8 Tips for Corn Harvest Success

Brad Krajewski
Technical Seed Manager
As another growing season nears its end and you’re busy with a million different things, is there anything you can do to help ensure an orderly corn harvest? Here are some tips that could help you keep things on track.
 
1. Make sure your equipment is prepped and ready.
Have your machines serviced or repaired if necessary, in place and ready to go. This includes your combine, tractor, grain cart, trucks, augers and bins.
 
2. Know your marketing strategy and plan accordingly.
For example, if you have a contract to fill at a particular grain elevator, what is your plan for taking corn from a field that’s closer to that destination versus filling your own grain bin with corn from a field that’s closer to home? Know the logistics about what contracts you need to deliver on.
 
3. Calibrate your yield monitor.
Accuracy matters. If you’re using your data to evaluate hybrid performance or do a fertility trial, for example, making sure your monitor is calibrated correctly will give you the most accurate results and help you make the best determination on how a particular product performed.
 
4. Know your hybrids and have a plan of attack.
Which products are going to dry down first that you’ll want to get to right away? Depending on the situation, decide if you want to harvest damaged fields first before any more of the crop is compromised, or harvest your good corn first while it is healthy and leave poorer crops until the end.  
 
5. Know the quirks of your fields.
Are there certain fields that present harvest challenges — for example, those with wet, low spots? Make sure you harvest those before rain or snow comes. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to ever get the corn crop out of that field.
 
6. Recheck equipment when you’re in the field.
Make sure you’re cleaning the grain off the ears correctly and you’re not throwing too many kernels out the back end of the combine.
 
7. Clean your equipment thoroughly.
It’s a no-brainer to clean equipment at the end of the season, but are you cleaning machinery in between fields? Combines can transfer diseases that overwinter in crop residue, such as Goss’s wilt, from field to field if you’re not cleaning them. It’s the same story with seeds from herbicide-resistant weeds.
 
8. Take notes.
Don’t rely on your memory; write down in-field observations. Capture them electronically or use a trusty paper and pencil. 

Make Every Soybean Count at Harvest

Jamie Kloster
Technical Seed Manager, CROPLAN® seed
As we near the finish line with this year’s soybean crop, it’s time to focus on capturing the maximum number of bushels at harvest. Losing just three to four soybeans per square foot can reduce yield by 1 bushel per acre and quickly take a bite out of bottom-line profit potential.
 
The following are a few reminders for success this harvest season.
 
1. Scout fields now. Scouting soybean fields before harvest can help identify and mitigate potential harvest challenges. For example, if weeds are a problem, you might consider a late-season herbicide application to alleviate combining issues. Also be sure to check label restrictions and pre-harvest intervals.       
 
2. Inspect harvest equipment. Take time to make sure all equipment is in optimal working condition before heading to the field. Review the combine’s standard settings and inspect all key parts, such as belts, chains and the auger. Pay special attention to the condition of cutter bars and knives to help avoid losses at the head.
 
3. Monitor moisture levels. Keep a close eye on each field’s moisture levels to help prioritize harvest order to avoid soybean shatter and split issues. Harvesting at moistures between 13 and 15 percent minimizes harvest losses, splits and dockage at the elevator. Moisture below that range can accelerate shatter and split problems. Where shatter losses appear likely, harvesting earlier or later in the day, when higher humidity increases pod moisture levels, helps minimize the problem.
 
4. Consider weedy fields. Clean out the combine after harvesting fields with hard-to-control weeds such as waterhemp and other tough species to prevent them from spreading to other fields. You could also consider harvesting weedy patches or even the entire field last to avoid spreading weed seeds to other locations.
 
5. Match equipment settings to conditions. Soybean losses can be minimized by adjusting combine settings to match crop conditions. For example, if drought conditions caused shorter soybean plants, adjust the cutter bar and reel height accordingly to obtain as much yield as possible. Also, monitor cutterbar performance as well as cylinder-concave settings to reduce the pass-through of pods that still contain soybeans. Combining at reduced speeds (< 3 mph) can help minimize harvest losses and may be necessary where there are green stems at harvest.
 
