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A seventh is fantastic for a first

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The 2019 growing season was not exactly fun for corn production. But Mike Falk says entering the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest for the first time ever and placing 7th was fun. Despite all the challenges — including record-breaking rainfall in northeast Kansas — Falk’s in-season adjustments made it possible to place 7th in the 2019 NCGA Kansas No-Till, Non-Irrigated category. Falk, who farms near Atchison, Kansas, planted Mycogen 2470AM and produced 230.76 bu./A. 

“To place like this in our first year showed how strong the genetics are,” the sixth-generation farmer said. “Mycogen products have yielded extremely well, especially here in the past few years, as well as on variable soils.”

For Falk, the key is nutrition management.

“I’ve soil sampled for more than 20 years,” Falk said. “Last year we did more intense soil sampling in the field as well as tissue sampling to see where we were on nutrients. Once you get your nutrients balanced out, it’s a simple thing to do, but last year with all the rain was just extreme. It took more management and constantly changing the game plan.”

Falk’s nutrient monitoring showed about 46 units of nitrogen at the pre-tassel stage instead of the 125 units needed. These losses were caused by denitrification from the heavy spring rains. His solution was to fly on coated urea and foliar nitrogen, and this brought nutrient levels back up to the goal.

“My friends and neighbors all talk about how much we had to change our direction last year. It was a year when you had to constantly change your game plan, not only with the nutrients, but also with the planting and chemicals. It seemed like you would have a plan in place and then it would just fail. The chemical preemergence would run out so we’d just have to change that program. I’ve always been proactive at changing things to stay progressive,” he said, “but 2019 was extreme.”

Farming is a family enterprise for the Falks. With a son who works at John Deere corporate and a daughter who recently graduated in the field of crop breeding and plant biotechnology, Falk and his family are not afraid to try new things. Last year, for example, they put satellite infra-red crop imagery to work for the first time to highlight nutrient differences. On the equipment technology side, the Falks use data from the John Deere operation center to manage inputs and yield more accurately and make the farm more financially efficient. This spring planters will be equipped with field data sharing capability.

Another positive influence, Falk says, is Brook Mitchell, his Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist. It was Mitchell who encouraged Falk to enter the 2019 NCGA yield contest.

“Brook and I talked about the NCGA contest a year ago or so,” Falk said. “I like working with him on new projects. He’s very knowledgeable and that creates a learning experience for me. We’ve worked for several years on things like prescription population planting. He would write the prescription and then we’d try different numbers to see how they performed.”

“It goes back to an agronomist knowing how to place the right hybrid on the right acre and just good diligence of managing and monitoring nutrients available. He [Mitchell] and George Bauer, my Mycogen Seeds territory manager, are great to work with. Mycogen has the genetics, I enjoy new technology, and it’s fun and exciting to see what we can do.”

Because of its proven results Falk says he plans to include Mycogen 2470AM in his regular lineup in 2020, along with trying new hybrids within the contest and his acres.

A seventh is fantastic for a first

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