Corn School: Dry Conditions Magnify 'Sins of the Spring'

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Ontario’s corn crop is holding its own as the final days of a hot, dry June slip past. But with moisture stress increasing, some ‘sins of the spring’ are taking their toll on cornfields, says Pride Seeds Market Agronomist Ken Currah.

In this episode of Real Agriculture Corn School, Currah explains that much of the Ontario corn crop received a ‘tender June’ which delivered enough rain to allow soils to keep roots active. “They’re throwing down roots and finding their way,” says Currah who’s seen little evidence in his territory of leaf yellowing and browning off, which is the true indicator of plants suffering from drought.

But rain is definitely needed across the province to spruce up many fields, especially those fields showing evidence of growers planting into poor soil conditions during a cool, damp spring. “Corn yield really comes down to roots,” explains Currah. “Some of the things we’ve gotten away with in the last couple of years, we’re not getting away with this year.”

In this video, Currah compares the roots of four different corn plants, comparing healthy plants with good root structure versus hatchet and kinked roots caused by compaction as well as roots that illustrate the challenge of planting into green cover.

Currah says he’s also seeing growing evidence that planting into green crops or cover crops presents some real challenges for root development. “I’m beginning to develop the opinion that this is really where zone till and strip till fits – to try to remove some of that plant competition and give a corn plant a better chance.”

Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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