6. Gather data for next season. Pay attention to the yield monitor and observe high- and low-yielding areas of each field. Try to determine what caused those results so you can either replicate that success or plan to alleviate losses the next time. 

Considering Cover Crops

Steve Anthofer
Answer Plot Operations Sr. Manager
Cover crops are increasing in popularity due to benefits for sustainability. If you’re considering them, here is some information about the advantages and challenges associated with cover crops.
 
Potential advantages of cover crops
Properly established cover crops can reduce soil erosion and nitrogen sequestration, build soil tilth, increase water- and nutrient-holding capacity, and foster diverse soil fauna and microbes. These benefits could provide long- and short-term economic advantages through increased yields; better weed control; and nitrogen conservation, sequestration or addition. 
 
Potential disadvantages of cover crops
Cover crops can be challenging to establish without affecting the primary crop and may even be cost-prohibitive in the short term. If they are seeded in a broadcast fashion in a standing crop, cover crops will only establish with adequate moisture and light under the canopy.
 
If seeded after harvest of the primary crop, the window for cover crops to germinate and establish may be short. Once established, cover crop residues can make it difficult to attain quality primary crop stands, especially corn. Finally, depending on the cover crop species and operational costs, you could spend a sizable amount on seed. Check with your agronomist to see if Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share options are available in your area.
 
Benefits for sustainability
Cover crops shield soil from the impact of rain and wind, which reduces erosion. Second, cover crop root systems provide many benefits. They penetrate compacted soils, creating root channels that make soil more porous, resulting in improved infiltration of air, water and subsequent crop root systems. Live root systems also foster soil microbial growth and produce organic compounds that bind soil particles together to create better soil structure, which also helps reduce erosion.
 
Some cover crops can also keep nitrogen out of groundwater. For example, cereal grains such as rye, oat, wheat, triticale, etc. scavenge for nitrates in the profile and convert them to stable organic forms.  Legume cover crop species fix nitrogen from the air and provide an organic nitrogen source for the upcoming cash crop.
 
The increased biomass created by cover crops converts to organic matter over time, providing many benefits, including increased water- and nutrient-holding capacity.
 
Cultivation practices
Although farmers employing no-till or strip-till methods may have more experience with and tools for dealing with crop residues, cover crops are not just meant to be incorporated into minimum-till systems. Keeping live plants in the soil as long as possible during the growing season provides advantages even for conventional tillage systems.
 
The time you put into planning and preparing will determine your ultimate success with cover crops. And, though there are many short-term benefits, remember that the economic advantages may become evident further down the road. Be clear about your goals and expectations before starting down the path.

Manage Fall Nitrogen Responsibly

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Fall nutrient applications, particularly nitrogen, can help crops get off to the right start the following year. At the same time, targeted nutrient management is a goal shared across our industry, especially with nitrogen issues at the forefront of many conversations. It’s important to check field conditions and use technology to determine effective and responsible nitrogen management practices.
 
Stabilize nitrogen for sustainable, effective use
It is important to stabilize nitrogen in the fall to slow down its conversion into the mobile nitrate form. Un-stabilized nitrogen applications will expose the field to more risk, leaving winter precipitation and wet spring conditions to carry the nitrate nitrogen off target. Stabilizing nitrogen protects your investment as well as water quality.
 
The majority of nitrogen loss (around 70%) can occur below ground so adding protection to reduce leaching and loss from denitrification is important. Using N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer with fall-applied anhydrous ammonia will make that nitrogen less susceptible to loss by keeping more of it available in the root zone during key corn growth stages.
 
Check field conditions for best nitrogen application timing 
There are several things you can easily evaluate to determine if fall nitrogen applications are appropriate for your acres.
  • Soil temperatures should cool to (and stay below) 50 degrees Fahrenheit as this is when soil bacteria activity is reduced.
  • Soil textures should be medium to loamy for optimal fall nitrogen applications. Sandy soils and coarse to medium topsoil with fractured limestone may allow fall-applied nitrogen to leach into water supplies, threatening groundwater quality.
  • Soil moisture that is moderate works best for ammonia application, but dry soils with medium or heavy texture that are in good physical condition can also work. Wet soils must be avoided due to poor sealing ability and potential of clodding.
 
