Summer is officially here, and we’re midway through another growing season. While the pace may be a bit slower than earlier in the season, there’s still plenty of work to do to support your customers to harvest. Here are some tips to push you to the finish line of another successful season.
Mid-season is an excellent time to evaluate crop health and adjust in-season management plans accordingly. There is still plenty of growing season left, so help growers identify ways to protect their yield potential until harvest. Consider these mid-season management recommendations to support plant health and optimize grain production.
Fungicides protect crops against yield-robbing diseases, but they also offer plant health benefits even in the absence of disease. Strobilurin fungicides, in particular, slow the senescence process, helping plants stay green longer to produce carbohydrates that fuel grain production. Fungicides can also help promote healthier stalks to reduce the risk of lodging as the season progresses. Rebounding commodity prices may make fungicide applications more profitable this season than in recent years, so be sure you’re having plant health conversations with your growers.
Research shows that 50% of nitrogen uptake in corn happens between the V10 and R2 growth stages. Further, nearly 50% of the nitrogen taken up by a plant is used for grain production. Farmers with light, sandy soils or in areas prone to nitrogen leaching can maintain yield potential by ensuring their crop has plenty of nitrogen heading into the reproductive growth stages.
Foliar micronutrient applications can be an effective way to supplement nutrient deficiencies in-season. Tissue testing can help identify which micronutrients may be deficient so that you can develop a prescriptive recipe for foliar applications. Applying micronutrients with a tassel-time fungicide application is an efficient way to support crop health.
By mid-season, you should be able to see differences in crop performance across field environments. Record your observations now because they will be helpful after harvest as growers review their yield data. Evaluate how different seed varieties are performing in your area and note the differences in plant health, root structure, standability, stress tolerance and grain fill. Look for weed escapes and assess how your growers’ weed control programs are performing. Watch for field variability, and try to determine what may have caused issues. If you’re in fields before tasseling in corn or reproductive stages in soybeans, scout for disease and insect pressure to recommend management options. As you’re making observations, be sure to take photos and record locations so you can share your insights with customers.
No matter where you are in the seasonal work cycle, you should always find ways to connect with your customers. At mid-season, take the opportunity to walk fields with farmers to get an initial look at how the crop is progressing. It’s an excellent opportunity to offer in-season management recommendations while there is still time to act to protect yield potential. Stay updated on pest pressure or other agronomic issues in your area, and be sure to pass along timely technical bulletins to your customers. Consider sending a mid-season newsletter that includes some of the observations you’ve made and relevant management recommendations. There are lots of creative ways to stay in touch with your customers, but you have to make an effort to do it.
Mid-season is an excellent time to kick your prospecting into high gear. That’s because farmers will likely have more time to meet with you, and their in-season challenges will be top-of-mind. If you can provide a recommendation or valuable insights at this point in the growing season, you may be in a good place to secure a sale down the road. Review your prospecting lists and follow up with potential customers to let them know you haven’t forgotten about them. Making those connections at mid-season could be the catalyst for continuing conversations after harvest when farmers plan their next season’s purchases.
Networking is critical to maintaining and expanding your customer roster, so consider hosting a mid-season event to connect with local farmers. If you have on-site test plots, a field event could give them a hand’s on educational opportunity to preview the latest genetics and get management tips. You could also consider bringing in experts to discuss the latest agronomic research in your area, grain marketing, equipment updates, carbon programs or the newest seed or chemical products. Farmers are always eager to learn about the latest industry trends, so use events as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and network with your community.
It may seem early to start thinking about harvest, but it will be here before you know it. The supply chain issues ag retailers have endured don’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so now is the time to secure the products you’ll need this fall. Whether it’s fertilizers or burndown herbicides, make sure you take stock of your inventory and prepare for post-harvest applications. Start developing contingency plans for your autumn workflow, so you’re not scrambling in the midst of the busy season.
Now is the time to update your software and data management tools to prepare for the influx of harvest data. That includes double-checking your cybersecurity measures to protect your customers’ data. Last spring, the FBI issued warnings that ransomware attacks in the ag industry are rising, and companies are especially vulnerable during critical planting and harvest seasons. Be vigilant and take steps to protect company and customer data.
Finally, as the crop matures, start walking fields with farmers to assess stalk quality, test moisture and prioritize fields for harvest.
Mid-season offers plenty of opportunities to support your customers with timely recommendations, relevant insights and thoughtful planning. If you’re interested in more timely seasonal sales tips delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to the GROWERS Elevate newsletter.