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CROP WATCH

By Staff | May 13, 2016

It was a quite week for most and a hectic week for other groups and people. The farmers were doing their best to find dry fields and dry days in which to try to make progress on getting more of their planting done.

Weeks with only two to three days suitable for field work puts a crimp on things and then those figures don’t factor in the fact that many fields contain low spots that take longer to dry.

The markets seem to want to move somewhere, but most of us are trying to extrapolate what we know about flooding in Argentina, drought affecting the second crop in Brazil and the weakening dollar against the backdrop of the funds coming back into the market.

Meanwhile back at the Farm News ranch in proceedings that garnered attention in many corners of the news world was the dismissal of the loss of a 21-year editorial cartoon.

It seems the cartoonist made the grave mistake of telling the truth about the disparity between the 2015 incomes of the average farm operator and the combined income of three chief executive officers of major ag companies.

It seems more people need to learn the definition of kleptocracy and corporatocracy. The first refers to when inept government or government workers rule and steal from the citizens.

The second refers to when government policy is set by large corporations. What companies buy or pay for they assume they own and can rule.

We see that in many sectors, be it politicians, the press, private and government agencies and educational institutions that until the last decade or so were considered sacred.

It is not the first time companies did not want the truth in public. Having the story go worldwide may prove to be either a wakeup call or proof of the state of affairs.

Zika progress

At winter meetings the questions from the audience often included what the real story on the new virus was. Since it is basically a story involving South America knowing the country and some of the people and territory involved it was an apt question.

The latest was a verifying statement by a large group of medical doctors in Argentina and Brazil, like a group of 30,000 of them. They are still saying that the problem is being caused by the treatment of the water supply and reservoirs primarily in northeast Brazil, using a so-called juvenile-disrupting hormone insecticide called priproxyfen.

If you pick up any flea collars the product is in them. It works by keeping the insects from reaching adult stage by causing deformities during the larval growth stages of the fleas. And if you were a bureaucrat in Brazil with the Olympics coming soon and was told to bring the mosquito population down so dengue fever would not be a big problem you would likely make the decision to use it to control mosquitoes if it was being sold for that purpose or outlawed on the label.

The head of the medical group was in China with us in 2014 and he is a no-nonsense professional and a good researcher. It looks like in this country the hyped Zika disease gives the Center for Disease Control justification to ask for $1.9 billion to solve the problem and allows other cases of small-headed, under-developed babies being born in this country to be blamed on something else.

Anyone wishing to read more on the topic could Google: ‘Andres Carrasco Retinoic Acid”

It would be nice to envision a summer with no mosquitoes, but that is likely not in the cards.

Corn planting

The National Agricultural Statistics Service figures released Monday showed the corn planting progress in Iowa at 80 percent, Nebraska at 53 percent, Minnesota at 89 percent, Missouri at 94 percent, and Illinois at 78 percent planted.

For May 8 that would be ahead of schedule, but progress the last two weeks has been slowed. The stands so far in central Iowa are looking good with some of those in northwest Iowa being spotty where the ground was too wet and saturated.

Given the fact that it has been, and is, projected to be drizzly and cool this week through Thursday and it will take a few days to dry out, there will not be much progress made until the weekend.

There are yellowing small corn plants in many fields that are hoping for warmer and sunnier conditions where they can spread their roots and begin pulling in nutrients.

Crusting can be a problem at this time of year, but we have not had enough sunny weather to bake any crust. With the hard rains that hit a few areas be alert to any crusting problem in case a rotary hoeing would be necessary.

In most cases there are many positives in being 80 percent planted in that the growing degree units are being accumulated and the roots are expanding downward.

The expected tasselling date should be in early to mid July, which typically beats the worst heat during the warmest part of the summer.

One of the first occurring critical stages in the life of the small corn plants is the V4 growth stage. This is when the correct phosphorus and zinc levels influence the ear size and kernel count.

If your soil tests indicated those two soil nutrient levels were low an early sidedress or foliar application could be beneficial. The second expected critical time as seen the last four to five years has been at the V5 V6 growth stage when the plants are expected to have formed a deep spreading root system and being able to pull in all the needed nutrients.

When they are unable to do so many of those fields turn a sick yellowing color in a pattern that duplicated the soil type and soil organic matter map of the field.

Soybean progress

Soybean planting in the state sits at 29 percent, Minnesota at 46 percent, Nebraska at 13 percent, and Illinois at 19 percent.

With the bigger planters, seed tenders and willingness of the bean growers to get done, once the soils dry most of the acres will be planted within a few days.

While getting planted within the first 10 days of May is nice for top yields, we saw last year that optimum weather in September really determined final yields.

Constant sunshine, adequate moisture and tons of small pods on the plants as of Sept 1 was the perfect prescription for the good yields we saw.

This planting delay is also likely to disrupt most problems with the bean leaf beetles.

With 80 percent of the beans slated to be planted after May 14, they should not be able to target any particular field. However if you have any fields planted very early close to a tall grass prairie or big wooded areas be watchful for cotyledon and early leaf feeding by the hungry beetles.

Continued wet soils are why many seed people preach applying at least an Apron seed fungicide to help control the Pythium and Phytophthora that can cause damping off.

If the wet conditions continue through June it could signal significant problems with a Fusarium fungus known as SDS.

So if you are still treating your seed you may want to decide to actively manage to avoid the disease using seed and/or foliar nutrition or products such as ILeVO, HeadsUp or possibly a biological mix containing Pseudomonas.

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

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