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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Nov 5, 2010

November is here and it is time to get all of the final tasks completed. The harvest and tillage chores are virtually done and now the main job at hand is to get any fall fertilizer applied.

Having a month of great weather with no weather delays has been tremendous for anyone with a work force available.

The tasks at hand

It is definitely time to put on any fall anhydrous in much of Iowa. The soil temps cooled off enough that suppliers were given the go-ahead to let the tanks be picked up or delivered. Given the fact that much of the summer-priced 82 percent was going out at $525 to $600 per ton and prices are now closer to $850 or higher, getting it applied now makes sense.

With Darrell Goode, the ag economist in Illinois, stating that we need another 3 to 4 million more corn acres to meet demand, the prospect of attractive corn prices spurring higher fertilizer prices is likely.

Typically fall or spring applied 82 percent is a sure thing for having a nitrogen supply that lasts through the season. This past summer we saw that even spring-applied anhydrous could not keep the corn green through a very wet growing season.

If the N loss rate is actually in the 5 percent per day range for every day that the ground is saturated and the soil temp is above 50 degrees, then being flooded in June allowed for a high level of loss.

What was seen is that growers who found the time and ability to apply sidedressed nitrogen typically saw a 20 to 50 bushel per acre yield increase. They are remembering this and telling their neighbors.

As a result we will likely see quite a few growers making fall plans to conduct sidedressing trips. In addition many will be using a stabilizer to keep the last N in the non-leachable form.

That makes very good sense and the top growers will find a way to manage their nitrogen this way.

Fungicide happenings

It was surprising how quickly the ag press picked up the story of the lab work done by Carl Bradley at the University of Illinois whereby he found that strains of cercospora from Tennessee have developed a high degree of tolerance to strobe fungicides. In this case, as I wrote last week, strains of the fungus that causes frogeye leaf spot were tolerating a level of strobes 200 to 7,000 times the level of normal when testing for spore germination in his Petri plates.

This would include the products of Headline, Quadris, and Gem/Flint as they are all in the strobe family and have the same action site.

In this field a strobe had been applied twice foliarly, which would have been forbidden by plant pathologists who have formed the guidelines for using the strobes.

After reading the reports I was wondering if the investigators were considering that many seed treatment mixtures now include one of the strobes. Thus many fields are now already utilizing two applications per season.

In much of South America in especially north central Matto Grosso, where up to 11 applications per soybean crop and 21 applications per year have to be applied to save the crop, their number one product from three years ago no longer works.

With only two major classes of fungicides existing for row-crop culture, if we need to fight diseases chemically, losing one or both of those classes is a big deal. Then we can see where a biological or natural product like Ballad or Safe Strike can help complement a systems approach.

In a related note BASF just announced that they have a new class of fungicides for use against several classes of soil dwelling fungi. It is called the ‘Initium’ or Zampro/Orvego commercially, and is a multi-site preventative product. Registration is expected in 2012. Watch for details on it during the coming year.

Goss’ Wilt

It is getting into the season where most growers like to start booking their seed varieties for the upcoming season. A pertinent question this fall for your seed dealer is which of the varieties they are offering possess good tolerance to the bacterial disease?

The corn disease compendium states that Goss’ can be seed transmitted.

What we have been told is that about 2 percent of the seeds can contain the active bacteria next season. If you work with that number and a planting population of 34,000 seeds and plants per acre, having 2 percent of the plants being infected at the seedling stage means that there are 680 infected plants per acre.

This translates into 54,600 per 80-acre field or 109,200 per quarter. If one figures that the bacteria can move 6 feet in each direction via wind or splashing rain and infect neighboring plants, then 30 percent of the plants in the field could be infected.

If one assumes a 10-foot spread and evenly spaced plants, then the infected percentage is 98 percent.

One tool that could come in handy for growers is a quick strip test for the wilt. It uses a mesh bag into which you place corn plants or residue.

As you crumble the bag and contents a reagent is released. A test strip is dipped into the mixture and a color change occurs if the Clavibacter michiganse ssp. nebrasksense, or CMN, is present. The cost for those kits is under $10 and could be valuable to have on hand next season.

Growers and crop advisors who have had to manage the disease for 15 to 40 years tell that the disease is manageable, but if you ignore the rules you may end up with a field that has been hit very hard.

What is unknown yet is how the disease will act once it gets into an area with high humidity for much of the growing season. We are only six to eight months from finding out.

As you attend winter grower meetings be sure to ask about this disease and how to manage it.

Remember that it is your farm and your money you are dealing with.

A personal note

Thank you to those who expressed condolence to me or my family last week and special thanks for those who either attended the funeral or sent cards. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but knowing they are ending up in a decent place is much consolation.

The national election results were great to watch Tuesday night. I and my colleagues may work with a small slice of demographics, but everyone seems to realize that change was needed, but that change was a change in course. Turning into a socialist country with no manufacturing base is not something that any Iowa resident wants.

We were started as a Christian nation with a good work ethic and a capitalist society.

Good luck in getting your work done as well as your early planting.

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