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Growers continue to deal with 2008 land

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- Leo Ackerman and his son, Kevin, are among the scores of farmers in the region this year, who will be busy with wet 2008 corn fields on into 2009, hoping to get them ready for 2010.

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- Leo Ackerman and his son, Kevin, are among the scores of farmers in the region this year, who will be busy with wet 2008 corn fields on into 2009, hoping to get them ready for 2010.

On June 15, Ackerman was tilling some of the 500 acres of corn that accounted for about a third of the farm's corn acreage that will have to be dealt with this year.

"You have to keep the weeds from going to seed, and this fall, we'll have to seed it to some kind of cover crop -- probably feed barley, or something, and get something to grow," Leo Ackerman says.

Tom Lilja, executive director of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Corn Council, says exactly how much prevent-plant insurance was used in 2009 won't be known until Aug. 1.

Lilja says farmers probably will have to work their unplanted corn ground a couple of times through the summer. He's heard about farmers in the North Dakota's Richland County area putting in winter wheat.

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And while most farmers in that position are like Ackerman, a few fields of standing corn still remain in the Crookston, Minn., and New Rockford, N.D., areas.

Volunteer corn concerns

Meanwhile, Richard Zollinger, North Dakota State University Extension Service weed scientist, says the corn seed from the difficult 2008 crop could make volunteer corn the "Weed of 2009." Removing volunteer corn plants in mid-June rather than July would help mitigate problems.

"Making the assumption that the majority of the volunteer corn present is glyphosate resistant and that glyphosate-resistant crops were planted in the field this year, your only management option in corn at this time is cultivation," Zollinger says in the June 18 NDSU Crop and Pest Report.

Most of the time, farmers simply can add another chemical to their glyphosate to control the volunteers, he says.

"In soybean, you have the herbicide options of the ACCase-inhibiting herbicides such as: clethodim, Fusilade DX (fluazifop-P), and Assure II (quizalofop); note Poast Plus (sethoxydim) is not as active as the other POST grass herbicides on volunteer corn," Zollinger says in the article. "The ACCase inhibiting herbicides are generally targeted on 12- to 24-inch tall volunteer corn. The ALS herbicide, Raptor can also effectively control smaller (2- to 8-inch) volunteer corn."

Zollinger cites a 2007 report by South Dakota State University researchers that found volunteer corn competes better with soybeans than with corn. That study indicated that populations of up to 14,000 volunteer corn plants could cause yield losses of up to 13 percent in corn but up to 54 percent in soybeans. The same study showed volunteer corn populations of 800 weeds per acre could cause zero yield loss in both follow crops.

Management methods

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For farmers with high volunteer corn populations and dry conditions, inter-row cultivation is cost-effective in corn "unless the herbicide resistance traits of volunteer corn and the planted corn differ, then herbicide control is possible." Unfortunately, stacked Liberty Link and Roundup Ready corn must be cultivated.

Zollinger cites a 1979 to '80 study by the University of Minnesota, which looked at volunteer corn "clumps" of eight plants in soybean rows. In six experiments, soybean yield was cut by 1 percent for every 75 clumps per acre. When there were more than 75 clumps, delays in herbicide application by three weeks from mid-June into July resulted in reduced soybean yield.

U of M entomologists Bruce Potter and Ken Ostlie have said that if volunteer corn plants survive into July, it allows hatching corn rootworm larvae to feed and survive within soybean fields, Zollinger notes. The U of M researchers say survival depends on whether the corn expresses the Bt-RW gene. Also, if corn rootworm is exposed to sub-lethal levels of Bt proteins, this could help develop resistance. Further, volunteer corn plants can be sites for corn rootworm egg-laying.

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