Planting season and stronger commodity prices bring grower optimism. But it can be tempered by worry about likely hurdles. Pioneer recently polled U.S. corn growers on Twitter and Instagram: “Heading into 2021 planting, what is your biggest obstacle to a successful season?” Nearly 850 replied, revealing a three-way split at the top between too little moisture, fertility and too much moisture. Pioneer Agronomy Science Manager Dan Berning provides advice on ways to mitigate each, starting with the 30 percent of growers who named too little moisture as their top obstacle.
“If the primary concern is related to the lack of moisture within the total soil profile, then we would recommend selecting hybrids or varieties with traits or characteristics that are suitable to those drought-prone environments. And then of course, control weeds. And then thinking about other things that will help alleviate crop stress like adequate soil fertility, stagger our planning dates, stagger our maturities.”
Pioneer estimates that every 1 comparative relative maturity adds another 2 bushels per acre. Berning also provided tips around fertility, named primary obstacle by 27 percent of growers.
“If you haven’t soil tested in the last four years, it’s probably time to find out what’s in the soil to sustain the crop. Set your fertility goal for what you actually want to raise and/or what you have as a proven yield history. Typically, we need a pound of nitrogen per target or yield goal for corn after soybeans, maybe a little higher if it’s corn on corn. If you’re not already using sulfur in your mix, consider adding a little bit of sulfur. It’s a mobile nutrient, and we just don’t get as much of that from natural sources or mineralization to keep up with the high yielding crop.”
Twenty-six percent of growers selected too much moisture as their primary concern.
“If it’s a chronic situation, you might need to think about installing tile drainage for kind of a long-term fix.”
Various university studies show that installing drain tile on very poorly drained soils can increase yield by more than 50 bushels per acre.
“For the near term, select hybrids or varieties with traits or characteristics that are suitable to prolonged wet soil environments. For example, might want to have a little bit stronger root strength and then disease tolerance. Those environments tend to be little more prone to diseases. Wait for fit field conditions before putting the equipment in the field so you don’t create compaction. And then, of course, you use premium seed treatments on those soils to give us the best broad-spectrum control of those pathogens.”
Rounding out the poll results was “seed placement” with 15 percent. Berning added that growers can contact their local Pioneer agronomist or sales representative for advice on any field challenge.
Source: NAFB News Service