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Acres, soybean diseases, aquaculture

By Staff | Mar 6, 2015

March is here and with it we can typically expect ups and downs in temperatures and snowfall amounts.

In recent years the old axiom said if the month started like either a lamb or lion it would end up going out in the opposite manner. That’s not held true this year.

What can we expect in 2015? So far it seems like the trend to colder temps will continue. Gloves and winter jackets, days missed from school, pushing snow and worrying about iced-up roads appear to be with us for the next four weeks and possibly longer.

Getting the first sweet corn seed in the ground by March 21 as in a few previous years does not sound possible. Will we be wearing medium weight jackets again in mid-July as we were in 2014?

Soybean diseases

I visited with Ray Schneider, the go-to guy for soybean diseases in the state. He said that in the past few seasons, a form of Cercospora that causes curved, purple, leaves, has exploded in his bean fields and in a few neighboring fields.

It caused major yield losses and sometimes complete defoliation prior to pod fill. This has totally surprised growers and other bean experts who never expected Cercospora kikuchii to become a major problem. There’s no telling yet if this is a case of a more aggressive pathogen or a more susceptible crop.

I also visited with Dr. Larry Datnoff in Baton Rouge. Datnoff partnered with Don Huber in writing and editing “Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease.” Datnoff researched the role of Silica in plant growth and disease control, hoping to unlock the secrets of that mineral’s important role in raising healthy crops.

Many fertility and cropping experts swear by its importance as an element certain plant species need, sometimes seeing huge benefits when it is applied. Because a sector of soil fertility research is now focusing on soil health and soil biological activity, the question is which microbes are responsible for allowing it to be in the plant available state.

What l learned is that at this time a German and a Swiss company appear to be far ahead of us in understanding this element.

Unsettled 2015 issue

There are a few cropping items for 2015 that are still unsettled yet and much later than usual. We are seeing the USDA publishing its acreage estimates for corn and soybean acreage and it doesn’t see a large swing toward more beans being planted. When one talks to seed dealers and seed reps for Iowa seed companies, nearly all of them say soybean sales have increased dramatically over 2014.

Unless there is a black swan event, the lack of fall tillage, higher input costs for corn and lack of financing for a percentage growers, these are factors poised to make the USDA projections incorrect.

SCN news

SCN have been a constant problem for many bean growers since the early 1980s. The Fayette source of resistance helped manage the pest, but now growers and researcher have been seeing that solution decline in efficacy. Now what? Use of the Peking source has helped, but a corresponding yield drop has often accompanied its use. In recent years we have seen the Votivo and Clariva biologicals commercialized. The results of the 2014 performance trials have recently been published, and those data are available now online. You may want to check those out. Those result don’t appear to be conclusive. 2014 was a tough season to judge from since heavy rains and ponding were so prevalent in many field trials. The new ILeVo from Bayer will have to be included in 2015 trials. A Utah company is also making available a seed treatment or in-furrow mix containing several species of Dactylaria, a fungus that kills nematodes by lassoing and feeding on such trapped nematodes as they move through the soil.

Midwest aquaculture

During the 1980s, when the ag outlook was bleak, the industry’s leaders recognized that no single step was going to solve the problems – it would take many steps.

We developed new uses for the added grain output and gradually let a few droughts or added markets consume the surplus.

Younger- and middle-aged producers had to grow opportunities capable of offering a good future to new entrants .

As enthusiasts now see it, the aqua industry is going to produce a product that is being well received with a health promoting product in the right part of the country.

The feed efficiencies of both fish and shrimp, being near 1 pound of gain per 1 pound of feed, is much better than that of poultry. And it doesn’t taste like chicken.

Each species tastes different with a different texture. Having a local and fresh fish supply will allow a wider variety of tastes in our diets, which could be a positive.

As this industry grows the people have an advantage of knowing that each animal is like a human, in that each has a micro-biome, or stomach bacterial collection, that functions to extract nutrition from ingested food.

In a totally aquatic environment the presence of any contaminants through input water or feed sources will be recognized and monitored constantly.

There are a number of companies that now recognize the potential of this industry and are doing due diligence in formulating their plans.

Interested growers need to be following this work.

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

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