As usual in life, everything seems to hit at once. With the moisture the last 4 to 6 weeks, we had been planning on a fungicide application for both corn and soybeans. Disease pressure has been light, but showed up pretty early. Even though it has been very warm this week, there is still no lack for moisture in the form of humidity.
Reports at the end of last week had earworm and western cutworm counts very high. I've even heard they were eating at the whorl in fields where there wasn't any silk yet. Japanese beetles have also made a return for the 2013 season. To be honest, we didn't really miss them last year when drought held populations to low numbers. With insect populations in mind, it has pushed up our fungicide applications by about a week. We are running the application a few days after tassels emerge in order to get the insects before they burrow into the protection of the ear. Depending on the applicator, vendor, and products, this application can cost between $25-$40 per acre.
Many of our soybean fields have entered the R3 stage where the 'plant health' program is supposed to be the most effective. With this application, we also hit the manganese one more time, and many fields have received a micro-nutrient pack as well, trying to get them some help since they were waterlogged for a couple weeks. I have been trying to keep my spraying confined to the somewhat cooler mornings when the plants are more receptive to absorbing nutrients. These treatments don't cost much less, running from $20-$30 per acre, money we had hoped to not spend.
All this said, the crops are shallow rooted, so getting water to this year's crop is going to be critical. We are starting irrigation, but sure hoping the late week forecast for rain come through.