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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jun 17, 2016

Who turned up the heat? Just when we got used to still carrying our jackets with us in early June the daytime temps jump up into the mid-90s and we don’t know how to react.

The high temp afternoons we had in the last week are like those we might expect in late July through mid-August and they are way over the 84 degree maximum that our bodies prefer.

Couple the heat with the sudden shut off in rain and moisture fronts and one would think we are in the beginning or middle of a severe drought. Only time will tell us which trend we are in.

Meanwhile we are seeing both the corn and bean plants showing a big increase in size as a response to a lot of sun and heat in the past two weeks.

Weather markets

The markets are finally doing what grain producers have been hoping for in the last several months. For quite a while it seemed that grain prices could only go down.

There are several factors at work. The old bullish consensus was calling for a turnaround shortly as bearishness was way over sold. The traders are now paying attention to the few individuals or groups that have been accurate in their long-termed weather predictions, especially to those few who accurately predicted the two mid-May frosts experienced in seven states.

Their “off the wall” predictions based on their own methodologies will carry more weight than those who fail to venture far from their “little bit drier/wetter/warmer/cooler” safe rhetoric. So for many will it pit Captain Kirk against or in collaboration with Simon Says?

At least farmers now have a chance to market their 2015 remaining grain as well as to continue marketing their crops in the field.

What we saw and experienced in our time in Argentina is coming home now. And what we have learned about cropping in Brazil with their hot, dry winter months of May through August where, if the timing of their first planting is delayed by lack of rainfall, it will jeopardize the second crop severely.

A good friend from Mato Grosso, who is highly plugged into the Brazilian crop, said his home countrymen and their farming are having their weather and economic stage challenges. Those challenges are now illustrated in crops that did not meet expectations on crop size for both corn and beans.

Coupled with the threat of warmer and drier conditions in the main grain growing states, the huge coarse grain oversupplies in the U.S. may get used up.

It will create marketing opportunities here just in the nick of time as operators were needed to clean their bins in preparation for the new crops.

On our crop production side it will create challenges in deciding how we are going to manage our own crops and the challenges still in front of them.

Additional mergers

Vas denken sie aber den samlog zusammen mit der Monsanto und der Bayer Agrotechnische? Ist das gut oder nicht? Undt vie viele jahren hat et nimmt? In a Wall Street assessment the phrase ‘Schieste Krieg’ was used to describe the collateral changes that may result.

As someone who has visited some of the major German facilities and gotten to know several of the major individuals there is a lot to speculate on here.

It seems that on a global economic scale, a mature industry is one in which there are three main players. Thus in the ag world the dominoes have been toppling and being put into play. Didn’t it start with the Dupont Dow merger?

Then came the Syngenta Monsanto merger that did not occur followed by the Syngenta Chem-China merger, which may have been more about the Chinese wishing to maintain some sort of sovereignty over their seed/food supply.

Now in the last few weeks we have seen two large companies dancing, Bayer and Monsanto. There are many thoughts out there and whether it is a bad or good thing. Critical size is counted on as important if the companies expect to spend enough money to run their discovery units.

Market penetration is viewed as a major success of each company involved.

Once we hear more about the two parties that were involved in the Chem-China event, JP Morgan Chase and Black Water, we may understand more. The Chinese shared their thoughts on food supply and security with us when we in Beijing in 2014.

In this latest proposed collaboration the Bank of Rothschild is advising both sides. Germans never buy blue sky liability, but highly value market share. For the common grower few and larger companies typically leads to fewer choices.

The problem seems to be that once these life science companies are assembled the higher ROI and destination for research dollars favors the pharma division over the ag division and research budgets. The smaller, more nimble companies run by devoted individuals still remain those more innovative.

Crop happenings

The recent hot weather and still ample moisture supplies deeper in the soil are forcing the plants into their rapid growth phases. More of the corn is in the V5 to V6 growth stages and beyond depending on planting dates, while soybeans are finally starting to grow.

The tallest beans I have been in lately were around Marshalltown. They were planted around April 26 and were late-V4 to early-V5 and just beginning to flower.

Once the corn reaches the V5 stage the internodes elongate and the plants get tall quickly. The typical two leaves per week can increase to 2.5 per week. In soybeans the typical rate of development remains at one new trifoliate set every 3.8 days.

Now might be a good time to head to the fields with a chlorophyll meter to test the corn plants for degree of greenness or implied nitrogen content to judge if the plants are green enough.

If they are not, use your judgment to determine if the off color is a bronze yellow or a greenish yellow. The former can be a sign of copper, magnesium, zinc or boron deficiencies; or a shortage of molybdenum. The latter could be lack of roots to pull the N in, or loss in N supplies.

Discerning the difference is important in that mistakes in either direction can be doubly costly. There is still time to take leaf samples to send in to Midwest Lab for a mineral analysis.

This is the best way to know truly what the cause of the yellowing is in these fields.

One task now that time has elapsed after the post weed control applications have been made in corn is to look for escapes and determine which species and size survived. If escapes are present and they will compete for moisture, light and space in your crops, secondary measures may have to be taken before they grow too large.

For farmers raising second-year corn, be aware that the fireflies are now lighting up at night. This tell-tale sign also tells us that the GDU limits for the normal CRW eggs to hatch has been reached.

There will still be the late hatchers, but scouting for root feeding early can still be useful to prevent serious damage from occurring.

Anther insect that shows up new is the common stalk borer, which migrates from grassy ditches three to four rows into the corn fields to tunnel into the whorl tissue of the plants.

Over the top insecticides can be used to control those migrating larvae.

In much of northern Iowa the conditions have remained wet. Leaf diseases are beginning to show up with lesions showing up on the lower leaves.

These seldom disappear, so growers have to start watching for them and react if they begin to cover a higher percentage of the tissue.

A good choice would be to act proactively and boost the nutrient levels in the plant to increase their immune response.

Doing nothing can lead to a repeat of the bushel losses and stalk quality issues seen in 2015 and they don’t want to see that.

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

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