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What to watch for in young corn

A strong start to your corn crop will ensure you a rewarding harvest

The first step in guaranteeing a profitable harvest is ensuring corn plants are thriving in the early stages of growth.

At the planting to seedling stage, corn is most susceptible to seed and root rot diseases. Disease such as seedling blight, and root rots caused by pythium, fusarium or rhizoctonia could affect seedlings, particularly in cool or wet soils. Visual symptoms of affected seedlings include poor (or no) emergence, and yellow or stunted corn plants. Fungicide seed treatments are recommended.

Depending on what is prevalent, insects such as wireworms, cutworms, corn rootworm larvae and seed corn maggot should be scouted for. These insects can feed on corn seed, roots or early leaf material. A corn insecticide seed treatment is the recommended control method. Different insecticide treatments for corn are available at different rates, so understanding what pests are present in the area, and selecting the recommended corn seed treatment can aid in the successful establishment of a corn crop.

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Corn is a poor competitor with weeds in the early stages, so effective weed control from the time of planting through to the V5 stage, often referred to as the “Critical Weed Free Period” is very important to maximize corn establishment and yield.

Consider your herbicide choices carefully; corn hybrids can be sensitive to some post-emergent herbicides. Some herbicides have the potential to impact the development of the nodal root system or cause injury to the corn plant itself. Therefore, it is always good to check the product label for the correct timing and product rates for corn in your area.

Scout weekly to gain information on diseases, insects and weeds that may be present or at risk in the field will allow for effective, informed management decisions.

Fertilizer can cause potential damage or injury to corn. Corn has a high nutrient requirement. The best time to put some fertilizer down is in the fall or in spring prior to seeding. Too much fertilizer with the seed can cause damage to the plant. Follow guidelines for fertilizer rates and placement to avoid injury to the crop.

Correct seed choice at planting followed by excellent seedling care help ensure healthy, high-yielding plants. Caring for corn seedlings by familiarizing yourself with common diseases, insects, and weeds that can affect plant health and scouting for these potential problems is key to maximizing yields and profits.

Glenda Clezy is an agronomy trials manager at DuPont Pioneer.

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