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Crop Watch

By Staff | Jan 20, 2020

Winter finally arrived in central Iowa this past weekend bringing with it ice and measurable snow in a huge front that stretched north from northern Minnesota down to Laredo, Texas over the weekend. The immediate task is to clear the yards, drives and yards from the white stuff so the vehicles can move around without problems. Thus, the long field work and tiling season that was continuing until now may come to an end, depending on how long the temps stay below freezing. It was good while it lasted.

The main discussion in the last week has been the government crops report, which has already been filed under fiction in most people’s library. From visiting with seasoned growers who cast a wide circle of sources it is hard to find a large area where the growers universally proclaim their grain yields were above those of 2017. Based on all of the test weight measurement it has been established that test weights were lower to much lower than in previous years, and where the early snows put both the corn and bean crops in a situation where not all the grain produced made its way into the grain tanks and grain bins. So are we supposed to believe that both corn and soybean yields only took a slight hit from the wacky weather of 2019. It looks more like whoever is in charge believes that cheap food and cheap fuel are good for the economy, so they will release the figures that support that narrative to achieve the goal. Finding grain yet from 2018 that was never accounted for in a record wet year is another stretch.

On the agenda

The activities that normally occupy grain producer’s schedule this time of year are those involving the booking of seed and chemicals. The first place many growers go for information is the collection of test plots run by the FIRST Plot organization. It used to be easy to make a list of companies that you like to do business with and they have a good rep in the area. Then you go through the plots on roughly the same latitude as your acres and maturity you like to plant. This year in looking throuuh the published results and things don’t seem to be as clear in that there are still lots of middle sized seed firms and many smaller ones pulling hybrids from two or three collective pools of hybrids. Thus you don’t know if Hybrid A is the same as Hybrids E, F and G genetically with the methods of growing and handling the seed may have influenced the germination and emergence of the seedlings.

The number of plots planted versus harvested and entered into the data banks are likely at a low point since erosion and standing water affected so many acres versus a ‘normal’ year. Then with growers seek a major drop in GDUs and grain that did not follow the normal drying sequence, the general inclination is to seek hybrids with as great of yield potential but offering drier grain at harvest. If the 2018 and 2019 weather trends being cooler and wetter, we have to figure out which climatologists offer the clearest and most accurate prediction of what is in store for us for weather in 2020. Typically those that stick their necks out the furthest get them chopped off the first. Maybe not so much this year.

The insects that seemed to cause corn growers problems in 2019 were ear worms and CRW. In a trial done out in Nebraska the application of the Beauveria fungus on the seed added 10 to 12 BU/A to the final yield and greatly improved plant intactness and harvestability.

As to how the battle against CRW is going, that is a mixed bag. Bad problems tended to be localized in individual fields in 2019. The crop rotation sequence and product or means to control the feeding larva were all critical factors. Farmers with cornfields where the plants faced heavy feeing pressure have typically used traits and planter applied products sometimes without much success. They are hopeful that they can gain control this next season. Currently the lack of hybrids containing the Duracade trait is limited and there have been performance problems. The corn geneticist’s knowledge had not caught up to what is known by the top soil microbiologists. Heavily traited hybrids often lose the ability to extract nutrients from the soil due to a canceling of elicitor compound production.

Outguessing the


To me the trend is cooler and wetter, meaning be ready with your seed and planter when any small planting window occurs. Adding planting capacity has helped even if it means retrofitting any older bar or planter. Anything to help the soil to dry and warm up will help. Then using seed treatments that boost the mineral levels to the seed and allow for beneficials to colonize the root system first will help improve root health and mineral uptake.

Even if the springs are cool and wet there always seems to be a time period in July or August where the plants on the lighter ground suffer due to dry conditions. Avoiding any compaction problems and doing everything possible to grow an expansive and healthy root system is what 99.99 percent of the farmers are after.

The planter and tillage clinics

Last week I attended two days of Kevin Kimberley’s winter meeting. It was a valuable experience in that it teaches what to look for in how every attachment, opener or closer, or in-furrow is supposed to work. The same goes for every tillage tool, in that many of the vertical tillage tools out there, were named vertical tillage even if they didn’t fit the description and action of what other vertical machines did.

