This spring has been challenging, from increased input costs to low supply and shortages. The weather has been equally challenging across South Carolina so far in 2022. The majority of the corn crop was planted a week to 14 days later than last year due to cool temperatures, soils, and early season rains. We are now in the midst of an extended dry period throughout much of the state as seedling corn has emerged and we continue through vegetative growth. Early planted corn (March planted) is likely to need irrigation if available.
Remember that while it may be dry now, water demand in seedling corn is relatively low, so yield potential is still there. If you remember in 2021, the state as a whole had a very dry April and May and we still ended up making a record crop. With that said, many corn producers have needed to adjust fertility management plans for this growing season due to input costs or availability. While growing profitable corn is our main objective, you must ensure that proper fertility is in place to achieve certain yield goals.
A few calls have been coming over the last week where tissue and soil samples have confirmed nutrient deficiencies such as Magnesium and low soil pH. Corrective measures can often take place if the issue is determined early enough in the growing season. In a few cases heavy, high volume, rainfall events occurred soon after many fertilizer applications were made and there is concern that some fertilizer ran off of the field or leached below the rooting zone. In these scenarios, it is good practice to pull a tissue and/or soil sample and send them off for analysis. By doing this we can take the guesswork out of knowing whether we have adequate levels of nutrients in the soil or plant, which is extremely important in a year like 2022 when profit margins are tight.
Below are a few helpful links when collecting, sampling, or submitting soil and tissue samples through Clemson Agriculture Service Lab. If you have any questions or need assistance please contact your local agent.
Clemson Soil Testing Lab: https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/ag-srvc-lab/soil-testing/index.html
Clemson Plant Tissue Lab: https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/ag-srvc-lab/plant-tissue/index.html
Guidelines on “How to Sample Crops for Tissue Testing”: https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/ag-srvc-lab/plant-tissue/guidelines.html