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Update from the Field: Freedom of the Stress

Posted by Dave Dyson, Agronomist on June 10, 2021

To increase yield, it is essential to be aware of stress. During certain growth periods of the crop’s life, stress can hinder performance and result in a lower yield at harvest. A corn plant performs best in a stress-free environment through the entirety of the season. As a result, it is important to mitigate stress to the best of our abilities during the season.

There are four main stress points during the life of a corn plant that have the most impact on yield. These critical stages are planting, V5, V10, and VT. Each one of these stages is unique with stress occurring in different ways or conditions.

The corn crop across the Midwest is currently near the V5 growth stage. This growth stage is one of the most important stages of a corn plant’s life. This is when the number of rows around the cob is determined. If stress is minimized and the plant is healthy, the plant can support 18-20 rows per ear. On the other hand, if the plant is unhealthy and a stress event occurs, the plant may develop only 14-16 rows per ear. A corn plant only produces an even number of rows because corn spikelets are born in pairs. Each spikelet produces two florets: one fertile and one sterile. If a corn plant drops a row because of stress, it will drop two rows of kernels. The difference between a 14-row ear and a 16-row ear at 30 kernels long and 32,000 population is 20 bu/ac. At today’s corn December bid price, $5.91/bu, stressed out corn during the V5 stage can lose over $100/ac.  

Phosfix® is an excellent product to help prevent or reduce stress in corn or soybeans. Phosfix is derived from phosphorous acid (phosphite), which assists plants in maximizing the efficiency of applied nutrients. Phosphite does not replace phosphate fertilizer. Instead, phosphite should be used in tandem to reduce stress, prevent disease, and increase crop yield. Phosfix’ double-barrel carbon delivery system utilizes the efficiencies of our proprietary sugar sources in conjunction with ;our fulvic acid accelerator. Phosfix contains cytokinin, gibberellic acid, and auxins that help with cell division, cell elongation, and cell differentiation, respectively. 

Phosfix has been applied in various situations since its inception. In 2019, The Andersons conducted a field trial to evaluate its performance when applied at V5, Figure 1. The treatment of Phosfix at 1 pt/acre resulted in 14.58 bu/ac increase over the check. Phosfix is also a great tank mix partner for herbicide applications as it helps crops recover more quickly, Figure 2. We have also seen great results when Phosfix has been applied to crops after hail damage and other stress events.

Figure 1: This replicated trial was performed at the Walton, Indiana test plot in 2019. It shows a great crop becoming better by decreasing stress and increasing rows around the ear.
 

Figure 2: In the above photo, the soybeans on the left were treated with hosfix in the herbicide application compared to the soybeans on the right which were treated with herbicide alone. The soybeans that received Phosfix are taller, greener, and recovering well from the herbicide application.
 

In conclusion, relieving stress and adding essential nutrients can increase the number of kernel rows on an ear of corn. For advice on rates and application timing contact your trusted Ag Advisor from The Andersons.


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David Dyson

Dave Dyson is a regional agronomist for The Andersons’ Farm Centers which are located throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He is an Indiana native and grew up on a dairy farm in Miami County. A graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Crop & Soil Science, Dave has a deep knowledge of various agronomic topics and is committed to helping growers improve their crops. If you have any questions, Dave can be reached at david_dyson@andersonsinc.com

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