4 Ways to Leverage Tissue Sampling Insights in the Off-Season

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The majority of farmers who choose to take tissue samples are looking for in-season insights to help them fine-tune their fertilization programs. But tissue nutrient analysis can also tell you a lot about your production practices and identify changes that can be made to improve productivity. Here are four ways you can use tissue sampling results in the off-season to make changes to your management practices.

1. Soil and tissue analysis comparison can reveal potential problems. When used together, soil and tissue testing can help you identify potential issues in your field. For example, if soil analysis reveals you have ample nutrients present but tissue testing shows that they aren’t being taken up by the plant, that’s an indication that there may be issues with root growth caused by compaction, environmental conditions or shallow planting.

2. Tissue sampling helps calibrate the Field Forecasting Tool. The R7® Field Forecasting Tool (FFT) delivers more accurate results as new information is added to the model. The tissue sampling results from the NutriSolutions® app can be automatically fed into the FFT and can help estimate yield potential in-season. The model can also be used in the off-season to help establish management practices for the future that can reduce the gap between the forecasted yield and the actual yield.

3. Evaluating nitrogen trends can help with seed selection. If you find your plant nitrogen levels are often trending low, you might choose to be more aggressive with your nitrogen applications. But if you’re looking to maintain input costs, an alternative would be to place a hybrid that has a low response-to-nitrogen score on those acres in the future, knowing that nitrogen could be limiting.

In 2017, we tested 210 hybrids at our Answer Plot® locations and found 36 percent were highly responsive to nitrogen, 45 percent were moderately responsive and 19 percent were less responsive to nitrogen. Across the tested hybrids, there was a 39.5- to 97.2-bushel-per-acre yield response gradient, illustrating the vast differences genetics can have on nitrogen utilization in plants.

4. Choose the right seed if zinc comes up short. If tissue sampling trends reveal an early-season zinc shortage, consider using CROPLAN® corn hybrids on your acres. All CROPLAN hybrids are treated with Advanced Coating® Zn seed treatment. By coating seeds with zinc, Advanced Coating Zn promotes quick emergence, even in cool, wet conditions, and it helps establish strong, healthy stands. In nearly 180 Answer Plot program test plots over three years, corn treated with Advanced Coating Zn seed treatment averaged an extra 2 bushels per acre.
Don’t put your tissue sampling results on the shelf once you’ve used them to make in-season decisions. Evaluating nutrient data in the off-season can help you develop a more comprehensive crop management plan that includes mapping out management zones and choosing the right hybrids and seed treatments based on what nutrient trends are showing. Work with your WinField United retailer to put your tissue sampling results to work in the off-season.
 
Advanced Coating®, Answer Plot®, CROPLAN®, NutriSolutions®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinFIeld United.

Consider Fungicide Response When Selecting Seed

Kevin Sloane
National Technical Seed Manager
When considering seed choices for next season, include WinField United’s response-to-fungicide (RTF) scores in your decision-making process.
 
In 2017, WinField United tested 199 corn hybrids at 41 Answer Plot® locations and compared corn hybrids sprayed with a fungicide at V5 and VT against those receiving no fungicide treatment. The yield difference between the treated and untreated plants ranged from a 4-bushel-per-acre decrease to a 37-bushel-per-acre increase, with an average response of 11.2 additional bushels per acre for the fungicide-treated plants.
 
After measuring the yield difference between hybrids, WinField United assigns each hybrid a high, medium or low response score based on its yield difference between the treated and non-treated compared to all hybrids tested. Choosing the hybrids with optimal RTF scores for your unique fields is key. Here are some things to consider.
 
Monitor fields all year long
I recommend making your seed decisions a process, rather than something you only think about during the first part of September. Keep a close eye on your fields all year long to better understand what your hybrids are doing — and not doing — throughout the season and what steps you can take to help them achieve better yield potential. Season-long management allows you to adjust cropping plans according to what the year is giving us.
 
Consider field history
Evaluating your field history can help you anticipate future issues and select the right hybrid. If you have a field in a corn-on-corn rotation, and/or that field has had disease in the past, there is a high probability that it could occur again. This field would be a prime candidate for a high-RTF hybrid to potentially control disease there.
 
Optimize yield potential and standability
Our Answer Plot trials have shown that high-RTF hybrids give farmers a better chance to optimize yield potential by keeping the plant alive longer, and offer potential agronomic benefits such as improved standability late in the season. Alternatively, in situations where you are selecting a hybrid for lower-yielding ground that is difficult for equipment to access, it might make more sense to choose one with a lower RTF score.
 
Use RTF scores as a one of the talking points
Remember that RTF scores are only one factor in your seed-selection decisions. Other considerations are response to continuous corn, response to population and response to nitrogen. So, asking the right questions when making seed selections is the key to better placement, return on investment and predictability year over year.
 
Using all the tools in the toolbox, all season long, is the key to help you put the odds in your favor for predictable yields year over year. Talk with your trusted advisor about the best mix of hybrids for your operation.

6 Ways to Leverage Your Elite Hybrids

Adam Ivey
CROPLAN Marketing Manager
Seed represents a substantial portion of your planting budget. If you planted any of the new elite class of corn hybrids from CROPLAN® seed this year, make sure you are managing them adequately to fully optimize their advanced genetics and get the most out of your investment.
 
Over the past four years, WinField United has learned more about which hybrids offer optimal genetic potential, and we have used those learnings to improve on that potential with each new hybrid class. For example, this year’s new elite corn hybrids are estimated to deliver 2.8 bushels per acre more than last year’s hybrids and 8.5 bushels per acre more than those released three years ago.*
 
Our Answer Plot® research has demonstrated the value of managing high-performing genetics — for example, planting zinc-treated seed and making in-furrow applications of a plant growth regulator — to optimize ROI and yield potential. As a result, we have formulated these tips to help you realize the possibilities of each hybrid you have purchased. Consult with your trusted advisor to put these recommendations into practice.
 
1. Get population right.
Plant as early as practical and choose the right population for your respective environment. Use response-to-population scores and Answer Plot performance data to determine optimal populations for your fields. Remember that it’s important to have adequate soil fertility as a prerequisite to high yield potential. Sufficient levels of soil phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur are particularly vital.
 
2. Make zinc a must.
Corn seedlings need zinc early in their development. That’s why the 2018 CROPLAN elite class of genetics not only offers a distinct genetic advantage, it also comes treated with Advanced-Coating Zinc that promotes excellent early-season emergence, stand establishment and growth.
 
3. Encourage quick emergence.
Use an in-furrow application of an Ascend® plant growth regulator and starter fertilizer to give your plants a boost. Once the seed is set, adequately feed your plants to foster their genetic potential. Uniformity in plant stands is vital to extract high yield potential from today’s top germplasm. Seed planting depth and plant spacing are key to maximizing a plant’s growing environment.
 
4. Provide added nutrition.
Because of the high yield potential of our elite class of hybrids, there is often a need for added nutrition at key growth stages. Take adequate and timely tissue samples to learn the nutrient composition and concentration of the plant so you can rest assured you are feeding the proper nutrition needed to push yield potential higher. Take at least two tissue samples — one at V5 to understand early plant development needs, and one before reproductive stages to continue to foster high yield potential. Use response-to-nitrogen scores to determine when and how much nitrogen is needed to maximize genetic potential in your area.  
 
5. Protect against disease.
Protect your elite class of genetics from disease throughout the season, especially during later reproductive stages. Know how the genetics of the elite seed you planted responds to fungicide applications by using response-to-fungicide hybrid scores. Be a good steward of your high-yielding products by timing fungicide applications appropriately, always considering weather and environmental conditions that could be conducive to the spread of disease in the future.  
 
6. Harvest at the optimal time.
Because CROPLAN elite class hybrids offer a yield potential advantage, be sure you capture every bushel of it by harvesting within the window that’s best for your specific environment and geography.  
 
Start your plants right early, feed them throughout the year and protect them adequately to give yourself the best chance of extracting the most value from your elite class of hybrids. By investing in them, you’ve given yourself the best chance to gain more at harvest.
 
*2017 Answer Plot trial data

It Really Is All About You

Kevin Eye
Vice President, WinField United
For 20 years, we’ve been focused on testing every agronomic concept that might make a difference for a farmer. The Answer Plot® program has looked at the good and the bad, the new and the assumed, the maybe-this-could-work and the crazy-but-possible. The program has grown to include nearly 200 sites across the United States, Canada, Mexico and South Africa that produce an incredible 6 million data points every year. And those millions of data points have led to some really valuable insights that are helping farmers get more from every field, every season.
 
But what all of us at WinField United are most proud of isn’t the big numbers; it’s the individual success stories Answer Plot insights have helped create. Every trial and every observation is managed by a local expert agronomy team driven to help their customers succeed. That’s what makes this program worthwhile and what can give you greater confidence in your agronomic decisions.
 
Putting Answer Plot data to work
You might be using Answer Plot insights without realizing it. If you are using response-to-fungicide scores to choose hybrids and plan in-season management, Answer Plot results helped shape the advice you’re getting from your local agronomy team.
 
When you’re discussing the pros and cons of increasing plant population with your agronomist, it’s a good bet Answer Plot data is adding context to those conversations.
 
When your team is helping you plan nitrogen applications throughout the season to get the most from your genetic investment, you can be sure Answer Plot trials helped fuel those recommendations.
 
If you have found the benefits of leveraging the R7® Tool on your farm, you have definitely been using Answer Plot data and insights.
 
Visit an Answer Plot site to see more
And we’re not done yet. We have our sights set on even more in-depth management insights and more localized data for better individual farm decision-making. Here are a few examples of what’s ahead for the Answer Plot program:
  • We’ll be evaluating seed care technology to give you the best opportunity to start the season with a strong, healthy stand.
  • We’ll be looking beyond general fungicide response to analyze how specific hybrids respond to specific fungicide products in more locations and accounting for more management strategies.
  • We’ll be testing new strategies for controlling herbicide-resistant weeds to help you choose the best solution for your specific challenges.
  • We’ll be tackling soil quality to help you maintain and improve the foundation of your crop production program.
You can be sure we will use everything we’ve learned from the last 20 years to inform the next 20 years and beyond – always focused on helping you make confident decisions for every field, every season.
 
Thanks for helping us recognize 20 years of insights and for inspiring us with your agronomic challenges. Let’s solve them together. I hope to see you at an Answer Plot event this summer!

Answer Plot Program Insights Reveal Yield Opportunities

WinField United
Agronomy Team
The Answer Plot® program was created to give farmers greater confidence in their agronomic decisions. Since 1988, we have been transforming data from test sites across the country into expertise you can use on your farm. Here’s a look at five key insights from the program in 2017 that can help you move your operation forward this year and in the years to come.

1. Don’t leave 90 bushels on the table.
Spending smarter beats spending more. Response-to scores help you manage input decisions with a clear understanding of potential ROI. Through the Answer Plot program, we measure crop response to management strategies, including plant population, nitrogen application, continuous corn and fungicide application. The bottom line: Nearly 90 bushels could be at risk on any acre every year.
 
The data below shows the range of yield response to four key decisions that affect productivity and profitability. The better you can predict the results of your management decisions, the less risk you will carry and the more yield opportunity you will realize.

Picture1-(1).png 

2. Plant with confidence.
The best results come from matching every seed to the right management practices. To improve your odds of choosing the right seed for each acre, we collect data on how a vast range of products perform on fields just like yours. Using those results on 240 corn hybrids and 360 soybean varieties at nearly 200 Answer Plot locations, we populate the R7® Tool Top 10 feature, which finds the best 10 products for your fields and the conditions you face, including geography, soil type, maturity and irrigation.

3. Let the fungicide data do the talking.
Effectively managing mid-season input costs can make the difference between profit and loss. But when disease strikes, you have to protect yield. Response-to-fungicide (RTF) scores help you with seed selection and indicate where to scout for conditions that favor disease growth, so you can decide whether you can expect a return on a fungicide application and when to take action.
 
The Answer Plot program gauges RTF scores on 240 corn products every year. In 2017, based on data from 41 locations, average yield response after fungicide application was 11.2 bushels per acre. And the higher the RTF score, the higher the yield response.
 
Picture2-(1).png

4. Keep nitrogen in its place.
Losing valuable nitrogen through air or soil is easy — and that’s not good for yield potential, the environment or your input budget. Nitrogen stabilizers slow the rate of nitrogen conversion so nutrients are ready and waiting for developing plants. The Answer Plot team is actively applying learnings from more than 400 independent research trials, which found treating fields with NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager increased corn yield by an average of 10.0 bushels per acre compared to untreated plots.1,2

5. Seed treatment stops small pests from becoming big problems.
A well-chosen seed treatment can prevent damage from some of the biggest soybean yield threats, namely soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and sudden death syndrome (SDS). Based on testing at 25 Answer Plot locations with moderate to high SCN pressure, combining Warden® CX and ILeVO® seed treatments boosted soybean yield by 2.8 bushels per acre.
 
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating 20 years of insights — and bring your tough questions to an Answer Plot event this summer. See you at the plots!
 
Results may vary. Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions’ control, such as weather, product application and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions.
 
1. Koch Industries, 2018
2. Verdesian Life Sciences data on file

Consider Rotation for Cleaner Corn Fields

Jim Eggerichs
Technical Seed Manager
Last year, nearly 91 million acres of corn were planted across the country. That’s a lot of land to keep weed-free. But including crop rotation as part of your comprehensive weed management strategy can help ease the pressure of controlling troublesome weeds.
 
Changing the weed spectrum
When crops are rotated, management practices change to accommodate a specific crop. This is an important factor in weed control because weeds are less likely to become adapted to an environment that continuously changes.
 
Consider a corn-on-corn field. Each year it is planted and harvested around the same time. Similar fertilization and herbicide programs are used year after year. And it’s very likely that the same tillage practices are used on this field over consecutive years. The problem with this crop production plan is that it allows weeds to become better adapted to their environment, making them more difficult to control with the same management practices.
 
On the other hand, consider a field where alfalfa is added into a rotation with corn. The management of the added alfalfa crop can have a big impact on the weed spectrum in the field. Herbicides used to manage weeds in alfalfa are different than in corn, so weeds are exposed to different sites of action for control. In addition, alfalfa is harvested several times during the year, exposing weeds to mechanical damage prior to seed reproduction. The extra cuttings could significantly cut down on the number of weed seeds that end up in soil. This is just one example of how crop rotation can work to change the weed spectrum in a field.
 
Outsmart weeds
As you finalize crop plans think about how your production practices may be contributing to weed populations. If your fields are not in rotation, consider adding one to disrupt weed life cycles. If you plant the same crop year-after-year choose seed products with excellent emergence and early vigor characteristics that better compete with weeds early in the season before crop canopies are established.
 
Work with your trusted advisor to help develop a crop plan that can ease the stress of managing troublesome weeds.

4 Tips for Successful Weed Control

Andrew Schmidt
Regional Agronomist
Spring is just around the corner, and you know that the emergence of troublesome weeds won’t be far behind. If you haven’t done so already, talk with your local trusted advisor about your weed-control strategy for 2018. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you formulate a plan to tackle weeds throughout their growth cycles.
 
1. Look at last year.
Evaluate the performance of your 2017 weed-control strategy to see what worked well and what you’d like to switch up. Note last year’s most prevalent weeds and devise your plan for controlling them first. Your local agronomist can equip you with resources — for example, university research and/or Answer Plot® Program data — that can help you make good agronomic and economic decisions for your fields.
 
2. Start with a clean field at planting.
Use tillage or an effective burndown application to get your crop off to a weed-free start. An effective herbicide strategy consists of using multiple modes of action, correct herbicide rates and timely postemergence applications. In no-till cropping systems, I usually recommend doing a fall burndown. Fall-emerging marestail is very difficult to control with herbicides in the spring, especially in parts of the Midwest. If you did not do a fall burndown, your spring burndown will need to use effective modes of action to control any winter annuals and/or marestail in your fields.
 
I recommend using three effective modes of action for any weed-management program. This strategy consists of residuals and postemergent herbicides. The postemergent herbicides should be applied in a timely manner and offer another residual to protect against later-emerging weeds such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. This can be an effective strategy for both traditional tillage and no-till systems. Be sure to check herbicide labels for plant growth restrictions on postemergent herbicides.  
 
3. Choose the right adjuvant.
The goal is to get all the herbicide you possibly can to the target weed or soil, so choosing the right adjuvant for whatever burndown system you use is key. InterLock® adjuvant works effectively with a wide range of herbicides to improve spray deposition and manage drift. OnTarget™ adjuvant is designed specifically for use with dicamba herbicide chemistries to reduce driftable fines and enhance canopy penetration. Talk with your agronomist about what adjuvant would work best for your fields.
 
4. Know your weed emergence schedule.
As I mentioned earlier, marestail can emerge in the fall, but it is one of the earlier weeds that also emerges in the spring. Another early emerger is giant ragweed. With these weeds, an early burndown application is important to achieve adequate control. Waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have a longer period of emergence — from early spring to peak emergence in June and early July. So make sure you use an effective preemergence herbicide, but also use a layered residual herbicide post emergent for late-emerging Palmer amaranth and waterhemp.
 
Large weeds result in limited options and higher costs for you. It pays to be proactive and consistent to achieve season-long weed control, so be sure to get an early start.

Take a Holistic Approach to Plant Nutrition

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Yearlong nutrient management can help keep your soil and crops — and your ROI and yield potential — healthy. Work with your trusted advisor this spring to assess nutrient needs. Use the tools available to monitor nutrient levels all season to help ensure you meet your operational goals. Here are a few steps to keep in mind.
 
1. Consider what happened last season.
Weather, commodity prices and farm economics can all shift from year to year. However, last year’s nutrition plan can be used as a foundation to build on for the upcoming season. Review nutrient levels and yield data from 2017 to start enhancing your nutrition program in 2018.
 
2. Delve into response-to-nitrogen scores.
If you apply some of your nitrogen in the fall, be sure to include a stabilizer with it so it will still be there in the spring. In order to leverage a hybrid with a high response-to-nitrogen score to your advantage, it is important to split up your nitrogen applications. Use in-season approaches to help make those decisions as needed to optimize plant nitrogen needs. Soil nitrate samples, tissue samples, in-season imagery from the R7® Tool or a crop modeling tool such as the R7® Field Forecasting Tool can help determine your nitrogen status.
 
