As combines start to roll in certain areas of the Midwest, Corteva Agriscience territory manager Bridgette Readel looks back at the 2021 growing season. She has some friendly reminders for corn and soybean harvest this year in the podcast above and the article below.
Readel’s territory covers eight counties in North Dakota and the Red River Valley of west-central Minnesota. Those counties have had more than their fair share of challenges this season with extreme weather. Drought has been a particular concern for her customers.
“This has probably been our most severe dry weather and longest-term dry weather we’ve had, certainly since the late 1980s,” Readel says. “Luckily, in 2021, the majority of corn and soybean acres were planted, despite the drought.”
“This has probably been our most severe dry weather and longest-term dry weather we’ve had, certainly since the late 1980s.”
However, she says, there was a situation in one county where farmers experienced a July rain of 7 inches. So, even though crops got planted, and then were under drought stress and heat stress, some fields drowned out and some of the crops washed away.
“So, it’s been a year of extremes, and that moisture situation has not greatly improved. We’ve tapped out of a lot of that subsoil moisture we had, and our plants are definitely showing signs of drought stress in the field, as well as heat stress,” Readel explains.
Readel’s territory has also had hotter-than-average weather this summer with temperatures reaching above 90 F earlier than usual. She says all of this is putting a lot of strain on crops, so yield could suffer this harvest.
Readel says the heat and dry weather might also pose some challenges for harvest. She says weeds could be a problem, because when crops are thin (like they tend to be in drought), there can be more weed patches than under other conditions.
Knowing weeds could be present during harvest, Readel advises good scouting practices from the combine.
“When it comes to scouting at harvest time, in some of those cases it’s going to be easy,” she says. “We’re seeing waterhemp that’s poking its head up above our soybeans. We know that there is kochia out there. Ragweed has also come around. It’s not going to be hard to scout some of those.”
Readel says it’s important to look for other weeds that might be less noticeable, making note of those as soon as the crop is off. Once you know what you’re dealing with, she says, taking some fall weed control measures is a great idea.
“If it’s emerged in the fall, it will come back in the spring. Understand that those are things you’re going to want to pay attention to and try to clean up as best as you possibly can,” Readel explains. “So think about what your inputs will be for next year, as well.”
“If it’s emerged in the fall, it will come back in the spring. Understand that those are things you’re going to want to pay attention to and try to clean up as best as you possibly can.”
Readel says it’s also prudent to take measures not to spread weeds from field to field as you harvest. She says a simple step is to harvest infested, or more heavily infested, fields last and cleaner fields first.
Readel says cleaning equipment as you go is also a good step. “Tiny seeds hide in truck corners, they hide in crevices on your combine and they will blow out next time you’re on a field or when you put that header on the ground,” she says. “So now is our opportunity to clean our equipment and prevent it from happening.”
Finally, Readel says, safety is paramount during harvest. “I think that one of the most important things we need people to remember is to take their time and remember your safety measures,” she says.
“I think that one of the most important things we need people to remember is to take their time and remember your safety measures.”
She says harvest will be difficult this year, especially for farmers who are expecting low yield. Those farmers might be feeling frustrated or tired, which can lead some to neglect precautions they usually follow.
Readel advises taking a breath, slowing down and focusing on the task at hand. “Just remember to not do things out of haste. Let’s be careful out there,” she says.
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