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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

It sure looks like we have to prepare for a wild spring that appears to be arriving a few weeks early.

It’s 64 degrees already on Tuesday morning with it predicted to gain a few degrees by this afternoon.

That will make the four inches of snow that fell on Sunday disappear quickly. And the few drifts that accumulated in the quick one-day blizzard on Wednesday can also melt away.

Wacky is the word that was used several times in the latest Browning newsletter to describe what we can expect over the next weeks.

And just as the crop we planted two years ago seemed incredibly high-priced as to input costs, this one is worse and raises the cost per bushel input total for a segment of corn growers to nearly $6. That seems almost unreal.

With the big series of twisters that hit the Interstate 70 earlier this week it appears that we may have our turn within a few weeks.

Final decisions

Spring may be here now and not in a few weeks. That means it is time to finalize cropping plans for the coming season and play “what if” for the last few decisions that have to be made. This will include deciding if that will finally be the year when sidedressing a portion of the nitrogen becomes the plan you are going to follow to gain the efficiency and yields you are now shooting for. The fellows and ladies who have made that move and figured out the added labor it involves seem committed to doing the same thing this year.

Until lately it looked like planting second-year corn was guaranteed to gross more dollars per acre than soybeans ever could. Now, with the unexpected bean rally, possible tight seed corn supplies, low soil moisture levels, the shortage in granular insecticides and a re-examination of corn-on-corn yield penalties seen in past years we are seeing a portion of the growers who had planned on swinging hard to more second-year corn acres move back towards a 50:50 or 66:33 mix.

That is not surprising as it always seems that being a contrarian is something that a lot of us do, but when we all do it the benefits disappear.

Thus the market responded to the expected lower bean acreage and the price jumped.

Has everyone got their Goss’s wilt control program in place? After a full year of getting the state seed people, as well as the national seed standard individuals, better educated on what was happening in the field, a group of us are somewhat surprised that most recognize that the disease has become a major problem.

We are still hoping that the farming populace and decision makers accept this newer disease for the degree of damage it can cause and take the action needed to let it wipe out as many bushels as it did in 2011.

We also hope that growers move beyond destroying the residue cover that is needed to protect the soil and look at the nutritional factors involved.

From what we have learned and the strange background and cause of the disease, we know it can be conquered, but it cannot be ignored.

Action plans

So in the next few weeks it is time to finalize all action plans. The old axiom of expect the best, but prepare for the worst might be the creed to follow.

The observations by a few growers at a meeting in Fort Dodge this week that a few tiles have begun to run for the first time in about seven months is a good sign.

The trend of having no moisture fronts making it as far north as Iowa seems to have been broken.

This needed to occur, as relying on timely moisture for the entire season gets to be too nerve wracking.

So to close, enjoy the final weeks of winter and may the gentle rains fall.

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

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