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By Staff | Oct 15, 2016

The 2016 fall harvest of the two major crops continues and is the focus of activity and agriculture in the Midwest. Farmers are putting in long hours while the employees of the many grain elevators get to put in long hours helping to put the grain under a roof.

Other collateral employees soon will be putting in the work to get the fertilizer spread as the preparation for the 2017 crops begins. We never get done with the actual work, we just run out of daylight each day.

The challenge for many growers was the wet fields which now look like and smell like frog ponds. Many of them took the preparations of putting on the 1250 mm tires and rims to offer better floatation through the boggy soil in hopes of avoiding getting stuck.

Quite a few had old and new cables, ropes and clevis pins at the ready on combines and wagons in case they sunk into the mud.

Eventually winter will be coming and growers hate to wait until the ground freezes in order to complete harvest.

That is something that Argentine and Brazilian growers have a tough time understanding and don’t care to experience it.


The big national news had to be Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall and ran up the coast Thursday thru Saturday. The major cold front that moved into the Northern Plains and Midwest pushed it off the coast saving the states to the north.

The U.S. death toll was in the low 20s while it was about 1,000 in Haiti.

Such storms sure make a person realize that nature can be very powerful and totally uncontrollable. While living close to the ocean can be very romantic and peaceful, storms like these produce second thoughts about ever doing so.

We live through a few tornadoes and blizzards here while Californians get to worry about earthquakes and wildfires.

Future yield goals

The progress continues at a pace dictated by how well the soils drain and how fast the plants, husks and grain dry.

Too often in the last two weeks the amounts of heavy dew and cloudy weather have forced growers to switch back and forth between the two crops.

The threat of a late season hail storm to beans is on everyone’s mind because it can and has happened. A season’s worth of work and expense can spill onto the soil in about 10 minutes time. The threat can exist clear into October. But when the bean’s moisture is still over 13 percent and a person does not have great aeration, most farmers will prefer to wait until the beans dry down a few points.

Questions have come up about what to do with beans growing in waterholes that filled with 12 to 15 inches of water two weeks ago. Officially the grain standards were written to categorize flooded grain that covers the ears or pods to be contaminated and unfit for food or feed.

That does not make much sense and seemingly was intended for when the water doing the covering is contaminated with a harmful substance. If the flood water just came as field runoff from surrounding acres, why the panic?

In reality officials would help livestock feeders and society more by testing for mycotoxin contents in DDGs when piles of corn are stored outside or in leaky plastic for long periods.

The yield level for soybeans continues to be dependent on the degree of drainage on each field. Good internal drainage, having enough slope or adequate tile combined with little disease pressure and good management to help quite a few farmers harvest perhaps their best bean crop ever.

Those extra bushels can help make up a bit for the lower grain prices. In the case of having bean yield averages of 70-plus bushels per acre, it will lead to a dilemma of where to set the yield goal for 2018 for each field. You don’t want to set yield goals below what you hit in 2016 for 2018.

But how often will the weather conditions be duplicated in future years? By setting a goal 5 bpa higher for the future season should be reasonable. Now what else can you do to coax 2.5 bpa by adding or changing two different things.

For the farmer who shall remain unnamed and harvested 91 bpa beans from a 245-acre field, his actions may be to add in-furrow micros mixed with polymers to avoid leaching, Y-dropped fertilizer at the optimum times, foliar phosphites to lengthen his control of Septoria and a new hormonal product or two.

Corn yields continue to be very good for the grower who acted proactively to keep soils and crops healthy, staying green added extra days of grain fill. If you have a chance to walk into fields that stayed 70 percent green until Sept 15, break a few ears and shell a few kernels.

The ears show very deep grain fill and very deep kernels, some almost three-fourths inch long. They are also blocky and puffed up. The ears are often filled clear to the tips and sometimes kernels are fully covering the ear tip.

In the best fields a small percentage of the leaf tissue remains green through this week. The early-dying fields are producing decent yields, but are running below expectations.

When we see the ears filled to the tip with little dent in the kernels our thoughts are that growers need to be searching out hybrids that show a higher degree of ear flex. When a kernel drop near 36,000 produces 34,000 ears that are completely filled, more kernel space was needed. Typically planting higher than 36,000 in 30-inch rows results in smaller diameter stalks and narrower root profiles more prone to lodging.

Soil, plant sampling

Over the next month there should be lots of fields that get soil sampled if your sampling program is on a four-year cycle or nutrient information is lacking. If you used a lab in the past that did not offer testing and results that included base saturation, micros and possibly a Haney soil biology test score it may be time to ask your usually analytical lab to offer a more complete test.

Such new info will provide a better road map to develop a fertility program for each field and crop. Missing that information may mean you are spending money on nutrients that offer a very low return on investment. Knowing that nutrients like boron, sulfur, manganese and zinc are deficient can be important to coax the maximum bushel from each field.

Keeping an eye on elements such as nickel, copper, cobalt and molybdenum that are needed in very small quantities, yet are crucial for good nitrogen use efficiency, will help you be a grower who reaches high yield and nutrient efficiency plateaus first.

It should be beneficial to pull soybean plants and perform autopsies to examine each plant for podded node counts, side branch number and strength, internode length along with root size and appearance.

Identifying each shortfall can help determine the management changes you may incorporate next season.

WBC and Herculex

In the early 2000s we saw major flights and populations of western ean cutworms.

There were sometimes significant yield losses in western Iowa and Nebraska corn field as up to 20 larvae tunneled into the sides of each ear.

At the time the Cry1F, or Herculex trait, was declared effective in controlling their population. That assurance and guarantee is over as Extension entomologists in Midwestern states scouted fields and declared the trait no longer controls the insect, leaving the plants as susceptible as 2x or 3x stacked hybrids.

No one knows if we will ever see the high numbers that we saw in those early years. Thus scouting for the egg masses and spraying may be necessary again if the populations return in future seasons.

As a reminder the ECB cycle and populations should peak in 2017. Everyone who plants non-Bt hybrids has to be responsible for knowing how and when to scout for the eggs and larvae of the first and second generations of the insect.

Bacterial leaf streak

Just as several plant pathologists and nutritionists who understand the mineral influence on plant disease predicted, there have been new bacterial and fungal diseases appearing in our crops and threatening their productivity.

The one that was announced in a quiet fashion in August was bacterial leaf streak. It was first seen in South Africa about 50 years ago and was detected in several Midwestern states.

Not much is currently known about its effects on yield or control. What is known is that fungicides will not control it and the surfactants in them could increase the disease severity.

For more details and pictures check it out at our web page: www.centraliowaAg.com.

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

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