Sweet yield secrets
Even in a drought, farmers should not give up on their crops. That was the message from four Missouri crop farmers who shared their strategies on realizing 100-bushel soybeans and 300-bushel corn during a recent University of Missouri field day.
“Any time a plant is in stress you are losing yield,” says Charlie Hinkebein, a corn and soybean farmer from Chaffee.
Unlikely health boost
Hinkebein believes sugar holds some benefits for plants during drought. “The first thing to go in a plant is starch,” he says. “With sugar, we are adding that back.”
He puts on 2 pounds per acre on his soybeans at the r3 stage, and between full tassel and light-brown silk in corn. Hinkebein uses roughly 10,000 pounds of sugar per year. According to Hinkebein, sugar, when applied with insecticides and fungicides, seals the plant, keeping the treatments in place. “There is stickiness to it, where you know it is being held in place.”
John Ortiz, a Garden City farmer, is also a fan of sugar.
“I am using a dextrose product because it is processed with cold instead of heat,” he says. “We are not baking a cake here, so it is not cane sugar.” He, too, says it improves plant health during the growing season.
Watch out for yield-robbers
The men, including Delta farmer Jerry Cox and Garden City producer Franklin Weaver, reminded farmers not to let weeds or insects get the upper hand in fields.
Weeds need to be controlled all season long. “You have guys talking waterhemp over 4 inches tall,” Hinkebein says. “You have got to get at these weeds early to knock them down.”
The men also told the group that scouting fields for weeds and insects helps boost yields. They agreed insects could rob yields by 5-10 bushels/acre without notice.
They also recommended stopping the “dashboard” scouting method, where farmers drive by a field and look at it from the comfort of the truck cab. Rather, they say, take time in the early morning hours at least three times a week to scout fields for yield-robbing problems.
Then, Cox says, be willing to change; perhaps spend a little money to save yield.
TOP IN FIELD: The University of Missouri brought in four of the state’s high-yield producers to visit with farmers about their crop management practices: Charlie Hinkebein of Chaffee (from left), John Ortiz of Garden City, Franklin Weaver of Garden City and Jerry Cox of Delta.
This article published in the August, 2012 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.