2023 Crop Condition Update

2023 Crop Condition Update

Article By: Justin Bauer, CCA

The spring weather of 2023 sure has made farming difficult to manage. The spring started out wet, but now we've found ourselves in a long dry spell, which is impacting several factors in our fields. As a result of this, our corn and soybean fields are growing unevenly. When corn plants were transitioning from using their seed and seminal roots to their nodal roots, they struggled because they didn't have enough water. These nodal roots, which are closer to the surface, had a hard time growing and getting nutrients without adequate moisture. This year, even small differences in seeding depth made a big difference because of the lack of rainfall. The wet start to spring made us feel rushed to plant, even though the soil wasn't in the best planting condition.  This created a significant amount of side wall compaction, which also contributed to plants developing uneven roots. Soybeans faced similar problems when we planted them right before one of the few rains we had. With the lack of rain combined with hot sunny days the soil crusted, making it tough for the beans to emerge. In the worst cases, the beans pushed so hard that their hypocotyl broke and died.

The use of cover crops combined with a mild winter created the perfect environment for insects to thrive and thus damage crops. Army worms and cutworms are not uncommon pests in our fields.  The weather hasn't significantly impacted their populations except where a cover crop was used. We have seen higher populations of weevil in our alfalfa fields, though. The mild winter and dry weather have made it perfect for them to thrive.

Right now, northwestern Wisconsin is going through a moderate drought according to the US Drought Monitor. We really need rain, not just for the plants to grow, but also to activate the weed-killing chemicals and to keep nitrogen from volatilizing into the air after application. Most chemicals and Urea fertilizer need about a half inch of rain to activate the herbicide and prevent the Urea from volatizing and losing the valuable Nitrogen. As we continue to face these challenges, our hopes remain pinned on the arrival of much-needed precipitation to support our crops.

Justin Bauer, Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), owns Bauer's Seeds and Service, LLC, with his wife Senaca. The business is based near Durand where they serve as dealers of Pioneer seed and crop protection products.  Justin can be reached at justin.bauer@plantpioneer.com or at 715-577-8541.