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By Staff | Nov 3, 2017

So how did everyone like this first taste of winter? A few different meteorologists have been predicting widely varying winter conditions. While one is saying the temps may drop and extreme degree after the first of November, others are saying the jet stream will pull in much warmer air and it will be mild and warmer through mid January. So if you don’t have to live in a North Dakota type climate there is no reason to freeze constantly. The cold and light snow that blew in on Thursday will hopefully move out and be replaced by Indian summer type conditions once again. There are too many acres of corn left to harvest and fall work to get done before the snow gets deep or the ground freezes. This is when being a complete no-till is nice in that there is no rush of fall tillage that needs to be done.

The crop harvest

After a two week wet spell it was nice to get ten days of near perfect weather in which to complete most of the bean harvest. Most Midwest bean growers ended up being nicely surprised with the results in the facts that after a stressed season when many fields were planted several weeks later than normal and expectations were on the low end for yields, those were often ten to fifteen plus bushels better than expected. It would be in everyone’s interest to accurately figure out what factors and management steps were the cause of those results. One might be the low incidence of root diseases early because it was dry during most of June and July while foliar diseases were minimal late since dews and wet leaves were uncommon thru much of August and September.

Another factor could be that a higher percentage of the planted seeds have been receiving an expanded array of hard and/or soft chemistry or biological treatment products plus maybe a mineral mix to get the seeds off to a quicker and stronger start.

Still most seasoned bean growers looked at the plants that did not have a high number of podded nodes, few terminal clusters, and considering the late planting dates of many fields and were hoping for average yields.

Having a good sufficient supply of P, K and S in the soil, some via higher levels in the soil or by placed and perhaps stabilized products at planting time or in season via foliar or Y-dropped keep the plants fully mineralized when they are in the pod filling stage. More growers are recognizing that beans will yield more if they are not treated as a bastard crop, only utilizing the fertilizer that was left after the corn crop.

Continued advances in bean yields will come from addressing specific and timed nutrient needs while manipulating the architecture and physiology of the plants. A number of products are available on limited basis or can be accessed from abroad that would help perform these tasks.

Corn harvest and results

Harvest will continue for a few weeks longer, often because so many of the acres were planted much later than normal and because GDU accumulation was slower and lesser than normal during May and after late July. This last factor was huge since the cooler conditions lowered moisture use during a time when the moisture profile was seemingly getting close to being depleted.

The general evaluation by most ag people through the fall has been that corn yields have been much better than anticipated. It used to take a great field with ideal moisture, great fertility and lack of insect or weed problems to produce 200 Bu/A and now something is wrong if a field does not reach that benchmark. The variability across a larger field where there was a lot of soil type difference. Seeing the monitor flash between 80 and 303 Bu is not unusual.

As more acres are harvested the thought process will move on to fertilizer application, any tillage for 2018 and what is needed to prepare the best seedbed for the follow-crop. Residue management, especially in second year corn, with no-till and where high populations of taller hybrids were grown will be important and must be manage properly. Brewing up residue eating microbes or using the proper cellulose digesting mix is the goal of many people who farm river bottom with sandy areas, fields with eroded lenses or light spots, or compaction prone sections is to find a product which would help raise the CEC and moisture holding capacity. Applying organic matter containing manures has been one practice that has helped be them from cattle, hogs or chickens. One friend who was able to meet with a French scientist who had developed a product like the old “Super Slurper’ that was made out of corn starch and worked to soak up moisture that would be held for later use by the crops. This newer version was produced holding a number of different macro and micronutrients that would provide enough fuel and water to last most of the way thru the growing season. In past experiments the fertilizer known as Perfect Blend was found to be capable of growing dark topsoil over the two seasons after application.

Some of the fields at the high yield farm west of Guthrie Center were harvested last week. Our goal was to coax higher yields out of each by adding several new products into the current mix to see if they acted in a additive or multiplying fashion. One plot that was used in the past to add each new product at a time to the system to test for any yield improvement and then to see how by bumping the yields up incrementally it added a cost but could actually turn a money losing situation into one that made money by increasing margins when it lowered the cost to increase each bushel from a targeted field. This proved that too much emphasis on cutting costs can actually lower margins.

Soil sampling

As the harvest progresses give thought as to which fields should have new samples taken, which lab would do the best job in getting the correct analyses run, and would offer recommendations for your use in making applications and to gauge the need to adding any complimentary products to your program

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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