Fallow field

With flooding and rain, some fields will not be planted this year. Farmers have plans to fight weeds and protect the soil for the 2020 crop.

After a rough 2019 planting season, South Dakota State University Extension agronomist Jonathan Kleinjan said it’s best if producers just don’t base decisions off the – hopefully – anomalous year.

“You may have a cool, wet spring but repeating 2019 is fairly unlikely,” he said. “Sometimes when things look the worst, they could turn around.”

Kleinjan and other SDSU specialists gave a series of seminars at the Sioux Falls Farm Show from Jan. 22-24. Kleinjan closed the week giving producers three main considerations for the 2020 planting season: fallow corn syndrome, fertility concerns and maturity selection.

Millions of acres in the state were left unplanted in 2019, which has led to an increased concern over fallow corn syndrome. FCS is a disease that hits mostly corn is due to a lack of phosphorus in the soil. Typically, FCS crops up after the ground is left fallow – or unplanted – for the year. However, Kleinjan disagrees with the worry over the newly discussed problem.

“I think this problem is being somewhat hyped,” he said.

Typically, in the trials and tests Kleinjan studied, FCS would become a serious problem only if the ground were to lay unplanted for many years, not just one as we have had this past growing season.

“Worst case scenario, you’d lose maybe 30 to 50 bushels lost if you have a problem, and that’s a big ‘if,’” he said.

The conventional way to combat this would be to apply banded phosphorous treatments. But, even if it may work for other things, Kleinjan stressed that broadcast phosphorous treatments will do little to nothing for this issue. If symptoms are showing up, it’s already too late, he sid.

The other management technique to combat FCS would be to plant soybeans on those unplanted acres, but Kleinjan said out of all the talks he’s given since the 2019 growing season, no one has actually said they’ve seen an FCS issue pop up.

Fertility and maturity concerns

While flood issues are on the top of everyone’s mind, Kleinjan stressed two key components to a successful growing season: knowing what your nutrients are and sticking true to the seeds you use.

With shifting waters and floods, Kleinjan said it’s more important than ever to make sure you know what moveable and immoveable nutrients are in your soils. Typically that is done with a soil test.

“We recommend testing because we’re the university and that’s what we recommend,” he said jokingly.

As it relates to maturity selection, Kleinjan said most of his data for corn suggested that early planting was king in 2019 while late planting in soybeans stayed on top. Typically, late planting will yield better, Kleinjan said, but the cold, wet spring in 2019 led to unfortunate incidents in the field.

“I hope we don’t see anything like this again,” he said.

In one study done on a Miller-area farm, Kleinjan said his team was pulling corn at 40% moisture in some spots.

With early corn doing better in 2019, Kleinjan said he wouldn’t recommend assuming that trend will continue into 2020.

“I wouldn’t go overboard on going early,” he said. “Get a full-season hybrid and plant until May 25. I wouldn’t push the envelope in 2020.”

Some research is coming out suggesting that earlier than 90-day corn is actually doing better than late corn, but Kleinjan recommended sticking with the varieties that are tailored to each producer’s area and staying true to the old adage that longer maturity corn yields better.

Soybean brands catching up

On the soybean side of things, Kleinjan said most SDSU test sites actually got a good crop from 2019.

The exciting aspect for 2020, he said, is that Enlist soybeans are catching up to Liberty Link and Xtend in their trials. Through some studies compiled by Kleinjan, the difference between the top three soybean varieties has dwindled to just a few bushels per acre at most.

“We’re kind of excited to see that Enlist has a good package coming out now,” he said.

As it relates to the individual operation, Kleinjan recommended sticking with what you had in the past and staying true to the June 10 planting cutoff date.

Throughout 2019, Kleinjan said he participated in two unique studies that shed some light on issues farmers face yearly. The first looked into whether or not adding sulfur fertilization to soybeans helps. At their South Shore research site, Kleinjan said the team found no response.

“I thought we may see something but we didn’t,” he said.

The other study, done in Brookings tested a full-year micronutrient plan for soybeans and also found no response in the bean yields. That study is being done across 15 states, Kleinjan said, so he’ll know more how it works out over the course of 2020.

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Reach Reporter Jager Robinson at 605-335-7300, email jager.robinson@lee.net or follow on Twitter @Jager_Robinson.