Tips for managing non-GMO corn

If you have farmer customers who have switched to non-GMO corn hybrids this spring, you need to prepare for different management strategies this year.

Since protective traits are not inside the plant, it means being ready to act when problems arise will be crucial.

"There is more interest in non-GMO this year than last year," says Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension agronomist. "You have to look at fields and decide if you can grow it."

It is important to consider past issues in fields—is the risk worth the potential cost-saving reward? If this is a farmer's first year or if they need a reminder of how to protect non-GMO hybrids while maintaining profitability, here are a few tips:

  • Make a plan for scouting. Hire a crop scout or make it part of your routine.
  • The farmer should notify his neighbors he'll be planting conventional so he doesn't accidentally burn end

    rows with glyphosate.
  • Since conventional's

    risk for insect damage is higher, monitor standability throughout the growing season to be strategic at harvest.

Farmers with non-GMO crops likely have to increase their scouting and management to protect the crop. "You should be out there scouting every two weeks or more often," says Greg Kruger, University of Nebraska assistant professor of cropping systems. "Especially during pivotal times of the year."

Farmers will need to weigh the benefits with drawbacks when considering non-GMO and decide what is best for their farm. "I think there's bigger interest out there because of cost savings," Licht says. "You can save up to 40 percent in seed costs." But he adds that

farmers need to be prepared to scout and potentially spend more than they normally would on chemicals such as herbicide, insecticide or fungicides to protect the crop.