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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Aug 31, 2012

The end of August is near and for the record it will go down as a warm month and one where rainfall was scattered across the state, not enough to meet crop needs, but better than nothing.

Most farmers have realized that the corn crop is beyond that stage where much yield will still be deposited on the ear if rain begins to fall in the Midwest, but know that it will both help the fuller season bean fields, plus help replenish the moisture profile for 2013.

Will Hurricane Isaac strengthen enough that it pushes moisture into the Western Corn Belt states? That is a very pertinent question that we will have to wait on for an answer which should become evident later this week.

Currently meteorologists are projecting some of the Eastern Corn Belt states may receive as much as 6 inches of rain. Any amount over 2 inches would be very welcome in Iowa and Nebraska.

Farm Progress Show

The big event of the week is the Farm Progress Show, which is being held about six miles west of Ames and five miles east of Boone at a perfect site. Preparations for this year’s show have been going on since last fall, with many new permanent buildings being constructed during that time.

All the roads were either paved or rocked with contours formed to move any rains away quickly. It gives people a chance to see new equipment and hear about new ideas and products.

Hopefully there are several educational opportunities in addition to the selling of new paint and heavier equipment.

More shows

Though I typically don’t do advertising here there are two meetings being held in the near future that you may want to know about.

Those are Iowa field days being held on Sept 5 and 6. The first is at Mike Lewis’ farm southeast of Osage, and the second is at Keith Schlapkohl’s farm just north of Exit 280 along I-80, 20 miles west of Davenport.

These two guys are legitimate corn-growing gurus who have 300 bushels per acre and higher goals in mind, while seeking to do it in a more sustainable and biologically sound manner. In a year where, for the fourth consecutive season the corn crop has died in a gruesome manner, every farmer should be seeking the truthful answer as to what is going on.

Too often excuses have been given about why the corn and bean crops have looked as they have since 2009. Everyone has been told that is the weather, a new disease, too much lost nitrogen, poor management or a bug from who knows where that is causing problems.

Keith himself is looking at a down year of corn yields, but still expecting 225 to 250 bpa yields and 75 to 80 bpa beans. The corn still carries spad readings in the high 50s or mid 60s using only 90 pounds of nitrogen.

The program takes some work, thinking out-of-the box products, and extra investment, but the payoff in the era of $8 corn and $16 beans will be well worth it. Check the BRT Ag and Turf website for details.

In the past two weeks the word is out that major groups have reached the conclusion that gene-tinkering has taken us about as far as it is going to, and the next movement has to be one where the soils are better managed and crops stresses are mitigated using different and more productive principles.

Proof is in the reality that resistant weeds and insects have torpedoed what worked five and 10 years ago. As in the past it looks like the survivors are those who accept and manipulate change rather than get run over by it.

Harvest

Harvest is getting started in more areas of the Midwest. Some fields have actually been harvested. The Farm progress Show was moved ahead on the calendar to avoid the conflict. So far fields that died early and dried up are the fields being targeted. Kernels from those fields are small, shrunken and light test weight. No one is bragging about yields from them. Bad sign.

As mentioned last week here, and by other people, is the need to contact your crop insurance person if any sign of aspergillus infection is spotted or suspected.

Don’t expect to see the greenish mold all the time as the samples I turned in were more of a purplish color. That sample tested at 28 parts per million. The trap set for growers is that if they spend the time, fuel and equipment hours harvesting corn with a high contamination level and worse yet, binning it, there is no insurance coverage.

I have heard of corn in northwest Iowa being rejected, so no area in the Midwest is immune this season.

Rootworms

With all the news about rootworms re-emerging as a problem and their populations escaping Bt controls we need new or old answers that may work once more.

So a few of us have dusted off an old program that worked 10 years ago, but was dropped for the easier and more expensive genetic solution. That program was the one that dealt with adult beetle control using a semiochemical or attractant that was called the Invite program.

It was the extract from a mutant watermelon that contained a high concentration of curcubaticeans. When the beetles smelled it they had to go to it and eat it, which was then laced with a 10 percent rate of a softer insecticide. If a wash off agent or surfactant was mixed in, the spraying lasted 14 days.

We scouted two weeks later and if the beetle emergence was spread over a longer time and was still present we sprayed again.

We were stripping the fields and could still spend less than $10 per acre for two trips. It may be the answer to seed companies as it would lower the horrendous pressure that is overwhelming the genetic controls. Watch for more information here.

Picking hybrids

Is this a 1.3-year or three-year drought event? That is the question now in front of us.

Argentina had its worst drought in 50 years and their growers have been blessed with more than 8 inches of rain so far in August, when it never rains.

So their La Nina is over. If ours is not we now know more which hybrids tolerate drought and high heat conditions better and which ones to avoid.

Remember that seed companies can only develop for stresses that they can test against.

In the past they could test for drought tolerance and not always simultaneously for intense heat. Strong winds are something they have been testing against. Rootless corn is more of a planting depth and soil condition issue.

Most guys will tuck the seed in the ground a bit deeper next season.

Enjoy the Farm Progress Show if you make it there.

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

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