MOLINE, Ill. – Farmers are facing some very difficult decisions right now. The time to plant corn has quickly come and gone and the deadline for beans is just around the corner. It is going to be difficult deciding what to plant, when to plant and what steps get done or maybe skipped just to get the crop in.
“Planting is kind of all over the board, so I'm getting a lot of questions about the plan B, about what do we do now,” said Kurt Maertens, a BASF Technical Services Representative, during an interview on May 24.
In Minnesota, as of May 26, 66 percent of the corn had been planted. There was only two days suitable for field work that week and planted corn acres increased 10 percent in those two days. To put it into perspective, last year at this time 91 percent of the acres had been planted and the five-year average is 93 percent planted.
On the soybean side of things, about 35 percent of the acres have been planted. An increase of only 7 percent from the previous week. The state is 40 percent behind last year when 75 percent of the acres had been planted by now. The five-year average for now is 77 percent.
Even though planting is behind, there is still time to get the beans in the ground. If growers can get a few good rain free days in the next two weeks, they can get planted and be set up for a good harvest.
The big question looming over those bean fields is the weeds. This weather may stop planting, but it barely hinders weed growth.
“If there's a bright side to the lateness of the year, it is that the cooler weather has kept the weed size down a little bit,” said Maertens. “But we are now getting at the point where things are starting to get pretty good sized.”
Both the winter annuals and the summer annuals are gaining ground in the fields. The bigger those weeds get, the harder they’ll will be to control.
“If the beans have been planted, we're continuing with our pre-emergence herbicide plan, but we may have to add in another mode of action,” he said. “What a lot of guys are doing, if they have the dicamba tolerant soybean, are adding a product like Engenia to a Zidua Pro trip to add on another mode of action.”
That additional mode of action will be essential to taking down the bigger weeds, especially if growers are looking at herbicide resistant varieties.
For growers who haven’t planted their beans yet, when field conditions get good enough to work in, they will have to choose between spraying those weeds first or just planting and dealing with them later.
“That is the dilemma that's going on,” he said. “These growers are getting backed into these positions and it's kind of a darned if you do, darned if you don't situation. Obviously, if we've got weather to plant the crop, we're going to do that.”
There is a little more time to worry about those weeds going forward, but again the bigger they are, the more difficult it is to kill them. Additionally, weed competition on young soybean plants can become costly in the end.
“That critical weed loss time is when the soybeans are small, V2-V3,” said Maertens. “If we've got weed competition going on, that's when we're losing 1 percent of yield per day, so it does become critical.”
The other issue becomes the winter annuals that come up later in the season, like water hemp. If there are not residual herbicides down in advance, growers might be looking at an additional application later in the season.
For growers with dicamba tolerant beans, the cutoff date for application is June 20 in the state. There just might not be time this growing season to take advantage of that technology.
“It's definitely an interesting year. We’re seeing a lot of things that a lot of folks haven't seen before,” he said. “We're having to tailor a lot of our herbicide programs depending on the weeds that are in the field, how thick the weeds are and what herbicide trait package the soybeans have. That all comes into play now. It can be done. There's a lot of good options.”