Tom Brunner and his daughters

Among the families at Beck’s 2019 Central Illinois Field Show in El Paso on Aug. 15 were Tom Brunner and his daughters, Laura and Elizabeth, of Springfield, Ill. They started planting on April 22 and finished June 7 "with a lot of breaks in between," Tom said. 

EL PASO, Ill. — Farmers are still comparing notes about their spring planting seasons and wondering what to expect during harvest.

Tom Brunner of Springfield, Ill., stared planting April 22 and, in a stop-and-go process, he finished June 7.

"Last year was so easy. This one is a pain," he said.

Pete Streid, a Metamora farmer, finished planting his first crop of soybeans June 7 and planted his double-crop soybeans July 20.

“They are up and going,” he said Aug. 15 at Beck’s 2019 Central Illinois Field Show here, but he is not sure what to expect of that crop.

Ryan Parker, Beck’s director of sales and marketing, likes to sum up this season by noting that “farmers have the ability to influence the future.” After so many setbacks, he said farmers are gathering information to plan for the future.

About 1,200 farmers hopped on wagons for tours of test plots and listened to results from Beck’s Practical Field Research on this and other test sites to help plan for the coming year.

Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson speaks to farmers at Beck’s 2019 Central Illinois Field Show in El Paso.

“2019 is a not judgment year. You did what you had to do to get the crop in the field,” said Sean Nettleton, agronomist.

Becks corn samples

With corn on display, Beck’s field agronomist told farmers 2019 is a not judgment year. “You did what you had to do to get the crop in the field,” he said at Beck’s field show in

El Paso.

No matter how much was spent on getting the best downforce, it doesn’t really matter in a year like this, he said.

“If we plant into poor conditions, it doesn’t matter what we spent on attachments,” Nettleton said.

But he looks at the bigger picture in noting that every field is unique and needs to be managed differently.

For example, he penciled out how acres closest to trees in more forested southern Illinois aren’t making a profit. He takes into account various factors to determine exactly which acres are providing a return on investment and how much. Then he can decide if he should stop farming the acres that aren’t making him money.

“Or at least manage them differently,” Nettleton said.

In seeking out the answers to determine how a field is performing, he will take into account more than input costs and yields. He looks at soil layers, typography, elevation, organic matter and water capacity. Nettleton said using these factors and advanced tests help farmers customize a field.

Sometimes farmers can make money without paying an extra dime, said Greg Shepheard, a field agronomist in southeastern Iowa. One of those is managing the timing of fungicide application.

“If you have a choice, do fungicide applications in the morning and herbicides in the afternoon,” he said, summing up Beck’s research.

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.