Mitigate Weather Risks with Best Management Practices

Weather concerns are top of mind as farmers across Latham Country look ahead to spring 2021 planting. Customers frequently ask us how to mitigate the risk of 2021 drought forecasts.

While we want to take the potential for drought into consideration, we should not let that forecast dictate every decision we make on the hybrids we place in a given field. Review the hybrid characteristics and look for best drought tolerance. For fields with a long history of drought, select a Latham® DroughtGuard® VT Double PRO® product for additional protection on those acres.

Consider these factors to successfully mitigate potential drought on a broad-acre basis:

  1. Start with and maintain a weed-free environment. Weeds use a substantially higher amount of water than corn to produce a pound of dry mater.
    1. Corn uses 42 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of dry matter.
    2. Lambsquarter uses 79 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of dry matter.
    3. Ragweed uses 109 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of dry matter.
  2. Conserve moisture during field preparation.
    1. A uniform seed bed creates the best opportunity to plant your crop with precision.
    2. Minimize passes in the spring while working hard to create that uniform seed bed.
  3. Plant your corn crop with precision. We want all plants to emerge within 72 hours of first emergence. This creates the best root system to maximize water use through the entire growing season.
    1. Plant a consistent seed depth.
    2. Check for consistent seed spacing.
    3. Ensure great seed-to-soil contact.
  4. Promote a healthy root system with fertility. Good fertility programs maintain a healthy, strong root system to effectively use available water.
    1. Starter fertilizer gets corn plants off to the best start possible.
    2. Side-dress Nitrogen in a timely manner to nurse optimum plant health.
    3. Maintain a good fertility balance, using soil testing as a guide.

We suggest staying with a hybrid selection plan that does not vary significantly from previous years. A couple management changes at planting time to get your crop off to the best start will result in more success than a total change of hybrid selection. Get your plants off to the best start possible, so they can take advantage of any moisture throughout the season. Remember, the bulk of your yield is created during July and August when plants use moisture to produce grain.

Latham’s Corn Team is here to help you maximize yield in 2021! We’re just a phone call or an email away.