3. Evaluate nutrient levels.
Managing nutrients closely throughout the year allows you to make better decisions about crop rotation and to be more nimble with nutrient timing. Use available tools including soil and tissue sampling, and have conversations with your agronomist, to be sure nutrient applications are made based on sampling results and return on investment potential.
 
4. Apply a plant growth regulator.
Plant growth regulators such as Ascend® and Optify®/Stretch encourage early plant germination and emergence, a robust root system, larger leaves, and thicker stems. Use data from your local Winfield United supplier to help determine what PGR may be best for your operation. For example, in a five-year average across 294 Answer Plot® locations, Ascend® PGR paired with starter fertilizer and zinc in-furrow delivered a 4.94 bu/A average positive yield response.*  
 
5. Keep an eye on your tablet.
Use ag technology to monitor crop progress. The R7® Field Monitoring Tool provides satellite images that show whether biomass in your fields are trending up or down. Use this information to determine whether you need to be adding more nutrients to better-performing fields, or could cut back nutrition on fields with lower yield potential.
 
If you don’t measure nutrients, you won’t be able to manage them. Know your starting point this spring, and take the necessary steps to achieve the yield you want in the fall.
 
*Across all environments, 60.5 percent of sites responded positively.
 
It’s crucial to monitor nutrient levels so you can make informed decisions about what nutrients to apply and when. Look for articles throughout the growing season with tips on how you can implement a more holistic approach to plant nutrition. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover mitigating stress at planting, realizing the genetic potential of your corn and how to best use split-application strategies.

The Significance of Day One

Jason Haegele
Crop Physiologist
Your seed has the greatest yield potential the day it’s planted. From that moment on, it faces stresses that diminish the number of bushels you’ll eventually get at harvest. It takes intensive management from day one to get the most from your genetics.
 
Control what you can
Some stresses a crop faces are entirely out of your control. But doing everything you can to start your crops off strong makes them more resilient to stress, including unavoidable environmental factors. One way to do that is to wait for suitable tillage and planting conditions. Establishing a vigorous and even crop starts with a good seedbed. Playing the waiting game in spring can be hard, but holding out for suitable conditions may pay dividends at the end of the season.
 
Feed crops all season long
Just like you and me, plants need proper nutrition to carry out physiological processes that promote healthy growth. Providing nutrients when crops need them can make the difference between achieving average and exceptional yield.
 
At planting, a balanced starter fertilizer and plant growth regulator program can help promote vigorous germination and better root growth. When we think of starter fertilizers, phosphorus usually comes to mind because it tends to be most limited by cool, wet spring soils. But other macro- and micronutrients that are taken up over the entire growing season (nitrogen, potassium, manganese and zinc, for example) can also be beneficial when supplied in small concentrations at planting.
 
Plant growth regulators like Ascend® SL and Optify®/Stretch give plants an extra early boost by establishing a more robust root system, larger leaves and wider stems.
 
After you’ve applied a starter fertilizer, it’s important to continue feeding plants throughout the growing season. At V5, the corn ear is determined which starts the yield-setting process. It’s a good time to consider a foliar or early side-dress fertilizer application to help maintain yield potential.  
 
The bottom line is that you can’t go back and change management decisions that were made early in the season. The trajectory of your crop’s success begins on day one.
 
With the growing season right around the corner, we’re here to help you with your holistic plant nutrition plan. In the coming weeks, we’ll cover split-application strategies and how crop modeling fits into plant health. We’ll continue to explore all aspects of plant nutrition throughout the year right here on the Growing Knowledge blog, so be sure to check back for more plant health tips.

Let Hybrids Tell You What They Need

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Whether you’ve already chosen your corn hybrids for the year or still have purchasing decisions to make, one thing’s for sure: every dollar counts. Understanding how each hybrid reacts in various situations can lead to a clearer picture of how to allocate your resources.
 
Obtain Hybrid-Specific Data
From the moment your seed touches the soil, every decision you make affects the ROI potential of that seed. Response-To Scores can help you determine how a particular hybrid will perform under different management strategies. According to seven years of Answer Plot® data, there is a potential loss or gain of 90 bushels per acre based on these four factors:
  • Response to continuous corn
  • Response to population
  • Response to nitrogen
  • Reponse to fungicide
 
A 90-bushel-per-acre swing can be the difference between operating at a loss and having a banner year, so be sure to factor these scores into 2018 seed decisions if you haven’t finalized your purchases. If you’ve chosen your hybrids, you can still use this data to help ensure you give those hybrids what they need throughout the growing season.
 
Ensure Inputs Count
Response-To-Nitrogen and Response-To-Fungicide scores can help you determine how your hybrids will react to applications before you invest in these inputs, so you can weigh possible yield gain against application costs.
 
For example, Answer Plot® data, which tests the Reponse-To-Fungicide scores of 240 hybrids every year, shows that you’re more likely to see post-application yield increases from hybrids with high Response-To-Fungicide scores. In 2017, Answer Plot® data showed an average yield response of 11.2 bushels per acre following fungicide applications on fields with hybrids that had high Response-To-Fungicide scores; knowing the variance of each hybrid is important, which ranged from 0 to 37 bushels.
 
Work with your agronomist to review this information for each of your hybrids and use it to help guide management decisions now and throughout the growing season.

How Healthy Were Crops in 2017?

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Across the country, farmers experienced another dynamic growing season in 2017. From widespread drought to flooding rains, farmers dealt with environmental conditions that required in-season management adjustments to maintain crop health. Tissue sampling proved to be a valuable tool to help guide plant nutrition decisions. Farmers who conducted tissue sampling and analyses in 2016 may have seen different nutrient deficiencies in 2017, requiring them to adjust their fertilization plans in-season.

Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide nutrient trends revealed by tissue analysis conducted by WinField United in 2017.
  • Corn suffered from more nutrient deficiencies in 2017. Compared to 2016, corn plants saw increased deficiencies in key macro- and micronutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, zinc, manganese and boron. The most common deficiency was zinc; nearly 82 percent of sampled plants were short on the nutrient that aids in chlorophyll synthesis and other metabolic functions.
  • Soybeans had a sharp increase in copper deficiency. More than 65 percent of soybeans sampled lacked sufficient copper levels to meet plant health needs. This is up 24 percentage points compared to 2016. Copper is a key nutrient for protein synthesis, cell wall formation and many enzyme systems. A majority of soybean samples were also low in potassium and manganese.
  • Wheat lacked micronutrients. Copper deficiency was widespread across wheat crops last year, with nearly 85 percent of sampled plants lacking adequate concentrations of the nutrient. Limited availability of copper in wheat can lead to aborted heads and yield loss. Two other micronutrients, zinc and magnesium, were more deficient this year compared to last year.
  • Cotton showed boron deficiency. Cotton samples were more deficient in boron this year compared to last year, with more than 65 percent of sampled cotton lacking adequate levels of the nutrient. Boron deficiency can lead to flower abortion and boll shedding, limiting cotton yield. Nearly all of the cotton tested was low in potassium, consistent with last year’s test results.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium. Nearly 90 percent of the more than 300 alfalfa samples analyzed had low levels of calcium in 2017. Calcium aids in nitrogen uptake, nutrient absorption and it contributes to enzyme activity in plants. The majority of alfalfa samples were also short on magnesium and potassium.
  • Corn silage had deficits in manganese, nitrogen and zinc. Deficiencies were found in a greater percentage of samples for all three nutrients in corn silage this year compared to last year. Potassium, boron and sulfur deficiencies were also common in 2017. Corn silage removes more nutrients from soil than grain corn, so crops often require additional fertilization to meet yield goals.
  • Potatoes needed more zinc. Zinc and copper were lacking most in potato crops last year. More than 80 percent of potatoes sampled were deficient in one or both nutrients. Zinc aids in nitrogen metabolism and affects starch content in potatoes. Sample results also revealed a common shortage of phosphorus and manganese in potatoes.
What Does the Data Tell Us?
Plant tissue sampling throughout the growing season can provide real-time insights into a crop’s nutrient status to allow for in-season adjustments to prevent yield loss. Armed with this data, you may be able to remediate nutrition problems before the crop shows signs of stress.
 
While nationwide trends in crop health were analyzed and reported, individual field testing is the best way to evaluate nutrient deficiencies. Plant health is dynamic, and nutrient availability is based on localized conditions and management practices.

What’s Your Corn Nutrient Strategy for 2018?

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Be sure you’re adequately nourishing your hybrids from planting through all critical growth stages by mapping out your corn nutrient strategy now. Here are some tips to help get your corn plants off to a strong start.
 
1. Ensure proper hybrid placement.
The first step in setting up plants for success is placing hybrids correctly. Work with your agronomist to identify hybrid-specific data, including response to soil type, response to nitrogen, response to crop rotation and response to population, so you can place hybrids appropriately.
 
2. Plant seed at the correct depth; be choosy about soil conditions.
I recommend planting corn at a depth of 1¾ inches. In many parts of the country, corn seed can be subjected to wide variances in spring temperatures in that first inch of soil. Temperatures tend to be slightly more consistent below a 1-inch soil depth. Planting in proper soil conditions helps establish ideal seed-to-soil contact, water imbibition and proper initiation of root growth.
 
3. Use a nitrogen stabilizer.
If you have planted a hybrid with a high response-to-nitrogen score, not only is it important to manage nitrogen season-long, but also to use a nitrogen stabilizer to protect the investment in your seed and your fertilizer program. Talk with your agronomist about what stabilizer would work best with your program and what the proper application timing would be.
 
4. Use a starter fertilizer for a preemergent nutrient boost.
Encourage emergence at planting with an in-furrow application of a phosphorus starter. Phosphorus is immobile in the soil and hard for a plant to get into its root system, so in some cases a phosphorus fertilizer enhancer may be used to optimize uptake. Applying phosphorus in the spring gets it right next to the root zone to optimize that initial uptake. A balanced starter can also promote emergence. There are many starter fertilizers on the market; talk with your agronomist about which one best fits your program.
 
5. Apply a plant growth regulator.
Apply a plant growth regulator (PGR) to promote a larger root system, which can result in quicker and more efficient nutrient uptake, faster emergence and stronger stalks. Not any PGR will do the trick, so be sure to talk with your agronomist about the right one for your fields. PGR applications can be especially beneficial to your early-planted hybrids to help set them up for success.
 
6. Use hybrid-specific data and tissue sampling for in-season nutrient management.
To be certain you’re getting the necessary nutrients into the plant from emergence through vegetative growth stages, combine in-season imagery (ISI) with tissue sampling. Response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores can also be used to help determine how each hybrid may respond to these types of applications.
 
7. Employ precision ag to target nutrient placement.
Use soil samples, past yield maps and ISI to identify areas where yield potential may be falling behind or poised to increase. After that, well-timed tissue and/or soil sampling can indicate key nutrient levels so you know exactly where, when and how much product should be applied.
 
Talk with your agronomist about putting similar practices to work in your fields this spring.

Get More From Your Spray Applications

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
Recently, I worked with Iowa State University to create a presentation called “Increasing Pesticide Efficacy Through Proper Application Technique.” I’d like to share a few of the main points regarding application technology and best practices so you can make the most of your application investment. I encourage you to attend a Spray Clinic by WinField® United at your local retailer this winter to find out more.
 
1. Choose the right product and more.
The pesticide in the tank does you no good if it doesn’t reach the site of action in the pest. Many factors — including droplet size, spray nozzle type, water quality and time of day of the application — can greatly influence application effectiveness.
 
2. Calibrate the sprayer.
Calibrating sprayer nozzles ensures even application, correct product dose and enough product to spray the entire field.
 
3. Maintain a good spray pattern.
Nozzle spray patterns should be checked when calibrating each nozzle on the boom. Bad spray patterns can be caused by:
  • Clogged or worn nozzles
  • Improper nozzle cleaning
  • Incorrect boom height
4. Select the proper nozzle.  
Nozzle selection affects droplet size, which influences drift potential and the amount of coverage. The ideal nozzle depends on:
  • The product being applied (systemic or contact)
  • How much drift is expected
5. Manage drift.
Adding an adjuvant to the tank can maintain spray droplets at the right size to help control drift and keep the crop protection product on target.
 
6. Follow label instructions when tank mixing.
Always do a jar test before spraying an unknown combination of products. This will confirm whether or not they will be compatible with each other in a spray tank. Improper mixing order can create a tank mix solution that is unusable.
 
7. Clean the sprayer properly after an application.
Clean your equipment thoroughly as soon as possible after spraying to prevent products from drying and contaminating the tank, lines and tips. 
 
Hear about the most recent developments in spray application technology, as well as the latest information on spray rules and regulations, at a Spray Clinic. Ask your agronomic advisor when one is coming to a location near you.

Time to Pick Your 2018 Cotton Varieties

Robert Cossar
Technical Seed Manager and Cotton Product Manager
As a cotton farmer, you are probably analyzing this year’s yield data and beginning to turn your thoughts toward what varieties to plant in 2018. While yield and quality are always top considerations, there are some additional factors you and your agronomist will want to review in your selection process.
 
Insect control
A number of cotton growers in the mid-South saw a good number of worm escapes in 2017 — so much so that it seems like some tolerance and possibly resistance to current traits on the market may be building up. This is a big concern, making the selection of appropriate varieties all the more vital. Fortunately, many of today’s cotton varieties assist with delivering insect control.
 
For example, Genuity® Bollgard II® cotton uses advanced technology to help provide protection from lepidopterous pests, including cotton bollworm. Bollgard® 3 cotton adds another protein — Vip3A — to the Cry1AC and Cry2AB Bt proteins found in Genuity® Bollgard II® cotton varieties, helping to create a triple-mode-of-action scenario. Though only commercially available in limited quantities for planting in 2018, this broader spectrum of worm control could translate into fewer sprays and less potential damage to your cotton all season long. 
 
Weed control
Developing and implementing a good weed management program is crucial to helping your crop achieve its yield and quality potential. Both Bollgard® 3 and Genuity® Bollgard II® cotton offer varieties with XtendFlex® Technology, which is the first cotton technology that provides tolerance to glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba. In addition to choosing the right traits for weed management, be sure to scout when plants begin putting on fruit or squares, as well as bolls, to stay ahead of any pressures.
 
Geography
Because we handpick seed from the industry's top genetics, we can offer a broad selection of varieties specially adapted to local conditions. Selecting the right cotton variety for your specific geography is important to help ensure optimal performance. 
 
For example, the CROPLAN® brand brings five transgenic cotton varieties to the market:
  • 3475B2XF (early) is a broad fit across the upper Southeast, upper mid-South and upper High Plains.
  • 3527B2XF is an early-mid type that is best positioned on highly managed acres.
  • 3226B2XF is a great option for the Texas panhandle market.
  • 3885B2XF and 3787B2RF (mid-maturities) have great adaptability across the Cotton Belt and excellent performance potential in the lower Southeast, lower mid-South and irrigated southeast Texas.
Your agronomist can help you choose the genetics that help deliver the quality and yield potential that meet the demands of your specific region.
 
WinField United does a great deal of on-farm testing of new cotton varieties, measuring how they performed on different soil types and under various management practices. We also have access to data on university cotton trials. Talk with your WinField representative about what cotton varieties you should consider for the 2018 growing season. You can also find out more about CROPLAN® cotton varieties here.  

Managing a Clean, Sustainable Operation

Adam Mangum
Marketing Manager, Plant Nutrition
Spills can happen in any type of operation, including farms. Fuel leaks around machinery filling stations or fuel tanks, and pesticide spills in the field, around tank-mix areas or in storage buildings are not uncommon. Handling these mishaps promptly can help you keep areas clean and prevent dead zones from limiting how you use the affected areas of your farm.
 
In the past, managing spills typically required costly physical remediation. Excavation equipment was needed to dig out the affected soil and contaminants needed to be disposed of at a properly equipped site.
 
While phyical remediation is still a viable fix for some large chemical and fuel spills, new technology offers a more economical and environmentally friendly option for managing spills in agriculture settings. Parvus™ biological remediator employs living microorganisms to remove chemicals and fuel in the soil and on hard surfaces.
 
Eliminating spills naturally
Instead of having to physically remove contaminated soil, this innovative biological remediator can be applied to the affected site in a spray or granule form that must be activated with water. After coming into contact with the spilled fuel or pesticide, the microbes do what comes naturally – they consume the material, removing it from the soil or surface area.
 
The microbes continue to feast over time until the fuel or chemical is gone, leaving the affected soil or surface clean. Field tests with common herbicide active ingredients such as glyphosate, atrazine and fomesafen showed that Parvus™ biological remediator reduced the amount of chemicals in the soil by 70 percent or more within 21 days. After their fuel or chemical food source is gone, the number of microbes decreases and the bacteria become part of the soil’s indigenous background microbial population.
 
Be prepared
Since we never know when a spill will occur, it’s a good idea to keep Parvus™ biological remediator on hand for fast treatment, before the fuel or chemical has time to penetrate deeper into the soil. While this biological remediator should be applied as soon as possible after a spill occurs, it also works effectively when applied days, weeks, months or years later.
 
For more tips on proactively managing spills to protect your land, contact your local WinField United retailer.

Planning Time: Dicamba-Tolerant Crop Decisions

Randy Brown, Ph.D.
Senior Manager – Lead, Regional Agronomists
As the 2017 season winds down, it’s time to evaluate opportunities for next year, including the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System. The majority of farmers who used this system in 2017 experienced tremendous success, with both excellent weed control and yields. However, as with any new technology, there are lessons to be learned for the coming year.
 
To help farmers and applicators better understand how to effectively implement the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System, WinField United has created an ongoing series of interactive face-to-face conversations called Acres of Insights. During these sessions, we’ll share insights from this season and the immense amount of data we’ve compiled from thousands of acres of learning.
 
Acres of Insights Topics
At the first meeting, we’ll discuss 2017 Answer Plot® data and how this could affect 2018 planning decisions. Experts will review the latest in seed trait genetics and weed resistance management, and we’ll engage retailers and farmers in a two-way dialogue to answer questions and prepare for the 2018 growing season.
 
Discussions will include opportunities and challenges posed by the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System, best management practices for next season and the October 13, 2017, EPA enhancements to the XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology product label. The conversation will continue at WinField United spray clinics this winter.
 
