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. 

  • Worried about ag input costs and availability in 2022? Communication is key.

    Worried about ag input costs and availability in 2022? Communication is key.

    November 04, 2021

    Posted by Stine Seed in Crop Management

    Fertilizer applications are critical to higher yields just as herbicides are essential to effective weed control. So, what happens when both the key nutrients that make up your fertilizer applications and the chemicals that formulate your favorite herbicides are in short supply? Prices go up. Unfortunately, that’s the reality we’re in and what we’re hearing as a growing concern from our customers as they wrap up harvest and look to what inputs they need for a successful 2022 growing season. Here’s what we know.

    A growing concern
    Supply chain issues are a growing concern throughout a number of industries, and the ag industry is no exception. Challenges are arising because of not one, but multiple issues — from where inputs are produced to how they get to the end user. Experts say the issues include, but are not limited to:

    • Labor shortages. The COVID-19 pandemic left many ag industry employers in short supply of a skilled workforce. While employers may be working to fill these positions, they still may be left with a backlog that resulted from the labor shortages.
    • Weather disruptions. The 2021 freeze in Texas last winter affected the electrical grid and shut down chemical plants. The backlogs this issue caused may still impact domestic production from these plants. And Hurricane Ida, which ripped through the Gulf Coast earlier this year, flooded and shut down chemical plants and caused congestion in the Gulf port and with Mississippi River transportation. These events have also led to increased energy costs.
    • Global trade issues. Increased tariffs and regulations on exports from fertilizer-producing countries have slowed shipments of these inputs, increasing our reliance on domestic supplies.
    • Transportation woes. Increased energy costs, labor issues, equipment shortages and more have resulted in increased transportation costs to get these inputs to and from their destinations. These issues have also resulted in a backlog in transporting these products, from manufacturers to suppliers to end users, so transportation providers are experiencing congestion and increased demand.

    Communication is key
    Having a conversation with your local agronomist or whoever is sourcing your product(s) is key to planning ahead for these shortages. Have a conversation with your input supplier to get their thoughts on whether the product(s) you need will be available by the next growing season. Work with your local Stine agronomist to determine what path you may need to take when the fertilizer you need may not be readily available next spring. Here are a few things to consider.

    Fertilizers. Nitrogen prices are drastically increasing, and other nutrients are in high demand but with short supply. Optimal fertilizer is more of a concern in corn production than in soybeans, but not all hope is lost for growers who wish to stick with their corn acres in 2022.

    Some questions our experts may ask when determining your fertilizer options for next season include: What do your recent soil testing results relay? What’s your previous crop history? What’s your budget, even if it’s your break-even budget? Our experts agree that a sound fertility plan should always start with soil testing. Growers need to understand what nutrients are in their soil and what the previous year’s crop took out. After reviewing the results with you, an agronomist can help you determine your baseline for fertilizers and what different strategies can be put into place. These strategies may include looking at different sources of nitrogen, splitting nitrogen applications, or reducing the amount of phosphorus and potassium if your levels are within or close enough to yield goals based on your soil tests. 

    Regardless of your situation, an agronomist or local extension expert can be a sounding board and provide valuable insight on the best path forward during this challenging time.

    Chemicals. It’s no secret how the supply chain issues are impacting popular herbicides. Your go-to chemistry for effective weed control may be in short supply next growing season, but there is reason to be encouraged. Consult with your local Stine agronomist or a herbicide expert on ways you can still put up a solid defense against tough-to-tackle weeds.

    One consideration on the chemical side is to know what you’re buying. With some of the more popular brands being less available next growing season, you may be tempted or persuaded to try an off-brand that may not be as effective as your original go-to. Do your research before you go with a lesser-known chemistry. And, in some cases, it may make sense to manage your herbicide program with a pre-emerge chemistry with residual capability. This way you depend less on post-emerge products.

    Fortunately, products like Stine brand Enlist E3® soybeans offer herbicide flexibility, not only with the ability to use different chemistries but also with a wider application window than other traits currently on the market. Your Stine agronomist can help you determine what soybean or corn traits it may make sense to switch to in the event your regular herbicide program isn’t immediately available for 2022.

    It’s unsettling to not know what the market for fertilizers and herbicide chemistries will be by the next growing season. It’s in a grower’s best interest to do their due diligence to plan ahead as best as possible for any worst-case scenarios. Help is available through your Stine regional agronomist who can provide sound insight and help you ask the right questions to set you on a path to success for the 2022 season. Reach out to your local Stine sales agronomist today.


  • 3 Tips for Fall Soil Sampling

    3 Tips for Fall Soil Sampling

    October 28, 2021

    Posted by Stine Seed in Crop Management

    With 66% of the nation’s corn crop and 73% of soybeans harvested, it’s time to look ahead to the 2022 planting season. Start planning for what you can do this fall to give your fields the head start they need for a successful growing season next year. Soil sampling should be a top priority for growers this fall before a deep winter freeze sets in. We’ve dusted off a few of our favorite tips for soil sampling to help determine what this year’s crop used up and what nutrients are left for next year’s crop.

    Tip #1:Know your regional soil sampling recommendations. Each region has different growing environments, including varying soil types, weather patterns and topography. So, it’s no surprise that each region has different recommendations for soil sampling. We recommend consulting your local soil testing lab before taking samples. They will provide you with tips on preferred sample depth, patterns for taking samples and even how many samples will generate the best results. Ideally, soil sampling should be completed every three to four years, so if this is your year to test your fields, consult with a certified soil testing lab near you for regional recommendations. And make sure you let the lab know if you plan to test on tilled or no-till acres as tillage can impact the soil sample depth.

