7 Tips to Jump-Start Your Yield Potential
Set your sights on high yields with the decisions made during planning and planting.
NK®-treated corn seeds are designed to combine the right traits and the right seed treatment to get a crop off to a strong start.
By Darcy Maulsby / Photography by Mark Tade / Digital Composite by Letizia Albamonte
Jump-start your #ag yield potential by making the right decisions at planning and planting. Discover the 7 simple steps.
click to tweet
Ryan Bonham, a fifth-generation corn, soybean and cattle producer from Franklin, Nebraska, is always looking for both new and tried-and-true ways to improve his operations. “We do a lot of soil sampling and tissue sampling and are willing to try new things,” he says. “If you want to get your crop off to a good start and grow higher yields, be persistent, be patient and find advisers you can trust.”
Like any grower, Bonham has a lot to consider in order to start strong in the 2021 growing season, from soil and seed treatment decisions to weed, insect and disease management.
The most successful growers plan ahead. If you don’t get your crops started right, you’ll be playing catch-up the whole year.
Crop Protection Sales Representative
“The most successful growers plan ahead,” says Mark Dozler, a crop protection sales representative for Syngenta in central Nebraska who has worked with the Bonham family for eight years. “If you don’t get your crops started right, you’ll be playing catch-up the whole year.”
Focus on Key Factors
Here are the seven top tips for starting the 2021 crop strong:
Select seed to match your needs. Don’t focus exclusively on seedling vigor and yield potential. “I know economics are tight, but you need to plant the right traits that put you in a favorable position for success,” says Blake Miller, agronomy service representative at Syngenta in the East Heartland region. “The right traits for your needs are a powerful tool in your toolbox.”
Choose the right seed treatments. Lowering plant stress is key to helping crops maximize their genetic potential. “Seed treatments can play a big role in controlling insects and diseases,” says Miller, who is based in west-central Illinois. “They also promote a more robust root system to get the crop off to a strong start.” CruiserMaxx® Vibrance® seed treatments from Syngenta fight against damage from certain insects, seedborne diseases and seedling diseases in a variety of crops, including soybeans, corn, cereals and potatoes. In soybeans, CruiserMaxx Vibrance also offers the unique Cruiser® Vigor Effect, which helps counter possible negative field stresses that early planting can promote, which reduce the plant’s ability to reach its genetic yield potential.
Miller also recommends Saltro® fungicide seed treatment, which delivers superior protection against Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) and robust activity against nematodes, without any of the stress soybeans experience with older technologies like ILEVO®.
Control compaction. Limiting traffic patterns in the field is smart. So is patience. “The sidewall compaction that can occur if the crop is mudded in will limit the access to water and nutrients that crop roots need to support healthy growth,” Miller says.
Manage cover crops. Burndown timing is critical, especially with a cover crop like cereal rye. Let it grow too long, and it will rob yield potential. “I’m a big fan of cover crops, but ideally you don’t want any green tissue in the field when the crop is emerging,” says Bob Kacvinsky, agronomy service representative at Syngenta in the West Heartland region. “We’ve seen losses of 10 to 40 bushels per acre at the Syngenta plot near York, Nebraska, when cereal rye isn’t terminated early enough.”
Research also shows a loss of 9 pounds of nitrogen per week, on average, over a three- to four-week period if rye is allowed to grow 12 inches tall. “That’s the equivalent of losing $18 an acre of nitrogen,” adds Kacvinsky, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Bonham also discovered potential pitfalls with cover crops when he grew them for the first time about five years ago. “We were trying to do things right, but we messed up some things, including overgrazing,” Bonham says. “While our yields slipped about 15% to 20%, we were patient and persistent as we kept learning. Now cover crops are working well for us.”
Stop weeds before they start. All plants compete for water, space and nutrients. “Remember the 3-3-1 rule,” Kacvinsky says. “A 3-inch-tall weed every three days can take 1 inch of water out of the soil.”
An effective preemerge system is essential, but don’t let cost deter you. “It often costs three times more to kill a weed later than to prevent weeds right up front,” Dozler says. “Weed escapes also build up the weed-seed bank, which leads to more trouble later.”
Dozler recommends Acuron® corn herbicide, which contains the exclusive active ingredient — bicyclopyrone — and delivers 5 to 15 more bushels per acre on average over any other herbicide.*
“Acuron offers a unique combination of powerful weed control, longest-lasting residual and proven crop safety that results in maximum performance on tough, yield-robbing weeds,” Miller says. “Less weed competition translates into more nutrients, sunlight and water available for the growing corn crop, which leads to more bushels and ultimately extra revenue potential. The bottom line is clean fields maintain yields.”
Take advantage of fungicides. Fungicides may also offer an excellent potential return on investment, even with lower commodity prices. Growers in Dozler’s area have seen good results with Syngenta products, including Miravis® Neo fungicide for broad-spectrum disease control in corn and soybeans, and Trivapro® fungicide, a long-lasting fungicide with preventive and curative control of rusts, leaf spots and blights in corn, soybeans and wheat.
“With $2.95 corn, you’ll need an 8-bushel yield bump to see a return on investment,” Dozler says. “We’ve averaged 12 bushels per acre more in central Nebraska with Trivapro.”
Bonham, who farms in south-central Nebraska, favors the use of fungicides as well. “It seems like fungicides help my crops handle stresses like drought and heat better, which translates into yield.”
Find trusted partners. As fast as things change in agriculture, it can be challenging for growers to keep up with everything they need to know to make smart management decisions.
“Top growers work with advisers, whether that’s a crop consultant, extension specialist, ag retailer or seed adviser,” Dozler says. “You want people who are willing to do the research, provide data and help you develop a customized plan, not just sell you products.”
A trusted adviser can also offer insight you may not discover on your own. “Good advisers gain a wide perspective by working with a lot of different people,” Miller says. “They offer an objective look at solutions that can work for you.”
* When applied preemergence and at full label rates. Acuron yield advantage range based on 2016 Syngenta and university trials comparing Acuron to Corvus®, Resicore®, SureStart® II and Verdict®. For more information on Acuron versus an individual product, ask your Syngenta representative.