Growing Knowledge

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

Considerations for 2019 Crop Rotation Decisions

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
On this episode of the Deal With Yield, Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk continue the crop rotation conversation. The two discuss factors that can force a crop rotation decision when farmers are faced with weed resistance and the power of soil health to guide crop plans.
Season 14, Episode 5: Considerations for 2019 Crop Rotation Decisions

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

Manage for More Yield on Non-Rotational Acres

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
The advantages of crop rotation have been well documented over the years. But market conditions and on-farm needs are pushing more farmers to skip rotations and opt for continuously cropped acres instead. If you’re one of those farmers, here are some considerations to maximize productivity on non-rotated acres.
Continuous corn acres
Research has shown that continuous corn yield penalties were more severe in areas with low moisture and low yields.1 With that in mind, it makes sense to choose high production acres for corn-on-corn rotations, if possible. Here are some other tips to maximize yield potential.

  • Choose stable hybrids. Strive to find balance with a high-yielding hybrid that also carries defensive traits like strong disease and insect resistance. Trait packages that protect against above- and below-ground pests, including corn rootworm, are also a good investment for corn-on-corn acres.
  • Evaluate seed treatments. The right treatment helps protect against early-season fungal diseases and insects that might be more prevalent due to the extra plant residue and added moisture in continuous cornfields.
  • Apply foliar fungicides and insecticides. As insect and pathogen populations accumulate in soil and crop residue, the potential for damage and yield loss increases.
  • Manage residue. Extra corn residue can result in additional challenges at planting, including wetter, cooler soils. Excess residue can also have implications for nitrogen cycling.
Continuous soybean acres
Pests seem to be one of the biggest yield-limiting factors for soybean-on-soybean acres. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is historically one of the main concerns, although many farmers aren’t testing for the pest in their fields. Here are some management practices to reduce the yield penalty associated with continuous soybean cropping.
  • Alternate genetics. Choosing diverse seed varieties each year helps ensure common weed, insect and disease pests don’t become resistant to management strategies. WinPak® soybeans from CROPLAN® seed include a unique combination of two varieties that work together and confer different levels of protection against common diseases to help mitigate risk.
  • Treat seed. Selecting soybean varieties with the right seed treatments can provide up to 40 days of protection against early-season diseases including rhizoctonia, Pythium and sudden death syndrome.
  • Watch nutrient levels. Multiple years of soybean production can remove nutrients including phosphorus and potassium from the soil.
  • Apply foliar fungicide and insecticide. Applications at the R2/R3 growth stage can provide extra protection against late-season pests.
Strategic production practices can help you get more from non-rotational acres. Consult with your local WinField United retailer to develop a comprehensive management plan that includes the proper seed choices, crop protection products and fertilization needs for your acres.
1. Seifert, C. A., M. J. Roberts, and D. B. Lobell. 2017. Continuous Corn and Soybean Yield Penalties across Hundreds of Thousands of Fields. Agron. J. 109:541-548. doi:10.2134/agronj2016.03.0134
© 2018 WinField United. CROPLAN®, WinField® and WinPak® are trademarks of WinField United.

Managing For Yield on Rotational and Non-Rotational Acres

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
From nitrogen applications to tillage options to market conditions, there’s a lot to consider when making crop rotation decisions. On this episode of the Deal With Yield, hosts Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk discuss the many factors that play into crop rotation decisions. Plus, the guys look back on lessons learned in 2018.
Season 14, Episode 4: Managing For Yield on Rotational and Non-Rotational Acres

