Understanding and Minimizing Yield Inhibitors Optimizes Profitability

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Researchers are an invaluable resource for helping growers get the most out of their inputs, selecting the right hybrids for the right areas and mapping out a plan for minimizing yield-limiting factors in their fields.

Why is this important? Because spending money on an input that doesn’t help protect or boost yield is a wasted investment.

Dr. Kelly Nelson, professor of agronomy at the University of Missouri Greenley Research Center in Novelty, Mo., outlines several key factors to evaluate as you develop a plan for your growers to optimize yield potential with water and temperature being two of the biggest factors – and the hardest to control.

“For the most part, we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to water and temperature,” he says. “Fortunately, there are other yield-limiting factors that we can manage.”

Another yield-limiting factor to consider is soil nutrition. “Make sure there is adequate nitrogen in the soil before grain fill, because that can have a significant effect on overall yield,” he recommends. 

Another key factor is hybrid selection. “One hybrid may have great yield potential but may be more susceptible to key diseases,” he explains. “So knowing that you have that risk, you might want to plan a fungicide application.”

Knowing the disease history of your growers’ fields is another important factor. Nelson recommends scouting fields proactively, before tasseling, so you know what diseases your customers might be facing. This gives you a window to apply a foliar fungicide like Headline AMP® fungicide at tasseling to protect plants from disease and optimize plant photosynthesis.

In-field testing shows that Headline AMP fungicide delivers the most yield when applied at tassel (+12 to +15 bu/A*). In addition to providing best in class preventative and post-infection disease control, Headline AMP fungicide also provides additional BASF Plant Health benefits such as reducing stress during grain fill and allowing corn plants to optimize photosynthesis.

“Disease infections decrease photosynthetic tissue in the plant, and they divert food reserves in the plant to the pathogen for its growth,” explains Nelson. “We see a reduction of food reserves transferring from the leaves to the ear, which affects the grain yield directly. That’s why we use a foliar fungicide to optimize photosynthesis in all of our high-yielding systems – it protects overall plant efficiency.”

In his work, Dr. Nelson has seen the most benefit from a foliar fungicide when applied at the VT stage.

“We’re trying to get protection during the grain fill period,” he says. “If we have a reduction in the photosynthetic area on the plant, we’re going to inhibit the plant’s ability to create grain because it will divert energy into combatting that disease stress. When we run into challenges during grain fill, that directly impacts the yield potential of that plant.”

Other yield-limiting factors to evaluate when planning for 2019:

  • Weed control
  • Insect management and history
  • Drainage issues
  • Soil nutrition
  • Planting dates
  • Crop rotation

You can find another handy guide for evaluating yield-limiting factors here, courtesy of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University. To learn more about the BASF Plant Health benefits of Headline AMP fungicide, visit GrowSmartCorn.com, or talk to your local BASF representative.


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