Brad Forkner, mineral specialist out of Illinois, presented to the group on how he would set up a mineral and fertility program that would support the production of top end crop yields. He has set up a fertilizer plant near his home which will allow him and his clients to customize anything needed. His understanding of how all of the minerals interact, the roles of the biology in the root zone, where essential oils fit, and the importance of each of the micronutrients far surpass what most fertility people talk about. Remember that he has out-dollared Dowdy each of the last two years. Dan will be speaking at our meeting of Jan 22nd. Kevin will be presenting for an hour on the 22nd and then having a session at his location near Elkhart on the 23rd. If you are planning on going on the 23rd he needs to know to have enough food ready.

The Jan 22nd Follow the Money Conference

We are planning on having the conference on the warm, sunny and calm winter day next week.

The reservations continue to come in. The speakers are lined up and each of them know their specialized areas well. In the past we have had crowds of up to 210 people. Anyone expecting to eat had been call in by Friday afternoon to reserve a spot so we can turn in an expected crowd size to the caterer fixes enough food.

What we are having the speakers focus on is how their recommendations and products will help the crop react positively even in a stressed environment. If the collective opinion of the bio-stimulant scientists is that plants devote 60 to 70 percent of their energy battling environmental stresses, then by supplying the correct nutrients and supporting the good microbial activity, the crop will produce a better crop and that is the path to follow.

The past attendees typically remarked it was the most informative conference they had attended in years. Bring your notebooks and pens. We will have it taped with videos being available at a later date.

For those that are CCA certified we will be offering CEUs for those that need credits. We hope to see you at the meeting. Stay safe and warm in the meanwhile.

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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Crop watch

By Staff | Jan 20, 2020

Another month, another year, and another decade to enjoy, get a bunch of work done, see the family increase in number and hopefully see the ag economy flourish and the people in this and other countries find peace and prosperity.

We have traveled to many countries and the common denominator between the citizens of each of them is to try to raise their kids to be successful and healthy plus try to make their lives easier than they had it. My parents grew up with work horses around and the newer tractors were IH Hs and Ms while the JDs were the old two cylinder poppers. Cows were milked by hand and there were no skid loaders. Most people living on farms likely did not think that everything about those conditions constituted the good old days. It was bitterly cold in the winters and the work never got completely done. So what might we see in the rest of this decade? I would like to hear other people’s thoughts.

So being we are in the first full week in January we typically see the coldest part of the winter occur over the next four to six weeks. Will that be the case this year? The current weather forecast from the meteorologist is telling us that a large blob of warm air is blocking the really cold air from entering the Midwest. The week’s prediction for high 30s to mid-40 temps sounds very tolerable. Along Hwy 30 any snow that has fallen has melted right away. North of Hwy 3 there is a measurable snow pack. Already a person can notice the days are getting longer. The good news is that at this point there are only eleven weeks left of winter.

The month of January is one involving numerous educational and ag meetings, planning for the coming season, decisions and reservations to be made, and during the final days the Iowa Power Show.

Things to do

The admonitions by Charlie Hurburgh this fall as he was observing the crop and the delayed planting and harvest seasons was that this crop was very late and very wet based on our normal calendar. He expected lighter test weights, and that was real for most growers. With the wetter grain at harvest the potential existed for more harvest damage being done to the grain. He also expected the grain to not store as well and would need to be checked more often than normal for any spoilage and heating in the bins. That is an area where warmer temps could lead to additional storage problems.

The majority of growers had stories about lighter test weights and sometimes dramatic differences before and after the rain delays and freezes. There seemed to be major differences in rainfall and harvest progress between the eastern third and the western two-thirds of the state as to how the harvest progressed or remain stalled for many weeks.

Crop update sessions and the Power Show

Over the next few weeks the ISU extension will hold regional meetings where they discuss cropping topics and problems observed in the past year. The main thought among most ag people is that most were simply wanting to get 2019 over with and turn the page on a new year.

