Alrighty, people. Just in case you didn’t notice: what we thought would come to pass this year—it didn’t exactly happen that way. Which is neither here nor there, but is reason to take the opportunity to reevaluate what we’re doing.
The crux of this mismatch between what we expected and what we got is this: we expected a hot and dry season—we’ve gotten a cool and wet one. The very, very good thing about this little flip of fortune: we have a good soil moisture profile. That’s never ever (ever, ever, ever) something to complain about, but to take true advantage of it, we have to do some tweaking.
Tweak #1: Fungicide
Cool and wet seasons are great for soil moisture, but they can also increase disease issues. For those of you who planted wheat, many of you sprayed many of your acres to address this very problem, and now it’s our turn with our corn. Diseases like fusarium have more than likely already started in our corn plants, so as you get ready to head out with your post emerge chemistry, think too about applying a fungicide. It will address disease issues like fusarium, thus supporting a good total yield. A 2012 study from Iowa State University showed that an application of fungicide at V5 resulted in a 4.9 bushel advantage over untreated acres.
Tweak #2: Adjusting N
I’ve heard many of your concerns that you’ve lost some N in our wet weather. If it wasn’t protected with a nitrogen stabilizer type product, you’re probably right.
There are some companies out there promoting a slow release/low use rate product to help combat just this, but it’s my thought that such a thing is a bit too little too late. It could work, but given our situation, it strikes me as about as promising as putting a Band-Aid over an axe wound.
Here’s the rub. Many of us probably have lost some N due to the weather. This is only half the issue though. The other half is that we under-fertilized to begin with. I mean, we were expecting a hot, dry year and we fertilized accordingly. I made my own recommendations with that expectation. But it turned out differently, didn’t it? It turned out that our crop has an incredible, if unexpected, potential right now—a potential that outstrips the N we originally put down.
That’s a bit of a double whammy. Not only have we probably lost some N but we didn’t put enough down to begin with. That leaves us short, if you’d rather me do the math. Shorter than a slow release product can address in most cases.
So, we adjust in order to raise the best crop possible. We know that we have a good soil moisture profile. We expect that similar conditions will present similar disease struggles in our corn as in our wheat. We are semi-certain that we’ve lost some N in the past month and that we’re short overall given conditions. Will adjusting to these realities generate extra cost? Of course. But the potential for an awesome return on investment is very present, making cost only a temporary concern and profit a very tangible benefit.