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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

Who in the Midwest was predicting temps in the 60s for early March? From what I know only a few of the outlying meteorologists who habitually are not afraid to stick their necks out.

At this time there are three of them who are holding to their predictions of a much warmer April where 90 degrees up into the Dakotas are in our future. Normally, that would scare the dickens out of corn and bean farmers.

This year, most growers are in the mood where they would welcome the event, as long as it affects yields significantly and bumps up grain prices.

With March being here, it is time to make those final input decisions, make the purchases and arrange to have the products in your possession.

With the financial picture still not clearing up as hoped for by everyone, renters, landlords, retailers and bankers, a later-than-normal planting season would be more conducive to having more things fall into place.

March decisions

By now, most crop producers have had the time to read through more of the pile of crop magazines that were received since last fall. In many of them there were articles on soil health and soil biology and how to build each to help out the crop and your farming operations in many aspects.

Some of the major benefits included better root growth and nutrient availability, better rainfall infiltration and moisture retention for late-season crop use, and overall better plant and root health.

So now the decision might be deciding on what product or what product mix may create the biggest yield increase and best ROI.

There may be several best answers depending on what your soil analyses and soil health analyses show. From what I have seen and learned is that focusing on the best biological mix, that free up nutrients and help to grow a deeper, fully functioning root system, and a micronutrient mix that supplies deficient nutrients that influence rapid germination and early growth, are recommended.

In most cases it is possible to mix different biologicals and perhaps see 1 plus 1 equal 2, 3 or 5.

One product or microbe that could produce the most extra bushels, especially for growers who have had root and stalk rot issues would be a Pseudomonas flouresence.

This bacteria produces metabolites that wipe out many of the disease-causing organisms including the one causing SDS.

Only a few companies or products contain that bug since growing it and formulating it is difficult. It also has the role of making phosphorus more available through the production of certain enzymes.

I also like to recommend the use of a microbe that was studied extensively at Cornell University, the Trichoderma fungus. It promotes deeper and healthier root growth as well as better late-season plant health through increased manganese availability.

Insect control

I had the chance last week to visit with a worm farmer who has developed a novel way to use the microbe in the worms’ GI tracts to work for him.

What he found works great is to deliver a diet of what is required to break down insect eggs or certain residue.

He has also found he can set up brew tanks using those castings on high-dollar crops to create a liquid that seems to supply nutrition as well as inhibiting disease and insect infestations.

Will, or could, this process be usable for managing many of our insect or disease problems in row crops or specialty crops? We will be doing some experimenting to see what works. A number of Practical Farmers could use the process as a tool in future years.

Conference

Over the past year a few of the top agronomists have begun to educate growers on the relationship between soil health, nutritious crops and good human health.

And it does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that health among many groups in the U.S. is not up to par any more.

Most of us have also gone to too many funerals of neighbors or friends where we are left wondering what happened to cause the problem.

In the past few years I have discussed some of this in my columns.

I received an invitation to attend and speak at the Environmental Health Symposium scheduled for last weekend in San Diego. In attendance were about 300 functional, holistic, and environmental medical specialists and the engineers who develop the instruments they utilize in their practices.

I will fill you in more on what I learned there as good health is important to all of us.

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

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