Back to reality for people across much of the nation. We all know that the yearly temperate accumulations and moisture amounts average out in most years.
If it was 20 to 30 degrees warmer than normal in much of February some other part of the year has to be the same amount below normal.
Being cold now increases the chances that the summer will not be too hot. How's that for justifying having to wear winter jackets and gloves again, just after we got used to short sleeve shirts and no jackets. You can fool Mother Nature part, but not all of the time.
Most of our ancestors came from northern Europe and settled here because it seemed a lot like home. Our bodies are used to cold weather, not that we like it, but because we survive well at moderate temps.
We have been playing part time hosts to two college-aged student from Argentina who are pupils of Dr. Antonio Ivancovich, our good friend from Argentina and top plant pathologist for their USDA-ARS. They pulled in here about a month ago with their heavy coats knowing they were at risk of freezing to death or getting eaten by polar bears.
Instead they got their training and on weekends explored cities in surrounding states to see the tall buildings and visiting museums, all in light or no jackets. Two weeks ago they actually camped for a few nights in state parks around St. Louis. Now they can say they saw snow, and yes it was cold up here in winter time. All in all they thought Iowa was great, that the people were friendly, and it was a place and region they would like to visit again, maybe even bring their girlfriends or eventual spouses, or their parents to tour.
One of them is from Chacobucco, which is where Don Mario, a seed company that Prairie Brand Seeds worked with is located.
What the warm weather allowed was time for many growers to start or continue updating or repair work on their machinery. This year the main items that they are working on are nozzles on sprayers and booms, in-furrow or 2-by-2 attachments on planters and precision planting equipment also for planters.
The videos that I have been writing about, where several top researchers and scholars worked with us on the Guthrie Center high-yield fields and the reasoning behind high yielding corn, are now completed and available. What it takes to achieve the yield goals, the value of keeping corn healthy and filling for the full season and how much more nutritious that grain is if those goals are achieved are all shown.
How those are arranged is #1 is the Healthy to Harvest. 2nd is the overview of the research which is Healthy to Harvest #2. In order then are Dr. Huber and the nutritional angle of crop diseases. Dr. Jill Clapperton using the Bruker X-Ray Defraction scanner to measure the mineral content of kernels from the treated ears versus that of the non-treated as well as tip kernels versus butt kernels, and Dr. Salam Awada on his thought process and acumen in developing BioEmpruv, and finally Ken Hamilton on his steps and blue prints to reaching 400 bpa corn with soil and plant health in mind.
If you go to our website of www.centraliowaag.com and click on Educational Page or Ag products the videos will come up.
Connected to this work is some of the best and most insightful soil testing I have seen. Each month during the summer soils were analyzed using both the Haney and PLFA tests to measure soil biology and expected nitrogen release.
In small plots they also compared the levels using different N stabilizers to see which ones were the kindest to soil biology.
With only about four weeks to go of preplant preparation more people are filling out their ordering sheets and contacting sellers than they want X number of acres/gallons/bags/or pounds of product. The information gathering and dissemination of information took place during the December through March meetings, shows and advertising.
All the new information seems overwhelming at first, but in our thinking process it begins to make more sense as we extrapolate it and incorporate it into our plans. Once you watch those videos you may see a few items or thoughts that make a lot of sense that fit your operation.
The use of biologicals by mainstream farmers was a stretch for many. But by 2017 those products have gone main stream as soil biology and soil health ideas are in more people's minds. We now see more medium as well as large-sized companies get involved in doing the research and commercializing new products.
There are always a few new things that leave you scratching your head and wondering how they thought of it or what made them first draw such a conclusion.
But a person always has to have an open mind on new items that are proving to have value, especially if there is good science behind it and they have proof that it works.
In that category I would place the use of micro-nutrients by more mainstream farmers. I continue to run into guys that hear good stories, but have not seen great results on their own acres. As we get deeper into the discussion I hear that no one ever relayed that water quality and pH adjustment, good tissue testing, the use of products like Wake Up to facilitate cell penetration, and using products that contain the correct ratio of minerals are all important.
More of the acres that have not seen manure applications in the last decade need attention on this topic.
The topic then arises as to soil versus foliar application. After looking through some older PPTs I finally dug out the ratio charts from H.B. Tukey and his radioactively traced fertilizer research he conducted working with the atomic energy commission.
One of the charts gives the efficiency of soil versus foliar efficiency for many of the minerals. The data I have was published and translated from a Brazilian textbook by Euripides Malavolta. The data and ratios are astounding and are also given for upward versus downward movement in the plants for each mineral.
The topic of foliar N has to be mentioned. The best research done on foliar N, late-season N and stabilizers was done at Purdue in the 1970s and 80s and learned that in the later part of grain fill the plants preferred to take in ammonia-based N.
Thus stabilizing urea or 32 percent to keep it in the NH4 stage or using products like PT21 or Kugler's KQ-XRN near tasselling will save the plants 16 percent in energy and photosynthetic cost. Ammonia is also recognized as killing bacteria, which is what has to happen to keep the plants green and filling longer.
Mixed in with all this knowledge is the current thinking that if you in-furrow-apply products (minerals or specific amino acids) that move upwards or foliar apply those that move downwards which boost plant growth and stimulate/induce the immune response, you can boost yields while also boosting plant health. This is the thought of the Brazilian Spray Tech company and a few other innovative U.S. companies.
This is worth exploring and trying in 2017. Especially in crops like beets where the diseases have become resistant to the common fungicides.
This is due to become more common in much of the Midwest as well.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or www.CentralIowaAg.com.