Spoon-Feed Crops for a Yield Advantage

George Watters
Agronomy Manager
Historically, many farmers have applied all their fertilizer in late fall or early spring. Although this practice can provide a sound foundation for crop growth, nitrogen and other key nutrients can be left vulnerable to environmental loss when applied all at once.   
Lost fertilizer results in wasted input and potential harm to the environment. Answer Plot® research suggests that spoon-feeding fertilizer throughout the growing season may result in a yield boost, because applying smaller amounts of nutrients when plants need them is more efficient from a plant uptake and use perspective.
Research backs the benefits
Data from 2016 Answer Plot® trials showed a 7.4 bushel per acre yield advantage in corn when a portion of the total nitrogen application was delayed until the V10 growth stage.1 The crop’s need for nitrogen increases rapidly toward the time of tasseling, so it makes sense that a later application would result in a yield bump as the plant begins shifting resources to fill out its ear.
A recent study by Purdue University found that modern corn hybrids have a higher demand for nitrogen later in the season, and thus may more likely benefit from a split application.2 Response-to-nitrogen scores from Answer Plot® trials can help identify corn hybrids that may benefit from spoon-feeding later in the season.
Start with sampling
Any sound fertilizer plan should be based on soil analysis from a quality laboratory. Soil testing guides application of crop nutrients and provides insight into the nutrient status of a field. Once you know what nutrient levels are in your soil, you can start optimizing your fertilization program.
Starter fertilizers like OptiStart® help provide a solid foundation for early plant growth by placing nutrients close to young roots for improved uptake. This promotes more vigorous early-season growth so plants are more tolerant to stress. Answer Plot® research has shown up to a 7 bushel per acre advantage in corn when starter fertilizers are used, especially in colder soils.3
An in-season tissue test will indicate real-time nutrient levels in the plant, which can guide additional fertilizer needs as the season progresses to help protect yield potential. Contact your local WinField United retailer to help develop a season-long fertilization program.  
With the growing season on the horizon, we’re here to help you with your holistic plant nutrition plan. Next, we’ll explore how modeling programs can help manage nutrients and the importance of micronutrients in your fertilization program. We’ll continue to dig into 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.
1. Based on an average of 15 Answer Plot® locations.

2. Late Season Nitrogen Fertilizer Placement, Timing and Rate Responses in Modern Corn Hybrids; T. Vyn, et.al.; Purdue University; 2016 Indiana CCA Conference.

3. Based on an average from 37 Answer Plot® locations.

Mitigate Early-Season Plant Stress

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
We’re gearing up for another unpredictable growing season. While we never know exactly how things will shake out at this point in the year, good management from day one is key to crop success. Here are four tips to help mitigate early-season plant stress:

  1. Reevaluate seed placement and management plans. Placing seed has become more of a science because we have plenty of technology tools available to help map and model fields. High-yielding seed varieties require more intensive management. Mitigate risk when making seed choices by striking a balance between reliable, consistent performers and top-yielding genetics. Before planting, review seed ‘Response-To’ Scores for variables like planting population, nitrogen and fungicide to help fine-tune management plans based on your seed selection. 
  1. Don’t push planting. It’s easy to get anxious when the first warm days of spring roll around, but planting into poor soil conditions can only create problems for the rest of the season. Iowa State University reports that corn may take three weeks to emerge when soil temperatures average 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of planting, compared to 10-to 12-day emergence when soils average 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants that emerge quickly are less susceptible to root and early-season fungal diseases and to insect damage. They also tend to have more even stands.
  1. Give plants a jump-start. Starter fertilizers and plant growth regulators are a good way to make sure crops have what they need for a vigorous start. Plant growth regulators such as Ascend® SL and Optify®/Stretch deliver a number of benefits to growing crops, including fueling stem elongation, stimulating sugar movement and signaling nutrient availability. Plant growth regulators can also help speed up the germination process, which is especially important if you’re planting into cool, wet soils. 
2011-2013 Answer Plot® data supports the yield benefits of Ascend. Compared to untreated plots, farmers saw an average 8-bushel per acre yield advantage when Ascend was applied at planting.
 Soil Temperature*  Answer Plot®    Locations  % Positive Response   Sites  Average Positive   Response
 < 50° F  50  67.3  8.2 bu/A
 < 60° F  98  65.4  8.1 bu/A
                  *2 weeks before and 2 weeks after planting
 Conditions**  % Positive Response Locations
 < 60° F Air Temperature
 > 1" Precipitation
                  ** 2 weeks after planting
Starter fertilizers applied at planting can help stimulate root development and increase nutrient availability to small plants. Zinc and phosphorus are two nutrients that are commonly found in many starter fertilizers – both of which are vital to early plant growth and tend to be more limited when soils are wet and cool.
  1. Keep an eye on fields. Scout fields early and often once plants have emerged. Taking population counts can help determine whether there were germination issues that may require extra attention. Observe plant spacing and growth stage differences between plants to evaluate whether a replant may be necessary.
Every management decision you make once the seed is in the ground can affect the number on the yield monitor at harvest. While not all plant stresses can be eliminated, there are a number of management practices that can help mitigate them.
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 explain 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.
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.

