All indications appear that the 2016 season will go in the record books as one of the best. I understand that some areas may not have performed up to mid-season expectations, but in general, it was pretty good across the state. It seems like it's been a long harvest season with many challenges around getting soybeans harvested with the latest progress report in line with the five year average, but behind last year. That extra time in the combine cab has probably resulted in extra time thinking about next year and probably a visit from your FS Crop Specialist!
The crop protection business was again strong in 2016, mainly due to implementing weed control systems that manage and/or mitigate weed resistance. Many fields, and I mean many, started to break late in the season and populations of waterhemp, giant ragweed, lambsquarters, and palmer were evident across Illinois. A number of factors contributed to this, but it's time to plan for next year. Again, the common theme could be growing number of acres with resistant weeds that will continue to challenge our current strategies. With that being said, it's imperative to take the time and develop weed management strategies and be ready to execute on your plan. In early editions of FarmWeek I have talked about the upcoming deregulation of dicamba formulations from BASF and Monsanto.
Talk with your FS Crop Specialist too and have a plan ready. They have the experience and tools ready to implement new technologies or maximize current options to keep your corn and soybean fields clean in 2017.
Again, we enter the winter months with a lot of uncertainty, maybe some anxiety from the current agriculture economy, or confusion around the cropping plans for next year. It will be imperative to keep agronomic pressure on weed and insect resistant populations by using chemical and cultural practices that optimize yield potential. Plant nutrition, both below and above ground, will need to be evaluated as well as the products that protect that nutrient investment. There's a lot of interest in maximizing yield potential given the current commodity prices. Ask your FS Crop Specialist about the fungicide performance this year. Early reports indicated some nice yield responses from some new products launched in 2016. Instead of looking at reducing costs, it's important to determine how to make an investment in your operation that will produce more and then sell more. Taking steps now, learning from the positive experiences, and making decisions that increase production will put you in a position to be successful in 2017.
Originally published in FarmWeek. Dr. Jeff Bunting serves the FS System as GROWMARK's crop protection division manager.