Throughout the season, our corn acres are inflicted with numerous threats from weather, diseases, and insects that are outside of our control. Let’s examine the things we can control and do them as best we can. Only then have we maximized the potential for final yields and minimized the potential impact of threats outside our control. This will take planning, execution, and a great deal of attention to detail. Here are some suggestions that focus on areas that can make the largest impact.
1) Fertility needs – Make certain that your fertility and soil pH match your yield expectations. Test your soil to know exactly what you need and follow the recommendations. Remember that nitrogen requirements for corn on corn are significantly higher than for corn on rotated ground.
2) Planter and monitor adjustments and calibration – Spend the time and the money here for accurate, consistent drop. An accurate population of evenly distributed seed without doubles and skips is critical for maximum yields. Even if no changes are necessary, it is worth peace of mind to know that this will not be a yield bottleneck.
3) Wait for “fit” field conditions – Excessive soil moisture, and poor soil tilth have major impacts on seed germination, early growth, and seedling health. Soil compaction and poor seed-to-soil contact set the crop up for poor stands and weak, late emerging plants. No matter what happens the rest of the year, you have been robbed of yield potential that cannot be recovered.
4) Review hybrid positioning information – Your seed rep has provided you with a specific set of recommendations as to which products to plant where and at what density. These recommendations are based on what we know about the products and how to maximize their yield potential. A great product that is not positioned accurately may only perform as well as an average product, or worse. Avoid the “grab and go” mistakes by reviewing your notes and/or checking with your Renk Seed rep.
5) Consider ordering fungicide and applicator early – Higher commodity prices would tend to make us want to protect every bushel of yield potential. Foliar fungicide may not pay a high return every year, but for many products it is a very good bet especially with continuous corn acres. It won’t take many bushels to recover this extra cost this year and the potential upside could be significant.
6) Start with a clean field – Over 80 percent of 2011 corn acres will be planted with a herbicide tolerant hybrid. Renk Seed advocates “starting clean” with these acres by using a burn down herbicide or tillage.
1) Planting depth –Check your planting depth often; not just when you enter your first field but every time you begin planting in a different field condition (soil type, crop rotation, tillage type, etc.) Each of these impact the depth of seed placement. Keeping the depth between 1.75” – 2.25” is critical to a uniform distribution of evenly growing plants as well as keeping the root system of the plants deep enough to be effective and strong.
2) Correct speed – No other way to say it. Speed kills. Planting at speeds greater than the recommended zone for your planter kills yield potential. It causes planter bounce, which effects uneven seed placement. It also dramatically increases the numbers of doubles and gaps; both of which lead to unproductive or underproductive plants. Speeding up may seem like the right thing to do as storm clouds come looming in, but weigh the fact that 10 – 20 bu. per acre yield loss is a reality and your decision could cost you $60 – $100 or more for every acre that you choose to slam in quickly.
3) Stick with hybrid placement plan – See point #4 in the Pre-plant section. Make certain your plant density properly matches the hybrid, the soil type, and the yield expectations for each field.
1) Scout your fields; early and often – Check emergence as early as possible for soil crusting, insect feeding, diseases, herbicide interactions, weed pressures, and wildlife damage. Corn on corn acres are especially in need of monitoring.
2) Control those weeds – Just remember that weeds taller than 4” will reduce your yield.
3) Foliar fungicides – Results from fungicide application vary from year to year and between hybrids. Your continuous corn acres may warrant consideration for fungicide if those acres tend to have a history of fungal diseases.
4) Insect control – Using genetic traits to control corn borers, rootworms, ear worms, and western bean cutworms is clearly the best insurance against damage from these yield robbing insects. Your Renk Seed rep can prescribe the best trait options for your operation.