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Four Crop-Production Factors That Occurred in 2018

Bad news: There was high corn disease pressure in parts. Good news: More farmers are controlling small weeds.

This year had its moments when it came to crop production. Some were bad, some not so bad. Here’s a smattering of some agronomic factors farmers faced in 2018. 

1. In many areas, weather conditions fueled a plethora of corn diseases like gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight (NCLB). Recent rainfall has also accentuated concerns about anthracnose. 

If you haven’t already, assess your cornfields for stalk strength. If they’ve been weakened by disease, target them for harvest first to prevent lodging, says Mitch Heisler, Wyffels Hybrids marketing manager. 

Keep an eye on your fields this fall as you plan for 2019, says Sue Eivins Brakhane, a DeKalb/Asgrow technical agronomist for south central Iowa. If NCLB troubled some corn-on-corn fields this year, plant a hybrid that tolerates it better in 2019, she says. 

In soybeans, frogeye leaf spot has moved northward to where it’s surfacing in states as far north as Iowa, says Eivins Brakhane. The good news is, it’s not the kind that resists strobilurin fungicides, she says. Thus, strobilurin fungicides remain a management tool. 

2. More and more farmers became more proactive about managing weeds when small, says Gail Stratman, an FMC regional technical manager in Stromsburg, Nebraska.

In soybeans, it’s paramount to apply a preemergence residual herbicide. 

“This keeps weeds from emerging in the first place,” says Stratman.

Waterhemp and marestail remain the two major headaches for soybean farmers. Surprisingly, an old standby – velvetleaf – is also making a comeback. Thus, farmers need to keep this in mind when devising weed-management programs, he says. 

3. There weren’t as many “dicamba-defense” soybean acres as you might think in 2018. Dicamba defense is when farmers plant dicamba-tolerant soybean varieties mainly on the basis that they can withstand off-target dicamba. This comes at the expense of other soybean technologies like LibertyLink acres, which tolerate glufosinate (Liberty). 

“The only areas we saw LibertyLink business coming at the expense of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (dicamba-tolerant soybeans) was in the Mississippi Delta,” says David Thompson, Stine Seeds marketing director. This is also an area where farmers planted many acres to dicamba-tolerant cotton. 

“In the north-central Corn Belt, we did not see Xtend (soybeans) moving in at the expense of LibertyLink soybeans, he says. “Once growers go with LibertyLink beans and have good weed control, satisfaction numbers are high.” 

4. There’s good news for farmers who are wrestling with soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) that resist SCN-resistant soybean varieties. More than 95% of the SCN-resistant varieties on the market share the same source of SCN resistance: PI 88788. Anytime the same control measure is repeatedly used (glyphosate-resistant weeds, anyone), resistance may develop. 

Peking is another source of SCN resistance. Until recently, though, the knock against SCN-resistant soybean varieties using the Peking source of resistance were low yields. 

No more. Thompson notes that Stine has several SCN-resistant varieties using Peking resistance that are top yielders. “Farmers have options (for SCN management) that they did not have a few years ago,” he says. 

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