Project Title: Corn Verification Program
PI’s: Erick Larson, Jason Krutz, Angus Catchot, Tom Allen
Dept: PSS & BCH/EPP
Corn is an integral component of Mississippi’s agricultural production systems. During the last few years, corn has become the second most popular Mississippi row crop based upon planted acreage and value. Although corn productivity has increased more than any other Mississippi row crop during the past twenty years, we believe there is tremendous potential to improve our production systems. Thus, the Mississippi State University Extension Service has established a Corn Verification Program supported by the Mississippi Corn Promotion Board using your checkoff funds designed to assist with the implementation of better management practices and technology and to identify limitations in our corn production systems. We do so while keeping the foremost objective of increasing profitability of Mississippi’s corn production systems – not just trying any and all methods, some of which may have little practical merit and ultimately be unprofitable. We seek to accomplish these goals through the gracious cooperation of producers who grant us the opportunity to provide guidance and implement improved practices in one field on their farm. We develop a management plan uniquely tailored for each field and cooperator. Verification fields are scouted on a weekly basis to monitor crop response, potential limitations and ensure timely and prudent implementation of in-season practices. This process allows us to demonstrate value of new or improved management practices that are currently not being utilized.
Our Corn Verification team continues to focus efforts to improve corn water and irrigation management and work cooperatively with our Irrigation Specialist, Dr. Jason Krutz. Crop productivity often suffers considerably when our climate dramatically shifts from abundant rainfall to drought. We recognize that soil saturation, as well as moisture deficit, has negative impacts on corn growth and development. Implementation of soil moisture sensors in Corn Verification fields have confirmed that soil saturation resulting from abundant rainfall or poorly timed irrigation severely limits corn root activity and depth, particularly during the early part of the season. This substantially restricts the water and nutrient availability required to support optimal corn growth and tolerance of adverse environmental conditions. Therefore, we are integrating soil moisture information with corn physiological needs to significantly improve irrigation scheduling for our corn production systems. For example, corn is very tolerant to water deficit during vegetative stages, when crop water needs are relatively low and soil moisture reserves are normally plentiful. Therefore, we recommend a very conservative irrigation schedule until just prior to tassel. Implementation of this strategy also encourages much deeper root growth, documented at least 36” deep in our Verification fields. Similarly, as corn progresses through late reproductive stages, water demand falls while stress tolerance improves substantially, so a moderate irrigation schedule will address demand. In summary, we are developing and demonstrating progressive methods to use soil moisture sensors and other technology for corn production. The corn irrigation strategies we implement in Verification fields are improving crop yields, as well as reducing irrigation water usage and associated expenses about 40 percent. Grower adoption of this technology and methods is rapid due to the efforts and results of our cooperative programs.
Verification fields have been closely evaluated for several years to document stand variability and identify causal factors. Uneven plant spacing as well as variable seedling emergence are common corn yield limitations. These issues often develop when planting extremely early or during adverse environmental conditions. Thus, we developed corn planting guidelines based upon soil temperature and moisture, rather than relying solely on calendar date for initiating planting. Corn Verification Program research evaluated crop response to planter speeds ranging from 3 to 6 mph and type of seed metering system. Results showed corn grain yield was reduced 4.2 bu/a for each mph increase in ground speed of a John Deere planter. Retrofitting a John Deere planter with a Precision Planting e-Set metering system increased corn yields an average of 5.9 bu/a and improved crop response to increasing ground speed by 17%. Furthermore, we are also evaluating the effect of delayed seedling emergence on productivity. Our other MCPB sponsored research shows irregular seedling emergence will reduce corn yield up to 22%, compared to a uniform corn stand. This substantial yield loss and needs to be accounted for when assessing corn stands. Thus, we intend to focus research and educational efforts to improve the likelihood of uniform stand development.
Glyphosate and ALS resistant ryegrass populations initially developed in the Delta have now rapidly encompassed nearly the entire state, presenting significant challenges for corn production. The Corn Verification Program has documented that emerged ryegrass is extremely competitive with young corn, and our ryegrass populations, which are often resistant to both glyphosate and ALS herbicides, cannot be reliably controlled after corn plants emerge. Therefore, MSU scientists have developed a specific management plan for controlling ryegrass competition in Mississippi’s corn production systems. The three-part system includes the use of a fall-applied residual herbicide designed to limit the population of resistant ryegrass, followed by two separate spring-applied postemergence herbicides with different modes of action to completely control ryegrass before corn emergence. Our successful implementation and demonstration of this specific plan has proven to be imperative to successful control, and has greatly enhanced widespread adoption of this plan.
The Corn Verification team often finds substantial insect damage during early corn vegetative stages. Plant damage has occurred, despite the presence of insecticide seed treatments designed to limit seedling injury. One of the pests identified causing damage is the Sugarcane beetle, which is a unique pest found in our region. Awareness created from the Corn Verification Program has led to considerable MSU research investigating these issues. We have evaluated enhanced levels of seed treatment insecticides and documented merit in many cases. We have also identified an alternative and potentially more viable pest control alternative (liquid in-furrow insecticide) and improved our understanding of Mississippi’s corn seedling insect pests. The Corn Verification Program fields are being used to evaluate and build a data base documenting the value of liquid in-furrow insecticides for use in Mississippi corn production systems.
The Corn Verification Program provides first-hand opportunity to identify many factors limiting corn productivity in Mississippi, so that we can develop educational programs and research better directed to address pertinent limitations in our region. Each of the issues identified in the previous section have developed into major Mississippi State University research projects, which train graduate students and thoroughly investigate these limitations. Furthermore, this on-farm verification program also is a tremendous method to demonstrate how to successfully implement cutting-edge strategies and new technology. For example, our efforts have helped increase corn yields, while reducing irrigation water consumption and expense over 40%. We believe the cumulative adoption of progressive practices addressing multiple issues identified through this program offer tremendous possibility to improve systems and reduce risks which hamper profitability and sustainability of Mississippi corn production.
