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Agronomists help farmers manage this season’s challenges

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With the 2021 growing season officially underway, the Golden Harvest agronomy team is offering farmers recommendations on how to navigate key challenges in the upcoming season, utilizing data from trials at several research locations across the Midwest.

Corn and soybean farmers must proactively protect their crops from insects, diseases and weeds to maximize yield potential and increase potential return on investment, making decisions on hybrid selection, chemical applications and crop management techniques critical to success in the field.

Here are the team’s top three tips for corn and soybean farmers this season:

1. Create a robust, multiyear corn rootworm management plan, and be prepared to make adjustments.

To avoid severe crop damage and yield loss from corn rootworm, farmers must proactively fight the pest using multiple tactics.

“The bottom line is there isn’t one easy answer to managing corn rootworm,” said Mitch Montgomery, agronomist for Golden Harvest in west central Iowa. “Building an effective corn rootworm management plan takes effort.”

To protect against corn rootworm this season and beyond, Montgomery recommends farmers start by analyzing and understanding their field history. Farmers should also think ahead to future seasons and plan to expose corn rootworm to something different by creating a multiyear, field-by-field plan. An effective plan deploys different management options in different seasons including crop rotation, the use of soil-applied insecticides such as Force 6.5G or Force Evo, rotation of trait stacks and use of a foliar insecticide such as Warrior II with Zeon Technology for adult beetle control when needed. The “Take Control of Corn Rootworm” decision guide can help farmers build an effective management plan. 

Montgomery also emphasized that farmers must be prepared to adapt their plan as the season progresses and insect pressures change. “A ‘set it and forget it’ strategy will not work with corn rootworm,” Montgomery said. “Farmers must remain vigilant throughout the season.”

2. Select resistant hybrids and make timely fungicide applications to control top corn diseases.

Southern corn rust, bacterial leaf streak, tar spot and Physoderma maydis are common diseases found in Midwestern cornfields any given season. To get them under control, the agronomists recommend farmers identify their top disease threats based on field history and choose resistant hybrids accordingly.

“Over years of research trials, we’ve had a lot of opportunity to identify which of our hybrids are susceptible to particular diseases and which have more tolerance,” said Lance Coers, agronomist for Golden Harvest in northern Illinois. “This enables farmers to choose hybrids that will perform the best in the environments for which they are managing.”

Once hybrid selections are final, Coers said the next best way to get ahead of diseases like Southern corn rust, tar spot or Physoderma maydis is to invest in a quality fungicide, for example Trivapro or Miravis Neo.

“It’s unlikely that there will be just one fungal disease in a field, so the absolute biggest recommendation we have for farmers outside of hybrid selection is to make timely fungicide applications,” he said. “We encourage growers who have known problematic fields to utilize a quality fungicide and spray fields. We also recommend that growers start scouting early and often throughout the season to keep common diseases under control.”

3. Follow a four-step approach for soybean weed management. 

Effective soybean weed management is about more than just killing weeds. “Soybean weed management should focus on knowing the key weeds in your fields, minimizing weed competition throughout the season, and choosing herbicide products and timing your applications to promote resistance management,” said Syngenta Seeds Agronomy Service Manager Jami Loecker.

Loecker recommends a four-step approach for farmers to control soybean weeds and manage herbicide resistance this season:

  1. Select seeds with genetics and herbicide tolerance that best fit farm needs
  2. Make a preemergence application of a herbicide with at least two effective sites of action
  3. Make a post-emergence application of a product with different effective sites of action, such as Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology, which can be used on dicamba-tolerant soybeans, or Sequence herbicide, which can be used on any glyphosate-tolerant trait
  4. For farmers who rotate between corn and soybeans, control volunteer corn populations with a strong herbicide, such as Fusilade DX, to protect soybean crop yield potential and aid in corn rootworm resistance management

For more help identifying the best herbicide options for your soybean fields, farmers can use this soybean herbicide program planning tool to discover products and create a flexible, integrated weed management plan.

Golden Harvest also recently released the Agronomy in Action 2021 Research Review, which is a comprehensive review of applied and practical agronomic studies conducted during the 2020 growing season at Golden Harvest Agronomy in Action research sites. The book provides trial summaries, results and learnings to help farmers mitigate risk and adjust management techniques for the 2021 growing season and beyond.

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