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CropTalk: In-Season Decision Making: Mid-Season

June 2022

Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Practical Farm Research (PFR)® has become the go-to resource for farmers to gain information on new products and practices, and 2022 marks the third season of studies designed to test in-season management decisions to aid in profitability. These studies focus on real-world situations that we all encounter in the field and decisions we are forced to make to maintain profitability. In last month’s issue of CropTalk, we higlighted management strategies for early in the season. This month, we expand on that theme by highlighting studies and data for the rest of the season! Planting date and response to fungicide is a study designed to test the return on investment of a fungicide application based on planting date. In both corn and soybean, we have learned that early planting is a key component to high yields. In addition, fungicide applications have become PFR Proven™, often providing a double-digit ROI. One question our agronomy, product, and PFR teams are often faced with is, “Even though I planted late, will a fungicide still pay?” After two years of multi-location testing, the answer has been a resounding yes! Our highest ROIs with fungicide applications on both corn and soybeans have occurred on the latest planting dates. On corn, we have observed late disease pressure from Southern Rust in some geographies and Tar Spot in others. With these disease setting in late and the late-planted corn being less developed, our yield and ROI was obtained by keeping the plant healthy in these situations.

The significant ROI in the soybean studies can be attributed to alleviating abiotic stresses during the grain fill period and some disease suppression, especially in regions with Frogeye Leaf Spot. In both crops, the yield was reduced as planting was delayed, but a substantial ROI was obtained by applying a fungicide on the later planted crops. The bottom line is, don’tgive up on the crop just because there was a planting delay. Be cognizant of disease pressure, environmental factors, and multiple mode of action fungicides to aid you in your decision.

 

 

Another study focused on in-season management is the Thin Stand Management study on corn. This study is designed to evaluate what management practices we can implement to improve yield and ROI when we decide to leave a field that has suffered stand loss at emergence. One practice we tested was reducing the nitrogen rate to account for the lower population. The study consisted of two nitrogen rates, the control of 190 units and a reduced rate of 150 units. This study also consisted of three populations, 32,000 seeds/A. with normal spacing and 26,000 and 20,000 seeds/A., both with sporadic spacing to simulate stress at emergence. While our studies have shown some inconsistent results when correlating plant stand versus nitrogen rate, in most situations, ROI has been achieved by staying the course with the higher N rate. Keep in mind that soil properties and environmental factors will heavily influence nitrogen availability and nitrogen use efficiency of corn hybrids.

With the aforementioned populations, we also tested the response to fungicides on thin stands. The data again favored a fungicide application when facing a reduced stand in corn. Even though we had fewer plants. the agronomics to preserve plant health, lengthen grain fill period, and promote stalk integrity do not change.

Over time, we have learned many valuable lessons to improve yield and ROI in PFR. The main takeaway from our in-season decision making studies is to never give up on a crop because of thin stand or delayed planting. Although they may not be your highest yielding field, the benefits of a foliar fungicide and keeping the course on your nitrogen rate will provide you with a positive ROI.

 

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Jon Skinner
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Jon Skinner

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