Farm Horizons, February 2015

Growing crops on preventative planted acres

By Dave Schwartz,
Certified crop advisor, Gold Country Seed

There may be some surprises this coming growing season for growers who plant crops on preventative planted acres. Many thousands of acres in Wright and neighboring counties were never planted because of the cold, wet spring.

How wet and cold was it? I heard of one dairy farmer who planted all of his corn acres on the Fourth of July. Let’s hope 2015 is more kind.

Following are my thoughts on potential problems crop producers may experience when planting crops on these set-aside acres.

• The first thing that comes to mind is fallow syndrome. Fields that were kept black during the entire growing season often express symptoms of phosphorus deficiency and stunting.

When planting corn on fallow ground, it’s a good idea to use starter fertilizer with an analysis high in phosphorus. This is at the top of my list because I have seen it happen often.

• The second concern I would have when growing crops on preventative planted acres is more broadleaf weed pressure, especially giant ragweed and waterhemp. This will also be a problem in low areas of fields where crops drowned-out and weeds took over.

One waterhemp plant has the ability to produce more than 250,000 seeds. This will be enough weed seed to challenge the best weed management plans.

• On the same topic of giant ragweed and waterhemp, an additional concern is that of corn rootworm feeding on pollen of these plants and then laying eggs in the area.

While walking fields this fall, I noticed more rootworm beetle feeding in these areas where broadleaf weeds took over, so I’m expecting to see more rootworm damage to corn in these areas of high weed density.

• My last point is a lesser issue, but will likely appear in some fields. Common stalk borers love to feed inside stalks of giant ragweed.

In areas of fields that had large patches of giant ragweed this past year, corn growers can expect some damage as borers hatch and bore into corn stalks. Bt genes provide only partial protection from this insect.

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