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Cutting Production Cost in HRSW

This post may be a day late and a dollar short as the drills are already rolling across much of Minnesota.  Nonetheless, I'm going to share some thoughts about how to reduce input cost in HRSW without sacrificing much, if any, yield. Consider whether you really need to:

  • Use a seed treatment - only if you have scabby seed with poor germination, know that you had a loose smut in the field that you saved for seed, and/or have a history of common root rot and/or wire worm in a field should you consider a seed treatment.   
  • Use a grass herbicide across every acre - Wild oat is a very competitive weed and already causes yield losses at very low densities.  Fortunately, presence of wild oat tends to be patchy and therefore you may not need a grass herbicide across every acre. The use of Roundup Ready crops has reduced wild oat pressure over the years in many fields, further reducing the need to use a grass herbicide across every single acre. 
  • Use a fungicide mixed in at he time of weed control -  If there is no tan spot, powdery mildew, or stripe rust already present, tank mixing a fungicide at the time of weed control doesn't make sense as the application will not protect any new growth anyway. Research has shown that only when disease was already present at the time of application that an economic return could be expected.
  • Use an insecticide mixed in with your fungicide at the time of your late season disease control - Likewise if there are no or very few aphids present at Feekes 10.51, you shouldn't expect an economic return of the insecticide.
  • Use a pre-harvest glyphosate application to control any late season weeds. Research has shown that in Minnesota, there is little to no advantage to using pre-harvest glyphosate to speed-up dry-down of the HRSW crop itself.

The last inputs to debate their need are fertilizer (in particular N) and the late season fungicides. Ultimately it is not about being the lowest cost producer per acre but being the lowest cost producer per bushel.  

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