2017 Successes
With few options left to control a number of resistant weeds, the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System was welcomed by thousands of farmers across the country. While reports of crop damage in some areas around treated soybean fields grabbed the headlines, significant benefits with the system were realized by the majority of users, including excellent weed control and better yield potential. Although 2017 Answer Plot® data is just starting to be tallied, early regional yield results for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans have been positive.*
 
System Enhancements for 2018
Where soybean plant injuries were observed, thorough investigations are underway to determine the causes. At this point, evidence is pointing to factors such as applications of non-approved products, lack of compliance with labeled spray requirements and improper tank cleaning as some of the reasons for crop response. WinField United and Monsanto are continuing to work with farmers, weed scientists, applicators, retail partners and regulators to understand what they’re seeing and determine how to make adjustments for a successful 2018 season.
 
Watch for more information on upcoming Acres of Insights sessions near you. We hope to see you at upcoming meetings.
 
 
*Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, product application, and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions. Results are based upon controlled test and field trials.  Actual results may vary.
 
WinField United is a trademark and WinField and Answer Plot are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC. © 2017 Winfield Solutions, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.
 
XtendiMax® herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology is a restricted use pesticide. XtendiMax® herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology is not registered in all states and may be subject to use restrictions in some states. The distribution, sale, or use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. Check with your local Monsanto dealer or representative for the product registration status in your state.
 
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS FOR USE ON PESTICIDE LABELING. IT IS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its labeling. NOT ALL formulations of dicamba or glyphosate are approved for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans, Bollgard II® XtendFlex® or XtendFlex® cotton. ONLY USE FORMULATIONS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY LABELED FOR SUCH USES AND APPROVED FOR SUCH USE IN THE STATE OF APPLICATION. XTENDIMAX® HERBICIDE WITH VAPORGRIP® TECHNOLOGY AND IN CROP USES MAY NOT BE APPROVED IN ALL STATES. Contact the U.S. EPA and your state pesticide regulatory agency with any questions about the approval status of dicamba herbicide products for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans, Bollgard II® XtendFlex® or XtendFlex® cotton. 
 
Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, dicamba and glufosinate. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba.
 
Glufosinate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glufosinate. Contact your Monsanto dealer or refer to Monsanto's Technology Use Guide for recommended weed control programs. 
 
Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible.
 
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Bollgard II®, Genuity®, Monsanto and Vine Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, XtendFlex®, XtendiMax® and Vaporgrip® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology, LLC

How Technology Informs My Decision-Making

Jim Hedges
Sr. Director of Strategy and Insights, Ag Technology for WinField United; corn and soybean farmer
As a corn and soybean farmer in Central Illinois, there are a number of things I do every year to help optimize my ROI potential and minimize risk, many of which are driven by technology. Here are some of the strategies I put into motion when planning for the upcoming growing season.
 
Align seed and crop input purchases with my management system.
On our operation, we manage both corn and soybeans quite intensely. Consequently, I want to ensure the hybrids and varieties I plant not only work on the soil types I have, but that they also fit into the systems approach we use on our farm.
 
For example, we do a late side-dress nitrogen application on all of our corn acres. Understanding each hybrid’s response to nitrogen score is a must if we are going to maximize our ROI on that input investment. The same holds true for response to fungicide scores. Technology gives me the ability to confidently invest in my crop with the knowledge that I have a high probability of dependable and repeatable ROI.
 
Use variable-rate technology to plant smarter.
This year, most of our soybean variable-rate prescriptions ended up at about 120,000 to 130,000 seeds per acre, and the results were pretty incredible. Our crops were under a lot of stress and had very little rain in August and September. Despite that, yields were very consistent, even between different soil types, which I did not expect. Can I attribute this all to using a variable-rate prescription? Probably not, but I think that the strategy of doing some over-population and some under-population did pay off. It also allowed me to move the seed savings into my micronutrient and fungicide budget. Once again, it’s about where the dollar invested generates the highest return.
 
Allow for in-season input adjustments.
As I think about the relationship between yield and inputs, it primarily ties back to what the environment has given or not given, the results of our cultural practices and what tissue tests are showing. I’m constantly evaluating the potential of our corn crop and adjusting nitrogen accordingly.
 
For example, I usually do a nitrogen application at planting, then come back with another between V8 and V12. However, if I use my knowledge of the environment along with NutriSolutions® tissue testing results and technology like the R7® Field Forecasting Tool by WinField United, I might decide to adjust that application timing, as well as the amount of product applied, to get optimal ROI potential.
 
Plan for tech use throughout the season.
When I think about next year, I know I’ll use in-season satellite imagery. I’ll also use the R7® Field Monitoring Tool to look closely at how fields performed this year, the practices I want to keep for next year and the changes I want to make. Abandoning a planned input decision, for me, is not ever going to be farm-wide. It’s going to be made field-by-field, based on the knowledge we have about that crop, the environment, and what the field can and cannot do. Technology aids us greatly in determining these factors.
 
In the past, we factored a lot of gut feelings into our decision-making process. The knowledge and insights that technology tools bring not only help me make more informed decisions; they also allow me to sleep better at night. That’s a big deal.

Tackle Field Variability in Soybeans

Bob Bohl
Technical Seed Manager
As you search for ways to raise the bar in your operation’s soybean production, managing field variabilities can be a good starting point. However, working across rolling hills and valleys, in unusually wet or consistently dry conditions, on rich loam or sandy soils — and many other factors — can be challenging.   
 
Start With Technology Tools
The R7® Tool by WinField United could give you a leg up by helping identify specific challenges within each field and offering solutions to help mitigate risk. For example, the tool can provide a close-up look at specific fields, starting with a soil map that identifies different soil types in individual zones.
 
Understanding each field’s conditions, including weed challenges, can help you identify which soybean seed system is right for your operation. When your seed system has been selected, the R7® Tool will cross-reference Answer Plot® testing research data with your soil map and other information to help match the specific soybean variety best suited for your conditions to achieve optimal yield potential.1
 
Manage Variability
When field variability is a challenge, a CROPLAN® WinPak® soybean seed variety, which includes two varieties within one bag, may be the answer. WinPak® seed varieties are designed to help optimize production potential across a range of soils, weeds, disease and other conditions.
 
If you’re equipped to make variable-rate applications, the R7® Tool can help provide tailored prescriptions. In higher-producing zones with good growing conditions, the tool may prescribe lower soybean plant populations to allow offensive plants to flourish. Lower populations may also be the answer for disease-prone zones to open up the canopy for better air circulation. Higher plant populations may be warranted in zones with hills and lower producing areas to compensate for smaller plant sizes and help increase yield potential.
 
Adjust Fertility Levels
When soil and/or tissue tests indicate additional plant nutrients would be advantageous, variable fertility rates could be prescribed. The varied rates would be based on fertility levels in each zone to help maximize your crop nutrient costs and potential return on investment.
 
Monitor In-Season Changes
To help manage risk during the season, the R7® Tool can help provide in-season imagery with the Field Monitoring Tool. By closely observing crop development throughout the season, you could identify opportunities to capture higher yield potential or be alerted to pending problems before yield potential is jeopardized.
 
Ask your local WinField United representative for more details about managing field variability in soybeans and other crops next season.
 
1 Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, product application, and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions.  Actual results may vary.

New Functionality Guides Soybean Seed Decisions

Jim Eggerichs
Technical Seed Manager
At this point in the season you’re likely thinking ahead to next year’s seed decisions. If you are a soybean farmer, how do you know which varieties will perform best in various soil types and yield environments? Since the characteristics of each field are different, and even areas within the same field can vary greatly, there is value in having variety-specific management data for your soybean crop.
 
The CHT Tool, a component of the R7® Tool by WinField® United, uses data from the Answer Plot® Program to help compare soybean seed varieties from major companies to see how they are potentially projected to perform on fields like yours. The CHT Tool has been used to compare corn hybrids for several years and is now available to perform similar functions to help optimize soybean seed selection.
 
The tool displays at least three years of Answer Plot® program yield data based on soil type and yield environment to help you make data-driven decisions regarding your seed choices. Yield environment is defined as the intensity of field stress or disease issues present in the field — whatever negative factors are keeping that soybean yield from being the most it can be. Along with soil type, you can use the data to help select the proper soybean variety for that field.
 
Many challenges can occur in any given field, and having yield information that matches up with a particular environment can help you better predict seed performance for the following year.
 
Looking at data for one area will tell you what performed best there last year, but looking at data from a variety of environments and using different testing methods like we do in our Answer Plot® Program gives you a better idea of how a variety may perform next year. Of course, we don’t know specifically what next year will bring, but the CHT Tool can improve our chances of predicting the potential performance of a soybean variety in a given field.
 
To find out how the CHT Tool can help manage and capitalize on the variability within your soybean fields, talk with your WinField® United agronomist or technology manager. 

Why You Should Plan to Use a Balanced Starter Fertilizer

Darrin Holder
Agronomist, WinField United
To get crops off to a strong start, you need to provide adequate nutrition from day one. A growing body of research demonstrates that using a starter fertilizer is the best way to do that, especially in the cooler soils common with reduced-tillage.
 
As you plan your 2018 corn crop budget, consider including a balanced starter fertilizer, if you don’t already. Starters could help deliver key benefits with season-long impact:
 
Faster, more uniform emergence is common with in-furrow starter fertilizer use because seeds have immediate access to essential macro and micronutrients. Faster germination and uniform emergence leads to a better crop stand, which is key to helping maximize yield potential.
 
OptiStart® balanced starter fertilizer includes not only the macronutrients of standard starters, but has the added benefit of micronutrients in one formulation to help get plants out of the ground faster for optimal, more uniform establishment and robust plant vigor under all types of conditions. Applied in-furrow or 2x2, OptiStart® fertilizer offers corn crops accessible nutrients for root and plant growth potential at the start, until they are able to source nutrients from the soil.
 
Better root development more likely occur with adequate early nutrition. Field observations have shown that corn planted with a balanced starter fertilizer such as OptiStart® had visually bigger roots after just 15 days and noticeably more root mass after four weeks.* A starter fertilizer can also help to overcome slow root growth in cool soils.
 
The benefits of bigger, more extensive root growth can carry through the season to improve stalk strength potential and reduce lodging.
 
Balanced nutrition is as important for plants as it is for humans. Balanced starter fertilizers can help deliver the right amount of key macro and micronutrients, making them immediately available to seedlings. Along with N, P and K, sulfur is needed for chlorophyll production and protein formation. The most common micronutrients in starter fertilizers are zinc for leaf growth and root development; manganese for chlorophyll production and nitrogen utilization; and boron for proper cell division, carbohydrate use and water utilization.
 
Balanced nutrition also helps increase a young plant’s ability to deal with stress from environmental and pest pressures. The stronger the seedling, the better the chance for a strong crop.
 
Maximizing yield potential requires minimizing plant stress. But today’s high-population plant environments create additional stress for young plants. Research shows that 1,000 corn plants produce 5 to 7 bushels of corn. The early-season loss of just a few plants per 1,000 can add up to significant per-acre lost yield potential. Proper early nutrition is essential to maximizing yield potential.
 
Consider an in-furrow balanced starter fertilizer as a form of crop insurance.
 
*Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, product application, and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions. Results are based upon controlled test and field trials. Actual results may vary.

Start Shaping Your 2018 (Plant) Growth Strategy

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Historically, fall has provided a great opportunity to make fertility decisions, such as how much phosphorus, potassium and other crop nutrients you’ll need for next season. At this time of year, you’re probably also reviewing Answer Plot® data on hybrid response to nitrogen, response to population, response to fungicide, and response to soil type scores and using it to help inform your seed purchasing decisions.
 
Don’t forget to include a plant growth regulator (PGR) as an important component of your early-season fertility strategy to get your crops off to a quick, strong start.
 
A value-add throughout the season
We know plant health is affected dramatically by root growth and stalk strength and that PGRs optimize those factors. An in-furrow application of a PGR can help get your plants out of the ground fast. Keep in mind that quick emergence, especially for corn plants, helps ensure they come up at the same time, which enables them to compete equally and gives you more consistent yield potential across the field.
 
PGRs are naturally produced within each corn or soybean crop. WinField United formulates products that work with these natural cycles within the crop to make plants more efficient, to take up nutrients more effectively and to optimize yield potential.
 
For example, Ascend® SL PGR contains a combination of three EPA-registered PGRs designed to promote vigorous early plant germination and emergence, a robust root system, larger leaves, and wider stems.
Optify®/Stretch PGR is an EPA-registered broad-spectrum PGR for use in corn and other crops that helps optimize stress tolerance, early-season vigor, and water and nutrient uptake.
 
Data indicates the value of applying a PGR. For example, corn trial data shows that at 295 Answer Plot® sites with 2,138 replications over a five-year period, an additional 4.94 bushels per acre was produced by using Ascend® PGR in-furrow along with 10-34-0 and Ultra-Che® Zinc 9% EDTA.* 
 
Talk with your WinField United agronomist about how you can create an effective fertility strategy for 2018 using a PGR to help achieve quick emergence, effective fertilizer uptake, and healthier plants throughout the season for improved ROI potential in 2018.
 
*At national Answer Plot® trials conducted from 2010 to 2014. Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, product application, and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions. Results are based upon controlled test and field trials.  Actual results may vary.

Make Planning a Team Effort

Rick Speicher
District Sales Manager, Seed, WinField United
With the 2017 season soon to be wrapping up, it’s time to get serious about planning for next season. How do you make the most of this important task? Add trusted, local expertise to your planning team.
 
A local agronomic advisor can help you determine if you’re developing the best foundation possible for increased ROI potential with effective weed, insect and disease control measures, plus in-season fertility that can help build profit potential in your crop.
 
Start with seed
Matching the right seed to each soil type at the right population plays a significant role in boosting yield potential and help reduce risk in your plan. Your WinField United advisor has a broad selection of tools to help you choose the right seed to match each field.
 
Because CROPLAN® seed hybrids and varieties are rated on their performance across specific soil types, you can confidently select the product that matches each field’s soil conditions. CROPLAN® seed data ratings also helps specify which varieties may be more effective at higher or lower populations, allowing you to push yield potential with high populations on your most productive acres and reduce populations to help save on input costs in less productive fields.
 
Optimize plant nutrition
Plant nutrition should be a key part of your seed selection and in-season plans. Work with your advisor to match fertilization levels with your yield goals and application capabilities. CROPLAN® seed response-to-nitrogen scores for each hybrid help you choose the right seed to optimize yield potential.
 
In season, NutriSolutions 360® tissue testing between V4 to VT will provide a customized fertilizer recommendation that, if followed, could return the highest ROI of all the inputs applied for the season. Your advisor can share data that shows how adding 50 units of nitrogen with appropriate combinations of potassium, sulfur and micronutrients could return additional profitable bushel potential per acre.
 
Add crop management plans
As you review last season’s results, team up with your advisor to determine why some management steps worked well and others didn’t. Now is the time to adjust next season’s program as needed to help protect plants against weed, insect and disease threats. Ask your advisor to calculate the potential economic advantages of protecting yield with season-long weed and pest control.
 
Consider ag tech tools
Whether you’re experienced with ag technology or just getting started, it’s important to understand all the capabilities these new tools can add to your program. Your advisor can help you evaluate the benefits of using precision seed and fertilizer technology, in-season imagery, field monitoring, and crop forecasting to help manage crops.
 
Work with your advisor to include plans for monitoring each field’s progress and implementing real-time adjustments throughout the season. Capitalizing on opportunities to increase yield potential in-season helps provide the most cost-effective way to add bushels — and increase ROI potential — to your program. 

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.

Setting the Standard for Boom Spraying

Joe Gednalske
Director, Product Development, WinField United
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), a standards-developing organization for food, agricultural and biological systems, presented an award to the committee who authored ASABE S592.1: Best Management Practices for Boom. The award was presented at the ASABE 2017 Annual International Meeting held in July in Spokane, Washington.
 
I’m pleased that a member of our team, Lillian Magidow, research manager for Winfield United product development, served on the committee to create this international standard. Her role was to  ensure that adjuvants were included in spray recommendations, because they are not used everywhere in the world, but are very important for farmers in many countries, including the United States and Canada.
 
S592.1 identifies, formalizes and organizes basic spray application best management practices, addressing areas not discussed on product labels and helping educate users about proper handling of spray equipment. The standard reflects advanced boom-sprayer technologies that can affect nozzle performance and the potential for off-site drift.
 
In addition to WinField United, the committee included representatives from  equipment manufacturers, nozzle manufacturers, the agrochemical industry, university and independent researchers, and specialty sprayer manufacturers.
 
A voice for farmers
Lillian wanted to ensure that the standard made sense for someone who would actually use it in the field. Many times, what a farmer sees on a label started as part of an ASABE standard. So if a standard is created without farmer participation and representation, there might be something included on that label that isn’t practical or doesn’t make sense, or is less relevant for North American agriculture. And the label is the law.
 
Because the Environmental Protection Association (EPA) has limited resources, it depends upon standards organizations such as ASABE for guidance. We can’t tell the EPA how to assess a particular product; but if it has a question about what is a typical recommendation to a farmer, we can help guide that discussion.
 
We are so proud of Lillian and the committee’s accomplishments. We look forward to continuing these efforts to help give farmers a voice in critical agricultural decisions that are being made in Washington, D.C., as well as internationally.

Start Seeding Your 2018 Trait Strategy Now

Carl Scholting
Technical Seed Manager—Western Corn Belt, WinField United
While having the latest corn traits can represent a significant investment, they ultimately offer tremendous benefits. Here is a look at how traits have served farmers in my area of the western Corn Belt this season and how planning your seed purchases for 2018 now can help you forge full speed ahead next spring.
 
What happened in 2017?
Corn rootworm (CRW) is always an issue in pockets throughout the United States, especially in heavy corn-on-corn acres. CRW technologies such as SmartStax® are designed to provide excellent protection against this pest. Particularly with the large volume of rain we’ve had in several areas of the Corn Belt this year, the fact that traits don’t wash away or become diluted like granular insecticides can be very important.  
 
Corn earworm has also been an issue this year, and SmartStax® and VT Double PRO® have been designed to protect against it. In the western Corn Belt and in Wisconsin, western bean cutworm is currently an issue. Farmers who chose hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera® trait are not having to spray for that pest, while those who don’t have this trait are spraying for western bean cutworm right now.  
 
