Advanced Agrilytics

Managing your Crop in a Shortened Growing Season

As we progress through the month of May, rainfall across much of the Corn Belt has slowed planting progression, putting pressure on all of us to not only get the crop in timely, but under some challenging conditions. As the threat of weather delays pushes planting closer to the end of May, this calls into question what the downstream effects will be.

For this month, our focus is shifting ahead to how we want to influence this crop over the next 45 days.

Looking back to last month’s article, we addressed managing nitrogen and sulfur applications, as well as the importance of timing of those applications to maximize early-season growth. Now with delayed planting in many areas, we have two things happening simultaneously:

  1. Low SWI/Low organic matter: The higher landscape acres that dry out first don’t have a crop on them, leaving them exposed and subject to evaporation.
  2. High SWI/High N loss: Acres of increased catchment that may have already had nitrogen applied are lying anaerobic due to heavy rainfall. N loss is a primary concern here, especially if not protected with a stabilizer.
To the first point, we are missing the opportunity to close the canopy in the month of May — meaning much of the moisture from a late May or early June rainfall is evaporating off rather than passing through an established crop. This means that when the rainfall shuts off and we can get planted, we are already at a disadvantage to build enough above-ground vegetative mass that can support optimal yield.
Knowing the importance of building plant mass, the shortened growing season is going to make it more difficult to get this accomplished. But there are things you can do to ensure the best possible outcome.  With delayed planting, the growing season has effectively been shortened, placing more emphasis on the progression through growth stages.  For this season, abiotic stress (weather events, wet or dry conditions) during this growing season will have a greater yield influence than in a timelier planting and/or longer growing season.  Having strategies to proactively manage the 2024 crop will mitigate the stress impact and improve outcome.


Start with Environment

With corn, it will be important not to waste time once the crop is established. Where sidedress will be the primary application of nitrogen and/or sulfur, get moving earlier in the crops’ lifecycle rather than waiting until V4/V5 to start applications. Remember, you are in a dead sprint to make up for lost time.
As we progress later in the spring, closer to the summer solstice, the number of reproductive nodes a soybean plant will generate is going to be reduced, specifically in environments where it encounters stress. Because this is going to vary across the landscape, it is important that you have a plan to be able to address this.

For our customers, we have management strategies that mitigate these effects by increasing plant densities where we experience reduced node counts later in the season. Understanding a variety’s characteristics about how it wants to build yield can lead to altering product placement to optimize yield.

Isolate Mechanism
As we progress into later vegetative stages, it is likely this crop is going to be living “hand-to-mouth”, so how it is managed from V10 through the reproductive stages will be equally as important. If you have read some of our previous articles, we have touched on the timing of fungicide and how that will slow a plants’ respiration rate. The result of this slowed respiration is increased carbohydrate (sucrose) in the plant — this is important as we prepare for pollination.
Ultimately, with a late vegetative fungicide application, this will increase the resources available and will reduce the amount of kernel abortion early. Then, a following application (if needed) can extend grain fill. All of this, assuming the foundation of P/K is sufficient.
With delayed planting we can start by focusing on how else you can influence this crop. Studies performed both internally at Advanced Agrilytics, and with others have found that one of the most important morphological differences leading to the yield separation observed from early to later plantings is the time a soybean plant spends at R2.
While the early planting window is now passed, it comes down to what else you can do to extend the flowering period. Our internal studies have found that even at a late May/Early June planting, an early fungicide application (R2) followed by another at R4 provided a 6.7-bushel advantage over the control.

Managing for the best possible outcome:

Success is contingent on understanding the environment, having it accurately described, and then isolating the mechanism you are trying to influence. Putting all the pieces together as part of a systematic approach can only lead us to the best possible outcome. 


Be proactive against mother nature

Connect with our agronomic experts to better understand how the unique attributes of your acre and our understanding of its mechanisms can provide insights for an already challenging year. 

Let us contact you to get started on your personalized, unbiased recommendations