    Tip #2: Consult a local agronomist or extension agronomist for assistance with soil sampling. If you have any questions related to local soil sample recommendations, you can enlist the assistance of a local agronomist or university extension specialist to help with your soil sampling. Stine has agronomy experts throughout the country who can advise on soil sampling best practices. Find your local agronomist here.

    Tip# 3: Know what you’re looking for. Soil samples measure a number of different elements in the soil. While understanding the different nutrients these tests calculate, it’s also important to look at the pH and cation exchange capacity (CEC) levels of the soil. Essentially, you need to look at the results as a whole. If you had a crop with high yields come out of the ground this year, you may have some pH imbalances in that same field in addition to lower macronutrient and micronutrient levels. A few things to consider.

    • Macronutrients — The most common nutrients, crops use more of these nutrients than any other. Macronutrients include calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur.
    • Micronutrients — While micronutrients are important to plant health, we do not need to apply them as frequently and in as high quantities as macronutrients. Micronutrients include boron, copper, chloride, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.
    • pH — Soil pH is the acidity or alkalinity makeup of the soil. The ideal pH level should fall between the 6.5 to 7.5 range, which is the neutral range where nutrient uptake is at its best. Anything under 6.5 is more acidic (1 being very acidic) and above 7.5 is alkaline (10 being very alkaline).
    • CEC — CEC levels determine the type, capacity and organic makeup of the soil. CEC is an important measurement as it determines the soil’s ability to retain nutrients. CEC levels should be considered when determining the amount and frequency of nutrient applications. As a rule of thumb, the higher the CEC level of your soil, the less likely nutrient leaching will occur in your field.

    For more information on soil sampling and what to look for, refer to our past blog post on the topic or reach out to your local Stine agronomist.


  • Stine® harvest roundup: Part 2

    Stine® harvest roundup: Part 2

    October 21, 2021

    Posted by Stine Seed in Harvest

    This week’s Crop Progress Report notes that 52% of corn has been harvested, up from 41% last week. Soybean harvest is 60% complete, up from 49% last week. From impressive yields with Stine brand Enlist E3® soybeans to corn hybrids that are leading the field, here’s another round of what our RSAs are saying about crop conditions and harvest progress throughout the country.

    RSA Brett Johnson, Region 6, southeast and east-central Iowa
    Harvest has been difficult in Region 6 for the past few weeks. We’ve had some corn but mostly soybeans come out recently. Soybean yields have been very impressive, while corn yields are reflecting the weather pattern they received during the growing season. Enlist E3 soybeans are yielding very well and are gaining a lot of attention in the countryside. It’s very common to hear field averages in the 70s this year. On the corn side (what has been taken out), we are seeing better than expected yields in areas that typically struggle, but below-average yields in portions of southeast Iowa due to too much rain and hail.

    RSA Aaron Stockton, Region 9, southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri
    Corn harvest in southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri is pretty well wrapped up for the most part. We saw some very good yields in these areas, which was a little surprising considering how rough our start was with all the rain we received. As you move north, closer to I-70, there is a little more corn to be harvested.  The yields have been good in these areas as well, especially with the full-season hybrids like Stine 9808E-20 and 9814-20. Soybean harvest has just kicked off for most of the region. We are seeing some average to above-average yields coming in so far, but we still have a long way to go and have some great-looking fields out there. All in all, it has been a pretty good harvest so far!

    RSA Brad Roberts, Region 17, southern and central Indiana
    Harvest has been slow for most of Region 17 over the past couple of weeks. Some areas have missed rains while others are at a standstill waiting for things to dry up. Yields have been better than average for most of the harvested corn. Stine 9808E-G brand corn is still the leader for our customers in the region. Soybean yields vary depending on what area you are in. Growers in the northern part of the region are reporting average to slightly below average yields because of some hot, dry weather late in the season, but customers in the southwestern part of the region are reporting some big yields with our Enlist E3 products. I received a report of a grower having close to 100-bushel field averages with our 36EA02 soybeans.

    RSA Ben Wilson, Region 18, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri
    Harvest continues to roll throughout the territory with most growers seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on corn. Soybeans are starting to crank up for most as well, and yields have been phenomenal. Stine brand Enlist soybeans have generated a lot of buzz in the community with exceptional yields being reported throughout the territory.

    RSA Darrin Petty, Region 20, southwest Iowa, northwest Missouri, northeast and north-central Kansas
    In southwest Iowa, we’re about 50% complete with soybean harvest. Some white mold set in on some acres, otherwise, yields are looking really well. Depending on the area, we’re seeing anywhere from 55 to 90 bushels/acre. Some growers are seeing record yields. We’re just getting into the corn, but what has come out so far has been good.

    In northwest Missouri, we’re also about 50% complete with soybean harvest. Yields are variable depending on this year’s rainfall, and some areas are seeing record yields.

    Northeast and north-central Kansas are about two-thirds done with corn harvest. Again, some variable yields out there but what has been harvested has been good. We’re just starting in on the soybeans now.  

    To learn more about how Stine products are performing in your region or to learn about next year’s corn and soybean lineup, contact your local Stine sales rep.