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By Staff | Feb 10, 2017

And February is now here. It is the shortest month of the year and every fourth year another days is tacked onto the normal 28.

In the Mayan calendar every month had 28 days so it was easier to set schedules and for lunar creatures to feel more comfortable in their daily schedules. Most wild animals still follow such a calendar, thus their internal clocks and activities are more normal and regular for them.

In Latin the word ‘Lun’ refers to the moon and its cycles. Thus the word ‘lunatic’ has similar origin.

As for Iowans being Midwestern inhabitants we have survived November, December and January weather and things are beginning to look up. Many of us were prepared for one of the tougher winters in years, and except for a few cold spells, things have been quite mild.

I remember a year back in the 1960s we had to do chores and care for our cattle and hogs and we were commenting on how -25 and -30 seemed cold. My dad’s first cousin who had grown up near Sheldon told us of a colder winter back in the 1940s when it was regularly hitting -30 and -40 at night.

We welcomed a few southerners to the state last week. They are two young Argentine agronomists who will be studying plant disease diagnostic techniques with a very knowledgeable professor at ISU for a few weeks.

In both Brazil and Argentina agronomists who expect to work full time in that field go to college for five years to earn an “engineering agronomo” degree. They are very well trained, partly because most of their teachers besides being professors have a job running a soil testing lab, a research farm or another professional job where they remain on the cutting edge of new information or technology.

So we had them at a friend’s place with a bunch of soil scientists who could talk the same language and had similar interests to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Of course our football was different is different than their “futbol” but the games are both entertaining.

We have not seen as many huge riots at our U.S. football games though. If the players from both leagues had to run a marathon it is easy to guess which players would finish the 26 miles first.

Due to my crazy schedule and the need to make another visit to a consulate in Chicago this past weekend and last week’s power show my time is limited so this column will be brief.


Last week was the Iowa Power Farming Show. During most long, snow-filled winters it marks the middle of winter and a good time to walk the halls of the auditorium down in Des Moines, visit the different booths, see old and new friends, and see what is all new for the coming growing season.

Now, with the remodeled Vets Auditorium and huge Wells Fargo Arena there is three to four times more space and it is definitely not as crowded.

The number of attendees had to be larger than in other recent years, partly because there was not a major winter storm that was supposed to shut the roads down.

There were too many booths to visit to talk about each one. The growers that visited our booth were interested in talking about ideas we had on new biologicals and plant health promoting products.

We had pictures and a video playing of the high-yielding fields near Guthrie Center so they could visit the field as it looked in September and October.

The second video, showing how the ear dissection and kernel mineral analysis was conducted using an X-ray defraction scanner, was not completed yet so we will post that one on our www.centraliowaag.com site after we get a finished copy.

That will also contain footage of a few top scientists and a biochemist discussing soil biology, how to grow it at the cheapest cost and the overall plant health foundation as we know it today.

In this “down time” in ag, growers are asking great questions about soils, fertilizers and fertilizer usage, and how to tie it all together.

Often it takes a team effort of innovative growers and a few top-notch researchers who are willing to blaze a new path to develop the answers and programs that we need.

With today’s social news network such information can get disseminated more quickly than was the case a decade ago.

In this case we know the challenge is to grow the most bushels. But we want it also to contain the maximum mineral content as well. There was a good researcher from western Iowa who stopped by to visit.

In one area of his work he was developing new lines with some of the background in the GEM project, began by two USDA breeders in Iowa who adapted old lines and landraces from South and Central America, to pair up with some private lines from within the U.S. corn industry to enhance the nutritional traits now needed.

Soil health

One of the conference in the near future will be the Soil Health Conference hosted at the ISU campus on Feb 16-17.

Check it out and see who the presenters and topics will be.

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

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