Long term grain producers have seen almost every pest or disease that impacts grain crops and may believe there is nothing new to learn. This could not be farther from the truth as new insects and diseases appear on almost a yearly basis. With prices of grains being very close to or over the cost of production in recent years, knowing what the economic thresholds of the pests can be critical. New production practices are also being researched and tested also.
One of the ways producers can learn about the newest production practices is to conduct their own research into the most recent and innovative production practices and variety trials for seed. Doing this research on your farm which may not be cost effective or practical as it may take years to reach a conclusion. Penn State Extension has either conducted the necessary research or has reviewed results from other Universities and determined the best information for various areas of Pennsylvania (PA).
Corn Hybrid Testing
The results of corn hybrid testing conducted by Penn State are available. These test results will assist you in making your planting decisions by providing yields and additional characteristics.
Diagnosing Corn Problems
If you begin seeing problems in your corn fields, Extension has a web site that will assist with diagnosing corn problems. The site may not contain every disease or insect problem however, the information may help diagnose your problems. If your production problems are weather related, please see the Weather-related Corn Problems website. If you do not have success finding the answers you need, please contact your local Extension office and ask to work with a member of the agronomy team.
Each year Penn State and Extension conduct research for many corn hybrids. This research includes ideal planting dates, evaluations of Bt and non-Bt hybrids and their strengths and weaknesses. All of this research is conducted throughout PA so the results and information is applicable to your farm.
How much starter fertilizer and additional fertilizer is enough? Will adding extra add to your yields? Have you measured the differences between liquid and granular fertilizer? By checking out Extension's corn nutrition web site, these questions will be answered for you. Some of PA is within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and nutrient management plans are required. By applying the correct amount of fertilizer, you will not be increasing your cost of production and not realizing an increase in yield and your nutrient management plan will be accepted.
What is the optimal row spacing for your corn plantings? The short answer is that the row spacing needs to match you equipment. However, research is being conducted to determine the differences in production between 30 inch and 15 inch rows. Have you considered planting the cover crop midway through the corn season? These new production practices are being considered and research has been conducted. To see the results of these projects, visit the production tab on the Extension corn production website.
Corn silage production is becoming increasingly popular for dairy and beef feeding. If you are growing corn for silage, the silage tab on the Extension corn production site will be helpful to you. You may also calculate your bunker silo's density and volume so you have a better idea of how much silage you have in storage. The site also contains information covering cutting height and silage management.
Extension distributes information covering yearly forage trials reports. The most recent report is for 2014.
The Pennsylvania Five Acre Corn Club
If you would like to join the PA Five Acre Corn Club to determine how your farm compares to your peers throughout PA, the link will provide the information you will need.
Soybeans and Small Grains
Much of this information is also available for