Skip to main content


What's with all of the smutty corn?

One of the fall field activities of several UMN Extension crops personnel scattered throughout the state is to conduct a European corn borer survey. While the primary task at each surveyed field is to assess plants for corn borer injury and to collect corn borer larvae for further study, surveyors also keep an eye out for other issues that can still be observed on physiologically mature corn. This can include the crop’s lodging potential and corn diseases like tar spot, common and southern rust and common smut. Unlike many other fungal pathogens that cause disease, those that cause the rusts, tar spot and smut produce spores or fungal fruiting structures that can still be easily identified on plants whose leaves have already died. What is it about 2021 that favored smut? The 2021 extreme to exceptional drought conditions that prevailed in the northwest crop reporting district favored common smut infections in some hybrids in some fields. More smut was observed than in a typical yea
Recent posts

Crop stress = stalk rot risk

  Figure. Corn stalks split length-wise to reveal stalk rot symptoms. The left-most stalk reveals no symptoms, but for the three stalks to the right, symptoms progress from mild to more severe. Photo: Angie Peltier. It likely goes without saying for even the least observant among us, that the severe to exceptional drought conditions that have been present in northwest Minnesota for most of the 2021 growing season stressed the corn crop considerably. Kernels demand sugars.  Developing corn kernels place a very high demand on the plant for sugars. Stress, like that caused by the 2021 drought, reduces the rate of photosynthesis, thereby reducing the amount of sugars that the plant is able to produce. In addition to the abnormally high temperatures and abnormally low precipitation totals, in 2021 much of the corn crop also suffered from nutrient stress as there was little soil moisture into which soil nutrients could be dissolved and carried into plants through mass flow and evapotrans

Western Minnesota Soybean IPM Survey Results

This article was written by Angie Peltier, Anthony Hanson and Jared Goplen, UMN Extension educators. UMN Extension soybean IPM scouts traveled across northwest and west central Minnesota completing another couple of weeks of data collection. When visiting each soybean field, scouts first sweep for grasshoppers in the grassy area next to the field and then begin walking in a zig-zag pattern throughout the field, stopping along the way to growth stage the crop and examine 31 plants for soybean aphids, aphids that have been colonized by parasitic wasps and spider mites. Growth stages. For the most part, soybeans in northwest counties were at the beginning seed (R5) or full seed (R6) growth stages, maturing more quickly than soybeans further south ( Figure 1 ). Further south, including in areas that have recently received rain, soybeans had all reached the full pod (R4) to beginning seed growth stages. Figure 1 . Growth stages of soybeans scouted between July 26 and August 6 as part

Quality time spent in NW MN soybean fields

It’s (obviously) still dry. The NW Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) in Crookston has collected weather data since 1890. Our drought started in the month of September last year. From September 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021, the NWROC accumulated 5.59 inches of precipitation, or 30% of the 18.78 inch normal for that time period. A recent tour of NW MN reveals problem areas usually hidden. A recent tour of soybean fields in northwest Minnesota revealed all sorts of things. This year’s drought is giving us conspicuous indications of many of those things that remain hidden in non-drought years but can have a negative impact on plant growth and development and in the end, yield. SCN infestations that in a typical growing season would not result in plants showing above-ground symptoms in a drought can cause soybean leaflets to orient themselves vertically earlier in the day and may stimulate earlier than normal maturity.   We can also easily pick out field areas that are compacted b

MDA to Offer Free Waste Pesticide Collections in Northwestern Minnesota

The following press release was written and posted by Minnesota Department of Agriculture Staff in St. Paul, MN. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is hosting a series of free waste pesticide collections available to eleven northwestern Minnesota counties. Residents from Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau counties may attend any of the five collection sites in August. The program accepts unwanted, unusable agricultural and consumer-type pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and rodenticides. However, crop oils, adjuvants, pesticide rinsate, fertilizer, treated seed, contaminated soil, and empty pesticide containers will not be accepted. The collections are open to farmers, homeowners, commercial pesticide applicators, golf courses, lawn care companies, structural pest control operators, and other pesticide users. No pre-registration for the MDA events is required. Th