Fall Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3) recommendation

1. In Illinois NH3 should not be applied to soils located near or south of Rt 116

a.These soils will typically warm up sooner, allowing for soil bacteria to begin converting Ammonium Nitrogen (NH4) into Nitrate Nitrogen (NO3).

b.These soils also have less holding capacity


2. When NH3 is applied to the soil, it’s the soil bacteria that will work to convert Ammonium Nitrogen NH4 (Stable) to Nitrate Nitrogen NO3 (Not Stable).  It’s the non-stable form of nitrogen that is vulnerable to being lost.

a.To prevent or prolong this conversion, growers should use a full rate of N-Serve.  This product creates a zone around the NH3 band that won’t allow the bacteria to convert to Nitrate NO3.

b.Since soil bacteria are active from 50 degrees F and above, it’s recommended that fall application is held off until soils are stabilized below 50 degrees F.


3. Splitting up nitrogen application.

a.Nitrogen management is as much an Art as it is a Science, and the best plan is still vulnerable to environmental impacts. Therefore, growers must take advantage of all option to minimize the loss of nitrogen.

b.The analogy of not putting all of your eggs in the same basket, can actually apply to nitrogen management.  If growers apply 100% of their nitrogen at any given time, they are at a very high risk.

i.By splitting up the % of nitrogen applied, it will reduce the environmental impact, reduce the need to apply additional nitrogen (Additional Cost), and will provide a strong environment for a corn plant to optimize its yield.

c.Studies have shown that a large amount of nitrogen is needed around VT growth stage.

i.If nitrogen is applied in November, this means it has set it the soils for upwards of 270 days.  A lot can happen in 270 days to one of the most important nutrient to a corn crop. 


Develop a sustainable Nitrogen Management program that will work the best for your farm and your fields, that will supply a high yielding crop while decrease the environmental impact.

Nigrospora Cob Rot

As harvest is going hard in some areas and just starting in others, there have been many reports of less than ideal stalks and grain quality.  In our last newsletter we addressed the Anthracnose (Figure 1) and Top Dieback (Figure 2) that were killing plants prematurely and/or leaving weak stalks behind.  In the newsletter prior to that we covered Diplodia Ear Rot (Figure 3) that has come on after silking during quite a stretch of excess moisture.  Now we are seeing a great quantity of spongy cobs caused by Nigrospora (Figure 4) that can also be attributed to excess moisture and weakened or dead plants.

     Nigrospora Cob Rot is caused by the fungus Nigrospora oryzae which is weak in nature and only attacks plants that are stressed or killed prior to maturity.  This premature death can be caused when normal plant growth is arrested by such things as;  Top Dieback, Anthracnose Stalk Rot, leaf disease, root rots, root feeding, hail, or insects.  The fungus occurs late in the season and will deteriorate the cob and kernels which is easily seen when breaking an ear in half, and oftentimes at the butt/shank connection.  In 2016 there is a high incidence of Nigrospora infecting from the tip of the cob rather than the butt (Figure 5).  Greater than normal amounts of cob are exposed this year following excessive night time temps (>70) leading to tip back, hybrids with open husks not shedding rain, or even on ears with average husk cover that remained upright during abundant late season moisture.  Infected ears are generally lighter in weight than healthy ears, sometimes chaffy, and have black spore masses scattered in the pith of the cob and on kernels.  Nigrospora will overwinter in corn residue and requires a weakened or dead plant for infection to take place.  Like the Diplodia we discussed a couple newsletters back, this fungus is not known to produce mycotoxins.

Stalk Quality Concerns Going into Harvest

As combines are making their way into corn fields, growers are noticing less than ideal plant health and intactness.  Stalk lodging is a concern since many of the plants have broken tops and stalks are brown and mushy.  Closer examination shows these plants have been infected with some form of stalk rot.  See guidelines below for information on stalk rot development, identification, scouting and management. 

Stalk Rot 101

Stalk rot typically occurs in a corn plant when some kind of stress disrupts the production of carbohydrate that is needed to fill kernels in the ear.  When the plant is no longer able to produce enough carbohydrate to fulfill kernel demand, it starts to translocate carbohydrate from the roots and stalk to satisfy the kernel demand.  As a result, roots begin to weaken and are not able to fight off root rot pathogens.  Root rot pathogens move up the stalk shutting down water and nutrient flow within the plant.  Root rot becomes stalk rot which leads to stalk cannibalization or death. 

Stalk rot can set in at any time.  We typically notice symptoms just after the R5 stage (dent).  Early symptoms of stalk rot include wilting, change from green to gray color, ear droops downward, ear becomes spongy when twisted and lesions present at the base of the stalk.  Plant eventually turns brown prematurely and the internal stalk pith disintegrates which makes the plant more susceptible to stalk breakage. 

