Hybrids, insecticides, herbicides
12. Select a good hybrid. Based on the University of Kentucky trials, there is a huge swing in yield potential from commercial hybrids. Selecting a hybrid with a good track record in the state improves your odds of having a good hybrid and getting good yields. Never tell the seed salesman to “Give me whatever you have.” Do your homework and select good hybrids.
13. Consider using a seed insecticide. Seed treatments such as Poncho 1250 or Cruiser Extreme 1250 offer enough insecticide to help control grubs and wireworms. If the season is cool and cloudy during germination, a foliar insecticide applied to young plants (1-3 fully emerged leaves) could be warranted. The cool, cloudy conditions slow corn growth and favor insect damage. Insect damage is typically more severe in fields with a lot of residue. Bright, sunny conditions favor quicker growth of the young plants and insect damage is less severe most of the time.
14. Spreading about 1 bu. of cracked corn/acre is a method for slowing down damage from voles, field mice and other varmints. The animals will eat the cracked corn first, and are less likely to dig up seeds.
15. Assuming that the burndown application worked well, there will be some perennial and annual weeds that need to be controlled when the corn is emerging. In general, when weeds emerge with the corn crop, they should not be allowed to get more than 6 in. tall. Herbicide combinations that contain atrazine typically can be applied soon after planting up until the corn reaches 12 in. tall. If the previous field was especially weedy, then another herbicide application may be necessary. Many postemergence herbicides have spray restrictions when corn reaches about V6 to V8 (six to eight fully emerged leaves).
16. Nitrogen fertilizer can be applied preplant or sidedress on well-drained soils. However, on poorly and somewhat poorly drained soils, a portion of the N should be sidedressed, if possible. The limit to sidedressing depends on the equipment options. However, most N sidedress applications go on before corn reaches V4 to V6.
These are some general observations and guidelines for management of soils going from sod to corn. If you have extensive experience in corn production, you know that different fields require different management strategies. If you have less experience with corn production, take the time to ask others with experience. Learn from them. There is tremendous potential for profits from corn this year, but proper management – and favorable weather – will be critical to attaining those profits. Contact your local county Extension agent for more resources and expertise on corn production.