March 2021 FARM INSIGHT
How’s Your “Second Harvest” This Spring?
Has your corn residue been breaking down adequately over the winter, or is it still on the soil surface from previous crops? Even with fall tillage, it still may not break down properly. If it’s not breaking down efficiently, it’s costing you money—and more. Don’t assume you can apply a residue breakdown program just in the fall. It can be applied in the spring as well.
Successful corn production starts with controlling the controllables, and that includes proper residue management.
Residue management is so important that it’s Phase 1 of ProfitProAG’s 3-phase “Recipe for Success” for better crop production. Top producers know that managing this residue efficiently is a ‘second harvest.’ It offers a proven way to cut your fertilizer bill.
Consider this: a 200 bu/A corn crop can offer 40 pounds of nitrogen (N), 50 pounds of phosphorus (P) and 110 pounds of potassium (K) from the residue, based on conservative estimates, along with 45% carbon. This translates into money. Don’t leave money on the table—or in the field.
Never Underestimate the Power of Microbes
Effective residue management can occur in the spring or fall. ProfitProAG offers a variety of products to help jumpstart your second harvest, including MeltDown™ (Environoc 501 for organic production), a mixture of 25 microbes that helps break down cellulose and lignin found in tough-to-digest corn stalks. We also offer Eubio-NBS (c10), a natural biological stimulant that can be used with MeltDown. It works with existing microorganisms and applied microbes to speed up the crop-residue digestion process.
These products boost the second harvest, which allows you to cut back on tillage, improve soil health and nutrient retention, enhance nitrogen fixation, help soil warm up faster in the spring, reduce disease and insect pressure, and improve yield potential and profit potential. Never underestimate the power of microbes to break down residue efficiently and recycle nutrients for long-term benefits.
Better Residue Management Means Better Crop Stands
There are so many benefits that come with proper residue management that it’s easy to overlook some basics that become essential this time of year. Breaking down residue contributes to more uniform planting, which leads to more even stands.
Uniform planting is connected to proper planting depth, which is critical to minimizing plant stress and protecting corn yield potential. While proper planting depth isn’t news, it’s still a challenge today, due to planters running too fast or too much residue hindering proper planting depth.
The ideal planting depth for corn is 2 to 2½ inches. If the seed is planted too shallow (less than 1½ inch deep), nodal roots will be just below or on the soil surface. This may result in rootless corn, where corn is holding on by only the mesocotyl. It may also result in injury if the growing point is exposed directly to herbicides. In addition, the soil surface may be too hot for the nodal roots to grow properly.
If seed is planted too deep (3 inches or more), the seedling needs extra energy to push the coleoptile to the soil surface. Under these conditions, the coleoptile may split, causing the plant to leaf out under the soil surface. A variety of factors can aggravate this problem, including soil compaction, surface crusting and cold, wet conditions.
When you manage residue properly, you can avoid a lot of these challenges and manage proper seed planting depth for better corn stands and higher yield potential.