From the Field with AgriGold: Putting 2018 Under the Microscope

Variable, in most cases, has been the best word to describe the 2018 season. Growers saw challenges ranging from inconsistent weather conditions to erratic insect and disease pressures to diverse commodity prices.
However, from Brandon Nystrom’s perspective, 2018 will end on a higher note than expected for a number of growers.
“Even with the large amount of variability we saw from field to field this season and the environmental challenges growers experienced, we had a good harvest with better than expected yields,” commented Nystrom, Agronomist for AgriGold. “Now is the time to look back at how we got here while also looking ahead to 2019.”
Sizing Up 2018 Challenges
As Nystrom recaps the 2018 season with growers, three yield-threatening themes continually emerged. Specifically:
Nitrogen Loss
“An area of concern was nitrogen loss caused by rain early in the season. This ended up starving corn of much-needed nutrients later in the season, which ultimately reduced the top-end yields for fields in these challenging environments.”
Excessive Heat
“Any place that suffered from excessive heat during pollination or in the early part of grain fill might have experienced higher kernel loss numbers or failed pollination.”
Stalk Integrity
“Across the board, the question I received the most this season pertained to stalk integrity. Due to the excessive heat, the accelerated growth cycle, disease pressure and nutrient deficiencies, a large number of plants ended up dying, losing integrity and laying on the ground.”
Harvest 2018: How We Did
Considering all the environmental challenges and variability, Nystrom believes 2018 was a successful year for many growers.
“Reported yields were positive, especially in the stressed areas. Our hybrids performed very well, and I witnessed some of the best corn performances I’ve ever seen during my time with AgriGold,” Nystrom stated.
In addition, Nystrom pointed to full-season maturity corn hybrids as performing the best overall during the 2018 season. This success, he says, is due to how these hybrids held up against environmental stresses during the early grain fill periods of the season.
Takeaways from 2018
As growers wrap up 2018 and look ahead to 2019, Nystrom has compiled his key takeaways from the season. When looking at the whole operational picture, Nystrom says everything comes down to this: Management pays, and timing is everything.
“This saying is true any year growers face a lot of challenges. It’s critical to have an intimate understanding of the products they’re using in order to maximize the products’ abilities, but sometimes this gets overlooked in the shuffle of the season,” Nystrom elaborated. “Growers need to know what pays on their operation because it’s not about throwing as many dollars and inputs at that crop as possible but spending wisely and effectively.”
With this in mind, Nystrom is encouraging growers to account for genetic diversity and budget for fungicides going into 2019. He points to the need for the right hybrid on the right acre to mitigate risk and increase yield potential, which are two imperative pieces when facing suppressed grain prices. Nystrom also emphasized the season’s sporadic disease presence, which saw the fast emergence of gray leaf spot, wider introduction of tar spot further east in the Corn Belt and accelerated plant growth as signs of necessity for a proactive fungicide program to protect crucial yields and grain quality.
“Looking to 2019, we have to keep in mind there is no such thing as a perfect growing season. But with the adversity we saw in 2018 comes the opportunity to learn from what we did or didn’t do. If we’re diligent and proactive in our approach, we’ll have a better chance for more highs and profitability down the road,” Nystrom explained.
To schedule a meeting with your local AgriGold Corn Specialist and learn how you can start planning for 2019, visit AgriGoldBeBold.com.

