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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jan 28, 2011

One more week and the first month of the New Year will be over. Since late-January is typically the coldest time of the year it is always nice to get it past it.

Then onwards to February and March and the longer days when the sun’s warmth really starts to push the daytime temps over 30 degrees again.

As of a few weeks ago any temps above 10 degrees seemed warm if the winds were not blowing. Having received a great fall that never turned cold until close to Christmas helped shorten the early winter time to make this season more tolerable than that of last year.

In a few weeks we will be reminded to the fact that the typical start of the new cropping season will be here before we know it.

Though the stars and tree rings suggest that the coming season contains a higher-than-normal chance of being dry, the cascade of moisture fronts that have marched across the country suggest almost the opposite.

More than the normal number of people in various countries will be paying attention to Northern Hemisphere weather hoping that at least normal-sized corn and bean crops are grown.

Goss’s wilt effects

A big question that existed about this fastidious, phloem mobile bacterial disease was what effect it might have on the grain during storage.

Would there be a risk of the grain going out of storage quicker? Would more aeration be needed to remove its self-generating humidity? What grain moisture levels should be achieved in the fall when the grain was placed in the bin? Would pounds of grain disappear into thin air as the season went along due to the bacteria remaining active and consuming starch?

An analogy might be the case where when you were a youngster and you placed your baseball glove in the closet in the fall for the off season. Then when you took it out in the spring it had a musty smell and had stiffened.

There were different bacteria that were working to decompose the leather during those months it sat on the shelf.

It may be anecdotal at this point, but I am starting to hear stories from growers who have been pulling grain out of their bins or had FSA people visiting to measure grain depths of pull test weight samples and had significant (double digit percentage-wise) losses in each category.

Will these situations prove to be the reality for more growers and become the rule as the grain is hauled across the scales? If more pounds of grain metabolize into CO2 and H2O and evaporate into thin air, does it drop the U.S. carryout into negative territory?

If so that would place reliance for this coming season on using early 2011 bushels during the latter part of the 2010 usage season.

The one tool that can be used during the upcoming season for verification of the presence of Goss’s wilt in corn tissue is the CMM kit from a company in Indiana.

The kit consists of poly mesh bags that contain a slight amount of a slimy liquid and 5 or 25 PCR strips held in a vial. Corn plant tissue are placed in the bag and then rubbed with the side of a coin to macerate the surface.

Then a strip is dipped into the resulting liquid to see if a color change occurs on the strip. This purple color change would then indicate that there was a positive cross reaction for the Goss’ bacteria.

Sidedressing rules

In a recent Agronomy publication there was coverage about a newly developed tool that is now being used to go beyond sidewalk type, human observations to classify soil types.

This higher dollar instrument is being used to scan soil cores to quantify the amounts of carbon-based materials and minerals.

The scans were then used like an AA spectrum to categorize the soils into their genesis types, such as “formed under a tall grass prairie” and what horizon it consisted of, such as being an A1 or A2.

In the past, when soil maps were made, the surveyors often used a down and dirty method to group the soils.

The new use for the electronic measuring device was in an analysis of coastal soil that had received a dose of any oil, such as in the Gulf oil spill from last summer.

In many cases soil experts were being asked to inspect sites and the initial evaluation of sites could verbally describe soils from an affected area, but had no way to measure what had happened to the area to quantify the effects.

Using the new tool let them do so.

Based on visits with people who were involved with the spill clean up there was a lot of biological remediation using microbes that was used that never made the news.

Such remediation is common place in much of Europe and even within the U.S. and there are companies involved with such cleanup activities.

Tissue testing

There are areas within production agriculture that have used tissue testing in their intensive fertility management programs.

Corn and soybean growers have not gotten into it with any widespread regularity, but will likely become more accustomed to taking samples and getting then analyzed once or twice a season.

When I was down in Florida recently visiting with several crop advisors and growers they told of how they like to manage their veggies and citrus.

Tissue testing is used regularly to monitor the in-season nutrient levels. When they know what they are doing and what their crop needs are they can then base their fertilizing practices on those analysis results.

In a way they can use the testing results almost like a GPS to indicate if their fertility program and crop health program in correct for the season or conditions or needs a bit of tweaking.

More of the rules and standards still need to be established for our two or three principal crops in the Midwest. This way growers could be made aware of at which nutrient levels kernel or seed set would be optimized or at which level fungal or bacterial pathogens are likely to invade.

The protocols for taking plant samples are for early in the season to pull and send in the entire corn or bean plants. By July or August the protocols change with the ear leaf at tasseling is advised for corn plants.

In soybeans a person wants to remove the entire trifoliate leaf set of the latest unfurled leaves.

Let the plants dry for a day before boxing them and then send them to the lab in Omaha during the first part of the week.

Nutrition Conference

Speaking of micronutrients and upcoming events there are a few dates to put on your calendars.

The first is the Iowa Power Show being held in DM next week.

The show is typically very well attended with most farmers suffering from cabin fever and anticipating the chance to stretch the legs, see the sights and visit with other people.

Following that session on Friday will be a large plant nutrition conference that you may want to be aware of so you can RSVP.

That conference is scheduled for Friday at the Ramada Inn Conference Center, 5000 Merle Hay Road. Introductions will start at 8 a.m.

The list of speakers includes scientists and agronomists who have had years of experience in several different countries.

The information should be terrific and very valuable to those who are trying to improve their cropping skills and knowledge.

If you would like to attend and want to reserve your noon meal, call (877) 907-1444.

When you are at the show and if you have the inclination to inspect the Y-Drop Dribbler sidedress attachments for possible use on your sprayer this next summer, stop by the Central IA Ag and Supply Booth located at the bottom of the escalator.

We will have the dribbler at our booth along with the details.

Using them and possibly a Spad meter to be able to gauge the greenness of the corn plants, along with possessing the knowledge presented at the nutritional conference, you should be better able to monitor and treat any nitrogen deficiencies in your corn crop.

I will see you at the Power Show.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.

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