The early season and early planting that followed in many areas means the three key areas of crop management will be especially crucial this year. It also means they may require a different approach than in the past. If there is such a thing as a cookie-cutter year where you just follow a recipe for wed, insect and disease control, this likely isn't going to be it.
Nathan Hickenbottom, crop specialist for Syngenta covering primarily Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, says that weed size, concerns about insects and disease issues are keys to watch this season.
"There are concerns about insects because of the mild winter, but we aren't going to know until things start to develop how that turns out," he says. "Diseases won't show up until late either, but there is certainly enough corn residue out there to encourage them if conditions are right."
What he does know is that weeds got off to a good start and weed size got ahead compared to the crop compared to many other years. "If you're in no-till and burnt down weeds, you may want to come back with a pre-emergence residual in corn," he says. "The residual will help get early weeds, and will open up your window for making the post application later."
Whether or not residuals applied with the burndown went out too early to prevent breakthroughs in June and July of weeds likely depends upon the product(s) applied, he adds. He expects weeds to continue germinating well into the season and putting pressure on herbicides. The other factor is what rate was applied. If you cut the rate of the residual this year, you can expect to lose help from the residual herbicide quicker, he adds.
Even if you farm conventionally, this may be an unusual year in terms of maintaining clean fields, just because of the early start and early jump by weeds. Even when corn gets to the V3 to V8 stage this year, there may still be a good chance for a flush of weeds to germinate and present a challenge, depending upon the weed, he adds.
The bottom line is he believes coming back with a residual herbicide even if you tilled up weeds would be a good option this year. If you have or will still plant relatively early compared to normal, the weed pressure will still be coming at the corn later in the corn's growth cycle compared to normal.