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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Dec 11, 2015

After a week of cloudy and wet weather, the Indian summer type weather seems to have returned.

Marketing and market prices seem to be the big issue this fall as everyone realizes we have lots of bushels seeking a home.

Livestock numbers are up, while export numbers appear erratic and headed downward.

The one surprise lately has been the acres being signed up for the CRP program due to occasional flooding or potholing in wet years. The dollar amounts per acre have been higher than expected.

Consultants meeting

As has become common the Iowa Crop Consultants held their fall update meeting the day before the ISU crops conference.

The event was more momentous years ago when there were more new products being released each year that could add to the toolbox for weed or insect management or for adding extra bushels.

Greg Tylka, ISU’s primary nematologist, gave a rundown on the new items and new trials he conducted this past season.

A good analogy to years of nematode research is that it has been like one good long game of “whack a mole.”

The little critters just keep showing up and doing the unexpected each year.

Tylka related how great research results and expectations can accompany products, but when put into small plots those results can disappear.

Concerning fungicides, over the last two years there have been a number of new triazoles and strobes released. They vary somewhat in what their strong points are or their level of systemic activity.

Their main limitations is that each had a focused action site and was going to be prone to resistance developing against the three fungicide families.

ICM conference

I attend last week’s Integrated Crop Management Conference in Ames. The crowd was large with seasoned vets of 60-plus, down to new graduates in their first year or two of employment.

I have to commend the organizers for identifying good people from the colleges in neighboring states who could relate what they had learned from one or more years of study on their cropping specialty.

There were topics covering every crop grown on row crop or pasture ground across the Midwest as well as most livestock species raised.

The economics of raising those crops were discussed as well as how the marketing of the grain was supposed to be conducted.

A number of the newer presenters were in their late-20s to early-30s and were sharp.

They seem to be following a pathway whereby they hoped to conduct their studies on topics such as white mold, or SDS, in a fashion that would let them assemble a predictive model for that disease.

The plan was for the growers to be more judicious in the use and expense of hard chemistries.

The plant disease specialists were well represented in both soybean and corn culture. Since they are identifying new diseases every year that seem to be increasing in importance.

They have definitely earned their keep and support the last few years. It may be good to ask the same question as to why this surge in new diseases seems to be accelerating instead of slowing down.

Is it an issue of pathogens mutating? Or are the plants becoming most disease prone hosts? Which of them will begin to tie nutritional status of the plants with disease susceptibility?

One presenter from a neighboring state suggested there might be a connection that ‘if herbicide use may increase disease susceptibility, and if so what might be the connection?”

In future years, sessions by a small team of good soil microbiologist would be welcome.

With that science and the issue of the role biologicals in production ag increasing with new developments every few months and more practitioners and growers realizing that soil fertility has a big biological component, it deserves attention.

Winter decisions

Now is the official beginning time of decision making for crop growers in the Midwest. They are all still listening for any expert who can tell them exactly how to trim $100 per acre off their cropping budget for the coming season.

In old terminology, “Whose ox is going to get gored?” I was reading a farm magazine article where the author simply assumed every corn grower was going to spend $124 per acre, or $300 per bag of seed corn for the coming season.

With machinery expense already being set, fertilizer prices not declining, herbicide expenses actually increasing due to weeds not dying and cash rent being out of farmers’ control for those who rent ground can any item be held sacred?

For the time being, the big unknowns seem to be the extent of the dry weather in South America, the risk to their second crop and the effect of having thrown out their socialist president.

After years of subsidizing nearly 100 percent of the social services under Christina, it sounds like the growers in Argentina will finally get relief.

It is likely to free up grain that has been in storage for several seasons. It may also eliminate the practice of turning cash into cattle as soon as any check is cashed.

They figured out that politicians will steal anything that doesn’t need to be fed or housed.

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

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