MAPLETON, Minn. – Uncertainty in the marketplace is creating even more uncertainty in the fields. With a disappointing drop in the markets following the most recent USDA report, it makes it difficult for farmers like the Trios to decide whether or not to invest anymore inputs into this year’s crops, even as pests start to emerge.
“We’re checking fields lately to start spraying fungicide and (pesticide),” said Aaron Trio. “We did a little, a couple fields, but we haven't really got it but too much done.”
Soybean aphids are starting to pop up in the fields along the river bottom and tree lines, which is where they seem to start every year. The aphids overwinter in the wooded areas and move into the closest soybean fields when ready.
The Trios have sprayed about a third of their soybean fields, really focusing on the fields that have heavy aphid populations.
“For everybody, it's been a tough call as to how much money to spend with beans being what they are for prices,” said Steve Trio. “We’re putting it on our better-quality beans and still pushing for those yields.”
The aphid populations were really sporadic in the fields. The Trios would come to a plant that was covered in them, 150-200 aphids, too many to count. Then, the next one wouldn’t have any.
Where they did apply insecticide, it seems to have been affective.
“We are using an insecticide that has a residual, so we hope it'll carry us for a while and hopefully we don't have to respray along the woods and stuff, which is common for guys to have to do,” Steve said.
On the corn side, everyone in the area seemed to cut back on fungicide applications, the Trios included.
In addition to stopping fungal growth, there is a plant health benefit to a fungicide. They tend to push yields even if there are not major fungal disease pressures in the fields.
They did spray some fields, but focused on the fields where the return was more likely.
“Everybody is just wondering, what was the right decision?” Steve said.
“We don’t really know if the payback will be there this year,” added Aaron. “Time will tell.”
Of course, the season is not over yet. There is good weather in the forecast, warm with a few shots of rain, and the crops still have time to grow and produce yield.
“We're getting these nice little shots of rain here ourselves, other spots maybe they're getting too much, but we're getting these nice quarter inch, half inch rains, which is why we need to mow the lawn every morning,” Steve said.
While they don’t have any yield predictions yet, Steve did comment that the beans are looking very good in his area.
The corn is more dependent on when it was planted and the type of ground it went on. Some fields will need more time than others, so everyone is just hoping for a late frost.