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By Staff | Mar 4, 2016

February is now and March is here. With its longer days and more sun, the days will gradually warm up.

Overall, and except for a few cold spells, the El Nino winter we just went through went as predicted and was milder-than-normal.

I think we only had to push snow three times, and then had to wonder if the fields were frozen enough to drive into. There are likely to be a few more snows that could make driving tough, but this is the upper Midwest and we are supposed to be tough enough to survive.

The two big question marks that still exist are what sort of fall out will there be business-wise and landlord/tenant-wise after this week.

There was much talk of impasses still be a major issue with March 1 being Deadline-Day. Going over the budgets again to try to coax out a profit did not prove successful as operators were hoping for.

So something’s had to give on the expense side of many budgets.

The second issue was weather and how the coming season will shape up. It’s not often that we get close to the beginning of the season hoping for a major part of the country to have a drought, just not in our section.

The Nevada meeting

Amidst the many activities going on last week we sponsored a Feb. 24 cropping talk in Nevada. The building was full as more than 150 people attended.

I have rarely seen as many people intently taking notes and trying to take in every word.

The speaker was a young Amish man who has had intense tutoring by several of the best crops people of the past 20 to 30 years. He’s accessed some of the top scholarly texts that have been available in many scientific categories and incorporated that collection and extrapolated some very deep thoughts and ideas on what is happening in the soil and to the plants growing in it.

His goal is to help change the thought processes to help growers recognize that plant health does not come out of a jug, but out of learning what minerals and biological process will do the most to build plant and nutritional health from which humans and animals will benefit.

We taped it and will have to see how the sound turned out. I will keep you updated as to the tape’s availability.

The fertilizers and foliar products he has formulated to boost crop productivity and lessen disease problems will be available this growing season.

South America lesson

After being down in Argentina and Uruguay again, my 12th trip down into South America, I came back loaded with new ideas and information again.

It seems many of their people have more time to sit back and think deep thoughts, then act upon. I hope to procure a few products for field testing this season.

A lot of people I visit with have asked how the farmers down there are doing.

In Argentina, they have had a political battle going on all through Nestor Kirchner’s reign that severely taxed ag. Though their new president is changing things everything is still a struggle.

When one mentions that back in the early 1900s their standard of living was above that of the U.S. they find that hard to believe. The people are great and go out of their way to be kind and helpful.

Their beef was also very good. The biggest travesty we saw this time that with the recent beer company buyouts they are being told that Miller is a premium beer.

On the consumer side, the same hot topics concerning food and health are the hot topics among their people.

The goal of people everywhere seems to be to try to work hard and make life better for their kids. On that point their family cohesiveness seems to be much stronger and kids seem to respect the older generations more.

Food choices

From what I have heard there may still be chances yet to get in on some value-added markets.

More of them could be based on feeding the animals here and having their diets of the sort that some of the major grocery chains and restaurants wish to be serving to a more attentive population.

Speaking on that topic, how many of you have seen and read the mid-February issue of the Successful Farming? It has a picture on the cover of a grocery shopping mother and caption reading “Meet your new boss.”

In other words the millennials, health-conscious shoppers, and media savvy new consumers, may have a say in the kinds of food they wish to buy and will buy.

Surveys are revealing what percent of the shoppers fall into those categories and what percent were willing to pay extra to be verify their food quality.

We visited with the lead editor and he summed it up this way – they know the shoppers’ wishes to feed their families in a healthy manner. Proving such information is what they do in their magazines.

So if their products are getting in front of 100 million every month and those readers demand information, they are going to try to deliver it.

Anyone who might disagree will get to argue with these 100-plus million women. What person in their right mind will be willing to do so?

Cropping decisions

In this final month of the planning season, growers have to finalize their weed management programs, how and when their nitrogen and other fertility products will be applied, how to manage insect problems, and how to keep their crops healthy and filling as long as they should.

Those are all items we have been learning more about since harvest last fall. The quest never really ends.

If you are someone who recognizes that their corn crops of recent seasons have not matched up to expectations due to having died early, as in the entire fields turning white in two or three days, it may be time to open your mind and understand what is happening.

If you plan to fight the problem solely with a fungicide mix it will be like going into a gun battle with a knife or sword.

In other words good luck, and, what do you want inscribed on your tombstone?

So take a good look at the new product called BioImpruv and see what you can learn about it.

See also what you can learn about John Kempf’s message in that preventative nutrition should either trump rescue chemistry or greatly add to the overall performance of all the other inputs you have assembled.

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

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