 Likely Causes of Stalk Rot in 2016

·         Early crown and root damage stress during wet and very cool May

·         Nitrogen deficiency due to high N losses during a wet May

·         Heat stress during month of June and again in mid-July

·         Wind/hail damage from storms in June and July

·         Leaf diseases such as gray leaf spot and Southern Rust moving in July and August

·         Anthracnose top dieback expressing itself in late July and August

Stalk Rot Identification

There are many different types of stalk rot.  Weather conditions during the growing season dictate the kind of stalk rot present.  For 2016, anthracnose has been the most common stalk rot followed by diplodia, gibberella and fusarium.    

Anthracnose Stalk Rot

·         Typically starts out as anthracnose top dieback where the top 1/3rd of the plant dies back

·         Stalk lesions appear as shiny black blotches or streaks on the lower stalk

·         Internal stalk tissue may have tan to brown discoloration starting at nodes

·         Favored by extended periods of hot, cloudy and humid conditions

Diplodia Stalk Rot

·         Lower internodes become straw-brown and spongy

·         Stalk lesions appear as tiny, dark fungal specks called pycnidia that form just under the stalk surface near the base of the plant.  Pycnidia specks cannot be easily scraped off surface.

·         White fungal mycelium may appear on the stalk surface

·         Tan to brown internal stalk tissue discoloration

·         Favored by dry and warm conditions early followed by wet weather after silking 

Gibberella Stalk Rot

·         Black specks on lower stalks.  Larger than pycnidia specks and can be easily scraped on stalk surface.

·         Internal stalk tissue has a pink to red discoloration

·         Favored by dry and warm conditions early followed by wet weather after silking 

Fusarium Stalk Rot

·         White, fuzzy growth at nodes on lower stalk

·         Internal stalk tissue has a whitish-pink to salmon discoloration

·         Favored by dry and warm conditions early followed by wet weather after silking 

Scouting for Stalk Rot

By doing a quick survey in a field, a grower can determine the amount of stalk damage that is present to aid in harvest timing decisions.  By walking through the field and “pinching” the lower stalk, a grower can determine the strength of the stalks.  If the stalk crushes easily by hand, stalk rot has infected the plant.  Another good method is a simple “push” test which is done by pushing the stalks to a 45⁰ angle.  Stalks that easily kink over or fall to the ground are infected with stalk rot.  If more than 25% of the stalks are infected, early harvest should be considered to minimize harvest losses. 

Management of Stalk Rots

Nothing can be done to treat or prevent stalk rots in corn.  However, there are some general practices that can be implemented to help reduce the onset of stalk rot development.

·         Select hybrids with good resistance to stalk rot pathogens and/or high ratings for stalk strength and stay green

·         Use a plant population that matches up with the hybrid and the growing conditions.  Over-populating a hybrid with limited resources (water and nutrients) can stress a hybrid and make it susceptible to stalk rot pathogens.

·         Match a balanced fertility program with hybrid and growing environment.  For example, consider using side-dress N on fields prone to N loss and on hybrids that respond well to side-dress N.

·         Consider applying foliar fungicides to maintain plant leaf health and increase tolerance to other plant stresses

·         Schedule irrigation to minimize drought stress

A growing season full of weather extremes with warm, wet conditions during grain fill can predispose corn plants to stalk rot pathogens.  Take time to scout each field and identify which ones may develop lodging issues.  Schedule those fields for an early harvest to prevent potential harvest losses.  Have a safe and bountiful harvest!


1.   http://cropwatch.unl.edu/stalk-and-ear-rot-diseases-developing-early-few-fields

2.  http://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2014/09/watch-stalk-and-ear-rots-corn

3.  http://extension.udel.edu/fieldcropdisease/2013/09/12/identification-of-stalk-rots-of-corn/

4.  https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/eu_article.throck?article_id=1119

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All orders and sales are subject to the AgriGold Terms and Conditions of Sale, which include but are not limited to the Limitation of Warranty & Remedy and Agronomic Zone and Planting Year. All Terms and Conditions of Sale are subject to change from time to time without prior notice. For the most up to date Terms and Conditions of Sale, see the AgriGold website at www.agrigold.com.

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By purchasing seed products of AgriGold, the buyer understands that such products are for planting in the year of the purchase and that AgriGold has the obligation to pay royalties to trait providers for the products containing specific traits based on each grower’s agronomic zone. Buyer agrees to report the agronomic zone of each grower who will plant such traited products (including that of the buyer if he is a grower) to AgriGold. Such agronomic zones are defined and assigned by each of the trait providers at their sole discretion, and may be different from one provider to another.

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