Use tech to manage nitrogen responsibly
Using ag technology to optimize nitrogen applications can significantly increase potential return on investment and minimize the overall impact to the environment.
  • In-season imagery can help ensure you pinpoint the exact locations within a field where high yield environments exist. These images can be used to design a base layer fall nitrogen recommendation which can be followed by a precise in-season application to optimize high yield zones.
  • Models can aid you in monitoring in-season variables and making decisions on optimal rates. For example, you can see unfavorable weather in the forecast or look at response to nitrogen (RTN) scores on your hybrids and realize your hybrid might be hungry for nitrogen to drive an increase in bushels.
  • Tissue and soil samples can be paired with models and imagery to provide more insight into what the plant is enduring. Sampling can also be used to calibrate the model back to fit your farm and hybrid.
  • Variable rate technology can be used to apply nitrogen exactly where it needs to go. This can be beneficial for minimizing nitrogen waste and managing cost per bushel.
 
Contact your local WinField United retailer to determine the best nitrogen management options for your operation.

Manage Fall Nitrogen Precisely

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Fall nutrient applications, particularly nitrogen, can help crops get off to the right start the following year. At the same time, targeted nutrient management is a goal shared across our industry, especially with nitrogen issues at the forefront of many conversations. It’s important to check field conditions and use technology to determine effective and responsible nitrogen management practices.
 
Check field conditions for best nitrogen application timing  
There are several things you can easily evaluate to determine if fall nitrogen applications are appropriate for your acres.
  • Soil temperatures should cool to (and stay below) 50 degrees Fahrenheit as this is when soil bacteria will go dormant.
  • Soil textures should be medium to loamy for optimal fall nitrogen applications. Sandy soils and coarse to medium topsoil with fractured limestone may allow fall-applied nitrogen to leach into water supplies, threatening groundwater quality.
  • Soil moisture that is moderate works best for ammonia application, but dry soils with medium or heavy texture that are in good physical condition can also work. Wet soils must be avoided due to poor sealing ability and potential of clodding.
Stabilize nitrogen for effective use
It is important to stabilize nitrogen in the fall so that it does not convert into the mobile nitrate form. Un-stabilized nitrogen applications will expose the field to more risk, leaving late season fall rains or wet spring conditions to carry the nitrate nitrogen off target. Stabilizing nitrogen protects your investment as well as land and water quality.
 
Use tech to manage nitrogen responsibly
Using ag technology to optimize nitrogen applications can significantly increase potential return on investment and minimize the overall impact to the environment.
  • In-season imagery can help ensure you pinpoint the exact locations within a field where high yield environments exist. These images can be used to design a base layer fall nitrogen recommendation which can be followed by a precise in-season application to optimize high yield zones.
  • Models can aid you in monitoring in-season variables and making decisions on optimal rates. For example, you can see unfavorable weather in the forecast or look at response to nitrogen (RTN) scores on your hybrids and realize your hybrid might be hungry for nitrogen to drive an increase in bushels.
  • Tissue and soil samples can be paired with models and imagery to provide more insight into what the plant is enduring. Sampling can also be used to calibrate the model back to fit your farm and hybrid.
  • Variable rate technology can be used to apply nitrogen exactly where it needs to go. This can be beneficial for minimizing nitrogen waste and managing cost per bushel.
Contact your local WinField United retailer to determine the best nitrogen management options for your operation. 

Midwest Farms in the Thick of Harvest

WinField
Agronomy Team
Farmers across the Midwest are in the thick of harvest, according to our agronomists. From 6 to 13 percent of corn in Ohio, South Dakota and Michigan has been harvested, and between 40 and 70 percent of corn has been harvested in Indiana. Soybeans are following the same general timeline with the exception of South Dakota, where 39 percent of soy has been harvested. In Minnesota, 50 to 60 percent of soy has been harvested.
 