The big Iowa Power and Farming Show is also on the calendar for late January in Des Moines. It is a major event for the farming public and most of the ag businesses in the state. Most of you have it on your calendar and hope to attend if the weather permits and the grain and livestock markets improve.

The month is also for farmers to sit down and do much of their planning and decision making for the coming season. The last three or four have been ones where belt tightening and budget cutting was common for every operator. I have to keep seeing people during the month and keep working towards out big conference on Jan 22nd in Webster City.

Show me the money 2020

The big meeting is still a work in progress as we design the poster for it and get the PR in place. The past conferences were all held successfully except that nearly every event was held during torrential rains that nearly flooded the event out. As proof of that the one in 2019 was on March 14th, the big rain in Nebraska, South Dakota and northwest Iowa when the large rains fell on a record snow pack and all of the streams wers still iced in.

A few more of the speakers let us know they would be attending. Previously I mentioned that the members of the BioDyne crew and Kevin Kimberley would be attending. A scientist turned entrepreneur who spoke at an earlier one, from Seattle, is a microbiologist who is continuing to test his microbe and microbe/mineral mixes in different states and countries. Rusty Rodriguez told us at the earlier conference about his Trichoderma fungus and how it makes plants much more tolerant to heat and cold. He was recorded giving a Ted Talk entitled ‘Symbiosis’. Look for this on You Tube.

To me the main benefit it seems to be threefold:

1. It makes plants much more heat tolerant.

2. It helps plants emerge and grow quicker in a cold spring.

3. Where pasturing of animals is common, the forage production is increased 2 to 3X. Alfalfa also wakes up and starts adding top growth two to three weeks earlier.

A tech person for Redox will be present again. As the only ISO 9000 certified plant nutrition company in the U.S. they take a different tactic with their plants. Their founder and CEO attended the 10 days long BioStimulant Conference held in South Korea in October. What they call biostimulants are basically soil microbes which serve in the soil to make applied and latent nutrients plant available. The large conglomeration of speakers agreed and stated that 60 to 70 percent of the energy the plants produced was use to battle environmental stresses (ie: heat, droughts, salinity, low mineral content etc) So if they developed a new mineral or humate product that helped the crops to battle those stresses, they would conserve their energy to produce more grain or fruit. They talk a lot about reducing oxidative stress in plants and seeing huge benefits. We get to hear how those field trials in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin turned out in 2019.

The last person to confirm is someone in a field of human medicine plus the CEO of a company he collaborates with. What this related to are the issues discussed at a large Environmental Medical Conference I attended a few years ago. These MDs and DOs work with patients that other medical people have given up on. They begin by questioning work history, what products you’ve been around, then do testing to get to the root cause of the problem. In the ag world, which is huge, that typically means looking to see that harmful product such as a herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, solvent, heavy metal or such that people are exposed to or consume that eventually accumulate to such a level that they liver and kidneys can no longer cleanse the body and eliminate them.

These humate chemists have developed the testing protocol to test a person for such toxins and then developed products that get them out of the body. We talked with the Dr. last week and he is very sharp. He has developed a reputation for his ability to treat Lyme’s patients successfully. With their resistor cells treating for this disease is similar to treating malaria. My wife and I would recommend that farming partners, the wives, who wash the clothes their husband wear while around or applying such products, come to listen to Dr Lindsley. I wish I had known about this company and their products before I had to attend so many funerals over the last two decades. (But they and their findings didn’t exist until recently.)

Another recent confirmation came from a PhD water researcher who got educated at Oxford and Tokyo Universities and trained at the top labs in Germany, Japan and Russia. He was recently awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Price for inventors by the International Trade Council. He is an excellent presenter and has done so for many kings and queens and presidents around the world. He makes you think hard about a topic you have seldom thought about- water. Don’t miss your chance to listen to him, as crop farmers and livestock producers would benefit from gaining knowledge from him.

If attending this conference sounds like something you would benefit from make your reservation by calling or emailing me, my wife, Marv or Larry Eickhoff by Jan 15th. MM: 515-370-3381. CAS: 515-231-6710, me: 515-709-0143, or LE: 515-571-7260.

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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