Summer Cover Crop Behind Corn

When corn has been harvested there are usually a couple months of growing season left.  Pigweed, among others weeds, can really flourish once the corn is gone and no longer competing for light, water, and nutrients.  The photo below shows a field that was harvested about a month ago.

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The atrazine, glyphosate, and metolachlor that were put out when the corn was young are long gone and with the corn no longer shading the ground, the pigweed is thriving.   Think about all that weed seed that’s going into the soil that we will be battling next season.  One method for managing these weeds that some growers are trying is planting a summer cover crop.

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Summer cover crop planted just after corn harvest.

The field in the photo above was planted just a couple days after the corn was harvested.  It came up quick and is about a month old now.  It won’t be long before it is shading the ground.  There are a few weeds present, though they are few and far between.  Nothing like the field in the first photo of this post.  This is a multi-species cover crop including sorghum-sudangrass, sunflowers, radish, peas, millet, and sunnhemp.  You can make some of them out in the photo below.

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This particular field will be grazed by cows this winter.

A summer cover crop can be terminated later in the fall, rolled down, and wheat will be planted into it.  Planting a cover crop does add some expense, but it can save some expense later in the season.  Once it is rolled down, it will create a mat that will prevent a fair amount of weed seed from coming up.  That may reduce the need for herbicides later in a wheat crop.  In addition, there is a good chance we will see less pigweed in the following soybean crop since the cover crop didn’t allow them to grow up without any competition.

Weed suppression is one of the most attractive attributes that we are seeing with cover crops.  For another example of this, take a look at this post from 2016.

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Cotton Marketing News – 9/14/17

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Waste Pesticide Collections Cancelled

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Question of the Week: Silver-Spotted Skipper

Last week the question was:  What is this insect?

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This is a silver-spotted skipper.  Their caterpillars feed on members of the legume family.  We occasionally find them in soybean fields, though they are not a significant pest.  The adults can frequently be found fluttering around wildflowers.  Take a look at this page for more info.

 

Here is this week’s question:  What just hatched on this soybean leaf?

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Preparing for Hurricane Irma

The latest tracking map from NOAA shows Hurricane Irma moving up the east coast early next week and making landfall in SC near Beaufort and Hilton Head early Tuesday morning.  It is expected to be Category 1 by the time that occurs.  Gov. McMaster has already declared a state of emergency for SC to help make hurricane preparations.

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At this time it looks like the Pee Dee will avoid a direct hit, though we should still expect to see plenty of strong wind and rainfall.  Therefore, we need to use the few days we have left to prepare for the storm.  There is still a fair amount of corn left in the fields.  If dry enough, growers should be working to get that harvested.  If left in the field, that corn could be on the ground by the time the hurricane is finished.

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Cotton could be a problem for us.  We have a lot of fields with open bolls now and I smelled defoliant in the air for the first time on Tuesday (9/5).  Lots of strong wind and rain could knock some lint out of the bolls like we saw last October with Hurricane Matthew.  Last year, it was the plants that hadn’t been defoliated yet that took the worst beating, as they had more leaf material for the wind to blow around.  Since very little of our cotton is defoliated, we could see some of that again.

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Lint blown out of the bolls during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

For folks that think they may need to evacuate livestock, the Sumter County Fairgrounds is offering to house animals in their cow barns.  You can contact them at 803-775-5200 to discuss the details.

One more thing to take into consideration is pesticide storage.  Please make sure your storage facilities are in good order and have cleanup supplies on hand just in case. Hopefully Hurricane Irma won’t be nearly as bad as Matthew was for us, but plan as though it will be.

Here are some links that may be of interest as you prepare:

SC EMD:  http://www.scemd.org/component/content/article/21-home-page/public-information/290-hurricane-irma

NOAA National Hurricane Center:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

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Spray Peanuts Before the Storm?

The following update was prepared by Clemson peanut specialist Dan Anco.

To spray or not to spray, that is the question or at least one of the questions before what looks like a storm coming our way early next week. The answer depends in part on whether or not the peanuts are ready to dig now, and looking back we can remember a similar situation in 2015. In that case 2 years ago, heavy rains prevented getting into fields to do much of anything for a long time. From the looks of things, the forecast for SC doesn’t look like it will be close to what we saw in 2015. If peanut fields are at maturity, they would likely fare better dug and on top of the ground than risk becoming over mature in the ground with the uncertainty of when we might be able to get back into the field to dig (or to spray for runners that might need more season to fully develop), particularly fields with heavy soils or poor drainage. If the field is extremely dry now to the point where there would be digging losses from hard soil, that complicates things and I don’t have any easy answer. A lot there depends on how quick each field might dry out and how mature the pods are currently (if they have time to wait it out). The forecast for mid and late next week looks dry. Peanuts that get rained on if only a day or so should be okay on top of the ground. Without additional rain, what’s above ground will dry out quicker than what’s below ground.

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On the other hand, if maturity indicates peanuts aren’t ready to be dug, it is important to keep them protected with fungicides until they are ready. Late leaf spot is difficult to slow down once it gets established, especially with defoliation. If defoliation starts to become severe, additional fungicides are usually too late and we may need to consider early digging.

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Cotton Marketing News – 9/1/17

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Question of the Week: Eclipse

Last week the question was:  What is the cause of this funny looking shadow?

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These crescent shaped shadows were made during the eclipse on 8/21/17.  The path of totality passed right through the middle of SC and drew lots of folks from out of town to view it.  Here is a link to a website with lots of good photos of the eclipse.

 

Here is this week’s question:  What is this insect?

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Checking Peanut Maturity

The following update was prepared by Clemson peanut specialist Dan Anco.

Just a quick note to stay on top of checking peanut fields for maturity. Several fields from Barnwell, Dorchester, and Calhoun County are showing fields ready to dig. In some cases (not all), Bailey at 123 days after planting are showing 80% of blasted pods with orange-brown-black color. Another field with Georgia 06G at 121 DAP is registering 73% color with 45% brown. Many areas of the state have had fairly frequent rains and favorable temperatures, and as such some places are seeing some maturities a little on the early side. This is not the case for all parts of the state or every field in each part of the state.

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Freshly dug runners from 2016

No two fields/crops are the same, and the best decision for our field may not be the same as for our neighbor’s. Nevertheless, scouting our fields and getting an idea where each one sits maturity-wise helps keep us informed and can prevent untimely surprises. Checking maturity is also beneficial when determining if we need one last fungicide spray. From past years we know the weather can surprise us sometimes and delay harvest, but if evidence shows particular fields are ready to dig within the next week, according to the label most fungicides require a preharvest interval of 14 days.

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As a guide, for Virginia type varieties we target harvest around 70% of blasted pods with color (orange, brown or black), with 30% of pods in the brown + black category.

For runners, we generally target 75 to 80% pod color, with 40% in the brown + black category.

Friday, September 1 there will be a blasting clinic at Pee Dee Peanut in Mullins starting at 10 am (Pee Dee Peanut: 843-464-2300).

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Waste Pesticide Collection Dates

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