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Effect of Growing Season on Corn Silage Quality

Corn silage quality can vary significantly due to environmental differences that may occur from year to year. Multi-year forage data analysis (2011-2014) from independent testing laboratories in the U.S. demonstrate that corn silage quality over the last four years has varied considerably as indicated by starch percent, fiber levels and fiber digestibility¹’².

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Fertility Plans for Next Season

If a nutrient deficiency is suspected in your field or you’re planning your fertility for next season, a soil test is a good place to start.  Although soil tests are key in the investigation they shouldn’t be the only tool used for diagnosis.  Scouting for crop symptoms, comparative soil and tissue testing and examining previous crop yields and rotations are all pert of the diagnostic and planning process. 

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Managing Corn Plant Health to Help Maximize Yield Potential

Keeping a corn plant healthy and stress free during critical growth stages can help maximize yield potential.  Understanding the significance of the growth stages and the effect of stress during any of the stages can help determine management decisions to improve overall plant health and protect yield potential.

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Corn Kernels Sprouting Prior to Harvest

Vivipary, the premature germination or sprouting of corn kernels on the cob prior to harvest, is not a common problem but sometimes can be serious enough to warrant attention from growers. On the rare occasion when viviparous germination occurs throughout a field, overall grain quality can deteriorate enough to cause problems with drying and storage of grain. Another consequence is the potential increase in the percentage of "broken corn and foreign material" in affected grain delivered to the elevator that may result in significant grain price discounts to the grower.

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Late Season Frost Damage to Corn

An early frost, during the grain-filling period, in September can cause losses in corn yield and quality.  Losses will depend on the temperature, duration, and corn growth stage at the time of the frost.  Management will depend on the corn growth stage and severity of damage.


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Will Corn Mature Before Frost? 80-100 RM

As the corn crop enters the final stretch of the growing season, many may be looking ahead on the calendar and wondering if fields will mature before the arrival of a killing fall freeze, especially those with late-planted corn. Crop conditions are good, but grain fill remains behind normal due to cooler than normal conditions.

Typically, late-planted corn tends to require fewer growing degree units (GDU) to reach maturity than early-planted corn. However, with temperatures being well below normal in recent weeks, we are instead seeing development of later planted corn following closely the normal number of GDU required to reach each stage.

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Scouting for Corn Rootworm

There are two common species of Corn Rootworm present in Eastern Canada; Northern Corn Rootworm and Western Corn Rootworm.  Although Western is most predominant, Northern does exist as a pest.  As their name implies, these pests target corn.

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Anthracnose Stalk Rot and Top Die-Back

Anthracnose, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum graminicola, has been discovered in some local corn fields. In particular, fields that had stress earlier in the season and have currently been wet and cloudy for a week or two are exhibiting symptoms. Yield losses may occur from premature plant death that interrupts filling of the grain and stalk breakage and lodging that can cause harvest complications.

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Cladosporium Ear Mould

Conditions this year have led to the development of a less frequently seen black mould, Cladosporium.  Development of Cladosporium ear and kernel mould took place due to early frost damage to corn that had not yet reached maturity, coupled with wet harvest conditions.  Cladosporium fungi often infect kernels damaged by insects, hail or frost.  When grain with high moisture content is frosted, micro-fractures in the pericarp occur.  Starch oozes out from these openings and serves as the food source for Cladosporium.  Cladosporium appears as gray to black or very dark green streaks scattered over the ear and can have a powdery appearance.  It can also cause greenish-black streaks in the kernels.  The variety of colours this mould exhibits is directly related to its stage growth.  The symptoms usually start with a white powdery mycelial growth in between the kernels (Figure 1) which quickly develop to a dark green or gray fungal mass (Figure 2). The black colour notes later stages and all colours of green and gray can be seen through the stages in between (figure 2). Initial discolouration often starts on the kernel base attached to the cob and will eventually progress and cover more of the kernels and cob (Figure 3).

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Corn Stalk Rots, Cannibalism and Lodging

Stalk rots in Eastern Canada are primarily caused by three fungi: Anthracnose, Gibberella, and Fusarium.1  Although disease severity varies each year, plants become prone to infection when nutrients are remobilized from stalks to ears (cannibalization).  This in turn, leads to weakened stalks which are prone to lodging. 

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Proper Grain Storage for Corn & Soybeans

Storing your corn & soybean crop is a good way to help ensure you can sell when prices are right for you.  It is important to take care when storing your crop so as not to lose potential dollars at the time of sale.

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Silage Harvest and Storage Management

Silage management involves many decisions and is influenced by growing conditions.  From the time harvest takes place until corn hybrids are selected for the coming season, silage growers are considering all aspects of the crop.  Considerations include: cutting height, chopping length, storage methods, packing, fermentation and seed selection.

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Estimating Corn Yield Potential

Estimating corn yield potential can help with harvest decision-making.  The corn yield component method can be used as early as the R3 (milk stage) growth stage. 

Estimating corn grain yield prior to harvest may produce yield estimates that are within 20 to 30 bu/acre of actual yield.2,3  Crop uniformity has a large influence on the accuracy of any estimation method. Samples should be taken randomly throughout a field to provide the best yield estimate. Yield should be determined in five to 10 locations per field unless conditions are variable, requiring a higher number of samples.4  More samples will be needed to represent a non-uniform field and improve the accuracy of the estimate.

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Determining Corn Harvest Order

Rapid drydown rates and drought stress can affect crop quality at harvest.  Once the crop reaches black layer (or R6 growth stage) scouting for variables (including: grain moisture, stalk quality and ear retention) can help schedule harvest.  Proper harvest order can help minimize mechanical loss and grain storage problems. 

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