Growing Knowledge

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

Does Fall Burndown Pay Off?

George Watters
Agronomy Manager
For farmers who adopt minimum- or no-till practices, controlling weeds throughout the fall can be crucial — particularly for winter annual weeds like marestail and perennials such as dandelions. Overwintered marestail, for example, is very difficult to control in the spring.
 
If we are able to harvest early and we have warm, dry weather, we’ll have a wider window of opportunity for fall herbicide applications.
 
Benefits of Fall Weed-control Applications
There are a number of advantages to doing a fall burndown:
  • Smaller weeds: Weeds are typically smaller in the fall, making them easier to control.
  • Weeds are getting ready for winter: During the fall, plants are translocating most of their nutrients to the roots for overwintering. This means more of the herbicide will move down into the roots and provide good control.
  • Less compaction: Drier soils are better suited to sprayer traffic, minimizing compaction.
  • Earlier planting: With more effective control, fields can dry and warm faster in the spring to allow for tillage and earlier planting.
  • Greater efficiency: Equipment works better in clean fields.
  • Less weed competition: Early-season weed competition is reduced to help crops get a good start and encourage uniform stands.
  • Fewer pest havens: Fewer weeds mean fewer egg-laying sites for insects such as spider mites and cutworms, and no alternate host for soybean cyst nematodes.
Spring Application? Possibly.
Don’t forget to manage weeds into next spring as well. In spite of its benefits, fall burndown generally doesn’t eliminate the need for a residual herbicide program in the spring to achieve effective, season-long weed control.
 
For specific weeds like marestail (a big problem in the eastern Corn Belt), you may also need a spring burndown to take care of what germinates in the season’s early weeks. But if you do a fall burndown, you can at least avoid dealing with tough-to-control, overwintered marestail.
 
Contact your local WinField United retailer to learn more about fall burndown options in your area.

5 Tips for Treating Your Alfalfa Right This Season

Jeff Jackson
CROPLAN® Alfalfa and Forage Specialist

Alfalfa is not an easy crop to grow and requires pretty intense management. However, some farmers don’t give it much attention until it’s time to cut.

 

I’d argue alfalfa is a high-value crop that deserves to be diligently scouted and managed just like corn or soybeans or sunflowers. No matter how you use or market your alfalfa, it represents a significant investment of labor and money. Take the time to treat it right. Here are five tips for in-season alfalfa management.

 

1. Put boots on the ground.

It may sound obvious, but you can’t control what you can’t see. Be sure to scout your alfalfa fields, or have your agronomist do it, on a regular basis. For greater insights, pair these scouting efforts with the ag technology your agronomist offers, which can quickly alert you to critical field issues such as depleted biomass, disease and insects.

 

2. Make a preventive fungicide application.

A fungicide application, performed when your alfalfa is 6 to 8 inches tall, can help protect the plant from diseases such as bacterial leaf spot, spring black stem and lepto leaf spot, and help the plant retain more leaves.

 

3. Use a residual insecticide. 

Technically, the right answer to the question “When should I spray for insects?” is “After you’ve scouted and if you need to.” Follow integrated pest management practices and spray when there are damaging insects present at a level that will justify the application. Insecticides with residual activity, such as Arctic® 3.2EC insecticide or Grizzly® Too insecticide, provide a longer period of control.  

 

Be sure to follow label directions for both fungicide and insecticide applications. Also, adhere to preharvest intervals, even if you are pressed for time.

 

4. Evaluate plant nutrient levels by tissue testing.

Optimal timing for taking alfalfa tissue samples is at the beginning of bud stage, right before you cut. Your agronomist should remove the top 6 inches of the plant for testing. After you cut, wait for 6 inches of regrowth, and then do a foliar application of essential nutrients that testing has found to be deficient. Remember, lack of moisture will limit the benefits nutrients bring. Talk with your agronomist about whether nutrient applications make economic sense at various points of the year, depending on weather conditions.

 

5. Choose varieties with appropriate tolerance that fit your goals for next year. 

Disease and insect tolerance differ widely among varieties, but are found to some degree in conventional alfalfas, Genuity® Roundup Ready® alfalfas and HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology. HarvXtra® Alfalfa varieties offer more flexibility in cutting schedules to achieve greater yield potential or improved forage quality. Geography often determines what stresses will be most prevalent in your area. As you think about your goals for 2018, work with your agronomist to choose varieties that fit your specific needs.

