With harvest here, now is the time to start planning for the 2019 crop. What you do this fall could have a large impact on your yields in 2019.
The first area to look at is your planter. Making sure the seed gets planted in the right seed bed at the right depth and spacing is your most important decision for the year. A few things to keep in mind in regards to your planter:
- Planting Depth – Did you have even emergence? Having the ability for your planter to adjust down-force across changing field conditions is key to having even emergence. Yield loss starts occurring when corn plants emerge 24 hours apart from each other.
- Plant Spacing – Was your spacing consistent or did you have skips and doubles? Inconsistent drop or bounce in seed results in spacing issues. Plants spaced too close to each other compete with each other. Gaps in the stand result in no ears. All of which result in yield loss.
- Side-wall Compaction – How was your root development of the corn seedlings? Did the roots go down the seed trench and for, “Mohawk” roots? Roots that go down the trench due to side-wall compaction or smearing limit the uptake of water and nutrients for the corn plant. Corn plants with “Mohawk” roots are also prone to root lodging.
The next area to look at is your seed selection. Seed Selection sets the tone of what the potential is for a given field. What are the characteristics that you liked or disliked about your seed choices this year? Characteristics may include:
- Emergence and Seedling Vigor – Did it have even emergence, did it come out of the ground fast? Some varieties are slower to emerge than other. As long as emergence is even and plant stand is not reduced this is not usually an issue.
- Plant Health – What was its tolerance to Gray Leaf Spot and Northern Corn Leaf Blight this year? This was a moderate disease pressure year so where these diseases popped up those varieties exhibited less of a tolerance for those diseases. Soybean diseases have been moderate as well including Sudden Death Syndrome. However, if you do see SDS pop up, do take note with this being a soil borne disease.
- Stress Tolerance – What was the response to the variability in our weather pattern this year? This was the first real test of many of our new varieties on how they responded to the wetter than normal June and then responded to a drier than normal July. Key areas to look at include overall late season plant appearance and ear development.
- Stalk Strength & Root Strength – How did it withstand the wind storms this summer? Although not widespread, there has been some greensnap and root lodging issues with some of the summer storms. If you did have these issues was it the variety, was it the planter or was it corn rootworm?
- Uniform Ears – Were the ear sizes consistent? Did they vary according to soil type? Again back to the heat stress.
The next area to look at is fertility. Fertility is one that can get overlooked since Phosphorus and Potassium are already available in the soil. However, much like a bank account too many withdrawals from the soil bank and not enough deposits can result in overdrafts in yield. Part of your soil fertility checklist should include the following:
- Soil Samples – When were soil samples last taken? – Soil samples should be updated every four years.
- Soil Variability – What is the variability in your field? – The more variable soil types and farming practices are on your farm the greater the need for grid or zone sampling.
- Nutrient Deficiencies – Did you have any visual nutrient deficiencies this year?
- Nitrogen Plan – How did your Nitrogen plan perform? Overall nitrogen loss was minimal unless you were in a wet area during the month of June. Based on your local situation is there anything you would change about your nitrogen plan?
- The final area is look at is your weed control. 2017 marked the first year that dicamba tolerant soybeans have been used in Iowa. This is definitely a tool that should be considered if glyphosate or PPOs are no longer doing the job against waterhemp in your soybean field. It does however come with extra management in application to reduce tank contamination and off target drift to sensitive crops. The following are few things to keep in mind in selecting your weed control program in 2019.
- Pre-emerge Performance – How did your pre-emerge products work? The key to controlling waterhemp and other weeds is not allow them to get out of the ground. In-consistent control or early breaks force us, especially in beans to use post-emerge products that can be in-consistent controlling tough weeds such as waterhemp.
- Burndown Performance – If you are no-tilling, how did your burndown products work? Are you changing your tillage practices or planting cover crops for the first time in 2019? Starting clean is major component to staying clean the rest of the year.
- Post-applied Performance – How did your post-applied products work? Like I mentioned earlier, waterhemp has become tough to control in soybeans post-applied. Although there are not of options for waterhemp post in soybeans, the advent of Liberty and now Dicamba beans now give us some other options.
These are a lot areas to look at on your farm, however taking time to evaluate each of these areas while they are fresh in your mind, can help you make good business decisions in regards to your crop inputs for 2019. Which in turn could pay big dividends in terms of yield. As always, feel free reach out to your local Key Cooperative Agronomist or Centrol Precision Ag Specialist for any of your agronomic and technology needs.