From the Field With AgriGold: Spotting Success At Harvest

Defining a corn crop’s success is simple. It comes down to yields, but a whole host of decisions made during the season factor into the final number that appears on the yield monitor. To comprehend the success of an entire crop plan, Shane Brockhoff, Regional Sales Manager for AgriGold, looks at a compilation of signs, while incorporating in-field testing into his harvest routine, to evaluate the effectiveness and performance of seed and crop input choices.
The Preharvest Checklist
Brockhoff starts off with a push and pinch test in the days leading up to expected maturity. This tells him two things: where the crop is in relation to its intended maturity date and what its stalk integrity is like.
Following this test, Brockhoff moves onto examining the appearance of the crop, which can provide clear insights into whether genetics are performing as intended. His checklist includes:
• Root and stalk quality.
• Grain quality.
• Ear shank strength.
“Initially, growers look at these aspects to determine where to start first and where to harvest next,” Brockhoff explained. “This testing is also one of the first steps in 2019 planning. The insights gained from these tests can help them weigh decisions like their dry down by maturity options.”
Smooth Sailing At Harvest
Though yields and performance remain the standards of success, Brockhoff reminds growers to examine how easily the harvest went.
“Outside of the yield monitor, I look at harvest efficiency as a success benchmark, which I deem as anything that slows down or impedes harvest,” Brockhoff stated. “That can include items like stalk integrity (is the crop going to blow over at harvest), dry down maturity (is the crop ready when it’s supposed to be) or ear shank strength (are ears going to fall off the plant as we go through with the combine).”
In Brockhoff’s experience, inefficiencies like these not only slow down operations when time is of the essence but can impact growers’ bottom lines.
Bird’s-Eye View From the Combine Cab
Once combines are roaring, time seems to speed up. But this period is one Brockhoff encourages growers to take full advantage of, including taking detailed notes while going through the field. Brockhoff mentions that, in addition to growers gathering their own in-field intelligence, they should have their local AgriGold Corn Specialist join for a ride along.
“This is a crucial time of year that is the end of one season and the start of another. With a Corn Specialist riding shotgun, they bring historical context to the situation and a fresh set of eyes to pinpoint and address areas of underperformance and success,” Brockhoff commented. “Our Corn Specialists also use this as an opportunity to gain results-based insights and ask growers questions about their goals. All this compiled information guides them as they work with growers to form their 2019 seed selection.”
To schedule a meeting with your local AgriGold Corn Specialist and learn how they can help maximize your 2019 plan, visit AgriGoldbeBold.com.


From the Field With AgriGold: Finishing Strong in 2018 Helps Form 2019 Plans

The thought of harvest is looming on farmers as they enter the final stages of the growing season. However, to Mike Kavanaugh, agronomist for AgriGold, there’s still much to do this season to aid the 2018 crop and ultimately, next year’s.

Kavanaugh is advising farmers to collect as much in-field intelligence as possible for the remainder of the season and employ in-field tests to determine what’s needed to finish strong in 2018, what went right, what didn’t and opportunities for next season. “These aspects will help farmers finish out their current crop program and spend dollars wisely the rest of the season,” Kavanaugh explained. “They also help validate current management practices to build on for next year.”

In particular, Kavanaugh is stressing farmers take measures that can be used during and out of season, including:

Perform on-farm testing

“Constant on-farm testing is a necessity. What works for one operation may not work on the next. Farmers need to take time to test new management styles and ideas on their farm to gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.”

Evaluate ear set, ear counts, kernel counts and genetics

“Uneven ear lines are an indicator of planting issues, evident after pollination, that can be corrected for next season. Ear evaluation can also highlight population pros and cons or nutritional deficiencies. An evaluation of your genetics helps you gain a better understanding of the germplasm you’re using. Different genetics respond differently to soil types, row widths, planting dates, crop rotation, population and fertility, so review those aspects now.”

Implement digital scouting

“In the past, there have been a lot of ‘gut feel’ recommendations based on experiences and testing alone. Using digital cropping models, like Advantage Acre®, allows us to analyze nitrogen needs by looking at soil, past and future rainfall predictions and the predicted yield of the crop.”

Take detailed notes

“Make sure you’re tracking and taking note of what weather predictions were and cross check them against actual conditions, while evaluating stand and plant health all season long. It’s important to know why and how the crop struggled or prevailed throughout the season. Lastly, a tissue sampling program is a great way to understand your crop’s nutritional diary from year to year.”

Additional Steps to Protect Yield Potential in 2018

With the abundance of moisture, heat and rapid vegetative growth farmers have experienced this season, farmers are seeing increased cases of green snap and high disease pressure. Threatening growers the most has been grey leaf spot, which Kavanaugh says has run rapidly across the central Corn Belt this season with Northern corn leaf blight expected to be right behind it.

To minimize potential yield loss and improve standability, Kavanaugh recommends the use of a fungicide during tassel or grain fill stages. Application during these windows delivers optimal disease control and lowers respiration rates at night. With lower respiration rates Kavanaugh says, the corn plant receives a better night’s rest, so it can be more efficient during sunlight hours to fill the kernel.

“We have a tremendous crop out there, but also a high potential for disease. Our experiences in heavy disease infested corn fields have shown 50-70 bushel yield preservation even when sprayed two weeks before black layer, so growers can’t afford to cheat themselves out of bushels,” Kavanaugh explained. “Keep an eye on the upper canopy and don’t let your guard down on disease.”

To schedule a meeting with your local AgriGold corn specialist and learn how you can start planning for 2019, visit agrigold.com/contact-us.


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