While harvesting, agronomists across the Midwest have noticed stalk quality and standability issues in corn, which may be due to heat and moisture stress (both drought and excess rain) during the growing season. Anthracnose, Gibberella and Fusarium have caused problems in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.
 
This year, farmers across the region experienced increased sudden death syndrome in soybeans, and those in Iowa and South Dakota have seen green stem syndrome. However, one of the largest issues in soybean fields was weed control, specifically Palmer.
 
Looking ahead to 2017, agronomists recommend conducting fall soil sampling to prepare for planting season. In Ohio, Illinois and Indiana they also recommend fall weed control to prevent increased pressure from marestail and waterhemp in 2017. Farmers in Iowa are encouraged to consider fall nutrient applications, especially phosphorus in soybean fields.

Win Big This Harvest

WinField
Agronomy Team
Harvest is both physically and mentally grueling. That’s why we’re banding together with farmers across the country to share their best tips and tricks for a smooth and safe harvest. Enlighten us with your harvest wisdom on Twitter using #HeardAtHarvest #Promo for a chance to win big prizes from CROPLAN®. After all, you deserve a little rest, relaxation and fun after harvest.
 
Participants are eligible to win great prizes, including:
  • A one-time travel voucher worth up to $2,000.
  • One of two bean bag sets personalized with your farm name.
  • One of three $100 Cabela’s gift card.
Tweet using both hashtags between now and October 30 for a chance to win. See full contest rules here.  

Assessing Frost Damage

Al Bertelsen
WinField agronomist
The impact frost has on corn and soybean plants depends on the growth stage of the plant and amount of exposure it has to freezing temperatures. In the Midwest, a killing frost, which means corn stalks or soybean stems are compromised, generally occurs between the third week of September and the middle of October.
 
With various levels of frost damage possible throughout the harvest season, it’s important to monitor crops closely and harvest in a timely manner to protect yield and crop quality.
 
Frost Before Physiological Maturity
If corn and soybean plants are exposed to freezing temperatures before they reach physiological maturity (black layer for corn and R8 for soybeans), frost damage can negatively affect yield, storability and salability.
  • Storability: Corn and soybean crops suffering from frost damage tend to dry slower in the field and appear to be one to two percent drier than they actually are, according to many moisture testers. To avoid spoilage in storage, keep a close eye on these crops to ensure they have enough aeration so that condensation does not build up.
  • Salability: For corn, frost can cause softer kernels, more breakage and lower test weights. In addition, frost-damaged corn can have lower digestibility when used in animal feed and isn’t as desirable for milling due to reduced starch, among other factors. Frost-damaged soybeans often have less extractable oil, poor oil quality and may turn rancid faster due to the presence of green soybeans.
 
Frost Following Physiological Maturity
If plants have reached physiological maturity, frost does not directly affect yield. However, it’s important to evaluate corn fields for standability, especially for issues caused by stalk rot. Once frost compromises a stalk, any natural disease protection is gone.
 
In contrast, frost can actually benefit soybean fields if it hits after physiological maturity, because it can cause drydown for weeds in the field that create combine issues.
 
Many factors play into the impact freezing temperatures have on crops this time of year, including field variability, row spacing and length of exposure to temperatures below 32°F. For more information about protecting corn and soybean fields from late-season frost damage, contact your local agronomist or WinField representative.

Crops Almost Ready for Harvest

WinField
Agronomy Team
Corn and soybeans across the Midwest are almost ready for harvest. Farmers in many states are expecting to begin harvest in the next couple of weeks. Silage in Iowa and Ohio is already being cut, and agronomists in Michigan are advising farmers to consider early harvest this year. Fields in Minnesota and Illinois will likely begin being harvested in the next two weeks.
 
While soybeans in some states are lagging slightly behind corn (agronomists in South Dakota advise farmers to harvest corn before soy this year), both crops are expected to produce healthy yields. According to a recent USDA progress report, crops in Illinois are rated between 80 percent and 85 percent good/excellent, and crops in Wisconsin are between 85 percent and 87 percent good/excellent. Ample rainfall over the past 30 days has contributed to healthy crops, especially in Michigan and Indiana.
 
