Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host, and we’re in luck because we’re in Riley County. We’re on the Agronomy Farm and we’re going to be talking to Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti about corn plant populations, basically corn planting and what to be looking for this coming season. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

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(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host, and we’re in luck because we’re on the Agronomy Farm, and we’re also talking with Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti. He is our Extension Crop Specialist and Ignacio thanks for being on the show. It is getting corn planting time and I know tractors are going and I know some people are just driving their plant around the section line just to get all their neighbors excited. But tell us some of the things that producers should be thinking about this time of year. (Ignacio) One of the main points when you are looking at planting time in corn is the soil temperature. (Jim) That’s a big one. (Ignacio) For me at this point of the year, it is one of the biggest ones, if you’re thinking a lot about emergence and if you think about uniformity. When you are looking at what is the optimal temperature for corn emergence, we’re looking at about 55 degrees. I always feel comfortable, even if we go to 58 or 60. (Jim) Now what depth are you talking about? (Ignacio) Two inches. We are talking about two inches and we are talking a position where we are placing the seeds. If you are looking at about 1.5 inches seed placement, if when we are looking at 55, we can get a nice emergence. Usually when you are looking at temperatures, around this time of the year, we can get an emergence in maybe two weeks or less. What happens if we are planting today or there are weeks when we are in temperatures that are probably in the 40s, in the northeast corner. Most of the time we see that that can delay emergence and we are looking at about three weeks or sometimes even more time, that this seed is just sitting in the soil. It is susceptible to disease, insects, any kind of a problem that you may have at that specific moment, the seed will be impacted, OK? (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) Then we’re trying to get farmers and agronomists to understand this position because plants are not coming at the same time. We have some plants based on the variability that we can have in the soil, and the position of the landscape, some plants will come two weeks after. There might be some plants that will come three or maybe four weeks after. The question for the farmer is, is that impacting yields? And I say, yes, anytime. We have studies and researchers across the state and even in the U.S. that are taking a look at emergence. When the plants are coming out is affecting basically your standing uniformity. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) And problems in standing uniformity are impacting your maximum yields. So anytime that we have plants that are not coming at the same time, and let’s say they’re coming a week or two weeks after that, it is almost the same as saying you are losing those plants. (Jim) Or you’re planting two weeks later than optimal planting time. (Ignacio) Yes and we are looking at those fields and most of the time when you go back to flowering time, you are coming too late. Those are the plants that you will find that maybe they don’t have ears, or the ear sizes are too small. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) So there were plants that were left behind and then when they are competing with the other plants that were coming two weeks after emergence, they really are not in a position for the competition. (Jim) They’re not competitive with plants that are two or three leaves bigger. (Ignacio) So that is a critical issue in corn and I want to emphasize this point, is when the plants are coming out, make sure that we have uniform emergence. It is one of the main issues in corn. The lower the temperature, we have emergence and as I mentioned before it is not only just early emergence, it is also the likelihood to lose those stands. Because any time in corn that we are losing one plant, we are losing yields. (Jim) Right, right. We have to take a break. Folks, stay with us we’ll be right back with these words from our sponsor.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and with us we have Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti, our Crop Specialist. We were talking about soil temperatures a second ago, Ignacio. Let’s talk about seeding rates, because you’ve got the gamut of seeding rates across the state, irrigated, dryland, east, west, you name it. So jump in. (Ignacio) When you are looking at seeding rates, it’s amazing to see the variability that we have across the state. Most of the time we need to understand that the seeding rates are really highly connected to the water deficit. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) The probability and the rainfall is really connected to what are your potential seeding rates? So you can make a connection and say if I’m working in northeast Kansas, in that area we are trying to target 200-250 bushels on irrigated. Even in dryland conditions, in those conditions we are trying to push seeding rates. (Jim) Of course. (Ignacio) The seeding rates sometimes in those environments it might be 30,000-32,000. OK? (Jim) One main difference that I want to make a brief point, seeding rate is not the same as saying final plant population. (Jim) Exactly, exactly. (Ignacio) So seeding rate is only just referring to how many seeds per acre. Final plant population and stand count is basically what are the final plants that we have in the field. (Jim) What survived. What produced. (Ignacio) What survived, what produced and basically it is what is coming out immediately after emergence and also it is what are the number of plants that are remaining in the field and to harvest. (Jim) Right OK. (Ignacio) So on the final plant numbers we are looking to have at least 30,000 when we are trying to shoot for more than 200 bushels. So on the seeding rates, usually we try to add 10 percent more. It is our general rule of saying and always assuming that you will have some plants that will not make it. