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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Apr 15, 2016

Mid April is here and for most of last week it was later winter, as evidenced by the insulated coveralls many people were still wearing and the ice that covered water buckets and waterholes during many early mornings. Oh well, winter never gives up gently.

Just remember back in early May of 2010 when much of the state received 10 inches of snow. Much of the Nebraska corn belt and northeastern state received snow this past weekend. Again, it must be global warming.

I tend to listen to the solid climatologist who tracks records and are poised to make money off of fear. Those individuals are generally predicting cooler seasons, with periods of maybe intense heat during the early and mid summer, but overall fewer heat units due to a quiet sun.

Either way we are just along for the ride with forces way beyond mankind in control.

Field activity

I had to make a quick run into eastern Nebraska on Monday afternoon and saw a few field cultivators being pulled through the fields. Those operators had been busy applying some soybean prees and doing their final tillage pass, mostly trying to get those tasks done until the ground warms up to at least the high 40s range.

On Saturday famers near Waterloo and points east had not done much except to complete their 82 percent applications. Those individuals who have been doing so are reporting the ground being very mellow, as long as drainage was adequate. With all the rain received so far it does not take much more than an inch of rain to reach the saturation point, which will bring field work to a halt for three or four days.

We may consider ourselves lucky as far as having subsoil moisture, as growers in western Minnesota the Dakotas and Nebraska have not received much spring moisture and may be getting worried if it continues for another month.

Looking at the 10-day forecast, a big front is expected to cross through the Middle section of the country and drop significant moisture.

Tuesday and Wednesday appear to be the days when a number of corn growers are saying they intend to start planting. In most of the territory it marks the Federal Crop Replant date and near the time when the early planters like to get going.

And it is close enough to Monday that they figure they can make significant progress if there are not breakdowns. Those are typically not common as planters are generally the best maintained piece of equipment on most farms, so bearing and moving parts are checked quite closely.

Early weeds

With the cold nights the ground has stayed cool and there have not been the heavy flushes of broadleaf weeds. Given a choice it would be nice to get more of them up to help deplete the seed bank a bit, but waiting for them doesn’t make too much sense.

Over the past 10 years the early planted fields have been some of the best yielding fields. It seems that if the soils were fit, that planting early even if the soil temps had not hit the 50-degree magic mark, capturing the early round of growing degree units paid benefits.

In knowing when it was time to apply the first pre-emergence herbicides if going no till, the giant ragweed and marestail seem to be the first weeds to germinate and emerge. Tillage would generally eliminate them, but no-tillers have to decide what their choice of burndown products could be expected to do the best job of burning down the early emerging weeds.

One common thought with no-tillers and cover crop people is that they would love to have an alternative non-selective burndown product. Well, a few of us will be trying a new Australian mixture that has looked very good in field trials, and we hope it does the same in this country.

It is a safe product that is not harmful to soil microbes and is not a hard chemistry product. I will keep you informed on that product.

On the same topic a few companies are introducing mix additives that allow them to lower their non-selective burndown products by 50 to 80 percnet. The science and researchers behind a number of those products is extremely solid, thus if they pass the test here there will be great interest in them.

One of them is a product from a physical chemist who has his name on a patent filed in 1974 for a widely used product who is working on an activator that would let rates be shaved and collateral damage to soil biology be minimized.

Nematodes

The story on soybean cyst nematodes has not changed much over the past two or three decades. Still, the common advice is to error on the side of caution and that it’s desirable to try to keep their populations low rather than to have try to bring a problematic population under control.

With Clariva being widely available at an affordable cost, except that the total package can become more than many growers want to pay this season, it and the ALeVo are two tools that will be used this season.

If you check around, both of those products can be used separate from the complete mix. Common sense seems to be ruling now in that almost all growers are applying some form of Apron (metalaxyl) and Maxim to keep the seedling and early root rots in check.

When one looks at the work done by Dr. Bob Kremer, a USDA-ARS soil microbiologist, it becomes apparent that many of the problems with soybean seedling diseases as well as sudden death syndrome are the result of a kill off of the Pseudomonas bacteria.

A long 12-page paper on how that bacteria possesses multiple modes of action against the root rot organisms. Rebuilding their populations for the degree of biological control it offers as well as the fact that it also serves the role of increasing the P1 phosphorous availability so that level is close to P2.

Micronutrients

I continue to look at soil tests with different growers who had the local retailers pull samples, had them sent in for analyses, got the results back and are now trying to figure out what the results mean. In too many situations they sit with basically the readings for pH, phosphorus, potasium and organic matter.

They have nothing on P2, CEC, Mehlich P, if needed; no base saturation levels and no micronutrient levels. The is like trying to drive a car with only a speedometer for gauges and nothing else.

So if that describes your situation, if you are relying on someone to take your soil samples, be assertive in which tests you want run on the soil samples from your fields.

If you are going to rely on those analytical results over the next four years, it will be well worth it to get enough information from them to allow you to make good decisions.

When we were in Finland we learned that the medical researchers recognized that selenium was important for human health in that it boosted the function of the immune system against sicknesses and disease.

Thus, even though plant scientists have not found out what the role of that mineral was in their crops, they were required to apply it foliarly to improve the health of the people. In the U.S. they seem to do the opposite.

Food supply

Alert to the sage from Webb. An announcement in a recent major food newsletter was that a number of major food companies have seen their food revenues drop by $58 billion over the past two years.

So the introspective companies have done their surveys and come to the conclusion that the millennial have become more health conscious in their food buying and consumption.

A number of them held an “invitation only” meeting in an eastern Corn Belt location to discuss this and actually seem to have figured out it is best to do an about face and change their offerings rather than ride their businesses down the slope any further.

The 40-year-olds and younger get it. The 55 and older set may have heard about the switch and if they don’t change run the risk of becoming irrelevant in the discussions.

Alan Guebert hit on it in last week’s column. McDonalds and the soft drink companies don’t know how to react as their market disappears.

This week there was a very interesting article in the WSH about a big company based up in the Twins Cities who is recognizing its need to change and hand some of the reins to younger people who could react to the new consumers’ desires and tastes.

It could get interesting, and this is not just in the U.S.

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

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