News from Your Federated Agronomists | November 13, 2018
Bostrom corn harvest
Evaluating 2018 Crop Performance, Selecting 2019 Hybrids

2018 Crop Performance
“The weather has finally improved and harvest is progressing,” said John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location, noting that growers have said soybeans yields are “above average and good,” but many fields are not as good as they look.

“We have big plants that, with a lot of wind and rain, are showing a ‘heavy lean,’” he said. Pod counts are good, but the beans are small. Swanson suggested a few reasons for decreased yields when compared to full potential:

  • The dry period during the critical month of August did more damage than thought.
  • The foliar diseases, such as septoria brown spot, during mid- to late-summer adversely affected the crops.
  • Although white mold was “not a huge issue” this year, as it was in 2017, many fields showed damage from brown stem rot. (The adage rain makes grain is very true, but with rain comes the risk of disease. Swanson said to “consider using foliar fungicides when the plants look as good as they did this summer.”)

Corn harvest is not yet complete, but “from what I can tell, I believe this crop will rank between first and third for all time for a lot of our local farmers,” said Swanson. “We have a great corn crop in the field . . . and it’s going to be very critical to get it harvested as quickly as we can.”

Anthracnose stalk rot was evident in many fields this year, and it was a problem in multiple hybrids (though at varying levels). Swanson advised doing the push test: “Push your plants from one row to the next at ear height; if they kink and bend over . . . harvest as soon as possible.”

2019 Seed Choices
With 2018 performance notes in hand, “it is important to make sure we do the best we can with hybrid selection [for 2019],” said Swanson. There are differences in:
  • disease ratings,
  • plant characteristics – stalks and roots,
  • yield potential.

Federated’s plots may show varying differences in yield due to the plots and their management, but “it is important to not only purchase the correct hybrids, but make sure you are putting the hybrids into the best situation for them to excel,” said Swanson. Consider these questions:
  • Will the seed be used in sand or heavy soils?
  • Is the field corn on corn, or soybeans on soybeans?
  • What is the planting population?

“[ Federated Agronomists] can help you match all these different scenarios to your hybrids and varieties to make sure you get the most out of them,” he said.

This year Federated had eight different Discovery Plots (see soybean results below), on a variety of soils and using different crop management tools. Use this data, along with info from seed suppliers and your Federated Agronomists to “help you make a sound seed plans for your individual farm,” said Swanson.
Soybean Discovery Plot Results

Harvest is nearly complete for 2018 Federated Discovery Plots. Soybean results are in, and corn will be in soon.

According to Craig Gustafson, Federated’s agronomy operations manager, “ Soybean yields are tight [between varieties],” which can make decisions about next year’s soybean seed even more difficult.
“However,” he added, “soybean variety placement is still critical . . . and the agronomy team at Federated realizes growers need choices.” For 2019, Federated will be handling 13 bulk soybean varieties, plus more options in bags or bulk bags.
Click on the names below to check out soybean plot results, and then talk to your Federated Agronomist for help with 2019 seed purchases. 

Kevin Carlson
Federated Focus: A Service, A Person
Meeting the Challenges
Year-In and Year-Out

As the temperatures drop and harvest nears completion, crop management takes a brief break, but Kevin Carlson knows that running a successful cash crop operation isn’t a one-season job. He understands the challenges growers face and meeting them requires year-round planning.

Carlson, raised on an Almelund farm, has been serving growers in the northern reaches of Federated’s service areas since 1988. He started in agronomy sales at what was then Pine City Co-op and, through a series of mergers between co-ops, moved into his role as Federated’s senior agronomist, working out of the Rush City location.

Carlson understands that growers need to keep looking forward, planning for the next crop even as the current one is drying in the bins. He mentioned nutrients as the first concern, and added another plug for soil sampling (can Federated Agronomists ever stress soil sampling enough?).

At this time of year, “we see it all,” he said. “It’s quite common to have pH and nutrient issues to deal with [revealed in soil sample results]. Sometimes the test results are surprising, sometimes not.” And, crop management decisions are best made with good information.

“The big thing,” he said, “is to deal with the issues. Especially pH – and then with the nutrients.” While it may be too late for additional soil sampling this fall, it’s not too late to apply ag lime.

Carlson knows that crop inputs are a big investment, and ag liming is no exception at $50-$100 per acre on average. But crop yields are dependent upon proper pH (as well as nutrients). “The investment is for the longterm,” he said, “on both owned or rented land.”

Yields can improve with every investment in strong inputs, and yields are the primary change Carlson has seen over the years. Corn yields have doubled and bean yields have nearly doubled since the days when this U of M-St. Paul agronomy grad started scouting fields and making crop recommendations.

The one thing that doesn’t change is the need for strong relationships with growers. “I’ve developed a lot of long-term relationships over the years . . . working with growers . . . dealing with their challenges,” he said.

Carlson divides his time between working with growers directly and leading the Federated agronomy sales team. “I try to lead with my experience . . . what I know in this retail business,” because the challenges don’t go away even when crop plans are at their best.

Whether it’s time to harvest a Federated plot (some grown on his own land), deal with tough weed control issues, interpret soil test results, or spend time with his “Brady Bunch” family (including teenagers still at home), Carlson is always committed to helping Federated growers. And he will be happy to take your call when you “contact your Federated Agronomist” with questions!