March 13, 2017
“Plan the work, work the plan.” The age-old adage rings true across any project in any industry. In farming, the plan outlines the important path from buying farm inputs to harvest marketing decisions. When building a solid plan, a helpful first step is to evaluate successes — and challenges — from the past. Broken down by state, here are a few key learnings from 2016 along with recommendations for 2017.
Many Iowa growers planted row crops in a timely manner in 2016, providing a jump start on the season. On average, corn planting was 7.5 days ahead of schedule and soybean planting was 7.4 days ahead of schedule. At the end of the season, yield averages were above the five-year average: about 34 bushels per acre in corn and 11 bushels per acre in soybeans.
Challenges with resistant weeds struck again in 2016, with waterhemp and Palmer amaranth causing trouble in many acres. Low commodity prices strained profitability, reaffirming the importance of high yields and a healthy cost-per-acre.
With weed pressures in the spotlight, a priority for 2017 should be foundational weed control early in the season. Applying a pre-emergent residual herbicide hits weeds before they can emerge, helping the season begin with clean fields. Once the growing season is underway, it’s important to stick to the plan and follow through on commitments to achieve the maximum ROI at harvest.
With many growers planting corn in late April 2016, in-furrow fungicide applications provided protection for young corn plants during the cool, wet conditions of spring. Final yields for the state were about 26 bushels per acre above the five-year corn average and 10 bushels per acre above the soybean average.
Like Iowa, South Dakota growers faced low commodity prices and weed resistance. Waterhemp and marestail delivered consistent weed pressure across soybean acres.
Promoting high yields through proactive crop protection will continue to be a priority for 2017. Initiating weed management plans early by leveraging residual herbicides can help fields start and stay clean of weeds like marestail, waterhemp and kochia. Applying foliar fungicides can also help carry disease control and plant health benefits through the season.
Early on in 2016, Minnesota growers saw conducive weather conditions. Following favorable weather for planting, corn and soybean acres were on average planted 13.6 and 9.8 days ahead of schedule, respectively. Timely summer rain then promoted strong crop growth, helping to set up crops for success.
Weed and disease pressures brought challenges for many growers. Midseason diseases, like Septoria brown spot, rusts and eyespot highlighted the importance of carrying crop protection through harvest.
For 2017, growers should prioritize their cost-per-acre. Smart investments in new technology can help push yield potential, promoting higher profitability along the way.
The Bottom Line
There are many factors to consider when planning for a growing season. No matter the state, the concept is the same — learn from the past, consult with others and think in the future.
To download infographics to accompany these planning tips, visit http://bit.ly/PlanningTips17.