So now the Christmas holidays are going to be upon us next week. That means travel and having guests or family stuff to do. To the youngsters it is a time they look forward to, while for us it can get a bit hectic. Figuring out who will be around and who will be gone that we needed to get in touch with will be difficult. It is also time to turn the page on 2019. Most of us will say good riddance, as it was a challenging year in many respects.
The best gift that most grain and livestock farmers can ask for is a return to full trade with many of our large partners. Developing those markets can take decades and it is always tough when such relationships get tied up in politics. First we had the Canadian/Mexican trade deal move through the house. Then phase 1, whatever that means, also move off dead center. Let’s hope there is a major agreement made with the Chinese and it is completely clarified and something that we can take to the bank.
The new year
The first few weeks after the calendar turns is a time where many meetings are held. This includes seed, retailers, county producer groups, and state association groups. One event that is being put on different calendars is the Crop Update Meetings from the ISU Extension that will be in the different towns where the regional offices are at. Check the schedule for you area in the first and second full weeks of January.
The ICM conference
I thought I would mention other speaker and topics from the recent crop management conference.
One good presentation was by Damon Smith from the University of Wisconsin. He filled the position of State Extension soybean disease specialist. One of his roles is to continue doing work on White Mold. Due to their cooler soils in Wiscconsin much of his state plus parts of Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Michigan have annual problems with this damaging disease.
In 2019 the season was progressing with quite a few hiccups due to the late planting season and excessively wet conditions through June and early July.
The beans generally took forever to get tall enough to close the 30-inch rows. Then all of a sudden the fungal spores germinated, formed the small bird’s nest fungi that produce the spores, and bean plants that were beginning to flower and growing in low wet, high humidity areas with cooler soil temps developed the white cottony tissue around the lower stems. In time those now slimy cottony stems turned brown and the leaves die the same. In the end the yield monitors told of yields often 20 Bu/A lower or more in the worst infected areas.
In Damon’s work he includes assembling the various products expected to be able to control part or all of the causal fungus. Now when a person scouts those areas they are helped if they can track the environmental parameters existing in the fields. Such as hours of leaf wetness, relating humidity and dew points, and so on. Thus they have developed an app and a program where they can input the weather items that makes a prediction as to the upcoming severity level to expect in each field.
In 2019 he conducted several plots where he applied different fungicides to the crop to test for effectiveness. He has published this and it is available on his site.
Several of the new products tests that consist of the carboxamide products offered protection against White Mold and the Frogeye Leaf Spot. Now a few years ago I received a PPT where the SprayTec company tested their three way mixes at varying rates against the fungus. Their results were remarkably good.
Weed control items
Another discussion covered weed control in the coming season. Working together with weed specialist with the University of Illinois and Nebraska they have been screening for metabolic resistance among different weed species to the different herbicide families. This type of resistance means that the weeds have altered their ability to metabolize or break down the herbicide, thus they now have as much of the ability to tear down the herbicide as does the targeted crop. It also means that such a weed may already be able to degrade a brand-new herbicide that has never been applied to the field.
They listed fields where there may be five or six weed families that have developed resistance to the same number of herbicides. This is happening faster than new products are introduced. This is why learned weed management specialist are insisting that growers keep rotation products plus use tactics that don’t come in a jug. How that jives with large acreage operators or the non-use of cultivators remains to be seen. In a corporate era where life science companies that research both pharma and ag pesticides the funding is more likely to do to the pharms branch where the ROI could be greater.
It sure appears that there is room for a non or partially selective herbicide that could be sprayed through an inkjet printer, optically equipped, thinking sprayer that is on the drawing board.
Enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
More next week from what I saw and learned at the Eco Ag conference.
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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