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Back to the Basics for #Plant17

Revisit the basics for the planting season.

As the weather cooperates, planting and other fieldwork is under way. But don’t be in too much of a rush.

“Work the ground when it’s ready,” says Sara Smelser, WinField Agronomist. “Last year there were farmers who were really eager to work the ground, and then we had some rains. It packed the ground down.”

Wet conditions may keep people out of the field longer than they anticipated. “The one thing not to do is to get into a field too early, when the soil is too wet,” says Mike Owen, Iowa State Extension weed specialist. “You have to live with the impacts of working in wet soils, too. You must adjust to it. Don’t rush the season.”

Those impacts include compromising the planting depth, seed placement, and germination. “We need to make sure that we are doing a good job planting the first time,” says Melissa Bell, Mycogen Seed agronomist.

“You want to put your best foot forward,” says Bell. “Work harder to not plant again.”

Revisit the basics to make sure planting will be successful the first time.

“Hybrid and variety placement should be your number one concern,” says Bell. She recommends that farmers organize seed by field, label it, and have the prescription ready.

Worry about Weeds

The way weeds were managed last year will impact weeds during the 2017 growing season. “A lot will depend on how effective the 2016 weed control was,” says Owen.

If farmers drove the combine through weed escapes, they can expect weeds to be growing as far as it threw the seed, he says.

Use the full rate. “There’s a threshold where the herbicide is meant to kill the weed,” says Smelser.

It’s akin to have a bacterial sinus infection, says Smelser. You wouldn’t only take half the dose of antibiotic that the doctor gave you. But if you do, the next time you take the same antibiotic, the bacteria will have built up a level of resistance to it. “Herbicide resistance works in a very similar way,” she says.

Start clean and stay clean. “When Roundup came on the market it solved a lot of issues for a long time, and it was the only technology that people needed in the tank,” says Smelser.

That’s not the case anymore. She recommends the use of preemergence herbicides, timely application, overlapping of herbicides, and always using the full rate.

Select a herbicide with a residual. Check that the selected herbicide is effective with the weeds in your field. “Farmers need to know what resistances are preexisting in their fields,” says Owen. 

What about N?

If nitrogen (N) applications were made in the fall without a nitrification inhibitor, and your area has been warm and wet, N loss could be a concern.

Even as spring applications are being made, Smelser recommends using a nitrification inhibitor.

Be prepared

Plan your in-season management to the response scores of each hybrid, says Smelser.

For example, know if the hybrid has a high response to a fungicide and N. Knowing ahead of time can help you to the pull the trigger on applications when the plant is under stress.

“For plant health, if it has a low response to fungicide, it won’t react quite as rapidly. You may decide to hold back on an application,” says Smelser. “It’s best to make that plan before the corn is in the ground and then you can make in-season decisions promptly.”

“A good portion of the country had a mild winter,” says Smelser. “I would expect more insect and weed pressure because of it. Be ready to be proactive rather than reactive because the weather didn’t do us any favors in preparing us for 2017.”

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