 

Don’t treat your alfalfa crop as an afterthought. Proactively manage it to optimize yield potential and make sure it’s an important part of your whole-farm crop management strategy.

 

 

Genuity and Roundup Ready are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC.

HarvXtra is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC.

 

Growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to United States domestic use. In the following states, use of HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is subject to a Seed and Feed Use Agreement, noting that this technology can only be used on farm or otherwise be used in the United States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices do not plant HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology in Imperial County, California, pending import approval in China and until Forage Genetics International, LLC (FGI) grants express permission for such planting. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product.

 

Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products.


Want local insights? Visit an Answer Plot® event this season.

Kevin Eye
Vice President, Agronomy & Product Development
We’re gearing up for a busy season at our Answer Plot® locations across the country. Each year we reevaluate the program and design demonstrations that are relevant to local geographies, based on insights from farmers and our regional experts.
 
Whether you’ve never attended an Answer Plot® event or you’re a seasoned attendee, here are some reasons it’s worth your time to attend.
 
Interactive demonstrations. Each event is a little different depending on the time of year and location, but the main goal is education and training. Whether that’s providing product recommendations, demonstrating ag technology tools or delivering agronomic insights, we’re constantly changing our focus to stay relevant to your needs. This year, we’re highlighting several new demonstrations that you can learn about here.
 
Data-driven research. In addition to interactive demonstrations, our Answer Plot® Program includes more than 200 research-trial locations across the country. When you attend a local event, you can expect insights derived from high-quality, local data. We’ll talk about what we’ve learned from our multi-location field trials and what new data we’re gathering to help you make informed decisions next year.
 
Timely information. There are multiple events at each Answer Plot® location throughout the season, so there’s always something new to learn. Early-season demonstrations might include seed treatment and weed-control evaluations. Mid-season, we might talk about soil and tissue sampling, the use of ag technology tools, or crop fertility. As the season winds down, we’ll focus on late-season plant health topics and preparing for harvest.
 
Customized sessions. Answer Plot® events are designed to be fluid and interactive. We encourage you to bring questions about challenges you’re facing to help drive conversations. And, if you find that you can’t make one of the scheduled events, it’s possible to schedule one-on-one time with a local agronomist at the Answer Plot® location when it works for you. Our goal is to provide local data, insights and information to make your operation more productive and efficient.
 
To learn more about events scheduled in your area, visit answerplot.com or talk with your local retailer.

What’s New for the Answer Plot® Program in 2017?

Kevin Eye
Vice President, Agronomy & Product Development
The growing season is well underway, and we’re looking forward to upcoming Answer Plot® events across the country. These programs are an opportunity for interactive learning from experts who are familiar with local conditions and agronomics. Our goal is to help you make the best management decisions, so you can increase productivity and efficiency on your farm.

Here are a few of the new demonstrations you may see at your local Answer Plot® location this year.

  • Soybean farmer decision trial – We’ll take a comprehensive look at soybean management, including analysis of specific genetics and response to various crop inputs. The insights from this trial will help you fine-tune production decisions using products and technology that work best for specific agronomic conditions.
  • Soybean genetic performance – Are you wondering how the new soybean herbicide traits perform with current genetics? This trial will evaluate product performance among various trait and genetic packages.
  • Soybean treatments –There are a lot of soybean seed treatment options out there, but what works best for your situation? This trial will compare the efficacy and response of different treatments under various field conditions.
  • Plant health study – This evaluation in corn, soybeans and wheat can help establish the best time frame to apply a foliar fungicide. We’ll compare early, late and two-pass applications to determine ways to achieve optimal return on investment potential.
  • Nitrogen modeling –Nitrogen modeling tools can help predict when and where nitrogen is needed for more precise application. This trial is designed to validate various modeling tools and compare return on investment. 
In addition to these demonstrations, we’re also expanding our larger scale Answer Plot® research trials. We’ve updated trial design to minimize field variability for more accurate recommendations. We’ve also expanded our silage testing program in collaboration with Forage Genetics International. This year, we’ll be evaluating more genetics across diverse field environments for better characterization of our silage products.

Be sure to attend one of the planned agronomic training events at an Answer Plot® location near you. For more information, visit answerplot.com or talk with your local retailer.

Locking in Spray Investments

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField
Host Joel Wipperfurth and agronomist Mark Glady talk about ensuring the effectiveness of spray applications on this episode of The Deal With Yield®. Hear their tips for which products to add to the spray tank and how to stay ahead of herbicide resistance.
Season 9: Episode 3 – Locking in Spray Investments

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

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