The last week of August 2014 is upon us. Labor Day is just around the corner. It still feels like summer with the 80-plus degree heat, which we need more of as the crops still have to beat the frost as we recognize that the corn and beans remain about 10 to 14 days behind in development.
It has been a few years since anyone one has been worried about a frost coming earlier than normal.
The Farm Progress Show is in town and that often marks the time between summer and fall in crops, tasks to be done, and often weather. Wednesday’s crowd as expected to be a big one as recent weather has been conducive to getting any fieldwork done the last few weeks and no acres are even close to be ready to harvest.
If you made it to Boone you saw a jam-packed display list of traditional ag companies, as well as some that we don’t consider to be entrenched in the ag market.
The rains finally fell on much of north central Iowa this past weekend. When the clouds began to back up about 5 to 7 p.m., it looked like many of the fronts we have seen in the last month that amounted to nothing for growers and their thirsty crops.
Since it had been a July and August dry spell in that large area since 2010, few were hopeful this front was going to be any different, drying out as it moved east.
Then, as many growers farther south have been blessed through June and now July, the clouds delivered from 1.5 to 2.5 inches of good rain.
Now those still-filling kernels on the ears and seeds inside the pods can now add weight and size during the remaining days of August and September.
Farm Progress Show
Quite a few people from further away have asked what actually the Progress Show is. Actually it is one of the shows sponsored and organized through the Progress Group of Publications.
There are quite a few different shows across the Midwest such as Minnesota’s Farm Fest, which was held two weeks ago up near Redwood Falls, Minn. The next big one for the western Midwest is Husker Harvest Days over in Grand Island, Neb.
Both shows attract most of the growers and ag companies from their respective states as well as some surrounding states. Most attendees travel up to three hours to attend a show, but balk if it were to require longer drives. Thus the FPS is expected to attract from the three I-states.
After a five-year run of high grain prices there were many additional companies hoping to be offered the chance to attend and exhibit. Having the downturn in prices given to the 2014-produced grain decreases the number of farmers committed to writing big checks.
Fewer big purchases will be made, while the number of machines to be repaired and restored, rather than will be replaced, will be a reality check for quite a few equipment companies.
There were bound to be several displays that created a buzz about their products or services that offered terrific ROI to an interested audience.
This late rain
With this late-season rain that is now falling (on Monday and Tuesday) there are questions about how much benefit the crops will receive from it.
The answer might lie with information about irrigation. Typically each inch of rain is worth about 12 bushels per acre for corn and about 5 bpa for beans.
The corn plants have to have some green tissue on them yet and the kernels cannot have reached black layer.
In soybeans, the pods have to be green yet and there have to be green leaves or stems to show a benefit. There are people saying that a pod cluster can form, but that only happens if there are flowers still forming at the so called apical cluster point on the plant.
For most of the plants that development point has been reached and is now gone. Most of the green beans are puffing the seeds even fuller.
The later-planted or fuller-maturity beans may benefit the most at this point.
This is a good example why it is best to spread your bean variety maturity every season.
It appears that some of the predictions that 2014 could be bad for Sudden Death Syndrome are correct. Lots of fields are showing the brown and yellowish mottling indicative of the scorch disease.
It does not appear to be nearly as bad as in 2010, where many fields from Omaha to Beltsville got hit by 50 percent or more in yield.
The pathologists still don’t know as much about this disease because they are stuck in old beliefs and politics.
Fusarium does not typically cause such symptoms and the symptoms cannot be replicated in the lab. A lot of the problem is due to the soybean variety being susceptible and that susceptibility is carried along.
There were two popular commercial varieties about 15 years ago that became parents or grandparents that led to the huge problem four years ago. Lots of companies added those genetics to their lineup and that action was costly.
Whenever genetics are narrowed so greatly it often leads to problems for growers and consumers. Witness the corn blight problem back in 1970 and 1971 with southern leaf blight.
There will be a yield affect from SDS this season. Most of the fields I have looked at seem to have filled the pods quite well and will not be affected greatly.
The major problem expected from the western and northern cut rootworm larvae and beetles has not developed. Where beetles have shown up, it has been four to six weeks late on the calendar.
The northern beetles can be found in scattered fields at numbers that could lead to enough egg-laying to cause problems in 2015 second-year corn.
If anyone had considered using an adult beetle control program now is the time to be scouting and treating.
If one knows what to look for, most corn plants have the same caramel-colored lesions and developing black dotting as seen in past seasons since 2009.
The heavy rain storms of June 30 led to more leaf symptomology. The genetics have swung to better genetic resistance, which is good.
But on my travels from near Lincoln, Neb. to St Paul, Minn. in the past week, the number of fields that showed the top of the plant yellowing and browning along with some ears flipped down prior to black layering shows the disease is present in the fields.
The plant’s plumbing tissues have some plugging occurring and upward movement of water and nutrients during periods of high moisture demand is restricted.
When you are scouting you can look for the large black spots on the stalks, plus the second ears being mushy, brown, and stinky.
Those things did not use to be considered normal and ears are not supposed to flip down prior to black-layer.
Ear size and degree of tip back will be important factors in final yields.
I have been seeing tip back ranging from none to 2.5 or 3 inches in fields where nitrogen loss was not an issue. The lack of enough heat units during the cool July days and many of the August nights had to be an issue.
Cool nights contribute to deeper grain fill, but overall lack of growing degree units hurt final yields and can compromise stalk quality if photosynthates formation is restricted.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.
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