Pay Now or Pay Later?

The title references the question I wished more farmers would have asked themselves earlier this summer.  The decision to apply fungicide was not an easy one to make this year.  Say it costs $30 per acre- breakeven equates to 10 bushels at $3 corn .

Ten bushels seemed like a lot mid-summer when the USDA was reporting excellent crop conditions and the market rarely moved in the positive direction.

Ten bushels at harvest may now seem achievable when we see tip back, light test weights, and stalk rots.

In addition to protecting the plant from foliar diseases, fungicide applications are shown to decrease the number of kernels aborted and, because of the “stay green” effect, have longer periods of grain fill.  While fungicide sprayed at tassel won’t protect the stalk this late in the game, university data has shown that plants infected with leaf diseases are more prone to stalk rots.  Stalks rots can cause premature plant death, leading to yield loss from reduced kernel size and weight, as well as harvest losses.

2016 had some challenges all its own here in Clarion- we saw hot temperatures during pollination and many more cloudy days than sunny.  The picture below shows ears where fungicide was applied (top 4) compared to the check (bottom 4).  The fungicide applied group all had 16 rows around and were 38-41 kernels long.  The check had 3 ears that were 14 rows around and one with 16 rows.  Length ranged from 25 to 39 kernels.  How much will consistency add up to?  We’ll find out in a few weeks.

fung-vs-no-fung

 

Low prices don’t mean cutting costs for the sake of not paying bills.  Low prices should mean making calculated decisions about inputs and spending money to make money.  Consider paying the input bill versus what you could potentially pay in yield loss.  That’s something to keep in mind as prepay season rolls around.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy harvest!

Questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related?  Email my at Agronomy@hagie.com.

 

 

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Tending the Ag Sprayer

After a fairly mild and extended harvest season, it seems Mother Nature has finally decided to remind us that winter does exist.  With equipment tucked away for cold weather, I thought it would be a great opportunity for our Product Manager Newt to talk about why a proper tending setup is so important.  Check out the following series of videos for minimum tending recommendations, as well as some add-ons to make tending even easier!

Questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email me at Agronomy@hagie.com.

With Harvest Comes Information, Part II

Harvest wrapped up at Hagie Hybrids a bit over 2 weeks ago and I am still having a hard time believing the numbers.  Here are a few examples:

  • 40-  The 10 year county average corn yield is 172 bu/ac and the farm averaged almost 40 bu/ac more.
  • 30-  It’s October 30th, and we still haven’t had a really hard frost (my cover crop is loving it!).
  • 0.76- This one might seem odd, but I am beyond excited about it.  Our rotated corn needed only 0.76 pounds of nitrogen to produce each bushel.  Historically, the recommendation has be 1:1, so not only is this a sustainable number, it also is a cost reduction!
  • 0.92- Another oddity, but also exciting.  This is the amount of nitrogen per bushel it took to grow our continuous corn.  That would have been a bit lower if one field had not produced rather disappointing yield…
  • 22T41- The Pioneer soybean number that went over 70 bu/ac in an area where the 10 year average is 48! (Never did I think I would see beans like that!)
  • 40.93- My “what on earth went wrong in that field that it yielded 40.93 bu/ac” number.  I’ll have to work on that one.
  • 10 to 15- The number of bushels gained with a Hagie in a side by side fungicide trial over an airplane (customer report).
  • 7- The number of bushels gained with a Hagie in a side by side fungicide trial over a helicopter (customer report).
  • 7- The number of bushels gained by waiting to side dress at V10 instead of V6 (customer report).

The other numbers I’ve been really looking hard relate to the profitability of each acre.  For the first time, I’ve been using the financial piece of Ag Leader’s SMS software.  Check out this P/L map:p and lWhile I’m still trying to figure out how to get every cost accounted for, this map shows my relative profitability of different areas of the field.  My goal is to manage acres with low productivity differently, maybe even taking them out of production if warranted.  For example, the slew that runs the whole field on the west side- this is one of the few years we’ve taken a decent crop from it.  I hate think about the return it’s paid (or lack of) in the past.  Who needs to spend hundreds of dollars an acre to get a return of something less than $0???  Definitely some numbers worth taking a look at…

Have questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related?  Email me at agronomy@hagie.com.

With Harvest Comes Information

As I write, Tim is working on combining the second to last field of soybeans at Hagie Hybrids.  I haven’t grabbed the yield data from the monitor in a couple of days, but we’ve definitely been above average thus far (55-65 bu/ac, county 10 year average is 48).  We’ve been fighting some green stems even though the beans are running below 12% moisture.  We’re also finding a shade of green on the harvested fields – the cover crops seeded about 2 weeks ago are coming along!  I’m hoping that mother nature holds off on any threat of frost for another couple of weeks.

