2019 Crop Variables to Consider
The weather this year, and the challenges it has brought to agriculture has had more press than any year I can remember. Rightly so, this is an historic year in regard to planting progress and crop condition. However, as we work our way through June, it looks like a lot more acres have been planted than we thought possible several weeks ago. And just like always, we have challenges, but ultimately the crop is growing and we have to figure out what to do next. The challenging part for the 2019 crop is that there are a lot more variables than we normally have to consider going forward.
Since it all depends on the weather let’s start there. What does the forecast say? Fortunately it looks like June should shape up and we’ll have some time to get field work done, weed management, side dress, maybe even some replants. After that, the longer range forecasts suggest we’ll switch back into something that resembles the spring we just went through, average to below average temperatures and above average rainfall. I’m not quite sure how long that will last, but the fall forecast is warmer than normal with normal precipitation.
What does all that mean?
On the season, we’re not drastically behind in GDU accumulation, but since most of the crop went in significantly later than normal we’re still 250-350 GDUs behind normal crop development. That means that pollination and subsequently maturity will likely be 2-3 weeks later than normal. There’s research that shows later planted crops need fewer GDUs to reach maturity, but it’s not a dramatic difference, around 5 days worth of summer time temperatures. This crop will likely pollinate in late July and hopefully a warmer fall will move the end of grain fill along to a moderately late instead of severely late harvest. With the extended forecast for a cooler and wetter July and August, what does that mean for this crop?
1. The immediate issues of late planting are stand assessment. What yield potential do you still have based on planting date and how will crop insurance/disaster aid policy suggest fund management decisions. Recent assessments show most of the acres that were able to be planted should out yield the 125-135 bushel per acre insurance levels. That means ROI is still very important!
2. There could also be more seedling stand loss, around V3, to seedling disease if you had slow emergence, as seed treatments are only effective for 30-45 days. Make sure to double check stands around the beginning of rapid growth (V5) to get an accurate picture of population.
3. Next, were you able to get fertilizer on? And if not, you’ll need to get a plan in place for in-season options (side dress, top dress, and foliar) to help carry this crop to the finish line.
4. Even though planting was behind, weed and insect calendars didn’t have to wait for good field conditions before they started. Looking across the countryside the weed management challenges are visually evident. The challenge with the insects is that they will be feeding on smaller plants than normal which means less feeding can cause greater damage. This is why scouting is VERY important in a year like this.
5. The crop should be under minimal stress during some pretty important growth stages. We will hopefully see good pollination and favorable weather conditions for grain fill, even though it’s happening later in the season.
6. This also means favorable conditions for disease development. With the way the spring impacted the markets I would say a fungicide would be well worth the investment. Here’s why:
- It will likely be earlier in crop development when diseases infect the plants, which typically leads to greater yield loss.
- 2009 was a cool, wet year that ended up with a lot of leaf disease, as well as ear molds and stalk rots.
- Tar spot favors similar environmental conditions to Grey Leaf Spot, but with cooler temps, like the forecast suggest. If we have those conditions, the footprint of that disease could grow this year, and you don’t want that in your field.
- R2 fungicide typically has a neutral to positive ROI even without disease, depending on hybrid response and commodity price. When you have disease it almost always pays. You’ll have to balance that against the increased harvest moisture typical to group 11 fungicides.
- In soybeans, a lot of moisture can mean more Sudden Death Syndrome, as well as late season Phytophthora, but on the plus side the delayed canopy should minimize white mold, which can be devastating in a cool summer.
- The last challenge we see with delayed maturity is less time for field dry down. The cooler temperatures associated with late harvest also lead to a longer time in the drier, which adds more expense.
If the forecasted cooler summer comes to fruition, it could easily be a double edged sword. We need that type of a pollination and grain-fill period to increase bushels, but at the same time we need heat to make sure we mature the crop before a killing frost this fall. Mother Nature is always chief among yield factors, so keep your eyes on the forecast and mind on what that means for the next steps in managing this crop. Every challenge is an opportunity!
- Brad Hammes, Helena Product Specialist