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Early Frost Might Not Harm Immature Corn as Expected

The dry summer moving into fall had some benefits, and one of those benefits are a lack of ear mold in the Michigan corn crop.

Gary Brinkman, a Pioneer agronomist, has been touring Michigan fields, and compared to 2018, 2019 appears to be a much cleaner year.

“The exciting thing this year is mold is very low,” he said. “Growers were very anxious last year about the high levels of mold which led to high levels of vomitoxin. This year, they’re very low currently.”

He said in Michigan, one of the main drivers of ear mold is the high level of wheat acres. Even though there were a lot of wheat acres lost to winter kill, Brinkman says that’s not the only factor in the mix.

“Those two sort of antagonize each other, and it’s an environmental thing,” said Brinkman. “every year we see different diseases.”

With the latest crop progress report showing Michigan corn is behind in maturity coupled with the impending snowstorm building out West set to drop temperatures, frost is a concern.

Luckily, Brinkman says this past week was warm, sunny and dry. If a frost does happen, corn yields could fair better than expected.

“The exciting thing is that corn has a mystery ability to adapt to its environment,” said Brinkman.  “If it’s half milk line and we get a frost, yield loss would be somewhere between 12 and 15 percent. If I’m at three-quarter milk line, my yield loss would only be somewhere around 5 to 6 percent.”

Brinkman suggests walking your fields to check for diseases that might be present.