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4 Steps To Take If You Suffered From Uneven Corn Emergence

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A perfect stand sets the stage for high ear count at harvest. But what if, despite your best efforts, a stand starts out troubled? Don’t give up, encourages Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. 

Take these four steps, Ferrie says.

1. Keep an eye out for pests. Damaged stands affect pest management, Ferrie explains. Scout early and often and put out pheromone traps. Watch closely during pollination because it will take longer with plants at different growth stages.

“Insects converge on younger plants,” Ferrie says. “So, treatment standards are different in fields with late-emerging plants. The same number of silk-clipping insects that attack 1,000 late-emerging plants in a normal acre of corn might attack 6,000 plants per acre in a damaged stand, because it contains more late-emergers. So, you would treat the damaged stand, but not the normal stand.”

2. Watch for disease. “In lighter stands, you need bigger ears to make up for fewer plants,” Ferrie says. “A fungicide application may be warranted, to get as much stay-green as possible, especially for D hybrids that gain a lot of kernel fill in the last 30 days. If you apply fungicides to a field with corn in different growth stages, you may have to omit surfactants to protect the younger corn plants.”

3. Stay on top of weeds. Fields that were replanted or have uneven emergences are a haven for weeds. 

“Control weeds in damaged areas or fields, so they don’t build up a seed bank,” Ferrie says. “Some farmers are fighting weed pressure caused by ponds that were not replanted in 2015.”

4. Plan harvest gameplan. “If a field contains replanted areas, older plants may fall down while you wait for younger ones to dry,” Ferrie says. “Scout frequently to decide whether you can wait to harvest the entire field, or whether you must harvest around the replanted area and come back to it later. Consider whether you can handle wet corn mixed with dry corn at your dryer and keep it in condition in the bin. These fields may be good candidates to haul to the elevator.”

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