Welcome to the 2019 BASF Innovations in the Field. This yearlong program is designed to showcase four progressive farmers and their use of technology and agronomic practices to enhance their return on investment and profit potential. Check back each week as the farmers share their experiences and crop management decisions throughout the growing season.
If you wonder if you should try to diversify, talk to Bryan Kenner. He's especially a believer this year. 'If we were living on corn and soybeans this year, we'd be in a very stressful situation,' says the Maddock, North Dakota, farmer.
Kenner is diversified several ways -- he has both early and later season crops (which helps diversify equipment and labor), and he grows crops that do well in dry conditions (wheat) as well as those that need more moisture (corn and soybeans).
A YEAR FOR DRY CROPS
This past crop year was 'as dry as we've been in 20 years,' says Kenner. Fortunately, he grows several dry weather tolerant crops, including wheat, which is both an early season and dry weather crop. His hard red winter wheat yielded in the low 70 bushels per acre, 'slightly above average for us,' says Kenner.
The wheat variety he grows is a little more susceptible to scab, so Kenner always sprays a fungicide at full heading (Caramba®) as well as a three"leaf stage application of Priaxor® fungicide. In a special field trial this year with BASF Innovation Specialist Henry Steinberger, Kenner sprayed some wheat at flag leaf -- with 7.0 ounces/acre of Nexicor Xemium® fungicide.
'We saw 4 to 5 bushels per acre response from the flag leaf application,' says Kenner, which he considers a good return on investment. As for next year, 'if we've got time to do it and we've got a good yield potential and a disease environment, I think it will be worth doing,' he says.
Kenner has a busy operation, growing six different crops for market, with some for both the commercial market and for seed. He's a dealer for two corn and soybean seed companies, and he also produces and sells wheat, barley, field pea and dry bean (pinto and black bean) seed to customers.
All these crops keep his sprayers busy. 'Our sprayers are the most used piece of equipment on our farm,' notes Kenner. In a unique arrangement, he shares two sprayers with a neighbor.
'People wonder how come the two of you own two sprayers. Why don't you each own your own? I know it sounds crazy,' says Kenner, 'but there's reasoning behind it. We have one that's newer and another that's older with a little different setup. They each have their advantages, so we found it's easier to have two together than each have one of our own.'
Despite the cool, dry growing season, Kenner says he had a decent crop year. Wheat and barley yielded slightly above average; field peas were hurt by the dry conditions but yielded only a bit below average. At press time, corn and soybeans hadn't been harvested. Kenner says dry conditions had hurt yield, and the cool weather was delaying maturity. 'Barring an early frost, I'd say we're going to have an average to slightly below average corn and soybean crop.'