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) So if you go to all locations, let’s move to central Kansas. In that environment is ten percent variability. We don’t know if it will rain, right? (Jim) Right, they know all about that lack of rain. (Ignacio) We know about that. In those scenarios when we were working the last few years, we are always seeing that the seeding rate can go from 18,000 to 24,000. (Jim) Yes, pretty easily. (Ignacio) You can go, if you are in a dry year, you can up to an optimum of 18,000 and maybe 24,000 to 26,000. In the western side of the state, if you go to scenarios where we are producing dryland corn, we are talking about 100 bushel or even below 100 bushel corn in those scenarios, the seeding rate really drops. We are talking about 16,000-17,000 seeds per acre, and that will give us around 14,000 plants per acre. One of the main message is to make sure we are connecting our maximum yield potential with the seeding rates. When you are getting below 100 bushels we may need only 10,000 plants. How do we get there? We may need 12,000 seeds per acre. When you are going to a scenario where there are more than 250 bushels, we need at least 30,000 plants. How you get there is maybe with 32,000 seeds per acre. That main message is to make sure that we connect seeding rates with maximum yield potential and the target for that environment. (Jim) So how badly are you penalized if you go for a yield that is 100 to 125, but you think you’re going to be lucky this year and go for 150 bushel, how badly are you penalized by upping the population by 2,000-4,000? (Ignacio) If you say 2,000-4,000 I would not see so many issues there, but if you are looking at maybe more, I would say 5,000-6,000-7,000 is the moment that you will start to see those yields tend to decline. (Jim) You have more barren plants. (Ignacio) Exactly. You will start to push and the population will tend to be on a stress factor. (Jim) Right. OK. We’ve got to take a break. Folks, stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and Ignacio Ciampitti didn’t run off during that last break and I hope you didn’t either. Let’s talk about some of the work, on-farm and research that you’re doing. I know you’ve been doing quite a bit of that the last couple, three years. (Ignacio) Yes, I’m trying to push and move forward. We have clarifications within our agronomy and people in K-State with a goal of trying to work closer together with farmers. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) One of the things that we are learning in the last three years, if I need to talk about each new year you will see that my message will change. I would say 2013, we were saying that we were in a normal year in the sense that we were not too wet or not too dry in central Kansas and you see that most of the time the seeding rates were around 22,000-24,000. In 2014 we were a little bit on the dry side, so you see that most of our seeding rates were below 22,000 to 18,000. What happened in 2015 was a little bit of the opposite. We were on the wet side. So if you remember May and June last year, most of the guys were pushing a little bit more 23,000-24,000, and were the guys as I mentioned before pushing 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 seeds per acre more that were getting that benefit. Sometimes that benefit is not small. Sometimes it was 10 bushels more. (Jim) On these sites that you have around the state, do they have weather stations there too so you know the rainfall and soil temperatures? (Ignacio) That is an excellent question. The stations that we have monitor weather information about rainfall, solar radiation, temperature. We can go back to farmers and precisely know when we had heat stress, when we have some of the rainfall conditions because when you look at the probability of the rainfall, that’s one of the main factors affecting the response to seed rate. (Jim) Right. Basically you can do a little modeling. You can say, how lucky do you feel, like Dirty Harry, how lucky do you feel next year? Are you going to be at this level of rainfall and temperature? Then you could kind of shoot for your stand population. (Ignacio) You are too smart. You go just right… (Jim) Say that again. (Ignacio) You are too smart! (Jim) Thank you, thank you. You heard that at home right? (Ignacio) You just go to the right point. What we are working right now and building are models that will have probability. The farmer will decide when to plant in those environments based on that probability. So, how do you feel today? About 50 percent or 40 percent? What chance do I want to take? (Jim) Right. Hang on here. Folks, we’ve got to take a break. Stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us we have Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti. Ignacio, a few years back, the big headlines in the ag press that drought tolerant hybrids are the way to go, those are going to be really important, they use less water than the standard or conventional hybrids. I know you and others have been doing a lot of research on this. Tell us what’s the latest. (Ignacio) Let me give you a summary. We were working on this the last five years. We have a study that we’ve conducted across the state in different research locations, one in western Kansas with different irrigation levels. We did a similar study in north central, east central, south central, so we have a pretty nice picture about environments and we always try to test these two defined technology hybrids, what we call the conventional versus the drought tolerant. We’re also trying to test it on different densities. (Jim) Plant populations. (Ignacio) Plant populations. The idea was using different populations to introduce another stress factor. (Jim) Exactly. (Ignacio) You know that if you go too high… (Jim) That puts a stress on… (Ignacio) Puts a stress on the plants. If you go too low, you release a stress. So, let me tell you this, if you look at the summary of information I think that we can divide this into two