Spray late planting season

Weather delays and wet fields have stretched out planting in the Midwest and complicated plans to spray crops.

Independence Day usually marks the tail end of spraying season, but Nick Sawyer said this year may see farmers going much later.

Sawyer, the agronomy manager at Mid-Iowa Cooperative in Beaman, Iowa, said he is still seeing farmers planting soybeans as late as June 25, which means there is still work to be done.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a year like this one,” Sawyer said. “You can say that about a lot of years in farming, but this one has been especially challenging.”

With a significantly wet and delayed planting season, that has caused some unique challenges for sprayers this year as well.

With farmers constantly having to change their plans, it’s meant a change in approach for Sawyer and his team.

“It’s been a challenge,” Sawyer said. “Planting has been spread out enough where, just like growers where they only get some fields planted, we only get some of our fields sprayed. We haven’t necessarily been buried and not getting things done, it’s just drawn out.

“It’s not the easiest thing to do, but we definitely try to do everything we can to help farmers execute their plan — and their plans change. We have to be able to move with them and move as fast as they do.”

However, the weather is going to cause some farmers to make different choices when it comes to applying chemicals.

Sawyer noted farmers in his area will be looking at sidedress options throughout the season, after so much moisture has taken away nitrogen applied before planting.

Iowa State University professor John Sawyer said in an Extension article that nitrogen sidedressing can begin immediately after planting. When it comes to later-stage corn, normal side-dress equipment may not work, and high-clearance equipment might be needed.

However, he said, “The most important thing is to get N applied to corn.”

“Fine-tuning applications certainly helps ensure best yields possible for the year, but sometimes risk of not getting N applied should also be considered,” he said.

With a stressful planting season behind and much more spraying to do, Nick Sawyer said the Mid-Iowa Cooperative was lucky to never have to close its doors on customers, and the wait may have only reached a handful of hours at its worst point.

He credited the workers at Mid-Iowa Coop for keeping things running smoothly throughout the season so far.

“Especially with anhydrous, logistics was a challenge,” he said. “It took a lot more employees and a lot more trucks to get the job done. Some companies weren’t, but we had enough help to keep up. The pipeline is only so big.”