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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jul 31, 2015

We are soon going to say goodbye to the month of July, to its county fairs, its July Fourth celebration, and often, the warmest month of the summer.

The state fair and the start of school for students will soon be here.

It brings the fall and eventual harvest season one month closer. No need to mention it at this time, as it can wait as long as it wants to make its appearance.

Most of the things we can do for the crops are over with, but there are a few important things that must be addressed to produce the most bushels possible, where a good portion of the profits might be contained.

It has been a somewhat eventful summer. As always, the wacky weather never really seemed to establish a constant trend. It was cold one week with the next week being too warm.

We went from warm jackets one day to sweating the next. In much of the state the rainfall amounts during May and June were about double of what was expected.

One event that many poultry farmers will never forget was that they got blasted by a disease that until now seemed like something that affected flocks over in Thailand and other southeastern countries.

The problem is still having a major effect on the counties were the facilities are located.

Lost income, lost birds that may not now be reimbursed, furloughed workers and lots of flies and stinking rotting birds were commonplace in many communities.

Yep, the good old summer of 2015.

Bird flu meeting

The closed bird flu meeting was scheduled to be held in Des Moines on Tuesday.

The first hour was to be open to the press, but the best part is currently closed to the public. I wonder if enough people will be willing to question what really went on.

A good veterinarian on the scientific advisory panel did remark that not too often do we see an avian disease move north to south when the supposed carriers were migrating south to north.

Whoever was in charge or appointed themselves to that position were never willing to accept input from good people who had valid ideas on potential causes or remedies.

There were good scientist and producers from both the U.S. and other countries who should have been heard, but never got the chance. Instead of finding the weaknesses in the systems and fixing them, few things were corrected to prevent a repeat epidemic.

The corn crop

The majority of fields tasseled and silked on time. Pollination was very good as it was difficult to find a field with the long, blonde silks indicating a lack of sufficient pollen or a mistiming of a good niche of the pollination process.

The corn plants in many fields have grown taller than average, thus many of the high-clearance sprayers are not tall enough to drive through the fields anymore. Most airplanes have to be called in for any late-season tasks.

The most common task at hand for many growers is the application of fungicides to combat the leaf diseases brought on by the triangle of wet weather, carryover inoculums and susceptible plants.

Hopefully, by now every field has been scouted in recent weeks to assess the condition of the plants in each field to see if spraying was justified and met the treatment thresholds established for each disease.

In many cases, there are no great guidelines for many of these diseases. Years of experience coupled with idea of risk/reward along with a good handle on the price of treatment and value of the crop are the information needed to be able to make treatment decisions.

There will be fields that should have been sprayed, but farmers were looking at tight budgets. While there will be other fields where no one with the experience was available to discern if the disease was going to progress or if the drier and warmer weather was going to slow the problems down.

The list of major storms that caused crop loss so far in the state had remained slim until now.

But several storms that rushed across the state late last week changed that. It is now possible to find bad hail- and bad wind-damaged areas. This late in the season there is not enough time to recover from such storm damage.

In nationwide crop ratings, the eastern Corn Belt states, save Wisconsin, sat at about 50 percent good to excellent, while in the western states, the rating for good and excellent was about 81 percent.

Soybean crop

There is also a large east-west bias for soybeans still existing at a 74 percent rating for the west versus 41 percent in the east.

Along with the wet conditions out east, the lack of sun and heat is continuing the decline of the bean crop as it continues through the flowering and seed set and fill stages.

The beginning of the SDS problem seems to be emerging in several areas over the last 10 days. It typically does not appear until after the last trifoliates have emerged, but it is not waiting that long this year.

It was possible the last two months to notice bean fields where portions of the bean stand has turned a yellowish color that typically identifies plants with a Fusarium root infection.

The fungus keeps attacking the bean plant underground and waiting for the chance to makes it appearance after the R3 growth stage.

If I had to be a betting man, I would guess that there could be many growers who get to see a very noticeable amount of SDS and white mold appearing in different areas.

To make up for the lack of podded nodes and lower-than-normal pod set, the best method is to compensate by making use of foliars that have performed well in recent seasons to add flowers, boost pod set and make the applications to enhance stem strength and standability.

High yields of soybeans are often dependent on understanding the plants’ physiology and fertility needs.

Speaking of weeds

There are five known counties where the dreaded Palmer amaranth has been identified.

With the way machinery and birds migrate, most Midwest growers fully realize that fighting this weed is in their future.

Usually, when we see resistant weeds we can suspect that thicker wax layer on the leaf or resistance to root pathogens may be the cause of the weed’s survival.

Robert Hartzler, at Iowa State University, said that an overproduction of the altered pathway gene sequence is the method of the six different modes of resistance of the Palmer.

Be alert to any tall pigweed plant in your travels and fields that develop a very long seed head.

If it appears to be Palmer make sure it does not go to seed. There are more growers asking about row-crop cultivation and what advances have been made with weed rollers and even the old rope wicks.

Unfortunately the old technology of the two later items has not changed much, while the new optically controlled row crop cultivators will help.

All three may be tools we will use again in the future.

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

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