Growing Knowledge

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

Playing Dietician to Your Plants

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
A strong plant nutrition program starts with identifying your plants’ needs early in the season and continuing with “check-ups” throughout key growth stages. Tissue sampling allows us to pinpoint exactly what’s going on in a plant so real-time nutrient adjustments can be made to optimize yield potential.
 
Like people, each crop has unique nutritional needs. Here are some considerations for keeping corn, soybean and wheat plants healthy through the rest of the season.
 
Corn
Corn takes up the majority of its nutrients between V8 and VT, so paying close attention to both macro- and micronutrient deficiencies ahead of these stages is critical. Sixty-six percent of more than 17,500 corn tissue samples taken nationwide in 2016 through the NutriSolutions 360® system were low in nitrogen, which can be combatted with a side-dress application.
 
On the micronutrients front, 72 percent of corn samples were low in zinc. In 2015, I applied a quart of MAX-IN® Zinc micronutrient at V5 on acres showing zinc deficiencies, and the results led to a 4.55-bushel-per-acre increase. As a result, I recommend taking a tissue sample of the uppermost collar leaf at V5. If samples show a deficiency, spray as quickly as possible to feed plants when they need it most.
 
Remember that nutrient deficiencies change from year to year and certain hybrids respond to nutrient applications better than others. Working with your agronomist to procure quality test plot data, including response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores, can help you create a balanced fertility program for your corn crop.
 
Soybeans
I recommend taking a tissue sample starting at V4 to V6 to get a baseline measurement of soybean plant health and another sample at R2, working with your agronomist to correct deficiencies as appropriate for your crop and operation. If you experienced wet weather this spring, keep an extra eye on boron and sulfur levels, as they may have depleted.
 
Wheat
There’s a lot of work being done when it comes to in-season management for wheat. Copper was a common deficiency in wheat in 2016. However, we’ve found through the Answer Plot® Program that wheat is highly responsive to copper applications in the spring as well as at flag leaf emergence. That said, taking tissue samples prior to jointing and again at flag leaf emergence to assess copper and other nutrient levels can help optimize yield potential for wheat.
 
Remember, the earlier you can diagnose nutrient needs, the better. Collaborating with your agronomist to determine the right timing for tissue sampling and applications will go a long way in protecting the health of your crops.

With Great Dicamba Power Comes Great Responsibility

Andrew Schmidt
Regional Agronomist
Costly lessons were learned last year when off-label dicamba formulations were applied to dicamba-tolerant soybeans. In Missouri alone, 45,000 acres of sensitive soybeans were officially reported as damaged due to off-target dicamba movement, with another 100,000 acres of soybean crops estimated to be unofficially damaged, according to Kevin Bradley at the University of Missouri.1 Along with soybeans, damage extended to a variety of fresh market crops, homeowners’ gardens, trees and more.
 
The most important takeaway was that crops outside of the new dicamba-tolerant system are inherently sensitive to extremely low concentrations of dicamba. While assessing the damage caused in 2016, it’s important to learn from these mistakes in order to successfully incorporate the new dicamba-tolerant soybean technology into our weed-control arsenals.
 
Respect the Herbicide
The most obvious cause of last season’s problem was the use of off-label dicamba treatments. While new dicamba-tolerant seed was available in 2016, dicamba herbicides for use with this technology were not yet labeled for use. With a growing number of tough, resistant weeds threatening soybean yields, some operations jumped the gun by making off-label applications with older dicamba formulations.
 
Along with applying off-label dicamba formulations, several other factors likely played a role in setting the stage for damage to neighboring crops, including the use of the wrong-size spray tips, which allowed fine spray droplets to easily drift off target. Other causes may have been application timing errors, such as spraying when conditions were conducive to temperature inversions. Another culprit could have been the use of ammonium sulfate (AMS) as a water conditioner in the tank mix, which would have increased the potential for volatility.
 
