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Crop watch

By Staff | Apr 26, 2019

Finally the skies cleared and spring seems to have made up her mind and decided to stay, instead of letting Old Man Winter back into the Midwest. A week ago parts of southeast Iowa and western Illinois picked up as much as five inches of snow. The winds were still from the northwest and moderate to heavy rains were predicted for mid-week. Then miraculously, as many prayers were answered, the warm-up continued and the fields dried off enough in central and southern parts of the state that the first fieldwork could be done.

The warm-up and drying enough moved progressively from south to north and finally even farmers in extreme northern Iowa are finding dry enough soils that they can get started. The western part of the state is noticeably drier than the east, thus expect to see a higher percent of the acres will be planted based on those moisture levels.

Did any growers get into the fields a bit early?

That likely happened as growers often based their judgment calls on what happened last year. In 2018 planting was much delayed and there were long intervals between when guys/gals got started planting and when they finished. It is often a time when a person is forced to violate rules because the alternative can be a lot worse. None of us has a perfect crystal ball and long term the main criteria for choosing the right time to plant corn is when the ground is fit, and typically the earlier planted corn out dollars the later planted fields.

The planting progress figures were given Monday morning. Expect to see a higher tally simply due to more 24 row planters with a larger percentage equipped with the high speed equipment. If you are observant you will notice that more of the final field cultivation passes are running parallel to the rows to facilitate even seeding depth.

Planter advancements

We had several sessions with Mr. Kimberley and the people that participated found out how much there was to learn about tillage and planters. One addition to planters that growers almost universally agree on helped their corn stands the most were the individually hydraulic down pressure attachments. Those attachments seemed responsible for giving much evener stands with much evener emergence.

One new consideration to pay attention to would be the new planter bars from a smaller company up near Storm Lake. Those bars are referred to as Harvest International. They have the Series 2 and the Laser models of bars. So far the people who have examined and tested the bars have been impressed with their durability as well as common sense advancement that keep the bars running as good as new even after several units had been over 200,000 acres. You may want to check them out if it is time to make a change in the machine you currently have.

There are You-Tube videos that will give the details and benefits on the advancement and improvements in their machines that can be custom build to your needs and challenges.

Soybean planting

A decade or two ago most farmers waited several days to two weeks until the soils warmed up before planting soybeans after their corn was all in the ground. Now with today’s knowledge and better seed treatment and biologicals the higher bean yields are being produced in very early to early planted bean fields.

April 25th doesn’t scare me or others striving for high yields. One benefit is that more podded nodes are formed on the main stem. 17 to 19 podded nodes are needed to produce 65 to 70 Bu/A beans. 22 to 24 nodes take a person near 100 Bu/A. The best I have ever seen is 26, and that was in the field that made 154 Bu/A. With the racemes being formed on some of the newer indeterminate beans, which used to be only a determinant structure, the yield potential is now close to 200 Bu/A.

The trick then it to get more branches to form on the main stem. With wider plant spacing the plants intercept more blue light, which triggers more branch formation. Another method is to apply cytokine hormones to the plant to form those branches and more roots. The problem is that those products have a short life with sunlight exposure. Another and I believe an improved approach is to apply a methylobacterium that produces those cytokine bacteria. These are the hormone producing bacteria. Those products are available and can be applied to the seed or early in the vegetative growth period.

The final steps once the earlier ones have been done in a favorable moisture year is to increase bean size to the 1,900 to 1,950 seeds per pound. Several prepared mixes can be used or constructed to do that job.

Gall midge control

Questions continue to come in about the best method of controlling any problems with the gall midge. To me there are two products that can be used. The first is the SPE 2.5, which is a nematophageous fungi that can be applied to the seed, on the seed, or in-furrow. It was sleuthed out by two entomology professors at Iowa State and is now produced by an Iowa native out in North Carolina. Initially it was targeted for only organic crops and was high priced. That changed after meeting with the developer.

Now there are strains specific to beetles, to flies, and to grasshoppers and to combinations of attacking insects. The fungus lives inside the plant for the entire season, thus multiple applications are not needed. Research trials verify it can tackle insect and disease problems in most plants including trees, grape vines and other tough plants. Soybeans should be a snap. It also shows decent control of insects and fungal problems.

The other new products that should give control are those based on an enzyme called chitinase. A bacteria called Bacillus amoliquofaceanss produces that enzyme. About three large companies and multiple smaller companies are going the live bacterial route. One from Georgia instead has developed a product called Chitosan using shrimp shells. In that form it becomes an elicitor compound that causes both plants and soil microbes to produce the chitinase enzyme that dissolved insects, nematodes, insect eggs and strands of pathogenic fungi.

We saw some neat results with the O2YS products in Iowa in 2018 and continue to get great reports from other parts of the country where is has been used against insects, mites, nematodes and fungal pathogens. In several cases soybean plants that were a few days away from being dead from root rots were revived. I never saw anything like it before. Organic versions of each are available for the person desiring them. When seed applied it needs to be the first product put on the seed.

When these products are used it creates what Dr. Joe Kloepper of Auburn calls disease suppressive soils. Look these up on You-Tube for further learning opportunities.

Fungal products in 2019

So what species of fungus might be most in the news in 2019? Any guesses? NCLB, GLS, SDS, Tar Spot?

It may end up being Candida auris.

Until now there was not much reporting on this critter as it is mainly appearing in hospitals and medical offices in Illinois, NY and New Jersey. It has appeared in many other states and a high percentage of foreign countries, so it is not a confined problem. Its kill rate has been around 41 percent of the humans it has affected and so far has been resistant to all the human approved fungicides used against it.

Why it may concern us in farm country is that the fungicides labeled and used to control fungal infections in humans are in the triazole class. The suspicions are that heavy use in the ag world may have led to the development of this resistant strain. Will the CDC, NIH, FDA and EPA be having discussions over this issue and proposed actions to limit further problems in human medicine?

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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