“Between the Rows” farmers share lessons for 2013

By Matt Reese

This year provided some highs and lows unlike just about any production year in history with incredible early optimism followed by a devastating drought. The “Between the Rows” farmers did a fantastic job of expressing all of the highs and the lows of what has proven to be a very challenging growing season in many ways. At the same time, like any good farmer, they have learned from the challenges they faced this year and will apply their new knowledge to 2013. Here is what the 2012 “Between the Rows” farmers had to say about what they will be changing for 2013.

Mark Thomas, Stark County

“Every year we test a lot of new varieties. Some of the old numbers that we like to stick with instead of the new numbers, but when you see how some of these new numbers perform it makes you re-think things. When they hit a homerun on some of these hybrids they really hit a home run.

“The thing that sticks in your mind from this year is the drought. Next year we’re going to try more of these new hybrids that did well this year and really responded to the heat. In 1988, we didn’t have these kinds of hybrids and that was tough. I think that we will go with what did the best for us this year, though drought tolerance really only matters in a dry year. Some of our longer season hybrids did well and matured really nicely to end up being my best corn. The early varieties looked better earlier, but you never know what the weather will do. I really believe in the technology we have today.

“We used all triple stack corn. The more traits you get in there the better off you are. I know that gets expensive, but I think it pays. I welcome the refuge in the bag because mixing can be a real headache. It is much simpler with the refuge in the bag.”

Jim Herring, Wyandot County

Despite the challenges, there were some hybrids and varieties that performed well this year. “You have to really think about the conditions we had this year and some hybrids and varieties are just not going to perform well in those conditions. For the most part, though, our Dekalb corn did fantastic across the board. The yields really depended on the rainfall and the soil conditions. The Asgrow beans we had did really well also.

“The refuge in the bag will certainly be a plus. In a challenging year like this, you learn what you can, but for the most part I think we are doing things right. We have always gotten in early on our river bottom ground and that did well for us again this year.”

Billy Pontius, Fairfield County

“I was really happy with some of the bean varieties we had. Some of the corn hybrids did better than others and some were really bad. I had one hybrid that was a beautiful stand, but there were no ears on it because it never pollinated. On the other hand, I had some corn that really did pretty well. Most of my corn will be in my fertile soils next year and it is unlikely we’re going to have another year like we had this year. I might try a little of the drought resistant corn next year, but not a lot.

‘I am going to go with all LibertyLink beans. I was really pleased with the size of the beans and the yield. They stayed clean and we didn’t have to go in and do a bunch of spraying this fall to kill these marestail plants. That is where I am headed. The Ignite to spray them is more money than the Roundup, but it kills the volunteer corn and, when you consider all the other applications you have to do with glyphosate, I think is pays. And, if we don’t take care of things now, we’re going to be in the same boat we are right now with Roundup.

“My LibertyLink beans out-yielded some of my Roundup beans. Everybody thinks there is a yield drag there, but I had LibertyLinks producing 72 or 73 bushels and I was really pleased with the yields. The later maturity beans, from a 3.7 to a 4.0, seemed to work pretty well for me this year too.”

Mark Dowden, Logan and Champaign County

“These newer genetics can sure handle the heat and dry weather a lot more than we thought. We planted some 103-day corn this year and I think we’re going to steer away from that. That was the only corn that really was hurt badly by the drought. I think we’re going to go back to the 107-day or longer hybrids next year.

Other than those early hybrids, I wouldn’t kick any of the other hybrids out completely or say that anything is perfect either after this year either. I am hoping to be 100% refuge in a bag next year. I want to get away from those refuge rows that look terrible.

“As long as the program is there, we are planning on increasing our Vistive soybean acres. With that premium, we might as well take advantage of it. We’re going to more than half of our soybean acres with the Vistive next year. If they work out the storage and the marketing issues I think we’ll go 100% Vistive.”

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