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Crop watch

By Staff | Apr 16, 2020

Happy belated Easter everyone, or did it seem more like Christmas with snow in the air on Sunday and cold temps throughout the entire Midwest and Northwest part of the country for the next few days.

As a first in the lifetime for many people there were no Easter church services to attend. Let’s get back to normal. We were able to present our 2 year old grandson with a set of gardening tools which included rakes, a shovel and a hoe. He knew immediately what they were for and had to head to the backyard and start shoveling and raking dirt with them. He was ready to start raising things.

The cold air intrusion is actually headed as far south as Texas where it might wreak havoc with the wheat which has gotten close to the boot stage. A few growers down in Oklahoma called on Saturday wondering about any steps or products they could try or apply to minimize the effect on the wheat plants. Those broke dormancy and have been advancing through their Feke stages during this warmer April weather and are now at a critical stage. The same will apply to much of that crop in Kansas. Temps in Garden City in the SW part of the state were projected to be under 20F and in the low to mid-20s as far south as Tulsa, Alva and Garber. The people and crops affected will have to wait for a week or so before the damage can be assessed. There were two steps we discussed that had the potential to help. The presence of wind could help, but 40 to 50 mph gusts were predicted, would be overkill. Wish our southern counterparts the best for Sunday and Tuesday nights.

The CoVid-19 saga continues. It is surprising how so few people are asking and how no agency is continuing to discuss whether this critter was man-made or natural. A noted physician and author, head MD with Medical Veritas sent an official letter to the White House asking for due diligence being done to answer that question. What happens if any definitive answers as to its origin arises is anyone’s guess. It could open a large Pandora’s Box for a number of countries as such research or mention of it is typically ‘verboten’ to the public.

The ramifications

The collateral damage from the world wide panic is sure having an effect in several different areas of ag and animal production. Having pork processing facilities in Columbus Junction and Sioux Falls shut down due to workers testing positive for the virus leaves a large number of hogs needing to be delivered with no immediate alternative site for processing. How many extra pounds may be accumulated until producers have their answer? It is now vital that the new Seaboard plant near Eagle Grove was built and is operating.

I have not been able to verify this but one commentator mentioned that the phase 1 of the agreement with China had an out clause in it if ‘A Force Majeure’ type pandemic or ‘Act of God’ calamity was to occur out of either party’s control. We will have to see if anything happens on that front. Might that be why the early news on the true extent of the virus spread in China was withheld?

Meanwhile we get our daily briefings from our governor and Presidential task force. As to most of the blabber or approach it seems centers on being a victim as in hiding under a desk. Why not advocate the use of quinine containing compounds, mentioning the value of Iodine as the Dr. Dan Derry, PhD from Canada did, and the fact that proper mineral nutrition for a human will promote a strong immune system and response. A friend’s observation that the FDA and WHO will only approve products that drop billions into the coffers of the major pharma firms appears to be true. What are the true roles of Fauci and Gates?

In my deliver travels it has been nice to buy gas for as cheap as $1.10 per gallon. But the crude oil feud between Saudi Arabia and Russia causing the collapse in gas prices along with low usage in the U.S. has now made the price of corn based ethanol prohibitively expensive. There goes another market for our 2019 and 2020 bushels. When will this usage appear again?

Cold temps, corn and soybeans

Last week’s warm temps in the cornbelt excited quite a few growers enough that with the calendar showing mid-April being close and the soil fit it was time to plant something. With a number of high bean yielders advocating for earlier than normal planted soybeans there were a sizeable acreage of beans planted in Illinois, some in Missouri and a few in Iowa. They are tending to use as many seed treatments as the seed would hold to endure they emerge and not fall prey to soil fungal pathogens. Did it make sense to do so? Early planted beans have more time to form additional podded nodes, thus the potential for more branches, pods and bushels. Coupled with late fill period applications of K-S-Mg to plump up seed size, as Kip and Jimmy have done, bean yields can go up exponentially.

As to having major acreage planted we did see a few fields planted througheast central Iowa, western Illinois, and northeast Missouri over the weekend. My guess is that while the majority of growers hope to plant early and avoid the delays of 2019 they were watching the ten day weather forecast and saw the extreme cold predicted for the April 12th through 15th time frame and decided it was too risky to plant corn.

Soybean seed populations

The issue of soybean seed population still gets debated. The plants can capitalize on having more space individually from which to harvest more sunlight so if planted thin if they have the genetically propensity to add branches will do so. If one looks at the new varieties over the last 5 to 10 years that trait has been emphasized among soybean breeders.

Mark Terpstra of Mark’s Seed Company in Perry used to space plants 4 feet apart to see which ones would branch the most, then select for other desirable traits.

Jimmy Fredrick’s earned the title of champion soybean grower with his 50K populations, but never received much publicity as no seed company wanted him as their poster child. So he proved low seeding populations can work, but at the risk of being too low if a hail storm came through and reduced a thin stand even further. So most growers will feel comfortable planting rowed beans at 100 to 120 K and drilled or air seeded beans slightly higher.

Chelating agents and kelp products

When a grower first begins to go down the rabbit hole to explore biological, foliar and hormonal products they will run into products utilizing those words. I will try to lend a bit of clarity to those terms. “Chelate’ comes from a Greek word meaning claw. A crab’s claw means to surround or isolate a product so as to protect it so it does not get tied or negated up by salts, excess calcium or humus binding sites. So the minerals you want to get into the plant, leaves or cells are protected or bound to a chelating agents with may be an artificial compound like EDTA or a natural product like a sugar, an Amino Acid or a carbon or carbon based humic product.

With soybeans, many veggie or fruit crops versus corn the use of natural or man-made hormonal products are commonly used. A common source of natural hormones are sea weed or kelp. Different bacteria as in the PPFMs can produce their own hormones. Joe Polacco and Mark Holland were the plant physiologists at the Univ of Missouri who discovered their presence. We also see that products such as the new Impulse disease control product can greatly increase bean yields as its mix of amino acids and minerals are converted in plants to hormones which add to pod and branch counts. Regular fungicides do not do this.

Minerals applied foliarly are typically mixed with chelating agents and other products that help then get thru the waxy cuticles existing on most leaves and then into the inner parts of the plant. The pH levels and polarity charges on the leaf surface, inside the leaves, and within the spray mix are important in any foliar application and must be accounted for. The best publication to follow and receive guidance is that written by Dr. Patrick Brown of U.C Davis and is available in his 123 page publication entitled ‘Foliar Fertilization Scientific Principles and Field Practices’. The failure to seek out such guidelines and ignorance of such rules is why many universities and nutrient companies speak against foliar fertilizer applications. They were doomed to failure because they didn’t realize how much they didn’t know.

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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