AGRIBUSINESS: Farmers face many decisions this growing season

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This July, Central Iowa has been dealing with serious moisture. Since early this month, at least a third of topsoil in the region has been rated in the surplus category each week. 

For farmers like Brock Hansen, who grows corn and soybeans just south of Baxter, that means a tough post-planting season.

"It was a good planting season," Hansen recounts. "The tail end of beans maybe got a little bit challenging because we got some rain showers and it was getting wet there, a little bit. The herbicide application season has been pretty difficult, actually, fighting the mud. A lot of stuck sprayes here the last week and a half, two weeks ago - myself as one of them. The weeds were growing fast; the crop grew so fast, and it was wet. We couldn't get in. We had trouble getting our corn sidedressed, making our third shot of nitrogen applied to our corn."

Hansen says now it's prudent to scout his fields, both to figure yield potential and to keep an eye out for disease or insect pressure. As conditions dry out, he says soybean aphids will become more prevalent, but adds that just because the herbicide application season is winding down, that doesn't mean he can relax. 

"Typically, we'd be slowed down a little bit, and we'd be thinking about getting machinery ready for harvest," he says. "We're wrapping up the herbicide application to soybeans, and starting the fungicide. We're looking at the corn fungicide application; I just got an email, and a phone call, today, about northen corn leaf blight. It would be fairly detrimental to the yield, so back to the scouting. They're doing a lot of scouting to look at that stuff. We've been out in the fields. They've got a field that they found that they were in on Monday - it didn't have it - and today, it's got it."

Hansen says one economic consideration for applying fungicide is the cost of hiring a spray-plane. He says the corn crop is at a growth stage where that's virtually his only option for an application.