A look into 2018
The rotational aspect of continuous corn is going to necessitate CRW protection. Even rotated fields, if they have a history of corn rootworm, are getting that insect trait protection on next year’s seed. As noted above, western bean cutworm is progressing quickly this year and farmers are noticing that they will want more Agrisure Viptera®-traited seed in 2018.
 
Another key item is helping corn resist drought stress. Much of the western Corn Belt and parts of Iowa and Illinois are currently facing severe drought. The DroughtGard® products in the CROPLAN® seed portfolio are helping to support yield potential when drought stress occurs. I suspect there will be more discussion and questions asked about DroughtGard® products for next year.
 
Start planning now
Take note of the pressures you’re seeing in your fields now, while things are fresh in your mind. What worked and what didn’t pan out the way you wanted this year? You can’t plant next year’s seed now, but you can start having discussions with your local CROPLAN® seed representative about enhanced insect protection or drought-tolerant hybrids for next year based on what you’re observing. Don’t wait until January to start seeding your 2018 hybrid selection strategy.
 
 
Always follow IRM, grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. B.t. products may not yet be registered in all states. Check with your seed representative for the registration status in your state. RIB Complete and Design®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup®, SmartStax and Design®, SmartStax®, VT Double PRO®, are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design® are registered trademarks of Bayer. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC.

Agrisure Viptera is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.

WinField United is a trademark and CROPLAN and WinField are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC.

Plan Ahead for Soybean Success

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® Corn and Soybeans
One of the largest soybean crops ever planted in the United States is underway this season. While lower market prices may have prompted many farmers to take a closer look at soybean production, our research is showing that solid genetics coupled with innovative technology are making soybeans a valuable choice for many farmers. As crops are racing toward maturity, it’s time to start thinking about boosting soybean ROI potential for next season.
 
Change your thinking
How do you know which soybean products and technology will provide the best return for your farm? The first step is to think about soybean production differently. Research shows that, like corn, soybean crops respond positively to more intensive management, with increased emphasis on management paying off at harvest.
 
To get started, ask your local agronomist to help you sort through the complex decisions concerning trait and variety selection, seed treatments, crop protection and plant nutrition choices. Relying on high-quality data that comes from sources such as the Answer Plot® Program can help you make informed, fact-based choices to manage next season’s environmental and production risks, no matter what conditions Mother Nature throws your way.
 
Broaden selection criteria
An important first step in soybean production is variety selection. While it’s been common to make soybean seed selections based mainly on trait package and relative maturity, there are many other factors that should also be considered. Answer Plot® data has shown a tremendous amount of difference in specific soybean performance, depending on where the seeds are planted. For example, two varieties that would be expected to yield similarily on average, can perform in incredibly different ways when placed in a high-yield environment versus a low-yield environment, or in sandy soil versus heavy soil, for example. Your local advisor can help you review performance data to select the best varieties to match your conditions and planned management.
 
Address field variability
Choosing just one soybean variety for an entire field can be challenging, since most fields include a range of conditions. To help farmers manage field variability, CROPLAN® seed offers WinPak® soybean products, which include a unique combination of two soybean varieties that are designed to deliver stability throughout the field and capture the full yield potential of your acres.
 
The complementary products in each CROPLAN WinPak® product provide a natural hedge against each season’s unknown conditions, working together to increase yield potential on tough acres while maintaining yield in higher-producing areas. Answer Plot® data has also shown that WinPak® varieties out-performed their individual component varieties across maturity groups.
 
As harvest approaches, take a few minutes to review how your soybean crop has performed this season and talk to your local advisor about choosing the right varieties for next year.

5 Tips for Planting Alfalfa

Randy Welch
National Alfalfa Agronomist

Alfalfa has a wide range of recommended seeding dates. In the Upper Midwest, alfalfa fields can be seeded anytime from mid-April through May. Early June for northernmost dairy regions is fine. Like with any seed, soil temperatures and soil moisture together are important for germination. Seeding too early in conditions that are too cold delays seedling emergence and potential stand density. Planting too late dries out the top layer of soil where we want the alfalfa seeds placed, making it more difficult for alfalfa plants to establish themselves.  
 
If you have land available for alfalfa in late summer, optimal seeding dates are July 15 through August in the Upper Midwest; closer to July 15 for northernmost regions. For growers in warmer climates, seeding into early September is acceptable.
 
Here are my five tips for successfully seeding your alfalfa fields.

1. Perform a soil test. It’s important to know your soil’s pH, potassium and phosphorous levels.

  • pH: A neutral level between 6.8 and 7.1 is ideal.
  • Potassium: 170 parts per million (ppm) is the minimum level.
  • Phosphorous: 25 to 30 ppm is the minimum level.
  • Sulfur and boron levels: A NutriSolutions® tissue test will provide guidelines. 

2. Control seeding depth. Plant alfalfa seeds three-eighths of an inch below the soil surface. In corn, we talk about precision planting, and the focus is on seed spacing. Precision planting for alfalfa means controlling seeding depth. The goal is to establish about 30 to 35 plants per square foot at the end of establishment season.  GroZone® plus Advanced Coating® Zn seed treatment contains several components to help plants get off to a fast, healthy start.
 
3. Check herbicide carryover. Consider the crop you had planted in that field last year. If it was corn and there was a residual chemistry from that crop, know before you grow. Any residual chemistry that is present could inhibit alfalfa establishment. A dry, cool spring may increase the chances of herbicide carryover.
 
4. Control weeds. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa is an important trait and helps many growers achieve good stands by controlling weeds during establishment when seedlings are vulnerable. The first 30 days of an alfalfa seedling’s establishment are very important. If you don’t have adequate weed control, you’ll lose alfalfa seedlings. It is difficult to re-establish a thin alfalfa stand, so we don’t want to lose seedlings to weeds. A fall application of Roundup® on Roundup Ready® Alfalfa is an ideal way to get winter annual weeds in your fields under control.
 
5. Try a new variety. The HarvXtra® alfalfa varieties HVX HarvaTron and HVX Driver by CROPLAN®, both with the HarvXtra® reduced-lignin alfalfa trait, can provide 17 percent higher neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) across cuttings compared to conventional varieties.* These new alfalfa variety options give you the flexibility to maintain harvest schedules for improved quality or increase time between cuttings, which can result in improved forage quality, added yield potential or increased stand persistence opportunity.
 
As in football, the best defense is a good offense. Make sure your alfalfa fields are up to the challenge. Create a game plan to increase your yield and quality potential, and to help make 2017 a winning year.  
 
*Data is an average of CROPLAN® HarvXtra® Harvatron, Megatron and Driver varieties compared to LegenDairy XHD and Hi-Gest® 360, harvested in 2014 and 2015 from Nampa, Idaho; Touchet, Wash.; Boone, Iowa; West Salem, Wis.; and Mt. Joy, Pa.
 
Advanced Coating, CROPLAN, GroZone and NutriSolutions are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC. Roundup and Roundup Ready are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC.
HarvXtra is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC.


Spring Nitrogen Strategies

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
Nitrogen management is a complex issue because many different factors affect the overall nitrogen availability to crops. Let’s explore some key agronomic principals behind nitrogen management and a few ways in which you can maximize your nitrogen investment.

Nitrogen is absorbed in one of two forms
Part of the reason nitrogen management can be so complex is because it can appear in different forms in the soil. Nitrogen can only be taken up by the plant in either the nitrate or ammonium forms. Most soils in the United States are naturally negatively charged and therefore can only hold positively charged nutrients. Nitrogen in the ammonium form is positively charged, meaning it can be held by the soil.

Over time, through a process called nitrification, ammonium in the soil will be converted to nitrate, which is negatively charged in the soil. As you can see from figure 1, the nitrification process occurs quickly in warm soils, and you can convert almost all of the ammonium nitrogen to nitrate within a matter of three weeks with 60 degree soil temperatures. Nitrate, being negatively charged, can be a problem because it is not held by the soil, and therefore can easily leach with water through the soil profile and out the drainage tile.

Timing is critical for conversion to the nitrate form
Because of this leaching possibility, nitrate is generally talked about in negative terms. However, as figure 2 demonstrates, almost 98% of nitrogen is taken up by mass flow in the nitrate form. The key to nitrogen management is to get it in the right form when the plant actually needs it. Figure 3 shows the overall nitrogen uptake of corn. Nearly 75% of a corn plant’s nitrogen uptake takes place before tassel, and almost 80% of that is taken up during the grand growth stage of corn (V10-VT). This means that if we are truly trying to manage nitrogen, we need to convert as much nitrogen as possible to the nitrate form during the grand growth stage of corn.

Methods for converting nitrogen at the optimal stage
Making enough nitrogen available for the corn plant during the grand growth stage can be a challenge, but there are several different methods that can increase the amount of nitrogen available during this time.
  1. Side dress or top dress nitrogen. The goal with this method is to apply nitrogen closer to when it is actually needed by the plant. The key with side dressing or top dressing, is that we need to provide enough time for the nitrogen to convert in order for it to be efficiently taken up by the plant. I recommend that these operations be done between V4 and V6 in corn so that the nitrogen has time to move with rain into the ground, and then convert to nitrate to be taken up.
  1. Stabilize the nitrogen. We often talk about stabilizing fall nitrogen to limit the amount that is lost over the winter, but we can lose just as much with spring applications if the weather does not cooperate with us. If you look at figure 3 you will notice that the majority of the nitrogen that is being placed on the field at planting is not going to be taken up until about 60 days later, but in figure 1 we see that the conversion process can take place within a matter of weeks. If the nitrogen converts to the nitrate before the crop is able to use it, it can very easily be lost, and it often becomes a race between the nitrate leaching and the growth rate of the plant’s roots. In a wet year, the nitrate generally wins, and ends up reaching the tile lines before the plant has a chance to take it up. Stabilizing nitrogen can help keep it in the ammonium form longer, which greatly reduces leaching. Instead of the roots chasing the nitrogen down to the tile lines, stabilizers can help keep the nitrogen in the root zone longer and increase the chances of seeing a return on the nitrogen that was placed in the field.
Nitrogen management can be complex, but if you can remember to try to get as much nitrogen to the plant when it actually needs it, you have the potential to see better returns on your investment.
 
Figure 1
Figure-1.jpg

Figure 2

 
Figure 3

5 Tips for Alfalfa Evaluation and Management

Randy Welch
National Alfalfa Agronomist
As an alfalfa grower, you know the importance of monitoring crop yields throughout the season. Getting out into the field with your agronomist at critical stages can help you optimally manage your crop for higher yield potential this year. Here are some tips to keep in mind when evaluating and managing your alfalfa.

1. Treat each alfalfa field as a unit. Avoid assessing just one or two alfalfa fields or just doing windshield scouting to make final decisions. Along with your agronomist, inspect and rank alfalfa fields individually as units of the entire farm. Review your management decisions or practices with your agronomist, and plan for the future. For example, your agronomist can advise you on specific soil nutrient, disease control and insect control needs along with cutting decisions.  

2. Assess root health, winter damage. Dig representative roots and evaluate the alfalfa crowns. Healthy roots are solid, off-white in color and firm, with evidence of bud and early stem growth coming from the crowns. If roots have evidence of root rot damage or limited evidence of bud and stem development, it’s time to replace the stand. 

3. Gauge stem density. To achieve 100 percent of yield potential, 55 alfalfa plant stems per square foot are needed. On a third-year alfalfa field, about five to seven plants will be required to produce a 55-stem density threshold. If the field has fewer than 40 to 55 stems per square foot, it’s time to replace the stand and replant that field with a different crop. The temptation is to leave the field in alfalfa production for one year too long.

4. Get ready for first, second and third cuts; anticipate the crop needs. If alfalfa plants don’t have enough nutrients to achieve growth, yield will be limited. Know the crop’s limitations before they can limit yield. Also pay attention to fungicide, insecticide and nutrient needs throughout the season.   

Watch details; for example, test your soil for pH, potassium and phosphorous levels.
  • pH: A neutral level between 6.8 and 7.1 is ideal.
  • Potassium: This nutrient is often a yield-limiting nutrient for high-yield forage crops. 170 parts per million (ppm) is the minimum level.
  • Phosphorous: 25 to 30 ppm is the minimum level.
  • Sulfur and boron are also important to provide in sufficient quantities. Talk with your agronomist about using NutriSolutions® tissue testing to identify nutrient deficiencies.
5. Take care with cutting dates. The first cutting date is very important for forage quality. The HarvXtra® alfalfa varieties HVX HarvaTron and HVX Driver by CROPLAN®, both with the HarvXtra® reduced-lignin trait, provide greater flexibility to manage and grow alfalfa.

In northern climates, cutting alfalfa after about September 5 interferes with the plant’s ability to winterize itself. Growers in other regions need to adjust cutting schedules accordingly. The last cutting date is very important in determining whether alfalfa survives the winter. Work with your agronomist to create a cutting schedule that makes sense by setting up an ideal calendar plan.

So get out into the field with your agronomist to check on alfalfa health to help ensure a successful growing season. Keeping alfalfa crops on the offensive now will help keep you from having to play defense later. 

CROPLAN and NutriSolutions are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC.
HarvXtra is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC.

© 2017 Winfield Solutions, LLC

Getting Germination Off to a Good Start

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
The key to higher yield potential is to limit as many stresses as we can while maximizing the length of time that our hybrids have to collect sunlight and turn that energy into sugars to fill the grain. This practice has pushed our planting window earlier and earlier in the season. And this year, planting is starting in cold, wet soils, which can cause stress during the germination process. In order to reduce these stresses, it’s critical to understand the germination process. Four main steps are required to start germination.

Step 1: The seed must be rehydrated
This process usually occurs in 24 to 48 hours, and the goal is to raise the moisture from around 13% to 32–34% to start the germination process. This 24- to 48-hour window is absolutely critical to even emergence, and the key is that the water must be above 50 degrees in order not to cause germination issues. If soil temperatures fall below 50 degrees or we get a cold wet rain below 50 degrees, the corn plant’s germination can be negatively affected.
 
Once the seed starts to take in water, it will begin producing gibberellic acid, which is a plant hormone that stimulates the production of sugars from starches. This conversion is what supplies the seedling with the sugars that it needs to grow.

Step 2: The seed must take up phosphorus
Phosphorus is used in energy transfer and DNA production, so it is essential to early season plant growth. Once the starches in the seed have converted to sugars, the sugars must be broken down to provide energy to the plant. As the sugars break down, phosphorus is used to transfer energy to the parts of the plant that need it for cell elongation and growth.

Step 3: The seed must take up zinc
Zinc is also used in the conversion of starches to sugars. More importantly, it is used in the production of auxins within the plant. Auxins are plant growth hormones that cause cells to elongate and divide, and they stimulate the above-ground growth of the plant.

Step 4: The seed must produce cytokinins
Cytokinins are another plant hormone that stimulates cell division and differentiation. They cause the roots and shoots to elongate and grow. Without cytokinins, the plant cells would have no signal to replicate, divide and differentiate into separate parts of the plant.

Support early, strong germination during cold, wet weather
In cold, wet soils, these four steps will occur much more slowly, putting stress on the plant. Anything farmers can do to help the germination process will lead to a better, more robust stand and, therefore, higher yield potential.
  • Select in-furrow starters with phosphorus to give an added boost to this germination process by providing phosphorus to the plant right when it needs it.
  • Add chelated zinc, and a plant growth regulator like Ascend® SL PGR in addition to the starter fertilizer to help give the corn seed what it needs to germinate successfully, even in cold, wet soil conditions.
  • Make sure in-furrow zinc is fully chelated, because zinc can very quickly bind to the soil —especially in high pH soils. A fully chelated zinc like Ultra Che® Zinc 9% is important to making sure enough zinc is available to a young corn seedling.
  • Use plant growth regulators that contain cytokinins, auxins and gibberellic acid to speed up the germination process — that way the seed doesn’t have to produce as much of these compounds on its own. Ascend® plant growth regulators have the ideal concentration of each of these hormones to speed up germination, and help the corn plant come out of the ground faster.
Germination is one of the most critical processes in a corn plants life. By adding things like starters, chelated zinc and Ascend® plant growth regulators, we can help increase our early season plant vigor and the speed at which plants emerge from the ground.

National Corn Yield Winners Share Secrets to Their Success

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® corn and soybeans
Farmers in New Mexico and Ohio were among those taking top honors in this year’s National Corn Growers Association yield contest using CROPLAN® seed.
 
  • Kent Gordon achieved 283.01 bushels per acre with CROPLAN® 7087VT2P/RIB (first place in New Mexico).
  • Doug Swaim and Chris Waymire topped out at 265.17 bushels per acre with CROPLAN® 6110SS/RIB (tied for second place in Ohio).
 
We’re proud that CROPLAN® seed continues to deliver great performance and offer exceptional yield potential to growers across the country. We talked with Gordon and Swaim about what they did to achieve those yields. The simple answer: by sticking to their game plan and not getting too fancy. Here are some of their tips for award-winning management.
 
Kent Gordon – New Mexico
The soil on Gordon’s farm ranges from sandy to rocky, with the latter containing caliche — a rock commonly found in the Southwest. “We have maybe 3 or 4 inches of soil above the caliche rock,” he says. “The CROPLAN® seed held a good yield throughout these soil types.”

Fertigated acres
Gordon’s farm is 100 percent irrigated, and he uses fertigation. “Eighty percent of our nitrogen goes on through the pivot, and we believe that makes a big difference,” he says. “Once we plant, we don’t go into the field with another piece of equipment.”

Pre-plant prep
Gordon applies fertilizer before planting with either a strip-till or injection rig. Then, starter fertilizer and Ascend® plant growth regulator are placed in-furrow at planting. “Every acre our planter goes over gets in-furrow Ascend® PGR,” says Gordon.  

Targeted nitrogen, fungicide
Starting at V4 or V5, Gordon starts spoon-feeding nitrogen to the corn crop. “We start our pumps off pretty slowly, determine how much nitrogen the plant is using, and only give what it needs,” he says. “We’ll run our fertilizer pumps until tassel, then give another shot of nitrogen at brown silk.”
 
A fungicide is also applied just after VT at silking on all corn acres. “We believe in putting fungicides down,” says Gordon, “and we see a return.” Any nutrient deficiencies detected through scouting or tissue sampling are also promptly addressed.
 
