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By Staff | Oct 13, 2017

A few weeks ago it appeared that having the same problem with combine and field fires as in 2012 was going to become reality. Now after a huge and general front move through the state and much of the Midwest over the last weekend and drop two to five inches of rain those fears are greatly reduced. After the clouds parted on Saturday late in the afternoon and the temps were in the high 70 and low 80s on Sunday what was most notable was the lack of large ponds and surface water running from those fields. The ground was so fry and cracks deep enough in the fields that nearly all the water infiltrated into the soil profile to meet any immediate crop needs and start refilling the water tank for next season.

The question now is when combines might start rolling this week. Perhaps by Monday afternoon on the better drained fields and by Tuesday depending on how the drying goes. But, with rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday the question is how many good operating days will any areas receive this week. North of Hwy 20 most operators have begun their harvest, but most corn has been too wet to combine.

Now with snow falling in western Nebraska, much of Colorado, and Southwest South Dakota there may be a sense of urgency to harvest with a higher moisture level than desired. This is when we all wish we had a crystal ball in knowing what is coming.

Locally the big talk about Ames was the football showdown with the dreaded Sooner red horde. After their jump to a 14 0 lead it looked like a repeat of previous years. Then the plucky Cyclone players reached down and found the fight and determination to wrestle control of the game to an unlikely win, Kudos to Matt Campbell and his players. So hats off to the Cyclones and Hawks for having the fortitude to keep up the good fight.

Corn harvest

Unfortunately not much progress was made in the last week as getting the beans combined was the top priority for most growers. North of Highway 20 in the areas where moisture was plentiful this season quite a few of the full season varieties still had to blacklayer. The cooler than normal Aug. and Sept. plus rains in Sept. have helped the kernel depth and ear diameter, which helped split the husks open and facilitate drydown in the field.

What has become apparent in the fields having lighter soils in them is that the plants that suffered greatly from moisture stress or even died early seem to be melting down now, just like the wicked witch of Oz when Dorothy dumped a bucket of water on her. A person will want to get to those spots quickly to get them harvested before those plants topple over.

Some of the same fields in the drier portions of the state also had enough moisture stress during the grain fill stage that plant cannibalization of the stalk took place, robbing the plants of the components needed to maintain plant integrity thru harvest. In other words going into the fields to do the stalk squeeze test to test for stalk quality could be important if a few fields or hybrids appear most at risk of stalk lodging problems.

What I have seen so far is that by Oct. 8, quite a few fields have been dying or were mostly dead since mid-August and the clock is ticking on stalk quality. Hopefully their rinds will be tough enough to maintain strength for a few more weeks. If they don’t, take notes on which of your chosen hybrids or genetic families had iffy stalks and deserve a lower percentage of the acreage in 2018.

Due to the stress during the pollination and grain fill period the issues of ear and grain molds and mycotoxins in the 2017 crop will be discussed. Check a few ears in each field to see if the whitish, greenish or blackish growth is appearing underneath the husk cover. If so widen your in-field search to see if has become a wide spread problem needing more attention and clean out work either if you will be feeding the grain to your own livestock or if it will be delivered to your normal grain handler.

Soybean harvest

Progress in beans has also been delayed be wet conditions. Many growers were waiting for a rain to get the last fields to drop leaves and even things up. Once the ground dries and the surface gray combines will be running again.

While discussing soybeans the topic weed control should come up. In a recent ISU crops discussion Bob Hartzler mentions that no-till bean growers may want to spray their 2018 bean acres with 2,4-D this fall to eliminate the late summer and fall emerged rosette staged marestail since this should lessen the problems seen with trying to contain them with burndown products in the spring.

Now would also be a good time to learn how close to market the seed grinding attachments that grind up weed seeds are. The reports out of Australia tell of good results in destroying the seeds. If the appearance of many bean fields containing serious patched of waterhemp is a harbinger of many bean fields in 2018 and 2019, any contribution towards minimizing the weed pressure in future years would be helpful.

Soil and SCN sampling

In any spare time it would be good to draw up your soil sampling plans for this fall. To set the stage you want to determine: the sampling cycle you are on or wish to maintain; grid or management zone; do you wish to include all micronutrients on third, half, or all samples; and then how many set of samples do you want the lab to testing using the Haney or PLFA protocol? An apt comment is that each grower first has to know where they are at before they are able to decide where they are going.

In the past years it has been good to have several sets of samples analyzed for nematode populations. At a certain levels raising profitable bean yields get more difficult and the use of resistant bean varieties is the only means of responding to finding significant levels of SCN in the fields. However there are several different products that could be on the market that uses biological means of controlling nematodes. Syngenta and Monsanto both have biological based products. Root Rx from Redox is a biological extract that has looked good. A few others are still sitting in the approval hopper and possibly available for 2018 usage.

The ‘Show me the Money’ Field Day that was held at the research farm last Monday went extremely well and it rained on Sunday night as planned. There were five different speakers and a crowd that filled the building that really enjoyed the free wheeling style of presentations and information exchange. The corn around the buildings showed a bit of browning, but on the flat ground in back it was still dark green and filling. Most of the plants still had another seven to 10 days until black layer. The combination of the use of fertilizer polymers for the phosphorus and nitrogen worked as expected, the BioEmpruv to control the ‘New Goss’s Wilt’ looked great and the results should produce yields in the mid 300s. This fall yet and in preparation for planting no till corn on corn the application of BioDyne 501 to decay the stalks will be made. Cycling the residue quicker and getting the 2017 residue into the ground as humus and recycled minerals ASAP is the goal.

One mineral several of us are investigating is silica or silicon. In exactness we are after ‘silicic acid’, which is the form that plant can take in. One of the authors and contributing editors to the big green American Phytopath book entitles Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease was Dr Larry Datnoff. His specialty in research was that mineral. In his work he constantly demonstrated that the mineral had value to the plants in areas such as plant strength, water use efficiency and disease suppression/control. Because it was the second or third most common element in the earth’s crust it has been assumed it could never be deficient. But a few very knowledgeable Ag people theorize that the microbes that put it in the plant available form may have been decimated by certain pesticides, thus the plants may need more. The use of different formulations by several yield contest winners may increase the attention to the mineral.

We have a section of one field that received an early post application of a calcium silicate. The stalks are stronger, the leaves are soft and three to four times thicker and have a velvety feel, and you don’t get any paper cuts while walking thru them. The use of the mineral on some summer crops was eye catching this summer. The size increase in tree fruits and flavor at our place was amazing. We saw a 25 to 30 percent in sugar production within 46 hours in a corn plot on one research farm. To get an idea of the research being done, Google in ‘Silicon Conference 2014 Stockholm’.

Until then good luck with your safe harvesting work.

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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