A look back at 2021 from Between the Rows

Ross Black

We saw both extremes. Whether it was from drought to flood, it was pretty darn close to both of those several times. It was a challenging year. From the start we were wet and cold when we started planting. The best lesson we learned this year was waiting. Once the ground warmed up and got fit we planted and it gave our crops a good start. On from that, we kept scouting and kept track of everything. 

It was extremely wet here on my ground in northwestern Pickaway County while corn was coming up. I’m glad I put more nitrogen on and I found places that could’ve used more nitrogen. We had a 4-inch rain event early in the season and I lost some nitrogen. It showed when I was harvesting. The field still made 195, but I think I lost 15 or 20 bushels because of the nitrogen that got away.

You can’t manage enough. I always used to chuckle at people who told me to scout every week. This year I scouted every week and I’m glad I did. I learned a lot from the growing crop. Getting boots on the ground and really dialing in what may be going wrong is important. 

Next year I am thinking about plant tissue analysis and trying to figure out nutrient wise what is going on with our corn. Are we lacking? Do we have enough on? A lot of that stems from these crazy fertilizer prices. With 28% at $500 a ton, I don’t want to put on too much because it adds up quickly. Looking at these prices, 2022 could shape up to be pretty interesting. 

The fungicides kept the corn a little healthier and we definitely saw a return on investment. We also tried strip-till and I did not see quite the yield boost I thought I would see. But when you break down the savings with the fertilizer and the tillage passes, it definitely pays for itself. It creates a whole different environment in the field with solid ground between your corn rows.

Aside from one field with a little ear rot, all of the corn was extremely healthy and it was standing well. 

John Schumm

The harvest went really well and timely. The ground was in remarkably good shape when we took things off so I think going into next year we are all set. 

I think weed control went well this year. We had super clean corn and our beans had maybe a little outbreak here or there. I think that was on my part, though. When I did the spraying I may have gotten a little thin in the corners. 

We do rely on some weed control with our cover crops. We put cover crops on every acre this year with the spreader cart. I think we have a really good stand this fall of cover crops. When we have a good stand of rye we get good weed control. This nice weather this fall really helped it get out of the ground.

Early on we had some slug problems last spring and we did not like that so well. As far as diseases, we were pretty clean and as far as insects we were also clean. I hope we can do as well in 2022.

We did not see that much variability in corn this fall. It was really good all over. We did see some variability on soybeans and I think that was mostly because we had a farm or two where the water laid for 24 hours this summer and that hurt them a little bit. Overall we were very satisfied with what we had in 2021. 

We got all of our wheat in here at home and in 4 or 5 days after we planted we could row it. The ground temperatures are warm and it was doing very well. With the moisture, the conditions were perfect. We planted it on Oct. 1 or Oct. 2 and it is looking good going into winter.

Don Jackson

The fungicide at planting looks pretty promising. I’m probably going to expand on that next year because of the season long control and it was easier. In general, fungicide paid off this year on corn and beans both. We scouted and this was one of the lower disease pressure years we have seen in a while. We were questioning whether to do fungicides, but they actually paid off pretty well. It was about a 5-bushel increase in beans and I was seeing up to 20 or 25 bushels in corn in one variety. I’m not sure we needed it for the disease, but I think it kept the plant healthier longer and then we could take advantage of a big rain we had in the middle of September because everything was still growing that had the fungicide on it.

I did not have any glaring problems with any hybrids or varieties but I did have 2 or 3 that were pretty consistently at the top. We used mostly Enlist beans. I had a few XtendFlex beans out too. The Enlist did a really great job with giant ragweed and overall weed control was very good this year.

There is never a year that is normal. We started on the dry side and then we had heavy rain and cold weather right after we got started planting. Then we had to go through a hot, dry stretch at a critical time there in late summer. It is amazing how the genetics are holding up now. They can really take a lot of stress and weather changes. 

Bill Daugherty

Mother Nature is always in control. If you get timely rains and not too much heat you can be really blessed, and we feel really blessed. This is our first full year in our new dairy barn and that has gone amazingly well. Technology can create some great opportunities. The advantages of cow comfort features in a great cow environment really enhance productivity.

We put fungicide on beans this year and some on corn and we will definitely be looking at how that performed. We have not had time to really dig into that yet. I can definitely see fungicides being used more down the road. 

Weed control was really good this year. We planted both Enlist and Xtend beans. We really got along well with both of them. If we were planting next to an alfalfa field or a neighbor had a bush close to the field, we typically went with Enlist just to try to stay away from any drift issues with Xtend. We got along really well with using both of them and the fields were very clean.

Fertilizer and chemical prices are increasing pretty dramatically and it will take some pencil pushing and decision making to see which way we end up going with both fertilization and chemical use next year as well. 

We sold some corn 2 years ahead. We have not sold corn for $5 for a long time and we felt that would definitely be profitable, but boy when you start looking at these inputs, it will definitely reduce the net profit on even $5 corn. We are definitely trying to get some more soil sampling done this fall to get a grasp on some of our fertility levels in fields and have as much control of the situation as we can.

We had a couple of corn and soybean varieties we were extremely pleased with. Every company is coming out pretty aggressively with new hybrids and varieties, but we have a couple we are really pleased with we will lean on a little heavier next year.

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