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It’s the time of year when all of us in crop production start doing the analyzing about what we did right or wrong in this year’s cropping program. ALPINE’s the same in that we look over yield data from the many plots we put out each season, trying to find new and different products to boost grower’s profits.
Growing that profitable, good yielding crop is a complex formula with literally dozens of practices and inputs that can work on their own or interact together to help or hinder a crop. Fertility of the soil, health of the soil, compaction, drainage, nutrients applied, genetics, insect pressure, diseases, plant population, solar radiation, harvest losses, are all part of the makeup of final yield. Often I have the feeling that growers are looking for the “silver bullet” that will magically give the crop a 25% yield boost. This most likely doesn’t exist, instead yield gains will come in smaller increments for each factor addressed and hopefully the sum of them all amounts to something good.
An example of this is ALPINE MicroBolt Zn co-applied with ALPINE G24 on fall wheat the last two seasons. Our trials show a 2.4 bu/ac yield increase by adding ALPINE MicroBolt Zn. This doesn’t sound like much, however at today’s prices, it easily returns growers an additional $5.00/acre.
Our ALPINE team participated in the Great Ontario Yield Tour this summer, and checked hundreds of fields to estimate yield. I was amazed at the variability in corn populations. We saw ranges from 24,000 plant/acre to 33,000 plants/acre. Plant population clearly is factor that has a large impact on yields, yet it continues to be extremely variable.
So as you start to develop next year’s cropping plans, don’t seek out a magical input that will perform miracles on your crop. Instead look and fine tuning all the little things that go into making a good crop.