Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

  • John Furlong Image

    City and Farmers Find Middle Ground with Middle Cedar Partnership Project

    June 24, 2016

    Posted by John Furlong in Crop Management

    At Stine, environmental stewardship is something we take seriously, and we understand that conservation as a general practice is good business. That’s why when word came out about the Middle Cedar Partnership Project, I was happy to join the effort not only as a Stine RSA, but as a landowner and grower.  

    The project, led by the city of Cedar Rapids, is designed to assist conservation partners, farmers and landowners to install best management practices in land and waterways surrounding the Cedar River Watershed. Some of the conservation recommendations made by the program include planting cover crops, creating wetland and wetland easements, installing saturated buffers or bioreactors and implementing best management practices for applying nutrients.

    For my operation, and as a practice we use at Stine, nutrient management, including split fertilizer applications, not only benefits crop production, but it’s also a win for the environment. With split applications, growers lessen the risk of nutrient loss as the nutrients are applied in two to three different treatments versus a single application, making it possible to synchronize applications with a more exact timing when the plant needs the nutrient. This decreases the chances of nitrogen leaching or denitrification.

    For my fields, I spread treatments into three applications. This year, I put anhydrous down in March, some liquid nitrogen during planting and urea just about one week before V5. During this time, I worked closely with the Middle Cedar Partnership Project representatives on nitrate testing. For the testing, they looked at what nutrients I used and when they were applied. They then took samples, including one sample just before planting, one just after planting and then one when my corn was at V5. They’ll also come back later in the season for another test. This helps the city and other public/private partners involved in the program gather the necessary information to continue their research and strengthen the path to improved water quality.

    As a grower and agronomist, my first and foremost concern is the water quality for everyone in Iowa. I want to make sure I apply my nutrients responsibly and where there won’t be an excess of nitrogen. And by spreading out fertilizer applications, I can not only maximize my yields and profitability, but I can also play my part in improving the water quality in Iowa.


  • Tony Lenz Image

    The Future of Higher Yields: Stine's HP Corn

    June 17, 2016

    Posted by Tony Lenz in Products

    There are several factors that lead to higher yields: row spacing, genetics and management practices to name a few. With Stine’s HP Corn® and the Stine HP Twin 20 planting system, growers can achieve just that. Created specifically for high-population environments, Stine HP Corn is leading the way to higher per-acre profits. RSA Tony Lenz shares his thoughts on how growers can benefit from HP Corn, especially when combined with narrow-row spacing and best management practices.

  • Bill Kessinger Image

    Now’s the Time — Get Out and Scout

    June 10, 2016

    Posted by Bill Kessinger in Crop Management

    It’s the perfect time of year to get out and start scouting corn and soybean fields. Whether you’re looking for plant stand or seedling diseases, early growing season is one of the best times to see what’s going on with your plants while there’s still time to manage any issues that arise.

    Plant stand

    Growers know what populations were planted in their fields, but that doesn’t mean that’s what actually emerged. It’s important to determine what the stand count is right now so that there aren’t any surprises come harvest season. I recommend going out in multiple locations in the field and counting the equivalent of 1/1,000 of an acre. For example, if you planted 30-inch rows, you’re going to want to scout every 17 feet, five inches to count every plant. Say you counted 34 plants, that would mean you’re at a stand of about 34,000. Do this two to three times in each location so you have a good average sample of the field. And remember to adjust counting based on row spacing.

    Disease detection

    While you’re out scouting for plant stand, it’s also the perfect time to check fields for early seedling diseases. To start, you’re going to want to check areas where there’s been ponding or fields that have been susceptible to cooler temperatures. In Indiana and Ohio, we had some issues with colder temperatures, so it’s important for growers in our region to scout for seedling diseases that come about from slower plant development. Diseases such as phytophthora root rot, fusarium, Pythium and other seedling blights are diseases that can be detected this time of year. I recommend digging up a few plants in the areas you scout and really take a look at the base of the plant. Take note of how the root structure appears and if you see any discoloration. If you’re concerned the plant may have an early seedling disease, you can send plant samples off to the lab or contact your local Stine regional sales agronomist or district sales manager and they can take a look at it. Chances are if you catch the disease early enough, there’s still an opportunity to save yield.

    Nutrient deficiencies

    Use this time in the field to also start scouting for nutrient deficiencies. Often times you can detect nutrient deficiencies by looking for discoloration of the plants as well as the pattern of the root system. If you see any areas of concern, again, take a tissue sample and send it off to the lab. The lab should be able to determine what exactly is missing as far as nutrients and how much is lacking from the plant. You may need to consider foliar applications, but fixing the problem now may prevent you from facing a bigger issue in the long run. And don’t forget to take notes of problem areas early on so you can continue to monitor those areas throughout the rest of the season. And when in doubt, contact your Stine regional sales agronomist or district sales manager.