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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Oct 12, 2018

What is worse than the satisfying task of working long hours under sunny skies and clear dark night skies harvesting the crops that we spent since last October planning for and since spring planting, spraying and nurturing thr ough to maturity? It would have to be sitting on the sidelines for a week and a half with constant rains that have filled the ponds as full as they were any time during the season.

There is nothing any one human can do except do inside repair work, spend time cleaning the shop or doing bookwork. This problem has affected the states west of the Mississippi more than those to the east, shown by the higher percentage of their crops harvested in Illinois to this point.

The rain and endless cloud cover is supposed to clear out after Wednesday, which will help, but the streams and rivers will have to empty out before most tile systems will work as designed.

One topic that is difficult for farmers from South America to fathom is the topic of cold winters with snow and how it sends the fear of God into every farmer’s soul if a large snow were to arrive early. Growers in several parts of Canada received 6-inches plus of the white stuff last week on top of the still unharvested canola and small grains.

Earlier last week there were nine states were receiving snow. As of this past Sunday morning there were nine getting light amounts again.

Meanwhile apart from crop topics, we have been entertained by the circus being held in our nation’s capital. Has our country ever been more polarized and where has common sense gone? One side values work and earnings gained from it, goes to church regularly, and looks out for the common good of society. The other is doing their best to turn us into the next Venezuela, where the best ambulance in the country is an old bread deliver van, and they are constantly running out of food. Friends of ours who grew up in that country can see it so clearly and relate how their parents had to escape to the U.S. Watching an hour of it reminds me of the old ‘Leave it to Beaver’ TV shows where Eddie Haskell kept trying to dig himself out of a hole that one lie got him into by telling even bigger fibs.

The next problem

One topic that is being mentioned more is that of grain quality, ear molds, mycotoxins and stalk quality. Already we are seeing ear molds show up in fields where the plants have been kept wet for weeks. With the husks open and the grain exposed many of the fungi are living saprophytically, meaning they have been devouring the stalk as a food source and now have moved to the kernels and grain. If you notice any grain discoloration the current advice seems to be to notify your crop insurance agent. They may want you to get samples to your normal destination to see if there will be a dockage for any damage or in the worse case, having it not be sellable.

Already we have sent soybean samples to the top SB pathologist at the Univ. of Illinois to tell us why their beans, which were raised under drought conditions were shriveled and had a brownish tinge to them, turned dark brown to black inside the pod.

For the full declaration of what we are seeing and how to manage weather damaged grain we will have to see what people like Charlie Hurburgh, grain storage experts and veterinarians say on the matter. The collection of farmers across the Midwest may have raised big crops of corn and soybeans but how much of it will we be able to put into the bins in the condition that will store and of the quality that does not harm the animals that have to eat it? Grain channelers typically blend in off quality grain when the percentage is low, but when the percentage might end up being high that method of disposal becomes difficult.

When scouting your fields for this quality issue be categorizing your fields as to length of times since the plants turned brown, since the husks opened, degree of rot affected the stalk, discoloration percentage of the kernels, and whether the hybrid tends to have mostly hard or soft starch makeup. This may end up being a minor problem, or it could be a huge issue. Time will tell. I am hearing from growers that samples submitted from one field in north central Iowa showed 30 percent damaged already.

Soil sampling

By now most growers should have looked through their soil sampling records to see how current they are with their analytical program. Any fields where the sampling data are more than four years old should be sampled again. If that means some of yours exceed that standard it would be good to line a person with the equipment and ambition to pull new samples. Rather than doing 2.5 or 5 acre grids consider pulling samples according to management zone, meaning by soil types where the largest grid may be 7 to 8 acres. Then request that the micronutrients levels be tested on 33 percent of them to get any ideas where your levels are at.

If the levels for Mn, Cu, Bo and Zn are low your plants have been more disease susceptible as a result. The Bo, Zn and Sulfur could be applied in any dry fertilizer mix applied this fall, with the Mn and Cu applied as a foliar spray next season. While the lab is at it also make sure that base saturation levels are given as it gives you a more complete view of the field and which nutrient needs to be addresses first.

Also consider having a Haney test run on a few representative fields from your operation that have been farmed differently over the years to see where your levels are at. We do see that the fields with higher scores produce higher yields with fewer input dollars. They also have better water infiltration rates and higher yield potential.

Guthrie Center

This past Monday we had announced that Dave Schwartz, Marv and I would be down at the research farm Oct 1st to give tours through the plots and high yield fields that were too wet to view during the August 20th event.

The good news is that it didn’t rain four to seven inches, only about 1.5-inches that day.

The crowd was small, but wanted to see the plots and fields. In the past years the corn plots right around the buildings have stayed green and the ears were filling until mid-October. This year the rain and moisture stream that arrived in Iowa on Sept 1st, causing the cancellation of the ISU versus SDSU football game, arrived from the Southwest and must have brought lots of disease spores as many fields browned up in the two following weeks. The fields around the buildings went from dark green to brownish at the top of the plants to mostly brown to brown over the next three weeks.

When we traveled via RTV to the back fields that are a little higher in elevation with less humidity and fewer dews the plants are still dark green to within 1 to 2-inches off the ground and the kernels are still filling. No black layers to be found. They should fill yet for another 1 to 2 weeks. I pulled a few representative ears and the weights from the high Sartorius scale ranged from 14 to 15.6 ounces each.

The input products that so far have produced the greatest increase in SPAD reading and largest ear size have been the Calcium silicate, BioEmpruv, and BioEnsure where all applied and then partnered with the Take-Off and Nutrisphere. We hope to have Jerry Carlson post his article and pictures about the farm tour and plot viewing shortly on his blog at RenewableFarming.com.

African Swine Fever

The recent news announcements from the EU and Asia tell that the number of countries in the EU where they have found the virus in their wild and domestic hog herds has increased. It is known that swine meat can carry the live virus for several months and researchers have also found that it can live outside the hog for at least a month or more. And in recent articles it states that the virus can stay alive in feed ingredients for several months. With such a high percentage of our feed mineral supply coming from China does that mean that the biosecurity standards in place will 100 percent keep the virus from being introduced into the U.S. accidentally or covertly? That is the question posed by an Iowa producer last week. With questions still existing about the spread of bird flu, those might be good questions to ask. What steps are permissible in a trade war?

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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