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Crop watch

By Staff | Oct 11, 2019

After one of the most trying planting and growing seasons having a dry, smooth sailing harvest season was something we hoped for. Falls like we had in 2009 and 2018 where mud, deep ruts and lodged plants were all too common and took their toll.

Any delays in harvest increase the risk of having to fight snow by the completion of that work, not being able to get any fall tillage or fertilizing done, and create time binds for next spring’s planting work. So far the rainy weather patterns that have been marching across the Midwest on a regular twice a week schedule resemble those of 2018 too closely. Cross your fingers on this one.

At last the politics connected with ethanol usage seem to have been ironed out. Chuck Grassley and his cohorts from the Midwest congressional delegation finally were heard and must have convinced the powers that be that there was a purpose to the mandates that were being sidestepped. We are great at producing lots of bushels and the quantity of corn used in producing ethanol makes up a sizeable percentage of the total bushels grown in the Midwest. We need to allow the processing of the grain locally. Allowing prostitution of the mandates through the RIM waivers do harm to grain prices and the rural economies. Flyover land votes do count.

On the sports scene if you follow Big 12 basketball and the Cyclones: no one is quite sure what is going through the minds of the basketball coaches down in Lawrence, KS. For some unknown reasons, courtesy of several questionable connections, they continually have a pipeline to many of the top recruits across the country. Most of them are not the best students, even though a few of them can read. So their program staff and coaches knew they are being investigated for recruiting infractions with formal charges already brought against them. They typically make up for their lack of a good football team by hyping an early kickoff ‘Night at the Phogg’ which includes a short scrimmage plus entertainment. This past weekend they brought in profane and druggy rapper, Snoop Dog, who brought his entourage which included four pole dancers performing their act. It remains to be seen if such taunts to the NCAA investigators will be considered humorous or if Bill will be licking his lips while in the unemployment line. What would his mother and grandmother think?

Happenings in the fields

From the few people who are inclined to put on knee high muck boots there have been some observations made in the fields. More of the corn fields that have been through a tortuous growing season with many turning brown by Aug 20th have begun to reach the black layer stage bringing an end to the growing season. Many of those that died early are developing soft stalks where their woody tissue is beginning to decay. Getting dry enough conditions to allow timely harvest will be important to help limit harvest losses.

The biggest unknown for the field surveyors when they made their yield estimates was the kernel depth. Will the calculations use 80, 90 or 100,000 kernels per bushels in their figuring. The longer the plants stayed green and filled the fewer kernels per bushel. When full and adequate nutrition and water are available, the less tipback is seen and the larger the tip kernels become. They will make it into the grain tank rather than being spit out the back of the combine.

The yield reports from the different parts of Iowa and the Midwest tell of wide variations between soil types, topography and drainage, and in-season rainfall. That happens in years where both flooding and droughts occur. Everyone will be a lot smarter about harvest yields in a few weeks. Don’t expect to hear much hear as much bragging about high yields as in other years.

Remember that proper management of the residue this fall will be important to any second year corn grown next season. Do what you can to speed stalk degradation making the nutrients plant available and lower the disease inoculum levels.

Soybean harvest

There are now lots of bean fields fully ready for harvest and lots containing low spots where the bean plants are still not ripe. For some reason, still to be determined, the plants across the southern 2/3rds of the state were very late to begin growing and to flower. The pod number in the top third of the plant is low and very few plants have terminal clusters. So what was the cause (s) of the major problem?

We were noticing freshly split bean seeds lying on the ground where the pods had split.

We accompanied a SprayTec rep into fields where the beans planted late on flat, black, heavy soils were sprayed by R1with a four part mixture of minerals and AAs. We saw plants with a high branch count and tremendous podding, as in up to 62 podded nodes on a plant. I am saving a few of those plants from Wright and Webster Counties for display. Seeing is believing.

What the heck?

So ,in taking that field tour in very muddy fields where deep waders were needed, a question came up in our minds: Would a product that supplied all the needed micros needed by the corn or bean plants for the season, and acted as a systemic season-long acting fungicide, to boost plant health and stalk quality, while increasing yields, that could be applied at V6 to V8 with a ground rig find a home with farmers? Let’s see: Micros typically cost $6 to $8/A, a newer 2 or 3 way fungicide will be $16 to $18, and application with an airplane or high clearance rig will cost $9 to $12. That adds up to $31 to $36 per acre without figuring in any gross income benefit from any yield increase. At what price would it be considered a bargain to a corn or bean producer?

Visitors to long time residents to Iowa in the spring or fall often comment about the fragrance of hog honey in the air. So who has done anything about it? Knowing a PhD soil chemist who understands soil microbiology very well and developed the product called BioEmpruv also put his knowledge to work and developed a product called BioAmend. We picked up two totes and delivered them to two swine operations to put in the pit. A full 275 gallon tote will treat one million gallons of pit space and honey.

On another wet day I visited one of the sites in Franklin County to see if the product performed as hoped for. What we saw in the pits was: no crust and no fly larvae at all, just a bubbly top layer. The barn had so little odor that in the evening I deliberately did not change clothes for supper or time together on the couch. My wife never said “Eeewwuu, your clothes smell.” So it passed the acid test. In addition mineral analyses were done on the pits contents, and as hoped for a high percent of the N was in the organic form bound in microbial bodies so as not be leachable. The sulfur was also bound to minimize or eliminate odors. We will have more info at the fall shows or available at our website. If you have a few finishing barns you may want to try some of this liquid product.

A number or you may have met a friend who has a PhD in Biophysics from Oxford and U of Tokyo. He is a devoted water researcher who develops water treatment equipment that can be used with spray water, in greenhouses and livestock buildings. It takes a while to understand the facts on water that are typically known about, discussed and inherent with such technology. In Germany, Russia and Japan water research is well recognized and published on. In an announcement from a board on new technology that lays one level below the Nobel Prize contest for new inventions in science was made notifying the world that Dr. Vatche Keuftedjian was chosen as one of the finalists. It is amazing how many great scientists in the U.S. and the world have ancestry in Armenia. Kudos to our Armenian friend and his upcoming trip to the awards ceremony scheduled over in Europe. His inventions such as an under the counter water filtering device to remove water contaminants have already helped millions.

Good luck with this fall’s harvest and be safe.

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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