If you're a farmer who made the switch to non-GMO corn hybrids this spring, you need to prepare for different management strategies this year. Since protective traits are not inside the plant, it means you’ll have to be more ready to act when problems arise.
“There is more interest in non-GMO this year than last year,” says Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension agronomist. “You have to look at fields and decide if you can grow it.”
It is important to consider past issues in fields—is the risk worth the potential cost-saving reward? If this is your first year or if you’d like a reminder of how to protect your non-GMO hybrids while maintaining profitability, here are a few tips:
- Make a plan for scouting. Hire a crop scout or make it part of your routine.
- Let your neighbors know you’re planting conventional so they don’t accidentally burn your end rows with glyphosate.
- Since conventional's risk for insect damage is higher, you'll want to monitor standability throughout the growing season to be strategic at harvest.
- You might need to connect with different seed dealers and brands to get the supplies you need.
You will likely have to increase your scouting and management to protect the crop. “You should be out there scouting every two weeks or more often,” says Greg Kruger, University of Nebraska assistant professor of cropping systems. “Especially during pivotal times of the year.”
Be sure to weigh the benefits with drawbacks when considering non-GMO and decide what is best for your farm. “I think there’s bigger interest out there because of cost savings,” Licht says. “You can save up to 40% in seed costs.” But he adds that farmers need to be prepared to scout and potentially spend more than they normally would on chemicals such as herbicide, insecticide or fungicides to protect the crop.