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Crop watch

By Staff | Mar 19, 2020

It was one strange weather week in the state where we had a snow forecast for Nothwest Iowa on Thursday with big snowflakes swirling around in 40 mph winds and later in the week getting to enjoy the first 60 degree days. With the eight day forecast showing only two nights below freezing we may see some of the earliest ‘the frost is out date’ on record. The rapid pace of drying that took place in fields south of Highway 20 was amazing to witness. If similar conditions continue in the next two weeks we may see some of the earliest field traffic in the past thirty years. Currently the ‘main fly in the ointment’ factoid is the high amount of February rainfall that occurred in much of the southeastern part of the country, as in Georgia, where about fifteen inches fell during February, leaving their fields and countryside fully saturated.

Until about 2000 Elwynn Taylor’s field people would travel to different points and sections of the state measure the amount of moisture in the top sixty inches of soil. From this information and knowing the soil moisture deficit at each location in the state they could make a reason estimate of the final yield in those areas. The mount of summer rainfall was still an unknown. In an ideal situation there would be a 1.5 to 2.0 inch deficit to leave room for pre plant or during planting rains. Not having this small cushion increased the chance of getting a rain that had to evaporate or drain away before field work could resume. Currently most of the soils in the Mississippi and Missouri watersheds are full. Having dry weather thru March, April and May needs to happen.

Our coronavirus situation

This story and news from around the country and world is strange and makes one wonder who or which group is/are pulling the strings. I mentioned different supporting information that I had access to telling how and where it came from. No one is mentioning this? The common and uncommon cold is still spreading, which it normally does until the weather warms up. More people need to look behind the curtain and find the real answers. People will still be eating and the market place will still be needed what will be produced with the 2020 crop. Farmers will still be planting in the April through May time slot and don’t have the luxury of shutting down for a week. Livestock still need to be tended and fed.

Keeping your mineral levels and immune response system levels high will be important. We had a large flu problem back in late 2014 and early 2015 that got my 84 year old mother. Most of the other people around us fared well. They were younger and better able to cope. My sister teaches Infectious diseases at the U of IA Medical School and serves as the VA epidemiologist there. This could be a challenging position in the next month. I wish all people well.

Manure solutions

I mentioned a few months ago that we had access to a new pit treatment for pork producers that really works. In the pits it was dumped into the crusting, fly and rodent problems, and the odor issues were gone. By tying the ammonia and sulfur odors into the microbial bodies those two fractions were being emitted. Do so also made the honey more valuable as a fertilizer source and will lower the cost of raising a crop in 2020. Having cleaner air in the buildings will also lower the amount of respiratory problems in the hogs and lead to better production with those hogs.

So if you are raising hogs and need solutions to a pit problem you may want to check out a product called BioAmend, which is a creation of a mineral/microbe specialist from Logan, UT that is brewed near Mason City and will be available in totes ready for delivery. We have the articles from Ken Hamilton on our website.

Seed treatment

The old time seedsmen in the soybean industry typically waited until the warm weather to start processing soybean seed. They knew they would have fewer problems with seed coat issues and splits. So starting about now we will see more seed being treated with a few of the many products typically applied.

The list of products that can be applied include hard chemistry to eliminate or stop a fungal problem, a biological product that establishes within the seedling and roots to aid in mineral uptake or helps fight a pathogen, an inoculant that forms nodules where N is fixed, hard chemistry to fight nematodes or insects, a biological to fight SCN or insects as well, and possibly a mineral product meant to boost seedling vigor and supply early micronutrient needs. This is a long list that may leave people scratching their heads and having to make decisions about which ones need to be left off due to budget restraints and the need to get all needed products into the 3 to 4 oz. that the seed can hold.

Early season insect issues

Normally after spring gets closer the extension entomologists do their calculations on how harsh the winter weather was and make calculations as to what percentage off the bean leaf beetle population survived and the expected threat they will be to the emerging soybean seedlings. We have had years where they are crawling down the seed furrow crack to feed on the beans in the crook stage and we have had years where they are no threat.

If this past winter was deemed very mild, then how large was the population of BLB in the Soybean crop and fields last season? If it was large and the winter was mild, then the early planted bean fields near any wooded area or tall grass prairie, CRP, or pollinator field could be at risk. Soybean seed meant to be seeded in such a field would be a candidate to receive an insecticides on the field. Fields further away from your home base that would be more costly and timely to drive to may also be in the same category.

Soil sampling

Any disruption last fall due to the wet harvest that make soil sampling impossible could be remedied by having those samples pulled and analyzed this spring once the soil dry. You can do it yourself or a local CCA who has the equipment can get the job done. Recognize that the results derived from sprng sampling can vary from fall pulled samples just due to mineral release rates in the soil.

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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