Spring and Early Summer MPS Strategies

By Jerry Hartsock | Cutting Edge Consulting and Research Services

The first step for 2018 planning should begin with a checklist. At the top is evaluating your farming circle of influence. Do you have enough money makers or predominantly money savers on your team? Have you upgraded to much stronger and more strategically minded individuals by firing weak links that are tired and scared from the struggles of the last three years? Having and maintaining the proper mindset throughout the entire growing season and preforming tactics with the highest of standards are two of the main functions that your circle of influence needs to bring/deliver. For example, the heading on the 2018 cropping plan should read: I’m going to raise an amazing corn crop and nothing is going to keep me from it!

Corn planter

In-Season Checklist

  • Plant in a warm, level seedbed and make sure no residue will be next to seeds
  • Use the highest warm and cold germs
  • Follow best practices for planting:
    • Speed: 3.8 to 4.4 mph
    • Depth: 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches deep to ensure final depth is two inches or greater
  • Focus on establishing uniform emergence
  • Apply an in-furrow fungicide if temperature is 54° F or lower
  • Use herbicides that provide safe weed control and that won't take yields backward
  • Meet early-, mid- and late-season nitrogen needs by applying multiple forms of nitrogen at various times
  • Put down starter fertilizer - modern day hybrids thrive on starter fertilizer and micro nutrients of sulfur, zinc, manganese and boron. Consider adding magnesium if planting on very sandy soils and if C.E.C. levels are below 6. 
  • Incorporate insect management, including rootworm control
  • Use a fungicide from V-5 to V-8 to alleviate cold stress and suppress early diseases, such as northern corn leaf blight
Growing Season Difference Makers Image

Increase Yields by Investing Wisely

Over the last three years, several economists have recommended that the way to survive each year is to cut expenses by at least $40 per acre. The following supports a much better plan for increasing bushels by investing wisely. Reducing input costs only works if yields don’t go backward. The following was compiled through data management from 2015 through 2017.

2015 | 2016 | 2017 Growing Season Difference Makers

  1. 1. Nitrogen Management – Nitrogen management is essential, especially having enough in the late season (pre-tassel and for the next 45 days)
  2. 2. Fungicides – One or two applications is best; options include in-furrow, V6 and R1
  3. 3. High Percentage of Full Ears – Maximize spaces and conduct net effective plant stand (NEPS) studies on every field
  4. 4. Starter Fertilizer – The more the better: nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc
  5. 5. Early Harvest – 24 percent and higher moisture
  6. 6. High Nutrient Levels – Phosphorus levels of 60 lb. to 100 lb. per acre and potassium levels of 400 lb. per acre or 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent of base saturation levels)


  • 225 bushels per acre vs. 177 bushels per acre for doing a version of the above strategies vs. saving $40 per acre (48-bushel difference)


  • 265 bushels per acre vs. 215 bushels per acre for doing a version of the above strategies vs. saving $40 per acre (50-bushel difference)


  • 255 bushels per acre vs. 210 bushels per acre for doing a version of the above strategies vs. saving $40 per acre (45-bushel difference)

⇒ An average of 48 bushels per acre was gained in the three years with $40 per acre spent to get those bushels.

In summary, is your team up to the task to:

  • Beat or exceed any prior yield from the past five years?
  • Out-yield the county by a bunch which is your reward if you have ARC-CO insurance coverage?
  • Understand that the majority of corn yield potential is determined early between the processes of planning/planting and V-6 growth stage?
  • Know that extra strategies and best practices matter?