3 Ways to Gin Up Your Cotton Management

Robert Cossar
Technical Seed Manager and Cotton Product Manager
As a cotton farmer, some of your biggest purchasing decisions for the upcoming season have probably been made. You’ve selected the genetics that will best meet your yield goals and the fiber quality that best suits your market. Chances are you’ve also selected the proper traits to tackle your biggest weed and insect challenges.
In the CROPLAN® brand, for example, you may have chosen seed with the Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton trait, which can be used with glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba to provide both insect protection and weed control. Or the new Bollgard® 3 XtendFlex® cotton trait, which offers three modes of action against bollworm and other cotton pests.
But once you’ve planted your seed, how can you keep your cotton crop on track? Here are some tips to help your cotton be all that it can be in 2018.
1. Start seeds off right.
Yield and fiber quality potential are greatly influenced by genetics and the ability of your cotton crop to get off to a quick start. This makes proper seedbed preparation and seed treatments important. Base your planting sequence on soil temperature. If you use conventional tillage, your soil will warm more quickly than with a no-till system.
For early-season disease and pest protection, make sure you have the most appropriate seed treatment for what you are dealing with. For example, if you have a nematode problem, Acceleron® Elite is a good choice. If not, consider other seed treatments such as Acceleron® Basic or Acceleron® Standard. All three are found on CROPLAN® cotton seed.
2. Know your fertility goals.
Start the season with a representative soil test and address any nutrient deficiencies, especially in boron, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. Nutrient deficiencies will result in smaller bolls and poor fruit retention. Talk with your agronomist about taking tissue samples at key growth stages to ensure nutrient availability throughout the season. Nitrogen is important, but you don’t want to apply too much. A split application usually works best, but if you need to apply all your nitrogen up front, include a stabilizer so it is available later in the season.
3. Scout at least every seven days.
Diligent scouting will keep you informed of any weed or insect threats in your fields. Make herbicide applications before weeds get taller than 4 inches. Palmer amaranth continues to be a huge problem in the South (and elsewhere), but dicamba has been shown to help control when used in accordance with all label and EPA-mandated application requirements.
Be on the lookout for thrips in the early part of the season, for leafhoppers and bollworms in-season, and for stinkbugs later in the year, applying an insecticide as needed.
Work with a trusted advisor to help you make the best choices for your cotton crop and keep on top of management to satisfy the needs of the market you’re selling to. Every time you open a bag of CROPLAN® cotton seed, you have an enormous amount of yield potential. Be sure to protect that yield potential by taking the necessary steps to make your cotton crop a success.

© 2018 Winfield Solutions, LLC.  CROPLAN is a registered trademark of Winfield Solutions, LLC. Acceleron, Bollgard, Bollgard II and XtendFlex are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC.

