Evaluating 2018 Crop Performance, Selecting 2019 Hybrids

Bostrom corn plot harvest

2018 Crop Performance

“The weather has finally improved and harvest is progressing,” said John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location, noting that growers have said soybeans yields are “above average and good,” but many fields are not as good as they look.

“We have big plants that, with a lot of wind and rain, are showing a ‘heavy lean,’” he said. Pod counts are good, but the beans are small. Swanson suggested a few reasons for decreased yields when compared to full potential:

  1. The dry period during the critical month of August did more damage than thought.
  2. The foliar diseases, such as septoria brown spot, during mid- to late-summer adversely affected the crops.
  3. Although white mold was “not a huge issue” this year, as it was in 2017, many fields showed damage from brown stem rot. (The adage rain makes grain is very true, but with rain comes the risk of disease. Swanson said to “consider using foliar fungicides when the plants look as good as they did this summer.”)

Corn harvest is not yet complete, but “from what I can tell, I believe this crop will rank between first and third for all time for a lot of our local farmers,” said Swanson. “We have a great corn crop in the field . . . and it’s going to be very critical to get it harvested as quickly as we can.”

Anthracnose stalk rot was evident in many fields this year, and it was a problem in multiple hybrids (though at varying levels). Swanson advised doing the push test: “Push your plants from one row to the next at ear height; if they kink and bend over . . . harvest as soon as possible.”

2019 Seed Choices

With 2018 performance notes in hand, “it is important to make sure we do the best we can with hybrid selection [for 2019],” said Swanson. There are differences in:

  1. disease ratings,
  2. plant characteristics – stalks and roots,
  3. yield potential.

Federated’s plots may show varying differences in yield due to the plots and their management, but “it is important to not only purchase the correct hybrids, but make sure you are putting the hybrids into the best situation for them to excel,” said Swanson. Consider these questions:

  1. Will the seed be used in sand or heavy soils?
  2. Is the field corn on corn, or soybeans on soybeans?
  3. What is the planting population?

“[ Federated Agronomists] can help you match all these different scenarios to your hybrids and varieties to make sure you get the most out of them,” he said.

This year Federated had eight different Discovery Plots (see soybean results below), on a variety of soils and using different crop management tools. Use this data, along with info from seed suppliers and your Federated Agronomists to “help you make a sound seed plans for your individual farm,” said Swanson.