We are marching through month number one of the new year of 2013. It is still taking a bit of time to get used to writing the new year. It will just take a little while as it always does.
It is surprising how long ago it makes the 1970s or 1980s sound or seem. That was when the blow and Maxi-Emerge planters came out and when there were many new weed control products on the market that fit the many niches where weeds existed and caused problems.
We can bet that the old planters are not coming back, but the old herbicides sure are making a big return out of necessity.
A big question after our first three whole weeks of winter was if we were going to get a January thaw. Such an event can slice a long winter in half and make it survivable.
So before we even had a chance to think of it, we are getting a few nice days of 30- to 35-degree temperatures that are helpful in melting off the ice and decreasing the size of the snowbanks.
We will take them as January is the longest and coldest month of the year. Because the ground has not frozen in many areas the water contained in the snow should enter the profile.
At a rate of each 8 to 10 inches of snow consisting of an inch of moisture we would only need about 12 feet of snow to fill most profiles in the western Midwest.
That is how much many areas in Alaska had during the 2011-2012 winter.
Big January events
Perhaps the biggest event of the month for ag in Iowa will get here before we know it. And that is the big Iowa Power Show slated for the last three days of the month.
It typically arrives at a time when every grower in Iowa is tired of being cooped up or snowed in.
So getting to walk around and get the feel of spring being here to see the new equipment or ideas breaks the monotony and gets the blood flowing.
Many companies use it as an event where they can announce new product release of new ideas that growers can use. So in a short two to three weeks expect it to get here.
About a decade ago and a few years longer one method that was used, especially in corn on corn acres under irrigation in Nebraska where it was supported by scouring agronomists, was that of adult beetle control.
A nice tool within that program was a product called Invite. What it consisted of was a concentrated water melon juice that was extracted from a genetic throwback melon discovered by entomologists at USDA collections in Beltsville, M.D.
The ancestors of our current water and musk melons were small, spiny, and very bitter due to their high concentration of a product called cucurtibtaceans.
This makes sense because taxonomically the melon family is called the cucurbit family.
Through the years the so called rootworm beetles served as pollinator to those melons vines. When the beetles smell the scented juice they just have to move to it and start eating. The product is not poisonous and would actually make a great daiquiri.
In the Invite program, the juice was sprayed on the field either solid or in strips at low rates of one pint or less laced with a 10 percent rate of an insecticide that did not have a repelling scent.
Due to the addition of a surfactant that prevented wash-off, it would attract and kill all of the beetles for about two weeks. If the emergence of the beetles occurred over a period longer than two weeks, a second application could be made. There were growers that sprayed by ground rig or plane in alternate strips and this worked very well.
This program may be what is needed to aid the traited corn by removing much of the beetle and egg laying pressure that is taking place again in Midwest fields.
Costwise the product cost was under $10 per acre for two applications. Its advantage over solid applications of other products at full rates was that it was kinder to beneficials and the environment as well as not being reliant on great canopy penetration.
It did require the recognition of rootworm species, understanding their life and emergence cycles and the willingness to scout for them in early through mid July.
Faced with an insect that is proving to be tougher to control and seeing how many bushels could be lost, especially in a dry year, not controlling them is not an option. This is all written after recognizing that in the mid-1980s we were walking corn fields where the granules had failed due to either resistant insects or enhanced microbial degradation.
Crop update sessions
The Extension Crop Update Sessions held at many regional locations have begun. At these practical information about how to handle or manage some of the cropping problems that have become commonplace is presented.
Check the extension web site or with your local office to see when one is in your area.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.