Why is my Corn Purple?

Many Manitoba corn fields are showing some degree of leaf purpling this spring. Here’s a quick look at why leaves turn purple and what possible causes may be.

 

Leaf purpling is a sign of stress. The leaves are actively producing photosynthates (sugars) but conditions are not allowing normal sugar metabolism or translocation in the plant.  The purple anthocyanin pigment is associated with this sugar buildup in leaf tissue.  The amount of purpling is genetically controlled, so hybrids with more of the purpling genes will appear worse than others, even though all suffer the same stress.

Common stress conditions triggering this purpling are:

  • Warm sunny days but cool nights (4-10oC) – this allows sugar buildup but not metabolism
  • Restricted root growth and development – soil compaction (Figure 1), herbicide injury (such as Edge carryover- Figure 2), standing water.
  • Impaired phosphorus uptake due to insufficient soil phosphorus, lack of phosphorus starter fertilizer (Figure 3) or following non-mycorrhizal crops like canola.
  • Physical injury – recently wind has crimped leaf tips (Figure 4) causing sugars to buildup without being translocated to other growing parts of the plant

Purpling will often dissipate with warmer days and nights and yield loss is slight if any. But severe purpling is a symptom of crop stress, so the astute crop advisor or farmer will exploit it as a visual signal and will investigate the cause so to manage better next year.

 

 

 

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Don’t Overlook Group 2 Herbicide Resistance

You’ve probably read about media dubbed ‘superweeds’ like glyphosate-resistant palmer amaranth and giant ragweed. Glyphosate-resistant weeds often earn this distinction because they are viewed as a greater management hardship for producers than weeds resistant to other herbicide mechanisms of actions (MOAs).  And maybe rightly so.  Farmers dealing with glyphosate resistant weeds elsewhere in the world have been reduced to tillage and hand rouging for weed control in some crops.

But, while glyphosate use dominates the Roundup Ready corn, soybean and/or cotton rotation in the US, group 2 herbicides play an (equally?) important role in our more diversified cropping system. For example, group 2 herbicides are used in crops like alfalfa, corn, dry beans, field pea, potato, soybean, sunflower, and in Clearfield and other group 2-tolerant crops.  These herbicides are also a popular choice for group 1-resistant grassy weed control in cereals.

The point of this article isn’t to downplay the importance of glyphosate resistance but to elevate consideration of group 2 resistance. In Manitoba, over 10 weed species are known to have biotypes resistant to group 2 herbicides.  And herbicide-resistant weed surveys led by AAFC indicate that the prevalence of certain species is increasing (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of group 2 resistance in Manitoba in 2003 and 2008 as a percent of the weed species population surveyed (Beckie et al).

 

The following practices can help reduce the risk of developing herbicide resistant weeds and/or managing existing resistant weed populations:

  • Diversifying your crop rotation;
  • Using multiple herbicide MOAs effective on target weeds (e.g. herbicide ‘layering’, tank mixing);
  • Practising good basic agronomy (variety selection, seeding rates, etc.);
  • Judicial use of tillage.

If you suspect group 2 resistance in a weed species on your farm, it’s best to verify this by herbicide-resistance testing. Unfortunately there‘s no quick method – seed from the suspect population needs to be allowed to mature and collected.  Samples can be submitted to AgQuest for testing in Manitoba.

In my opinion, knowing if you have group 2 resistance and assessing your risk factors is worth it. Because while glyphosate resistance is grabbing headlines, group 2 resistance may be quietly growing in your fields.

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Fusarium Head Blight Risk Maps – Now Available for 2017

Winter wheat in Manitoba is nearing or at the heading stage, so it’s time again for the MB Ag FHB Risk Maps.

The first FHB Risk Map of the season was posted June 7, 2017 posted on the Manitoba Agriculture website: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/seasonal-reports/fusarium-head-blight-report.html.

The maps shows the current risk of FHB based on the last 7 days of temperature and precipitation data gathered from the provincial weather stations. Beginning June 15th (after 7 maps have been created), there will also be an animated map showing how risk has varied over the last week.

The optimal fungicide timing for suppression of FHB is at early anthesis. These maps serve as a guide, but it is important to scout individual fields as local conditions can vary greatly and infection depends on the crop being at the susceptible stage (flowering).

Maps will be updated daily (Monday to Friday) from now until the end of the flowering period for spring wheat in the province. Please check the website for updated maps as there will not be daily email reminders.

 

 

What is Waterpod?