situations. Everything is based on what is your yield level? If you are going to a high yield level, when I say high I am talking about more than 150 bushels. In those environments, and more precisely when you go to 200 bushels, clearly the conventional and the drought tolerant don’t see so much separation, which means that drought tolerant is not yielding less, so it’s not dropping, but it’s still yielding the same. When you look at the price, you might make your decision about what you want to go there. (Jim) Right. OK. (Ignacio) What happens on situations that you have below 150-160 bushels, in those environments we tend to see the probability to have high yields and the drought tolerant tend to be higher. We have more positive based comparisons. We have situations that we put together the same material group, planting at the same, at the same density and we are seeing that we get always 10, 5, 15, 20, there is a lot of variability. You don’t know what to expect on that. Basically you may get five or ten bushels more. (Jim) Or you may get even. (Ignacio) Or you may get even. The probability is telling us that in some those environments when you are below 150 bushels, the drought tolerance technology tends to work and it tends to produce smaller benefits that can reflect an extra cost, if there is an extra cost to the seed. (Jim) You’re saying then that that pays for that extra cost of the seed. (Ignacio) Yes, in most of the situations when you are going to below 150 bushels based on average situation numbers it will pay for the cost of the seed. (Jim) But again, let’s go to the higher yield environments, 175-150 or above. (Ignacio) Let’s say 200 bushels. (Jim) You’re saying that the drought tolerant didn’t yield that much lower than conventional? (Ignacio) No of course. That was one of the things that we were quite surprised about. When people are working to improve crops and improve corn, we are expecting that they are well-suited to dryland, well-suited for low yields. Then when you put it in a high yielding environment, it should drop. In this situation we are seeing that in those hybrids they tend to still be competitive. They don’t really drop much. (Jim) I think that’s important. (Ignacio) I think that is an important fact to make sure that we know about these new hybrids is that they produce really well under real stress situations and the really good conditions. They still can produce equally or similarly to a conventional hybrid. (Jim) We have to take a break. Folks, stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti is with us. I want to talk a little bit about those limited wells. We talked a little bit about irrigation and dryland across the state, but those limited wells, they’re a little bit different critter, cause you’ve got some good water and not enough. Let’s talk a bit about how you handle those in populations. (Ignacio) Most of time, one of the things that we understand from that point is that we have several farmers working on what we call limited irrigation strategy. How do you go in those situations? Farmers usually try to be strategic about the use of water. (Jim) Sure. (Ignacio) We have some guys that try to do some pre-planting irrigation just to make sure that we start with a very good… (Jim) Profile. (Ignacio) profile, and then from there they’re trying to hold irrigation until they get to a maximum peak of water use. Most of the time in corn it might be two or three weeks before flowering is when we are starting the point that irrigation and water use on the crop is really going up… (Jim) Exponentially. (Ignacio) ‚Ķexponentially. You know what is our most critical factor in corn in terms of tolerance to stress? (Jim) That ten days, two weeks prior to tasseling, silking and the two weeks after are most important. (Ignacio) Exactly. Then if we know we don’t have water and the crop is failing even if it’s one day only, we know that crop will be losing yield immediately. When you’re looking at how farmers need to adjust the population again, we need to go back to this idea that if you are working on the full irrigation, if you have access to almost unlimited water supply I would say then you are pushing your populations. (Jim) Right. Thirties, even pushing 37, 38. (Ignacio) Maybe 30, 32, 36, you can go to 38 and still you will see in most situations a positive response. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) What we need to understand is why we are not pushing more in population, why we are not going to 40 or maybe 45? In some situations we are not doing that because we are not compensating. What you are gaining in the combination of plants, you are losing too much by yield plants, right? (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) That’s one of the issues that we need to make sure that farmers know, there is an optimal and then after that point a decline. (Jim) Diminishing returns right? (Ignacio) Diminishing return, exactly. What happened on a limited irrigation site, we are just providing two or three irrigations during the season. We are limiting the water supply and we are just constraining to small times. In those situations, we know that our maximum yield will probably not get to 30 bushels. (Jim) No. (Ignacio) We know that if we get to 200, that would be a very good number, right? (Jim) Close to a miracle in itself! (Ignacio) In those situations we know that we are adjusting population and most of time we are trying to go to 30,000 or even go below. So, 28,000-30,000 tends to be an optimal number. On the full irrigation I would say we’re not seeing so much separation between western Kansas and northeast, because at the end, our maximum yield potential in those full irrigation environments in western Kansas or really nice precipitation environments and good soils in the northeast tend to be very similar. (Jim) Ignacio, it’s always good talking to you. I appreciate it a bunch. Thanks for being with us today. (Ignacio) Thanks Jim. (Jim) Folks at home thank you for being with us as well and don’t forget next week, next Friday about this same time, we’re going to have another issue of That’s My Farm. See you then.

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