We’ve dug countless corn roots over the years, but this pair of stalks has the richest array of branching, root hairs and actinomycetes we’ve seen at the 6-leaf stage.
June 27, 2020 — Look closely at how the soil clings to the root hairs. That signals a massive network of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi which multiplies the root’s ability to absorb moisture and dissolve soil nutrients.
Indiana grower Hal Brown says “I’m really excited about what I see.” He adds: “The soil has abundant actinomycetes, and its aroma is wonderful.”
He credits the abundant biological activity to a summer 2019 cover crop which improved soil tilth in this organically farmed field, plus his own mix of nutrients and biologicals. The liquid blend is applied in-furrow at 4 gallons per acre.
Microorganisms placed alongside the seed in moist soil colonize emerging roots. These living organisms multiply exponentially and become an extension of the root hairs. Living microorganisms have 10 times the power of roots alone to make essential soil minerals soluble, so the root can absorb nutrients.
Hal has experimented and studied live biological organisms for decades. This is the kind of seasoned experience it takes to come up with a symbiotic blend of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Years ago he made a couple of microbial blends called Arouse and Crescendo available to other growers and consultants. But now he keeps his own counsel — and his own combinations. “I learned with BioGenesis that when dealing with live microbes, if certain rules aren’t adhered to, you have a mess.”
Companies which market bugs in a jug often use dormant organisms to make storage time more flexible, and field use simpler. We’ve seen growers successfully brew their own “biologicals” like compost tea, but it takes great attention to detail and careful timing. Those tasks aren’t easy at planting time.
These roots are a reminder that right now — when corn is rapidly growing past hip-high — it’s an excellent time to dig roots and split stalks to check on the “foundation” of your 2020 crop. You can check for root structure and stalk health. A time-tested technique: When you’ve checked the root ball, then split the stalk and look at the root crown. If it’s white and healthy, nutrients have a clear path up the xylem tubes to nourish the plant. If you’re seeing some yellowing and congestion at the root crown, that’s a sign of toxicity or emerging disease issues.