Disease pressure throughout the Midwest has been lighter than usual, but agronomists in Wisconsin have noticed northern corn leaf blight and Goss’s wilt in some corn fields, and those in Iowa have seen some anthracnose and top dieback. In soybeans, agronomists have seen some SDS and white mold pressure in fields across Wisconsin and Ohio.
 
Agronomists throughout the Midwest advise farmers to conduct push tests on corn to assess stalk quality and standability. Monitoring stalk quality, standability and disease is the best way to determine harvest order. Farmers should harvest the weakest fields first to get the most out of each field.

Accounting for Harvest Loss

Rick Behrens
Agriculture Technology Specialist
As you calibrate your combine’s yield monitor, don’t forget to review and consider the combine’s performance in getting all of the grain into the grain tank.

An acceptable loss of harvest for both corn and soybeans should be one bushel or less per acre. It only takes two kernels of corn or four soybeans per square foot to make a bushel of grain.
 
Ensure Equipment is Harvest-Ready
  • After the combine is all greased up, turn on the separator and head for 15 minutes and check all bearings to make sure they cool. Any bearing that is heating up isn’t going to last long out in the field.
  • Check the belts and chains to ensure they are running straight and true. Properly tensioned chains shouldn’t have a lot of slap in them as they are running. Belts should not be running in the very bottom of the V of the pulley, and belts with frayed parts should be replaced.
Calculate Harvest Loss
Create a 10 sq. ft. area by attaching a 22 ft. piece of string or twine to four rods, such as fence posts. This simple tool can be used to check for loss of grain per row in the corn head or in the separator tailing.
  • Preharvest loss: After the field is opened up and the end rows are complete, disengage the straw chopper and spreader and open it up, if possible, so the straw isn’t spread across a wide area. Harvest into the crop about 300 feet to make sure everything is running to capacity. Then stop, raise the head and let it clean out. Mark where the front tire of the combine is, shut off the separator and back the combine out of the way. Go into the unharvested grain and look for how much preharvest loss you have prior to the combine running through.
  • Header loss: For corn heads, use the string and rod tool you made to check each of the rows for harvest loss just ahead of the front wheel and compare them to each other. For soybeans, use your tool to check the entire head, noting any areas with additional loss. Remember, 20 kernels of corn or 40 beans per 10 sq. ft. equal one bushel of loss.
  • Separator loss: Behind the combine where the stalks are dumped out, use your tool to check for separator loss. Count the loose kernels and improperly thrashed corn on cobs or soybeans still in pods.
To calculate total grain loss, add header and separator loss together, and then subtract preharvest loss.
  • Harvest loss = (header loss + separator loss) – preharvest loss
Contact your local retailer for more strategies for determining and minimizing loss during harvest.

The Benefits of Fall Burndown

George Watters
Agronomy Manager
For farmers who adopt minimum- or no-till practices, controlling weeds throughout the fall can be crucial. It’s particularly important for managing winter annual weeds like marestail and perennials such as dandelions. If marestail is allowed to overwinter, it is very difficult to control in the spring.
 
An early harvest and warm, dry weather will hopefully provide 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, so translocation provides better activity, getting more herbicide into the weed’s growing points for more effective 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 means fewer egg-laying sites for insects such as spider mites and cutworms and no alternate host for soybean cyst nematodes.
 
Keep an eye on weed control into the 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, which is a big problem in the eastern Corn Belt, you may also need a spring burndown to take care of what germinates in the early spring. But if you do a fall burndown, you can avoid dealing with tough-to-control, overwintered marestail.
 
Contact your local WinField retailer to learn more about fall burndown options.

Protect Yield in Wet, Windy Conditions

Glenn Longabaugh
WinField Agronomist
At this point in the season, heavy rainfall and high winds can have yield-robbing effects on crops, especially if issues aren’t addressed quickly.
 
