CornWORX Will Change The Way You Look At Your Crop
CornWORX is more than a traditional row starter.
It’s an innovative solution that everyone here at BW Fusion is excited about. Early results have shown that CornWORX can help:
Develop large, deep nodal roots
Reduce dependence on phosphorus
Increase the field’s ability to handle stress
We caught up with agronomists Bodie and Sean to learn more.
What Is CornWORX?
Bodie: It's a very unique approach to the row starter market. Typically, the focus has always been to load up a lot of phosphorus in-furrow and try to get those perfect phosphorus numbers around that V4, V5 timeframe to try to get a really sexy looking plant above ground.
What CornWORX is focused on is starting at the ground and then working up. Our emphasis with all of the WORX products is building that below ground rooting structure. We're trying to send roots vertical more than we're trying to send them horizontal. If we can pull more in that cubic foot and we get a pull deeper from the soil profile, we get to explore greater nutrition and greater water.
What Makes CornWORX Unique?
Bodie: Part of what makes it unique is truly how different it is from our traditional row starters. Sean and I have been building row starter programs for the last three or four years and CornWORX is going to look very, very different. It's taking a completely different route and approach.
Sean: The blends we put together for the ‘22 season is a precursor to CornWORX. In a lot of cases, these mixes didn't contain any phosphorus and a lot of them didn't contain any nitrogen. We didn't send out a typical 1020-5 row starter. It’s very non-traditional, focusing more on micronutrients and macronutrients, like calcium and magnesium, that you don't traditionally see in a row starter.
What Is Your Favorite Thing About CornWORX?
Bodie: My favorite thing is just how unique it is. We've got research farms all across the Corn Belt. We have five generations in testing right now. Our other agronomist, Mason, gets all worked up looking at some of these different iterations of CornWORX. Honestly, early season wasn't the sexiest looking plant.
But if you go below ground, the roots were not comparable to other options. It was a completely different rooting structure, and completely different rooting profile that we saw behind what we call a “grower standard” or a “traditional”. And then we went through some stress here. We went through about 17 days of mid 80s with 30% humidity, which is really uncommon in the Corn Belt and it really flipped. With the traditional model, what was really sexy looking corn early, it kind of fell on its face and a lot of that was a more restricted root. We saw roots more focused in the top four inches out of the grower standard. Whereas with CornWORX, that rooting profile was down in that 18 inch mark. I think that's really what helped us get through this stress.
Sean: I would agree with that. It's not all about visuals per se. Of course, the target has been to have really pretty corn early–don't get me wrong. We all want to see really great looking corn. But if we build a healthy foundation, that's what it's all about. Having really pretty corn when it's knee high, that doesn't pay bills, but building a foundation with microbes so that we can have roots in place and the structure, that’s where we're going to drive yield.
What Results Have You Seen From The Trials?
Bodie: We're still early, we haven't harvested a crop yet, so a lot of what we've seen to date is tissues and soils through Agronomy 365 and then visuals. From a soil sample perspective, what we have seen is higher VAS scores, so better soil structure underneath the treated versus untreated. And that goes back to, if we can change that rooting profile, and we can send roots deeper, we're going to build soil aggregation. We're going to build that ideal soil structure that gets us into the long haul, right where the money is made.
Another thing that's been really fascinating is, with no phosphorus and no potassium in this blend, we're still seeing really, really strong phosphorus and potassium numbers. That falls in line with what we've talked about for the last three years. It's way more than just pounds of traditional fertilizer.
Sean: I work in a pocket of the country that's very sandy and irrigated. We went through the month of June this year with basically zero rainfall. We were irrigating to try to keep things going. What typically happens is if you're not getting rain in that time, you will still lose ground. You're doing just enough to keep everything going.
Customers who have used the CornWORX precursor in ‘22 were sold on the product because their corn didn't show the stress that a lot of the other farmers in the area were showing even under that irrigated acre. So we know that with that deeper root profile, we really pushed that crop through to get it to where we are now.
What Can Growers Expect To See When Using CornWORX?
Bodie: It isn't something you're necessarily going to see driving by at 60 miles an hour, but I promise that if you get out in your field, you will see the difference. You've got to get that shovel in the ground. You may not see a bunch of fine root hairs that sit in the top three, four inches, but what you're going to see are really large nodal roots that are really deep.
Beyond that, visually it is going to be good looking corn. It may not be what you're used to if you've been putting 3, 4, 5 or 6 gallons of phosphorus in a row starter in that early season. But this is where the bushels are made. This is where the dollars are made. And really everything that we’re doing is to get that foundation started.
Sean: One thing we've become accustomed to in the industry is, when we dig roots, we see something that looks like a mop. You've got that ball of fine root hairs in that three to four inch range and Bodie is right. We might not see as much of that and I think we're going to start to change what we consider to be an ideal root system.
If I’ve got nodal roots this deep, I'm pulling from that larger profile. I'm not pulling nutrients from just this little ball area. I'm exploring the soil that's below it and I think that's going to be kind of what sets us apart.
Bodie: One of the biggest misnomers is that the fine root hairs take a really good picture. You put it on Twitter, social media, and it's like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is impressive’. But when we see those fine root hairs, that's actually the plant signaling it needs more phosphorus, because those refined root hairs are trying to explore as much of the soil as they can. So when we restrict roots into that four or six inch mark early season, that's the area of nutrition we get to pull from. And you better have a tremendous amount of phosphorus in that top four inches, and I'm talking all season long, if we're going to restrict root growth to there.
If A Grower Was On The Fence About CornWORX, What Would You Say?
Sean: There are millions of acres planted without a row starter of any kind. And there's no doubt that a guy can grow really good corn doing so. What we're trying to educate on is building that plant structure. The stalk is a highway where all the nutrients are traveling. If we build that vascular system, we build that structure. It starts with the roots and if we get that right, in the late season as we encounter stresses and we encounter things that are constantly taking yield away, we can set ourselves up to have a more effective yield system at the end of the year.
CornWORX is part of the WORX family of products that also includes SoyWORX. It will be ready for your 2023 planting season.