Agronomy Notebook



Maximizing weed control amidst supply challenges

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

As harvest wraps up, it’s natural to want to take some time to recoup before jumping immediately into decision-making mode for the coming season. However, due to the uncertain availability of several post-emergence herbicides, an increased sense of urgency may be warranted to ensure your supply and formulate a plan to keep your soybean acres weed-free in 2022.

Over the last 18 months, many supply challenges have surfaced across multiple industries. The agricultural industry is currently facing many potential challenges heading into the 2022 planting season. While some herbicide shortages may be speculative, others appear more certain. Due to their broad-spectrum activity, glyphosate and glufosinate-containing (Liberty) herbicides are two of the most widely used herbicides on the market. These reasons, amongst other factors, have led to supply concerns with these herbicides as we look ahead to 2022.

Making the most of the glyphosate and glufosinate supply

Fall Applications (weather permitting)

Where possible, avoid using glyphosate this fall.… Continue reading

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Post-harvest field condition considerations

By Mitch Greve, AgriGold agronomist — Ohio

Corn and soybean harvest is in full swing throughout Ohio and as growers race towards completion it is imperative to be simultaneously thinking ahead towards next year. The most important question when exiting a field post-harvest is, what condition did I leave this field in? No-tillage, fall tillage, and cover cropping are the main practices a grower uses to help manage their fields in the fall. Irrespective of a growers management strategy, the importance lies in creating a level seed bed for spring to induce good seed to soil contact which promotes uniform seed emergence. 

No-tillage is when a grower leaves the fallow ground untouched post-harvest. A no-till management practice promotes better soil structure with larger macropores which can beneficially influence water and nutrient availability throughout the heat stress portions of the growing season. However, wetter springtime soil conditions coupled with cooler soil temperatures creates a more conducive environment for early season seedling blights on heavier or untiled ground.… Continue reading

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Tar spot in Ohio: What we know and what we’re learning in 2021

By John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Northern Ohio

Tar spot is a relatively new corn disease for Ohio, as well as the rest of the United States. It is caused by a fungus and appears on corn leaves (as well as husks under severe cases) as small, raised black bumps that cannot be rubbed off.

John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist in northern Ohio

Tar spot has historically been present in corn-growing regions of Mexico and Central/South America. These areas are often at higher elevations, with a similar climate to much of Ohio and the Midwest Corn Belt. Tar spot was found in the U.S. for the first time in 2015 in Illinois and Indiana. The disease was first found in Ohio in 2018, and has been found in much of the state in 2021.

Periods of moderate temperatures (60-75 degrees F), high humidity (above 85%), and leaf wetness exceeding 7 hours (heavy dews, foggy mornings, frequent rainfall) present the most ideal environment for disease development.… Continue reading

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Understanding gibberella ear mold, minimizing vomitoxin

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

Fall provides the culmination of the growing season and often the reward for our year-long efforts. However, ear molds and poor grain quality dampen our enthusiasm and make for some lingering challenges if not dealt with properly both at harvest and prior to grain storage.

Some common ear molds, such as diplodia, are not known to produce mycotoxins. However, aspergillus, fusarium, and gibberella ear mold often result in the production of harmful mycotoxins. While aspergillus and fusarium are less common, gibberella is all too often present within some fields at harvest. Gibberella ear mold can lead to vomitoxin present in the grain, which can cause health problems in both humans and livestock, particularly swine. 

What causes gibberella ear mold and why does it occur?

Gibberella ear mold is caused by the fungus fusarium graminearum. This fungus is present to some degree in almost all fields but is especially abundant in corn following corn or wheat and fields with a history of gibberella.… Continue reading

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Green stem syndrome

By Matt Hutcheson, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One issue that impacts soybean harvest in the eastern Corn Belt at some level each year is green stem syndrome. Green stem syndrome could be larger issue for the 2017 harvest because of latter planting dates in many areas. When green stem syndrome occurs, stems and leaves can remain green after pods have matured. As a result, while pods and seeds are mature and dry enough to be harvested, harvest operations can be slowed as combines have more difficulty dealing with stems and leaves that are still green. In addition to creating harvest delays, green stem syndrome can increase fuel consumption and result in shattering losses if growers delay harvest until stems have fully matured.

