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High yields depend on many factors

(CIFN file photo)

PONTIAC – What does it take to get high corn and soybean yields without spending much money? Weather would be a start.

Emerson Nafziger, extension agronomist from the University of Illinois, considers 2017 an extremely good year for crops but a strange year for weather. Nafziger was among the speakers during the annual Livingston County Agronomy Day Tuesday at the Pontiac Elks.

Corn has been above trend line four out of the last five years. This may be hard to believe with the interesting weather patterns we had last year as April turned wet and massive amounts of corn was re-planted. Crops experienced stress in 2017 but the pattern actually helped yields instead of hurting them.

“August was the real helper here,” Nafziger said.

Nafziger cautions against getting carried away in the spring by planting early. He believes farmers should never “mud” anything in during early April. The planting window from mid-April through early May should maximize both corn and soybean yields but Nafziger sees no reason to panic if planting runs a little late.

Soybean trials conducted at Monmouth last year didn’t show much of a late planting yield penalty. In fact, some of the best corn was planted in late May.

“Planting dates are always a roll of the dice,” added Nafziger.

As some growers have moved to a continuous soybean rotation on fields, Nafziger does not see a big cause for concern. He said soybean seeding of 100,000 to 120,000 seeds per acre might now always be enough. The optimum seeding rates are where the last seed added just pays for itself in added yield.

Nafziger has also observed fall-applied nitrogen being just as effective as spring applications in some instances. This does not cost any yield.

The recent Livingston County Agronomy Day was sponsored by Country Financial, the Livingston County Farm Bureau and Evergreen FS, Inc.

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