Now that we are in harvest, it is time to start planning for the 2017 crop. What you do this fall could have a large impact on your yields in 2017.
First, think about your planter. You must ensure the seed gets planted in the right seed bed – at the right depth and spacing. This is the most important decision you will make all year. Consider these things when thinking about 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 begins 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 and gaps in the stand results in no ears. All of which result in yield loss.
Side-Wall Compaction – How was the root development of your 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.
* Our CENTROL Precision Ag team can help you with all the above planter concerns. Call them with questions or recommendations when planning for 2017.
Second, you must evaluate your seed selection. Seed selection sets the tone for your field’s potential. Think about the characteristics you liked or disliked about this year’s seed choices. 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 others. 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 lower disease pressure year so where these diseases popped up, were varieties which exhibited less tolerance. Soybean diseases have been a mixed bag but SDS has been seen in several fields this summer. Since SDS is a soil borne disease, be sure and take note.
Stress Tolerance – What was the response to heat this year? This was one of the hottest, most dry Junes we have ever seen. Early season stress tolerance helped decide the girth and overall length of the ear.
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? Was it corn rootworm?
Uniform Ears – Were the ear sizes consistent? Did they vary according to soil type? Again, back to the heat stress.
Next, consider 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 there are on your farm, the greater the need for grid or zone sampling.
Nutrient Deficiencies – Did you have any visual nutrient deficiencies this year? Potash deficiencies popped up this year with the dry June.
Nitrogen Plan – How did your Nitrogen plan perform? Overall, this was a dry year and the first part of the growing season had minimal nitrogen loss. If this was a normal or wet year, what would you change about your plan?
Finally, assess your weed control. 2016 was one of the toughest years in weed control since Roundup Ready beans came on the market. Glyphosate tolerant waterhemp is now very wide-spread in our area and his cousin Palmer Amaranth has now been identified in Iowa. The following are few things to keep in mind in selecting your weed control program in 2017:
Pre-emerge Performance – How did your pre-emerge products work? The key to controlling waterhemp and other weeds is to not allow them out of the ground. Inconsistent control or early breaks force us, especially in beans, to use post-emerge products that can be inconsistent 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 2017? Starting clean is a major component to staying clean the rest of the year.
Post-applied Performance – How did your post-applied products work? Like mentioned earlier, waterhemp has become tough to control in soybeans post-applied. Though not many options for waterhemp post soybeans, the advent of Liberty and now Dicamba beans now give us some other options.
Your Key Cooperative Agronomy team encourages you to evaluate each of these areas while they are fresh in your mind. Strategic planning will help you make good business decisions, which in turn, could pay big dividends in terms of your 2017 yields.