The occurrence of green stems varies from year-to-year and can be affected by several factors, such as: 
• Viral infections 
• Insect feeding 
• Late planting 
• Drought stress 
• Application of fungicides

Successful management of green stem syndrome requires management practices that include timely planting, establishing adequate plant stands, irrigation, and controlling insects/pests.… Continue reading

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Assessing SDS and SCN

By Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

It’s another growing season in the great state of Ohio, and with that came another exceptionally wet spring. Among the many pathogens present, sudden death syndrome (SDS), is once again reminding us why it is in the top two most destructive soybean diseases in the U.S. The moisture, in combination with the cooler periods of weather, created prime periods for fungal infection. When environmental conditions are favorable, infection can occur early in the growing season. When exposed to these conditions, early planted soybeans are most susceptible to infection due to an extended infection period. Unfortunately, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most destructive soybean disease and is often found in conjunction with SDS. Though a quick cure does not currently exist, growers do not need to hit the panic button. Here are a few tips to help control SDS. 

Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

Growers will want to target soybean varieties with some partial resistance to SDS.… Continue reading

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Get out to a field day this fall

By Todd Jeffries, Vice President, Seed Genetics Direct

Todd Jeffries, Seed Genetics Direct

Last year, many companies chose not to host events. This year, many companies are returning to somewhat normal circumstances and holding pre-harvest field days again, which is a welcome change. Field days have a lot of valuable learning opportunities for growers, such as:

  1. What’s new? The turnover for new hybrids is now quicker than ever thanks to double-haploid breeding and CRISPR technology. Some groan at the high turnover rates of new hybrids and genetics, but the yield increases over the past decade or two are real, and that’s what’s driving the new hybrids hitting the market so quickly. Field days provide the opportunity for growers to see and touch many of the new hybrids and varieties that have come out in the past year. Growers can learn about each one individually and compare it with what they are currently growing.
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The benefits of late-season scouting

By Roy A. Ulrich, Dekalb and Asgrow Technical Agronomist in Southern Ohio

Many of the crops in the state are advanced enough in their growth stages, that no further management decisions or applications will impact yield, except for harvest timing decisions. However, much of the final yield is still to be determined by the previous management decisions and the weather over the coming weeks. Just because our management influence has ceased for this growing season, it doesn’t mean that scouting can’t positively impact future growing seasons. 

            Nitrogen management is one of the things that late season scouting can help determine, if making any changes to next year’s nitrogen program should be considered. The tell-tale yellowing of the lower leaves starting at the tip of the leaf angling in towards the mid rib, is an indication of a corn plant remobilizing nitrogen from lower in the plant towards the ear for grain fill.… Continue reading

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Building yield all the way to black layer

By John Brien, Eastern Agronomy Manager for AgriGold

Raising corn is a complex and challenging endeavor no matter the year or the environment, but one of the most challenging parts of raising corn is ensuring the corn crop is producing yield all the way to black layer. Why is this so important? Because at dent stage, also known as R5, 65% of the dry weight of the kernel still needs to be accumulated. That 65% could easily equate to 20% to 25% of the final yield or 40 to 60 bushels of grain.

John Brien

The adage that once the corn reaches dent the yield is made and nothing can hurt it is a false statement. In corn production, agronomists talk about the length of grain fill and the longer a corn plant can accumulate dry matter, the higher the yield (not potential, actual yield). The extra time correlates directly to the importance of the R5 stage.… Continue reading

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Managing crop stress to maximize yields

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Matt Hutcheson

The 2021 growing season has already provided growers with several challenges. Learning from these challenges and making sound management decisions throughout the remainder of the growing season will be critical to achieving top-end yield potential. 

One important management practice that was highlighted this spring was timing of crop planting in relationship to weather. Agronomists and university experts occasionally discuss the timing of planting and the importance of the first 36 to 48 hours a seed is in the ground. The first 36 to 48 hours a seed is in the ground is a critical period of water uptake where the seed is sensitive to temperature extremes. In many areas we saw fields planted immediately before a cold rain even and seed/seedlings that exhibited imbibitional injury.

In areas where cold rain/snow events occurred this spring, observed soil temperatures dropped from the mid 50s to the lower 40s overnight.… Continue reading

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Inputs to consider in 2021

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

The casinos of Las Vegas were not built upon the hopes of the “house” winning more than the gambling participants. While farming is a gamble considering the unknown of weather, having a more predictable response to specific inputs is always beneficial. 

Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) team has evaluated hundreds of products and practices over the years. In an effort to provide farmers with a list of products and practices that resulted in the greatest consistency of ROI, Beck’s developed their PFR Proven designation in 2017. For a product or practice to earn the distinction of PFR Proven, it needs to have been tested a minimum of 3 years, must provide a positive yield gain each year, and it must average a positive return on investment over that 3-year period.

June/July PRF proven products

Humika (Sidedress Nitrogen Additive) 

Humic substances, those containing carbon like humic acids, provide several benefits to both the soil and plants.… Continue reading

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Assessing stands, weeds and nutrients

By Roy A. Ulrich, Technical Agronomist for Dekalb/Asgrow for Southern Ohio

Planting corn and soybeans in the spring of 2021 in the state of Ohio was once again wracked with the inevitable decisions of when to plant and when not to plant. Countless hours were spent staring into those crystal balls of smart phone weather apps that we all seem to praise or curse depending on the outcome or the forecast. This planting season has been stretched out over a two-month time span, with a wide variety of planting and growing conditions that accompanied this spring’s weather pattern. This has left us with fields that have a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses in the crop we have established in the field. While this may not be the ideal situation, this crop is far from being a success or failure and is a long way from being in the bins. So, we need to take stock of what we have and don’t have within our fields and how can we maximize the crop we have established and minimize the environmental stresses it faces later this growing season.… Continue reading

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Remember the basics when getting back to planting

By Andy Westhoven, AgriGold Regional Agronomist, CPAg, CCA

I realize it is now mid-May and plenty of corn and soybean fields have been planted, but the feeling of planting crops when the markets have rallied is a beloved feeling by all. Another common sentiment with higher commodity prices is the willingness to try something new or different. If you are willing to step outside the box, please remember some of these general basics.

The planter is the most important pass of the season and no one enjoys a redo. Make sure to focus on the three key principles for germination: 1) uniform soil temperature, 2) uniform soil moisture, 3) consistent seed to soil contact. Oh, and plant two inches deep! (Couldn’t help myself.) If you have not finished planting your crops, one lesson we have learned in recent years is the ability to plant late (into June) and still reach respectable yields.… Continue reading

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Early weed control, bumping seed rate could pay big dividends

By Dave Nanda, Ph.D., Director of Genetics for Seed Genetics Direct

Dave Nanda

I favor early planting if the ground is ready. However, earlier planting also requires early weed control. I saw several fields last year where weed control was not very effective, perhaps due to too much rain. Is early weed control necessary? Yes, because the micro-environment of each plant is very important for their ability to reach maximum yield potential. Plants sense early on if they have competition from weeds or other crop plants, and they start to react and plan their future accordingly. If growers can reduce pressure from weeds, it will encourage crops to produce more yield. 

It is especially important to control weeds early so herbicide-resistant weeds won’t get started. Many weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp, have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide because it was used on millions of acres of corn and soybeans. Genetic and chemical suppliers promoted the use of glyphosate in spite of warnings by many university scientists and crop consultants.… Continue reading

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Early planting?

By Alexandra Knight, Ph.D., Pioneer field agronomist

As the sun is shining and the air becomes warmer across Ohio, growers continue to question if it’s time to get the planter in the field. The next question becomes, “Does it make more sense to plant corn or soybeans early?” While historically corn has been planted before soybeans, many growers have experienced that their earliest planted soybean acres also tend to be their highest yielding fields. Modern-day soybean varieties have a greater yield response to planting date than varieties grown several decades ago. Looking at corn, there is long-term data suggesting that mid-April to mid-May is ideal for planting. However, the recent past has shown that later planted corn can continue to yield well as our season seems to be shifting later. Regardless, planting either crop early comes with both risk and reward.

Alexandra Knight

When soybeans are planted early, they spend more time in vegetative growth giving the plants more time to add nodes.… Continue reading

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Get a good start to a great growing season

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, product manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

 Spring is one of the most important parts of the growing season. Actions taken early in the year set the stage for the entire growing season and help to ensure crops maintain their yield potential. Getting crops off to a strong start will give growers the opportunity to have a productive and successful growing season.

