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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

Mid-September is here and the harvest is just beginningin Iowa. Elsewhere in the Midwest growers in Illinois, in the areas where the crops died early, have about 15 percent of their harvests completed.

We now get to see how our management skills and accomplishments merged with the environment and the various insects and diseases to give us our final measurement – yield.

That is what the market rewards, final gross income and hopefully net income that matches or exceeds the total from previous years. For some the results will be encouraging, for others it might be one of “should of, would of, or could of.”

It was a weird year where days, weeks and crops just sort of washed away. When that was over with we suffered from an onslaught of diseases that inundated the major crops and left us with corn and beans that sort of staggered across the finish line. Some of those acres look good and some needed help.

Either way there is nothing that can be done now to help the 2010 crop, only make sure we get it harvested, then dried and stored away properly this fall. We can only begin the process of educating ourselves and preparing to do the winnowing process of all varieties and crop inputs for the 2011 crop.

How many growers are convinced that 69 percent of the corn and soybean crops are still rated as good-to-excellent? As more combines begin to roll and their yield monitors calibrated we will have evidence one way or another. Within the state, northwest and much of north central Iowa still look like they will have very good yields.

It will still be hard to see an uptick from the yields of 2008. In previous columns I have gone over many of the challenges faced during the summer months and speculated on how yields will turn out.

Based on visiting with a few growers who stopped by the Farm News booth Tuesday at the Clay County Fair, and others who related personal stories from what they or neighbors have seen so far, there are not going to be as many bragging stories this fall.

The corn crop

It is surprising how many of the upper echelon within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state organizations haven’t caught on to the fact that Goss’s wilt made a big and widespread entrance into the state in 2009-2010 and appears a serious disease that will need to be reckoned with in future years.

Growers and crop advisors from Nebraska to Grand Island and farther west who have dealt with it for 15-plus years always keep it in mind when they are making their cropping plans.

That included hybrid selection, residue management and fertility programs. They don’t fear it, but they know if they ignore the set rules they could have dead plants and perhaps a dead field by July 1.

One fellow from northwest Iowa related how one big Nebraska grower never combined several pivots last fall because there was nothing to harvest.

Beginning about a month ago it was possible to see browned fields from the air where the wilt had gotten bad.

Those fields became more numerous as time went along. Some have speculated as to where the infection came from.

Was it windblown and did it come in from Nebraska and Colorado? Or did it invade seed fields last year and move via that seed?

In most cases we are thinking windblown, since if it has been seed-carried the chance of there being early vascular infections with early dead plants would have been much greater.

Several of us did inspect fields where late-season applications were used to try to arrest the disease. The results looked encouraging.

The primary courses of action will be to choose tolerant varieties from companies who selected for such varieties, plus choosing a fertilizer program that boosted disease fighting ability by the plants.

The Disease Compendium does recommend clean plowing for those wanting to plant corn-on-corn. As to how well that will fly at a time when we also need to control erosion on rolling ground, we will just have to see how such guidance rules and regulations are developed.

One question about the disease is if the causal bacteria will cease functioning once the grain dries down or it might make pounds of grain disappear prior to or after harvest.

On top of the new Goss’s wilt threat there are the now typical problems with anthracnose, fusarium, diplodia, Northern CLB, and others.

Keep a close eye on stalk quality and weather fronts. All feeders may need to stay alert for potential mycotoxin problems.

Soybean prospects

This was the big year for Sudden Death Syndrome and much is being written about it. There are three environmental, genetic, or cultural causes and one main biological cause.

One that has been discussed a lot is compaction or the fact that it appears often where the ground has suffered heavy field traffic in past seasons.

Does the fusarium organism love inhabiting ground that has a high level of density or ground that contains little or no oxygen? Those two things can occur in the same area, but are not the same thing.

I know and scouted fields that had standing water in them for weeks and showed no SDS. Where the first visual signs appeared was typically where semis parked or where big weight wagons ran last fall.

More people are wondering if running the rollers worsened the problem and there needs to be a different means of eliminating the root balls that cause sickle bar problems during bean harvest.

No one had the definitive answer yet on the rollers. Each of those causes need to evaluated with remediating steps taken.

Growers who have done their first combining in fields affected by SDS are saying that the monitors in the bad areas are dropping into the single digits. Whole fields are making less than 30 bushels per acre, which at $10 per bushel is a major loss and will force growers to seek answers about solutions.

In fields where SDS did not occur or was at minimal levels, pod fill looked good and bean size was excellent, Reports from such fields are in the low 60s and higher, so those growers are well pleased.

When viewing plots and fields it is becoming apparent that having the right or wrong variety planted makes a big difference.

Where the patches are showing up and how that ground was managed and sprayed in previous seasons is also part of the puzzle.

In an IPM article that was recently published, Dr. Alison Robinson and her assistants found that the fusarium fungus can and does overwinter on corn residue in the field and responds favorably to corn kernels that were left on the soil surface.

At the same time winter survival is not as good on corn stalks and leaves.

Soil sampling

Do you have your plans made as to soil sampling and sample analysis this fall? Who is going to do the work and what lab is going to be selected to get that work done?

Are you as a grower going to ask for a more complete analysis to be performed with the information fully reported, or will it be one that gives you half the information you need?

After seeing how well your crop did or fared resisting diseases, do you think getting micro-nutrient levels tested on 25 to 33 percent of those samples might provide you with information that could help you and your crops?

Hammer out those decisions now and let your agronomist know of your wishes while he can make plans to get your desired work completed.

Good luck and may the sun shine in your areas.

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