After a roller coaster of a ride in weather this spring, corn and soybean progress in Nebraska is somewhat variable, depending on location. Not unlike the 2016 and 2015 growing season, producers wrestled with cool, wet conditions in between windows of warm, dry and sunny weather.
According to the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service numbers, 91% of the corn in Nebraska is emerged as of June 4, compared to 88% a year ago, while 42% of the state's soybeans are emerged, compared to 40% a year ago.
In east-central Nebraska, most growers have wrapped up planting corn and soybeans, although Nathan Mueller, Extension cropping systems educator in Dodge and Washington counties, notes some are still replanting wet pockets, especially in the Elkhorn and Platte river bottom areas.
One of the big issues in this region is crusting, especially in fields planted right before a heavy rain event, resulting in uneven emergence and issues with stand uniformity. "In particular, we had a heavy rain in the evening of Tuesday, May 16," Mueller says. "Corn and soybeans planted that Monday and Tuesday before the rain, those are the corn and soybean fields having the most problems with crusting."
The most significantly affected fields are those under tillage with low-organic matter soils.
The wet weather has also posed challenges with herbicide residual activity running out after weather kept growers out of fields. The biggest problem, Mueller says, is marestail in soybean fields. "If soybeans are emerged and marestail is still alive, that creates a lot of problems. At that point, there aren't a lot of options to take it out," he says. On the other hand, Mueller adds moisture may be needed in some cases to activate preemergence herbicides to control large-seeded weeds like cocklebur and velvetleaf.
In southeast Nebraska, most of the corn acres are around V4, while soybeans acres range from just emerged to V1. The recent warm weather has helped with emergence, but Tyler Williams, Extension educator in Lancaster County, notes some cornfields were showing signs of heat stress in early June.
"You run into some places where it's still fairly short and others where it's quite tall. It's actually drying out a little in some of the slopes," Williams says. "I saw some corn curled up recently — and that was probably more heat-stress than water-stress related, especially at the pinnacle of the day at 2 p.m., when the plant's trying to protect itself. I don't think we should be all that concerned yet, but with enough days of 95-degree temperatures and no rain, heat stress adds up really fast."
Meanwhile, growers also dealt with cool, wet temperatures early on. "Once we busted through that cold weather, most everything is shaping up and looking good right now," Williams notes, adding that as weeds also start to take off, it's a good idea to start scouting and apply an overlapping residual. "I've seen a lot of spraying. Most are only 2 to 3 inches tall, but they'll blow up any day if they haven't already."
Southeast and south central
In many counties in southeast to south-central Nebraska, corn ranges from V2 to V8. Soybeans are much more variable, ranging from just emerged to V4 on some that were planted early per Nebraska Extension recommendations to plant soybeans around late April to achieve canopy closure by late June. "I saw more soybeans planted early this year than ever before. That was encouraging for us," says Jenny Rees, Extension educator in York County.
Despite concerns with ponding in fields, there haven't been many instances where replanting was needed, Rees adds. The only time when a complete replant of a field has been warranted is due to injury from PPO-inhibitor herbicides in soybeans due to wet conditions. "I've only heard of two or three growers that needed to replant whole fields due to PPO injury," adds Rees. "With the dry and warm weather, most of the soybeans are growing out of it."
There have also been issues with corn planted into cereal rye. In some cases, plants have died off after being planted into rye. "We believe it's wheat stem maggot. I've never seen it happen before," Rees says. "So far, I've seen it in Clay, Nuckolls, Fillmore, Saline, Jefferson and Kearney counties."
Learn more about wheat stem maggot at jenreesources.com.
South central and southwest
In south-central Nebraska, corn progress ranges from V5 to V6. However, soybeans are more variable. Some growers planted in a timely manner in May, while some weren't planted until early June.
"We're making good progress," says Todd Whitney, Extension educator in Furnas, Gosper, Harlan and Phelps counties. "I've only heard of one or two cases where people had to replant; it was just 30- to 40-acre fields due to flooding. We've gone to the other extreme now, because we're hoping to get some rain."
In south-central Nebraska, there have also been issues with herbicide residual activity running out after weather kept growers out of fields. "We've got a lot of situations where people are putting a second pre-emerge on and then following with a post," says Whitney.
Like many parts of Nebraska, winter wheat growers in south-central and southwest Nebraska are dealing with stripe rust. However, Whitney says growers who applied fungicide at the flag leaf stage are anticipating decent winter wheat yields this year. "If they didn't put fungicide on, stripe rust is likely going to be hard on yields, especially with susceptible wheat varieties," he says. "I think it will take the extra bushels off of what we had last year."
In west-central Nebraska, most of the corn is up and growing, while most soybeans are planted and starting to emerge, notes Rodrigo Werle, Extension cropping systems specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte.
"We planted a little later than we would like. In mid-April, we were really dry, and then we got a couple rains that kept us out of the field," Werle says. "We've been dry the last week, which has slowed emergence. Two to three weeks ago we had a cold spell, and the corn was yellow for a little while. With the warm weather we're seeing now, it's just taking off."
Similar to the other parts of the state, winter wheat in western Nebraska is progressing well, but has been hit with heavy pressure from stripe rust.
Meanwhile, Palmer amaranth and other weeds are starting to emerge in the west-central part of the state, and it may be a good time to apply an overlapping residual. "For those that put preemergence herbicides down in May or April, now is a good time to start scouting," Werle adds. "The residual activity is running low now. The weeds are poking through, and it's a good time to add some residual to the system."