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Crop watch

By Staff | Jan 4, 2019

Winter finally arrived and really none of us noticed, as the appropriate weather arrived on Oct. 14th with the Sunday afternoon snow. Then to our surprise the conditions changed for the better around December 1st and continued through the Christmas holidays. Thus we had our reprieve, and the length of cold weather was cut into thirds. Expect another arctic blast and if our experts are correct another southwest flow of air may keep the Midwest relatively mild for the next month or two. As to snow, after getting such an early start very few people would have expected a brown Christmas.

As I am writing this the reports from Minnesota and the Dakotas are telling that the new Eboni Blizzard has brought lots of snow and cold to much of the Midwest again. Will it dump the 18 inches of snow that had been predicted?

Now for even the nonchalant college football fans the two major college teams are playing in their respective bowls. Like in recent years both teams will be well represented by their fans in each of the towns. Now for a state that does not have a huge population, it should be well represented in this fall sport. Best of luck to both.

Crop and other meetings and conventions

So what is on tap for the first week or two of 2019? Expect the Extension service to have their Crop Advantage meetings at their different locations around the state. The presenters typically share the information they gathered during the summer as new weed, insect and diseases tested crop advisors’ and farmers’ expertise. The attendees will get to hear what program and product worked and hopefully be able to take the information home and integrate it into their cropping scheme for next season. Try to preregister if you are able.

Not long after that the big Iowa Power Show will be held down in Des Moines. It is one of the bigger indoor ag shows in the Midwest and typically brings in a large crowd. There typically is a long waiting list for companies to be able to get a booth. A decade ago there was always a 50-50 chance of a major blizzard occurring during the show, but not for a few years now.

With our neighbors to the west their power show was held the first week of December and their crowd was also good. They will follow it up with their Triumph of Agriculture show near March 1st.

Smaller retailer meetings

We can also expect a number of retailers to hold their informational meetings where different brands of seed, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides will be discussed. With the explosion in different corn diseases seen in recent years we can expect lots of minutes spent teaching growers to identify the different symptoms and then what product or mixes to use to control the pathogens. That is how it has been since 2003 or 2004. What I hope is also presented is the idea that good disease management should include information about to treat the residue in the fall after harvest to break it down to humus so it does not allow the pathogens to survive through the winter. Doing nothing can leave a nutrient deficient small seedling open to bacterial or fungal attack that may have the upper hand thru the entire growing season.

What a few of us hope is included in those meetings is the instruction to growers that they should be thinking more holistically and asking what might be making your crops plants so susceptible to pathogen attack. Should they be selecting from different genetic families? Should they be starting to do or doing more tissue sampling to determine what mineral deficiency is leaving the crops plants so defenseless? They may find out they could spend one third of the amount they are spending on fungicides and those applications to apply a good micronutrient mix and produce more bushels of grain.

Soybean seed treatment

One topic of discussion among growers trying to minimize cost is should they skip having any fungicidal treatment applied to their seed?

From someone who used to walk lots of bean fields when two or 2.5 wet weeks after the fields had been planted trying to determine if the stand was lost of if they would have to replant spots in the fields, I would sure recommend at least applying an Apron/Maximum for their cheap generic cost. Having to replant even cheap non-traited seed would be several times more expensive that buying those two products.

At the SprayTech meeting in Ft. Dodge two weeks ago we heard from XB Yang that their Full Tec Seed had been providing extremely good control of SDS in plots. The combination of three products has done a job equivalent to or superior to any other labeled product for that disease, and at a cheaper cost. When a retired Purdue plant pathologist and I visited their pathologists and biochemist we saw their combinations were controlling fungal pathogens with a surgical strike rather than a shotgun approach. We were impressed. Their approach offers three advantages to what many growers have been doing the last two or three years.

Two new soybean bugs

Two new soybean insects exist that that are now on soybean growers’ radar. The first that has been found in Iowa is the Soybean Gall Midge. It is the maggot of a fly that is related to the Hessian Fly that was introduced by the Russian immigrants of the same name. That fly lays eggs on the small wheat seedling and tunnels up the stems in the spring, allowing the plants to fall over in the spring.

The second is the Dectes stem borer. That latter would be new to Iowa but it is in states to our west, south and east already. Their main challenge is that the adult lays eggs from mid June through mid August. On each the common advice is that neither can be controlled, but what if a very long residual insecticide is combined with strong polymer that would double the effective life of that product. Or if a vascular insecticide or elicitor compound that made the plant or soil produce its own insecticide were used, would growers consider using it? Then we would have a usable control program.

European Corn Borer

In recent years we have seen more growers move back to planting conventional corn hybrids. That should not scare any of them, as long as they recognize that in one to two years of the five year ECB cycle the borer population could climb high enough to require monitoring and potentially spraying to control the moths or larvae.

The best way to manage such a program is to monitor the moth flights via local black light trap catches. If the moth flights climb above a certain number the grower should simply add in an insecticide in with the BioEmpruv and Argosy polymer. The Argosy will make the insecticide residual last long enough to control that ECB brood. Any second brood of our two brood type would be controlled by repeating the same spray mix near the VT stage when that BE application is scheduled.

Good luck in attending the local meetings to learn what may be important to your operation. Learning is always a good thing.

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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