Bob Nielsen tells farmers to use the pinch test on stalks, or else the push test to tell if stalks have stalk rot and are losing the ability to stand in the field. Stalks fail the push test if they don't spring back when you walk down a row and give plants a push. Do it on 100 plants and figure the percentage. Repeat it at several points in the field.
The Purdue University Extension corn specialist says it's time to know that's in your fields. Some fields may have been damaged by windstorms earlier in the season. Others may be hybrids that were hit harder by foliar diseases. Once stressed by either situation, they become more vulnerable to invasion by stalk rot, which can literally destroy the inside of the stalk.
Corn Illustrated 9/30: Good Deals Entice Some to Shell Corn Early
Driving along a state highway a few days ago, a farmer was opening up a corn field. It would have been a great afternoon to run soybeans. Why was he running corn when moisture levels were still likely high?
It didn't take long to figure it out. Big patches in the field away from the end rows looked flat to mostly flat. The same pattern continued into the next two fields. The combine was equipped with a reel to help feed down corn into the corn head more easily.
Whether the problem was due to an earlier windstorm that knocked over plants or due to stalk rot wasn't clear. But it was obvious why it was more important to get corn out of the field instead of soybeans.
Corn Illustrated 9/23: Stalk Rots May Take Corn Down Earlier Than You Think
The field was located on bottom ground. If it turns wet, flooding is a possibility in that location. Flooding is the last thing you want for down corn that is lying nearly flat.
Use this opportunity to know what's happening in your fields away from the end rows. How well is it still standing?
For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.