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By Staff | Jan 19, 2018

If I write this like a man recovering from an almost heart attack, be aware that I just got done watching the game against New Orleans. First they dominated during the first half and were ahead 17 – 0 at the half, only to be trailing by one point with about 8 seconds left, as you never let an All Pro QB like Brees have a chance, leaving most of their fans thinking it was just another collapse like their team is known for. I used to attend some of those games in old Met stadium where it was really cold at their late season games, and have cheered them on for years. It seems that either with their bad luck or getting screwed by the refs winning a Lombardi Trophy was not in the cards for them. So on the last play of the game and still deep in their own territory they completed both a 15 yard and then a 61 yard pass play to win the game. Unbelievable. If I knew anything in Norwegian I would give a cheer in that language.

In a winter that has been on the very cold side for about two weeks of most months, it appears we got lucky and the blizzard expected for this past Thursday and Friday left us with only about an inch of snow. The wind was terrible, so it was best to avoid it as much as possible. It was surprising how on Friday when it was +6 F, sunny and calm it actually felt warm.

On the national scene the people that had most shocking news were the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands. It is not too often that the air raid sirens go off. There it typically means that a Tsunami may be on the way. On Saturday it was accompanied by the warning that it was an alert to incoming nuclear missiles. Back in the second grade we were told to crawl under our desks and some of us asked how that step was going to protect us. Those islanders could only take the same hopeful steps. Luckily little Rocket Man had not pushed the red button.


The ISU Extension meetings continue this next week with one scheduled to be held in Ft Dodge on the 17th. In visiting with some people who have attended one of them already the advice given with Dicamba was that it was impossible to eliminate the volatilization of the product so the threat of the vapor drifting if weather conditions were not perfect still existed. So after their specialists who have over 30 years of experience with it, those individuals felt the products were likely to cause problems if applicators were not operating with utmost caution and were not prepared with the anti-drift products proven to help tie down its vapors. I do work with a few top operators who have their own sprayers, who used the correct nozzles, picked the correct weather window and used anti-drift adjuvants and had no problems.

My thoughts are that the problems with weeds are likely to get worse as we go through more selection cycles using currently labeled herbicides. I did walk a number of herbicide plots this summer and saw good results with a few numbered compounds. In them waterhemp control was very good to excellent. In the current year the use of Liberty is an alternative that has been effective, though everyone is wondering if it will be Bayer or BASF supporting the product. Making major changes in that support at this time would throw a wrench into things.

Balance tolerant beans are close to being commercialized, but will that threaten the continued reliability of Balance herbicide, as it is still the best product to use if Woolly Cupgrass is a problem. The Enlist corn and soybeans still need final approval, and the threat of drift appears to be much reduced, but 2,4-D has its own problems.

I was visiting with Ray Archuleta, former USDA cover crop expert, and he related that a number of bean growers in the Delta states who had severe problems with Palmer amaranth were planting into cereal rye cover crops and then crimping the rye at early heading. The mat of rye residue was typically thick enough that it controlled the emerging broad leaf weeds quite well. However that program is not problem free in that excessive rains that caused the crimping to be delayed until after the bean plants had gotten spindly could cause problems.

Optically controlled thinking sprayers

That four word name to sprayers is a mouth full, but the work being done is worth leaning about. There appear to be several major companies plus several small, innovative ones at work. The first one to mention is Blue River Technologies, a company founded by two Silicon Valley people, one who ran a division within Trimble. They already have some weeding equipment being used in specialty crops in California. Another big collaboration project is between Bayer and Bosch engineers. Bayer is huge in herbicides and has some up and coming cropping software ready to launch. Bosch is known worldwide for their lighting and optic equipment. A third is Weedit, an Australian firm that is working on small, highly mobile robotic weeders that may be employed and released into fields like hungry goats, targeting plants considered to be weeds in each identified crop. The last one that is making progress in this research is Amazone, located in the Netherlands. Theirs are large either pulled types or self propelled taller sprayers with booms optically equipped and computerized processors that are taught to differentiate between weeds and crop plants before they are turned loose.

The question that remains for most people is: If you are a soybean farmer in an area southwest of Kearney, Nebraska and have fields infested with Palmer amaranth, which is resistant to every herbicide labeled for used in beans, what product do you add to the spray tank and expect to work? Guesses anyone?

More meetings

The meeting season continues, and a question among growers is does a person go to any or all, and which ones if you pick out a few that appear attractive. A judicious person can generally identify an area in which they need to gather and assimilate more knowledge. Then go and take notes or gather the take home info. Always ask for the speaker’s business cards if any of them appear to be knowledgeable on the topics.

This week I will attend the meeting with Genesis Ag in Ames. Running somewhat concurrent with it is a meeting down by Elkhart geared to planters and machinery. That crowd includes generally larger farmers in Iowa and more to the north and west where weather and soil conditions are harsher. Then over to Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday to meet with two companies. One that handles minerals including Calcium Silicate, a plant extract product that seems to control nematode feeding in crops, plus a few other minerals. The second company is big in aerial surveying and crop modeling. This mentioned mineral when combined with BioEmpruv and BioDyne 401 may give great results within a limited budget.

Nematode control in soybeans and other crops

Field sampling continues to show that SCN populations are getting increasingly able to feed on and reproduce on soybean plants carrying the Fayette source of resistance. Given the fact that very few seed companies are working much in trying to incorporate Peking into their lines, leaving few options on what to do in trying to limit SNC losses. One recently labeled product that will be tested in Iowa this year is Varnimo, which is Bacillus based. There is at least one more affordable product that would be fungal based. Be aware that ILeVO was tested in plots as a nematacide.

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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