Doug Swaim and Chris Waymire – Ohio
Swaim trusts his agronomist to help choose the right seed for the acres he farms with Waymire. “I put a lot of faith in my agronomist, her knowledge and what she sees coming,” says Swaim.

Nitrogen
For the last several years, Swaim has spread nitrogen applications out over the season and uses different products. “We’ll go down with a pre-plant ammonia early when we can,” he says. “Then we’ll put down a liquid fertilizer with the planter. Anywhere from V6 to V10 we’ll do a urea application. We’re always trying to feed nitrogen at those critical stages.”

Technology
Swaim and his agronomist take advantage of R7® Tool technology and “use variable-rate technology to be very targeted with crop input applications,” he says. “We know the location of those acres that bring better yield potential, and we apply inputs accordingly.”

Crop protection
Swaim usually applies fungicide at V5 and most always at tassel “depending on where we see disease early in the plant. There are times we do split fungicide applications at V5 and at tassel. And we always use insecticide in the row with our corn.”

Fertilizer
Swaim raises hogs, which provides added value to his corn and soybean crops. “Manure is a huge benefit for building organic matter, phosphate levels and nitrogen sources,” he says.
 
“We treat every acre pretty much the same based on soil type and yield potential. Every acre is important.”

Congratulations to our CROPLAN® seed winners! To find out more about how you can optimize the yield potential of your corn crop this season, talk with your local agronomist.
 

* Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions. Actual results may vary.
 

Tips for Prepping Your Planter

Kyle Reiner
Master Agronomy Advisor
It’s hard to believe that spring planting is just around the corner. Is your planter ready to roll? Checking it now can save you precious time when you wish there were more hours in the day. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years.
  1. Check disk opener blades. Replace disks that show more than a half-inch of wear. Worn disk opener blades could create a “W” shape in the bottom of the seed trench, which can cause variances in seed planting depths of up to three-quarters of an inch and make for uneven stands.
  2. Examine bushings and chains. Check the backs of row units to identify play or wear that could lead to seed depth inconsistency and row unit bounce. Also inspect rusty or loose chains that could break or jump over sprockets.
  3. Calibrate seed meters. Seed meters should be checked by a trusted professional to assess accuracy. Run different seed sizes through meters to ensure they dispense at the correct rate. An inaccurate seed meter can hurt yield and profitability due to skips, doubles or triples in seed drop and distribution.
  4. Examine seed tube for wear. Seed tube wear largely depends on use but can be affected by other factors. For example, hitting a rock or another hard object in the field could damage a seed tube’s shape, causing seed to get hung up or bounce while exiting the tube. Replace split or worn tubes.
  5. Inspect row cleaners. Make sure bearings are in good working order, turning freely. Set the depth properly to clean out residue in front of the row unit. Remember that row cleaners are not meant to be tillage tools.
  6. Prepare your seed tank for smooth dispensing. Put graphite, talc or a pre-mixture of both in the bottom of seed boxes or tanks prior to filling with seed. This added lubrication allows for smooth, consistent flow of seed through the seed box into the row meters. Always follow manufacturer recommendations regarding use of a flowability agent.
  7. Level your planter. Hook up the planter to the tractor that will be pulling it, then set the planter down in the field and make sure it is not leaning too far forward or too far back. The parallel arms on row units should be level. Planter unit position affects coulter depth, closing wheel pressure and seed tube angle.
  8. Don’t forget about electronics. System and software updates are as important as the mechanical aspects of planters. Making sure that electronics are working well will reduce downtime when the planter should be running.
Start preparing your planter now to save time and money “down the row.”

Slow the Flow with Buffer Strips

Darrin Roberts
Regional Agronomist
Here in Minnesota we’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about implementing buffer strips in agricultural land as a way to help protect surface waters from pesticide, nutrient and soil runoff. If you’re wondering about the benefits of buffer strips or are ready to implement them on your farm, here’s some background information to get started.
 
Common Sense Conservation
Buffer strips are small areas of land or strips of land that are permanently vegetated within or around an agricultural field to mitigate the movement of sediments, nutrients and pesticides from farm operations to surface waters such as rivers, streams, and lakes.
 
Nutrients that easily bind to soil particles, like phosphorus, move from fields to surface waters as runoff. Streams, rivers, and lakes become enriched with these nutrients and algae grows more quickly, depleting oxygen for aquatic life. Buffer strips help capture nutrients, preventing them from polluting water sources.
 
The Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that properly installed and maintained buffers can remove 50 percent or more of nutrient and pesticides and 75 percent of sediment from agricultural runoff. An added benefit of buffer strips is reduced flood damage to crops.
 
Plan Buffers Before Planting Season
Buffers should be planted at the appropriate time for the species selected, and when there is adequate moisture for germination and stand establishment. Planning buffer strips before planting agricultural fields may save time and money on seeding and inputs, since this land won’t be in production. In addition, government programs have specific guidelines for completion, so it’s best to begin early in the season.
 
To get started, meet with your local crop advisor or government agency that supports conservation planning. There may be specific buffer design requirements you’ll need to consider to earn financial incentives from government programs. Buffer strips typically range in size from 20 to 120 feet wide, depending on field characteristics. Deep-rooted grasses and native plants intercept runoff effectively and can minimize erosion. In flat areas where wind is a problem, trees and shrubs can act as a windbreak to prevent the erosion of topsoil.
 
Keys for Buffer Maintenance
Once you’ve got your buffer strip established, it’s important to properly maintain it. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
  • Inspect grass buffer strips periodically and reseed any eroded areas.
  • Prescribed burns and mowing can help with weed control until native vegetation is well established. Your local soil and water conservation district can provide recommendations.
  • Periodic grading of the buffer strip may be needed, depending on the amount of sediment deposition.
  • Adequate stand densities of the seeded species should be maintained, while controlling undesirable weed species.
  • Limited livestock grazing may be appropriate, as long as it is controlled to avoid erosion. 

Preserving land and water

Randy Brown, Ph.D.
Senior Manager – Lead, Regional Agronomists
There are many things farmers are doing to keep their fields and adjacent waterways as healthy as possible and still provide for profit potential. WinField United continues to supply data and tools to help you and other farmers increase yield potential for every drop of water used. In turn, you play a vital role in promoting land and water conservation through various management practices.
 
Nutrient management
Some of the biggest gains not only in sustainability but also in yield potential come from applying nutrients closer to the time crops use them. For example, Answer Plot® trials have shown that strategic application timing can help reduce the financial and environmental costs of applying excess nitrogen.
 
My colleague Ryan Wolf, agronomy manager, also attributes successful nutrient management to strategic tissue sampling. “Well-timed tissue sampling allows farmers to respond with targeted nutrient applications only when needed and not to apply nutrients that are not needed,” he says.
 
Irrigation management
Using water probes in irrigated fields lets you see the amount of water in your soil profile, allowing you to make better irrigation decisions. In the past, we tended to over-irrigate because we didn’t know what the moisture in our soil profile looked like. Much like nutrient management, irrigation management and water probes aid agronomic decision-making so you provide only the amount of water that’s needed at optimal times.
 
Land management
You may use buffer strips, grass waterways, or minimum- or no-till methods to manage soil integrity and nutrient runoff, depending on the part of the country you’re in. Cover crops are another way to capture nutrients and build soil health.
 
Genetics and trait technologies
New seed technologies can also help promote sustainability. “Traits that add herbicide tolerance and insect protection save pounds of pesticides from being applied to crops during the season,” says Wolf.
 
For example, most corn hybrids contain a corn rootworm trait. The less corn rootworm pressure we have in the field, the more plentiful roots we have under the corn plant, which usually translates into higher yield potential. Those roots also capture many more nutrients, so they don’t get into the watershed. The more of a crop we can convert into grain, the more nutrients we remove from the soil profile so they can’t travel where we don’t want them to. 

Preparing for 2017 Weed Challenges in Soybeans

WinField United
Agronomy Team
If 2016 was any indication, soybean farmers should be ready to combat tough weed competition in the coming season. Herbicide-resistant marestail, waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, kochia and some ragweed species were leading problems during 2016 in Midwest soybean fields (see state recaps below). 
 
With resistant weeds on the rise, a complete herbicide-resistance management program is needed to take control, starting with a clean field at planting. Other recommended steps include crop rotation, three effective modes of action, overlapping residuals, timely applications use of full-label rates for herbicides with complementary adjuvants. With similar weed issues reported in both corn and soybean fields, a holistic approach across all crops in a rotation is needed.
 
While farmers may consider planting the recently approved dicamba-tolerant soybean system, the new dicamba formulation only counts as one of the three modes of action needed. Another option is to plant LiberyLink® soybeans and then use Liberty® herbicide as an in-crop application. 
 
WinField United agronomists recently shared some soybean weed insights from 2016 in this Corn & Soybean Digest article. Highlights by state are below.
 
Illinois: Glenn Longabaugh says the biggest 2016 weed-control issues in Illinois soybean fields were tall waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. Because of resistance to multiple herbicide groups across Illinois, including Groups 2, 5, 14 and Group 9 (glyphosate), a comprehensive herbicide-resistance management strategy is needed for acceptable control in any system, including non-GMO soybeans, Longabaugh says.
 
Indiana: Pigweed species, in particular tall waterhemp and some Palmer amaranth, provided the greatest challenge for Indiana soybean farmers in 2016, says George Watters. Nearly 100 percent of the waterhemp and Palmer amaranth populations are now resistant to glyphosate (Group 9) and ALS (Group 2) herbicides. Several populations are also becoming resistant to foliar applications of PPO (Group 14) herbicides. To best combat these challenging weeds, Watters recommends that farmers use a comprehensive herbicide-resistance management program.
 
Iowa: Resistance to glyphosate and Group 14 herbicides caused the biggest waterhemp control problems in Iowa soybean fields during 2016, Ryan Wolf notes. The appearance of Palmer amaranth also had Iowa farmers closely monitoring their fields. Higher rates of preemergent herbicides along with metribuzin in preemergent tank mixes provided the best weed control success. Timely post-applications also performed well. 
 
Michigan: Roundup Ready®- and ALS-resistant marestail was the biggest problem in Michigan soybeans, says Allen Pung. In addition to a good preemergence herbicide program, many farmers are also considering either LibertyLink® soybeans or the new dicamba-tolerant soybeans for 2017. A light tillage pass can also be helpful, he advises.
 
Minnesota: Herbicide-resistant weeds, including tall waterhemp, giant ragweed and common ragweed, were the top weed challenges for Minnesota soybean farmers, reports Al Bertelsen. In addition to identifying resistant weeds early and using at least three effective modes of action, Bertelsen recommends timely applications of PPO herbicides when weeds are small for improved weed control in in 2017. Because PPO herbicides require more spray coverage than glyphosate does, he advises spraying at higher volumes and selecting spray nozzles that increase weed coverage.
 
Ohio: Joe Rickard reports that marestail continued to be a major problem for Ohio soybean farmers. Farmers who have been making two applications of glyphosate or using the same chemistry for the past several years may not be receiving the same control as they did five or 10 years ago and should review their treatment options. He recommends a fall treatment to clean up winter annuals, followed by an effective residual herbicide mixed with 2,4-D to control weeds prior to planting. Spring preplant applications are also a good control option.
 
South Dakota: Ryan Wolf reports that weed resistance continued to challenge South Dakota soybean farmers. In 2016, waterhemp resistance to glyphosate and Group 14 herbicides was more prevalent in soybean fields, especially when spraying was delayed due to weather conditions. Glyphosate-resistant kochia and marestail were also problems. Farmers who used higher rates of preemergent herbicides and added metribuzin to their preemergent tank mixes had the most weed control success. Timely post-applications also performed well. 
 
Wisconsin: Tall waterhemp was the biggest weed challenge in Wisconsin soybean fields during 2016, says Todd Cardwell. While this weed isn’t new, glyphosate-resistant varieties have become difficult to control and have spread dramatically. Planning ahead and designing a long-term program is the best way to combat weed problems in 2017 and beyond, he advises. Farmers can address glyphosate and triazine resistance by making sure that their weed control program includes products that are still effective on resistant species. Some of the older chemistries like metribuzin (Dimetric® DF 75% or Sencor®) have been effective on glyphosate-resistant waterhemp. 

For similar insights on corn weed challenges, click here.

Combating Weed Challenges in Corn for 2017

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Midwest corn fields saw their share of weed issues during 2016; however, farmers have more herbicide options available to keep fields clean and manage resistance. Depending on the location, leading problem weeds in 2016 included resistant ragweed (common and giant), waterhemp, cocklebur and morning-glory (see state recaps below). 
 
With similar weed issues reported in both corn and soybean fields, a holistic management approach across all crops in a rotation is needed. Increasing resistant weed numbers calls for a complete herbicide-resistance management program that starts with a clean field at planting. Other recommended steps include crop rotation, three effective modes of action, overlapping residuals, timely applications and use of full-label herbicide rates accompanied by complementary adjuvants.
 
WinField United agronomists recently shared some corn weed insights from 2016 in this Corn & Soybean Digest article. Highlights by state are below.
 
Illinois: Giant ragweed, cocklebur and morningglory presented challenges for Illinois corn farmers in 2016, Glenn Longabaugh notes. Although weather affected herbicide performance, many corn weed problems were due to using a single-pass herbicide program, stand voids and continuous use of single site/mode of action. For best results, Longabaugh recommends using two-pass programs that include effective residual herbicides. He also advises avoiding the temptation to reduce costs in 2017 by cutting residual herbicides, since the small savings gained are not worth the risk of a weed-control disaster.
 
Indiana: Giant ragweed and other large-seeded broadleaves proved to be the greatest weed challenge for Indiana corn farmers in 2016, says George Watters. Overall, growers were able to manage resistant species in corn due to having several effective herbicide groups available. Premixes and/or other combinations of growth regulators (Group 4), triazines (Group 5), shoot inhibitors (Group 15) and HPPDs (Group 27) can still work well, Watters notes. For best results, he recommends starting with a burndown application or tillage, followed by a residual herbicide program close to planting and followed again by a sequential postemergence treatment. Some farmers have also had good results with split-applying their residual herbicides.  
 
Iowa: Ryan Wolf says Iowa corn growers continued to deal with glyphosate-resistant waterhemp issues in 2016, while glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed also became a bigger issue. As farmers become more aware of resistance issues, Wolf says they are adjusting their weed control programs accordingly. He advises farmers that keeping weeds in check now will help avoid bigger, more costly problems in the future.  
 
Michigan: There weren’t any major weed-control issues to report in Michigan’s corn fields during 2016, says Allen Pung. He attributes this favorable weed-management scenario to the fact that the majority of farmers in his area are using an effective preemergence weed-control program followed by an in-season herbicide application.
 
Minnesota: Giant ragweed and tall waterhemp were the two major weeds in Minnesota cornfields in 2016, reports Al Bertelsen. These two weeds have produced a large seed bank in both corn and soybean fields, causing widespread issues. Both weeds can germinate over long periods of time. This lengthy germination period may outlast many soil-applied herbicides and allow weeds to escape late in the season after the herbicide application window has passed. Bertelsen urges farmers to scout corn later in the season for weed escapes and to control weeds when they are small. Controlling weeds in drowned-out spots will help lower weed seed banks and decrease weed pressure in future years, he says.
 
Ohio: Joe Rickard identified giant ragweed, which starts to emerge in early spring, as the biggest weed issue in corn in Ohio during 2016. He notes that while weed resistance is not as widespread in corn as it is in soybeans, there are some pockets of resistance in Ohio fields.
 
South Dakota: Glyphosate-resistant waterhemp is presenting challenges in South Dakota corn fields, reports Ryan Wolf. However, as farmers are becoming more aware of the issue, they’re adjusting weed-control programs accordingly. Wolf notes that while some farmers may be hesitant to spend the additional money needed to control resistant weeds now, keeping weeds in check will help avoid even bigger, more costly problems in the future.  
 
Wisconsin: Todd Cardwell saw high populations of common and giant ragweed in Wisconsin corn fields in 2016, which was likely due to an unusually wet season. There was also a growing population of triazine-resistant weeds, making atrazine treatments less effective than they have been in previous years. Cardwell says farmers had successful weed control in no-till fields using burndown applications in the fall, which made in-season treatments more effective. With a different weed spectrum in reduced-till or no-till environments, fall applications are very cost-effective. He notes that every dollar spent on weed control in the fall is worth at least $7 in the spring.

For similar insights on Soybean weed challenges, click here.

Jumpstart Plant Nutrition Programs

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Take advantage of precious time before planting to nail down your nutrient management strategy for the year to ensure you’re nourishing plants from the start of the season through all critical growth stages. Following are some ways you can get plant nutrition programs off to a strong start in corn.
 
  1. Ensure proper hybrid placement across your operation. The first step to setting plants up for success is getting hybrids placed right. For example, identifying the right soil type for the root structure a particular hybrid needs is critical to ensuring nutrients can get into the plant. I recommend using hybrid-specific data, available through the Answer Plot® program, including response to soil type (RTST) and response to population (RTP), and placing those hybrids accordingly.
 
  1. Give plants a pre-emergence nutrient boost. Once the hybrid is in the field, help get the plant out of the ground with an in-furrow application of phosphorus with zinc combined with a plant growth regulator. Ascend® plant growth regulator promotes larger roots, which helps more nutrients get into the plant quickly and efficiently, as well as faster emergence and stronger stalks to ensure the plant never has a bad day.
 
  1. Use hybrid-specific data and tissue sampling to plan in-season inputs. To be certain you’re getting needed nutrients into the plant from emergence throughout the vegetative growth stages, combine data on your particular hybrids with tissue samples. Response to nitrogen (RTN) and response to fungicide (RTF) can be used to determine how well that specific hybrid may respond to a nitrogen or fungicide application. If you have a hybrid that’s highly responsive to nitrogen and you’re planning to make a side-dress application, for instance, take a tissue sample to determine if there are other deficiencies like potassium, sulfur or zinc that you can address at that point. These nutrient components really make that nitrogen application become more efficient and help uncover the hidden hunger of your yield potential.
 
Keep in mind all of the tools available to you to make informed nutrient management decisions throughout the season, and work with your local agronomist to put similar practices to work for other crops in your operation.

