Renewable Farming

Will “sudden death” of corn and beans lead to changed yield estimates?

Sept. 10 — Reports from southeast Iowa through central Illinois signaled that corn and soybeans are dying prematurely, at a rapid pace. Several agronomists offer reasons why: Warm weather, shallow rooting from a wet spring, early planting and thus early maturity.

We could see yield estimates backing off. And, if corn is infected with the Goss’s bacterium, the organisms could gradually shrink nutrient density in the bin, leading to reductions in carryover estimates next spring.

There are few mentions of disease as the cause of corn collapse. But near the Stockton, IA farm where we visited a BRT field day Sept. 2, the non-GMO corn on highly fertile ground, and foliar-fed through the season, is still green. Nearby fields with stacked traits are not only totally dead, but the pith is black near the base of the stalk, and corn is collapsing. That was Keith Schlapkohl’s report this morning.

Several of our fields test positive on the AgDia sticks for Goss’s wilt. The organisms are virtually everywhere across the Midwest. However, while we see some leaf lesions and “fingerprints” on stalks, the pith is still white and our root crowns are still able to deliver water for green leaves and kernel fill. Ear kernel length is in the mid to upper 30s, 16 and 18 rows around. We see very little tipping back. This plot was treated with in-furrow, side-dress and foliar products from consultant Jim Martindale, Indiana. That included MegaMag and a new fish emulsion, plus Presto Gold. Total nitrogen was 60 units applied as 28% in-furrow and side-dressed near the stalks.

Foliar products contained WakeUP Summer for enhanced systemic uptake.

Some of our non-GMO corn: Viking Seed 60-01N Planted May 22. Photo Sept. 9, 2015


Our non-GMO Pioneer 92M72 soybeans are 4 ft. tall.


Our soybean plots were all Pioneer’s 92M72 this season. This is a bean with a relative maturity of 27 on Pioneer’s scale of 21 to 35, so it’s not a really late maturing bean. Most of the bean fields around us in northeast Iowa are turning rapidly, losing leaves in some patches. 

These beans are part of a strip trial where we’re testing a product for Mr. Paul Syltie, called Vitazyme.  It has been around a long time, and is one of the most-verified growth promotants on the market. Our plots are designed to see if WakeUP Summer gives Vitazyme a little extra systemic kick.  With and without WakeUP, these beans have remained healthy. There was some potassium deficiency showing up in August. We sprayed with a potassium product and the yellowing was replaced by green, plus new leaves.

Also, the entire field was sprayed uniformly with BRT’s Seed Set and Rondo — both laced with WakeUP Summer.  The beans are in 30-inch rows and heavily podded with beans which have filled well. 

Pods are filling rapidly. Photo Sept. 9.