Now Is The Time To Prepare For Next Year

Put the 2012 season on the shelf and look ahead to 2013.

Published on: Oct 22, 2012

OK, so you didn't reach your bushels per acre goal this year. Believe it or not, a few people actually did in rare fields and field plots, but it was so rare it was like almost winning the lottery. It's time to take the painful lessons learned from 2012, add them to the lessons from every year you've farmed in your career, and draw on your entire knowledge base, not just the memory of last year, to make plans for 2013.

When planning, there are a few thoughts that you may want to consider.

*Choose hybrids carefully. Go back two to three years if you can and look at yield data for hybrids you want to plant in 2013. If you have a particularly sandy or droughty soil, maybe something excelled in 2012 that could be a good choice for those situations. Otherwise, go with the same strategy you always use. Get results from multiple locations and multiple years before picking hybrids.

Live and Learn: This corn will soon be harvested and you can look ahead to 2013. Use 2012 as guidance, but give it no more weight than any of the other years in farming in your career.
Live and Learn: This corn will soon be harvested and you can look ahead to 2013. Use 2012 as guidance, but give it no more weight than any of the other years in farming in your career.

*Ask questions about flowering dates. The one lesson from 2012 you can use from now on is to ask your seedsman when the hybrid flowers, or pollinates. Two 110-day hybrids in relative maturity may not necessarily pollinate at the same time. If you're trying to hit a gap where you believe you will have less chance of pollinating during hot weather, you need to know when those flowering dates are. It will also help you pick a couple of hybrids that might spread presence of pollen in the field over a longer window if you choose to go that route.

*Stay with normal tillage. Whatever tillage you've used successfully in the past is likely the tillage that will work best for next year. The only exception might be where you chopped off corn. Some of those fields won't need aggressive tillage.

*Choose plant population. Some will come out of 2012 saying that maybe you ought to cut population, at least on droughty soils. If you have variable rate planting capability, it may be easier to do that. At least one farmer says he's not cutting back on rates. He's not going to let one freak year derail his march toward higher corn yields, and he believes corn population is an important part of that journey.

*Assess fertilizer needs. Perhaps you can cut back on P and K, but this is a tricky area. Rely on soil test results and work with an agronomist. Tests taken earlier in the year when it was very dry may not be accurate on potassium and pH. You may want to sample those areas again once soils have returned to normal. If you harvested silage, remember that takes a lot of K out of the soil, even if the grain yield was minimal.