Don't Skimp on Soybean Seed Treatments

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
Planting time is almost here, and you are probably in the midst of creating a planting strategy for your soybean fields. Decide what seed treatment you will use now to save time and headaches during the season.
Do your disease and insect protection due diligence
If you have to plant early into cold, wet soils, you will likely have issues with delayed emergence and disease. Using a quality seed treatment on your soybeans can help address this situation.
Warden® CX seed treatment can optimize yield potential and improve root health and plant vigor in soybeans by helping reduce disease and insect damage. In 2015, Answer Plot® Program results reported a positive response to soybean seed treated with Warden® CX seed treatment compared with an untreated control group. The treated seeds garnered a 2.1 bu/A average positive response.1
This seed treatment incorporates the active ingredient from Cruiser® insecticide to provide protection against seed- and foliar-feeding insects. It also contains three fungicides that provide multiple modes of action:
  • Sedaxane for Rhizoctonia protection
  • The highest rate of mefenoxam commercially available for Pythium and Phytopthora protection
  • Fludioxonil for Fusarium protection
New WinPak® varieties bring new opportunities
WinPak® varieties are a unique combination of two soybean seed varieties that provide an exceptional level of stability throughout the field, working to increase yield potential and reduce risk from environmental conditions. For 2019, the CROPLAN® seed brand is offering 35 new and upgraded WinPak® varieties in its Elite Class soybean portfolio, as well as 10 new standalone products.
Don’t risk loss
We don’t know exactly what spring will bring for soybean planting conditions. And we can’t always rely on the calendar to tell us when a seed treatment will do the most good. Be on the safe side and manage your soybean crop with a proven seed treatment to lessen the risk of stand loss from disease and insect pressure.
The temptation to save a few dollars on seed treatment upfront could cost you dearly at harvest in lost ROI and diminished yield. Talk with your trusted advisor today about what soybean seed treatment makes the most sense for your operation, and to find out more about the new CROPLAN® WinPak® varieties.
1 Source: 2015 data from 30 Answer Plot® locations.
Cruiser is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.

Observing Soil and Plant Health From the Ground Up

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Nurturing good soil health and providing adequate plant nutrition are critical to helping ensure optimal yield potential in corn crops, according to a set of on-farm trials conducted in multiple states. Here are individual observations about the advantages of applying microbes to boost soil health and adding stabilizers to improve nitrogen use efficiency.  
Observation #1: Feed Your Soil, Boost Your Yield Potential
Soil microorganisms play a critical role in soil quality, mineralization, recycling nutrients from crop residue and aiding in nutrient uptake and assimilation. Maintaining healthy, active microbial populations is important, particularly in conventional tillage systems that disturb natural soil function.
Through on-farm trials, WinField United is researching how soil microbe applications can help improve low soil fertility. According to ongoing on-farm trial data, appropriate soil microbial applications can generate a yield response. Our microbial product testing has shown that a spring soil microbial application improved corn yields across 19 trials. Yield results showed an interaction between the total pounds of nitrogen applied and the amount of rainfall received during the growing season.
This early data indicates soil microorganisms appear to help boost soil health and nitrogen efficiency.
19 Innovation Trial locations in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin showed an average yield advantage of 4.1 bushels per acre when a soil microbe application was made.*

Total applied nitrogen and season rainfall factored into corn yield response.

Observation #2: Proper Plant Nutrition Meets Demand
Nitrogen is a significant operational cost, so it is imperative to protect this investment by ensuring it is available when crops need it most. With input productivity in mind, WinField United is using on-farm trials to research how nitrogen stabilizers can improve nitrogen use efficiency.
Data from 2016 currently shows anhydrous ammonia stabilizers can be an important part of a nitrogen management program. In seven on-farm trials, corn fertilized with nitrogen stabilizers demonstrated a yield advantage over the control group as well as greater stalk and root growth at key growing intervals. Early data shows that nitrogen stabilizers may increase yield and keep nitrogen investments on their acres.
Nitrogen stabilizers provided an average yield advantage of 1.1 bushels per acre in seven on-farm innovation trials in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas.*
* Yield response will vary year to year, depending on variables such as rainfall, soil type and mineralization.
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.

