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4 points to ponder for 2014 corn

Gil Gullickson 09/04/2013 @ 11:43am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

If growing corn were akin to being a student, you’d be nervous now because final exam time is quickly approaching. The results of your corn-growing strategies will soon become apparent from your combine cab.

While you’re harvesting this fall, scan from the bird’s-eye view of your cab for any problems that have surfaced this year. Lessons learned can help you plan 2014 strategies. Following are four points to look for this fall.

1. Analyze weed escapes

Corn has an edge on soybeans in that its early canopy can halt many weed escapes. Still, watch for escapes in drowned-out spots and skips. These areas may consist of weeds that didn’t get sprayed. However, escapes may be due to herbicide resistance. Areas void of crop competition give weeds like glyphosate-resistant waterhemp room to thrive and multiply.

“Last year, I was able to see firsthand, for the first time on my farm, true resistance to glyphosate,” says Pat Duncanson, a Mapleton, Minnesota, farmer. “I had some waterhemp I wasn’t able to control. I ended up doing some hand-weeding to slow the progress of this weed and to keep it manageable as a small problem. It changed my attitude overnight; it was no longer a problem that would happen someday.”

2. Critique Your Weed Control  

Everyone likes to see a clean field at harvest. Still, this might not be a true indicator of weed-control success. Waiting too long to control weeds can ultimately rob your crop of yields, even if you kill them with postemergence herbicides.

That’s why weed scientists and agronomists are big fans of preemergence residual herbicides. They nix weed growth right at the outset of the cropping year.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature often had other plans during last spring’s soggy weather. Some of you likely couldn’t apply them in waterlogged fields. For those of you who could, though, preemergence residual corn products probably curbed waterhemp until the corn canopied.

“Multiapplication timing using preplant herbicides along with Roundup Ready or Liberty Link technology can control weeds that germinate at different times,” says Mike Owen, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension weed specialist.

Including preemergence residual herbicides can snuff weeds before they start. Weeds even as early as

V2 corn can slice yields by 5%, according to 2008 ISU trials.

3. Think about next year’s hybrids

Picking the right genetics can boost your bottom line more than any other input. “That is the engine,” says Jeff Hartz, marketing director for Wyffels Hybrids. “Then, you find the right trait platform.”

Harvest is a good time to determine which hybrids worked and which did not.

“If someone came to me with a great genetic corn that was non-Roundup resistant, it would be difficult for me to use,” says Duncanson. “So, I first look at genetics, but then I also look at the trait package. Most of the time, I can get the trait package in the genetics I want. Picking the right genetics in the right trait package could be the cheapest input on a per-acre basis,” he says.

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