Airport NW Cover CropWe also have taken out some early maturity corn, including my nitrogen timing trial.  If you recall, nitrogen was applied in full at preplant and incorporated, 50%-50% at preplant and V5, or 33%-33%-33% at preplant, V5 and V10.  All treatments received 160lb/ac of nitrogen.  I’m pretty excited to say that the last treatment, which included the late season N application, was the highest yielding! There’s more information to come on the economics, but in a time where some farmers are looking for that extra profit on each acre, the Hagie Advantage is a great opportunity to make money!

Have questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email me at Agronomy@Hagie.com.

Pre-Harvest Roundup 2015

As I was out walking fields yesterday, I decided a different blog format might be interesting. I proceeded to film a couple of videos and record my thoughts.  The conclusions I came to are

#1 – I am not a good videographer

#2 – 20 mph winds are not conducive to filming.

So bear with the following post.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit in both my work and personal life lately and can say that there are many farmers that must think glyphosate is still a viable herbicide to use as the only method of weed control in soybeans.  Waterhemp plants may outnumber soybean plants in some fields I’ve seen! It’s a little late to act on the weeds present now, but I have a few thoughts to offer.

Many corn producing states are facing issues with water quality due to high levels of nitrate or phosphorus.  I believe that cover crops are one of the easiest to implement practices that can help reduce the amount of nutrients leaving a cropping system.  Hagie Hybrids is covering all of its soybean acres this fall, as well as about 1/3 of the continuous corn acres.  Here’s how and why we’re doing it-

Have a safe and (hopefully) bountiful harvest!

Have a question about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related?  Email me at Agronomy@Hagie.com

Nitrogen Matters

Since 1947, Hagie Manufacturing has been optimizing our customers’ growth and increasing their profitability. We do not claim to be a one size fits all product line, but do believe that our owners can add to their bottom line through full use of our equipment. When one of our products doesn’t fit a customer’s operation and that owner has found a product that does work for him, we support that too.

An example of this has surfaced in the past couple of seasons- coulter applied nitrogen vs surface applied nitrogen. Some have made it into a battle of which method is superior, but for us at Hagie, it’s a battle of determining which best suits the customer.

The Hagie Nitrogen Toolbar (NTB) has been around since the early 2000s. The high clearance attachment has gone from being a tool that our customers have used to make rescue applications in years with excessive nitrogen loss to one that is used to make nitrogen applications at the time of high nitrogen demand (i.e. late season in corn). Through high pressure injection, the nitrogen is delivered into the ground, where it is safe from volatilization and can be available to the crop in short order. The Hagie NTB makes nitrogen very efficient in this manner.

While some Hagie customers have taken advantage of their machine’s clearance to apply nitrogen via dragging hoses from the boom late in the season for many years, surface applied nitrogen has recently trended sharply upward. Companies like 360 Yield Center have done a great job promoting their products that deliver nitrogen close to the row late in the season. When using stabilized nitrogen, the nitrogen is protected until moisture arrives and takes it into the soil, making this application viable.

These two methods of late season application fit two different customers in my mind. The NTB is the customer that is concerned with nitrogen efficiency- making the most of each dollar spend on that input. The acres covered are probably not more than a couple thousand, and the ground is not much steeper than “rolling hills.”

On the other hand, the customer profile of someone applying surface nitrogen is about machine efficiency. The operator needs to cover several thousand acres in the same timeframe as the aforementioned customer. The speed he can with run with a boom setup is faster than he could with a NTB, and cover 60’ vs 30-40’ at a time also increases productivity. Rough terrain also poses no problem for this type of application.

Both of these applications can add to your net profit, but to what degree is a matter of the system fits your operation. Three years of research summarized in Figure 2 on page 183 in this link shows an average of $10/ac difference.

So, you can make money with late season nitrogen, or you can make more money with late season nitrogen. In the end, I see it as late season nitrogen application paying.

Have a question about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email me at agronomy@hagie.com.

Work Smarter, Not Harder!

optrxTypically, efficiency equates to getting a better return (think $$$).  Nitrogen use efficiency has been thrown around in particular recently.  Who wouldn’t want to apply 0.8 pounds of nitrogen per bushel of corn produced versus applying 1 pound per bushel?  That sound like money saved to me!

I’m also about managing by the acre to maximize the potential throughout each field, but it can be difficult when in season conditions vary within a field.  Think about changing the nitrogen rate for each acre, for example.  I could do soil or tissue tests to get an idea of the nitrogen present in the soil and plants, but that would get expensive fast and be time consuming.  That’s why I am fond of crop sensors.  It’s as simple as setting a min and max N rate and driving across the field (according to our operator Tim, it’s the cat’s meow).  Just let the technology do the work!