Professional Presentations and Outreach
Alabama Corn Yield Challenge, Alabama Soybean and Corn Association, Huntsville, AL. 1/17/2017.
MSU Row Crop Short Course, MSU, MS. 12/6/2016.
Mississippi Agricultural Industry Council Row Crop Update – Certified Crop Advisor Training Session, Orange Beach, AL. 7/27/16.
Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Corn and Soybean Commodity Conference, Greenwood, MS. 7/20/16.
MSU Extension Agronomic and Pests Scout School. Clarksdale, MS 4/4/16; Stoneville, MS 4/6/16; Verona, MS 4/8/16; Lucedale, MS 4/12/16; Raymond, MS 4/13/16.
National Corn Growers Association Commodity Classic – University Extension Specialists’ Roundtable, New Orleans, LA. 3/3/2016.
Tennessee Valley Row Crop Production Meeting, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Tanner, AL. 2/24, 2016.
Tennessee Winter Agronomic Workshop, Tennessee Agricultural Production Association, Jackson, TN. 2/17/2016.
Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association Annual Meeting. Mississippi State, MS. 2/03/2016.
National Conservation Systems Corn and Soybean Conference, 2 presentations, Memphis, TN. 1/13-14/2016.
Delta Agricultural Exposition, 3 presentations, Cleveland, MS. 1/20-21/16.
Alabama Corn and Wheat Short Course, Auburn, AL. 12/14/15.
MSU Row Crop Short Course, MSU, MS. 12/1/2015.
National Conservation Systems Southern Corn and Soybean Conference, Baton Rouge, LA. 1/15-16/15.
National Corn Growers Association Commodity Classic – University Extension Specialists’ Roundtable, San Antonio, TX. 2/27/2014.
National Conservation Systems Corn and Soybean Conference, 2 presentations, Robertsdale, MS. 1/15-16/2014.
Farm Journal Corn College, 2 presentations, Murfreesboro, TN. 1/7/2014.
National Corn Growers Association Commodity Classic – University Extension Specialists’ Roundtable, Kissimmee, FA. 2/28/2013.
Arkansas Crop Management College, 2 presentations, Little Rock, AR. 1/22/2013.
Farm Journal Corn College, Vicksburg, MS. 1/8/2013.
National Corn Growers Association – Corn Utilization and Technology Conference, Indianapolis, IN 6/4-6/2012.
Mississippi Crop Situation Blog (www.Mississippi-Crops.com)
Larson, E. J., Golden, B. R., Oldham, J. L., Krutz, L. J. (2016). Burning Stalks – What Does it Really Cost? Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). When Should I Start Corn Harvest and What are the Implications. Mississippi Crop Si Larson, E. J. (2016). How Can I Estimate Corn Yield?. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J., Krutz, L. J. (2016). How to Determine when you can Terminate Corn Irrigation. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Identifying Corn Reproductive Growth Stages and Management Implications. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Why did the Kernels near the Ear Tip not Fill? Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Will Short Corn Limit your Yield Potential? Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J., Oldham, J. L., Golden, B. R., Allen, T. W. (2016). When is the Best Time for the “Tassel Shot” on Corn?
Larson, E. J. (2016). How to Determine Growth Stages of Young Corn or Sorghum. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Video – How to Identify Corn Vegetative Growth Stages. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J., Krutz, L. J. (2016). When Should we Start Irrigating our Corn? Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J., Golden, B. R., Oldham, J. L. (2016). How to get the Best Return on your Corn Nitrogen Dollars. Mississippi Crop Situation.
Larson, E. J. (2016). When does Corn Yield Potential begin to Suffer from Late Planting? Mississippi Crop Situation.
Delta Farm Press
Robb, Brad, Larson, E.J, Fromme, D. and McClure, A. (2016). Corn Agronomy 101: Choice of Hybrids is Key. Delta Farm Press.
Coblentz, B., Larson, E. J., Williams, B. R. (2016). Mississippi farmers watch rains, markets as planting moves ahead. Delta Farm Press.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Do short corn plants limit yield potential? Delta Farm Press.
Breazeale, L., Williams, B. R., Larson, E. J., Irby, J. T., Golden, B. R. (2016). Mississippi farmers watch rains, markets as planting moves ahead. Delta Farm Press.
Larson, E. J. (2016). Following huge rains how is Mid-South corn planting faring? Delta Farm Press.
Brandon, Hembree and Larson, E.J. (2016). Boosting corn yield potential a key to profitability when prices low. Delta Farm Press.
Mississippi State University Extension Crop Reports
Coblentz, B., Larson, E. J., Krutz, L. J., Williams, B. R. (2016). Rainy weather slows state’s corn harvest. Mississippi State University Extension Crop Report.
Coblentz, B., Larson, E. J., Williams, B. R., Aust, R. P., Reginelli, D. B. (2016). Constantly wet soils hinder corn planting. Mississippi State University Extension Crop Report.
Breazeale, L., Williams, B. R., Larson, E. J., Irby, J. T., Golden, B. R. (2016). Markets, rain play havoc with planting decisions. Mississippi State University Extension Crop Report.
Research Associate Jenny Bibb assists with the Corn Verification Program in conjunction with her training associated with pursuing a Doctoral degree at Mississippi State University.
Three undergraduate students at Mississippi State University work part time to assist activities in the Corn Verification Program.