High Management Is a Winner for Wheat

Tiffany Braasch
Master Agronomy Advisor
Kent Pfaff of Washburn, North Dakota, took first place this past December in the National Wheat Yield Contest in the Spring Wheat—Dryland category, harvesting 104.29 bushels per acre with CROPLAN® 3530. To me, more important than achieving this yield is that it also optimized his profit. As Kent’s local agronomist, I wanted to share some of the secrets to his success, which include timely input applications, in-season imagery and tissue sampling data.
 
Fertility crucial from preplant to in-season
Kent starts the season with a soil test to gauge fertility. At planting he applies a micronutrient package that contains zinc with his starter fertilizer. Plant roots, whether they are corn or wheat require zinc in higher amounts in early plant growth. He also treats his seed with Warden® Cereals WR, a product that contains both fungicide and insecticide that protects seedlings from disease and insects early in the growing season. In addition to Warden® Cereals WR, he also uses Ascend® plant growth regulator to help enhance the growth and development of wheat early in the season.
 
Kent customizes a variable-rate nitrogen prescription for each field. This helps him hit his high-end yield goals on the highest-fertility part of his field while backing off on his tougher or less productive areas. He starts with the response to nitrogen (RTN) recommendations for his variety when planning the prescription. Kent variable-rate applies his nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia and applies it side dressed at the same time as seed and starter fertilizer. Like many farmers in our area who use no-till or minimum-till systems, Kent uses this “one-pass” system for his small-grain crops.
 
Follow recommended populations 
Kent followed the CROPLAN® response to population (RTP) scores in determining planting rate, in this case 1.5 million seeds per acre. With other wheat varieties, he may have gone up to 1.8 million seeds per acre; but with CROPLAN® 3530, he optimized yield at a lower planting rate. Managing each variety according to Answer Plot® Program recommendations is key.
 
Maximize acre-by-acre management
In addition to using the R7® Tool to variable-rate apply his nitrogen, Kent is using the R7® Field Monitoring Tool and in-season imagery to track day-to-day performance on all fields in his operation. Early season between third and fifth leaf, he applies herbicides for weed control. At the same time, the use of an insecticide and fungicide helps control disease and insects on the wheat. Another application of fungicide at heading helps control late season disease such as scab. He felt there was yield left on the table by not investing in a flag leaf application. CROPLAN® 3530 has a high response to fungicide (RTF) scores, and we will evaluate this season to determine if another application at flag leaf might optimize his return. Kent says that to him, as a farmer the bottom line is that we achieved a high yield but, more important, improved profitability.
  
Winning with Wheat
Kent and the other National Wheat Yield Contest winners will be honored at the Commodity Classic farm trade show, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, in early March. Congratulations to Kent on this exciting and well-deserved honor. If you want to find out more about the National Wheat Yield Contest, click here. To find out more about how you can increase the yield potential of your spring wheat crop, talk with your local agronomist.

Five Steps to Controlling Corn Rootworm

Ryan Wolf
Agronomy Services Manager
Called the “billion dollar pest” due to its mass destruction of valuable crops, corn rootworm continues to spread rapidly across the Midwest. The problem is compounded in the northern Corn Belt, where there are large populations of northern corn rootworm and the more destructive western corn rootworm is showing some resistance.

As you look at insect challenges you faced last year, I urge you to take preventative measures to control corn rootworm because once corn is planted, postemergence applications cannot stop larvae from feeding on roots.
 
Here are five tips to help control this destructive pest and protect yield potential:
  1. Rotate crops. Plant soybeans when possible to break up corn-on-corn rotations.
  2. Choose trait packages. Corn farmers should choose hybrids that feature two traits for maximum corn rootworm control.
  3. Use full insecticide rates at planting. Many farmers have become accustomed to getting by using half-rates of insecticide. To stand a chance at controlling corn rootworm, make in-furrow insecticide applications using the full rate.
  4. Be proactive. Begin scouting for corn rootworm beetles at tassel and continue through early August. Timely foliar insecticide applications will prevent beetles from laying eggs and reduce populations the following year.
  5. Control volunteer corn. Western corn rootworm is known to lay eggs in soybean fields, posing a threat to corn crops the following year. Removing its food source prevents larvae from maturing and continuing the cycle.
Stay vigilant for signs of corn rootworm throughout the upcoming growing season, and work with your local agronomist to help guide pest control decisions.

Factoring Data Into Decision-Making

Kelsey Berger
Agriculture Technology Specialist
The new year is underway, so it’s time to dial up your planning for the coming growing season. With commodity prices demanding thorough preparation, data will be critical to ensuring you get the most out of every field in 2017. Take time now to evaluate how you’re using data to make decisions on your farm and determine how you can get more from the information available to you.
 
Here’s a look at how the Answer Plot® team uses data to power seed placement and help farmers place inputs precisely and effectively.
 
Determining seed placement through replication and localized conditions
A multitude of factors must be considered to place hybrids for optimum performance, including response to soil type, response to population, rotation and specific growing conditions. Because of the many factors that affect seed placement, quality data play a critical role in making decisions confidently. Through the Answer Plot® Program, we replicate hybrids and varieties at nearly 200 locations across the country in diverse soil types and growing conditions to determine how to best utilize each hybrid in a multitude of environments and cropping systems.
 
Recommendations for placement and management are backed by high-quality data that we’re able to maintain due to low trial error. Trial error represents factors we cannot see or anticipate that affect outcomes, which could include weather, disease, insect pressure, soil variability and other factors. The more replications, the smaller the margin of error.
 
Using data to inform input decisions
The WinField® United data analytics team is made up of 70 people who gather, analyze and organize data from the test plots then put the information into a useable form. For example, through the R7® Tool, response to nitrogen and fungicide scores are available for particular hybrids. These scores give you insights on how to prioritize your inputs based on the needs of specific hybrids in unique environments.
 
To learn more about incorporating different types of data into your decision-making process, contact your local WinField® United retailer.

Stay Up to Date on Spraying Requirements

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
With increasingly complex technologies, strict application regulations and a multitude of weed resistance issues, it is now more important than ever to ensure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your herbicide program.
 
There are four key steps to controlling weeds through the use of herbicides. WinField United works with farmers and applicators to get the most out of each step through hands-on demonstrations at local spray clinics. Here are some examples of how attending a spray clinic can help you make the most of the four steps to effective weed control.
 
Contacting the weed. During spray clinics, we discuss what types of nozzles should be used, and go over the pressure and gallons per acre that would be ideal for each application. We also talk about maintaining the correct boom height and increasing canopy penetration by utilizing drift control products. Anything that we can do to increase the amount of herbicide that makes it out of the nozzle and down to the plant will dramatically help improve the herbicide uptake.
 
Absorbing the herbicide. Adjuvants are absolutely critical to increasing penetration into a leaf. From the time the droplet hits the leaf surface until it dries, is all the longer the herbicide has to be absorbed. Adjuvants can enlarge the surface area of the droplet, decrease evaporation and cut through waxy cuticles of the leaf surface, thereby increasing absorption of the herbicide into the plant. However, not all herbicides are receptive to the same adjuvants. During a spray clinic, we focus on which herbicides require which adjuvants to increase their efficacy within the plant.
 
Movement of the herbicide in the plant. Once the herbicide is into the plant, it must move to the site of action. The more herbicide that moves into the plant, the more that will get to the site of action. Because some herbicides do not move much in the plant, we have to focus on increasing coverage with those particular herbicides.
 
Reaching the site of action. In other words, enough herbicide must reach the site of action to provide a lethal dose. All the recommendations during a spray clinic will help you boost the amount of the herbicide within the plant, which will enhance the chances of the herbicide reaching a lethal dose at the site of action.
 
For more information about attending a spray clinic and to find one near you, see your WinField® United retailer.

Add Greater Value to On-Farm Trial

Steve Anthofer
Answer Plot Operations Sr. Manager
Testing new products and management techniques on your own fields is a good way to get a close-up look at results under your own growing conditions. However, because most on-farm trials are limited in scale, the results provide only a glimpse into performance.
 
To rely on such small-scale data for planning purposes can stymie your chances for success, since the decisions you make are only as good as the data you’re analyzing. And if your data is “iffy,” any resulting actions you might take will be equally suspect.

That’s why it’s beneficial to compare your on-farm data with high-quality, large-scale test results that reflect a variety of soil conditions and weather scenarios, results that paint a more complete performance picture. In 2015, our WinField® United Answer Plot® Program tested 231 corn hybrids, replicated 12 times at 191 locations across the country. We also collected a total of 5 million data points from our trials. This level of local, regional and national testing allows us to ensure the validity of our data, so you can feel confident using it for comparison purposes with your on-farm results.
 
Tips for On-farm Trials
Before doing any data comparisons, make sure your on-farm trials deliver the best results possible. Master Agronomy Advisor Matt Mesenbrink has worked with a number of farmers performing their own trials and offers the following recommendations:
 
  • Keep things simple. Test one thing at a time: one hybrid versus another hybrid; high management versus low management. Limit the trial to the most important information you seek.
  • Understand variabilities. Remember that weather and fertility will affect your outcomes. Because of factors you can’t control, the size of your trial might diminish and, as a result, it may not be a true test of what you’re farming.
  • Work with your agronomist. If trial results differ from what you expected, ask your agronomist to help determine why. Understand that you may need to adapt if conditions change.
  • Engage your other stakeholders. Review your plans with the managers and applicators you work with to help ensure everyone understands what you want to accomplish and what their roles are in helping make that happen.
 
By following these simple steps, you can feel assured in your results and you’ll be on your way to making solid, data-based decisions for the coming year.

Sunflower Genetics Get a Boost for 2017

Mark Torno
CROPLAN® diverse field crops marketing manager
The number of sunflower acres is on the rise and we’re committed to helping these farmers thrive. The WinField® United business and Syngenta recently entered into a license agreement concerning Syngenta® sunflower germplasm. The agreement provides the Winfield® United business unique access to elite sunflower genetics currently marketed through Syngenta, as well as a first right to certain new genetics.
                                                                                                                                       
Farmers now have access to new genetic diversity, including a wide selection of high oleic hybrids, complementing an established CROPLAN® sunflower seed portfolio bred to optimize yield potential and pest management.
 
Any sunflower hybrids commercialized by the WinField® United business that were previously available through Syngenta will carry the same numeric identifier to help customers ease into the new product line. While seed bags and the distribution network will look different, CROPLAN® sunflower products licensed from Syngenta will continue to come from Syngenta’s world-class breeding program.
 
For more information on CROPLAN® sunflower seed please visit www.croplan.com/sunflower/.

Follow Best Plant Sampling Practices for Accurate Analysis

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Understanding plant health and nutrient deficiencies begins establishing a baseline for fertility programs. The WinField® United NutriSolutions® 360 system is a season-long fertility management program, including soil and tissue sampling, lab analysis, and product recommendations. Review these guidelines and contact your local WinField® United agronomist for sampling recommendations.
  1. Perform timely sampling. Crops use nutrients differently at various growth stages, so not all crop samples should be taken at the same time. Sampling before crops need key nutrients allows time to adjust fertility plans in-season. Work with a trusted agronomy advisor to determine appropriate timing to acquire the most accurate data.
  2. Be selective in tissue choice. Choosing healthy plant material for sampling is imperative for accurate analysis. Plants under stress from drought, flooding, insect or disease pressure will likely show different nutrient readings than healthy areas of a field. For comparison purposes, stressed areas of a field may be sampled to measure differences in nutrient utilization. The NutriSolutions® 360 tissue testing handbook provides crop-specific tissue sampling timing and protocols.
  3. Collect enough plant tissue. Follow lab directions to ensure the proper amount of leaf tissue is collected for testing. The volume of tissue needed may depend on crop and growth stage. For example, a corn plant sample should be about the size of a softball when bunched up to account for drying that takes place before lab analysis.
  4. Select random plants. Take a big-picture look at the field you plan to sample to get the best results. The goal is to take enough samples randomly throughout the field to get an accurate snapshot of overall plant health. If the field is stressed, more samples should be taken to account for field variability. Avoid sampling plants that have necrotic tissue due to early senescence or disease. Imagery from the R7® Tool can also help identify areas of the field where tissue testing should be completed.
  5. Avoid contamination. Lab equipment is sensitive and will report false results if tissue is contaminated. Avoid submitting samples that may be contaminated by fertilizer residue or soil. If using tools to collect samples, clean them between plants to avoid transferring tissue from one sample to another.
  6. Plan ahead. Sampling at the beginning of the week will allow plenty of time for shipping to the lab. Pack and ship samples according to lab directions; extreme temperatures can negatively affect tissue quality. NutriSolutions 360® sampling requires specific tissue bags to prevent mold formation. Take inventory of your shipping supplies and invest in high-quality materials to ensure your samples arrive at the lab in good condition.

Research Shows Nationwide Plant Health Trends

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Understanding plant health is key to meeting crop yield potential. A study in the Agronomy Journal1 estimates that up to 60 percent of yield is dependent on soil fertility; but soil fertility alone doesn’t tell the whole story. The NutriSolutions 360® system from WinField® United is a season-long plant health management program, including soil and tissue sampling, nutrient analysis, and recommendations to help farmers optimize growing conditions for their crops. More than 410,000 plant samples have been analyzed nationwide over several growing seasons with 92,775 samples taken in 2016, revealing crop- and area-specific nutrient deficiencies that could negatively impact yield potential.
 
Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide trends revealed by NutriSolutions 360® tissue analysis in 2016.
 
  • Corn was deficient in zinc, potassium and nitrogen. Seventy-two percent of the more than 17,500 corn samples taken nationwide were low in zinc. Sixty-eight and 66 percent of corn samples were low in potassium and nitrogen, respectively. Other problem nutrients in corn included manganese, sulfur and boron — all were over 60 percent deficient in 2016 samples.
  • Soybeans lacked potassium. Sampling revealed that 78 percent of the more than 5,500 soybean samples taken in 2016 were low in potassium. Soybean samples also lacked manganese and copper (53 and 42 percent respectively).
  • Wheat exhibited micronutrient deficiencies. More than 90 percent of 2016 wheat samples showed low levels of chloride, which is important for photosynthesis and nutrient transport in wheat. Zinc and/or magnesium levels were low in more than 60 percent of samples. Copper and potassium deficiencies were also common in wheat in 2016.
  • Cotton showed issues with potassium deficiency. Most of the more than 2,500 cotton samples showed low levels of potassium in 2016. Cotton is more susceptible to root and leaf diseases when potassium is limited. Large amounts of the nutrient are needed as bolls begin to develop and fill, so potassium deficiency can also decrease yields. Boron and/or calcium levels were also low in around half the cotton samples received.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium and magnesium. Calcium deficiency in alfalfa can inhibit root growth and plant development. More than 93 percent of the over 800 alfalfa samples had low levels of calcium in 2016. Low levels of magnesium were also reported.
  • Corn silage nutrient deficiencies included phosphorus, manganese, nitrogen and zinc. Corn silage can remove more nutrients from soil than corn grain, so additional fertilization may be needed on these acres. More than 50 percent of corn silage samples tested in 2016 were deficient in phosphorus, manganese, nitrogen and/or zinc.

Tissue Sampling Can Help Boost Yield Potential
Once deficiency is visible in the field, it’s often too late to correct. Tissue sampling allows insight into a crop’s nutrient status before deficiencies become visible. This allows for corrective action prior to yield loss. Following a solid soil sampling plan and executing a proactive approach to tissue sampling is key to crop success.
 
While nationwide trends in crop health were analyzed and reported, individual field testing is the best way to evaluate nutrient deficiencies. Plant health is dynamic, and nutrient availability is based on localized conditions and management practices.
 
1Stewart, W. M., D. W. Dibb, A. E. Johnston, and T. J. Smyth. 2005. The Contribution of Commercial Fertilizer Nutrients to Food Production. Agron. J. 97:1-6.

Getting Ahead of Resistant Weeds

Andrew Schmidt
Regional Agronomist
Did you battle herbicide-resistant weeds such as marestail or giant ragweed in 2016? Now is the time to establish strategies for managing tough-to-control weeds in 2017. Here are some places to start:
 
  1. Develop a written weed management plan. If you haven’t already, sit down with your agronomist and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work in 2016. Consider whether or not the timing of applications and the products used were effective for the types of weeds you faced. From there, put together a holistic crop protection strategy that includes timely pre- and postemergent herbicide applications and multiple modes of action.
 
  1. Consider how you can optimize applications. Adding the right adjuvants to the tank mix is key to maximizing the effectiveness of herbicide applications and reducing drift. Many herbicides farmers are using to manage resistant weeds rely on getting maximum coverage on the weed surface, so be sure to read herbicide labels closely and work with your agronomist to choose the appropriate adjuvant.
 
  1. Attend a WinField® United spray clinic. WinField United hosts spray clinics with local retailers throughout the winter months to discuss weed management strategies and provide demonstrations of new spray technologies that might work well in your 2017 plan. These events can also help ensure you’re getting the most out of spray nozzles and using the appropriate products for your situation.
For more information about attending a spray clinic this winter, contact your local retailer

HarvXtra® Alfalfa from a Farmer’s Perspective

Carla Fish
Product Development Manager
Genetically engineered reduced-lignin alfalfa available through HarvXtra® is giving farmers more flexibility in cutting management than ever before. With this technology, you have options:
  • Delay harvest to maximize yield potential while maintaining good forage digestibility or
  • Harvest for superior forage digestibility
The technology has been extensively tested, and here’s a look at one farmer’s experience with initial field trials.

Kevin Ihm, who manages a dairy operation in southern Wisconsin, was cutting every 28 days with conventional alfalfa and sometimes getting a relative forage quality (RFQ) of only 130 to 150, which was significantly below what he expected.
 
This past spring, Ihm integrated 260 acres of HarvXtra® alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology into his operation, took a first cutting, then harvested twice more at 28-day intervals. Multiple samples from all three cutting dates revealed an average RFQ of 196. Next year, Ihm plans to move to a 35-day cut with a goal of achieving an RFQ of 160 to 170.
 
Ihm says his HarvXtra® alfalfa plants look leafier in the field and smell fresher than some of his conventional alfalfa plants. “Our test results have been good; but the cows will let us know their opinion,” he notes. Ihm is currently conducting a 12-week feeding trial to find out.
 
Contact your WinField® United retailer for more information about implementing new alfalfa technologies in 2017.