2017 Answer Plot® Insight #4: The Right Seed Yields Results

WinField United
Agronomy Team
This is the final in a series of four posts highlighting key insights from 2016 Answer Plot® field data and trials.
Every season brings its share of challenges, old and new. As a result, you want the confidence of knowing that the seeds you plant can meet those challenges. Putting the right seed in the right soil is the first step in achieving genetic yield potential and reducing risk.
Using our Answer Plot® testing protocol, WinField United identifies the management strategies needed to reach maximum yield potential for our CROPLAN® seed brand. From soil type and disease risk to crop rotation and response to nutrient applications, extensive replicated testing measures yield based on a variety of inputs and environmental factors.
During 2016 Answer Plot® trials, we used applied science to analyze and compare statistical data from CROPLAN® seed against products from our key competitors. The results showed that CROPLAN® corn hybrids and soybean varieties outperformed them.
At 135 Answer Plot® locations in 20 states, CROPLAN® corn hybrids outperformed the key competitor with a yield advantage ranging from 8.7 bushels per acre in western states to 10.7 bushels per acre in northern states.  

At 116 Answer Plot® locations in 16 states, CROPLAN® soybean varieties outperformed the key competitor with a yield advantage ranging from 1.5 bushels per acre in western states to 3.3 bushels per acre in northern states.

Talk to your local WinField United retailer to discuss best management strategies to maximize yield potential for your seed.  
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.

It’s Not Too Late for Late-Planted Soybeans

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

Is This Spring a Nutrient Washout?

Randy Brown, Ph.D.
Senior Manager – Lead, Regional Agronomists
The spring of 2017 has brought a considerable amount of rain to many parts of the country. What does all this water mean for the nutrient profile of your soil? What will it mean for crops as the season progresses? Let’s take a quick look at how soil nutrients and plant health are faring as we move from a drenched May into June.

Lost nitrogen
Exceedingly wet weather causes water to drain through the soil profile and take nitrogen along with it. This, in turn, causes the nitrogen to leach below the crop root zone, making it unavailable to the plant. On the other hand, in a poorly drained field, standing water causes denitrification, where microbes strip off oxygen from the nitrogen, turning it into a gas that escapes into the atmosphere. This, too, causes significant nitrogen loss for the plant.

Tools that monitor nitrogen availability 
WinField United has a number of tools that can help you monitor nitrogen availability. These include the new Field Forecasting Tool by WinField United (coming soon) and the Climate FieldView™ Nitrogen Advisor, both of which estimate the amount of nitrogen available in the soil.

A more definitive picture of nitrogen availability and overall plant health is available through the NutriSolutions 360® system, which, in addition to tissue analysis, includes soil sampling and in-season applications of nutrients, micronutrients and yield enhancement products, if indicated.

After a wet spring, using the appropriate monitoring tools is critical so that you don’t get halfway through the season and then discover that you’ve lost nitrogen and yield potential. Adding a stabilizer when applying nitrogen can help minimize nitrogen loss.

Other important nutrients
In addition to nitrogen, NutriSolutions 360® tissue analysis can also detect sulfur and boron deficiencies early in the growing season. Like nitrogen, both of these nutrients are anions that are mobile and move with the soil water.  These nutrients are used by the plant in smaller quantities than nitrogen, but play key roles in plant growth. Foliar applications of MAX-IN® Sulfur and MAX-IN® Boron can be used to help remedy these deficiencies.

When to apply nutrients
In corn, take a tissue sample between V5 and V7 and apply nutrients as indicated. At this point, you likely have not have suffered any yield damage that cannot be repaired. Of course, you should monitor your crops all season for nutrient deficiencies. But the later in the season you get, the more potential you have for yield loss that you can’t correct. From V8 to V10, we get rapid growth in corn. If you’re short on nitrogen then, that’s when you’ll start seeing yield potential drop.

Replanting corn
If you are replanting corn, you may be switching your hybrid choices from what you initially planted. If so, make sure you are not planting hybrids that are more responsive to nitrogen and have a higher response-to-nitrogen score (RTN) than you intended. If you are planting a hybrid with a high RTN score, you’ll probably need to add some supplemental nitrogen. Understanding RTN scores will be critical when making your replant decisions.

Last point on corn: Watch your crop for diseases. This may be a year when we see early fungicide applications pay off.

What about soybeans?
As a legume, soybeans produce most of their own nitrogen, so what I’m most concerned about is wet feet or wet soils. These provide the potential for a variety of seedling diseases. If a good seed treatment was not used, you could see thin stands.

