The word of the year to best describe Indiana’s corn and soybean crops is variability. It can be chalked up to rain patterns from central through northern Indiana that were great in some areas but provided sparse rains at best in other areas. Stephanie Smith is a Golden Harvest agronomist.
“We had some rain patterns move across the state very sparsely. You get toward central Indiana and guys are having some of the best yields they’ve ever had and then into the northern part of the state where rainfall was very, very sparse during the growing season and guys are merely scraping by. So, we had high ground get burnt up and low ground have as high of yields as growers have had. It just depends on whether you were lucky enough to catch those rains showers.”
Smith says every farmer wants the hybrids and varieties that will insulate them from the weather risks and get those lofty yield numbers year after year. She says keep going after those high yields with your seed and input decisions, “but I want to have some risk mitigation tools in my management as well. So I want to set up for really good conditions but if I don’t get them, can I still hit singles and doubles instead of going for that home run. So mitigating some of those stresses and understanding management to help mitigate some of those drought stresses is really what I’m after.”
Smith saw some management practices that didn’t work out this year, so she encourages smart practices next year that encourage root growth.
“Root growth is going to mitigate some of those drought stresses,” Smith told HAT. “Root growth is going to help us take up more of our soil fertility. Root growth is better able to anchor that plant all throughout the season. So, anything I can do in my risk management, not tilling too wet, not planting too wet, if I can incorporate strip till, if I can place nutrients in that root system vs. perhaps a broadcast application.”
Encourage root growth to mitigate stresses during the season, that is Smith’s best advice for next year.