Waterpod is:

  1. an annual weed occasionally found in agricultural fields;
  2. a mobile irrigation system; or
  3. a one person submarine?

 

 

If you chose a), you’d be right. Waterpod (Ellisia nyctelea L.) is an annual broadleaf plant native to Manitoba.  It’s often found in shaded, wooded areas but can also thrive in ditches and agricultural fields.  Our wet soils and cool spring must have provided ideal conditions for waterpod emergence as it’s being found in abundance in fields across the province.

The good news is waterpod isn’t much of agricultural pest.  Although it’s an annual, it emerges and flowers early and usually dies off in June.  It’s also very susceptible to glyphosate and most other burn-off and post-emergent herbicides.

Identifying characteristics:

  • oval cotyledons with a flat top;
  • deeply lobed and hairy leaves;
  • small, white 5-petaled flowers.

 

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How Can I Reduce Fertilizer Losses in Dry Spring Soils?

Dry spring weather is great for seeding but may play havoc with some fertilizer applications and losses.

1.Seedplaced fertilizer – Where seedbed moisture is low or when weather is hot and windy, reduce the rates of seedplaced nitrogen  by approximately 50 per cent. Table 7 of the Manitoba Soil Fertility Guide  http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/soil-fertility/soil-fertility-guide/nitrogen.html indicates safe rates of seedplaced urea under different soil texture, moisture and seedbed utilization conditions.  But as conditions dry, these rates should be reduced accordingly.

2.Surface applied urea or urea-forms (like UAN solution 28-0-0) – are vulnerable to volatilization losses.  The soil and environmental factors increasing risk of loss are well known and include:moist soil conditions, followed by rapid drying

  • high wind velocity
  • warm soil temperatures
  • high soil pH (> pH 7.5)
  • high lime content in surface soil
  • coarse soil texture (sandy)
  • low organic matter content
  • high amount of surface residue (Zero Till)

Volatilization losses can be reduced with dribble placement of UAN versus broadcast applications and the use of an urease inhibitor.  The active ingredient NBPT used in Agrotain Ultra is now marketed by a number of companies.  To expect the same level of protection as Agrotain Ultra, ensure the application rate is similar, since formulation strength and recommended rates differ among suppliers.  Agrotain Ultra contains 27% NBPT with an application rate of 3.1 l/tonne urea or 1.6 l/tonne UAN.

3. Last year the lack of rainfall through much of May left surface applied nitrogen stranded at the surface.  If possible, a portion of the crops nitrogen for cereals and canola should be in-soil placed.  In season applications should be targeted prior to stem elongation of cereals and bolting of canola.

 

 

 

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Manitoba Ag Weather Network

Manitoba Agriculture has a number of weather stations across the province that measure air/soil temperature, soil moisture, wind direction and speed.  For local information please visit

Central/East/Interlake Regions: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/current-conditions-summary1.html

Southwest/Northwest Regions: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/current-conditions-summary2.html

Previous Day on Highs/Lows and Average Soil Temperature at:

Central/Easter/Interlake:http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/yesterdays-summary1.html  Southwest/Northwest: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/yesterdays-summary2.html

Another useful application of the data gathered by the network for rainfall can be found at Rain Watch http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/rain-watch.html

 

 

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Seeding for Target Plant Stands, not lbs/ac

Seed can be an expensive input, but a poor crop stand can be lost profit.  To maximize your seed, still get the stand needed to optimize yield, start calculating the real seeding rate needed for the plant stand desired and not gauging seeding rate by lbs/ac or bu/ac.

The following are the standard recommendations for FINAL plant stand, not what you are putting in the ground. Germination, TKW and mortality are very important to use in the equation to determine actual seeds/ac to plant.  For example, if you assume your germination is 96% and its only 85% and conditions turn cold and wet (increasing mortality), you may have a lot thinner stand than you anticipated (which could mean a harder time controlling weeds).

