout corn fields that have a history of corn rootworm pressure to ensure beetles aren’t “clipping silks,” which interferes with successful pollination. 

Soybean Planting Considerations

With the vast amount of White Mold in soybeans across southern MN in the last few years, and many soybean acres off to the most aggressive start in growth in many years, there are increasing concerns on the potential White Mold problems we could see this year.

Temperature and moisture have a dramatic impact on the prevalence of White Mold.
Consider the factors that contribute to SWM (Sclerotinia White Mold) development:
  • Sclerotia (hard-black structures/mouse droppings) overwinter in the soil
    • They can survive deep in the soil for up to 7 years
  • Sclerotia germinate within top 2” of the soil when soils are cool, moist, and shaded
    • Temperatures near 55 F to 60 F are optimum
  • Once germinated, they produce apothecia that produce spores that infect soybeans through dying flowers
    • Senescing flowers, dead or dying tissue and wet surfaces are ideal, with more than 12 hours of daily wetness
  • Infection is worse with temperatures lower than 85°F with moisture (from rain, dew, humidity)
    • Commonly takes 3-4 weeks to see the infection, and 6 weeks to see it from the road!
There are 3 components that are required for white mold to occur: a susceptible soybean variety that is flowering, apothecia that produce spores, and a cool, wet environment, especially under the soybean canopy. The higher the amount of each component, the worse the incidence of White Mold becomes.

White Mold punishes highly productive fields.
The White Mold disease cycle explains the factors that contribute to SWM: a high yield potential crop with a dense canopy, field history of SWM, and a history of susceptible crops planted in the field. A denser canopy, the greater the chance of incidence. Temperatures and rainfall in the last part of June has the potential to be a large contributing factor to SWM across the countryside.
Earlier soybean planting dates have sped up canopy development in soybeans, and caused soybean flowering to start earlier than the last few years. The weather the next several weeks will dictate how dense canopies get, and the potential conditions for White Mold infection. In order to prevent White Mold, there are four different strategies:
  1. Choose a variety with a strong SWM score.
    • In some cases, this might be corn.
  2. Implement a management strategy to mitigate SWM presence.
    • Variable rate population, spraying Contans-type biofungicide, practice crop rotation, widen row spacing, change tillage practice, etc.
  3. Manage SWM in-season with plant health applications.
    • Understand that these MUST all be applied prior to SWM infection.
  4. Spray “burner” herbicide to “open up” canopy.
    • LAST OPTION—limited viability.
Since option #1 and #2 are hopefully part of the plan at planting, options #3 and #4 are the only management options left. There are fungicides available for in-season management of White Mold, but they must be applied prior to SWM infection, and targeted around the R1 growth stage. Contact your local CFS representative to understand what the potential is for SWM on your acres and what management strategies make sense to prevent SWM infection. 

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