Recently I have been noticing a growing number of local corn fields are showing "top dieback" or the death of the top leaf (or leaves) of the corn plant. This can happen due to several causes. The cause that is worrying me and that I am noticing is a few scattered fields caused by Anthracnose.

If the corn field is showing leaf death at both the top and bottom, this can be the typical dry down (leaf senescence) pattern of some corn varieties or caused by an environmental stress that is shortening the plant's growing season.

The soybean crop in our area is tall and full of pods. Statewide the weekly USDA NASS soybean progress report is showing one of the best looking crops in the past 20 years with 79% of the Illinois' soybean crop in the Good or Excellent category. (see photo 1) These great growing conditions are giving us the potential for high yielding soybeans, but another problem is showing up - lodging.
Out in local fields, this week.
Currently our corn and soybean crops look very good and the commodity traders at the Board of Trade seem to know this as well. New crop corn and soybean prices have fallen since their recent mid-June highs - $0.80 for corn and $1.30 for soybeans.

As far as crop issues:
Annual rye grass (ARG) is a popular choice by some for an over wintering cover crop. ARG is very good at scavenging excess soil nitrogen and it is excellent for breaking up deep soil compaction.

However, its adaptability, quick establishment, and aggressive growth are also considered to be characteristics of a weed. For all these reasons, this cover crop can be one of the most difficult to terminate.

Today, I learned about the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the USEPA plan to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past year, I have heard numerous speakers tell me that Illinois agriculture needs to follow the voluntary Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) otherwise we will have regulations like the Chesapeake Bay. Also, I have heard numerous farmers comment that they will not adopt these practices till they "have to". Well, we might want to rethink that approach.

On November 9, 2016, the USEPA approved the use of XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology starting in 2017 on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans. This is a new formulation of dicamba herbicide that promises to have low volatility. A new tool to combat the tough to control weeds, such as tall waterhemp and palmer amaranth. Its herbicide site of action is Synthetic Auxins, Group 4.

READ THE LABEL!!! This product has a very restrictive label with wide set-back areas; wind speed restrictions; low weed height restrictions; maximum and minimum use rates; and the specific nozzle to be used.