Early-season corn scouting requires a little bit of time and attention, but can really pay off for the rest of the year and even into the next.

Sara Meidlinger, market development specialist with Pride Seeds for Western Canada, joins Kara Oosterhuis for this Corn School episode.

Scout representative areas of the field including good and bad patches, depressions or hill-tops, and get boots on the ground, recommends Meidlinger.

“Even emergence is critical for corn, so that’s one of the most important things you can do to have a high-yielding corn crop, silage or grazing,” says Meidlinger. Even emergence can be affected by soil temperature, planting depth, and even residue management, so now is a good time to have a look at how planting went, to note for next year.

In the video, Meidlinger explains the flag test she’s carrying out this growing season, using a few plants in 1/1000th of an acre, looking at the effect of even emergence on yield. (Story continues below)

A good target plant population can be as high as 36,000 to 38,000 per acre, as long as the resources are there, says Meidlinger. “As you move into areas with less heat units, you might want to draw that population back a little bit, or if you have less fertile ground, or if you’re looking for a bit higher quality silage,” she says.

To measure  plant population, use 1/1000th of an acre — for 30 inch rows, that’s 17 feet, five inches — count the plants and multiply by 1,000. Meidlinger suggests looking at a few areas of the field to get an average.

Scouting for weeds is also a key task as corn is a poor competitor with other plants. Frost has also been a concern this year, and corn is sensitive in the first 24 to 36 hours of its life, when imbibitional chilling can occur. If frost did occur after emergence, Meidlinger says to be patient and wait about five days for regrowth, as the crop is likely to grow out of it.

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