Showing posts from July, 2021

Monitoring Plant Health

Farmers are often looking for a quick way to measure plant health. Soil and tissue tests are commonly used, but the results may take several days or even weeks in some cases. This can be too late on a growing crop. A quick and easy method to evaluate plant health is to measure a plant’s sap pH which gives instant feedback. A plant’s sap pH represents the percentage of hydrogen ions in a solution or the liquid (sap) from the plant cell. The pH ranges from 1 which is highly acid to 14 which highly alkaline. Since pH is a logarithm, a one pH unit change equals a tenfold change in the hydrogen ion concentration. If the pH is increased or decreased by two units, the hydrogen ion concentration changes by a hundredfold! A slight shift in plant sap pH can lead to disaster for the farmer. The plant’s sap pH indicates several things. Plants and humans are biological beings. Enzymes and carbohydrates (sugars) break down and are being utilized for growth and everyday living. The pH of a plant’s sa

Corn Fungicide Use

  With humid wet weather occurring comes the concern for corn fungal diseases. The goal of using fungicides is to optimize plant health and keep your corn crop alive to optimize crop yield. Healthy biologically active soils should be your foundation for healthy plants and yields. Fungicides should be used to enhancement and aid plant health—not a primary tool for growing healthy crops. There may not be a right answer to whether applying fungicides to healthy soils and plants is really needed or even profitable. Fungicides are commonly used to control of fungal pathogens by changing the activity and the number of soil microbes. Beneficial fungus breakdown and mineralize nutrients, making these nutrients plant available. Some foliar applied fungicides reach the soil and may have a negative effect on the soil microbial population. Crop scouting is critical so that fungicides are only used when necessary and fungus resistance does not occur. Most fungicides are broad spectrum meaning they

Double Crop Soybeans or Cover Crops

Approaching mid-July, some farmers are still debating whether to plant soybeans after wheat harvest. Double crop soybeans are risky but high soybean prices, early summer planting and good weather favor farmers taking the risk. As summer progresses, the risk of failure increases on double crop soybeans. Cover crops are often planted from June to October with good results depending upon the species and weather. Planting cover crops after mid-July becomes a much safer proposition. Let’s start with looking at our current crops. For the most part, corn looks great this year while soybeans are average at best, depending upon the field. Corn was planted when the soil was dry and then it started to rain and soybeans where planted. Soybeans suffered from seed corn maggot and/or wire worms, and then if the soil was vertically tilled, standing water and pathogens (fusarium, phytophthora, etc) began a problem. In some fields, soybean struggled with slow growth due to small puckered and/or cupped l

Controlling Poisonous Weeds

Some weeds are worse than others, especially poisonous weeds that are dangerous to humans, livestock, and pets! While attending several summer parties in Northwest Ohio (graduation, July 4 th, picnics), several poisonous noxious weeds were observed this year. Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum L.) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.) are invasive non-native weeds often found growing together in Ohio. Both plants are in the carrot family and are similar to Queen Anne’s Lace or wild carrot (Daucus carota), the difference being that both these plants are poisonous and bloom earlier in the growing season. Both weeds are prolific seed producers with seeds remaining viable for 4 – 6 years for poison hemlock and around 4 years for wild parsnip, making these poisonous weeds hard to control. Poison hemlock can grow up to 6-10 feet tall and looks very similar to Queen Anne’s Lace or wild carrot except that poison hemlock is hairless, with no hairs on the stems or leaves. Poison hemlock has a bie