2018 Wisconsin agronomy update meeting recap

Posted on January 25, 2018 in Forage Foundations
Each year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Agronomy and UW-Extension holds Wisconsin Agronomy Update Meetings throughout Wisconsin.  At these meetings, department professors provide information on seed hybrid and variety performance, analysis and discussion on last year’s growing season, and recommendations for field crop production.  The year’s speakers included Dr. Shawn Conley, Dr. Joe Lauer and Dr. Rodrigo Werle.

Conley spoke first with an update on Wisconsin soybean production.  He reported a record year of 2.2 million planted soybean acres in Wisconsin, which was more than planted corn acres.  He predicted this number could grow to 2.4 or 2.5 million acres in 2018.

He also spoke about a new phone app the UW Integrated Pest and Crop Management Program has been working on called Bean Cam.  Farmers take pictures of fields and the app helps decide if they need to replant or not.  To work effectively, he said you need to make sure no weeds are in the area because the app detects green spots.  Conley used this as a transition to discuss soybean plant phenology and how farmers need to be properly educated to distinguish growth stages to effectively use herbicides.

Lauer then gave an update on the corn crop from the previous year as well as a quick recap of the weather.  He provided data from the 12 agricultural research stations throughout Wisconsin.  For temperature and precipitation, most stations were around average, but precipitation was above average in the north.  Although the temperature was below average in August, he said September was above average and “saved us” by allowing the corn crop to catch up and mature.

Speaking on corn performance trials from this past year, Lauer said every research site increased yields, except for any abandoned sites.  Interestingly, Lauer said the top 10 performing seeds for grain were all transgenic; no conventional hybrids broke the top 10.  However, when it came to seed for silage, more conventional hybrid brands made the top 10.

He went on to say conventional corn hybrids didn’t perform well for many years, but they have been doing better in recent years.  In fact, genetically, conventional hybrids are doing as well as anything out there and people should do their research before committing to a transgenic hybrid because not all of them are the same.

“Just because it says transgenic, doesn’t mean it will perform,” Lauer said.  “Transgenic traits finish in the top and bottom of UW trials.”

Lastly, Werle spoke as one of the newest members of the UW-Madison agronomy team.  He provided an update on herbicides and weed management and what research is being done on these topics.  He said it has been more than 25 years since new herbicide sites of action have been pursued and some of these will continue to be studied this year.

He also touched on the importance of cover crops and how they help reduce erosion and suppress weeds.  He said using cover crops showed a 90-percent reduction in weeds.

“This is not a solution, but it takes away pressure from your herbicide,” Werle said.

These agronomy updates are a good resource for farmers and consultants to learn more about the past year’s performance and prepare for the year to come.  Visit UW-Extension’s website to learn more about these meetings and other resources.

Category: Crop varieties
Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting
Technology and data management