Only two more months left in the year and the warm weather will be back in only five or six months. So get used to wearing the winter jackets and coveralls for the near term. Although it is technically fall the first hints of winter paid us a visit and intend to stay. Farmers in countries that don’t have winter can’t figure out why we hurry with harvest so much instead of taking our time. It is a rush to harvest the crop, haul the grain to the bin sites or to the local elevator, manage the soil sampling and trying to get the test results back in time to apply the needed fertilizer, clean up the machinery and complete all the odd outdoor tasks before the first blizzard hits and the snow may remain on the ground.
I read last week in this paper that Bayer sold their Liberty herbicide business and the Liberty Link Seed business as well as the Credenze bean lineup. Until then the news was held rather tightly. All of the sales hinge or their receiving the final approval to purchase this large Ag company down in St Louis. They apparently expected the Dept of Justice in this country to require them to divest of certain business assets so as not to appear to have a monopoly in this country. We saw somewhat the same thing happen when Dupont traded/sold their insecticide business, research staff and facilities and some of their newest and innovative products to FMC for their Human Nutrition Division and $1.2 Bill in cash in order to allow the Dow merger to be okayed.
There have been a number of articles where the reporters did their surveying and interviewing among farmers and ag professionals asking them how this could reduce competition in the ag markets among the big three – all while the players are jostling for position on Big Data, ownership of the same, and seed/herbicide relationships. Now when have we seen the D of J get in the way of any merger, save for stopping the Precision Planting sale last year? Companies always seem to think that bigger is better and that there will be tremendous savings in the near term. Those saving typically consist of reduction of the combined work force. My take on it is that what normally what happens is what happened when the Romans conquered an enemy country or army. Their first action was always to kill all of the officers to minimize the chance of any insurrection.
As to the merger, I know the Germans quite well and one thing they never do is acquire or buy liability, especially of the blue sky type.
Over the next month there will be the beginning of the winter meeting season. The big one to put on the schedule is the ICM Conference scheduled for the last days of November in the Schemann Building on the ISU campus. They are now taking reservations.
There is also a large BioNutrient Food Conference out in western Mass. At this one there will be a number of speakers that will be presenting and discussing nutrient dense food and the efforts by a number of food growing groups and major companies attempting to stake their claim in that increasing business. They also expect to discuss some new instrumentation on the near horizon that will help out producers and consumers as they visit the supermarkets or farmers market as well as providing innovative growers who are seeking to garners premiums from companies wanting to gain market share from the millennial marketplace.
In a related manner one Ag researcher who grew up in the Alexander area works at a research farm in southeast Illinois. He drew up a fertility program for a large veggie growing company down in the Delta country that was supposed to produce crops very high in minerals. What he saw were mineral levels that were 60 to 70 percent better than the old levels. As a reward the produce from this farm is favored by the grocery chains competing in that arena. I shipped him a sample of the Calcium Silicate from Redoxx Chemical Company which he immediately to a late planted corn plot that was just beginning to tassel. He began sampling the ear leaves every twelve hours for sugar levels. What he saw was a 25 to 30 percent increase in that category. Because of this the testing in 2018 will be tracking what the same product does to the mineral levels in the veggies. We are now eating apples from those sprayed trees, and they are the largest and sweetest apples people have ever seen. This was just a repeat of the softball sized peaches carrying a 15 Brix that we harvested this past summer.
Other interesting observations from that work are that the corn leaves were 3 to 4 times thicker and they were velvety soft. The incidence of getting a paper cut when walking the field was nil. In the expected record breaking corn, sugar beet and potato fields out in Idaho, where it does not rain during the growing season and all the water is applied thru the pivot, water use was reduced by one third plus no insecticide or fungicides needed to be applied.
In a short while corn growers will be watching the soil temp listing for their areas and chomping at the bit to get their 82 percent ammonia applied. This always leads to all sorts of discussion about N loss if the soil temps climb up from the magic 50 degrees as can happen. So what is the right course of action? As it turns out the slowdown in conversion from ammonia to nitrate is not a complete halt as soon as the soil temps hits 50 degrees. Different soil types and varying topography can create infield differences.
One big change seen in the last two years has been the greater availability of urea priced the same as anhydrous. And there are now stabilizers that can be applied to the urea so it can be topdressed with tall tired dry spreader acting like a sidedressed application.
The other innovation has been the increased penetration into the application arena of the Y-drop applicators. Since Keith Schlapkohl developed them from an idea by NASA scientist John Colburn and Dan Muff helped get them engineered and patented, they have proven valuable in most years. They open up the N application season for more corn growers and the custom applicators.
The streak of nice weather helped many growers complete bean harvest and we now see a growing percentage of growers getting done with both crops. The big negative so far was the major winds that ushered in the colder weather. Some university reports based on field surveys out in Nebraska tell of 60 to 70 Bu/A of ears lying on the ground now. When you are running the combine through the field and notice the husk covered or naked ears on the ground you wonder how many bushels it represents. The best way is simply to count ears per 100 feet in several areas and do the math. I have done some for northern Iowa growers and it converted into about 21 Bu/A on the ground. That is too many for any grower.
So here is wishing you the best of luck if you are doing fall tillage, applying manure, or thanking your decision to be a no-till grower.
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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