Field Conditions Update

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The weather has begun to take a turn for the better for the farmers in Sampson County. Fields were dry last week and some crops that I saw were under stress. Some farmers were forced to stop planting due to a lack of moisture and the cooler temperatures have not helped either. After the rains over the holiday weekend, soil moisture has been restored and planting has resumed throughout most of the county. The temperature also seems to be trending upwards, hopefully creating a recipe for crop growth heading into June. This will also provide more favorable conditions for cotton planting as soil temperatures rise.

Due to the cooler weather, I have seen some nutrient deficiencies mainly in corn. I have seen magnesium, phosphorus and potassium deficiencies, all of which can be attributed to cool weather or crop genetics as some varieties are more prone to early deficiencies. The cooler weather has slowed plant growth and the roots have not been able to grow deep enough into the soil to reach some of these nutrients. In most cases, warmer weather and therefore more optimal crop growth, will eliminate these deficiencies as plant roots grow deeper and reach the necessary nutrients.

Now that the rain has come and the temperatures are on the rise, the next issue will most likely be insects. Thrips are going to be the biggest threat in the upcoming weeks. It has been cool, keeping populations low but also not allowing young plants to grow as rapidly leaving them susceptible to damage from infestation as temperatures rise. For cotton, it may pay to apply insecticide early after emergence to allow time for the seedlings to get a good stand. Rain events will help to wash the thrips away so I would suggest looking at the weather to avoid wasteful spraying when the rain will wash away the insects anyway. Dr. Dominic Reisig from NC State warns about the use of acephate for thrips control due to some reports of resistance last year. He suggests checking behind applications to ensure it was effective.

Summer annual weeds are coming in as well. I have seen various pigweed species as well as morning glory and sicklepod coming in all while some winter annuals like henbit have been clinging on due to the cool weather. This may present a problem in corn that has been slow to establish a canopy or later planted corn. A post-emergent application may be necessary to control these weeds before they become too large. As for soybeans, I strongly suggest a good pre-emergent herbicide application and scouting periodically at least until the crop canopy closes and shades the ground.

Wheat and other small grains are drying down and are nearly ready for harvest. Driving around I have seen problems with lodging in several places which could lead to more time being dedicated to harvest or possibly not being able to harvest some of the crop. I would suggest taking time to evaluate whether the yield is worth the extra effort that may be needed to harvest lodged grain.

row crops