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Looking ahead to 2016, adjust corn plant population

Looking ahead to 2016, adjust corn plant population
Plan experiments in corn plant population, soybean seed treatment for next year's fields.

As we turn the page on 2015, it's hard not to talk about the crazy year that Missouri farmers experienced. At the beginning of the season, some areas here in the east central portion of the state looked to be heading toward another record-breaking 2014 season. In reality, farmers were thrown a curveball.

Wet weather created shorter planting windows, forcing thousands of acres succumbed to Prevented Planting. Adding insult to injury were commodity prices at harvest, which did not make up the difference in yield losses. The question that many are asking is if we will see these types of conditions again and how do we set ourselves up for a successful 2016?

Try it out

TIME TO TEST: On farm trials offer insight into what works in the field. Farmers should consider field trials looking at plant populations, seed treatments.

If you find yourself sitting around the shop this month, take time to think about how you can adjust your farms for 2016. Find that field that you would like to do something different and experiment.

Here are a few things where testing on your farm can lead to a big difference with overall yield.

-Corn plant populations- Overtime, we can get in the same routine of just planting the same population all across our acres. Take the time to experiment with population in a small field. Talk with your seed supplier and find out which corn hybrids respond to different population. Even increasing 2,500 to 4,500 plants per acre on a side-by-side field test will provide data for yield differences.

-Seed treatment on soybeans-If you have not been treating your soybeans, do a field trial to see if treating soybeans fits into your operation. Studies have shown that treated soybeans lead to overall better stands, plant vigor, and help protect against early season disease and insect pressure.

-Soil test your acres- Last year, our crop had rough growing conditions. Excessive rainfall had an effect on soils as well. Did crops have "enough" nitrogen to reach its full yield potential? How about P and K? If there is a year that soil testing can help us make bottom line decisions, this is the year. With the amount of rainfall this past year, there will be many fields requiring different recommendations.

Planning goes a long way

When I think about 2015, I remember looking at the calendar about the beginning of July thinking to myself, "Are we going to continue to push the planting date on soybeans?" Never did I think that the majority of our area's soybeans would be planted towards the end of June and even July. We did not plan to plant this late, but we cannot let last year drag us down. We still have to continue to plan for a successful 2016 season and lay the groundwork for success.

Agriculture is constantly changing and trying something new is the challenge that helps lead us to success. Try something different on a certain farm in your operation. The little things can lead to a big difference. Start now with the groundwork for that certain field and when planting comes in full swing, you will be ready to experiment on the certain acres.

Don't forget to take time and enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Allen is owner of Allen Seed and Service where he scouts 3,500 acres of corn and 10,000 acres of soybeans annually. He writes from Hawk Point.

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