What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, many farmers across the Corn Belt were getting ready for an early 2012 planting season. This year, cool temperatures are lingering and some forecasters are predicting a wet spring. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus mused, “The only constant is change.”

Farmers can prepare for change by choosing crop inputs that offer flexibility. Some herbicides are limited to pre-emergence application or can only be applied up to 2-leaf corn, while others can be applied up to 12- or 30-inch corn. A farmer may have the best intentions for a timely herbicide application that protects his crop from yield-robbing early-season weeds, but rain may keep him out of the field.

“If Mother Nature brings a wet spring, the first thing that comes to mind in that scenario is flexibility,” said Gordon Vail, technical product lead for herbicides at Syngenta.“If you have a wet spring and you aren’t sure if you’re going to get a pre-emergence herbicide on because it’s been raining, you really need to think about buying a herbicide that has pre-emergence and post-emergence flexibility.”

If a farmer has chosen a flexible herbicide, he can still apply it when conditions allow. But if he selected one with limited application flexibility, he may have to make a last-minute switch to another product. With some herbicides already predicted to be in short supply, it’s critical for farmers and ag retailers to have discussions sooner than later.

In a wet spring, an ag retailer doesn’t want a customer to be caught with a product in his storage shed that won’t fit the field situation and a messy bookkeeping and rapid replacement process has to occur— that is if a replacement product is available.  

“In a wet spring, producers certainly don’t want to have a product in their barn that can only be used pre-emergence because if they get delayed and can’t get into the field, they are going to have to send that product back to the retailer, and buy a product like Lumax EZ or Lexar EZ,” said Vail.

Choosing a herbicide that offers application flexibility will help farmers adapt to environmental conditions beyond their control.