In corn, actively scouting and prioritizing harvest order based on the following moisture and wind-related issues can help prevent yield loss from late-season storms.
 
  • Check for ear rot: With excessive rainfall, humidity and water can get into the corn ear and exacerbate several types of ear rot. All ear rots reduce the quality of grain and some are toxigenic. Check your corn by shucking back ears and looking for damaged or discolored kernels. If you see mold, discoloration or other symptoms of the fungal disease, harvest the corn at higher moisture and dry it with heat and forced air immediately. By drying the corn, you can mitigate some of the effects of these toxigenic organisms and protect remaining grain quality.
  • Test standability: Standability is often an issue in wet fields and makes crops highly susceptible to wind damage. There are several ways to test standability in corn.
    • I typically conduct a push test by bumping the plant at ear height and giving it a firm push toward the opposing row. I’ll push 20 plants and if four of those plants either break off or root lodge, then I consider that field in peril of wind damage and recommend farmers start harvesting that field immediately, regardless of what the moisture is.
    • Some farmers do a pull test to check standability. If the corn plant pulls out of the ground easily with one hand, it’s not going to stand very long and should be harvested as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
  • Use caution in the combine: When heavy rains come through followed by high winds, green snap or root lodging can occur. While green snap below the ear is unrecoverable, plants that have suffered root lodging can be harvested but may cause combine issues as the location of the plant and its roots are offset, sometimes by 10 to 30 inches. Keep a close eye on machinery to ensure the combine snouts get underneath these plants and result in the stalks going through the snapping rolls.
 
For soybeans, pay close attention to plants that are excessively tall and have large amounts of vegetative growth. These plants are at risk for lodging, which often results in pod abortion or poor fill. Examine soybean conditions closely and harvest as soon as moisture permits to protect yield potential.
 
Farmers facing severe flooding and storm damage from the Midwest down through southern states like Louisiana and Texas should contact their local WinField retailer to troubleshoot.

Digging into Fall Soil Prep

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
As this year’s crop comes out of the field, it’s time to begin soil preparations for next season. Whether your fields yielded bumper crops or had lower-than-average yields, taking the time to assess and replenish fertility levels and soil health will give your crops a head start for next season.
                                              
The following are a few key steps I recommend to help farmers prepare fields to achieve optimum crop production next season.
 
Assess Soil Nutrient Levels
Begin next season’s preparations by pulling postharvest soil samples and assessing this season’s yield maps. Soil samples will identify any phosphorus or potassium deficiencies, while yield maps will show the amount of nutrients removed by this season’s crop. Together, this information will help you plan crop nutrient amounts needed for next season based on actual numbers rather than estimations.
 
Consider Making A Fall Base Nitrogen Application
If postharvest conditions allow, a number of farmers are turning to partial (or base) nitrogen applications in the fall, then testing soil nitrate levels in the spring to determine the additional amount needed to meet next season’s crop performance goals. Doing this assures that nitrogen will be available in the soil at planting as well as throughout the rest of the growing season. If weather delays spring applications, this nitrogen management strategy provides farmers with more time to assess fertility needs based on early-season crop and soil conditions.
 
If fall applications are made, be sure to consider the effects of soil texture, soil moisture levels and soil temperature to avoid leaching and denitrification issues. Fall nitrogen applications should not be made until soil cools to 50 degrees F or lower, when soil bacteria begin to go dormant. Fall-applied nitrogen must be applied with a stabilizer, such as N-Serve® for anhydrous ammonia, to prevent it from converting into a mobile nitrate form that can move off target.
 
Amend Phosphorus and Potassium Levels
If fall soil samples identify any phosphorus or potassium deficiencies, farmers can apply these nutrients at any time after harvest. To ease spring workloads, broadcast applications may be made in the fall and incorporated into the soil. If a spring application works better, phosphorus and potassium can also be applied in the spring before planting.
 