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

5 Tips for Fall Nitrogen Management

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
Nitrogen is a tough nutrient to manage. It can be immobilized, volatilized or leached before plants even have a chance to uptake it. As you consider fall nitrogen applications, here are five tips to make the most of your dollars and time.
  1. Watch soil temperatures. Before you apply your fall nitrogen application, be sure the soil temperature is at 50 degrees and declining. Nitrification can take place when soils are above this threshold, making the potential loss over the winter relatively high.
  1. Split your applications. With fall-applied nitrogen, you’re many months away from crop uptake. About 75 percent of a corn plant’s nitrogen is taken up before tassel, and 80 percent of that is taken up between V8 and VT. Even with a nitrogen stabilizer, there is a decent potential for loss during those months between a fall application and crop uptake.
Spoon-feeding nitrogen throughout the season can favor plant availability. Start with ammonia in the fall, follow that with an at-planting application with your herbicide to get the crop up and running, and finish with a side-dress nitrogen application around V5.
  1. Check hybrid response. The amount of nitrogen you apply will vary each year depending on yield goals, weather conditions, crop rotation and the hybrid’s response to nitrogen (RTN). If your hybrids have a high nitrogen response, I’d recommend applying more nitrogen with spring applications. I tend to recommend variable-rate applications in the spring rather than the fall depending on the hybrid’s RTN, the rainfall amounts and the previous crop.
  1. Stabilize your nitrogen. Nitrogen stabilizers slow down the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, which is critical to keeping nitrogen in a form that prevents leaching. I recommend using nitrogen stabilizers with every fall application and potentially with early spring applications, depending on the amount of nitrogen applied. Even at planting, you’re 60 days from when the crop will use most of the available nitrogen, so there’s still potential for significant loss.
In Iowa, N-Serve® and Instinct® are two popular products used to help stabilize nitrogen. Based on 452 trials from 2010 to 2016, there was an average 8.9 bushel per acre yield increase when Instinct and N-Serve were applied to corn*. In addition, corn trials treated with NutriSphere-N® produced an average 10.0 more bushels per acre versus untreated checks, demonstrating the effectiveness of adding a nitrogen stabilizer to your application.* 
  1. Don’t forget sulfur. Without enough sulfur, plants aren’t able to use nitrogen efficiently. For every 10 units of nitrogen applied, a unit of sulfur should also be applied. That can come in the form of elemental sulfur in the fall or an AMS or ATS product in the spring. Elemental sulfur doesn’t release quickly, so I recommend no more than 50 percent of sulfur needs come from elemental sulfur or gypsum. The other 50 percent of sulfur can be applied in the spring with an AMS or ATS product.
Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for postharvest nitrogen applications. Contact your WinField United retailer for more information on best nitrogen management practices.
* Based on Verdesian Life Sciences and Dow AgroSciences data on file.
NutriSphere-N® is a trademark of Verdesian Life Sciences. N-Serve® and Instinct® are trademarks of Dow AgroSciences.

4 Tips to Brighten Your Sunflower Harvest

Paul Gregor
Diverse Field Crops Product Manager (Canola, Sunflower, Wheat)
If you grow sunflowers in the Upper Midwest, you’re probably preparing for harvest or just starting to harvest your crop. Before combining, be sure to pay attention to the physiological maturity of your plants in order to harvest properly. Here are a few harvest tips to help save you some headaches.
1. Harvest in a timely manner.
It’s common for farmers to wait too long to harvest their sunflower crops. When this occurs, seeds can become too dry and, as a result, seed loss can be substantial. Ideally, you want  sunflower heads to stay largely intact as they go out the back of the combine. Waiting too long to harvest can cause the heads to break up into many pieces, which prohibits the sieves on the back of the combine from effectively separating the seeds from the trash. This causes seeds to be lost out the back of the combine.  
2. Remember that looks can be deceiving.
Even if your sunflowers don’t look like they’re ready to harvest, they might be. For example, CROPLAN® sunflower varieties 432 E and 549 CL can actually be harvested sooner than looks might indicate — before they display fully dried leaves, yellow heads or brown bracts. That’s why it’s crucial not to rely on visual cues alone. Make sure you’re going into your fields to evaluate plant heads and seeds, and not just eyeing plants while driving past the field.
3. Check for acceptable harvest loss.
Be sure to go behind the combine and see how much seed you’re losing out the back. For example, if you’re dropping 10 seeds per square foot, that’s 100 pounds of yield lost per acre. Determine what amount of seed loss is acceptable, and then adjust the combine to help mitigate that if it’s too high. Turning down the air, reducing the speed of the intake auger, slowing the cylinder speed and adjusting the concave setting can help.
4. Harvest at the right moisture level.
It is recommended that sunflowers be harvested when plants are between 12 and 15 percent moisture. As mentioned previously, waiting until plants are too dry can result in more trash and more seeds going out the back of the combine. Harvesting in the 12 to 15 percent range allows you to do a better job of combining and capturing all of your seed, and reduces the likelihood of combine fires. Then, once you finish combining and take the seed to your bins, you’ll need effective aeration for proper drying. The most important thing before you get seed in the bin is to know what your moisture level is and not to put a lot of trash in the bin, which helps reduce spoilage.
Work with your agronomist to make harvesting your sunflowers pay off in both yield and ROI potential this season.
© 2018 WinField United. CROPLAN® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

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