• Agronomic Insights

3 Lessons Farmers Learned In 2021

WinField United farmer and field services manager evaluate ear of corn.
We’re quickly approaching a new year, and you’re probably busy planning for next season’s crop. Before you flip the calendar ahead to 2022, take some time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities your operation faced in 2021. Here are three takeaways that are top of mind for me as I help my farmers plan for next season.

Dry conditions don’t always mean a lost crop.

Hot, dry weather was the norm across much of the Corn Belt in 2021, bringing several management challenges for farmers. Spraying was particularly difficult, as a lack of moisture threatened the efficacy of herbicide applications. Some farmers backed away from pre-emerge herbicides as they looked at extended dry weather forecasts. Fortunately, those who stuck with their weed management plans tended to see effective weed control despite dry weather.
Though conditions may have looked dire for crops throughout the growing season, farmers and agronomists were surprised at harvest when yields exceeded expectations. The key learning is to not give up on in-season management. Modern crop genetics are bred for stress tolerance, and we definitely saw their resiliency last season.

Stress mitigation boosted yields.

Part of the reason crops thrived, despite dry weather, is because farmers did an effective job mitigating stress. For example, starter fertilizers and products like Ascend Pro® plant growth regulator helped crops establish strong root systems for harnessing deep subsoil moisture critical for their survival.
Effective early-season weed control reduced competition for moisture and nutrients, contributing to increased stress tolerance for crops. Pre-emerge herbicides played a critical role in managing weeds early, which had lasting effects throughout the season.
Managing corn rootworm with below-ground traits in 2021 proved to be an excellent up-front mitigation strategy. In wet seasons, corn rootworm larvae can often be drowned out, but the lack of soil moisture last season was conducive to their survival. That, combined with their ability to wreak havoc on root systems, made them a threat for crops last season.
Usually, dry conditions mean crops get a break from yield-limiting diseases, but in 2021 tar spot showed up big in many areas. Farmers who stayed on top of scouting and managed to apply timely fungicides reaped the benefits at harvest time. Mixed mode-of-action fungicides effectively protected plant health, helping mitigate the effects of drought stress.

Trusted retailers were critical to success.

Supportive retail partners are always critical to a farmer’s success, but that was even more evident in 2021. Disruptions in supply chains meant that farmers had to be flexible with their management plans. Retailers played a crucial role in navigating logistical challenges and supporting farmers with contingency plans and alternative recommendations. Another key takeaway from 2021 is that it’s never too early to plan for future crops. Partner with your trusted advisor to ask what challenges could arise in the coming season and develop plans to address them.
It’s an excellent time to celebrate your wins from 2021 and use the lessons from the season to improve your plans for 2022. Contact your local WinField® United retailer now to discuss those opportunities.
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© 2021 WinField United. Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years and to be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. Ascend Pro and WinField are trademarks of WinField United. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.