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CropTalk: New Corn PFR Proven™ Products and Practices

February 2022

Published on Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Since Sonny Beck’s launch of Practical Farm Research (PFR)® in 1964, the unbiased research program has grown to over 800+ acres of agronomic trials managed at seven Beck’s facilities and three cooperator sites. Three to five replications of each treatment are conducted in the studies — ranging from cultural practices to chemical and biological products to innovative technologies and the farming fan favorite topic — equipment. Not all farms are the same, and not all fields are the same, therefore not all studies tested in PFR are implemented at every location. Some studies are unique to locations, like the Corn 400 Bushel and Soybean 125 Bushel Challenges to Atlanta, IN, and the Water Management Study-Tile Spacing to London, OH.

However, most of the agronomic studies are performed at multiple locations. Products and practices that have been analyzed for a minimum of three years and have provided positive yield gains and an average ROI increase (for products) over those years will earn the PFR Proven™ seal of approval. These Proven strategies aren’t a guarantee but are methods that have continuously shown positive returns in different growing environments. The 2021 harvest season added 18 products from 13 companies and four practices to the PFR Proven crew for corn.



What’s the hardest element to control each growing season? The weather. PFR has focused the last few years on uncovering answers to pre-plant, inseason, and post-harvest agronomic decisions. Beck’s wants to help farmers succeed by helping them make the best choices for their operations. Two PFR Proven pre-plant cultural strategies for success are 1) Sticking to locally adapted corn hybrids in delayed planting environments (2021 PFR Book pp. 23 and 84) and 2) Selecting the economic optimum seeding rate (EOSR) for the chosen planting row width (pp. 23 and 100). A new PFR Proven product to use pre-plant are Yetter 2984 strip fresheners (pp. 20 and 124). These help to warm up no-till seed beds and increased yield by 2.6 Bu./A. across three years on average.



Individual row-by-row control of hydraulic downforce with Precision Planting®’s DeltaForce® system has provided increased plant populations and yields in PFR studies (pp. 34 and 94). STP Disc Openers (pp. 38 and 92) and SpeedTube® (pp. 39 and 88) also became PFR Proven in 2021. STP Disc Openers can mitigate sidewall compaction; SpeedTube® allows for faster planting in narrower windows (up to 10 MPH) without significantly reducing yields.



Conklin’s starter fertilizer additives Syntose FA® and Feast® Micro Master™ Complexed Boron 10.0% both had positive multilocation yield and ROI gains for three years (pp. 45-48, 96, and 98). Syntose FA contains sugars, molasses, and fulvic acid and was applied in-furrow. Feast Boron contains the micronutrient boron, derived from boric acid, and was applied in a 2x2 starter application. Syntose FA in-furrow has a three-year average ROI increase of $5.78/A. and a 1.7 Bu./A. yield increase. Feast Boron has a three-year average ROI increase of $5.68/A. and a yield increase of 2.8 Bu./A.



Biological products are still a new product type in the crop science industry, accounting for a small percentage of crop inputs. This area has seen a lot of growth recently – especially with a global push towards sustainable and natural chemistries. SB4400 from Soil Biotics and Vertex-IF™ from TerraMax, Inc. both became PFR Proven in 2021 (pp. 49-51, 99). SB4400 is a microorganismcontaining liquid applied in-furrow with a three-year average yield increase of 3.3 Bu./A. and a $3.97/A. ROI. Vertex-IF is a combo of MicroAZ-IF™ and PSB-IF™ that contain Pseudomonas, Pantoea, and Azospirillum bacterial strains. This biological co-pack has a three-year average yield increase of 4.6 Bu./A. and a $10.90/A. ROI.




Two water conditioning products and two nutritionals, were added to the Proven Foliar section. Water conditioners BRANDT Indicate 5® and Loveland Products’ Choice® Trio (p. 58) help to bring the solution pH down, reduce the effects of hard water ions, have increased yields up to 2.7 Bu./A., and delivered an ROI increase of $4.96/A. across three years. When applied in a foliar application, Syntose FA® has a three-year average $7.72/A. ROI and 2.2 Bu./A. yield gain (pp. 53, 55, 56, 116). Nutritional BRANDT® Smart Trio® has a three-year $9.00/A. ROI and 3.0 Bu./A. yield response (pp. 52, 55, 56, 116).



When it comes to nitrogen fertilizer in the form of anhydrous ammonia (NH3), what are some best management practices (BMP) to implement? Placing NH3 between the rows has a $7.03/A. ROI advantage over placing it underneath the rows (pp. 61, 104). Applying NH3 seven days or more ahead of planting at an eight-inch depth showed the highest responses over shallower depths and shorter application timing windows (in relationship to planting) (pp. 61, 105). Nitrogen stabilizer product, Carbon Works CetainN®, became Proven this year, with a 3.2 Bu./A. three-year average advantage and a $5.71/A. ROI. It can be applied with urea and UAN fertilizers.



This year, fungicides Lucento® from FMC, Miravis® Neo from Syngenta, and Stoller’s fungicide additive product Harvest More® Urea Mate were added to the Proven fungicide section (pp. 64-65, 67, 72-73, 117, 120). See the chart below for details on these products!



Due to the nature of high premiums for organic markets, large ROIs can be obtained with smaller yield increases from organic products tested. PFR has been testing organic products on the Beck’s Great Harvest Organics seed line for the past three years, with BRANDT® Organics Crop Mix and Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.’s Pacesetter® products becoming Proven in 2021 (pp. 79-80, 265). Nutritional BRANDT Organics Crop Mix has a three-year average $47.70 ROI/A. and 5.8 Bu./A. yield gain. Plant health product Pacesetter® has a threeyear average $46.10 ROI/A. and 6.4 Bu./A. yield gain.


To view these and other PFR studies, visit


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Author: Deatra Gremaux

Categories: CropTalk, 2022


Deatra Gremaux

Deatra Gremaux

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