A Late-November Planning Checklist

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
As you wrap up harvest and think about what inputs to purchase for 2017, consider the following points to see if you are on track to make the best decisions for your operation.
 
1. Use 2016 Answer Plot® data to help guide the process. This will help you determine when to put your foot on the brake and be cautious, and when to hit the gas and try something new. For example, WinField United has reviewed response to nitrogen (RTN), response to population (RTP), response to fungicide (RTF), response to soil type (RTST) and response to rotation (RTCC) by hybrid for the past several years through its Answer Plot® Program. For example, the RTN information tells us that getting nitrogen right is potentially worth about 55 additional bushels per acre, and that this response changes by hybrid and by year. So, if you get it wrong, you could really get it wrong. But getting it right could mean making a profit when you might not have.
 
Making sure you are using quality data to aid your decision making is going to be the key goal for 2017, particularly with down markets.
 
2. If you can measure something, you can manage it. Reflect on the 2016 growing season, and what it meant for your fields and your wallet. Low commodity prices certainly played a big role; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean next season is the time to cut all your inputs. Rather, it may be a time to consider, “How can I manage this situation better than I have in the past?” In the end, you’re likely to add ag technology to help you make more targeted inputs rather than eliminate them. Use the R7® Tool along with data and other information to help you make those determinations accurately and more confidently.
 
3. Leverage end-of-year knowledge. December is approaching, which means you might be completing paperwork for loans and land rents and starting to get some hard budget numbers. This will put you in a position to make more-informed decisions for 2017. As you plan, think through possible increases in expenditures that could potentially double your money or help you gain insight into the next yield bubble.
 
So know when to brake and when to go. And don’t do it without quality data and the counsel of your local agronomist. 

Get Variety-Specific with Your Seed Management Data

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® corn and soybeans
Corn and soybean growers will have an abundance of choice in preparation for next year. But it’s more than just sheer volume. In a market where every input counts, ‘decision ag’ tools like the R7® Tool will be able to show how environmental and agronomic variables affect performance of a given hybrid. This helps you decide which seed is best for you field, not just a seed that performed best nationally.
 
Placement strategy coupled with high-end yield potential embodies the 2017 CROPLAN® seed class, with a number of exciting product characteristics not previously available.
 
Soybeans
  • Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans offer newfound herbicide trait technology for versatile weed control. You will have your pick of 33 new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybean offerings, as well as other high-yielding soybean genetics. Additionally, you will still have access to familiar cropping systems you have come to know and trust, including newer, higher-yielding varieties of Roundup Ready 2 Yield and LibertyLink® products.
  • WinPak® seed is comprised of a combination of offensive and defensive beans in similar maturities combined into one bag. Varieties paired in each WinPak® seed offering work together to buffer the effects of weather, soil and disease variability by protecting yield potential on tough acres while maximizing yield in higher producing areas of a field.
Corn
  • Sixteen new hybrids will be available for 2017 planting, each backed by extensive management-specific Answer Plot® program data.
  • SilageFirst™ seed is the newest category of high quality, high tonnage corn hybrids for exclusive use as silage, designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of dairy herds.  
For all new 2017 varieties, visit croplan.com or talk with your local WinField® United retailer

Final Approvals for New Soybean Technologies

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® corn and soybeans
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided the final stamp of approval needed for use of XtendiMax™ herbicide with VaporGrip™ Technology in crop with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton. This approval means that you can now take full advantage of the next-generation soybean technology system.
 
What has been approved:
  • XtendiMax™ herbicide with VaporGrip™ Technology* has received EPA approval for use in conjunction with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans. The system will include Roundup Ready Xtend® soybeans, the industry’s first biotech product with tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides. 41 soybean varieties are available through WinField United’s CROPLAN® brand, ranging in maturity from 0.0 to 6.9.
Double Check Labels
Some of the tank-mix products you’re accustomed to using may no longer comply with this cropping system, so double check the label. We want to ensure you are armed with all the necessary information, insights and recommendations so applications are on-label, responsible and effective.

We will share additional information on the chemistries and adjuvants related to Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and other newly-available cropping systems as our research progresses.

Contact your local retailer to learn more about what this technology could mean for your operation.

* Pending state approvals of XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip™ Technology.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS FOR USE ON PESTICIDE LABELING. IT IS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its labeling.  NOT ALL formulations of dicamba or glyphosate are approved for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans, Bollgard II® XtendFlex® or XtendFlex® cotton.  ONLY USE FORMULATIONS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY LABELED FOR SUCH USES AND APPROVED FOR SUCH USE IN THE STATE OF APPLICATION.  Contact the U.S. EPA and your state pesticide regulatory agency with any questions about the approval status of dicamba herbicide products for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans, Bollgard II® XtendFlex® or XtendFlex® cotton.
Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, dicamba and glufosinate. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba. Glufosinate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glufosinate.  Contact your Monsanto dealer or refer to Monsanto’s Technology Use Guide for recommended weed control programs.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not an offer to sell Roundup Xtend™ with VaporGrip™ Technology. This product is not yet registered or approved for sale or use anywhere in the United States.
Commercialization is dependent on multiple factors, including successful conclusion of the regulatory process. The information presented herein is provided for educational purposes only, and is not and shall not be construed as an offer to sell, or a recommendation to use, any unregistered pesticide for any purpose whatsoever. It is a violation of federal law to promote or offer to sell an unregistered pesticide.
Bollgard II®, Genuity®, Monsanto and Vine Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Xtend™, XtendFlex®, XtendiMax™ and VaporGrip™ are trademarks of Monsanto Technology, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2016 Monsanto Company 

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. 

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.

EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® Soybeans for Import

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® corn and soybeans
The recent import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans by the EU marks an important milestone toward a full system launch of the next-generation soybean technology. This exciting news follows Monsanto’s February announcement of Chinese import approval, lending even greater commercial potential for U.S. growers.
 
What this means for you:
With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the final stages of review for over-the-top use, farmers can now move ahead with including Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybean products in their plans for 2017 planting. Once the EPA approves over-the-top use, this trait technology will provide more weed management options as well as the latest generation of soybeans genetics.  The industry's first soybean stacked herbicide trait with both dicamba and glyphosate tolerance will be available in 40 Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® traited CROPLAN® products ranging in maturity from 0.0 to 6.9.
 
Additional information on the chemistry and adjuvants related to Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® will be forthcoming as the EPA completes its approval process.
 
Contact your local WinField retailer to learn more about what this technology could mean for your operation. 

Target Fungicide Applications to Receptive Hybrids

Answer Plot®
Research Team
The yield potential of a bag of seed has many factors that contribute to the overall result. In addition to seed, fertilizer and herbicides, fungicides are another tool that can help you optimize the yield potential of your corn crop.  
 
Research from the 2015 Answer Plot® Trials showed that response to fungicide scores pinpoint yield advantages from fungicide applications.
 
Finding #1
2015 Answer Plot® trials* found that a hybrid with a high RTF score and one with a moderate RTF score generated 9.69 bu/A and 8.17 bu/A more respectively than a hybrid with a low RTF score.
 
Conclusion
RTF scores accurately predict the effectiveness of fungicide applications on a hybrid-by-hybrid basis.
 
Finding #2
National results from the 2015 Answer Plot® Program show an overall 11.5 bu/A average yield response to fungicide applications over untreated corn. This represents 93 percent of the 32 participating Answer Plot® Program locations demonstrating a positive response to fungicide.
 
Conclusion
Fungicide applications can increase yield in corn across a range of maturities (in this case, 90 days to 115 days).
 
The RTF score provides you with a plan for in-season management by understanding which hybrids benefit the most from protection against fungal diseases and rust. Understanding the genetic response to fungicide treatments helps you determine where fungicides can increase yield potential and where they will be economically beneficial.
 
Stay tuned for additional Answer Plot® insights in the coming weeks.
 
 
 
*2015 Answer Plot® data from nine states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Northern States Win the Planting Race

WinField
Agronomy Team
Mother Nature blessed much of northern Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin with favorable planting conditions this season, helping many farmers complete corn and soybean planting on or before average planting dates.
 
Meanwhile, some farmers in southern Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio and are still racing to complete planting due to cool, wet weather, which delayed planting progress. Spotty frosts throughout most of the Midwest have caused concern for early crop damage, but no widespread replanting has been reported.
 
The Triple Threat – Diseases, Pests and Weeds
In states with fluctuating temperatures and consistent wet conditions, farmers should be scouting for seedling diseases in corn and soybeans, especially in areas that experienced extended cool, wet soils and delayed emergence. Reports have already surfaced in Indiana about some cornfield replants due to disease-induced stand reduction. In Iowa, farmers are advised to scout cornfields for diseases such as anthracnose during V4 and V5.
 
Wet weather has also been conducive to insect development, including slugs, which have been reported in some Ohio fields. In Wisconsin, black cutworm larvae have recently been spotted and can be treated with an insecticide tank mixed with herbicide applications.
 
Weeds continue to be top of mind for all farmers, but especially in fields that did not receive a burndown or preemergence herbicide application. Farmers are encouraged to scout fields regularly and treat weeds when they are between 2 and 4 inches tall for easier control.

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.

Don’t Get in the Weeds

Steve Barnhart
Agronomy Manager
Have you seen any marestail, giant ragweed or lambsquarters yet this season? If you haven’t detected these early-emerging spring weeds yet, they will probably be making their unwelcome appearance in your area soon. And you really don’t want to plant into them, expecting to control them later. You also don’t want to plant into cover crops and/or your typical winter annual weed infestations. Existing weeds, as well as cover crops, are extremely competitive with corn and soybeans for space, water, nutrients and sunlight — basically everything that enables corn and soybeans to grow.

You may have delayed planting due to using a no-till method, constant rain or other factors. But even though you may be tempted to plant into weeds and cover crops, it’s best to get rid of them first and plant into a weed-free seedbed.

Hit your fields with tillage a day or two before planting to avoid weeds emerging ahead of the crop.
This way, the ground will be completely bare when you plant and your crop can emerge with a good head start on any other weeds. This gives your crops a competitive advantage by letting them emerge and develop roots and canopies quickly. The faster your crop canopies, the less sunlight gets to the ground and, as a result, the less weed pressure you may have.

Getting your crop off to a good start may not reduce the amount of herbicide you apply, but it will provide you with flexibility in the timing of those herbicide applications — and maybe even help reduce their cost. It depends on how well the crop gets going and what kind of weed pressure you’re up against.

If you practice a no-till approach, put down herbicides before weeds get too big.
An early spring burndown followed by a herbicide application (including residual herbicides) at planting is ideal. The key is to manage weeds when they are small, so don’t delay that application.

Bottom line: Do what you can to gain a competitive edge over weed pressure. Starting weed-free will give you the leg up you need to give your crops the best chance at success.

Tips for Achieving 100-Bushel Soybeans, Part One: Plant Smart

Brittany Ullrich
Ag Technology Specialist
Most growers have heard about Dr. Fred Below and his extensive research on the secrets to obtaining 300-bushel corn and 100-bushel soybeans. We’ve developed six steps to achieving 100-bushel soybeans, based on extensive research through our Answer Plot® Program and ag technology offerings.

1. Variety selection
Soybean placement should not be approached as one-size-fits-all. Agronomists can help you use data to select the best soybean variety for a particular soil type. Make sure you are capitalizing on new technology in varieties to increase your success on even the toughest acre.

For example, let’s say you have a maturity range of 0 to1 across your territory, making selection important. The Top 10 interactive charts below show which varieties perform best on coarse, medium and fine soil types. Just look at the difference between R2T00800 on medium soil (19 percent higher than the average) versus on coarse soil (1 percent higher than the average). For easy math, if the trial averaged 50 bushels, by placing this variety on medium instead of coarse soil, the potential yield increase could reach roughly 9.5 bushels based on variety selection alone.



2. Early planting
Farmers who have traditionally gotten their soybean crop in the ground before May 5 have seen no effects on yield. However, according to University of Minnesota Extension research, yield loss jumps to 6 percent when beans are planted by May 20, and to nearly 30 percent by mid-June. Monitoring rainfall and soil saturation in your fields can help you plan accordingly to get soybeans in the ground early.

3. Premium seed treatment
Early planting into cold, wet soils can pose disease and emergence issues. Using a quality seed treatment on soybeans can help address this. Warden® CX seed treatment is proven to increase yield over fungicide alone by nearly 3.5 bushels. To learn more about seed treatment options, download the free WinField Publications App in the iTunes® Store to access our Crop Protection Product Sell Sheets, where you can find information on seed treatments starting on page 201.

Learn more about the right technology for your soybean plan this year on answertech.com.

Part two of this series outlines key management considerations for 100-bushel soybeans. Read it here.

Battling Pests in 2016

Answer Plot®
Research Team
Heavy rainfall during the 2015 growing season minimized insect problems in cornfields across the Midwest. However, in many instances, that rainfall perpetuated diseases such as gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight (NCLB).

Several WinField agronomists discussed the most prevalent insects and diseases for corn from the past year in the Corn + Soybean Digest article “2016 Corn Outlook: Diseases and Insects.”

Insect and disease highlights from each state included:
  • Ohio
    • Agronomist John Smith noted that the wet weather provided an ample environment for diseases like NCLB and gray leaf spot. However, farmers who made a fungicide application at the VT growth stage saw a largely positive response – some as much as 20 bushels an acre, according to Smith.
  • Illinois
    • Illinois growers saw two new corn diseases in 2015: tar spot, a fungal disease that looks like flecked bits of tar on corn leaves; and bacterial stripe, a viral disease that resembles Goss’s wilt and Stewart’s wilt. While fungal diseases can be managed through fungicide use, little is known about the benefit of using fungicide on tar spot, says agronomist Bob Beck.
    • Wet conditions during the season also resulted in crazy top, which impacted late-planted fields. Root and crown rot were also present, particularly in poorly drained fields. “Some corn fields were nearly drowned out,” says Beck.
    • Japanese beetles occasionally appeared around tasseling, causing some damage. Adult corn rootworms appeared late in the season and fed on silks, but that didn’t affect pollination.
  • Iowa
    • Agronomist Ryan Wolf assessed that disease pressure was higher than insect pressure in 2015. Disease pressure primarily came from NCLB, gray leaf spot and Goss’s wilt. According to Wolf, hybrid selection is important in managing Goss’s wilt, while fungicide application at tasseling is more critical for NCLB.
  • Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin experienced higher disease pressure from NCLB and anthracnose, according to Kevin Sloane, eastern regional technical seed manager. “While northern corn leaf blight shows up every year, pressure was higher than normal last year,” Sloane says.
    • Corn borer and corn rootworm beetles were the top insect challenges for 2015. Aboveground, corn borer problems caused stalk lodging and ear drop, while corn rootworm beetles continued to be a problem in Wisconsin, particularly in corn-on-corn fields.
  • Minnesota
    • NCLB presented the biggest threat in 2015. In this case, the disease appeared late after tasseling, and after farmers typically make fungicide applications. According to agronomist Jon Zuk, farmers that didn’t make applications at V5 or VT “likely suffered serious loss.”
    • Corn rootworm was hands down the number one corn insect pest in 2015, although corn leaf aphids were also present.
  • South Dakota
    • Goss’s wilt was the primary disease in this state, according to Wolf. NCLB also appeared in more sensitive hybrids, however, fungicide applications at tasseling provided a good ROI.
    • Farmers are planting more conventional and glyphosate-tolerant hybrids in South Dakota, says Wolf. He says he saw more corn borer pressure than in the last four or five years, which is primarily due to the traits farmers are using.
  • Indiana
    • Indiana experienced pressure from stinkbugs, which feed on seedling corn, and many farmers combatted this challenge with pre-emergence applications of insecticides. Agronomist George Watters expects that stinkbugs will be a growing problem in years to come.
    • “We had several foliar diseases come in: gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and rust, which then became potential yield threats in many fields. By understanding a hybrid’s response to fungicide, many farmers were able to treat their most responsive hybrids appropriately to gain benefits,” says Watters.
Looking ahead to 2016 From an insect standpoint across the Midwest, Zuk predicts corn rootworm will be the primary corn pest in 2016, since farmers used fewer insecticides and planted less traited corn in 2015.

With regard to diseases, farmers should watch for gray leaf spot and NCLB, as inoculum from 2015 may add pressure in 2016. Farmers that saw foliar diseases last year should select hybrids to help resist those specific diseases.

For more information about corn insects and diseases from 2015, view the complete article on Corn & Soybean Digest.

Ready to Rumble: Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ Soybeans

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager, CROPLAN® corn and soybeans
You’ve heard the news: Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybeans are available — and farmers can access this technology through CROPLAN® seed for the first time.

What does this news mean for you?
  • You can plant products with new trait technology that can provide vast weed management options and the latest generation of soybean genetics, once the EPA allows application of dicamba over the top.* CROPLAN® seed has 24 Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean products ready for planting this spring, with maturities ranging from 0.7 to 5.3.
  • You will have the opportunity to see how Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean products respond to various management techniques, including crop protection programs and nutrient management. Data gathered from 120 Answer Plot® Program test plots across 16 states this year will help farmers determine which technique will work best for the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean products.

Receiving commercial import approval from China for soybeans resulting from Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean seed was the step Monsanto needed to advance this decade-long project. It’s exciting that farmers can finally use this industry-leading germplasm for the 2016 growing season.

The EPA’s review of related herbicides will continue, but it will ultimately allow you to enjoy a great sustainability benefit. At Answer Plot® Program sites, WinField agronomists will explain the proper stewardship and weed management methods necessary with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybeans.

Contact your local WinField retailer to learn more about what this technology could mean for your operation.

Good to the Last Droplet

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
The most expensive inputs are the ones that don’t work. For your herbicide and pesticide investments to be worthwhile, they must hit their intended target.

Here are some best practices to help keep active ingredients on target and at concentrations where they offer the most benefit.

1. Optimize nozzle performance. Calibrate your spray nozzles and make sure they are within 10 percent of their designed output. Replace any nozzles outside of that range.

2. Check nozzles for desired spray pattern. Flawed spray patterns can be caused by clogged or worn nozzles, improper nozzle cleaning, and also by incorrect boom height. Most spray booms should be a minimum of 20 inches above your target. Check the nozzle manufacturer’s recommendation to make sure you set the proper boom height.

