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CropTalk: In-Season Decision Making: Early

May 2022

Published on Monday, May 2, 2022

The 2022 growing season kicks off our third year exploring a category of studies within Practical Farm Research (PFR)® designed to provide data to help you make more profitable in-season decisions. Compacting rain, cold snaps, frost, or hail are some of the uncontrollable in-season events that affect stands, plant health, and crop development, ultimately causing us to revisit our original plans in order to maintain profitability.

Our PFR teams have created equipment and protocols to replicate the effects of these in-season events, turning these decisions from emotional reactions to fact-based decisions. Plugging random holes in seed plates allows us to replicate sporadic stands, allowing us to study how to manage thin stands or identify a proper replant threshold. In another study, we run torches at a high BTU level directly over the corn plants to rupture cell walls and mimic frost, allowing us to capture data that will help farmers make better in-season decisions.

Replant Threshold Study in corn and soybeans is conducted to determine the stand count at which replanting is more economical than leaving a thin, sporadic stand. Sporadic stands can complicate the in-season decision needed. In corn, we are studying determinate and flex type hybrids, and in soybeans, planting 15 in. and 30 in. row widths. Although it can be an uncomfortable decision to make in the spring, it is more profitable to keep a stand of 20,000 corn plants/A. and higher — in both 15. and 30 in. rows, instead of replanting that stand. Leaving a soybean stand of 75,000 plants/A. and higher is also more profitable than replanting.

Replant Study in soybeans is conducted to determine the economic benefit of spotting-in a stand vs. replanting completely. Starting with a sporadic stand of 70,000, we explore spotting-in three different populations, planted at a 15-degree angle to the original rows, and cultivating out the stand and replanting completely. Replanting completely sacrifices the plants that have collected the sunlight to date. Leave this stand and spot in to add the node counts needed for optimal yield and ROI.

 

 

Thin Stand Management – Nitrogen Response Study is designed to answer the question: do we reduce nitrogen rates if we are facing a reduced stand? So far, our two-year, multi-location data shows no benefit to reducing the nitrogen at any population. Because the environment can have such an effect on nitrogen, three years of data is required to draw a solid conclusion. The lesson learned here is to know the hybrid’s ability to flex and manage nutrient levels needed to maximize ROI.

Frost Study is designed to simulate frost damage at different growth stages to determine when replanting is necessary. Frost can vary from killing leaf tissue to terminating corn completely. This study focuses on the middle ground, severe enough frost to reduce stands while not terminating completely. Our two-year, multi-location data shows a 2 Bu./A. reduction when comparing replant to the V2 frost event, and a 23 Bu./A. reduction when comparing replant to the V4 frost event. The lesson learned thus far is to be patient, evaluate the stand remaining, and even if the corn looks to be in rough shape, be slow to make the replant decision.

FARMserver® is the leader of all in-season decision-making precision software tools. FARMserver will model growth stage and track weather, sending you specific agronomic alerts pertaining to your fields, filled with data and recommendations from years of PFR testing. Setting your fields up in FARMserver is the best way to gain the full benefit from our PFR inseason decision-making studies. Finally, private tours and field shows will offer you the chance to see these studies first-hand. Sporadic stands in corn as low as 20,000 plants/A., multiple nitrogen rates on these sporadic stands, corn stunted because of a frost event at V4, and soybeans spotted in at a 15-degree angle provide visual aesthetics that give you an opportunity to learn what to look for, and how to make the most profitable in-season decision.

 

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Nate Firle
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Nate Firle

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