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A Southern View

Crop Observations from Southern Illinois

Further Signs that Spring is in the Air

Posted by Robert Bellm -

After a few days of sunshine, steady breezes, and almost pleasant temperatures, most of the ponded water in fields has either evaporated or finally soaked into the ground. The soil surface certainly can't be called dry, but it has become firm enough that we could get into the fields without cutting ruts and apply nitrogen to the various wheat trials here at the research center. Wheat development throughout the region is definitely variable this year, with some fields approachingĀ  Feekes Growth Stage 6 (jointing) while others are barely into Feekes GS 4 (end of tillering). Factors contributing to variability include planting date, variety, nitrogen fertilization rate and timing (both residual from 2012 and what was applied this winter), as well as field topography and drainage. Overall development is probably running a week or two behind normal, or close to a month behind what it was last year at this time.

In my March 20 blog entry, I had commented upon last fall's soil nitrate monitoring study. Preliminary testing early this spring indicates that there has been some leaching of residual nitrate down through the soil profile during the winter and early spring months, as reported by Dr. Emerson Nafziger in the April 2 Bulletin article. With soils now drying out and corn planting just around the corner, we will begin a broader re-sampling the same field areas that were sampled last fall to get a better idea of how much N may still be available for this summer's corn crop.

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