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Crops day in Waseca looks at emergence and growth in early planted corn

The Jan. 13 winter crops day at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca also included presentations on agronomics to advance corn production, integrating cover crops into corn and soybean weed management systems, nitrogen and weed management and herbicide drift research.

Tom Hoverstad, scientist at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, is in the background. The foreground shows people watching his presentation about crops.
Tom Hoverstad, scientist at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, presents to farmers on Jan. 13 at the SROC's Winter Crops Day.
Noah Fish / Agweek
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WASECA Minn. ― The amount of heat and moisture that corn crops in southeast Minnesota got this year was equal to about an entire extra month, according to a scientist with the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center during a winter crops day presentation.

The point of the winter crops day at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center is to showcase the research being done at the Waseca location, said Tom Hoverstad, SROC scientist.

"What we do here at the Southern Research and Outreach Center with our winter crops, is we like to feature work that's going on right here, because most of the people here are local," said Hoverstad at the Jan. 13 event. "It's an opportunity for them to see what the University is doing for them right in their neighborhood."

He said it's also a chance for farmers to talk to each other.

"It's an opportunity to farmers to interact with each other, and I don't think they come just to see what our specialists have to say about certain issues," said Hoverstad. "But I see a lot of discussion between themselves. So it's an it's an opportunity for them to share their own strategies and what's going on. And I think that's an important feature of our of our day."

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Along with presenting about his herbicide drift research, Hoverstad presented results from his trial examining corn emergence in the dry conditions of 2021.

Hoverstad said that some experiences from the 2021 planting season gave the center a unique opportunity to see some things he'd never seen before. He said like every year, he did a planting study in 2021, where he plants corn at the beginning of April and then corn another date in late May.

"I tried to cover the whole season, and what we saw this year is the early planted corn took a long time to come up, and some plants didn't come for at least a month," said Hoverstad. "So it gave us an opportunity to learn about those later emergers and what they do."

What Hoverstad found was that the late emerging seeds yielded about 60% of what the early emerging seeds did.

"And I think in this year, it's probably the best case scenario, because what the season brought us after all the corn came up," he said. "We had adequate moisture, and we had adequate heat, and we almost had 3,000 growing degree units, and that's like an extra month."

Late emerging plants had "every opportunity to succeed," said Hoverstad, that they might not get that every year.

Hoverstad, who's been a scientist at the SROC for almost 40 years, said there's always something new with each new season.

"Every year I say, I've never seen that before," said Hoverstad. "So every year in agriculture, especially in crop farming, is a learning opportunity."

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Fabian Fernandez, Extension manure management specialist, presented his results from nitrogen rate trials for corn across Minnesota designed to help determine the proper rate for corn in south-central Minnesota.

"These events are extremely important, because at the university, we spend a lot of resources, a lot of time in conducting research that is applicable to Minnesota farmers," said Fernandez. "And these events are especially important because we are able to discuss with farmers, with those that will use the information, what we're finding, and what our better approach is to produce the crops that we have in the state in a profitable and sustainable way."

Noah Fish is a multimedia journalist who creates print, online and TV content for Agweek. He's also the host of the Agweek Podcast.

While covering agriculture he's earned awards for his localized reporting on the 2018 trade war, and breaking news coverage of a fifth-generation dairy farm that was forced to sell its herd when a barn roof collapsed in the winter of 2019. His reporting focuses on the intersection of agriculture, food and culture.

He reports out of Rochester, Minnesota, and can be reached at nfish@agweek.com
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