As growers are in fields this spring, evaluating corn stands early is crucial for making replant decisions.

When assessing corn stands, several representative areas should be evaluated in each field. Documenting areas with emergence problems via GPS and photos tagged with geographical coordinates can be useful for future decisions.

“When scouting, you’ll first want to look at overall uniformity of emergence,” said Jonathan Rotz, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “Taking note of spacing is equally important.”

Research has shown that evenly spaced plants are in the best position to capture available sunlight. In fields with uneven plant spacing — misplaced or missing plants — yield potential may be reduced.

Whether the field has experienced cold temperatures, rain or perfect growing conditions, checking the soil can also help paint a better picture of emergence.

“Growers should dig into the soil and really look at the seedlings,” Rotz said. “You can check seeding depth, root development and look for any issues under the surface.”

Early-season stress can increase the risk of seedling disease. Injury to emerging seedlings, such as imbibitional damage or insect feeding, will also leave seedlings open to disease.

Growers also need to pay close attention to the growing environment. In environments with heavy inoculum pressure, disease progression is often in a race with seedling growth. Conditions that promote rapid soil warming generally favor seedling growth and reduce disease incidence. On the other hand, extended cool, wet conditions generally favor disease progression.

By scouting fields early, growers have a better idea of what the growing season might have in store.

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