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Crop watch

By Staff | Feb 8, 2020

The shortest month of the year is here and in it a lot of quick, yet well thought out decisions will have to be made. The consensus at the Iowa Power farming Show is that most farmers are running four to six weeks behind in their planning process due to the late and wild 2019 growing season. Typically much of the seed and chemical inputs decisions and early pay programs are put to bed just after Christmas. Not this year.

We thought the signing of the USMCA and phase 1 of the Chinese agreement would give so upward momentum to the grain markets. But with the USDA and NASS juggling of the numbers that did not happen. Then the uncertainty generated by the Coronavirus and what it may do to the Chinse markets and purchases leant a lot of uncertainty to the landscape. It leaves us wondering who to believe. Remember the Zika scare and how it caused women to get scared about having babies. We ran into the women’s USA Rubgy team in the BA airport and that was their concern. It was definitely a false flag to cover up the exact same birth defects showing up in spots in the U.S. from a herbicide’s use, which coincided with the use of Sumitomo’s Pyriproxyfen to minimize the risk of Denge fever at the time and location of the Olympics in Brazil. The story about bat soup being popular in China may have been overblown.

The Iowa Power Farming Show

The big power show held in Des Moines last week would have to be deemed a success. The crowd the first day was big, the second day was huge, and it tapered off on the third day. On the middle day we could have used triple the number of people in the booth to answer questions. While we were trying to answer and pay attention to one person there were several more trying to get our attention. For those in that crowd please send us a message or give us a call. Forgive us and we recognize you had a limited number of hours to try to see as much as you could while there.

I normally comment on a few eye opening booths or displays among the many there. But I stayed close to our booth and did not get a chance to wander around hardly at all. I did get a chance when I went to the SprayTec booth to see the booths where they had the pulse jet nozzle on display showing how they can both deliver as much product to the targeted plant leaves while minimizing drift. There was a second booth close by where they had a small underwater drone what would explore water depths to 400 feet while transmitting pictures over the tether line to people at the surface. It looked like a great way to scout out the big wallies as they were camped out near the bottom.

Two things that do need to be improved. First of all and it could be fixed. I stood in line to buy a bottle of tea. It took about thirty minutes to move up three places in line. The kitchen crew was minimal in size and all the prepared burgers and such had to be passed through a 30-inch wide access hole in the wall. The crew needed to be three times larger and the assembly line sped up. Take a lesson from McDonalds, Burger King or any church supper crew as far as getting things fixed in a hurry. And $10 bucks for a $3 burger? Famers know how cheap things are as the prices they get for their products. Be fair. Secondly, breakdowns with equipment are common when machinery is involved. But lots of people on the ground floor had almost zero traffic because the escalator was no operating during the entire show. Make sure the vendor for the equipment has spare parts on hand so that does not happen again.


What may have been the most enjoyable about manning the booth at the Power Show was having people stop by to share stories about how they took our advice or used one of our products and had good results with it. And there are always some head scratcher questions that tell us we need to keep developing new ideas or searching for new products to fill another need.

Sometimes the biggest challenge has been when a producer tells us how good their results have been, so how do they reach the next yield plateau given their budgets. The idea of improving soil health and keeping the plants alive and filling late into the fall makes tremendous sense to most operators and is something that member of our group truly believe.

The Jan 22nd meeting

The people stopping by or calling about the Jan 22nd meeting held in Webster City continued to express lot of thanks for having such a strong lineup of speakers. One session in particular was the one presentation by two medical people who talked about human health and what farmers, pesticide applicators, workers in Ag-chem warehouses and factories plus their mates who face on a regular basis as they apply, manufacture, load or mix ag chemicals during their work. I ask they include wives or kids who did the washing. The message hit home and those in attendance thanked us for informing them that there was now a protocol and products they could take orally for removing those products from their bodies with little effort.

I let the crowd know that we had traveled many miles in November to have chelation done. Myself, I was over the limit for lead, cadmium and mercury. That is what painting fences and barns as young teenagers on the farm and washing off with gasoline will do. As to mercury, enjoying seafood and having a few fillings likely contributed there. I was surprised.

What the company, MicrobeFormulas of Meridan, Idaho, has done has been to send three film crews around the country to film doctors and patients who have taken their products and have had great results with them. If you have not looked at the sites given in last week’s article, try to do so yet. So of the surprise parasite stories are a bit gross, but interesting.

Fertility programs

The prices for grain have not risen much to match the cost of production. Thus the need still exists for keeping budgets low and to look for savings in all sectors. The trick is then sorting through all the information and then deciding what is most likely to give a positing ROI.

We have a few weeks yet to travel to visit with growers who asked for help sort through their conventional sampling results plus any Haney results they have gotten done. Before cutting any areas of fertility it is always good to look at the soil test levels and rate each field for level of sufficiency on each minerals and what the chance is of seeing each input increase the bushels produced.

We keep pushing the ideas of paying attention to the micro-nutrient levels, then of increasing microbial populations, and finally the efficiency of uptake by the plants of the major and micro minerals. Identify which minerals either has tested the lowest or has never been looked at in any testing performed over the years. This is often called the low stave on the barrel theory.

ISU corn and soybean fungicide trials

The 2019 fungicide trial results have been published on their respective sites. With the wet growing seasons we have seen in both 2018 and 2019 that is not a surprise. The publications list the many strobe, triazole, and/or carboxamide mixes and how they performed against the different fungal diseases. The take home message from the soybean results might be that as predicted by Syngenta, Cornell Univ. and the Royal Academy there are resistant strains of Cercospora and other diseases developing resistance. We have gone to the well once or more too often. In corn that has not happened, unless Tar Spot shows up earlier in 2020. If wet conditions occur in June and early July our products will get tested.

If a person wants to go a different route and boost plant health so much that diseases don’t appear, there is now a new product to try in a few fields. It is Impulse from Spraytec for either corn or soybeans. The results in 2019 were very few, but also surprisingly good. Ask for anyone who saw it or has pictures or yield data from those trials. A combination of three products is the key and this was proven years ago, that very few people have heard about.

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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