Renewable Farming

How to protect corn, soybean yields against a prospective dry July-August

NOAA seasonal weathercasters are painting a dry-July bullseye on Iowa. Several commercial long-range weather services are more cautious about severe dry stress in the central Corn Belt — but none expect above-normal summer rain.

April 14, 2022: Here’s how you can start early to maximize corn and soybean stress resistance if Plains drought spreads east and June-July showers fade in our central Corn Belt.

Right up front we’ll emphasize: Virtually every product used for in-furrow and foliar application becomes more effective when applied in solution with WakeUP.

Midsummer precipitation forecast anomaly from NOAA

1. Accelerate digestion of last season’s stalk residue to gain lower-cost nutrients.

Benefits: Unlocks cornstalk nutrients for soybeans earlier. Frees more mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria to energize soybeans instead of tying them up for breakdown of cellulose and lignin. Treated stalks become more fragile, so planter coulters slice through trash instead of bouncing over. 

Several new residue-breakdown biologicals have emerged in the past few years. They’re best applied in fall. Early spring is second best when daytime soil temperatures rise above 50 degrees.

8 An old faithful for 30-plus years is AgriEnergy Solutions Residuce.

8 Newest we’ve seen is Microchop from Soil and Plant Nutritional Concepts, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. One reason it’s unique: Its fungal and bacterial digesters are grown in water purified and activated with Pursanova technology. Last October we reported a field test with Microchop by crop consultant Larry Eekhoff of Agronomy Rx, Webster City, IA.  After last fall’s demo, Larry tells us his clients are applying it on several thousand acres this spring.

2. Inoculate seed for a thick rhizosphere of beneficial mychorrizal fungi and bacteria.

Benefits: Mychorriza extend the reach of root hairs between soil particles to absorb moisture. They’re also 10 times as effective in dissolving NPK and trace elements. Some of the available biological blends include microbes which capture plant-available nitrogen. A healthy soil with abundant microbial life generates more natural fertility, so you don’t have to buy as much fertilizer.

You can inoculate seed with live biologicals, or include them with in-furrow blends. Either way, they’re immediately available to colonize emerging roots. In effect you grow fertilizer in the field. 

Your choice of seed inoculants is multiplying every season. Hopefully some university or research project, like Beck’s Practical Farm Research project, will run field tests comparing some of these live biologicals.

8 AgriEnergy’s Myco Seed Treat is a longtime proven blend, which has been enhanced with decades of experience. (We’re an AgriEnergy dealer.)

8 Crop consultant Larry Eekhoff reports good corn and soybean yield results with MycoGold biological seed treatment.

8 On March 8, we posted a report from Iowa crop consultant Bob Streit which included a dozen ways to buffer against potential weather stress this season. Those included: “Try to use a seed treatment that delivers micros to the young seedlings. Two in particular should be included.” (He often teases with such references, inviting calls to him at 515-709-0143.)

8 For several years we’ve offered farmers a lignin-based growth promoter, Lignition, patented by Dave Sutherland in Canada. The seed treatment version is LigniSeed. We recommend that you browse the Lignition website and study the yield data. This is a carbon-based product, not a live biological. You use it blended with water as a seed treatment or foliar. We conducted extensive field trials with it on our research farm. No shortage of this; we have inventory for several thousand acres.

BioIQ is a dry seed treatment specifically designed to confer crop stress resistance. It contains the fungal endophyte and bacterial microbes in BioEnsure and BioTango from Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) in Spokane. Live organism spores are  blended by AST into a pure talc lubricant. This gives you uniform seed coverage and good singulation of corn with minimum planter wear. AST is constantly evaluating the talc carrier; may add a percentage of graphite. 

3. In-furrow application: Your perfect opportunity to launch massive early rooting.

Many farmers with 24-row-plus planters and thousands of row-crop acres let nothing slow the planter. Seed in the ground is The Mission. Others emphasize getting seed out of the ground, emerging all at once, with powerhouse roots. That’s where in-furrow live microbials, biostimulants and pop-up fertility shines. And that’s where WakeUP Spring exerts maximum leverage on increased yields.

Benefits: Refilling your in-furrow solution tanks every 100 acres or so doesn’t cost much time. But it’s among the most profitable minutes of your day. Here’s an array of in-furrow opportunities. Note: We recommend adding 3 ounces of WakeUP Spring to your in-furrow biological and nutrient blends, to mobilize them into roots.

Vitazyme in-furrow is one of the most consistent biostimulants we’ve worked with. It also has the longest track record of field trials around the world.

We work with Vitazyme’s research director, Paul Syltie. Paul read this article and commented: “Your summary of benefits should be beneficial to everyone who uses it. The effects of these products become more apparent under drought conditions. It appears that — if one can put any credence in the long-range forecast — we may be in for a dry summer.

You can follow the Vitazyme link and look for “2021 field research” for the latest performance data. You can also use it as a foliar. (With 5 ounces of WakeUP Summer.)

8 AgronomyRx in Webster City, IA offers a new line of in-furrow and foliar nutrients and biologicals this season. Check out the possibilities at this link.

AgriEnergy Solutions MVP is an enhanced formulation of its classic SP-1, which farmers and crop consultants have enthused about for years. We favor its in-furrow use, as it contains a wide range of microbial species to increase nutrient availability to crops.

4.  Foliar feeding nutrients and biologicals works — if you mobilize active ingredients into plants

Only about one of three Midwest corn-soybean growers regularly foliar feed crops through the growing season and into early reproductive stages. All high-yield corn and soybean contest winners do. Some try it and see zero response. Usually that’s because they don’t use WakeUP Summer in the spray solution. WakeUP (1) Reduces water surface tension. Your spray glossy-coats leaves instead of beading up and dripping off. (2) Temporarily lifts and softens the waxy leaf cuticle, enabling the entire leaf to absorb nutrient payloads into crop metabolism. (3) Speeds translocation of plant sap and nutrients from leaves to growing points and grain. 

There are so many beneficial foliar-applied nutrients and biologicals that we’ll refer you to our past reports for products which fit your cropping. 

You can be more precise and cost-effective with foliar nutrients if you monitor your crop’s needs with regular tissue tests. Or better yet, sap tests, which give you a few weeks extra time to take remedial foliar action in case of a deficiency.

Give us a call or e-mail with any questions you may have.