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Potassium Fertilizer Considerations for 2015

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist


At times potassium (K) can be the forgotten element when determining appropriate rates of fertilizer to apply.  Nitrogen and phosphorus typically are of main concern due to the potential yield response for corn to nitrogen and many soils around the state historically being low in P but medium to high in K.  Potassium should not be a forgotten nutrient as there are situations where K fertilizer can be profitable.

Taking a soil test is the best option for determining where K is needed.  Soil testing for K can be problematic as K levels can vary over the growing season.  The uptake of K in plant residue can well exceed the amount of K removed in the grain.  Potassium in plant stover can play an important role in the nutrition of crops planted the next year.  As plants mature and begin to decay, K taken up during the growing season can be leached out of drying or decaying residue.  The recovery of K can be rapid for plants that senesce l…

Managing stored grain to minimize storage losses

by Phil Glogoza and Dave Nicolai, Extension Educators-Crops
When grain harvest approaches, it is time to review basic on-farm grain storage principles for maintaining quality of stored commodities. Harvest should include preparation of storage structures to receive grain. Preparation includes several practices that aid in preventing pest infestations from developing within our storage structures.

Got Weeds? Evaluate Your Weed Control Program

By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator in Crops and Jeff Gunsolus, Extension Agronomist, Weed Science

By the end of the growing season, it is not too hard to spot soybean fields where weed control was less than optimal.  Prior to harvest, waterhemp can be found towering over soybean canopies throughout Minnesota.  Taking some time to evaluate effectiveness of your weed control program now can help enhance future weed control and ultimately protect yield potential and enhance profitability in the long run. 

Mid-September frost on corn and soybeans

Seth Naeve, Extension Soybean Agronomist, Jeff Coulter, Extension Corn Agronomist, Dave Nicolai, Extension Educator - Crops, and Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development and Communications Specialist
Many corn and soybean fields in central, west central, and southwest Minnesota were affected by frost during the morning hours of September 13, 2014. As is always the case, the frost damage appears to be highly variable based on local climate conditions, crop maturity, and topographical features. For corn, a killing freeze occurs when temperatures are 32°F for 4 hours or 28°F for minutes. A frost or killing freeze can still occur when temperatures are above 32°F, especially in low and unprotected areas when there is no wind. For soybeans, most reports indicated that the crop was unaffected, 'nipped' slightly at the tops, or (in rare cases) frozen down into the canopy.

Water Quality Best Management Practices for Agricultural Insecticides

by Robert Koch, Extension Entomologist
In July 2014, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) published a series of best management practices (BMPs) for agricultural insecticides (link to BMPs). These BMPs were created in response to seasonal detections of chlorpyrifos in several rivers and streams in the agricultural areas of Minnesota from 2010 to 2012. Subsequently, MDA determined chlorpyrifos to be a "surface water pesticide of concern" which initiates BMP development. Some MDA samples had concentrations violating water quality standards established by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to protect aquatic life, which led the MPCA to list three water bodies as impaired due to chlorpyrifos.

Late season applications of nitrogen in spring wheat

Jochum Wiersma and Albert Sims, University of Minnesota
Interest in improving grain protein in hard red spring wheat (HRSW) with in-season applications of nitrogen (N) fertilizer may increase this year, since protein premiums and discounts are expected to be greater this year than last. Despite the late planting, the cool and wet weather has created a scenario where the crop may be a bit short on N to maximize grain protein.

There is an intuitive appeal to split apply N (N applied preplant and more N applied during the growing season) in HRSW since the crop takes up the majority of its N between jointing and flag leaf emergence. The practice of splitting the total N fertilizer gift in three or even four separate applications is commonplace in winter cereal production in the maritime regions of Europe, including the countries of Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France. The objective of split N applications is to supply N when the crop needs it, improve N use efficien…

Reduce Risk of Fallow or Flooded Soil Syndrome with Cover Crops

by Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator in Crops, Fabian Fernandez and Daniel Kaiser, Extension Nutrient Management Specialists

The challenging spring of 2014 has resulted in wide-spread planting delays in parts of the state and a significant amount of acres that remain unplanted at this time. If the decision has been made to take the "prevented planting" option for insurance purposes, the question remains about what to do with these acres. In other parts of the state, extensive flooding and/or severe hail has significantly damaged standing crops. In either case, leaving the ground bare greatly increases the risk of not only soil erosion, but also the risk of "Fallow Syndrome" the following year.

Soybean and Corn Seedling Diseases Increase With Flooded and Wet Soil Conditions

Dean Malvick, Extension Plant Pathologist
Photo 1. Flooded soybean field in Minnesota.
Most of the soybean and corn crop is emerged and growing well across Minnesota. Seedling disease problems in scattered soybean and corn fields have been reported in early June and more are expected due to wet and flooded fields. Abundant (or excessive) rainfall and fluctuating temperatures and have created excellent conditions for seedling diseases. This is a good time to check fields for seedling disease problems and efficacy of seed treatments.

Infection of seedlings before or after emergence can result in dead plants, rotted and discolored roots, stunted and discolored plants, and wilting. The problems often occur in patches in fields. Seedling infection can also lead to damage that may not fully develop until mid to late summer, as with Phytophthora root and stem rot and sudden death syndrome. Disease can cause serious damage, but it is just one of many stresses that seedlings are encounter…

Prevented plant: cover crop and forage options

Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development and Communications Specialist
The weather continues to challenge farmers in parts of Minnesota. With the late planting window closing, cover crop options for prevented plant acres should be considered. Crops selected for forage use would also be good choices as cover crops. There are several options depending on what a producer's needs and expectations are.

Back to Basics for Soybean Planting

Seth Naeve, Extension Soybean Agronomist
As we enter soybean planting time, the most critical management period for soybean production, it's a good time to remember a few of the most critical decisions that can be made, including:

Select and plant only the best varieties:  Not all soybeans are equal.  Each year, seed companies sell soybean seed with a wide range in yield potential.  Typically, the best-yielding varieties produce between 20 percent and 40 percent greater yields than those at the bottom.  Don't get stuck with a dog.  Make your initial selections carefully by using third-party yield information, and only accept substitutions with proven yield potential.