Spring Tips to Capture More Yield this Fall

What is costing you yield? Capitalize on the 2021 commodity prices with spring tips that you can do now to capture higher yields this fall.

A new growing season is just around the bend. Spring preparations are underway to ensure equipment is field-ready but do not stop there. Brian Hefty, Agronomist, Farmer, and co-host of Ag PhD TV & Radio, shares expertise on seeding, fertilizer, and crop protection strategies to set each field up for maximum yield potential.

Soil Strategy

What is your soil telling you? The first step to a successful crop is having healthy soil.

Soil sampling is a tool to better understanding which nutrients your soils need. From there, you will be able to make informed decisions to put the right plan in place and unlock each farm's potential.

Fertilizer Strategy

"Be careful how much fertilizer you put in-furrow," advises Brian Hefty.

Soil samples can help determine the proper amount of macro-and micronutrients needed for each unique farm. Depending on the results, an in-furrow application of starter fertilizer may be necessary. 

While Brian adds that they love using a little bit of pop-up fertilizer, he noted that a "little" is the keyword. The Hefty brothers have seen many instances resulting in a 50-bushel yield reduction due to excess salt in-furrow. "The maximum fertilizer we ever like to see put in-furrow in corn is five pounds of salt per acre in a 30-inch row," states Brian. "This equates to just three gallons of 10-34-0." 

If you need more fertility than that, Brian suggests going with a low-salt fertilizer while mentioning not to forget about micronutrients, as well.

Seeding Strategy

Every farm is different, facing unique strengths and challenges. While re-investing into farms can pay off in the long run, the challenge is determining where to allocate dollars for the highest return on investment.

Your seeding rates are tools to help calculate yield potential. "When it comes to seeding rates for corn, we suggest using a factor of seven to 10," states Brian. 

For example, if you are at 30,000 kernels per acre, take 30 times seven to equal 210 bushels and 30 times 10 to equal 300 bushels. (Calculation: 30 x 7 = 210; 30 x 10 = 300)

"If your yield is greater than 300, you should probably seed thicker to go to the next yield level," states Brian. "If your yield is less than 210, you should probably consider cutting back on the seeding rate and investing more in other things, including drainage and fertility."

Crop Protection Strategy

What does weed pressure cost you? Staying protected helps you stay profitable. If you are struggling with weed control in soybeans, Brian's best suggestion is to use what the Hefty brothers call the "3 Pre-Program". 

"Applying metribuzin plus Valor or Authority plus either Trifluralin (conventional-till) or Prowl (no-till) will give you 99% control on waterhemp, Palmer pigweed, kochia, lambsquarters, and other Roundup-resistant weeds," states Brian. 

This pre-emerge program is easy to pencil out on the balance sheet, as it only costs about $12 in conventional-till or $20 for no-till. "In other words, the program costs one to two bushels of soybeans," states Brian. "And we all know if weed control is even a little bit sub-par in soybeans, the yield hit will be much worse than a bushel or two."

Focus on what you can Control

Spring is all about preparing for the growing season ahead. While there is no crystal ball to forecast what cards Mother Nature will deal, stack the deck and odds in your favor by focusing on what you can control. Start the new season in confidence with a solid foundation to capture maximum yields this harvest!

*Brian Hefty is a farmer and agronomist from Baltic, South Dakota. Since 1998, he and his brother Darren have co-hosted “Ag PhD,” the nation’s most-watched agronomy television show. The brothers also host the most listened-to ag radio program in the U.S., “Ag PhD Radio,” which airs weekdays on SiriusXM channel 147. “Ag PhD” is about helping farmers produce more yield and more income, but at the same time improving soil and the environment. For more info, visit http://www.agphd.com/. *