Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

New Zinc Treatment Available for 2019 Corn Seed

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The micronutrient zinc is important to corn plants for a number of reasons. Zinc acts as a catalyst for enzyme creation and is a precursor for auxin hormones that signal seed germination. When early zinc levels are adequate, there is more consistent seed germination and plant emergence.
 
All CROPLAN® corn seed has come treated with Advanced Coating® Zn zinc seed treatment — as well as with a fungicide and an insecticide — for a number of years. Answer Plot® testing has helped us develop a new and improved zinc seed treatment, Fortivent™ Zn, which will be available on all new CROPLAN elite class corn hybrids in time for the 2019 growing season.
 
What the data shows
WinField United has been testing Fortivent Zn seed treatment in Answer Plot trials for the past two years. Results from 2017 and 2018 trials indicate a positive effect on yield. Corn planted with Fortivent Zn seed treatment saw a 4.8-bushel-per-acre increase across 41 trial locations. There’s a positive response from Fortivent Zn seed treatment and the Advanced Coating Zn formulation meaning putting zinc on seed could lead to a potential yield boost.
 
Zinc makes us unique
Fortivent Zn seed treatment is designed to provide an early zinc supply to promote seed germination as well as early-season plant health and vigor. The fungicide and insecticide remain. And though fungicide and insecticide often come standard on other hybrid brands, CROPLAN is the only seed manufacturer that adds zinc to our standard treatment. And at no additional cost to you.
 
Supply zinc throughout the season
Zinc is challenging to get to corn plants because it is immobile in soil and in plant tissue. As a result, plant roots have to come into contact with zinc to take it up, making robust early root growth critical. Corn plants need zinc throughout the season to meet growth and development needs. So in addition to a seed treatment, you can boost early-season zinc levels with a starter fertilizer. As the season progresses, tissue samples can help identify when foliar applications may be beneficial.  
 
Talk with your local trusted advisor about the new Fortivent Zn seed treatment and how it can help you turn early-season vigor into end-of-year yield potential.
 
 
© 2018 WinField United. Advanced Coating, Answer Plot, CROPLAN, Fortivent and WinField are trademarks of WinField United.

It’s Not Too Early to Talk Fungicides

Jason Roth
agronomist
Farmers often ask me when they should plan to purchase their fungicides for the season. My answer is, in the off-season AND in-season. It seems contradictory, but there are good reasons to make purchases both times of the year.
 
It’s not just about disease pressure
With tighter margins, many farmers are choosing to delay their fungicide purchases to see what the season brings. But that might not be the best approach to getting the most from your genetics. Our Answer Plot® data shows that not all hybrids respond to fungicide applications the same way. We’ve seen some locations where disease pressure has been relatively low, yet the hybrids respond significantly to a fungicide application. That’s because fungicides do more than just control disease. They affect plants in other physiological ways, including influencing nitrogen use efficiency, respiration maintenance and hormone production. All these things can affect yield potential, even in the absence of disease.
 
3 tips for a stronger plant health strategy
My advice for building a solid plant health strategy comes down to three steps.
 
  1. Review your seed choices and learn how they respond to a fungicide application. Plan to prepay for fungicides and adjuvants on acres with high-response hybrids. Our data shows a positive return on investment, even when disease pressure is low.
 
  1. For hybrids that are less responsive to fungicides, I’d recommend holding off on fungicide purchases to assess disease pressure in-season. If disease comes in early and is heavy, I’d recommend a fungicide, paired with MasterLock® adjuvant, to help protect yield potential.
 
  1. Regardless of when you make your purchase, you should always plan to add an adjuvant to your tank mix. The drift deposition aid MasterLock improves fungicide coverage within the plant’s canopy, leading to improved ROI potential on input costs. Our Answer Plot data has shown an average 5.7-bushel-per-acre yield advantage in corn, simply by adding MasterLock to the fungicide tank mix.
 
