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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Mar 28, 2014

And the forecast for the second through the fifth days of spring are temps in the 20s and low 30s with several inches of snow. Sad, but true.

With strong winds coming from the Canadian north, cold conditions are likely to continue. With Canada’s 920,000 square miles of ocean ice the cold could persist for several weeks yet.

We can only hope for a few weeks worth of global warming, the kind that gets rid of frost in the ground and melts off the remaining snow drifts. Two or three years ago many of the fruit trees were all blooming and the first small plots of sweetcorn were being planted.

I remember it very well, though the tree part did not have a happy ending.

More than a few farmers are reading the signs that nature is putting out and believe it doesn’t look like an early spring. Easter is relatively late, April 20, so those prognosticators are expecting it may be close to or ever after the Easter weekend before many farmers can begin corn planting.

This is typically the time when we hear of all the rain falling in Arkansas, recognizing that the fronts that collide over our southern neighbor tend to move north and create a spring time raining spell that helps to fill our moisture profile.

Will that pattern repeat itself or will those fronts bypass the western Midwestern states?

Back to business

As we slowly slip along toward spring, most farmers are, or have, been in the middle of machinery prep for several weeks. New blades and parts have been installed, and more planters have been gone over for updates and new parts.

It is surprising how expensive parts have become at all the dealers.

As the weeks have passed, we now see other global events and weather determine how much grain will actually get produced and how much will get moved into the marketing channels on time.

South America has had its weather challenges just like we did in 2011, ’12 and ’13, and their lofty prediction of 90 million tonnes of beans produced in Brazil and 55 million tonnes in Argentina will not materialize.

Too much rain in large areas along with too little rain in others took its toll. We may not know the extent of their losses for a while. One big factor that they always have to contend with is that rust is still always present.

They depend entirely on the carboxamide fungicide family for control. The latest triazoles – Metconazole and Prothioconazole – broke three years ago, and were ineffective even when it was applied three to four times. What they have seen in Argentine research is that the normally translucent spores are now beginning to form pigments, which would block the incoming UV radiation, which normally kills them.

A few soybean directors from the Midwest are down touring Brazil this week. They should have a nice tour of the country and its immense production regions.

In a country nearly as immense as the U.S. getting a firm grasp on their workings and people in a one or two week trip is a big and interesting task.

Big data and drones

There was a grower meeting in Paton last week where several different topics were discussed. One was on the different populations and planter add-ons that could be installed in time for this year’s crop.

On that topic the generation of data coming out of the fields in-season and at harvest was discussed. There was also a presentation on the use of drones to scout fields or do low-level viewing and information gathering. Not surprisingly there was a good discussion that followed here and at a few other meetings where the same topics came up.

This meta-data, which until Edward Snowden and author James Bamford pulled back the curtain on the NSA spying system and mentality, was not out in the public very much. Such data has value and more farmers are realizing that fact and recognize that it is valuable to their operation and that many large companies would love to get their hands on as much of it as possible.

So do they just take it from you, will you pay them $10.50 an acre to take it, will they fly their own airplanes over your fields, or will they obtain it via another surveillance means?

It is through this sort of data analysis that markets move and long-term strategies are developed. By owning your data and keeping possession of it, though sometimes sharing it with like-minded individuals, growers can best benefit from such information.

Heads-Up

There is now a new seed treatment product that is a plant extract that will be available for use this season. It was researched by Bayer Crop Science and then farmed out to a smaller marketing company.

It was tested and labeled for reducing the problems with both white mold and SDS in a number of university trials, sometimes alone and sometimes paired with a partner product.

The research results looked good and Heads Up appears to be worth using if your topography and field history says any fields are more at risk than the average.

The cost is going to be under $3 per acre.

Melon to fight CRW

Contrary to some claims, the problems with western corn rootworms are widespread and growers, researchers and companies are still trying to find an effective and affordable solution.

What can be used to reduce the large populations of larvae resulting from high adult beetle numbers? That is the $64,000 question.

Last week a company rep from Trece Inc. spent several days in Iowa visiting with farmers and seed reps who are looking for answers.

In previous articles I wrote about a product called Invite, which was a bitter melon-based, liquid product used as an attractant to lure local beetles into a field. By lacing it with an effective residual insecticide, the mix could be used to eliminate 14 or more days of beetles and their egg-laying.

A sister product that is a powdered extract from a wild gourd source that is even higher in the bitter concentrate is called SideTrak D.

It will be available in 2014 for ground or aerial application at an affordable price. For growers who must raise second-year corn for reasons such as high soil pH, heavy SCN pressure, drainage issues, or high cash rents, it presents a solution to aid granular or liquid insecticides, or traits, that have not been able to fight the overwhelming numbers of beetles eating silks or larvae eating roots.

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

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