3. Select the correct nozzle output. Nozzle selection should be determined by the type of chemical you are spraying, whether it’s a systemic product like dicamba, 2,4-D or glyphosate; or a contact product such as strobilurin fungicides, or the herbicides fomesafen or glufosinate. Follow label instructions to determine proper droplet size for each application.

4. Hit your target. Spray drift can be controlled by increasing droplet size and using a drift control agent. Reducing fine droplets helps keep products from blowing away, injuring adjacent crops or evaporating too soon. In addition, the spray should reach deep into the crop canopy to achieve better overall coverage. Some drift control agents cannot be used with certain types of nozzles, so be sure to read product labels for any restrictions.

Increased droplet size can be achieved by:
  • Changing spray tips.
  • Decreasing spray pressure. (This could mean reducing speed during application, increasing spray tip orifice size or using pulsating nozzles.)
5. Use an adjuvant or surfactant. Adjuvants are added to a spray tank to aid or modify the action of a chemical. Some adjuvants increase spray solution performance and others make the solution easier to handle. Surfactants change the surface tension of the water, usually reducing it to increase droplet spread on a leaf. Be sure to thoroughly review the labels of any adjuvants or surfactants you are considering.

Attending a WinField spray clinic or scheduling an on-farm spray assessment can help you fine-tune your equipment and make the most of your crop protection investment. Take the time now to check your sprayer and devise your crop protection strategy. This will help save time during the season and can pay off at harvest by preserving yield.

For more information on WinField spray clinics, contact your local retailer, which you can find at winfield.com/findaretailer.

CROPLAN® Corn Seed vs. The Other Guys: No Contest

Bob Bohl
Technical Seed Manager
Seed selection is one of the most important decisions you make — and you might be making those critical choices right now. Every facet of your management plan hinges on the seed you select for each field, which makes the extraordinary performance of CROPLAN® seed in 2015 Answer Plot® Program trials such great news at this time of year. Here are a few highlights.
 
  • Side-by-side Corn Hybrid Trial comparisons of the top five performing hybrids across Answer Plot® locations found that CROPLAN® seed yielded an average of nearly 6.9 bushels per acre (bu/A) more than a leading national competitor.
  • The Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota was home to the greatest CROPLAN® yield advantage over the competition, with the top five CROPLAN® corn hybrids outpacing the top five competitor hybrids by an average of 15.6 bu/A.
  • Performance for CROPLAN® corn hybrids in the 105-days-and-less category was extraordinary.
    • Illinois: 11.9 bu/A advantage over top competitor hybrids
    • North Dakota and South Dakota: 11.1 bu/A advantage over top competitor hybrids
    • Wisconsin: 7.4 bu/A advantage over top competitor hybrids
    • Minnesota: 6.2 bu/A advantage over top competitor hybrids
Farmers in my area of the Dakotas and Montana experienced significant variations in temperature and rainfall throughout the 2015 season, ending with above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. Many of our corn products showed the ability to handle the extra stress and heavy winds. The first product that really stood out for us was CROPLAN® 2845SS/RIB. We continue to have solid results with it, from performance to economics to standability.

CROPLAN® 4099SS/RIB and 4199SS/RIB performed especially well in South Dakota and the eastern portion of North Dakota. Early season corn hybrids such as CROPLAN® 2123VT2P/RIB and 1925VT2P/RIB continue to be at the top of the charts in data from our Answer Plot® Program and on-farm insight trials. Talk with your WinField representative about the best seed choices for your farm, and see 2015 Answer Plot® Program results for your area at answerplot.com.

More CROPLAN® Soybean Seed Choices for 2016

Mike Anderson
Marketing Manager
Time will tell if 2016 will be the year of the soybean. But in any case, WinField continues to launch new soybean varieties and is set to have more new products in the CROPLAN® soybean lineup in 2016 than many of our competitors. In fact, we’re on track to introduce more than 40 new CROPLAN® soybean products this year.

Specifically, we expect to have an ample supply of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybean seed.* And WinPak® soybean varieties will continue to offer you a unique combination of two types of soybean seeds to provide exceptional stability throughout your fields. WinPak® soybean varieties are designed to maximize yield potential on your tough acres while maintaining yield on your higher-producing areas. They also help buffer the effects of weather and soil variability that contribute to disease development and other stresses.

Bottom line: We combine the best genetics from multiple gene pools with leading traits and technologies to meet your specific challenges. And we’re in a strong position to offer market-leading products to help you maximize yield potential in 2016.

To find out more about the new CROPLAN® soybean varieties — and corn hybrids — available for 2016, talk with your WinField representative.

* The launch of the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System is pending regulatory approvals for its component products.

Mother Nature Strikes Again

Answer Plot®
Research Team
The majority of weed problems in Midwest corn fields last season were the result of untimely rains and excess moisture that delayed herbicide applications. Several WinField agronomists recently recapped 2015’s major weed issues and successful weed-control strategies in the Corn + Soybean Digest article, “Corn Weed Control Challenges, Successes in 2015.”
 
Agronomists noted that rainfall often made timely herbicide applications difficult, leading to larger, difficult-to-manage weeds. Resistant weeds also caused some farmers to reach deeper into their tools boxes for adequate control.
 
State highlights from the article included:
  • IllinoisAgronomist Glen Longabaugh reports on weed problems caused by heavy rains throughout the season. He notes that farmers using a two-pass program had the best overall results.
  • IndianaA wet 2014 fall, followed by heavy rains throughout the 2015 season delayed or prevented herbicide applications, resulting in major weed problems. Agronomist Jason Roth recommends fall tillage or burndown programs followed by multiple-pass treatments with overlapping residuals for successful control of tough weeds.
  • IowaResistance issues, weed species shifts and weather-related delays were just a few issues Iowa farmers faced, says agronomist Steve Barnhart. A multifaceted weed-control approach showed the most success last season, Barnhart says.
  • MichiganEarly rainfall that continued throughout the growing season along with herbicide-resistant weeds complicated weed control for Michigan farmers in 2015, says agronomist Corey Guza. Aggressive management strategies are helping farmers successfully deal with resistance issues, Guza notes.
  • MinnesotaAgronomist Mark Glady reports that early planting followed by cold, wet weather caused control issues for central Minnesota farmers. He says farmers who followed their set weed-control plan had the most success in 2015.
  • South DakotaHerbicide-resistant waterhemp is the top problem weed in South Dakota fields, says agronomist Ryan Wolf. Farmers who used a multi-pronged approach saw the best control of this tough weed, he observes.  
  • WisconsinAgronomist Todd Cardwell says herbicide-resistant giant ragweed and waterhemp were major weed challenges in Wisconsin fields last season. A preplant or preemergence herbicide application followed by a postemergence treatment showed the best control.
 
See the complete article here for more details.

Spark Winter Wheat Growth Before Planting

Darrin Holder
Agronomist, WinField
You only get one shot to get your winter wheat out of the ground and achieve the stand quality you want. Rather than leave it to chance, be proactive and give your crop the extra boost it needs to reach its yield potential using a proven seed treatment/plant growth regulator combination.
 
Applying Warden® Cereals II seed treatment plus Ascend® plant growth regulator (PGR) adds a layer of protection, providing better germination, quicker emergence, and larger above- and below-ground growth than untreated seed.
 
Winter wheat has the ability to tiller, and those tillers will put on heads. Too often those heads are smaller than the ones on the main stem. Applying a quality seed treatment can help you achieve more main stems and heads at the end.
 
Warden® Cereals II seed treatment is the second generation of the WinField® Warden® Cereals brand. It includes a new fungicide package of three fungicides with different modes of action for broader-spectrum disease control, delivered in a formulation that’s easy to use and handle.
  • Mefenoxam, the same active ingredient in Apron XL®, protects young cereals from Pythium Damping-Off and other seedling blights and root rots caused by Pythium spp. early in the year.
  • Sedaxane, a succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI), fungicide, is specially formulated for seed treatments and provides excellent protection against Rhizoctonia.  
  • Difenoconazole, which is a proven fungicide for control against dwarf and other bunts, along with smuts, including loose, covered and flag.
 
Ascend® plant growth regulator contains the optimal combination of three EPA-registered PGRs — cytokinin, gibberellic acid and indolebutyric acid — to encourage vigorous early plant germination and emergence, a robust root system, larger leaves and wider stems.

To learn more about pairing Warden® Cereals II with Ascend® plant growth regulator as a treatment for your winter wheat seed, talk with your local WinField agronomist or visit winfield.com.

Top Deficiency Trends Revealed

Joel Wipperfurth
Minnesota-Based Agronomy Advisor, Winfield
Significant crop deficiency trends were revealed by the 2014 NutriSolutions 360™ system tissue sampling analysis. Results were based on more than 65,000 tissue samples from 40 different crops across 38 states.
 
Individual crop results showed approximately 75 percent of all corn samples were deficient in zinc; more than 60 percent of soybean samples were deficient in copper; approximately 85 percent of alfalfa samples were deficient in calcium; and approximately 75 percent of wheat samples were deficient in boron.
 
“Some of the nutrient losses were due to heavy rains during the past two years, which have moved plant nutrients deeper into the soil profile, making them unavailable to plant roots,” says Darrin Holder, agronomy manager, WinField. “High yields during the past two years also removed a large amount of crop nutrients from the soil.”
 
MAKE DATA-BASED DECISIONS
More than 300,000 tissue samples have been analyzed through the NutriSolutions 360™ system over the past six years, building a robust plant nutrition database to help farmers make fact-based planning decisions. By combining this information with traditional soil testing and other advanced technologies, you have the tools to identify precise plant nutrient programs that will deliver the best return potential.
 
“More growers are finding they can’t continue with the same fertility program and expect to increase yields,” Holder notes. “Methods, practices and products need to change to keep pace with today’s high-yielding genetics. If a nutrient deficiency isn’t clearly identified through tissue testing, then adding more of that nutrient won’t provide a yield response.
 
“As farmers continue to tissue sample over several seasons, they will identify if they’re addressing crop nutrient needs adequately to achieve yield goals. Knowing they ran out of potassium or another key plant nutrient at the VT stage in corn this season can help them identify a different rate or placement strategy next season,” Holder adds.
 
For more information about tissue sampling and in-season plant nutrition, contact your WinField representative.
 

Control Weeds Before They’re a Threat

Joel Wipperfurth
Minnesota-Based Agronomy Advisor, Winfield
With planting season just around the corner, now is the time to evaluate your crop protection program for the coming year. I always recommend proactive management to keep yield-robbing weeds from competing with crops for moisture and plant nutrients. As you prepare for planting, keep the following tips in mind for controlling weeds before they become a threat.  
 
Last year in the Midwest, especially Minnesota, I consistently saw three main weed threats: waterhemp, ragweed and lambsquarters. Since farmers typically battle combinations of troublesome weeds, it’s most effective to target the dominant weed threat. No matter which of these weeds you’re fighting, spraying a preemergence herbicide is key to control.
 
  • Waterhemp – If you had a waterhemp issue last year, as many farmers did in western Minnesota, consider layering your residual for preemergence applications. First, apply a preplant herbicide, which can help suppress weeds for about 18 to 35 days, if there is activation rainfall. Because waterhemp emerges throughout the course of the season, past the window of the residual herbicide application, you can easily miss the opportunity to eliminate this weed. So during post spray, select additional modes of action beyond glyphosate that have activity on waterhemp and also provide in-season soil residual.
 
  • Ragweed – Ragweed often emerges from the corn canopy late season and can spread easily. Even if farmers apply an herbicide, the spray may not penetrate the crop or weed canopy to reach the leaves of smaller weeds sheltered by multiple layers of the canopy. To combat this challenge, start with an effective preemergence herbicide application that covers the weed’s spectrum.  Adding a tank-mix partner during postemergence spraying of corn that has residual will reduce the spread in future years.  The best place to fight ragweed is in your corn crop, since corn herbicides are more effective and less expensive than those used in soybeans.
 
  • Lambsquarters – Lambsquarters was another predominant weed type that challenged farmers in central Minnesota. Similar to waterhemp, lambsquarters is very responsive to nonionic surfactant when used with your postemergence herbicide.  Be sure to look for effective tank-mix partners as glyphosate resistance spreads.
 
For additional weed resistance tips and suggestions, contact your WinField representative.

Tips for Managing Continuous Soybeans

Answer Plot®
Research Team
As corn prices continue to fluctuate, you may be weighing the pros and cons of growing continuous soybeans. When trying to decide if back-to-back soybeans are the right choice for your field, it’s important to consider key management steps that will help you optimize the crop and achieve bottom-line results.
 
“Like continuous corn, soybeans following soybeans have special pest challenges and nutritional requirements farmers need to address throughout the season,” says Mark Glady, regional agronomist, WinField. Glady offers the following tips to help farmers capture optimum yield potential from continuous soybean fields.
 
  1. Check for soybean cyst nematode (SCN)
While fall is the ideal time to complete SCN soil sampling analysis, it may also be completed in the spring. If SCN counts are at 2,000 eggs per cc or higher, planting soybeans in that field is not advised. With lower SCN levels, Glady recommends planting varieties with built-in SCN resistance and using a seed treatment for best results.
 
  1. Protect against early-season diseases

Last spring’s wet, cool conditions in many areas set the stage for heavy disease pressure in soybean fields. With inoculum from diseases such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Phytophthora remaining on soybean plant material after harvest, this infected residue presents a serious disease threat for next year’s soybean crop. “Using a seed treatment may provide the best defense against disease damage and insect damage,” Glady notes.

  1. Minimize weed competition
Reducing early-season weed pressure may help give young soybean plants a strong, vigorous start. Glady recommends a two-step weed-control program starting with a preemergence herbicide application that includes residual weed control for longer-lasting protection. A second early-postemergence treatment should include glyphosate (for Roundup Ready® soybeans) plus a second mode of action to control glyphosate-resistant weeds and help prevent additional herbicide-resistance issues.
 
  1. Don’t ignore fertility needs
Glady notes that a 50-bushel-per-acre soybean crop uses more potassium per acre than a 200-bushel corn crop. “Some farmers falsely believe that soybean crops don’t need extra fertilization,” he says. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. If soybeans only have access to last season’s leftover nutrients, farmers may be leaving yield potential in the field.”
 
To determine accurate plant nutrient levels, Glady recommends taking a soil sample in the fall or spring, while there’s still time to replenish deficient nutrients before the season begins. In-season, he advises tissue sampling soybean plants at key growth stages (V4, R1 and R3) and applying deficient nutrients if needed before yield potential is jeopardized.
 
Contact your WinField representative for more information about growing continuous soybeans in your area.

Practice Good Sprayer Maintenance

Joel Wipperfurth
Minnesota-Based Agronomy Advisor, Winfield

As discussed in an earlier blog post by Wipperfurth, “Control Weeds Before They’re a Threat,” now is the time to evaluate your crop protection program for the coming year. One of the most important aspects of this management is improving spray practices, to help achieve the best product performance and the greatest return on your spray investment.
 
PRACTICE GOOD SPRAYER MAINTENANCE
Before starting applications this year, assess your spray equipment. To optimize your spray applications, make certain your sprayer is working properly and the right nozzles are being used for each operation. Thoroughly cleaning and calibrating equipment is a simple way to prevent bigger problems.
 
Because many farmers in my area applied a dry, flowable preemergence herbicide treatment to last year’s soybean crop, it’s crucial to inspect sprayers for dry formula accumulation. Remove the boom’s end cap and check the two-inch space between the end cap and nozzle body for any accumulation. Some farmers triple rinse their tank but don’t clean the end caps, which allows some products to remain in the boom and cause problems the following season. Express end caps, found on newer sprayers, can solve this problem, and some older sprayer models can be retrofitted with these caps.
 
KEEP SPRAY MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES IN MIND
With lower commodity prices, many farmers are more concerned than ever with protecting their crop-input investment. Adjuvants can help your spray hit and stay on the intended target for improved coverage, increased canopy penetration and better uptake, leading to better control of weeds, pests or diseases.
 
It’s imperative to look at spray management from a system perspective, including everything from spray nozzles to tank-mix compatibility. With hard-to-control weeds, tank mixes are becoming more complex to manage. If you’re unsure whether a mixture will be compatible, do a simple jar test before adding all the products to the spray tank. It’s better to end up with a quart of cottage cheese than 1,000 gallons of it.
 
Given the Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) program by the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s critical for farmers to understand the correct application process because crop protection product labels will change. WinField offers annual spray clinics throughout Minnesota to help farmers learn more about spray management and interact with spray table demonstrations.
 
Contact your local WinField retailer for more information about a spray clinic in your area.


4 Tools to Help Plan for Success

Answer Plot®
Research Team
With low commodity prices causing concerns this past fall, farmers are looking for ways to receive top returns on their input investments while getting optimal performance from each acre.

WinField has the proprietary tools to help you design an individualized prescription for every field based on this year’s insights.

1. TRUSTED ANSWER PLOT® DATA
With hundreds of replicated trials that include a wide range of products at nearly 200 locations nationwide, the Answer Plot® Program provides one of the industry’s most extensive data sets for use when planning. Based on sound scientific practices and meticulous attention to detail, Answer Plot® data is the basis for customized R7® Tool insights and recommendations that will help you identify the right input investment for each of your fields.

2. R7® TOOL INSIGHTS
Use the R7® Tool to help set realistic yield goals for next season. The R7® Tool allows you to see your fields like never before; viewing field maps with historical data, soil variability and other primary information. Based on each zone’s conditions and precise local Answer Plot® data, you can work with your regional agronomist to develop a customized plan for your operation, including population counts, and fertility and crop protection recommendations to increase potential return on investment.

For current R7® Tool users, you can evaluate the 2014 season with field response and profitability maps to help improve productivity potential and profitability potential next season.



3. CUSTOMIZED TOP 10 HYBRIDS
The Top 10 function within the R7® Tool helps you identify the top 10 best-performing hybrids for different locations within your fields. By matching soil type with Answer Plot® test results, your WinField agronomist can provide you with the right seed product options — including photos of root appearance and anticipated ear size for each hybrid — that have the best chance of success under current conditions.

4. PLANT NUTRITION INSIGHTS
This season’s tissue testing data and analysis with the NutriSolutions 360™ system provides a road map for plant nutrition planning in the coming season. Tissue testing data provides you with insights of how to correct plant nutrient deficiencies throughout the growing season, so your crops are able to reach their optimal yield potential next season.

Contact a local WinField representative for more information.
 

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