ASK THE AGRONOMIST BLOG

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. 

  • Maximize Yield With Early Season Field Scouting
    Justin Oden Image

    Maximize Yield With Early Season Field Scouting

    June 03, 2015

    Posted by Justin Oden in Crop Management

    Corn and soybean fields across the Corn Belt are in and starting to emerge. While some growers were able to get their crops in the ground right on schedule, others played the waiting game, delaying planting until temperatures increased and fields had time to dry. Growers in Region 1’s northern areas experienced just that and many had to wait until the middle of May to start planting because of the cold temperatures and wet soil. Some even had to deal with frost, resulting in a slower-than-normal start for many crops in the region and potentially increasing the risk of planting issues.

    The key to identifying early season issues is to scout fields following emergence. Take the time to walk the fields to see where seedlings may not have emerged and where seed rot may be an issue, and don’t forget to check for pests. Following these early season scouting steps may make or break your yield potential:

    1. Check the history: Knowing the history of the acres you plant is a must. Prior seedling diseases and past herbicide resistance issues can help you develop a plan for managing your field after emergence. Before you walk the fields, bring your notes from last year so you can scout areas that may have been an issue last growing season and that may require a seed treatment this year.   
    2. Walk the fields — each one of them: This may seem like a tedious task, especially when you have a lot of acres to cover, but think of it this way: your field may look fine on the outside, but inside is where the problem might lie. You may run into an area where damping off is an issue or where planting populations are concerning. Look for areas where frost or hail damage may have occurred, or for signs of plant damage caused by pests.
    3. Take notes. Not only will taking notes on a field help you this season, they may also assist you in determining the best modes of action to take on your fields next year. Take note of the problem areas you run across so that you remember the exact issue and location that you need to address, and file those notes as a reminder for years to come.
    4. When in doubt, grab a sample. If you see an area where seedlings are struggling, take a leaf sample from one of the plants. Environmental experts have the capability to look at the sample to determine if the plant is receiving proper nutrients or if it’s suffering from a disease.
    5. Know your pests. Corn rootworm, soybean aphids, bean leaf beetles and many more creepy crawlers can thrive in cold, wet conditions. If you’re already familiar with the various signs of pest damage, great, but don’t forget to bring along a pocket field guide just in case.
    6. Evaluate growth stage. Knowing the crop growth stage in each field is vital to establishing your plan for nutrient applications, insecticide applications and when to begin your weed control strategy.

    With sunlight and warmer temperatures over the past few days, we’re hopeful things may start to bounce back in Region 1, but it’s always important to remember that your fields are your profit. Watch over them, and take the time to scout them not only during early season, but also throughout the rest of the growing season to stop problem areas from becoming a hole in your pocket. Talk to your regional sales agronomist for any questions you might have about your findings.

  • Make Way for Narrow-Row Soybeans
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    Make Way for Narrow-Row Soybeans

    May 14, 2015

    Posted by Stine Seed in Research

    Looking for a better return on investment for your soybean acres? Narrow-row planting may be the answer. Research from the Systematic Optimization of Yield-enhancing Applications (SOYA) study, otherwise known as the “updated Kitchen Sink” project, shows true yield advantages in planting soybeans in narrower rows. This conclusion supports Stine’s philosophy that there are gains to be had in both corn and soybeans by moving to narrow rows.

    For the study, researchers pulled data from nine states — Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — and tested high-input soybean production from 2012 through 2014, specifically focusing on management practices and inputs that have the most impact on soybean yields. Results from 2013 and 2014 confirmed clear yield advantages to planting in narrow rows versus the more common 30-inch row spacing. In fact, yield boosts of three bushels per acre were seen in rows narrower than 30 inches, and even greater yields came from ultra-narrow rows of seven to 10 inches.

    The SOYA research also found that management practices, rather than inputs, are key to driving higher yields. Seed treatments, fungicide, herbicide and fertilizer choices are important to any field, but understanding how and when to make applications and choosing the right product for your field conditions are the practices that will ultimately help drive that extra yield.

    While the results favor a move toward narrow-row soybeans, it’s important to remember that you need the right variety for narrow-row planting. For help choosing the right variety for the right environment and field conditions, contact your Stine regional sales agronomist.

  • Don’t be Persuaded into Switching Maturities
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    Don’t be Persuaded into Switching Maturities

    May 05, 2015

    Posted by Stine Seed in Planting

    As corn planting gets underway, growers should stick with their normal hybrid maturities rather than switch to earlier-season maturities. Frequent, excessive rainfall can delay planting, but growers should be patient and hold steady.

    A shortened growing season does not necessarily translate to needing a lower maturity rating. Research shows that late-planted corn matures in fewer calendar days than early-planted corn of the same hybrid. The timing of corn growth and development is mainly controlled by temperature. Corn needs to accumulate a minimum number of "thermal units" across the growing season to reach physiological maturity.

    However, there is a big difference between the effective thermal units in a typical late-April day than in a typical late-May day. Later-planted corn develops in a different thermal environment than its relative maturity was designed for.

    In a study published in 2002, researchers in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio planted corn on three dates between late April and June. The later-planted corn, both short- and long-season hybrids, matured an average of nine days before earlier-planted corn.

    As more and more Stine HP corn hybrids are planted in our Illinois fields and with Stine’s planter program in full swing, I would caution growers who plant in narrow rows at higher populations that for every week you are delayed from planting these hybrids at the optimal time, you should back population off by 1,000 seeds per acre. This applies to corn in 30-inch rows as well when farmers are pushing populations. Rather than adjusting maturity, adjust population.

    At the beginning of June, yields begin to drop by 20 percent, and by mid-June they drop by 40 percent. When corn planting is delayed past mid-June, corn growers may want to consider other crops, but until then, stick with plans to plant corn. As of yet, yield potential hasn’t been delayed and plenty of opportunity remains for a good growing season.