Finalizing plans for 2016 planting holds hope and optimism for growers everywhere because it allows you to start anew. A fresh start. Time to analyze last year’s programs and optimize plans to get the most out of each and every acre, every seed and ultimately – every plant.
But the outlook isn’t always crystal clear with a chance of perfect forecasts. A variety of factors and challenges will directly impact your organization and encroach upon profits. That is, if you let them.
Make sure that doesn’t happen and prepare yourself for the 3 trends to watch in 2016:
- Mild Winter Fosters Disease, Insects
- Corn Looking Up
- Resistance Still a Factor
Winter Easy on the Pests
The mild winter from this year’s El Nino means many growers may incur a higher risk from disease and insect pressure during the 2016 spring months. This is due in part to the milder temperatures allowing pests to overwinter in corn residue and warmer soils.
Heavy problems like grey leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight will almost certainly be an issue again if weather stays wet during early spring.
“With a warm, mild winter like the one that ended 2015, growers planting corn-on-corn can be sure that last year’s problems won’t go away very easily,” said Thorsten Schwindt, fungicide product manager for Bayer.
“If a field has a history of gray leaf spot or northern corn leaf blight, growers need to make sure they’re prepared to limit growth of these diseases early in the season. I recommend applying a fungicide like Stratego YLD during growth stages V4 to V7 to ensure plants start healthy and give them the best chance at resisting infection later in the year,” added Schwindt.
Early season applications of Stratego® YLD have shown to increase yields quite significantly with growers experiencing lifts averaging 6.8 bu/A. “Increases like that, even at $4 corn, provide an ROI of nearly $20 an acre,” said Schwindt.
Corn Looks to Rebound
After consecutive down years, the market looks to improve a bit with many growers shifting attention to soybeans, causing supply to fall. In addition, economists expect the cost of production to decrease a bit, possibly allowing growers to widen margins a tad.
Bryce Knorr, Senior Market Analyst for Farm Futures Magazine, noted that corn production costs reached all-time highs in 2014 and 2015. Those numbers are expected to come down somewhat and exports will increase slightly to reduce the heavy surplus that still exists in the U.S. Knorr also discussed declining input costs in 2016 will help to improve the bottom line for corn producers and profits may outweigh losses.
Experts expect cash rents to take a dip. According to research from the University of Illinois, rents should fall about $32/A, bringing averages to $318/A. At those rates, they estimate growers looking to become profitable should aim to raise about 170 to 190 bu/A.
Resistance in Focus
Rising temperatures, prolonged wet periods and changing climate conditions are contributing to weed resistance across much of the U.S. Many growers are seeing an increase of cases of Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and marestail, with scattered cases of other weeds like resistant kochia and giant ragweed also becoming a factor.
Bayer senior product manager Jason Manz says growers need to take care of problems early and often.
“Weeds like Palmer amaranth can grow as fast as two inches a day and produce more than a million seeds. If the seed bank gets out of control, a problem can exist longer than a single season, creating opportunities for plants to develop resistance to popular chemistries,” said Manz.
“Small weeds can cost up to 300 bushels daily in a 100-acre corn field. At $4 corn, that’s $1,200 a day
or more, if left unabated.”
- Jason Manz
Bayer Senior Product Manager
Manz also warned growers, “Based on research from Iowa State University, weeds 3 to 4 inches tall can reduce yields by nearly 3 bu/A per day in a 500-acre corn field. If left unchecked for a week at $4 corn that could cost growers $42,000 at harvest.”
It’s in every grower’s best interest to take care of weeds when they’re small and to diversify their weed management portfolio with multiple, effective modes of action, Manz said. Top programs will also account for varying sites of action during application to keep plants from developing resistance.
Solid choices to consider for 2016 weed management include Corvus®, the nation’s top corn herbicide that includes the strength of a burndown, but also provides growers the convenience of a strong residual and reactivation. Another effective option includes Capreno®, a post-emergence herbicide provides growers with the longer residual among competing products.
For even more protection, growers might also look toward choosing herbicide-tolerant hybrids to combat weed resistance in their acres. The LibertyLink® system from Bayer allows growers to spray Liberty® herbicide over crops without experiencing crop response while quickly and effectively taking down hard-to-kill weeds.
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