News from Your Federated Agronomists | April 24, 2018
Prepare the Bed, Check the Depth

Make a firm seed bed.
“Soil preparation for corn should follow the same general good management practices as for most other crops,” said John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location, adding that the goal should be to achieve a firm seed bed for minimum moisture loss.

Crop residue needs to be evenly redistributed to help alleviate uneven soil temperatures and moisture levels. “Our goal [is] to minimize this variability,” said Swanson, “to achieve good seed-to-soil contact . . . and get our crops off to a good, even start.”

Plant at the right depth.
“Planting depth in corn is very important,” said Swanson. Planters should be checked every year – before getting deep into planting.

“Shallow placement of the seed increases the risk of poor nodal root establishment,” said Swanson. Consider this:
  • The mesocotyl is the portion of the corn shoot below ground between the seed and the crown of the plant. 
  • The crown is the base of the corn plant from which the permanent roots grow.  
  • Corn seeds must be planted deep enough to prevent roots from developing too close to the surface – which can produce what is known as rootless corn, a condition where the permanent roots do not grow from the crown.
  • Rootless corn produces stand-ability issues because the roots can’t provide support for the stalk.
  • Thus, it is better to error on the deep side, rather than planting too shallow.

Two (2) inches is optimal for corn in most of Federated’s service area, but it is possible to go as shallow as 1.75 inches in “really tight clay soils,” or as deep as 2.25 inches in the “really sandy soils,” he noted.

The “key point once again is to be checking your planting depth,” Swanson emphasized. “It is best to keep an eye on it and make changes as [soil type and planting] conditions change rather than set it once and go.”

Your Federated Agronomist can help answer planting depth questions.
And . . . Don’t Forget to Check Soil Temperature
soil temperature
Spring may be later than average but don’t be in a hurry to plant. “Remember,” said Swanson, “corn is a tropical plant and wants warm soil temperatures.” Try to ignore the calendar but keep a close watch on soil temperatures. Minimum soil temp at planting depth should be no less than 50 degrees F, and here’s why:

  • If soil temperatures are too low, imbibitional chilling occurs, which can lead to significant stand reductions. 
  • Corn plants imbibe about 30% of their weight in moisture in the first 24-36 hours. 
  • If temperatures are too cold the cells imbibing this water can rupture, damaging the cells.

Check the forecast, not just soil temps.
If there is snow or cold rain or "really cold" temperatures in the 24-48 hours following planting it may be best not plant into those conditions.

Swanson noted, “On May 10 we still have 95% yield potential. We still have 85% yield potential by May 25. It is not until after this point do we start to worry. This is also the breaking point at which we want to make changes to our hybrids.”

Research shows it is not until after late May that an early hybrid will out yield a normal adapted hybrid. Talk to your Federated Agronomist about your planting concerns and hybrid choices.
Treat the Seeds Before Planting the Crop
Once the seed bed is well prepared and the planter is adjusted for proper depth, it’s time to get the seed in the ground. And the best seed is a protected seed.

“Our season, good or bad, depends on what that little seed can grow into,” said Rob Johnson, seed treatment account manager at Rosen’s. Because that seed will face challenges – cold, hot, wet, dry, bugs, diseases, and more – it needs the protection provided by a high-quality seed treatment.

At its state-of-the-art seed treatment facility in Ogilvie, Federated applies Rancona® Complete Pro to soybean seed. Rancona is an excellent seed treatment that provides protection against pythium and phytophthora (water molds), fusarium, rhizoctonia, and more, plus a host of insects with its insecticide imidacloprid.

Seed treatments vary in what they do, and most seed treatments contain a blend of fungicides. Rancona Complete Pro contains three fungicides that fight diseases specific to Federated’s geography. Coupling good chemistry with the right rates and a seed treatment that is locked on with a good polymer, Rancona Complete Pro provides the protection seed needs for the season ahead. 

Talk to your Federated Agronomist about soybean seed treatments before those seeds go in the ground this spring.
Starter Fertilizer Choices: In Furrow or Two by Two?
Applying good crop nutrients is a given in today’s market, but the choice of starter fertilizer can raise questions: In furrow? Two by two? Does one work better than the other?

While popup or in-furrow starter fertilizer is a great management tool, according to Tim Stelter, Federated agronomist at the Osceola location, two-by-two placement gives you the option of higher rates of nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) by mixing 28% UAN with 10-34-0 and ammonium thiosulfate (ATS).

Stelter said, “You can use 4-5 gal./ac. of 10-34-0 safely in furrow . . . but the soil between the seed and the fertilizer [in two-by-two placement] gives you freedom to do more.” Adding zinc is a good first step and if you already do that and it’s profitable, Stelter added, “then moving to USA 500 is the next logical step to higher yields.” (See USA 500 article in last e-news.)

“The point of difference is that you can put more in the soil with two-by-two placement,” said Stelter. In two by two you put more nutrients near the seed, with phosphorous (P) being most important for early growth in corn.

“In a perfect world you could do both,” he said – and some planters allow for it. The primary need is for a good liquid starter fertilizer plan, and both in furrow or two by two have their place. Talk to your Federated Agronomist to discuss the options that fit your crop management plans.

Stelter added a reminder: If you’ve stored fertilizers over the winter, be sure to agitate the products after a couple of nice warm days (“They are coming, really,” he said.) Products often fall out of suspension in the cold months.
Federated Focus: A Service, A Person
"Talk to Your Federated Agronomist" - Patrick Kopesky, Ogilvie
Patrick Kopesky
Federated Co-ops provides a wide variety of products and services to growers in central Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and Federated Agronomists are a key part of Federated’s success as an ag co-op and its ability to assist growers.

The agronomy team at Federated continues to grow and bring in new talent, among them, Patrick Kopesky, an agronomist at the Ogilvie location since March of last year. Before Kopesky came to Federated he majored in Recreation, Parks and Urban Studies at Mankato State but after serving in that field for a short while, he “saw the writing on the wall” and discovered his heart for agriculture.

Kopesky is from Stillwater, MN, but his family farms and crop shares land near Carroll, Iowa. To better serve his ag career, Kopesky returned to school to study Ag Business in 2015, followed by several internships, including ones with DuPont Pioneer (Mankato) and Genesis (Le Sueur). 

His early ag experience pretty much sums up the service-oriented role of a Federated Agronomist: crop scouting, making crop recommendations, tissue sampling, understanding the role of nutrient application and timing, setting up research plots, and more (even flying drones). He also did experiments with cross pollination and plant breeding.

The role of Federated Agronomist focuses mainly on “working with growers and building relationships and developing cropping plans” – Kopesky’s description of what he enjoys about his job. As he starts his second year with Federated, Kopesky is excited to see how the plans and product sales he’s made with growers this winter will “come to fruition” through the growing season and through harvest.

Kopesky said, “Federated offers a level of expertise, and good products,” adding he’s been “building trust with growers this past year.” If that sounds familiar, recall Federated’s tagline: People who care. Products you trust. Value for life.

As a new growing season kicks off, Kopesky looks forward doing more of his favorite thing, being outdoors. And as he and his fiancée of just a few weeks plan their New Year’s Eve 2018 wedding, it’s easy to see how his excitement for work and life – and serving Federated growers – will pay off for everyone involved.