Corn and soybean fields are at full maturity, with about 20 percent of soybeans and about 30 percent of corn harvested in his area of southeastern Minnesota, says WinField United regional agronomist Jon Zuk. A rainy and even snowy early October has delayed harvest and made for rutted fields.
Farmers are especially focused on getting corn harvested because many stalks have fallen due to stalk rot caused by the wet, cold, windy weather. Some flat corn may not be able to be harvested, Zuk notes. In some cases, ear mold is also presenting a problem for corn at harvest.
Weeds are making soybeans tough to get out of the field, which has resulted in yield loss. There were also many drowned-out soybean fields (as well as cornfields), and farmers realized that even small flooded areas can bring the overall yield average of the field down. Although there are some good corn and soybean yields, if even 5 acres out of 100 aren’t producing anything, the field average goes down considerably, says Zuk, noting that farmers have still applied inputs and paid rent on those unproductive acres.
Zuk recommends that farmers refer to their farm plans and implement them, whether that’s doing primary tillage, taking soil samples or spreading fertilizer before the ground freezes. For farmers who do strip till or no-till, this is the time to get after perennial weeds or fall weeds in the rosette stage. Farmers who have a fall nitrogen application in their farm plans should do that now, then come back in the spring to side-dress.
Zuk has two key takeaways from the 2018 growing season. One, farmers who performed fungicide and plant health applications this year should see an improvement in their ROI potential. And two, farmers who were flexible with their nutrient plans — for example, if they applied a micronutrient based on a tissue sample or side-dressed additional nitrogen based on a model — probably also saw some favorable ROI potential.