Follow Specific Guidelines
During spray clinics conducted by WinField United agronomists this winter, we provided some recommended practices for use with dicamba-tolerant soybeans to help farmers successfully add this new weed-management tool to their production system. These guidelines include the following:
  1. Only use newly registered dicamba formulations labeled for use with dicamba-tolerant soybeans. Older dicamba formulations are more volatile, making off-target movement more likely.
  2. Read and understand the new dicamba product labels. These labels are the law and closely define how the product must be used.
  3. Consider the required combinations of products listed on the labels. XtendiMax® With VaporGrip® Technology for example, requires an approved drift reduction agent like AG16098 from WinField United, which reduces driftable fines, in the mixture when certain other herbicides and adjuvants are used.
  4. Avoid adding AMS to the spray tank.
  5. Use the correct nozzle type listed on the label to achieve coarse droplets. Also use the labeled pressure rate and don’t exceed the pressure limit.
  6. Keep boom heights at no higher than 24 inches above the target. A lower boom height helps spray droplets stay out of the wind and remain on target.
  7. Slow down. Maintaining the right ground speed helps control boom height and keeps spray pressures in check.
  8. Understand your surroundings. Wait until the wind changes direction to spray if sensitive crops are downwind. Or if a highly susceptible crop is nearby, do not spray dicamba products. Use other labeled herbicides to treat your field.
  9. Maintain buffer zones when sensitive areas are downwind. Follow buffer recommendations listed on the label.
Dicamba-tolerant soybean technology can be an excellent part of an overall weed management strategy, but we all need to pay close attention to application details to maintain its effectiveness. Always work with your local agronomist and retailer to determine the appropriate products and practices for your operation.
 
1. Dr. Kevin Bradley. “A Season to Remember: Our Experiences with Off-Target Movement of Dicamba in 2016.” Available at: http://weedscience.missouri.edu/2017%20Preparing%20for%20Xtend.pdf. Accessed June 12, 2017.

Staying Ahead of Soybean Diseases

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField
Hosts Joel and Kyle tackle soybean disease issues facing farmers on this episode of The Deal With Yield®. Discover what diseases to be on the lookout for this year, the benefits of fungicide applications and the value of experiencing a little bit of failure.
Season 9: Episode 6 – Staying Ahead of Soybean Diseases

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

It’s Not Too Late for Late-Planted Soybeans

Glenn Longabaugh
WinField Agronomist
Our wet spring continues in the central portion of the country, making it very tough to get in the field and start or complete soybean planting. Although there can be an advantage to planting soybeans early, it’s not too late to plant them now. Also, the penalty for planting soybeans late is probably not as significant as it is for corn.
 
A lot depends on latitude
If you are located far enough south where you are able to double-crop soybeans, I recommend planting the fullest season varieties for your particular area as the season progresses, right up until the last two weeks of June. After June 20, you should start going back to planting early varieties. This is different than what I’d recommend for farmers in the central or northern Corn Belt, because the later the season gets, the earlier the varieties they would plant.
 
Row width and population
Early-planted soybeans are not particularly sensitive to row width or population. With early planting, modest populations and wide rows are no problem. But as we get into later planting, narrower row width and increased populations have a greater chance of paying a dividend.
 
Seed treatments
Even with late-planted soybeans, there is a big advantage to using a full complement of seed treatments. Warden® CX seed treatment by WinField® United protects against Fusarium, Phytophthora, Pythium and Rhizoctonia, as well as seed and early season foliar-feeding insects. With late-planted soybeans, you are also less likely to have sudden death syndrome (SDS) than you would with early-planted soybeans.
 
Weed control
Weed control probably gets easier as we get into late planting, as long as you start clean. If you are a conventional tillage farmer and are starting with clean fields, you’re more likely to experience success with a two-pass program in soybeans, as long as one of them is a residual pass. If you’re a no-till farmer, it is absolutely imperative that you confirm your burndown has terminated all weeds. Later in the season, those weeds that emerged early are going to be more robust, taller and harder to manage.
 
If you made an early burndown pass, had to delay planting and now have regrowth, you’ll need to do a second burndown application along with your first residual when your fields dry out. 

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.

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