If you’re tempted to wait to make your fungicide purchases until next summer, take a look at your genetics’ response-to scores to make sure you’re not missing an opportunity to optimize yield. Postharvest is the perfect time to work with your local WinField United retailer to plan hybrid placement and management to ensure you’re capitalizing on your seed’s potential.    
 

Understand the Value of Foliar Health

Dan Griffin
technical seed agronomist
If you could look into a crystal ball during 2019 planning, what would it tell you? Obviously, there’s no predicting the future in agriculture, but you can use data to help inform your decision-making.
 
Every year, WinField United generates response-to-fungicide data for all the hybrids being tested in nearly 200 Answer Plot® locations nationwide. In 2017, the results demonstrated a national average yield gain of 11.2 bushels per acre, following a tassel application of fungicide. These gains are often twice this amount in the eastern Corn Belt, due to high rainfall, heat, humidity and fungal pathogen populations that overwinter on crop residue, causing foliar disease pressure throughout the growing season.
 
But where on an ear of corn do we physically see the benefit of a foliar fungicide application?
This year in Ohio, our local WinField United team designed a new Answer Plot demonstration called the “Ear Leaf Demo” to show how response to fungicide can be seen on an ear of corn. As you consider input investments for the year ahead, the results from this demonstration can help you better understand the value of a foliar fungicide application.
 
Leaf surface area leads to grain fill
The ear leaf is the most important leaf on a corn plant because it powers the photosynthetic ability of the plant late into the season. Protecting the ear leaf, and the leaves above it, adds yield through increased kernel depth, which is a critical component to high-yielding corn. Gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and southern rust destroy the photosynthetic ability of a given leaf by infecting the plant and decreasing the amount of photosynthetically active leaf surface area. Decreased leaf surface area diminishes the plant’s ability to add yield through kernel depth. Foliar fungicides play an important part in preserving ear leaf integrity during the grain fill period, which could contribute to increased yield potential.
 
To demonstrate leaf integrity’s critical role in yield growth, we removed the ear leaf for a block of eight rows and left it intact on the adjacent eight rows. There were no other differences between the two treatment zones. The removal of the ear leaf simulates the impact a foliar disease can have if it attacks the surface area of the leaf. During a year of high disease pressure in Ohio, the visual results were impressive. Remember, yield response to a VT/R1 fungicide application is not seen in increased kernel rows or length — it is seen in increased kernel depth.
 
Overhead view of full-length corn

10-22-Overhead-image-of-corn-kernel-depth-(2).png
In these images, the increased kernel depth is easily identified. Both the plant with an ear leaf intact (left) and the plant with an ear leaf removed at R1 (right) have the same number of kernels around and the length. But notice the stark difference in kernel depth between the two. The plant with an intact ear leaf added much more kernel depth and, in turn, will have the higher yield potential come harvest.
 
This is how fungicide applications can provide value: providing disease resistance on the ear leaf to preserve the plant’s photosynthetic ability longer into grain fill. Understanding that value is important as 2019 planning begins. Be sure to speak with your local agronomist about whether you should set aside a disease protection budget for next year.
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot is a trademark of WinField United.
 

Manage for More Yield on Non-Rotational Acres

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
The advantages of crop rotation have been well documented over the years. But market conditions and on-farm needs are pushing more farmers to skip rotations and opt for continuously cropped acres instead. If you’re one of those farmers, here are some considerations to maximize productivity on non-rotated acres.
 
Continuous corn acres
Research has shown that continuous corn yield penalties were more severe in areas with low moisture and low yields.1 With that in mind, it makes sense to choose high production acres for corn-on-corn rotations, if possible. Here are some other tips to maximize yield potential.

 
  • Choose stable hybrids. Strive to find balance with a high-yielding hybrid that also carries defensive traits like strong disease and insect resistance. Trait packages that protect against above- and below-ground pests, including corn rootworm, are also a good investment for corn-on-corn acres.
  • Evaluate seed treatments. The right treatment helps protect against early-season fungal diseases and insects that might be more prevalent due to the extra plant residue and added moisture in continuous cornfields.
  • Apply foliar fungicides and insecticides. As insect and pathogen populations accumulate in soil and crop residue, the potential for damage and yield loss increases.
  • Manage residue. Extra corn residue can result in additional challenges at planting, including wetter, cooler soils. Excess residue can also have implications for nitrogen cycling.
 
