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By Staff | Dec 28, 2018

As we near the end of the year 2018 and get ready for 2019 we get to look back on the many months back to January and think about how they compare to those from other years. Very few of them would be considered average. And if averages were calculated as well as statistical variance versus normal, it had to be one of the most abnormal years ever.

Coldest, snowiest, driest, warmest, and the wettest, depending on what month you might be considering. All of this in the context that commodity prices meant that being exact with every marketing move was critical, meaning next to impossible. So in a short while we will get the opportunity to learn from past experience and face the challenges whatever they may be.

The Christmas season this year seemed to get here so quickly. May you be able to spend time with your family and enjoy any festivities in your towns, church or church halls, or traveling to meet up with family. At the Streit ranch we have the first get-to-gether at our place near Ames. Then on Monday travel over to Iowa City where my siblings are gathering. Then on Tuesday head down to St. Louis where a very expecting daughter was told by her MD to not travel and a grandson gets baptized later in the week. What days of the week will the weather produce the travel challenges?

Back on schedule

I will make this short this week. It has been a few quick weeks to hold one on one farmer meetings planning for the upcoming season. The three week interval since we made the quick trip to Louisville went fast. Nearly all the crops are in the bin or barns, but a few small patched of corn and beans are still in the fields, primarily in northwest Iowa where they had more drifting snow. Having above normal temps helping to get rid of the snow and ice made getting around a lot easier.

Included in the last week was a meeting up in Ft Dodge, where a meeting with Spray Tec was held with farmers who either used their products in the past seasons or those that wanted the details on the products. Speakers that day were XB Yang, soybean pathologist at ISU. He discussed SDS and the results achieve with the different products he had applied to gain control of it.

Next up was Alison Robertson, also an Iowa Stater. With her talk one got the impression that scientist in a lab somewhere were continuing to produce new diseases at an alarming pace, then releasing them into the fields. She covered Physoderma leaf blight, Physoderma stalk rot and then Purple Leaf Blotch as ones that were on the increase. Then she got to the one first seen in the I-states to the east, Tar Spot. It first showed up about two years ago and seemed to be a minor disease. That should have been an ominous warning as Alison told of how it seemed to explode in a number of fields in Illinois and Michigan. In a few cases those fields showed the first light symptoms one week and within two weeks the fields were dead, with high double digit yield losses.

Because it struck so quickly some of the peripheral information such as soil fertility levels, tissue test results, genetic families involved, leaf wetness hours, and other pesticides that had been applied needed to be gathered to assess all factors that may be involved. At this point certain genetics seem to be the most susceptible. Low levels of certain micros should lend a clue. And if another normally mild pathogen is present it can blow up into a major yield robber.

In other states

Later last Wednesday on my way home from way northwestern Iowa a call from a farmer in Nebraska came in. He had been getting good yields but off quite a few bushels from what it should have been. He had been seeing the plants that looked like they had been flash frozen after these big black dots and MN oozing from that stalk were observed. It sure sounded familiar, so we will be sending out more info to famers in that part of the world.

In the meanwhile enjoy your time during the Christmas and New Year holiday time. Be safe and stay warm. Remember that we are celebrating the birth of a very important person years ago.

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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