Agronomy Notebook



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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We need to reflect back on what we learned this year

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

I think we screwed up the 2020 cropping season in 2018 and 2019. I hope the yield estimates we saw in OCJ in August hold up. Matt always goes back and checks with the growers at harvest, this year with the virtual tour I hope we can still check those actual yields against the estimates. At any rate the screw ups we did in 2018 and 2019 were a bit out of our control… meaning we were too wet when we harvested in 2018 and too wet when we planted in 2019 — and that led to a lot of surface compaction, and probably some deeper compaction, too. To follow that up we had a mild winter in 2019-2020 so we saw limited freeze-thaw to take away some of those compaction issues. I do not suggest tillage this fall, generally, to solve the problem.… Continue reading

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Soil moisture and 2020 corn

By Matt Reese

Ohio’s corn crop has faced everything from a little too wet to hot and dry this growing season and evidence of those challenges is likely going to be showing up in some fields during harvest, said Brad Miller, technical agronomist for DEKALB Asgrow.

“This spring we had some wet conditions after planting that persisted. The good news is that many of the places that were unable to plant last year were able to get a nice, early start and got their acres planted. In some of those instances, though, wet ground conditions persisted after planting which led to some stand establishment issues,” Miller said. “We have had some dry conditions through July, and for corn planted a little too wet, those root systems could be compromised. That may impact yield potential.”

High temperatures and long stretches with limited rainfall in July also set some fields up for pollination challenges.… Continue reading

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Why should you bump corn seeding rate in 2021?

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

What plant population do you want to get for your corn?  Suppose you just upgraded your planter with electric drives and all the bells and whistles. You want to wind up with 32,000 plants per acre at harvest, so you figure if you seed just over 32,000 seeds per acre, you will have all the plants you need for your desired yield.

However, no matter how much technology you have on your planter, some slippage will occur between the seeding rate and final population. If you plant 32,000 seeds per acre, you won’t always get 32,000 plants per acre at harvest. In fact, most of the time, you would more likely get closer to 30,000 plants per acre. Seed germination is not 100%, no matter whose seed you plant, so you can’t assume every seed will germinate. If you want 32,000 plants at harvest, you should consider seeding rates closer to 33,000 to 34,000. … Continue reading

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Scouting is worth the August effort

By Roy A. Ulrich, technical agronomist for DEKALB/Asgrow in Southern Ohio

This is the time of year when growers can learn a lot about the crop, the growing season, weather, and the impact of some of the management decisions made earlier in the year. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year that most people despise scouting fields. It is August. It is hot in the Eastern Corn Belt, pollen maybe still shedding in corn fields, early morning dew drenches your clothes 12 rows into the first field, etc. — I’ve heard all the excuses from growers, dealers and interns. However, the knowledge and insights gained this time of year can be invaluable as we head into harvest and for future growing seasons and management decisions.

In this age of technology, do we really need to scout fields? There are satellites constantly circling the globe sending images of fields. Drones can capture information from fields with incredible resolution.… Continue reading

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Can you dig it?

By Andy Westhoven, AgriGold Regional Agronomist, CPAg, CCA

Just when you thought 2019 was challenging…the year of 2020 has laughed in the face of last year! So far, this season is shaping up as the have and have nots in terms of moisture. At a recent training, attendees brought in samples showing our growth stages ranging from V5 (or shin-high) to pollinated corn from around the state. The variability is evident in the sizes of corn plants, but what we are also seeing below ground. Let us take a journey to investigate the variability of the corn roots and what stories we might learn.

In years of dry weather, I have a belief that subtle variations are exaggerated. What might only be a bushel swing never noticed on a yield monitor becomes a 10+ bushel swing (and usually blamed on the hybrid). Our own farm can provide a perfect example.… Continue reading

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Is fungicide the right move for corn and soybeans in 2020?

By Alexandra Knight, Ph.D., Field Agronomist, Pioneer

Late season fungicide and insecticide applications to corn and soybeans is a management decision growers will be making rather quickly but, does it appear this year will pay?

In many parts of Ohio, 2019 left fields unplanted. In many cases, cover crops were planted to preserve mycorrhizal fungi. While this left an opportunity for beneficial organisms to thrive, it also provided an opportunity for insects and diseases to maintain a home. This combined with the mild winter, would lead us to suspect 2020 to be a strong year for both insects and disease.

In both corn and soybeans, the leaves serve as “solar panels” to capture sunlight and turn that sunlight into sugar to produce grain. When leaves remain healthy and undamaged more sugar can be produced and ultimately more yield obtained.

When fungicide applications occur, the leaf is protected from further disease development for a period of approximately 2 to 3 weeks.… Continue reading

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Watch for early-season crop development challenges

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

The 2020 growing season continues to be challenging for Ohio’s farmers. Wet spring conditions with large rainfall events have created some issues that will continue to impact Ohio’s crops throughout the growing season.

Adverse weather conditions have significantly impacted emergence and early crop development. In some areas of the state, fields were planted early and then exposed to weather extremes such as saturated soils and freezing temperatures below 28 degrees F. In other parts of Ohio, fields planted into tough conditions in mid-May struggled to develop and were eventually replanted. Anyone who has driven around the state in the last few weeks knows that poor emergence, variable emergence and thin plant stands are a common sight.

Not only have adverse spring field conditions impacted final plant stands, but some issues that exist as a result of the wet weather will linger throughout the season.… Continue reading

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Are crown rot and PMD looming in corn?

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

As I write this, the rain continues to inundate many corn and soybean fields throughout the state. Unfortunately, many Ohio farmers will likely find their corn crop in one the following scenarios:

  1. Those that could plant early but have since endured saturating rains.
  2. Those that were unable to plant early, but due to the calendar, may have had to push field conditions rather than wait for an ideal planting situation.

Either scenario presents the increased potential for the corn root system to be exposed to infections that challenge staygreen and natural maturation.

Crown rot in corn results in plants that prematurely die. Not only does this affect final yield but often standability is impeded as well. Crown rot is caused by various species of Fusarium and Pythium, which are commonly found in our soils. The crown area serves as the “highway” for transporting water and nutrients from the roots to the remainder of the plant.… Continue reading

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