Study: Risk Management Top Priority For Weather-Wary Growers

After battling frustrating and sometimes devastating weather conditions in 2011, more growers are putting risk management plans in place to meet continued weather uncertainty in 2012, according to a survey of Commodity Classic attendees. Sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, the survey included 150 thought leader growers during the national conference held in early March in Nashville, TN.

More than 70% of growers responding to the survey reported they intend to add more proactive protection strategies to their 2012 crop production plans to cope with uncertain weather conditions. They said key tactics would include use of residual herbicides, preventive fungicide applications and increased pest scouting.

“Despite the production challenges of 2011 triggered by erratic weather, the predicted high commodity prices have growers optimistic for 2012,” says Helen Flanigan, product development manager, DuPont Crop Protection. “This is the year for growers to recoup some of their losses, and they aren’t leaving anything to chance.”

Early-Season Flexibility

To help them work around unpredictable spring conditions, 65% of growers surveyed say they are more likely to use herbicides with residual activity to gain flexibility and longer-lasting weed control in 2012.

“Heavy rains during the spring application window can spell disaster for early-season weed control,” says Flanigan. “We’re seeing continued emphasis on residual herbicides by growers who want to get a head start on weed control, plus rely on residual activity to protect crops to the canopy stage.

“Recently introduced herbicides do a good job of providing that combination of control and flexibility,” Flanigan adds. “Now growers can use DuPont Prequel, LeadOff or Basis Blend herbicides for corn and DuPont Envive herbicide for soybeans to adjust application timing to spring weather conditions and still achieve effective weed control.”

Emphasis On Prevention

With severe weather comes the potential for increased weed and disease pressure. To prepare, 75% of growers say they will increase scouting activities this year and 65% plan to make preventive fungicide applications to protect plant health and yield potential.

“With so many crop production factors outside their control, growers are actively managing their crops to mitigate the challenges brought by extreme weather patterns, says Flanigan. “We’re seeing an increased interest in fungicides with both preventive and curative activity. Because any amount of disease can reduce yield, more growers are making preventive fungicide applications to get the most from high-performing genetics.”

Year-Round Crop Protection

While spring and in-season treatments are important, Flanigan says the best time to take care of winter annual weeds is in the fall, before they develop extensive root systems and establish seed banks. The Commodity Classic survey respondents agreed, as nearly half reported they will make post harvest herbicide applications in 2012.

“Fall herbicide applications help create cleaner, more ideal seedbeds for the following season and they take some of the pressure off work that must happen during the brief and unpredictable spring application window,” says Flanigan.

“Not allowing weeds to gain traction also helps manage weed resistance by minimizing weed populations and gives crops the best start with less competition for nutrients, moisture and sunlight.”

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