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Have We Really Gotten Too Good at Growing Corn?

Spring 2017 is already dealing us a difficult hand with low market projections. Most growers I talk to are not excited about their crops for the new year, and I have found myself asking them, “have we really gotten too good at growing corn?” For which they reply after a few wild looks, “are you serious?” I have found that we are nowhere near as good as we think we are and nowhere near our maximum potential. Yes, there are some superstar growers out there who are beginning to tap into what we share in this industry as the maximum yield potential of both corn and soybeans, but the majority of growers are still not to that point.

That brings me to an interesting point. If we are getting so good at production, then why are we not able to control the demand on the ground with the producers? Ask any prognosticator or marketer and you will get some hum-drum explanation of the production facts of foreign countries and how markets are swayed by the weather. Well, as I am no marketer or even have a real clue of the what, where, how and when they come up with these statistics; I cannot speak to any of that and will not begin to try. However, as a scientist on the production side, I will say that the first step in planning for your fall harvest this spring is to decide where you are going to market, and then seek the advice of a plant and soil expert to help you stifle that market so that we may open other ones for the next planning cycle. My final thought? You growers keep stretching and learning how to further increase production. Just do it in the market that is best poised for demand to achieve decent pricing.

The Trident of Agronomy and Soil Science:

1. Mineral Balance: This does not just mean loading the bank with enough Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium. We strive to understand the mineral relationship of the amounts of all of the nutrients in your soils. This is the first step in our system. We define those relationships as it pertains to your fields and then begin to adjust nutrients.

2. Biology: This is perhaps the most difficult to define, but we must start somewhere. So, we go with what we know by defining the aerobic populations through a series of plate counts. Again, once we define this, we begin to adjust not only with biological products, but with how the soil structure makeup and the mineral balance influences this.

3. Mother Nature: While we can never control weather, proper soil health practices help us build soil health allowing our farms to mitigate the effects of weather and stressful events that come and go each season.