By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist
I like to think about how to improve on my crop every year. It looks like yields will be good, but I think I missed out on a few bushels. On my mind for 2019 are several items for both corn and soybeans.
For soybean variety selection, I comb the data. I have great friends with all the seed companies, and I want to buy from them all — but I really hold no loyalty to any one company. So I look at data, I often make a seed payment early, and sometimes commit to a particular variety, but I prefer to wait for university results to get a comparison across company offerings. I will also be looking hard for Frogeye leafspot resistance. I saw this disease everywhere this year so I need a boatload of protection. And for herbicide trait I am looking at LibertyLink again. I see plenty of high yielding varieties with the trait. I just need to match yield with Frogeye protection.
Waterhemp management isn’t happening. This weed went ballistic this year. I study weed resistance and this one appears to be at about year three in the buildup to full blown resistance. I can control it in corn, with a good pre-emergent herbicide and a dicamba post application. But I know that overusing dicamba will find those resistance genes in there sooner rather than later, so I use Liberty in soybeans. And from Mark Loux, remember “Leave no pigweed behind” because the plant/seed you run through the combine will be out there to germinate next year, and the next too.
What about timing of your herbicide application? Early is better, we missed the boat in 2018 with a very wet April and dry May (we were planting, not spraying). But several farmers have come back to me and said they will make a fall herbicide application, for Marestail, and load up on the residuals seven days pre-plant for their 2019 soybean crop. Then they will probably an application of a small seeded broadleaf herbicide (think metolachlor, acetochlor, or similar) with their early post application. I like the sounds of that, and I have seen it work well.
Disease protection — we have to put scouting back in our vocabulary and in our methods. Choose resistant hybrids and varieties and then check on them for disease. This business of buying your air-applied fungicide in the dead of winter guarantees an application, but not the need. And with commodity prices I see right now, I want to save money not spend it. Know what your corn and soybean (and wheat) diseases look like and check for them at the appropriate time. If no disease is present, then don’t spray — and know the economic thresholds.
Sudden death syndrome “came in” late this year. Did it cause yield loss? Typically in Ohio we see soybean cyst nematode associated with SDS, and SCN often doesn’t show up in plant growth but still causes yield loss. So check for SCN, there are some free sampling kits out there. But really sampling at soybean harvest and getting a feel for your SCN numbers is about maintenance – take advantage of those free tests, but you really ought to sample all of your soybean fields. So whether we had “late SDS” or SCN, we ought to know our levels. And here too, variety selection can help with both of these problems, and so can crop rotation.
Gray leaf spot — I never saw so much. I heard that from industry agronomists, and I said it too. I think we need to look a little harder for those good high-yielding hybrids that will tolerate the disease, and even gripe a little to the seed company agronomists and plant breeders when you see them. Things can get better but pressure must be applied. That’s how biological systems make improvements.
Hybrid selection — I’ve hit on it some already but again I like data. I WILL check company and university trial results very carefully this year. Yield works for me but I am willing to give up a bit for better disease protection. If I have to pay $30 an acre for a fungicide application that may be 10 bushels per acre if prices don’t improve.
Nutrient applications — I am looking for free manure. The nutrients are the same and likely brings along some nitrogen too along with P, K, even sulfur for my crop. My next concern with no manure is potassium. Even though we saw no dry periods this year, I saw K deficiencies. My soil test says I am just a little low, but crops are definitely looking deficient at times. Also, phosphorus I am putting in my most needed spots. I can run a while in areas where I sit in the maintenance range.
And then there’s nitrogen — still a concern in 2018. We made a lot, but lost a lot. I still think I was a bit short early when we had rapid growth, and before sidedress timing. And I think it showed up in rows-around on my ears — too many 14s, not enough 18s. So I’ll up my at-plant N, and make sure I have 50 pounds of N at plant not the 22 I had this year. As to rate, I want to move to a variable rate application, but don’t own my own applicator. The easiest way for me to get variable rate is by urea broadcast, and that has issues too so I will probably use the Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator again this next year and put on the right economic rate for the price.
Keep up with us at http://agcrops.osu.edu.
Harold Watters, Extension Field Agronomist, works out of the Extension office in Bellefontaine and can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 937 599-4227.