It will be important to tissue sample your soybeans, because the wet spring could have depleted boron and sulfur amounts. Also during a wet spring, we usually don’t get the same amount of root growth in soybean plants than we would in a more normal year. As a result, there may be other nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, you are short on. Not because they were lost, but because a good root system wasn’t developed to capture them.

Work with your agronomist to determine the best plan to get past our soaked spring and through the rest of the season without compromising yield potential or ROI potential.

Four Things to Consider Before a Replant

Glenn Longabaugh
WinField Agronomist
Wet. That’s the word that’s been used to describe field conditions across much of the Corn Belt in recent weeks. What started off as a strong planting season in some areas quickly turned into a challenge. I’ve been speaking with farmers who planted just ahead of heavy rain events who are now starting to see emergence issues in those fields. If you’re in the same situation, here are four things to consider.

  1. Plant population. The logical place to start when evaluating replant options is plant population, but don’t use population alone as the basis for your decision. Take several population counts throughout the field to account for field variability, and compare averages with your as-planted population. If you have a reduced stand and healthy, uniform plants, the potential yield loss may not be worth the effort and cost of replanting.
  1. Spatial variability. Another important consideration is spatial variability. Evenly distributed plants have higher yield potential. If you notice areas in the field with spacing gaps larger than 3 feet, it’s more likey the field should be replanted with a sub-optimal population. Though plants do compensate fairly well for small gaps, larger voids more directly impact yield loss.
  1. Temporal variability. Seed that emerges at different times due to less than optimal conditions can also result in yield reductions. Larger plants will shade out smaller ones, and it will be difficult to get good coverage with crop protection products with such variability. As old-timers would say about corn, “Once a runt pig, always a runt pig.” Evaluate growth stage vaiability and scrutinize stands closely that have more than two leaf collars difference between plants.
  1. Crop health. The final consideration for replanting is crop health. Dig up plants and observe the roots for signs of trouble. Healthy plants will have turgid, white mesocotyls (corn) and hypocotyls (soybeans). Browning, soft roots could indicate seedling diseases that will result in further stand loss. Seedling diseases can also live latent in plants for some time and predispose them later in the season causing both yield loss and lodging.
The decision to replant isn’t always easy, but collecting accurate field information can help guide your decision. In addition to the four considerations above, keep in mind the costs associated with replanting and any yield loss that may come from a shortened growing season.

Work with your local agronomist to determine what makes sense for your operation.

Forge Ahead on Late-Planted Corn

Glenn Longabaugh
WinField Agronomist
Has a wet spring put a damper on your corn crop or even made you think about replanting your corn fields? Many farmers are pretty far along with corn planting, but lately some have experienced heavy, flooding rains and are assessing whether or not they’ll have to replant.

It looks like it was cold enough in my area of southern Indiana during our flooding period that some of the corn was not actively respiring, and now appears to be recovering well. There is still the danger of seedling blight, the resulting crown rot as well as downy mildew (crazy top), but the corn crop is looking better every day. Input prices are also falling. Nitrogen, for example, is less expensive than it has been, which makes corn more attractive.

Here are some tips for helping make delayed planting successful.

Don’t replant with significantly earlier-maturing corn.
We do not encourage farmers to plant extremely early hybrids as we get into late planting. Many times, earlier hybrids are not well-suited for heat, and late-planted corn often flowers in some of the harshest conditions of the year. An early hybrid is often a poor option.

Maintain populations.
Some schools of thought believe farmers need to plant at higher populations. But most of the time, planting later with the same population as you would have earlier results in better stands, because of more favorable conditions after planting. With corn, farmers get better emergence or more even emergence when they stick with a reasonable planting rate. So if you plant your corn at, say, 32,000 seeds per acre early, I’d recommend maintaining that population if you need to replant later.

Get a handle on weed control.
Weed control probably gets easier as we get into late planting, as long as you start clean. If you are a conventional tillage farmer and are starting with clean fields, you’re more likely to experience success with a one-pass program in corn. If you’re a no-till farmer, it is absolutely imperative that you confirm your burndown has terminated all weeds. If you don’t start clean, you can never stay clean. Later in the season, those weeds that emerged early are going to be more robust, taller and harder to manage.
If you made an early burndown pass, had to delay planting and now have regrowth, you’ll need to do a second burndown application along with your first residual when your fields dry out. 

