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Crops department

Planting wisely

Good planning in the spring can pay big dividends, according to Gary Wietgrefe, certified crop advisor with Syngenta Seeds in Sioux Falls, SD. For example, he says, “in South Dakota only 48% of soybeans are planted by the end of May. If our growers could have all of their soybeans planted by mid-May, they'd generate $250 million in additional income.”

Check out these planting tips to put more dollars in your pocket:

  • Meet with suppliers to set deadlines by field for custom application of fertilizers and herbicides.

  • Have seed delivered a month before planting.

  • Maintain and calibrate your planter. Pioneer reports that uneven plant spacing reduces yields by 7 to 19 bu./acre. For every inch you improve within-row plant spacing, you will gain 3.4 bu./acre. The cost of meter calibration on a 12-row planter for a 600-acre corn grower would be covered by just a 0.5-bu./acre increase.

  • Plant corn and soybeans early. Research shows that corn yields in the Midwest decrease 1 bu./day after May 10. Soybean yields decrease by 1 bu. or more each week after mid-May. In northern states the soybean yield decline can exceed 3 bu./week.

  • Plant corn directly into soybean stubble. This saves at least one tillage trip, fuel and equipment maintenance.

  • Plant at uniform depth. Shallow planting causes development of shallow nodal roots that are susceptible to damage from wind and to limitation of their nutrient uptake from postemergence herbicides. When planted too deep, plants emerge later and could delay harvesting because of their higher moisture levels.

  • Cut your planter filling time in half by purchasing seed in bulk, mini-bulk or convenience packs instead of in 50-lb. bags.

Eliminate download time

You won't have to waste time waiting for your market, weather and ag news to download to your computer with a new service called netProducer from DTN. NetProducer lets you schedule what information you want and when you want to retrieve it. Then the service dials into the Internet at that time, retrieves the information and has it waiting for you when you open your computer. This solves the problem of slow connections, which results in long download times. For example, the application will pick up local cash bids, DTN commentary and local weather up to six times a day, according to when you want to check it.

To receive this alternative delivery method of DTN information, all you need is a desktop computer and Internet connection. The system requires a Windows 95 or higher program, 200-MHz or greater processor, 32-mB of RAM or greater, color monitor and 28-K modem or better.

You can pay either a monthly or annual fee for the service. For a free 14-day trial of netProducer, visit or contact DTN at 800/290-9162.

Check your crop risks

Find out how different types of crop insurance would affect your bottom line before you put in the crop with a new computer program called Strategizer. Diversified Services, a risk management solutions firm, developed the program to help growers look at crop insurance, crop yields, prices and other risk management options. The results are presented in an easy-to-read chart.

For example, if you first enter into the computer program a situation of no crop insurance or marketing options, you will learn what prices and yields you need to break even. Then by adjusting levels of crop and income insurance against marketing options, you can customize a plan through Strategizer to cover all costs and ensure a decent return.

Contact Diversified Services, Dept. FIN, 306 N. Kimball St., Mt. Vernon, IN 47620, 800/856-6278.

Double-acting fungicide

A new soybean fungicide from Gustafson offers broad-spectrum control. SoyGard with Protégé is now available to protect seed from primary and secondary diseases, including Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Phytophthora. With less disease threat, soybean plants start growing better. SoyGard is the only seed-applied fungicide offering two systemic active ingredients for broad-spectrum control in soybeans, according to the company. Plus, the EPA gave SoyGard a “low risk” rating. For more information, contact your local seed sales representative or visit

New herbicide formulation

A new corn herbicide formulation from FMC called Aim EW will tank mix with most postemergence herbicides. FMC recently received approval from EPA for Aim EW, a water-based formulation developed with a process that uses less petroleum distillates. This enhances mixing and reduces the risk of crop injury, according to the company. FMC reports Aim EW costs about $2.50/acre and may be used instead of atrazine.

Aim also will help fight waterhemp in a control program being recommended by FMC and Dow AgroSciences. The program pairs Hornet WDG and Aim herbicides to control waterhemp, plus other broadleaf weeds such as lambsquarters, cocklebur and velvetleaf. According to FMC, the waterhemp program must include a postemergence tankmix of Hornet WDG at 3 oz./acre and Aim EW at ⅓ oz./acre. For best control, waterhemp must be treated before it is up to 4 in. tall.

Contact your dealer, FMC at 888/593-6224, or Dow at 800/208-4094.

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