Farmers have several concerns about crop conditions

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Are we lucky or what? If you drive north, farmers are not as lucky as they are witnessing their crops succumb to extreme amounts of rain

That isn't to say we don't have some local farmers seeing patches of standing water, but our amounts of rainfall are minor compared to the 10-plus inches counties to the north have seen in a matter of a few days.

With the extreme variability of rainfall throughout Indiana, it has resulted in a number of things farmers need to think about when caring for their crops this year. For starters, head scab has been spotted in Southern Indiana and given weather conditions it is likely to show up in Northern Indiana soon.

Head scab is also called Fusarium head blight and is caused mainly by the fungus Gibberella zeae. It can periodically cause significant yield loss and reduce grain quality. Gibberella zeae does produce mycotoxins, which are chemicals that are toxic. You can spot head scab by looking for bleaching of some or all of the spikelets while healthy heads are still green. Upon close examination, you can sometimes find pink to orange masses of spores on infected spikelets.

Across the state in moisture laden fields there has been a few cases of soybeans showing signs of seedling blights. Seedling blight appears as dead seedlings on the ground with infected seedling leaves turning gray-green before becoming brown.

The causal agent for seedling blight can be nearly impossible to tell in the field, so if you notice seedling blight in your field, you are welcome to send a plant sample to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory (cost is normally $11 for in-state samples plus shipping). Please contact the Putnam County Extension Office if you would like help obtaining and submitting the sample.

When it comes to corn, farmers might be trying to decide when (or if) to apply fungicide. Some companies recommend early fungicide applications in the V-4 to V-7 stage.

However, data from 12 different land grant universities within our region of the United States show that early season fungicide applications are less likely to show economic benefit when compared to those made at tasseling. Another recommendation that is often made by fungicide manufacturers is that hail damaged corn will benefit from a fungicide treatment. Once again, no data from any land grant universities support this this recommendation.

Lastly, when it comes to corn, the side dressing window is rapidly closing in most fields with conventional side dressing equipment. Please noted that corn can still respond positively from supplemental nitrogen applications up to the V-12 to V-15 (or just prior to pollination) stages. However, the more mature the corn is, the less the impact the supplemental nitrogen will make.

As you apply the supplemental nitrogen, it is recommended not to cut the rate applied due to the later application date. Remember that yield expectations can easily be reduced by 50 percent or more if nitrogen is not applied to healthy corn.

Visit the homepage at or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.

Upcoming events

June 23 -- Composting, Library, noon.

June 25 -- Exploring 4-H Field Day, Fairgrounds.

June 27 -- Putnam County Fairgrounds Endowment 5K Walk/Run, Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.

June 27 -- Putnam County Fair Kickoff, Fairgrounds, 6 p.m.

June 29 -- Public speaking and demonstration contest.

June 29 -- Summer judging contests.

July 14 -- Arranging gardening flowers, Library, 6 p.m.

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