Managing Early Season Rain Stress

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
If heavy spring rains hit your area shortly after planting, your corn and soybean crops face stress threats both before and after emergence. Understanding how these stress factors affect your fields can help you mitigate the effects of excessive moisture and preserve optimum yield potential for your crops.
Soil Response to Heavy Rains
Only a certain amount of water can penetrate soil per hour. During the first hour of a rain event, water will infiltrate soil fairly quickly. However, as the rain continues, the large soil pores (macropores) fill with rain water and the soil infiltration rate declines. When the rainfall rate surpasses the soil’s infiltration rate, water will run off the soil surface, taking soil with it and causing erosion.
Large amounts of rain can do further damage by breaking apart soil aggregates that are responsible for the structure of the soil, creating very small soil particles. These small soil particles will move with the water down into the soil profile and become lodged in the macropores. When the macropores are full, drying soils will form a very hard surface layer crust that creates a barrier for emerging seedlings and can reduce stands.
Recently Planted Corn
Soil crusting’s effect on recently planted corn will depend on weather conditions after the heavy rains. If light rains keep the soil surface moist, emergence will not be effected by soil crusting. However, it’s more likely that the soil will stay dry and cause emergence issues.
If crusting does occur, a rotary hoe can be used to break up the soil crust, and allow the corn plant to come through the soil. This needs to be done as soon as the soil dries out to avoid damaging emerging plants. If plants are emerging, a rotary hoe can still increase the final stand, but it should only be done if the increase in final stand would justify the damage that may be caused by rotary hoeing emerged corn.
The chart at the bottom of this article can be used to estimate how much yield loss will occur from any reduction in stand caused by soil crusting.
Emerged Corn
Corn that emerged before a heavy rain event often does not sustain any direct damage. However, heavy rains can splash soil into the young corn plant’s whorl. Because many corn diseases survive in crop residue on the soil, the chances of disease, such as anthracnose, infecting the plant increase. If a hybrid is susceptible to anthracnose when it receives heavy rains, I highly recommend treating the field with a fungicide at V5.
Recently Planted Soybeans
While recently planted soybeans will respond to soil crusting similarly to corn, stands tend to decrease more substantially, causing more risk. Also, because most soybeans will emerge within four to five days of planting when soil temperatures are warm, rotary hoeing must be done quickly to break up soil crusting.
After emergence, soybeans are more forgiving than corn when it comes to damage caused by rotary hoeing. However, be sure that the potential damage from the hoe will be outweighed by the possible increase in stand when soil crust is broken up. Final stand counts for soybeans should be above 90,000 plants per acre.
When saturated, cool soil conditions are present, conditions are favorable for soybean sudden death syndrome; plants could become infected with this pathogen within a couple days of planting.
Emerged Soybeans
Emerged soybeans generally are safe from heavy rains, although herbicides can splash onto plant leaves and burn the tissue. While this burning is usually cosmetic, it can cause some stand loss. Wait a week before making any replant decisions due to herbicide damage because soybeans are very resilient.
Estimating Yield Loss 


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 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.

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. 

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.

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/.

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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Considering Cover Crops

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

Northern States Win the Planting Race

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.

Your Guide to Sprayer Technology

Agronomy Team
Sprayer technology is always evolving, with more products on the market and greater emphasis being placed on precision to ensure the spray lands exactly where it is supposed to.
How can you get the most out of your spray applications this season? Mark Glady, WinField agronomist, guides growers on a five-part journey through the ins and outs of spray application technology. The series, which appears on farmindustrynews.com, offers some great tips to help you make all of your spray applications count. Here’s a brief rundown of the series installments:
Part One: Picking the right spray nozzle
Different droplet sizes are produced by different nozzles, and should match the goals of the crop protection products used. This article features a video demonstration by Glady.
Part Two: Know your spray nozzle vocabulary
Features brief descriptions and photos of different spray nozzles and how to choose the right one for the job at hand.
Part Three: 3 biggest mistakes applicators make
Outlines common application errors and how to remedy them.
Part Four: 7 products you shouldn’t go without at spray time
Increase the efficacy of your spray applications with these tools.
Part Five: How to read a leaf
Tips on selecting the right nozzle for the particular crop protection product you are applying.
So before you rev up your sprayer this season, take a look at these helpful tips to get even more value from the products you are applying. In doing so, you’ll help advance sustainability as well as optimize your ROI potential as the season progresses. 