                    Grain Crops                               Oilseed Crops                   Pulse Crops        
Barley Wheat Oat Corn Canola Sunflower Flax Peas Soybean Dry Bean*
Plants/ft2 22-25 23-28 18-23 7-14 37-56 7-9
 Plants/ac (1000s) 26-30 18-22 180-210 85-100
Mortality Rates (%) 10-15 10-15 10-15 10-15 20-60 10 40-50 5-15 5-10 5-10

*Navy Bean = pinto beans on lower end and navy bean require higher plant stands

Source:  Manitoba Agriculture, Canola Council of Canada, Flax Council of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

 Seeding Rate (lbs/ac) = target plant stand/ft2 x TKW (g) / % expected seed survival x 10                       

 e.g. FLAX Seeding Rate= 45 plants/ft2 x  5g (TKW) / ((88% germination x (1- 40% mortality)) X 10 = 43 lbs/ac

Other information

Wheat – http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/production/print,aiming-for-higher-wheat-yields.html

Using 1000 Kernel Weight for Calculating Seeding Rates – http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/%24department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex81

Canola – http://www.canolacouncil.org/canola-encyclopedia/crop-establishment/seeding-rate/

Optimizing Plant Establishment – http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/production/pubs/optimizing-stand-establishment-in-less-than-optimal-conditions.pdf

 

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Crop Germination – What Soil Temperatures are Needed?

Soil temperature drives germination and seedling emergence, so how cold is too cold?  What is your soil temperature at your targeted seeding depth….today? Finally, when should you be measuring the soil temperature?

The following are the minimum temperatures needed for germination to begin in various crops.  These values should be regarded as approximate, since germination depends on factors other than just temperature.  But, if soils are too cool, germination will be delayed and cause uneven or poor seedling emergence.

 

Crop Temperature     (°C)
Wheat 4
Barley 3
Oats 5
Corn 10
Canola 5
Flax 9
Sunflower 6
Edible Beans 10
Peas 4
Soybeans 10

Sources: North Dakota State University Extension Service, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development and Canola Council of Canada

Getting an accurate measure on soil temperature

Determine how deep you will be seeding. Then place your soil thermometer at the targeted depth. Take two measurements throughout the day: one in the morning (8am) and one in the early evening (8pm).  Average the two readings to determine the average soil temperature. The recommendation is to take readings for two to three days to establish a multiple day average and to measure at a number of locations in the field, to account for field variability.

Still not sure and short on time?  See the soil temperature data for various locations across Manitoba from the MB Ag-Weather Program: https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/soil-temperature.html.  This can be used as a guideline for an area, but in-field measurements are going to tell you what is actually going on in your field!

 

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Seed Placed Fertilizer – Safe Rates

A reminder that if seedbeds turn dry, the safety margin shrinks when applying seed placed fertilizer.  Seedburn can result from ammonia toxicity and/or salt content of fertilizers.

For nitrogen, our Soil Fertility Guide provided safe guidelines for seed placed urea on cereals and canola across a range of soil types and seed-fertilizer configurations.  With the increased popularity of narrow seed and fertilizer spreads with disk drills, the safe rates are reduced.  For example, safe urea rates for cereals vary from 10 to 25 lb N/ac going from sand to clay soil using disk openers on 6” row spacing.  These guidelines are for moist soil and should be reduced by 50% if seedbed moisture is lower when weather is hot and windy.

The safe rates of seed placed phosphorus depends on the crop, with cereals being quite tolerant compared to soybeans, dry beans and canola.  With a disk drill as described above, cereals can tolerate 50 to 60 lb P2O5/ac as mono ammonium phosphate while rates would be 20 lbs/ac for canola and less for beans.   If there greater seedbed utilization (i.e. narrower rows or a wider seedrow with less fertilizer concentration) rates could be more liberal.

More on these safe rates of fertilizer is posted on Manitoba Agriculture’s website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/soil-fertility/print,safe-rates-of-seed-placed-phosphorus-for-manitoba–narrow-row-and-row-crops.html

 

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When Should I Start Planting Corn in 2017?

Is it better to plant into cold soils realizing the seed is going to sit there until the soil warms up? Or should corn be planted when soil temperatures are warmer and approaching 10°C?

Planting into cold soils.  Early planting is a component of successful corn production in Manitoba, to maximize yield, obtain high quality and low percent kernel moisture at harvest (which will decrease drying costs), and to ensure the crop is mature before fall frosts.

Cooler soil temperatures can delay the crop’s emergence. Wet conditions added to cold soil temperatures can favor soil pathogen development, increasing seedling disease risks in both germinating seeds and young seedlings. When planting early in the season or when the soil is cold, a planting rate 10% higher than the desired final stand should be considered to compensate for possible increased seedling mortality. As well, when planting into cool soils, other seeding management becomes important, such as good seedbed condition (good soil to seed contact) and planting operations (including planting depth).

For more complete information, visit Manitoba Corn Growers website at http://manitobacorn.ca/plant-corn-wait-warmer-soils/

 

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