Agronomy Notebook

Tips for contending with emergence issues this spring

As spring emerges, so can emergence issues if growers don’t focus on mitigating the stresses of early planting and high residue, according to experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. 

Early planting can be appealing to growers with many acres to plant who want to get ahead of spring rains like those in 2011. In addition, early planting can provide potential benefits, such as more time for crop development and the potential to help reduce the effects of mid-summer droughts in some years.

“Predicting the best time to plant can be tricky, as each growing season provides unique environmental challenges,” said Imad Saab, Pioneer research scientist in crop genetics, research and development. “Emergence can be delayed or reduced if planting conditions are less than ideal, and this commonly leads to yield loss for the grower.” 

To maximize emergence, Saab recommends growers avoid planting until soil temperatures are 50 degrees or more, and preferably with a near-term warming trend.… Continue reading

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Should you use starter fertilizer?

By Dave Nanda, Director of Genetics and Technology for
Seed Consultants, Inc.

Why is starter fertilizer becoming more important than in the past? When we plant early, the growing conditions for germination and early growth of the seedlings are very harsh. The soils are cold and wet and anything we can do to help the little seedlings will give them a head start. In addition, planting in no-till or reduced tillage ground is becoming more prevalent. For applying starter fertilizer, you may have to modify your planter. It is important to have the nutrients, especially, nitrogen available immediately after germination to the young seedlings where little roots are developing. What are benefits of starter fertilizer?

• I have seen better stand establishment where starter was used as compared to the check rows.

• Corn is more robust and healthier. The canopy formation is slightly faster and corn seedlings are ahead of the early weeds.… Continue reading

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South American seed production offers challenges, benefits

By Steve Woodall, production, Production Contract Administrator, AgReliant Genetics

Producing seed corn in South America for U.S. corn growers offers some unique benefits and challenges. AgReliant produces seed in Argentina and Chile for several reasons. Genetics and traits in the seed industry are moving ahead faster now than they ever have. Having a second production cycle each year offers the opportunity to provide our customers with a better supply of the newest products and also gives the chance to increase supply of our best products. Parent seed is also produced in South America in order to bring new products up to commercial production levels faster.

A common practice for winter production is for parent seed produced in the U.S. to be harvested, conditioned, quality tested, shipped to South America and planted in a matter of a few weeks. The parent seed traveling to South America is flown down on commercial passenger flights and regular air freight lines.… Continue reading

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White mold poses significant threat to soybean and dry bean yields

Soybean and dry bean growers across the Midwest and North Central United States need to prioritize white mold when evaluating their ‘disease watch list’ for 2012.

White mold, also known as Sclerotinia stem rot, was first discovered in the United States in the late 1800s on tomatoes. Since then, the pathogen has been found on hundreds of other crops and by 1992 it had established itself as a wide-spread problem in geographies where climate provided optimum condition for disease proliferation.

When left untreated, white mold can cause yield loss or total crop loss depending on the infected crop, with the added challenge of lingering in the soil for up to 10 years.

The reason behind the rapid increase of white mold has yet to be determined, but it is thought to be related to changes in cultural practices that promote a greater canopy density. The increase in white mold also is believed to be influenced by changes in the genetic base of current soybean and dry bean varieties, or changes in the white mold pathogen.… Continue reading

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Why early planting usually pays

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics & Technology 
Seed Consultants, Inc.

It has been proven by many tests conducted by the universities and seed companies over the years that earlier planted corn typically yields more than the later plantings. It has been demonstrated that in the central Corn Belt, you can lose about one bushel per acre per day if you plant corn after May 10th. However, they seldom explain why. The reasons are as follows:

North of the equator, June 21st is the longest day of the year. Plants can trap most sun light during May 21st to July 20th period. Earlier planted corn has more time to capture solar radiation. That’s the main reason for higher yield potential.

Is heat more important than light for yield and maturity? You can’t grow crops without either heat or light. Fortunately, both come from the sun. Heat provides the energy and light is required for photosynthesis, a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, starches and proteins.… Continue reading

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Research confirms benefits of crop rotation


Recent research add strength to the long held belief that corn grown in rotation with soybeans requires less nitrogen fertilizer and produces better yields than continuous corn.

“Our research shows that corn residue acts like a ‘sponge’ immobilizing the fertilizer, making it temporarily unavailable to the corn plant,” said John Shanahan, Pioneer agronomy research manager. “Growers working with continuous corn need to be mindful of crop residue from the previous year and adjust (and likely increase) their nitrogen fertilizer rates accordingly.”

These findings are part of a long-term, multi-location study by Pioneer that began in 2006 to examine the response of corn in limited nitrogen environments. Evaluations have been conducted yearly at Pioneer research stations in Johnston, Iowa; Champaign, Ill.; Windfall, Ind.; and York, Neb.

“While many studies have tested corn response to nitrogen fertilizer, there has been limited information on corn hybrid performance in nitrogen-deficient environments,” Shanahan says.

The nitrogen treatments in the study were standardized to five rates as a percentage of university economic optimum recommendations (from 0 to 130%), applied to corn in continuous production as well as corn in rotation with soybeans, and positioned on the same plots from year to year.… Continue reading

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