Cool, Wet Weather Is Perfect for Ascend® Plant Growth Regulators

Adam Mangum
Marketing Manager, Plant Nutrition
With the recent round of cool, wet weather this spring, we at WinField want to remind you that Ascend® plant growth regulators (PGRs) can help improve yields, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Three years of Answer Plot® results have shown that when planting corn into cold and wet soil, adding Ascend® PGRs in-furrow resulted in increased yields more than 65 percent of the time, with average yield boosts of more than 8 bushels per acre.

Soil Temperature* Answer Plot® Locations % Positive Response Sites Average Positive Response
< 50°F 50 67.3 8.2 bu/A
< 60°F 98 65.4 8.1 bu/A
*Two weeks before and two weeks after planting

Temperature and moisture play key roles in influencing the hormone balance that signals germination. Cool, wet conditions may restrict this growth and development. The addition of the plant growth regulators found in Ascend® PGRs may help the plant germinate even when conditions aren’t ideal. When the weeks after planting were cold and wet, corn planted with Ascend® PGRs in-furrow showed positive yield response more than 69 percent of the time.
Conditions** % Positive Response Locations
< 60°F Air Temperature
> 1" Precipitation
** Two weeks after planting

Ascend® PGRs contain an optimal combination of three EPA-registered plant growth regulators: cytokinin, gibberellic acid and indolebutyric acid. These active ingredients promote vigorous early plant germination and emergence, a robust root system, larger leaves, and wider stems.

So even if it’s not 60 degrees and sunny when you plant, an in-furrow application of Ascend® PGRs on corn can help improve yields, rain or shine.
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. 
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. Ascend and Answer Plot are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC. © 2016 Winfield Solutions, LLC.

Late-Season Nitrogen Applications Hit the Sweet Spot

Jonathan Zuk
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.

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.*

  • 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.

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.

Conquering the “Final Frontier”

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Enhance Winter Wheat Production

Jason Hanson
Regional Agronomist, WinField
Winter wheat offers benefits that include higher yield potential than spring wheat, and minimized wind and water erosion over the winter. To help farmers achieve the best results with their winter wheat investment, Jason Hanson, regional agronomist, WinField, offers the following suggestions.

1. Manage weeds
Before seeding, remove any grasses that could host yield-limiting insects. Hanson calls this “breaking the green bridge.” A glyphosate-based herbicide is one option to successfully “break the green bridge” prior to seeding.

2. Identify nutrient needs
Some winter wheat may be seeded into fields formerly designated as prevented planting acres. “Most farmers can expect good moisture levels on those fields, but soil fertility must be assessed,” says Hanson. Since yield goals are higher for winter wheat than for spring wheat, available nitrogen is a critical factor. “Raising 90-bushel wheat requires optimum nitrogen supplies throughout the season. Soil testing helps farmers fine-tune applications,” Hanson notes.

3. Nourish and protect
Seed treatments are an effective and convenient way to protect young crops, yet many farmers skip this important step, deceived by warm planting weather and rapid emergence. Hanson says seed treatments promote strong stand establishment, robust root systems and bigger crowns that will protect wheat over winter.
For even better results, Hanson recommends adding a plant growth regulator to seed treatments.
After seeding, Hanson recommends treating fields with a starter fertilizer, particularly if soil tests reveal nutrient-depleted soils. “Starter fertilizer applications help with winter hardiness, promoting a bigger crown and protecting crops until spring.”

Spring Plant Nutrition Checklist: 4 Ways to Start Strong

Answer Plot®
Research Team
This spring could be the start of your greatest year yet. Managing plant nutrition early in the season is one way to help achieve aggressive yield goals. “A proactive approach to plant nutrition helps get crops off to a strong start and can help prevent problems later in the season,” says Adam Mangum, marketing manager, WinField. He offers the following checklist to guide spring fertility decisions.