So while I could continue on, explaining more about the technology and the results its produced, I’m just going to reference this blog by Ag Leader’s Sam Worley.  Folks, this is working smarter, not harder- check out how OptRx can benefit your whole operation, these sensors are for more than just corn!

Catching Up on Pre Applications 2015

The past month has been an almost perfect (knock on wood it continues) spring for us at Hagie Hybrids- the rain, the wind, and the equipment behaved, we had enough help to get all needed field activities done in a timely fashion ahead of the planter, and all inputs were in our shed well before we needed them.  We were able to finish up corn earlier this week (with the exception of 76 ac waiting for tiling to be finished) and have a good portion of our soybeans in the ground.  Most of those acres are already sprayed, too- 32%, Balance Flexx, and Atrazine on corn and trifluralin on soybeans.

Some people have gripes with yellows- they stain tanks, they need to be incorporated, and they turn the sprayer yellow.  I will sympathize with the first two points (I have to live with a yellow injection tank), but I would like to showcase something to the third point-

When you have the boom set at a proper height and droplets that don’t include much for driftable fines, the machine does not turn yellow because the droplets are hitting the target (i.e. ground in this case) before the machine drives through them.  I’ll be talking more about this through the summer.

Next topic- there are multiple people here pretty excited about this tire.  It’s an Alliance Multiuse tire (Newt offered to blog about it, actually more like told me that he was going to, so stay tuned).  I don’t get too excited about tires, other than the compaction they can cause or the plants they run over.

Tires

I was walking some corn ground earlier this week and took this video.  If I’ve ever seen pretty tire tracks, they look like these.

How many machines/applicators are capable of making those tight turns without banking a bunch of soil?  I’ve been wrong before, but I’m going to say not many.  Here’s Newt talking about his approach on making (pretty) turns:

They make the machine ride REALLY nice down the road, too.

Lastly, for those of you that are applicators, remember that people see things you do.  Things like the picture below don’t shed a good light on applicators.  Maybe a front mounted boom would have helped this person see where his product was being applied???

IMG_1219

Have a question about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email me at agronomy@hagie.com.

Dealing with Drift

I like to practice what I preach, especially when it comes to application.  I am also easily worked up and several people like to take advantage of that.  So last spring when someone told me Newt was spraying in winds averaging 18 mph, I immediately called him.  What could he possibly be thinking that would make it okay to spray in those conditions???  Of course he didn’t answer (he never answers his phone when he’s spraying), so that got me more frazzled- we’ll be the talk of the town in no time!!!

This is the view from the cab that day-

.

OH THE not so much HORROR!!!  I then resumed back to my (sort of) mellow self.

Why could we effectively spray in windy conditions?

1. The product being applied.  Liquid UAN is relatively heavy stuff and it was at a 45 gpa rate (not our usual rate- for plot work).  With water we would have had a different story.

2. Lower boom height.  Run the boom as low as the nozzle tip manufacturer will allow for the nozzle you’re using.  The droplets get to the target faster and wind has less time to impact them.

3. Large droplet size. Larger droplets fall faster and are less subject to impacts of wind compared to their smaller cohorts.  I like the TeeJet table below to aid in tip selection for windier days.  The Y axis shows increasing droplet size and the X axis shows increasing PSI.  The three types of tips shown all produce different droplet sizes at a given pressure.  Remember that not all products (especially contact pesticides) work well with a large droplet (save those applications for earlier or later in the day or a calm day all together when a medium droplet can be safely used).

droplet size by psi

Lastly, in the words of Dr. Mike Owen, drift is not just a function of chemistry, it’s a function of management!  Happy spraying!

Have a question about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related?  Email me at agronomy@hagie.com.

Cover (yourself) Up!

I try to be an agvocate, I really do.  When new employees come through orientation, I always offer to set up a meeting between them and a farmer if they have questions about why farmers manage as they do.  I’m on various social media sites and promote those within our industry that are making sustainable practices work for their operations.  At Hagie Hybrids, I practice what I preach by utilizing the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship and incorporate cover crops into our cropping system.

But sometimes I just have to laugh…

Breaking News, Alarming, Shocking, Massive Cover Up…

 

Consider this a PPE PSA for the 2015 application season.  And a PSA for reading the label – it’s the law anyhow.

And because I like to agvocate, consider this – vinegar, caffeine, and salt are all more toxic than glyphosate.  It takes a smaller does of any of the three to be lethal compared to the dose of glyphosate.  How’s that for Breaking News, Alarming, Massive Cover Up???

Questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email me at agronomy@hagie.com.H Dot Logo