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Agronomist says to use long-term trends as planning guide for 2013

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 10/10/2012 3:46 PM

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BOONE, Iowa — Many producers use the immediate past season as a guide when planning for the next one, but a better strategy may be to plan for next year by looking at long-term weather trends, says Brent Wilson, DuPont Pioneer technical services manager.

"This past growing season was obviously extremely dry across the Corn Belt, and many are suffering from the drought as they plan for the next growing season," said Wilson at the recent Farm Progress Show in Boone. "Weather changes from year to year, and we can't predict the next growing season. Growers should look at several seasons and rely on that information to make decisions."

Seed product selection is on most growers' minds this time of year and following harvest. Wilson reminds producers that 2012 was not a typical year and recommends relying on years prior to 2012 for product selection. Making selections based on one year of experience may not be a sound strategy.

"The Aquamax products and drought tolerance have garnered tremendous discussion in our customer base, but we're trying to put that in perspective," Wilson said.

Aquamax was designed for the Western Corn Belt and given more normal precipitation in Iowa and Minnesota, drought tolerance may be a good fit for the most stressed acres, but there is a full line-up of hybrids available to growers, Wilson said.

For fertilizer application for 2013, most growers planned for a larger crop than they ended up with, said Wilson, and they should use grain removal as a guide for phosphorous and potassium application. Due to the drought, there may be opportunities to take nitrogen credits going into next year. Nitrogen is mobile with soil moisture and may move or disappear with wetter soils. Waiting until spring to apply nitrogen may allow better decisions on how much nitrogen may be available for the following crop.

"After a drought year, herbicide carryover may be a big concern, but that's often difficult to predict," says Wilson. "After the 1988 drought, Scepter carryover was a problem. Microbes in cooler fall temperatures are not as effective in breaking down herbicide compounds, but the chemicals are broken down best in warm spring soils. Water can also help degrade the compounds."

Farmers need to know their chemicals to help determine if there might be carryover, Wilson said. They should look at records and labels to know exactly what herbicides were on each field. Contact local crop agronomist or university Extension specialists for information on possible carryover concerns.

Weeds may be more prevalent next year due to less-than-ideal weed control during the dry weather. Check fields for an inventory of which weeds are growing.

"Farmers may want to consider a broad spectrum herbicide to cover both broadleaf weeds and grasses," Wilson said. "Be on the lookout for glyphosate-resistant weeds that you may have noticed earlier in the season and plan your weed control program accordingly for 2013."

A new insect for some corn growers — the Japanese beetle — is moving westward. The beetle is usually not a significant problem in normal years, but can be devastating in tough years with weakened plants. Wilson suggests putting the Japanese beetle on the list of insects to scout for in 2013.

"Corn rootworm is a bigger problem if we have a dry, warm winter, followed by dry conditions," he said. "In wet years, microbes that attack rootworms are more prevalent."

Crop rotations is one way to manage this insect. Growers may also want to consider a new mode of action in corn rootworm resistant traits, especially if they've used the same one for several years. Corn rootworm insecticide treatments are also something to consider.

Growers should also consider seed treatment programs that can help protect their seed against soil pests, Wilson said.