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  • Mar28Mon

    Be careful not to cut yield

    March 28, 2016
    Filed Under:
    Starters, Agronomy, Opinion, Field Notes

    With the countdown to planting season, down markets and bankers cinching accounts up tight, farmers are looking for ways to cut costs.  I’ve heard in certain areas of the country that growers are beginning to cut starter fertilizer out of their programs.  I’m going to explain why this is a bad idea. 

    First of all seed companies preach one thing for maximizing yield, that is getting a uniform stand.  We all know that as a farmer you only get one shot at getting the best stand possible.  Providing that seedling with small amounts of nutrients to get it growing and healthy is an important step to maximizing yield which is the number one goal every farmer should have.  More farmers are embracing no-till practices, which leads to planting into cool wet soils.  We all know that springtime weather is unpredictable and changes week to week.  While soils may be warm and dry when you first plant, you can bet that will change.  As an agronomist in Nebraska, I’ve scouted fields with a hat and gloves on in May.

    Pioneer Crop Insights writes:

    • If early season stresses are sporadic in the field, starter fertilizer may help reduce uneven stand development and yield loss that often results from these conditions.
    • Research results show that starter may provide the most benefit to growers using no-till or high-residue farming systems, growers in northern states, or those with coarse-textured (sand or silt) soils or other soils testing low in P.

    - In addition, growers who routinely plant very early in cold, wet soils may potentially benefit.

    Secondly important is limiting the stresses that we can control.  The less a plant is stressed the higher the yield can be.  Using starter provides plants with the nutrition they need until the root system is capable of taking in nutrients that are soil applied.  Starter fertilizer also provides a larger healthier plants as well as a larger root system, which in turn allows for better nutrient and water uptake.  This ensures that the plants have enough nutrients for maximizing ear size which happens between the v-3 and v-5 growth stage. 

    At NACHURS we understand that in this day and age when everyone is tightening their belts that cuts need to be made.  Make sure those cuts don’t cost you yield.  Getting your stand established, limiting stress, and maximizing ear size, is not where you should cut.  

    -Joe Osterhaus, Northern US Sales Agronomist