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. 

  • Usage of Drones in Both Corn and Soybeans

    Usage of Drones in Both Corn and Soybeans

    January 15, 2020

    Posted by Stine Seed in Technology

    The use of drones in crop scouting is becoming more commonplace. At Stine, we’ve found that drones are very resourceful tools for research. We first started using drones a few years ago in Argentina to perform comparisons — walking fields and taking maturity notes versus the data collected by drones. Our goal was to see if the algorithms from drones were in line with the maturities we found walking the fields. We had very good results, so much so that we started using drones in the United states on about one-third of our plots. Again, we compared our walking notes to the notes from drones for maturities and our results were very successful! In fact, we’re finding that the drone is more precise and gives us more consistent data over time.

    In Soybeans
    When we go into a soybean plot (roughly a 25-acre plot), we look for the plants that are starting to turn into their maturity zone. From there, we start calculating when they mature. Collecting this data would normally take four to five people with tablets four hours in a day to walk, followed by walking the same plot every five days to take additional notes to call the maturities in that plot. A drone can collect the data much more quickly. With a drone, we can now go to that site with one person who launches and flies the plot in 30 minutes. The drone operator still returns every five days to check maturity, but the efficiency is tremendous! We operate the drone on our own, and once the drone pictures are available, we work with a secondary provider to calculate the findings with their algorithms and send us the data with relative maturities. 

    In Corn
    In addition to testing maturities in corn, we’re also able to view plant populations and corn stand with drones. We fly the drones when plants are small to calculate how many plants are in every one of our plots. Similar to soybeans, what used to take four to five people counting every plant so we can see the population to calculate harvest results, drones help us perform the task in a fraction of the time and with fewer people. In a few hours, the drone can calculate how many plants are out there. There’s a lot less labor involved.

    Future of Drones
    As the technology advances, we anticipate drones playing a larger role as we move forward. Testing maturities and plant stand are just the tip of the iceberg. There are companies that are now working on other purposes to help advance agriculture, including aerial herbicide applications with drones and detecting diseases. While we’re not using that specific technology on our farm, it’s not out of the question for the future. We first need to compare the data to what we do manually to ensure the technology is accurate before we pursue additional opportunities. The future is endless with this technology, and we’re excited to get involved to help make our research programs better and more efficient. With over 970,000 soybean and 350,000 corn plots in our research program, drone technology allows us to do more with fewer resources and with better accuracy. And the more we expand our research efforts, the better genetics we develop for the future of farming.  

  • Tony Lenz Image

    Get Ahead of White Mold in 2020

    January 09, 2020

    Posted by Tony Lenz in Crop Management

    Last year presented a number of growing season challenges. One of particular concern was the increase of white mold in soybeans, which affected large portions of Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and the Great Lakes region. We’ve witnessed and heard about a lot of white mold damage throughout this area over the past few years, and for those with a history of white mold issues in their fields, it will likely be a problem again in 2020. Let’s take a look at the make-up of white mold and management strategies growers can implement to help prevent the disease from robbing yields this year.

    What is white mold?
    White mold, or sclerotinia stem rot, is a fungal pathogen that starts on soybean stems. Tissue infected with sclerotinia forms a white fungus called mycelium, which gradually turns into a dark, hardened structure referred to as sclerotia. Sclerotia is known to overwinter and can come back year after year. From sclerotia, apothecium can form, producing small mushroom-like structures on infected plants. This often occurs at the same time that flowers are present on the plant, from the R1 to R3 growth stage, especially when moderate temps and high humidity persist.

    What conditions favor the development of white mold?
    White mold thrives in moderate temperatures that range below 68 degrees within a 30-day window. This encourages the apothecium to grow during bloom to early pod set. Other favorable conditions include higher humidity (greater than 60 percent), wet weather and fields with a past history of white mold. Irrigation has also been known to encourage white mold, as it cools the crop canopy. If warmer temps are in the 30-day forecast (e.g., multiple days measuring 86 degrees Fahrenheit or above), irrigated acres may be susceptible to apothecium.

    Other factors that promote white mold include no-till or minimum tillage fields, narrow-row spacing, higher planting populations, high manure level in soil, high nitrogen level in soil and areas of lodging. Not rotating crops and choosing a susceptible variety for your field can also play a factor in encouraging white mold growth. Also, watch for fields with increased weed pressure. Pigweed and ragweed species are hosts to white mold.

    What are some key management strategies to combat white mold?
    Growers need to consider a systematic approach and keep an open mind to combat white mold. A field-by-field approach may be necessary. 

    First, growers should look for soybean varieties that have good tolerance to white mold and a plant structure suitable for the environment they are planting into (e.g., no-till, narrow rows). In some instances, growers may need to switch to 30-inch rows and push back their final population to around 100,000. While studies in the North have shown around a 3 bu/acre yield advantage with 15-inch rows, narrow rows are more susceptible to white mold because there is less air movement between rows. Growers with heavy white mold pressure need to consider if the advantages of narrow rows outweigh the higher likelihood of white mold.

    A bio fungicide is a parasitic fungal organism that lives and feeds off sclerotia. Bio fungicides should be incorporated into the soil approximately two inches deep for three months prior to soybean blooming. The biggest concern with using bio fungicides is if they’re economical. These products can be costly (around $35/acre) and are sometimes a multi-year commitment.

