I’m calling 2017 the year of Making Good Decisions. Before we open the year though, we need to dispel a little myth or misunderstanding or what-have-you that seems to excuse us from making good decisions:
We give too much credit to genetics.
Now, now. I’m sure I riled up a few seed guys with that, but keep reading.
The average grower makes around 40 critical decisions regarding their operation each year. Of those decisions, seed selection is likely the most important. This is true.
But. One decision does not an operation make. It is all too easy to ruin even the best seed selection with other not-so-fantastic decisions in the follow-up.
For example, in 2017, I will go to the gym and work out with a trainer. (I’m on a mission, friends.) I’ve started early on this resolution, in fact. So I go to the gym and work out with a trainer four times a week for an hour. It’s a good decision. A critical decision for my health and well-being, perhaps the critical decision. But four hours a week is only 2% of my time in any given week. If in the other 98% of my time each week I eat at IHOP, visit vending machines, sip on giant gas station sodas, I’m going to ruin my very good decision.
And, kind of strangely, it seems that making this good decision about how to spend 2% of my time gives me permission to be a total idiot the other 98% of the time.
Seed decisions seem similar. It is critically important that we make the right seed decisions. Then, it is critically important that we keep ourselves on the hook and make other right decisions.
Over the last 20 years, improvements in genetics account for about 50% of our yield increases. That’s a big percentage from one factor. But the other 50% of our yield increases have come from better agronomic practices.
Consider: A given bag of seed has in it the potential for 600 bushels per acre. The high-yield competitor guys and gals can get about 454 bushels per acre out of that seed. The average grower gets about 158 bushels per acre out of that seed. The difference between 454 and 158 isn’t the seed—it’s the same seed, people!—but the agronomic practices undertaken in the growing of the seed.
The goal isn’t to make you all like the high-yield competitor guys but to get you making all of your decisions with as much information and deliberation. So, over the next few months, I’m going to use this space to talk in depth about some of the significant agronomic decisions we make every year—things like the use or not of a starter fertilizer, disease management, and foliar nutrition—with the goal of giving you careful, high-quality information to assist in your good decision making.
Like getting in shape is a process, improving decision making is a process, too, that requires a lot of the same tools, like mindfulness, understanding, and the perspective to work within your limitations. I hope that you’re along for the ride. For now though, as we close out 2016, make the best seed decision possible. Use your FSA to help you consider the right hybrid, right placement, and consider the interactions between the two. Then come back next week, when we’ll begin to build your spaceship.