Tassel Shot

Tasseling Corn Photo: Preston Aust, MSU Extension
Tasseling Corn with adequate nitrogen
Photo: Preston Aust, MSU Extension                                                                          

As most of our early (March) planted corn acres begin to tassel, the question always comes up about the optimum timing for the “Tassel Shot” of nitrogen.  According to Mississippi State University crop specialists, if your corn crop is healthy with adequate nitrogen, then the timing of nitrogen application at tassel is not very critical.  However, if you are nitrogen deficient prior to tassel, then it is very critical that you correct this before your crop reaches tassel where nitrogen  needs are quite high.

For a more detailed explanation on timing your “Tassel Shot” follow the link below.



The Importance of pH and Liming

Soil pH influences many of the chemical and biological properties of soils that are important to the growth of plants.  Acid pH levels commonly decrease availability of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous to the point where plant growth can be significantly reduced.  A common technique to alleviate problems associated with acidity is by adding liming materials. Often times we solely focus on fertilizer application and neglect considering the importance pH plays in nutrient availability. The following picture illustrates the availability of nutrients to plants at different pH values. Notice the most relative availability, according to the graph, occurs at pH of 6.5 as opposed to the lesser availability at pH of 4.5 and 9.


When liming a soil, the amount applied is dependent upon several factors.  In general, sandy soils need less lime to get a desired pH change compared to fine textured soils.  This is due to sandy soils having a lower CEC (cation exchange capacity) compared to fine textured soils. CEC values are usually listed on your soil test report.  With a lower CEC, the soil will generally require less lime.  The amount of lime applied is also dependent upon the magnitude of the change in pH required.  A small change in pH requires less lime compared to a large change. The chemical composition of the liming material along with the fineness of the liming material will also determine the amount needed. The fall is a good time of year for lime applications, since lime should be applied 3 to 6 months before planting.

Ground limestone is the most common and most widely used of all liming materials. It is relatively cheap compared to the other types of lime. The two important minerals found in ground limestones are calcite and dolomite. When little or no dolomite is present it is referred to as calcitic limestone; as the magnesium content increases, it grades into dolomitic limestone.

The effectiveness of a liming material is determined by its chemical makeup. 100% pure limestone is considered to be 100% effective in its ability to neutralize acidity. Hard limestones need to be ground to sizes specified by law to increase their solubility through increasing surface area.

The following requirements are specified by Mississippi law:


Item                                                                                             Efficiency rating

Material passing a 60-mesh sieve                                                        100%

Material passing a 10-mesh sieve but not a 60-mesh sieve                 50%

Material not passing a 10-mesh sieve                                                  0%


Example:  The relative efficiency rating of calcitic limestone consisting of 80% passing a 60-mesh sieve, 17% passing a 10-mesh but not a 60-mesh sieve, and 3% not passing a 10-mesh sieve.

60-mesh                                   .80 x 100% =   80%

10-mesh                                   .17 x 50% =       8.5%

>10-mesh                            __.03 x 0% =         0%____

Sum =              88.5%

Given this lime has a CaCO3 equivalent of 93%, its effectiveness would be 0.93 x 88.5% = 82.3%.  Thus if the lime recommendations were 1 ton of 100% CaCO3 lime per acre, it would require 2000/.82 = 2439 pounds of this particular lime.


Soil Testing in Preparation for the Growing Season

There are many factors that affect crop growth and yield production. Some of these factors cannot be controlled, such as, climate. However, factors such as soil fertility can be controlled and managed to maximize productivity. An effective way to help control soil fertility is through soil testing. Crops require large amounts of plant nutrients that must be supplied in proper balance from the soil. Managing nutrients helps to optimize productivity and profitability of crops while maximizing efficiency of nutrient use, all while keeping environmental impact at a minimum. Soil tests measure plant available nutrients and provide and index of nutrient availability in the soil. This serves as an excellent guide to profitable use of commercial liming and fertilizer. Justus von Liebig’s Law of the Minimum states that yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient:

Every field contains a maximum of one or more and a minimum of one or more nutrients. With this minimum, be it lime, potash, phosphoric acid, magnesia, or any other nutrient, the yields stand in direct relation. It is the factor that governs and controls…yields…

In other words, crops will only produce as much as its most limiting factor allows. Routine soil testing is an outstanding tool to help identify controllable limiting factors when it comes to nutrient availability.

As humans, we are dependent upon agriculture for food, fiber, and shelter. All of which are necessary to our survival. The responsibility of producing these essentials falls on the shoulders of our farmers. However, as we depend on them for our basic needs, farmers depend on the soil for their production. Soil fertility and nutrient management are essential to the continued production of food, fiber and shelter for an ever growing world population. Proper soil fertility and nutrient management starts will soil testing.  Agricultural fields should be tested every 3 years or once per crop rotation. For spring planting, soil samples should be collected between mid-October to January. For more information, such as, good sampling technique and interpreting soil test reports visit your local county Extension Office.

