In the days of big data, don’t lose sight of the small data that will substantially contribute to yields—and producers’ bottom lines—in 2015. Nailing down your true cost of production (versus assuming your costs match your state’s Extension figures) and keeping a keen eye on the fundamentals of execution in the field are mission critical to success.
Long-time Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie is quick to point out that several key production decisions have profound impacts on yields. As you head to the field, keep these pointers in mind:
- Start with the right seed to succeed. This is especially important this year as farmers hold out on final planting decisions as long as possible. Don’t switch to another crop if you can’t get the right genetics.
- Hard as it can be sometimes, be patient and wait until field conditions are right. Hold tight and don’t let emotion drive your decision to plant. Mudding in a crop undermines yields.
- Tuck corn seed in the ground to create a picket fence stand.
- Be careful about how much you cut nitrogen rates for cost-saving purposes. Doing that could cheat yields.
- Scout fields thoroughly—and often. In tight margin times, you can’t afford to sacrifice yields by not paying attention to insecticide, fungicide or nutrient needs. You also can’t afford to just blanket apply product.
- At sidedressing, invest the time to determine how much nitrogen is needed. Pay particular attention to high-risk areas—and remember variable-rate technology is the best way to increase yields while holding nitrogen costs flat.
In short, double down on details!
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