Here we are now in mid September and harvest of our two major crops has begun in places. It has been a very strange year and growing season. In our immediate area the weather patterns have consisted of receiving 1.2 to 1.5 inches of rain every six weeks. Getting any rain was a gift and it made the crops look good for the next week, but surviving through the next five week dry period was stressful and took a toll. Now that some of the early planted and early maturity fields are being harvested, we can better gauge the effects of the cumulative stress on the crops.
So far around Ames and Boone we are hearing of corn yielding between 110 and 150 Bu/A with soybeans being better than expected and producing in the 50 to 62 Bu/range.
Near Ft Dodge the figure for corn seems to be between 70 and 120 range. That is only a small sampling among fields that died early, so the better stay green and staying green fields should yield more. In the better areas of northern Illinois a Webster County born person is saying the better fields that had plenty of rain through July and Augus are again in the 220 to 230 range.
So after saying goodbye to Harvey and Irma in the southern parts of the country the question is if we are going to experience the effects of Jose, Lee and Maria. The early predictions of an active hurricane season appear to be accurate. Having three hurricanes lined up in the Atlantic at one time does not happen very often.
The corn crop
When a person has driven an hour down the road in the past few weeks it should have been apparent that the plant health again was some level of poor to terrible in quite a few fields, especially south of Hwy 3. Some of it was due to dry weather, but much was due to disease issues resulting from poor mineral nutrition. The application of fungicides helped in some cases, but didn’t solve the underlying issue of lack of the minerals needed to fuel the immune system function and attain top yields. Then after last weekend the death of a high percentageof the remaining somewhat green fields became even more apparent. Those two days and this past Thursday with 90 plus degree temps and a dry south wind with low humidity levels was the final blow. As a result the grain from those fields will be shrunken and lighter in weight.
More than one person asked about the strange patterns of yellowing and supposed maturation seen in most of the soybean fields. For a crop that saw its development lag by two weeks during the growing season seeing many fields yellow and die ten days ahead of normal was strange. In a year where SDS was not really an issue and no apparent disease was involved seemed very strange. I have been waiting to see if any extension person was going to venture a guess.
So being the inquisitive type I called a well experienced and very knowledgeable colleague in the state and compared notes with him. We talked about other scorch diseases that have become common. Then about what some top notch climatologists/meteorologists who watch galactic events in the universe that are suspected of having effects on our weather and environment reported. I will spell out a few things for the curious person to explore. Look up a book by Mark Purdey called Animal Pharm and his EM emission conclusion. Then look up Dr Claudio Soto and his area of research. Then Google in large CMEs or so called coronal mass emissions. Between Sept 6th and occurring thru the week NASA’s and NOAA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected several X8 and X9 class solar emissions that sent a huge cascade of radiation towards the earth. Several of those were of the larger ones seen in the past decade. Did they do the damage directly or just stimulate oxidative stress damage to plant cells. I have gathered samples and intend to get them analyzed to fill in the blanks.
Still green fields
Last year I mentioned a farm near Guthrie Center where some very high yield fields were raised in 2016. Several of us were down there last Thursday and took a good look around. What we saw fields where, except for some very sandy eroded areas, that corn plants were very tall and completely green from the ground up to the top of the tassels. The only other green corn we saw were neighboring fields where a similar cropping program was used. The huge ears with kernels that had not blacklayered or dented in, but were still adding to grain depth and yield, were very impressive. Like last year the N and P were stabilized with Nutrisphere and Avail, Take Off was applied to promote nutrient uptake, and BioEmpruv had been aerially applied to keep the plants green. It’s hard to say if it will beat last year’s 340 Bu top end, but it has a chance.
I have mentioned the Redox Chemical Calcium Silicate product that I am working with. What we have seen on a research farm and on late planted plots was a 30-plus percent increase in sugar production within 46 hours as measured via Brix levels. How that translates into yields we will have to see. What was most noticeable besides very plump kernels were very soft and thick leaves and extremely strong stalks.
A few weeks ago an agronomist contacted my work partner to walk a few fields that were very healthy and green in a county in northwest Iowa that had only received .4″ of rain between June 1st and Aug 15th. While the neighboring fields were in serious moisture stress these fields treated with a new microbial mix looked great. Finding out what was causing the difference was something worth exploring. Since our first exposure to the product we have met with the small company’s officers and agronomist and things look very authentic. We visited the fields west of Pocahontas on Friday and what we saw were fields that should still yield over 200 Bu/A versus fields that are likely to be less than half of that goal. All of those fields were continuous corn, which is typically a handicap. And in spite of the dry conditions, most of the residue that ties up the nutrients from the previous crop had been decomposed. In an aerial thermographic photo the plants in the treated area remained dark green surrounded by yellow and red foliage that was much warmer and stressed. When I and other agronomists and growers toured these fields we all had our “Holy S- – t moment”. We have been looking for an easy, quick, and affordable method and product to use to boost microbial populations, Haney Scores and degrade corn residue. At this point the BioDyne 501 product in the fall and the 401 in the spring with the UAN or in-furrow look very promising.
So with the realization that there are no silver bullets but different products that can be used in a systems approach, I see these microbials fitting in very nicely in the cropping system for quite a few people. Knowing the John Kempf, the young Amish Ag consultant from Ohio, when asked if he liked the term sustainable agriculture, responded by saying he saw nothing worth sustaining, and that he preferred a ‘regenerative program’, where the soils, soil biology and soil health were restored to higher levels.
We will have to follow up and make sure Haney and PLFA analyses are done on soil samples from those fields over this and the next few growing seasons. But the issue or managing the residue from heavier populations with good stalk quality will be an issue again this fall. The 501 looks like a product that is worth trying on some of your acres.
I cut up a basket full of stalks yesterday to do the buried bag test to see what percent of the residue is gone after set intervals. If residue is degraded/converted to humus it acts as a sponge to soak up moisture, aid in increasing moisture infiltration, and acts as a storehouse for minerals for the next crop.
Be sure to carry a note pad while you are harvesting to write down what you are observing. Things always get busy and too much stuff can be forgotten. Facts and thoughts are valuable when you are formulating next year’s plans.
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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