2016 Delta Ag Expo

It’s that time of year again. The 43rd Annual Delta Ag Expo will be held in Cleveland, MS at the Bolivar County Exposition Center on Wednesday, January 20 from 8:30 am to 4 pm and on Thursday, January 21 from 8:30 am to 12 pm.

Expo Logo

Beginning in 1974, the Delta Ag Expo is an annual event that is cosponsored by the Delta Agricultural Exposition Corporation and the Mississippi State University Extension Service and is held at the Bolivar County Expo Center in Cleveland, MS. This is an educational event that presents the latest technical information relating to agricultural crops grown in the Delta and surrounding area. This is accomplished annually by providing educational seminars highlighting the newest technology and research-proven agricultural information as well as providing over 100 commercial exhibits representing every phase of agriculture. This event provides the farmer an opportunity to talk with Extension and research personnel, commercial ag-related businesses, and see the latest changes in technology first-hand all under one roof.


The 2016 Expo is headlined by Dr. Darren Hudson, Director for the International Center for Agriculture Competitiveness to be the keynote speaker. Dr. Hudson will be addressing Trends in Competitiveness of U.S. and Global Agriculture and Impacts on MS Delta Agriculture.

For more information please visit http://deltaagexpo.com/


UAS in Agriculture

UAS in AgricultureUnmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have been utilized in many ways for years but for the most part the term drones have been associated with the military. However, until recent years no one has thought about using it for commercial agriculture. The general public and aviation industry are widely skeptical of this type of technology and for good reason.  But like any new technology, if used correctly the benefits will prove its worthiness.

North FarmWhat will they do? These UAS systems will allow producers to monitor larger portions of their farms in detail and be able to identify weak spots in planting and high stress areas including disease and insect pressure and irrigation faults.  By using a series of available cameras/sensors (NIR, LIDAR, multispectral, hyperspectral, etc.) a producer can generate precision maps based on a multitude of data sets that the UAS is set to produce. Even some platforms are equipped with thermal imaging for livestock monitoring. Most importantly this technology can gather areas of interest (GPS coordinates) so that you have a precise location to walk to and see it in person without having to set foot in the field and find problem areas yourself.Sensor Technology

Before purchasing a UAS system you will need to ask yourself some questions. What do I plan to do with this? What kind of data am I looking for? How large of an area to I plan to gather data on? Asking these questions will begin to steer you towards what you will need. There are two different types of airframes used for UAS systems. For small acreages there are multirotors (up to 100 acres) and fixed wing (100 acres +). Multirotors have a much smaller load capacity and a shorter run time on battery but are very useful in “stop and stare” situations. Fixed winged airframes have longer run times and are able to carry larger loads allowing users to equip these with more tools. Unlike the multirotors, the fixed wings are not able to drop into a location and hover.UAS system range

Other considerations include the governance of UAS by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. There are numerous airports that carry out commercial, general and agricultural aviation duties in Mississippi as well as across the country. This is one reason that the aviation industry is vocal on this technology. For this reason, the FAA has set regulations on UAS operations including the three classes of operators:

  • Hobbyist
  • Public Agency
  • Commercial/Civil


As of December 21, 2015 all small unmanned aircraft (0.55 lbs or 25 g – 55 lbs or 250 g) must register an with the FAA UAS registry ($5 cost) prior to flying outdoors. Anything over 55 lbs must register through the aircraft registry process. If the UAS system is used for flying recreationally or as a hobby you will only need to register your airframe. If you plan to charge for a service or even use the UAS to aid your service or farm without charging you must file for a CoA and a Section 333. The CoA (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) is an application that explains what type of system you have, where it will be flown, who will fly it, and various emergency procedures. The section 333 is what allows the UAS to be flown for profit such as flying your fields to make production decisions for better yields.

Some other general guidelines:

  • Operating ceiling is 400 ft
  • Fly during daylight hours
  • Maintain line of sight at all times and try to use an observer
  • Do not fly within 5 miles of an active airport or contact the airport prior to flying
  • Do not directly fly over persons and property
  • Maintain a 25 ft buffer from persons and property
  • Do not video or photograph people or property where there is an expectation of privacy


There are mass amounts of rules and regulations that are being put in place to integrate these systems into one of the world’s busiest airspace. As long as the rules are followed then the technology will be very beneficial to all. These systems will allow producers to better utilize inputs and identify problem areas sooner, by using data sets generated as a proactive approach to solving agronomic issues. For more information regarding the regulations that are in place visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/.