Learning from 2017 and Looking Towards 2018

The 2017 cropping season was a ‘unique’ one.  Rainy, cool conditions delayed planting significantly, and were followed by more rain and more cold temperatures.  As August approached, many worried that the corn and soybean crops would not reach maturity. Thankfully we had a beautiful warm September that aided the crops in achieving maturity.  When harvest finally came, growers found that they had a lot of yield variability between fields.  Some growers had their best yields ever, while other fields disappointed.  Yield variability could be due to many different factors: fertility, variety, rainfall, drought, drainage or even weed control.

 The first step to reaching higher yields and creating year-year yield stability is soil fertility.  Because of the cool, wet conditions at the beginning of this season, plants were slow growing and stressed, making nutrient uptake difficult in low fertility fields.  Growers who consistently apply fertilizer, manure or both reported good and excellent yields in most of their fields this season regardless of the poor early season conditions.

Did you have a poor yielding field this season? If yes, then your goal going into 2018 should be to do some soil testing.  Consider it a challenge!  Take your poorest field, and get it tested- you may be surprised by the results.  With the variety of new products (chemical, seed or fertilizer) available to boost yield, none will work without a solid basic fertility plan.  Soil testing is a cheap and easy way to get a snapshot of your field’s yield potential for next season. 

If you have a soil testing plan already in place, your goal for 2018 may be to try something new.  Try including a residual pre-emerge herbicide in your soybeans, or maybe consider trying a fungicide on your best field of corn or soybeans in July?  Residual herbicides help fight glyphosate resistance, and growers this past season reported excellent return on investment with fungicides because of the heavy white mold and other fungal diseases that flourished in the cool damp conditions.  Glyphosate resistant Canada Fleabane is a widespread problem in Niagara and Haldimand that can be easily managed with the right soybean genetics and herbicide program.  If you are struggling with Fleabane, talk to us about trying Xtend soybeans.  Agriculture is an industry of constant evolution- what are you doing to help evolution on your own farm?

Sit down with your Agronomist this fall and put together a solid crop plan that hopefully includes one of the tactics I mentioned above; it’s time to start thinking about the 2018 season!

This Crop Corner has been written by Melody Robinson, Field Agronomist at Clark Agri Service.  Melody can be reached by email mrobinson@clarkagriservice.com or by phone 289-775-1188