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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

The phrase food security may not mean much now to most people, but those in charge of strategizing and securing food for each country recognizes that we might be in unknown territory during the coming year as more nations are expecting the U. S. farmers to produce enough grain to meet worldwide demand.

It seems that in many recent months more export records are being set for many of the coarse grains.

Such speculation may seem exhilarating for a moment, but we simultaneously recognize the problems it creates for livestock producers and input prices.

While many people may have their opinions on what may occur over the next season, we likely have not seen anything like it.

We just have to wonder when someone from Washington or New York or some foreign country is bound to throw a wrench into things. Hang on to your hat and let’s see how things develop.

The new Yyar is here and thus far the winter has been fairly mild in central Iowa, especially when compared to both of the last winters.

The lack of early snow should have helped the frost to bust up any clods or shallow compaction.

What was surprising was how quickly the frost was lost when the snow fell in mid-December and accumulated on the ground.

The next few months will likely pass quickly. There is lots of information to gather and learn in that time.

Every farmer should be taking an introspective look at what happened in 2009 and 2010 to decide what the largest challenger were, outside of the weather, and make sure they are developing the answers and programs to combat those issues.

Where do you sit on getting that done?

The one question that I and other ag people have is how well we fare as our economy and money supply becomes dependent on Chinese and Mideast oil money while they become more dependent on U.S. food supplies.

This country and its political leaders have been content to export jobs and manufacturing capacity for years.

Luckily they can’t export Ag production, but they can create tough enough rules for livestock and grain producers that costs to comply with those rules become prohibitive.

How much precision does one need?

For the past few years lots of growers have been faced with the issue of how much technology they should invest in and the size and expectations of the return.

In the case of auto steer equipment many farmers now have to worry about how it may be easy to fall asleep running a tractor or combine if they are exhausted and close to colliding with a tree or building before they wake up.

Don’t laugh, as one guy told me about how he was about 50 yards through the windbreak and had nearly hit the landlord’s machine shed before he woke up.

Savings due to eliminating overlaps of spraying, tillage and planting can easily be identified and valued.

In many of these regards, what such equipment can do still seems fantastic.

The two areas that still seem cause for concern is that many growers are still wondering how to get the information sorted so they get value from their expenditures.

The other area is that the accuracy and proper functioning of the equipment can still be dependent on satellites that can still be shut off without notice and are under the control of someone who may not have any interest in crops or what problems their actions cause.

It happened last spring across part of Iowa and no explanation was ever given for a defense satellite being out of commission.

Nitrogen and the dribbler

We saw in 2009 and 2010 that split and delayed application of nitrogen can give huge dividends when we have wet growing seasons.

The rewards seen were often in the form of an additional 20- to 40-plus bushels per acre of corn.

Thus growers who are trying to better manage their nitrogen so less of it will be at risk of being lost in a wet year or being positionally unavailable in a dry year.

Part of the answer on what to do depends on what machinery your have at your disposable and what attachments are on it.

One new item that will be available will be a sidedress attachments for a pull type or high clearance rig for the coming season is something that was called a “dead on dribbler” during its development and experimental stage.

They were re-engineered for this year and will be marketed as the “Y-Drop.”

Anyone with a Hagie, Deere or Miller should look at them as a means of boosting their cropping efficiency and productivity.

A portion of the taller ground-driven rigs could also make use of the Y-drops as they allow the fertilizer to be laid right at the base of the corn or bean plants.

What we have seen with them is that when the fertilizer is placed at that location it will be carried into the root zone with the dews that run down the stalk even during dry weather.

Even in the dry summer of 2003 the soybeans dripped with dew until about 11 a.m. every day.

Watch for them at the Iowa Power Show next month.

Microbial battles

How many of the row-crop farmers who had problems with SDS and early dying corn in 2009 and 2010 have their battle plan in place for the coming year?

The solution to those problems center on an approach that involves the use of tolerant varieties, applied nutrients and micronutrient, and applied biology to keep the plants healthy through the normal grain filling process.

By now most of the best Goss’s wilt tolerant varieties have been locked up. Soil testing was done last fall and most fertility programs were acted upon.

If one does not look at the supply of micronutrients that will be available to the plants, the risk of having the same problems with early plant death is still high.

Timely and regular tissue testing should be a must for most growers. Each grower should also have in mind what products they will be applying foliarly if the tests indicate they are needed.

Do you have the best micro package available to you or do you need to discuss those with someone who has experience and an opinion about which ones do the job?

Then the last battle is the biological one where the battle with the pathogens in the soil has to be fought to keep them away and out of the crop plants.

This may sound far fetched but needs to be recognized and facilitated.

So find out what products can be put on the seed or in furrow that have a good research proven track record and has shown that they do work.

If a corn-and-bean grower can get that battle plan organized and implemented they increase the chances that they can grow a profitable crop even if it gets dry this next summer.

The two mixes that we saw used extensively in Iowa last year were Defender G from BRT and Trio from Brandt’s Consolidated.

The cost of each were about $4 per acre, were easy to handle and were efficient in boosting plant nutrient levels.

The one last ingredient we experimented with was Wake Up, or Soy Soap, as a surfactant to improve cellular uptake.

We saw the last product really do the job in research trials.

Upcoming seminars

One series of educational seminars that will be coming up shortly are the crop update sessions.

At them the attendees will get to hear the latest ideas on crop production and possible solutions to the expected challenges.

Check on the dates for the timing of the meeting in your area.

ill the new stink bug show up in Iowa?

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