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Will late season fertility pay off?

XtremeAg farmers Kelly Garrett and Kevin Matthews hope to add yield with late season fertility applications, while Matt Miles continues corn harvest.


A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa. 

We decided to make a R5 pass on all of our soybeans last week as well as on the corn that we identified as having more top-end potential.

We chose to make the application at R5 because it’s a very critical stage in the growth cycle and it has been neglected in our past fertility programs.

We are trying to prevent small shallow kernels on corn and small bean size in soybeans. We hope that this additional fertility pass and a late season rain will help increase size and weight of both crops and give our yields a boost.

Last year we started harvesting our desiccated soybeans immediately after Labor Day. It doesn’t look like we will be ready as early this year. I’m penciling harvest to start about September 12. That still moves our harvest window ahead of where it has been in previous years.

Map of Iowa precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet


Matt Miles is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

There’s always next year! It looks like that may end up being our motto this year. After so many months of extreme heat this growing season, the bear that I thought was lurking in the bushes, is finally poking his head out.

We are around 50% harvested on our corn and seeing a steady 10-12% decrease from last year. Although prices are high, inputs are taking a heavy cut of the profits. This definitely wasn’t the year that we needed a decrease in yields. But again, there’s always next year!

John Deere combine harvests corn in Arkansas
Photo credit: XtremeAg

As I walked through the bean fields yesterday I had a gut feeling, backed by several years of experience, that all of the crops we grow will probably follow suit and see a yield loss compared to last season. Growing a crop is similar to a lasting marriage. There will be good times and bad times, but in the end, you have to realize you that love it and there will always be next year. We learned a long time ago that you need to base your plans and goals on a multi-year model and not get caught up in what happens in a single year. Especially when it’s out of your control. We do our best each year to produce higher yields and sometimes external factors prevent that from happening. We’ve learned a lot this season about stress mitigation that will become part of our standard program next year.

Don’t get discouraged, hopefully most of you reading this will experience bumper crops. Good luck as your crops begin to mature. Keep an open mind and a clear head. We got this! It’s all in God's hands.


Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

We finished our fungicide this past week on our river bottom corn. Disease pressure has been tough this year but Veltyma has done a great job at protecting our crop. A few of the river bottom fields required two trips which is not unusual. This crop has strong potential if we can get it harvested without a hurricane or flood getting in the way. As you read this we are starting corn harvest on our early upland acres. Our multiple growing seasons keeps us very busy.

Sprayer in late season corn field
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The soybeans are looking great. Most early planted soybeans will be desiccated soon and then harvest in a few short weeks. With the heat and dry weather this year, the stress management practices we have learned at appear to be helping, but the scales will tell us for sure.

Even though a lot of soybeans and corn are in the late stages, the sprayers will continue to roll with fertility products as we look to enhance test weights. Late season fertility is an opportunity to put extra money in your pockets.

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