Wautoma, WI
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7-Day Forecast
Tuesday
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Detailed Short Term Forecast
Issued at 0:56 AM CST
Tuesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 18 to a low of 16 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 4 and 7 miles per hour from the south. No precipitation is expected.
Overnight ...Temperatures will range from 16 to 18 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will remain steady around 5 miles per hour from the southeast. No precipitation is expected.
Wednesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 30 to a low of 18 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 4 and 6 miles per hour from the east. No precipitation is expected.
The improbably named Lindsey Drought, an agronomist with Landmark Services Cooperative, showed farmers a soil pit, with corn roots highlighted in fluorescent paint during a field day at the co-op’s Answer Plot near Stoughton recently. The number and depth of the tiny roots dictates how much water a corn plant can take up, she explained.

The improbably named Lindsey Drought, an agronomist with Landmark Services Cooperative, showed farmers a soil pit, with corn roots highlighted in fluorescent paint during a field day at the co-op’s Answer Plot near Stoughton recently. The number and depth of the tiny roots dictates how much water a corn plant can take up, she explained. Photo By Jan Shepel

Root system of corn plant especially important in drought

Sept. 27, 2012 | 0 comments

One of the ways to get better corn yields is to get better roots on the plants.

In a year like this one where water is especially scarce, those roots become even more important.

Lindsey Drought, an agronomist with Landmark Services Cooperative showed farmers how the tiny root hairs on a corn plant look with the use of a soil pit that was dug alongside rows of corn at the cooperative's Answer Farm plots near Stoughton.

She highlighted the root system with fluorescent paint to make the point.

Some of the plants in this plot were treated with a plant growth hormone and regulator. It can be applied on the seed, in the furrow or as a foliar treatment, she explained, showing the added roots and root hairs on the treated plants and how important they are for the uptake of water.

This added root system can also aid the plant in standing tall through wind and other weather events.

Forty percent of the water is taken up by corn plants in the first foot of soil, while 30 percent is taken up in the second foot. Any water that the plant takes up from deeper than two feet deep is going to need a set of deep roots, she said.

Some of the untreated plants in the plot had what appeared to be smaller, weaker root systems.

Mike Sarton, another co-op agronomist, talked about the soil micronutrients and corn tissue samples that have been done this year showing how deficient plants were in certain critical elements.

Zinc was deficient in 80 percent of the samples they took last year and in 45 percent of this year's samples.

Potassium, which gets fixed and becomes unavailable to the plants, was deficient in 40 percent of the samples.

Boron was deficient in 92 percent of the samples last year and in 84 percent this year. "There's not a lot in the soil and it's getting less and less," he said.

Iron is one of the trace elements that there is plenty of in local corn tissue samples. "You don't need iron. Don't put it down."

Copper, he said, is starting to look like it is becoming deficient in area corn fields. "It's essential to the immune system of the plant and it's really another inexpensive one to apply. It seems to be especially important on black soils."

Manganese was deficient in 47 percent of their tissue samples last year and in 64 percent this year. "It's a very active ion and it's disappearing from the soil. It is something that's becoming a fact of life and farmers ought to consider, but it must be put on in a foliar application."

It can be added to a tank mix of herbicide like Roundup, he said, and is easy to apply.

There are other things that Wisconsin's soils have in abundance. "We have tons of selenium and all the cobalt you ever want," he said.

Drought also explained that a corn silage crop will remove 160 pounds per acre of potash, illustrating her point with three tubs filled with the fertilizer.

"You have to really think about the pounds of potash removed," she said.

This year that may be especially important with more corn being removed for silage than was planned.

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