Correct Compaction Issues
Another important issue to assess in the fall is soil compaction. Before doing any fall tillage, check compaction depth to help determine the proper tillage tool to use, the accurate tillage depth and the tillage speed needed to loosen soil and get ready for next season. The prep work for your 2017 seed-bed begins now.
 
For more information about fall soil preparation, contact your local WinField retailer.

Late-Season Nitrogen Applications Hit the Sweet Spot

Jonathan Zuk
Agronomist
Unrivaled research and demonstration programs from the Answer Plot® Program help WinField deliver customized farming recommendations and fuel our cutting-edge ag technology tools.

WinField research teams plant competitor products, partner products and WinField products in side-by-side trials over multiple seasons, then evaluate these data points at local, regional and national levels from 191 locations across 32 states. This impartial testing provides comprehensive data you can use to confidently make decisions for your own operation.

Over the coming weeks, we will share some of the more significant insights derived from our 2015 Answer Plot® Program, such as:

Trials showed a positive yield response to split-season and late-season nitrogen (N) applications made at critical corn growth stages.

Methodology
Researchers compared three application scenarios
  1. Total N allotment applied at planting
  2. Two-thirds of N allotment applied at planting, one-third at V10
  3. Total N allotment applied at planting, followed by additional N at VT 
Both split applications were made with the 360 Y-DROP™ applicator for precise placement at the stalk base.*

Results
  • Total N allotment at planting: 235.9 bu/A
  • Split application at planting/V10: 245.3 bu/A (Average yield increase of 9.4 bu/A)
  • Total N at planting, then additional N at VT: 247.1 bu/A (Average yield increase of 11.2 bu/A)
By making the second applications at V10 and VT, plants received an N boost during the critical V10 to R2 growth stage, when corn uses about 50 percent of its total nitrogen needs.

Bottom line: Strategic application timing can help eliminate the financial and environmental costs of applying excess nitrogen, and result in additional bushels.

Stay tuned for additional Answer Plot® insights throughout the season.

*2015 Answer Plot® data based on six locations in Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Conquering the “Final Frontier”

Ryan Moeller
Regional Technology Manager, Western\Northern U.S.
For the past 30 years, the seed industry has focused most of its R&D investment on corn and soybeans, and little on wheat. Thanks to our R7® high management* wheat research, performed in recent years, we know wheat crops respond favorably to a more involved management approach. 

When we look at Answer Plot® yield data from the Northern Plains over the past three growing seasons (2013-2015), the CROPLAN® Wheat Advantage with R7® high management considerably outperformed public varieties** by 11.3 bu/A.
 
Our research is focused on areas such as response to population (RTP), response to nitrogen (RTN), seed treatments and response to fungicides (RTF). 
  • Response to nitrogen and population. We’ve tested CROPLAN® hard red spring wheat varieties at different populations and nitrogen (N) application levels to determine what degree of management earns the best response. We weren’t surprised to see many of the varieties perform well with moderate to high N and higher population. For example, one CROPLAN® hard red spring wheat variety averaged 14.2 bu/A more than a public hard red spring wheat variety under standard management levels across seven different Answer Plot® locations in the Northern Plains last year.   
  • Seed treatments have also contributed to optimizing yield potential in an R7® high management scenario. We recommend all CROPLAN® wheat seed varieties be locally treated with WinField® Warden® Cereals WR II seed treatment, which is designed to help protect young roots from disease and insects. 
  • Testing fungicides. Another component of our R7® high management research has been testing fungicides on all major wheat varieties. While farmers traditionally tank mix a fungicide when applying herbicides and then come back with another fungicide application at flowering, in our Answer Plot® trials we’ve observed noticeable differences in response by variety from fungicides applied at flag leaf.
  • More than nitrogen. We have also found through NutriSolutions® tissue analysis that in addition to nitrogen, wheat also needs adequate levels of potassium, as well as zinc, manganese, boron, copper and sulfur. Products such as WinField® MAX-IN® Ultra ZMB®, MAX-IN® Copper and MAX-IN® Sulfur are designed to help rectify key micronutrient deficiencies. 
WinField’s focus on wheat research is also helping build the necessary structure for trait development. Several conventional varieties set for release in the next 10 years will assist with maintaining plant health, tolerating disease pressure, resisting insects, and tolerating heat and drought. 

