Harvest is a time to reflect on the challenges and successes from the past year. It also provides an opportunity to examine choices made and changes necessary for the year ahead. Cory Ritter, long-time corn and soybean farmer from Illinois and sales support specialist of application equipment at AMVAC®, has years of experience contemplating next steps from behind the wheel of a combine.
After a long year of planning and controlling every possible element of the crop, nothing is certain until the combine runs through the field. “You can get out there, you can walk the fields, you can do yield checks, you think you know what you’ve got, but until you run that combine through the field you really don't know,” Ritter says. “The combine, the yield monitors, the scale tickets, they don't lie on how you did.”
Every action can have a large influence on the outcome of the crop, which is why strategic decision making is crucial. “Every time we make a pass on a field, we want to make sure we're doing something that's going to improve yield and maximize our return on investment,” Ritter says.
Despite awful planting conditions in Illinois and continuous struggles to get the corn in the ground, Ritter found that spraying Impact® herbicide for postemergence control helped contribute to overall success. “We spray all our own crops. I was able to wait on some of those [corn] fields where I was spraying Impact herbicide because I had a longer application window. It reduced my stress on those acres because I knew I had a little more flexibility.”
Also, Ritter is planning to expand his soil and nutrient management, in addition to growing his nitrogen management program. “We want to be good stewards of the environment and keep exploring what makes sense financially, what makes sense environmentally, and what makes sense for the crop,” Ritter says.
Looking to the Future
Whether a grower had a challenging year or a successful year, Ritter thinks the biggest mistake when planning is just repeating what they did the year before without evaluating all your options. “Try something new, even if it fails, try to get out of your comfort zone and push the envelope,” Ritter says. “Work with your ground, work with your professional seed representative and try to figure out if there’s something new or something better that would work.”
Most importantly, during harvest Ritter values safety and his family.
When running equipment for hours on end it’s important to be safe and slow down. “Don’t forget to take those breaks and listen to your family when they say you got to take this Sunday off,” Ritter says. “And after harvest the first thing to do is take a breath, decompress and spend time with family to get your mind refocused.”
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