Resolving the Top 3 Problems for No-Tilled Non-GMO Corn

Indiana no-tillers Scott Odle shares several tips for overcoming weed challenges, corn rootworm and corn borers without traited seeds in a no-till cover crop system.

WITH CORN PRICES taking a hit, no-tillers will be looking at where to reduce inputs and get more bang for their buck.

One option might be switching from traited corn seed to non-GMOs.

That’s the decision Scott Odle made in 2007, when he saw a $100-per-acre profit advantage in his non-GMO corn, due to the lower seed costs and a 9-bushel yield advantage.

“Non-GMO seed is $80-$180 less a bag,” Odle says. “At 32,000 seeds, that equates to $32-$72 an acre.”

At the 2016 National No-Tillage Conference, the president of Spectrum Premium Non-GMO Seed Corn shared the three biggest challenges no-tillers may face in switching to non-GMO corn and his tips for overcoming them.

1. Managing Weeds

Many no-tillers are already being forced to change the herbicide products they’re using because of weed resistance, Odle says, which is a good opportunity to move away from herbicide-tolerant traits.

“We can’t just use Roundup anymore, so we need to start doing things like rotating chemistries,” he explains. “If we start thinking about rotating chemistries, the question I have is, ‘Why are we using herbicide traits?’”

There are several herbicide options out there for non-GMO corn. The key is deciding whether to do a single application pass or two passes, Odle says.

On Odle’s farm, where he no-tills non-GMO corn into his cereal rye cover crop, he applies Corvus and Roundup after planting and before crop emergence.

“It’s about timing,” he says. “The biggest issue is managing that window and figuring out how…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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