*R7® high management (CROPLAN® products 3361, 3419, 3504, 3530 with high nitrogen and population, treated with Warden® Cereals WR II + Ascend® plant growth regulator + fungicide applied at flag leaf)

**Public varieties (Faller and RB07) at standard management (low nitrogen and population alone)  

Wheat’s Best Friend: Canola

Dennis Christie
Agronomist
Rotating your wheat with canola can provide big benefits. Planting canola breaks the cycle of insects and disease present in wheat-on-wheat acres so fields are cleaner when you return with wheat a year or two later. Canola’s large taproot also helps increase water infiltration, and improves the growth and soil penetration of future crop roots.

Here are three steps to optimize yield potential with a canola/wheat rotation.

  1. Control weeds.

Weed control in wheat can be difficult. By taking advantage of the Genuity® Roundup Ready® trait in CROPLAN® HyCLASS® canola seed as a rotation on your farm, you can reduce weed competition by applying WinField® Cornerstone® 5 Plus herbicide. This will make for a cleaner field when you rotate back to wheat.

Adding InterLock® adjuvant to your treatment can improve canopy penetration. Class Act® NG® adjuvant can also be included in your tank mix to improve uptake and speed herbicide movement.

  2. Provide adequate nutrients.

A NutriSolutions® tissue analysis, taken when canola greens up after winter dormancy, can show what nutrients your crop needs. Canola generally needs a minimum of 100 to 130 pounds of nitrogen and 30 pounds of sulfur to produce a 2,000-pound crop.

Depending on tissue analysis results, an application of MAX-IN® Ultra ZMB® or another MAX-IN® micronutrient product might be recommended by your agronomist. Also, insecticides can be tank mixed with micronutrient applications, so don’t forget to scout for pests when taking tissue samples to save a trip across the field.

  3. Harvest on time.

A timely harvest limits pod shattering, which in turn reduces the amount of volunteer canola that will pop up in next year’s wheat crop. To achieve a well-timed harvest:
  • Spread the maturity of your canola crop across your acres to ensure that it all won’t be ready to harvest at the same time.
  • Prepare for different harvest field conditions and weather scenarios, and determine which harvest method — direct combining, swathing or pushing — makes the most sense for your fields.
Work with your local WinField retailer to review Answer Plot® yield data and your own harvest results from the past few years to choose your wheat seed for the following season. Base your selections on which wheat varieties performed best across a range of conditions, and manage your crop using the best management practices for that variety.

Catching the Biggest Robber of Soybean Yields

Ryan Moeller
Technical Seed Manager
I get a lot of questions from growers about the yield variability they’re experiencing with soybeans. It can vary greatly from field to field or even within the same field. There can be several causes, such as too much drainage, which leads to dry soils and moisture stress. Or if there’s too little drainage, the result can be wet soils and, therefore, all too often, disease.
 
But it’s soybean cyst nematode (SCN) that continues to be perhaps the biggest problem in soybeans across the United States and Canada. Every year, the area affected by the disease grows larger. According to a recent North Dakota State University study, it’s the most damaging U.S. soybean disease. Check out this diagram to see how SCN is spreading.
 
After harvest is a great time to scout for SCN. Typically, this is a good indication of what the population will be in the spring. The disease is often found in parts of the field such as entrances, shelterbelts, and flood prone or low spots—where soil from other areas is being deposited. The plants are often stunted, possibly a lighter shade of green, and might suffer significant loss at season’s end. 
 
But SCN can also be present throughout the field in pockets that aren’t as easy to spot, and it can lay dormant for years in some cases. Often, the areas within the field where symptoms showed up later in the season, after the last major scouting activities, were where the disease had not been seen or noted during the earlier scouting.
 
Whether you scout by walking or riding through fields or use remote sensing technology, such as satellite imagery from the R7® Tool or UAV imagery, acting now is critical to protecting your yield for the next year.

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