It’s been said that a 1,000 variables affect a crop from the time seed is planted in the spring until grain is harvested that fall.  The 2011 growing season certainly put that theory to the test!

Many Midwest growers planted their crops much later than they would’ve liked because heavy spring rainfalls prevented them from getting in the fields any sooner.  Just when plants started to look really good across much of the country, several thousand crop acres were hit by straight-line winds in July and August.  Then, adding insult to injury, many of these same areas suffered from excessive heat and lack of moisture during a key period of crop development in late summer.  In addition to these challenging growing season conditions, this fall many fields suffered from an early frost plus were subject to rapid dry down from above-normal fall temperatures.

Environmental conditions in 2011 certainly weakened corn stalks and predisposed ears to drop at the shank.  It’s no wonder that Wallaces Farmer reports corn lodging is a greater problem than normal, with 21% of Iowa’s corn crop experiencing moderate to heavy lodging compared to 10% on average.  And 10% of Iowa’s corn crop is experiencing moderate to heavy ear droppage compared to 5% normally.

Although stalk rot is the cause of lodging in most cases, they are not the only cause.  Below are other reasons for early ear droppage:

Several environmental factors contributed to the higher amount of ear droppage this fall.  While we can’t control Mother Nature, we can help minimize its effects through hybrid selection.  When making purchasing decisions for the 2012 growing season, remember that not all hybrids offer the same degree of stalk strength and some are more susceptible than others to stalk rot.  Search for the strongest genetic package that delivers the traits needed to fit your particular growing situation.

At Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, we partner with our farmer-customers to identify the traits necessary for their growing conditions, above- and/or below-ground pests and weed control options.  A new option for corn growers in 2012 is Refuge in a Bag (RIB), which makes the complex world of refuge simple.  The RIB concept involves mixing the refuge seed with both the corn borer and rootworm insect protected corn seed, so growers have everything they need to be refuge compliant in just one bag. Growers no longer need to weigh adjacent versus in-field configurations; they can simply open the bag and pour. Growers will be able to purchase the first single-bag RIB solution for the 2012 season from Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.  Genuity® SmartStax® RIB Complete™ Corn, a blend of 95% traited seed and 5% refuge seed.  With only 5% refuge seed, you’ll be able to protect more of your acres from corn borer in the year ahead.