Work with your WinField agronomist to review last year’s tissue sample results to detect any nutrient deficiencies in your area. Compare findings with fertility programs to identify gaps that could be treated early with starter fertilizers.

Review fall soil samples or gather them as soon as spring conditions allow to evaluate what nutrients are present in the field.

Once nutrient needs are determined, consider the optimum nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) blend. Also, adding WinField micronutrients to the starter mix will help increase the quantity of nutrients available and the length of time they are available for plant uptake.

WinField Ascend® Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) gives crops an unparalleled advantage. When applied with the starter mix, Ascend® PGR promotes bigger roots, stronger stalks and faster emergence, giving plants the boost they need for a strong start and more uniform emergence.

For more information, visit winfield.com and discuss your plant nutrition plan with a WinField representative.


Get a Jump on Spring Weed Control

Answer Plot®
Research Team
In the battle for clean fields, mature weeds are equipped to win. Waxy cuticles, hairy leaves and increasing herbicide resistance make them formidable foes. That’s why it’s important to start weed-control programs early, says Rodney Tocco, crop protection technical marketing specialist, WinField. “Ideally, you should tackle weeds when they’re under four inches tall. Any taller, and weeds are much harder to control and likely causing yield loss in your fields.”
Tocco adds that mounting glyphosate resistance is prompting many farmers to return to preemergence herbicide applications. “It’s critical to clean up fields early, before resistant varieties get a foothold. You can’t count on in-season glyphosate applications to control some of the more stubborn weeds.”
There’s no such thing as a silver bullet for managing weeds, says Tocco. He urges farmers to make use of a variety of weed-control tactics to find the best solution for their specific challenges. He outlines the elements that matter most in effective weed-control plans.
  • Timing. Consider both pre- and postemergence herbicide applications to keep weeds from getting the upper hand.
  • Rates. Check labels for target pests and crops.
  • Carrier volume. Increase gallons per acre for better postemergence coverage.
  • Adjuvants. Maximize spray mixture efficacy with the right adjuvants and water conditioners.
  • Nozzles. Match the right nozzle tips to the spray situation for optimum deposition and coverage.
  • Modes of action. Combat weed herbicide resistance by rotating herbicide modes of action.
 “An early start and careful attention to the details are critical to help protect yield potential this year,” says Tocco. WinField regional agronomists are ready to help you fine-tune programs to combat weed challenges in your area.

Capturing Maximum ROI

Answer Plot®
Research Team
Marker-assisted breeding technology has dramatically increased the speed of developing new hybrids with improved yields and stress tolerance. This novel breeding process involves testing a small chip removed from the seed coat and endosperm to select seeds with specific genes and traits, drastically shortening the development period.

The question is: Are you reaping the benefits of these new hybrids and varieties as soon as they become available?

"Over the last several years, we’ve seen up to 5- to 6-bushel-per-acre yield increases with many new hybrids as compared to the current elite hybrids," says Brad Miller, region product manager, WinField. "Farmers need to capitalize on these gains as soon as possible or they’re losing out on yield."

A primary reason why you can confidently plant new genetics in a shorter period of time is the management information gleaned through the Answer Plot® program.

"Our Answer Plot® research includes numerous replicated trials for statistical accuracy and a high level of confidence in our data," Miller notes. "Through this research, we develop key insights about the right management practices, such as plant populations, soil types, plant nutrition and other factors that will help farmers capture maximum yield potential the first year they plant new products."

"Farmers are going to have approximately the same cost per acre for seed, whether they’re buying products that came out this year or four years ago," Miller notes. "However, sticking with an older hybrid with less yield potential than new releases for several years could cost that farmer 15 to 20 bushels per acre in lost yield during that time.

"WinField agronomists have the tools to help you take advantage of new seed technology as soon as it’s available and capture maximum return on your seed investment,” he adds.

Review the CROPLAN® 2015 Seed Guide for more information on new hybrids and varieties for the coming season to optimize your yield success and potential ROI.

1 Data from 136 Answer Plot® locations.
2 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.

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