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Capturing remaining yield potential

Photo courtesy of Mycogen Seeds

Midwest farmers were in deep water this spring. Unfortunately, literally and figuratively.

Producers must now focus on capturing their crops’ remaining yield potential.

A commercial agronomist offers tips and tricks for this task below.

Heavy rains hindered crop growth this past spring. Weather forecasts currently lean toward unfavorable conditions, which could create additional challenges. John Long, commercial agronomist for Mycogen Seeds in western Iowa, discusses items farmers need to monitor, including nitrogen.

“One of the things we need to look at, with the excessive moisture we had early, (is) do we have enough nitrogen to sustain and produce a full crop? If growers fell, or suspect, they do not have enough nitrogen, they can still side dress nitrogen applications with high clearance machines and wide drops, or urea through an airplane,” Long said.

Long says, “It’s not to (apply) supplemental nitrogen to help improve yield potential.” In fact, Iowa State University (ISU) research suggests farmers can increase their return on investment by applying nitrogen through tassel.

Another item producers should consider is fungicide.

“The second thing farmers can do, that I think is going to be critical, is put a lot of thought into fungicide applications,” Long said. “As we talk about the crop we have growing now: It was planted late, we were low on GDUs and slow on development. We’re going to mostly tassel and silke here in the latter half of July. The later we tassel, the shorter the days get and less total sunlight during the day. One of the things that can reduce photosynthesis is any sort of foliar disease that shuts down leaf area and doesn’t let the leaf absorb sunlight.”

Long adds, “It’s important to keep leaves healthy to achieve maximum yield potential.” He suggests the best way to protect a crop from disease is by using a preventative fungicide treatment.

“I would tell growers that they want to use a preventative fungicide before symptomatology of disease starts to prevent the disease from starting,” Long said. “There’s curatives and there’s preventatives. Most research will show getting the preventative on at mid-silk, when we’re 100-percent tasseled and silking, is going to give you your biggest return on investment.”