Continuous soybean acres
Pests seem to be one of the biggest yield-limiting factors for soybean-on-soybean acres. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is historically one of the main concerns, although many farmers aren’t testing for the pest in their fields. Here are some management practices to reduce the yield penalty associated with continuous soybean cropping.
 
  • Alternate genetics. Choosing diverse seed varieties each year helps ensure common weed, insect and disease pests don’t become resistant to management strategies. WinPak® soybeans from CROPLAN® seed include a unique combination of two varieties that work together and confer different levels of protection against common diseases to help mitigate risk.
  • Treat seed. Selecting soybean varieties with the right seed treatments can provide up to 40 days of protection against early-season diseases including rhizoctonia, Pythium and sudden death syndrome.
  • Watch nutrient levels. Multiple years of soybean production can remove nutrients including phosphorus and potassium from the soil.
  • Apply foliar fungicide and insecticide. Applications at the R2/R3 growth stage can provide extra protection against late-season pests.
Strategic production practices can help you get more from non-rotational acres. Consult with your local WinField United retailer to develop a comprehensive management plan that includes the proper seed choices, crop protection products and fertilization needs for your acres.
 
1. Seifert, C. A., M. J. Roberts, and D. B. Lobell. 2017. Continuous Corn and Soybean Yield Penalties across Hundreds of Thousands of Fields. Agron. J. 109:541-548. doi:10.2134/agronj2016.03.0134
 
© 2018 WinField United. CROPLAN®, WinField® and WinPak® are trademarks of WinField United.
 

Preview 2018 Answer Plot Data

John Kinnard
Senior Manager, Data Team Services
Harvest is underway in some areas, and data from our Answer Plot® program is already being analyzed. While it will be a while before we have a complete data set to evaluate, I’d like to preview some of the exciting information you can look for as harvest wraps up.
 
Expanded seed characterization. Our corn hybrid and soybean variety characterization data is the foundation that the Answer Plot program was built upon. WinField United’s seed characterization trial is a leading platform in the industry due to the number of replications and locations. This year, we’ll have new corn hybrids and soybean varieties to characterize so farmers can better place the latest genetics. As you make your seed selections for next year, be sure to check out the updated CHT charts in the R7® Tool.
 
CROPLAN® corn hybrid zinc seed treatment. As you may know, CROPLAN is the only seed brand to add zinc to its standard corn seed treatment. We tested zinc-treated corn seed at 62 Answer Plot locations last year and found that it averaged a 3.2-bushel-per-acre yield advantage over standard seed treatments. We’re continually testing new formulations of this treatment with an eye towards further improving our seed treatment portfolio.
 
Fungicide trials. We’ve expanded our fungicide trials this year to include more products across different environments and disease pressures. Our hope is to better understand which products offer the greatest return on investment to ensure we’re giving you the best product recommendations. We compare generics, common brands and new products side-by-side to help retailers and farmers make the right decisions for their operation.
 
Soybean herbicide systems. This year, we’re running a new trial that compares the yield potential of soybeans under three different trait and herbicide systems: glyphosate, gluphosinate and low-volatility dicamba. We’re hoping to understand which systems provide the greatest value to farmers.
 
Soybean treatment. There are a lot of questions as to whether soybean seed treatments pay for themselves. We’re running trials to better understand under what conditions these treatments offer the greatest seed protection. For example, nematicides are emerging as a new innovation in this space, and we want to study how these products perform and interact with existing fungicide and insecticide options.
 
Every year presents farmers with a different set of challenges. The Answer Plot program faces those same environmental conditions. Our goal is to classify those situations to better use our data to tailor solutions for you. We’re looking forward to analyzing and sharing another year of unmatched, quality data from our Answer Plot locations.

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