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Four Agronomic Challenges Farmers Will Face in 2019

Make sure your corn has sufficient nitrogen to get off to a good start.

A myriad of agronomic worries exists after this month’s prolific flooding. Here are four concerns farmers will deal with in 2019.

1. Soggy soils will pose a challenge for farmers who use conventional tillage on corn after corn.

That’s particularly true if last fall’s late harvest nixed fall tillage. In these cases, many farmers will be forced to work stalks in just prior to planting, says Mike Kavanaugh, AgriGold product and agronomy manager. 

In this situation, soil microbes can rapidly break down corn stalks and use available soil nitrogen (N) as an energy source. This creates an early N deficit that hampers young corn plants trying to get off to a good start, says Kavanaugh.

 “Make sure to apply 50 to 100 pounds (per acre) of actual N around planting time with liquid (such as 32% N) UAN, whether as a carrier for preemergence chemicals, in a 2×2 starter band or both, says Kavanaugh.

 If N is applied in a 2×2 band, though, a good rule of thumb is not to exceed 45 pounds per acre of N, he adds.  

2. This is the year farmers need to plant fungicide-treated soybeans.

“The need for fungicide-treated soybean seed this year is at an unprecedented level,” says Kavanaugh. That’s mainly due to a 2018 buildup of seed-borne diseases and also the cool and wet conditions that soybeans will likely be planted into this spring, he says.

3. Check phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels on flooded acres.

“As sediment (soil) moves, so does P and K,” says Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension agronomist.  Soil and P and K movement may be higher along rivers – where water flows faster – than in areas further away that simply had high water moving through more slowly, he says.

“Soil testing may be the best to know how much P and K remains for crop growth,” he says. 

4. Steel yourself for late planting, as water-affected fields may take weeks to become dry enough to plant.

In Iowa, corn yield potential starts dropping significantly around mid-May, whereas soybean yield potential begins dropping significantly around mid-to late May, says Licht.  As planting is delayed further into June, yield loss potential rapidly occurs, says Licht. 

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