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Evaluating Corn Conditions during Stand Counts

May 8, 2017
An agronomic image with corn seedlings begining to sprout.

Planting is underway across the Midwest, and corn growers are eagerly awaiting the first signs of emergence. Once seedlings have reared their heads and produced 3-4 leaves, it’ll be time to conduct early-season stand counts to identify potential concerns with population and spacing. These stand counts are a great way to take note of a crop’s condition so far, especially considering the wet conditions that many growers have experienced this spring. It’s also a way to determine if additional management practices are necessary.

A few of the key challenges that agronomists recommend growers evaluate during stand counts include:

  • Planter issues: Skips and gaps within the rows may be a sign that there was an issue with the planter. Although replanting at this stage might not be an option, this is great information for growers to keep in mind when conducting maintenance on their planter the following season. It’s important to note that the impact on yield will vary depending on the severity of the issue. Skips, for instance, will have more of a negative impact on yield than doubles.
  • Early-season pest pressure: It may be early, but pests such as cutworms and wireworms may already have begun feeding on seedlings, destroying yield potential down the road. Growers should monitor for any insect activity in their fields.
  • Field nutrition needs: Crops may need additional nutrients early in the season to thrive. When conducting stand counts, growers should watch for symptoms of common challenges like phosphorus, sulfur, and/or zinc deficiencies. In particular, soils that are sandy or have high pH will need closer inspection. Some early season nutrient deficiencies may be a sign of rooting restrictions resulting from cool weather conditions or sidewall compaction, rather than soil fertility.

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All photos are the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.

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