With the great deal of field work that needs to be done in the spring in limited time, it is always important to keep field conditions in mind. In many areas, Ohio’s growers are facing lingering compaction from past fieldwork in wet soil. While spring is not the preferred time to attempt to alleviate compaction, growers must avoid performing field work in wet soils and creating additional compaction this year. One area of concern is the desire to plant early in the growing season. While it is widely discussed and understood that early planting is one management practice that leads to increased yields, planting date is just one of many factors that impact yield.… Continue reading

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Learning from 2020 to prepare for 2021

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Seed Consultants, Inc.

 2020 has provided Ohio’s producers with another challenging growing season. As Ohio’s growers wrap up harvest, it is important to begin planning for next year and work to minimize the impact of some of the lingering agronomic issues.

One area of concern that can significantly impact yields is soil compaction. Thanks to a pattern of wet spring and fall weather over the last several years, field work has been performed under marginal or wet soil conditions. Agronomists and growers have observed symptoms of compaction such as restricted root growth, stunted crops, deficiencies, and yield losses. Because soil compaction lingers for several years and is estimated to causes as much as 10% to 20% yield loss, Ohio’s growers should focus on alleviating and avoiding compaction in the future. Some compaction can be alleviated through tillage. Deep compaction should be alleviated in the fall with deep ripping.… Continue reading

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Differentiating RR2 Xtend, XendFlex and Enlist

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

Farmers and the agricultural community have waited patiently since June for a decision regarding the labeled use of approved dicamba-containing herbicide formulations for use within the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend and XtendFlex soybean systems. Fortunately, the wait is over, providing farmers a valuable tool to combat herbicide resistance. 

On October 27, 2020, the EPA announced the registration of XtendiMax, Engenia, and Tavium herbicides for use in dicamba-tolerant crops (RR2 Xtend/XtendFlex soybeans and XtendFlex cotton). In 2021, farmers will have access to more technology choices regarding soybean herbicide tolerances than ever before. While the comfort level and familiarity of many herbicide platforms is high, newer technologies such as XtendFlex and Enlist E3 may not be as well understood.

While Enlist herbicides (Enlist One, Enlist Duo) and the approved dicamba-containing herbicides mentioned above are all growth regulators or auxin herbicides, they do not share the same advantages. Enlist One and Enlist Duo contain 2,4-D choline.… Continue reading

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Make the pass count

By Andy Westhoven, AgriGold Regional Agronomist, CPAg, CCA

At the conclusion of a harvested field, many options abound for growers on how to prepare their fields for the next season. Inevitably, we want to make the subsequent season better, which may mean enhancing the soil fertility, using cover crops, tillage, no-tillage, fall herbicides, etc. Whatever the decision, the goal is to always leave the field improved and ready for next spring – so make the pass count.

No one wants to waste time, energy, and resources on a pass across the field that will not improve the soil. Many growers will fall-apply nutrients with variable rate(s) and/or different placement methods such as strip till and broadcast. It is extremely important to “know before you throw” fertilizer on/in a field. The importance of soil sampling cannot be forgotten. Simply applying fertilizers because “it’s what we do” or blindly applying fertilizers can go wrong.… Continue reading

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The future of sustainable weed control

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

The year 1996 changed the mindset of many growers regarding their approach to controlling weeds in soybeans. The introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans allowed farmers to more adequately control weeds, and it allowed for post-emergence applications to occur without the crop response that had become expected. Because of this, the adoption of Roundup Ready soybeans took place very rapidly. 

Since then, many farmers have implemented a weed control strategy that relies heavily on post-emergence trips to perform much of the heavy lifting for weed control. For many years, this approach has worked successfully. However, 20+ years later, glyphosate-resistant weeds are once again changing the face of soybean weed control.

From the mid-1990s until recently, glyphosate has been a staple component to most soybean post-emergence programs. Moving forward, many soybean technologies and POST programs are now utilizing Liberty herbicide to control glyphosate-resistant (GR) weeds. Not only is Liberty replacing or being applied in conjunction with glyphosate in many POST programs, but future and recently introduced soybean technologies are also providing tolerance to multiple sites of action (SOAs) POST to combat herbicide resistance. … Continue reading

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