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Agro-Connect ask the expert archive

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:21pm

Agronomy experts from university and industry sources respond to common questions from readers.

A quick glance at your field probably won't give you the information you need to decide whether to replant soybeans this year because you're likely to underestimate your existing plant population. Before you act, you should think about any factors that caused stand reduction, the percentage of population lost, and the costs of replanting. Several university experts offer advice including an interactive tool that could help you decide.

The first thing to know about maximizing soybean yields is that the two biggest profit makers are planting date and row spacing. That probably doesn't surprise many farmers. Two other very profitable practices: fungicide seed treatments and inoculation, says Ohio State University Extension agronomist Jim Beuerlein.

Farmers who do their own spraying have had lots of experience choosing nozzles. However, most of that experience has been with choosing nozzles for herbicides, not fungicides. "Fungicides will be a new experience for most soybean growers throughout the Corn Belt," says Greg Shaner, a Purdue University Extension plant pathologist. Here's help:

Nitrogen costs are high this spring, a situation that has many farmers looking for ways to apply only the nitrogen their crops really need as a way to maximize the economic benefit. A preplant N test could help you answer the question of how much you need.

Many soybean growers are wondering whether it would be a good idea to save application costs by tank mixing rust-controlling fungicides with herbicides this growing season. The answer is no, for at least three reasons: improper timing, drift, and labeling precautions, say University of Wisconsin Weed Scientist Chris Boerboom and Plant Pathologist Craig Grau.

Attacking winter annuals and simple perennials and biennials in the fall, rather than waiting until spring, is the most effective way to control the weeds, says Jeff Stachler, Extension Weed Specialist, Ohio State University. You will get a better kill with a fall program.

Timing is critical for corn growers, because the payoff from your corn crop is right around the corner. Harvest timing is primarily determined by moisture, says Dave Welch, district agronomist for Mycogen Seeds. Yet, timing harvest is different for every farm, based upon the farm's grain handling capabilities. Learn some factors that can make a difference in whether to harvest early, and get a rule of thumb on how to to know if stalk rot is serious enough to balance out the cost of harvesting higher moisture grain.

With growers getting the corn crop in the ground early this year, there is reason to be optimistic about this year's yield, says Les Hartwig, district agronomist for Mycogen Seeds Due to cool and wet weather, initial potential for a record corn crop has decreased. Still, corn will grow in cooler temps. Learn how temperature affects corn growth.

Several different species of weeds can cause problems for corn growers and they vary according to geography, says John Long, district agronomist for Mycogen Seeds. Know your situation before making a treatment and look at your fields to see what weeds are present, he says. Use an integrated pest management approach for the specific weed issues you find. Try to choose the product with the best potential on the weeds you have - doing so can save several dollars per acre.

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