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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Nov 12, 2010

Who would have ever guessed during the months of June, July, or August that we would ever have a dry spell in Iowa in 2010?

Maybe it is Nature’s way of trying to come in closer to normal for yearly precipitation.

In visiting with farmers and consultants in different parts of the country Iowa northern Iowa farmers are telling that their soils are bone dry down to a foot or more, southeastern Iowa operators are saying that their tiles are still running, and guys from Ohio relate that it rained an inch in early July and no rain in excess of a tenth of an inch has fallen since then.

A neighbor of Joe’s was tiling last week and found that the soil through a ten foot deep cut was bone dry to the bottom of the trench.

Coupled with Elwynn’s admonition that old Farmer Benner’s chart has been quite accurate and 23 years is the longest the Midwest has ever gone without a drought, what can we expect next summer?

With partial or full crop failures in nations such as China and Russian and an ongoing LaNina in South America, many of the populous nations are lining up their food stores ASAP. It could be an interesting twelve months.

The November crop repot didn’t hold too many surprises. When the USDA goofs up and ends up with too high of estimate they typically reduce their figures in three smaller increments.

The figures for this week showed Iowa down another two bushels. I would guess they were expecting the later planted acres in southern Iowa to be better than they actually were.

Instead we have heard of single digit disaster corn yields and soybean yields that were higher than corn yields in the southern two tiers of counties.

Rain does not always make grain and didn’t this years. I did hear of one .8 bushels per acre corn yield this week for a field on flat heavy ground that was waterlogged through the entire summer.

In the report Iowa was the number one corn producing state, Illinois number two, followed by Nebraska and Minnesota, with Minnesota having the highest average yield.

It sure is nice to get these six weeks of warm and dry Indian summer days.

How often does such nice weather last through mid-November. By now the 82 percent rigs have been running day and night with quite a few guys having finished that task.

That is one less job that will not need to be done next spring. Getting it bought at a price that might be $300/ton cheaper than next spring’s expected price is also rewarding.

Just remember that under saturated conditions as we had this summer even fall applied 82 percent had its problems and often required supplemental nitrogen.

Early booking

This year more than any other in recent memory growers are going to be making selections from companies and varietal families that they are not as familiar with.

Having Goss’ wilt moving into the state and being a big factor is causing most growers to get serious about asking how each of the hybrids they are considering rank in resistance to this bacteria disease.

Possessing good tolerance should not be the only qualifier, but a number of companies have stressed better plant health and done their screening in infected areas or have artificially infected their nursery to create the gradient they can select with.

Published yield results may not be the best guideline to follow since we have had to surmise that the bacteria moved into the state fairly late in the plants growth cycle. Things could be different if the disease pressure is here from the start in 2011.

As I mentioned last week we will have to learn as we go and just see how the disease acts in what should be a moister climate. It would be a cruel fate if it was so dry that Goss’s was a nonfactor.

The hybrids that possess good ratings for the disease along with good yielding history and good agronomics are bound to be short in supply and sold out early. Stay on your toes this fall with this issue and work closely with your dealers.

I have heard the claim that genetics or genetic families played no role as to which field or soybean variety suffered most from sudden death syndrome.

With any living organism or human, physical characteristics and properties are controlled by genetic background as that organism interacts with its environment.

It was unfortunate that this past year a bean variety from about fifteen years ago that was close to being a perfect soybean variety ended up donating its susceptibility to its many offspring throughout the soybean industry.

If a grower ignores this piece of information they are going to run the risk of repeating their problems with the disease in 2011.

I have asked a number of good growers who has serious SDS problems this year about whether or not they had utilized one of the big rollers on certain fields and was there any correlation between where the disease was more severe.

This spring I stopped in several places and used my computerized penetrometer to see if a dense layer had been by using the roller. The probing did not detect any hard layer, but the surface had been sealed off and

I had to conclude that the air exchange properties had been reduced.

What might be needed now more than anything would be to test which of the pathogens, such as fusarium or natural controlling organisms pseudomonas or trichoderma, respond favorably or unfavorably to an oxygen deprived rooting zone.

With soybean prices now nearing the $12.50 cash range the yield hit from SDS problems have gotten more costly.

With high prices and an expected bidding war for acres expected in 2011, have you mapped your strategy for dealing with the problem next season?

At the same time what are you planning to do to minimize the effect of the high fusarium population which may have been in your fields.

Early crown rot and possible early plant death are the corn symptoms of the related Fusarium infections.

Fall tillage

Hard core no-tillers have to be cringing as they drive down the roads and see all of the fields that have been tilled with a high percentage of the residue incorporated.

The old analogy of being between a rock and a hard place fits perfectly the situation every operator felt they were in.

Nearly every farmer tries to minimize soil loss as much as possible.

It was less than two decades ago that many of the snow banks that lined the ditches across Iowa ended up being turned black by blowing dirt.

We have to hope for gentle rains next spring rather than the gully washers. In addition we everyone has to try to manage and minimize disease incidence with resistant hybrids and the use of foliar micro-nutrient mixes.

Good luck in getting all of the late fall jobs done that you were not able to complete that last two seasons.

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