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By Staff | Apr 19, 2018

In talking to a local grower who just returned from his Phoenix dwelling this past week via auto, he related that except for a few tractors out in the Kansas fields there was observable field activity during the entire drive. In looking at the ten day forecast for Sioux Falls, which typically serves as a good indicator for the weather in central and north central Iowa during the winter months, the warm temps are expected to arrive April 25th.

Because experienced climatologist have taught us to watch the rainfall patterns in Arkansas to help predict what might occur in Iowa a month later, the recent climate data tell us that a good portion of the state has received 100 to 150 percent of normal rainfall in the last thirty daysA year ago there were larger growers in northern Missouri who had over half of their corn planted by April 12th. This year they might be lucky to get rolling with the planters by April 25 if no rains develop. The only good thing is that this storm was a huge counter clockwise, slow moving storm that affected a large share of the Cornbelt, so everyone is in the same boat.

Egg recall

In the type of national news that no company wishes to be involved in there was a recall on as many as 206 million eggs from a Rose Acre Chicken plant down in North Carolina. The culprit was potential salmonella contamination of a portion of the eggs. We have heard that song before. In past cases the press has made a big deal about the federal inspectors finding chicken poop and a few vermin around an animal facility, as if those don’t exist where you have feed.

One factor that has to be considered in as a cause in today’s world is that top biochemists with their knowledge base and experimental results explain that the cause may be that eating certain grain holding a contaminant could prevent the chickens’ stomach from forming the strong acids that normally destroy the bacteria. If this is the case, heaven forbid if the truth would get out. Just as with the bird flu, when the holistic vet on the poultry scientific advisor team asked why the disease was moving in the opposite direction of the migrating birds, they never provided a response.

Soil and gut health

A good science paper arrived through email last Friday, courtesy of a top retired scientist from Purdue. The article was by a BBC writer who dealt with and wrote about a fecal study (British Gut Project), where they were taking samples from many people to do a genetic ID on the bacteria inhabiting their GI tracts. The reason is that there is continued interest in the bacteria and other critters living inside humans that digest food, absorb nutrients, form hormones and make up much of the human immune system. I passed it on to another top soil microbiologist from Columbia MO who added to the information by recommending two recently written books on the topic. Those were ‘I Contain Multitudes’ and ’10 percent Human’.

What top scientists are doing is using new ID tools by which they can do a genetic scan of soil or stool samples, which then aids in identifying and classifying the little critters in the soil or gut. Thereby if a person has any health problem, it may not require fancy equipment or expensive medicines to treat. It may involve restoring a certain microbial population. In the British study the author found out he had high levels of a bug that inhabited lean, healthy people but was low on a type, Firmicutes, which is a family containing lots of good ones. Joining in the study are researchers at both Duke (Center for Genomic and Computational Biology) and MIT (Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics). It involves neat stuff and equipment that has applications in soil fertility and microbiology.

Planting dates

Since the start of the planting season is on course to be delayed we will be hearing from many sources that growers should be focused on getting the majority of their corn planted within the optimum window rather than by a certain date. It seems that in most of the years in the last two decades we have seen a nice 10 to 14 day window open around April 10th that allowed a sizeable percentage of the acres to be planted. Earlier planted corn has the advantage of collecting more GDUs during the season, staying shorter, typically pollinating before the heat of mid-July arrives, and getting by on less moisture because much of the vegetative growth occurs during a cooler part of the year. That chance may not occur this year.

Being delayed a week is not as great of a problem as it used to be with the larger planters or farmers having multiple planters which allow them to get more acres in the ground per day. Still with the huge expense of planting the 2018 crops, getting both crops off to a timely start is what we hope for. Having snow arrive this week is worth noting. The bigger item might be that we still are having a new constant flow of air from the northwest.

In many state IPM newsletters the topic of cold water imbibition is mentioned. The phenomenon is real and can hurt stands enough to require replanting. The general recommendation is to watch the predicted air and soil temps for the 48 hours after planting. If they are due to drop below 50 degrees, most specialists recommend waiting until the forecast is for rising soil temperature right after planting.

Nebraska micro-nutrient revisions

Soil fertility specialists at UNL announced they are changing their stance on micronutrients. They are recognizing that the higher yields seen in recent years are extracting more minerals while there is now a greater availability of those mineral products than seen in the past. I still wonder if they or any other university staffs have asked the people at the major testing labs who sign the tissue testing reports what the occurrence rates for nutrient deficiencies have been in recent seasons.

A sad obit

Remember Oxitec, the British biotech company that was developing the GM salmon for the market place, and hoping to cure the bogus Zika problem using GM mosquitoes? Their new plan involved developing and releasing 50 million similar mosquitoes per week in FL and TX. Assuming they used E. coli and the herpes simplex virus in their development, what could go wrong? A 45 year young Florida lady who served as a whistleblower and demanded a longer comment period on the project and sought a delay in their release was due to visit with Scott Pruitt on April 9th. She was found floating in the motel pool that morning.

A new microbe

I mentioned last week that we were going to be visiting with a company rep who was on the return trip from southern Georgia to the Pacific NW and back. Mark and his company are working with another chitolytic bacteria that has been labeled as a nematicides and is being used heavily in the veggie and berry market where they now commonly spending $400 to $600 per acres on fumigants that kill all the nematodes as well as all the good ones. So they are applying a few quarts of this product after lowering the water pH and actually doing a more thorough job getting rid of the nematodes by dissolving their juveniles, egg cases and stylets (beaks). From speaking to their chemists, we learned they are also seeing problems with other insects, fungi and bacteria disappear. I visited with a friend and supplier from Utah who works with a number of ranchers and potato growers who are using the Georgia 02YS products and seeing great results at an affordable price with good residual activity.

As an aside, Velsicol, which is owned by Sumitomo, the Japanese conglomerate, just announced they also have commercialized their chitolytic bacteria.

With SCN resistance to the Fayette Source (PI88788) becoming widespread in the U.S. soybean belt and growers now seeing higher cyst counts again, we need a new weapons we can use in this battle. Before Group 2 cyst resistant varieties were available, there were growers in northern Iowa with counts of up to 52,000 per 100 cc of soil. I am now hearing of counts above 30,000 in the same area on Fayette varieties. Nature always wins the selection and resistance battle, so a change in tactics was needed.

On line Dicamba training

In a few states the extension service will be offering web based classes for Dicamba training. If anyone missed those meetings where Dicamba was the major topic, they can still get the information. Between the training, perhaps the use of approved drift retardants, and the correct nozzles, problems with drift and volatility could be minimized this season. Who is willing to bet either way?

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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