    Stine XP soybean seed treatments can offer growers extra protection from white mold early in the growing season, when seed is at its most vulnerable. Our Stine XP Complete option combines fungicide with Heads Up® plant protectant. Seed treatments can help kill fungal pathogens like sclerotia that weaken a soybean plant at the very beginning of its lifecycle.

    Growers interested in fungicide options for white mold should consult their local Stine agronomist or university extension office. There are a some really great new foliar fungicides available that feature multiple modes of action to help control diseases like white mold; however, it’s important to know the appropriate timing of application during the reproductive stage of the soybean plant before proceeding. Remember that fungicides need to be applied down into the canopy to be properly effective and to follow specific boom height recommendations before spraying. While fungicides are a great option for white mold in corn, not all products are labeled for use in soybeans.

    When there’s a history of heavy white mold pressure, growers can also consider certain burner herbicides to burn back the canopy of the soybeans. We’ve seen some good response with this method for white mold control. While a bit riskier, if you have favorable growing conditions, this method can reduce the risk of yield loss caused by white mold.

    I also recommend that growers who are concerned about white mold in their soybean fields consult the University of Wisconsin’s Sporecaster. This app was developed to assist growers in making management decisions for white mold. Their research indicates that the appearance of apothecia can be predicted using several variables, such as weather and the amount of row closure in a field. Sporecaster uses GPS coordinates to see if weather has been favorable for apothecia in a specific field, factoring in max temps, relative humidity, max wind speed and risk predictions, to name a few. Learn more here.

    The most important thing you can do to prevent white mold from hitting your fields this growing season is to plan ahead. Evaluate your fields and make the necessary preparations to proactively respond to the potential threat of white mold. For more information on white mold management, contact your local Stine agronomist.

  • Find Stine® at a Winter Trade Show Near You

    Find Stine® at a Winter Trade Show Near You

    January 02, 2020

    Posted by Stine Seed in Stine News

    Winter trade show season is here! We look forward to visiting with growers across the United States about their planting plans for 2020. We’re exhibiting at a number of trade shows this year, from Pennsylvania to Kansas to Iowa and more. We’ll have sales reps and agronomists on hand to walk you through the features and benefits of Stine’s high-yielding genetics, the industry’s leading corn and soybean traits and lessons learned from 2019.

    Don’t forget to ask about one of the following items while visiting our booth.  

    Stine Enlist E3 soybeans: Interested in learning about Stine Enlist E3 soybeans? Our experts will be available to discuss 2019 yield results, best management practices and maturities that are right for your region. Enlist E3 soybeans offer growers an advanced herbicide-tolerant trait technology with maximum flexibility and convenience, along with three unique modes of action for exceptional weed control — glyphosate, glufosinate and a new 2,4-D choline. Stine is proud to offer growers the broadest lineup of Enlist E3 soybeans in 2020, with 75 different options for growers to choose from.

    Stine Conventional Corn: At Stine, we understand that not every situation calls for traits, which is why we keep our base breeding program conventional. In fact, we’re one of the only corn companies that actively develops NEW conventional genetics to sell to growers. Ask about one of our 19 conventional corn options for 2020.

    Stine XP Seed Treatments: For growers who battled the worst of Mother Nature in 2019, soybean seed treatments may be top of mind for the new year. With Stine XP seed treatments, growers will have extra protection from diseases and pests that are amplified when environmental stressors persist. Stine XP seed treatments help growers protect their seed during its most vulnerable stage, right after planting and through early emergence, and are available in four custom-blend formulations for ultimate seed protection — Stine XP Complete, Stine XP-F&I, Stine XP-F&I with BIOst® Nematicide and Stine XP-F.

    Find Stine at one of the following trade shows in 2020.

    Upcoming Trade Shows

    Pennsylvania Farm Show, Harrisburg, PA, January 4–11

    Keystone Farm Show, York, PA, January 7–9

    Topeka Farm Show, Topeka, KS, January 7–9

    Midwest Farm Show, La Crosse, WI, January 8–9

    Fremont Corn Expo, Fremont, NE, January 9

    Michigan Agri-Business Winter Show, Lansing, MI, January 13–15

    Rice Lake Area Farm Show, Rice Lake, WI, January 14–15

    Fort Wayne Farm Show, Ft. Wayne, IN, January 14–16

    Quad Cities Farm Show, Rock Island, IL, January 19–21

    Sioux Falls Farm Show, Sioux Falls, SD, January 22–24

    Women in Denim, Storm Lake, IA, January 24–25

    Iowa Power Farming Show, Des Moines, IA, January 28–30

    Great Lakes Crop Summit, Mt. Pleasant, MI, January 29–30

    Buffalo Bill Farm & Ranch Expo, North Platte, NE, February 5–6

    Wisconsin Corn & Soy Expo, Wisconsin Dells, WI, February 6–7

    AAI Showcase & Conference, Des Moines, IA, February 11–12

    National Farm Machinery Show, Louisville, KY, February 12–15

    International Crop Expo, Grand Forks, ND, February 19–20

    Farm Show, Marshfield, WI, February 19–20

    Western Farm Show, Kansas City, MO, February 22–24

    Central MN Farm Show, St. Cloud, MN, February 25–26

    New York Farm Show, Syracuse, NY, February 27–29

    Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, Memphis, TN, February 28–29

    Hawkeye Farm Show, Cedar Falls, IA, March 3–5

    Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire, WI, March 3–4

    North American Farm & Power Show, Owatonna, MN, March 19–21