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Crop watch

By Staff | Apr 29, 2020

One week after much of northern Iowa received up to ten inches of snow and we had winter like temperatures it looks like the weather has finally turned around and farmers and their planting equipment will be taking to the fields in full swing staring this week. After consecutive years in which the planting season stretched from mid-April until late June and even early July. The persistent cold trough finally moved east and was replaced by a southerly flow of warm air and drier conditions. So let’s all hope that we can have a ten to fourteen day period in which to get much of our spring planting done.

The news about the ever present virus never let up. A fair amount of talk was about the effect on each segment of ag, dairy, poultry, grains, swine and finally beef. The big news on hogs and cattle was the closure of several large packing plants as members of the line crew ended being diagnosed with the virus. In Sioux Falls the latest news on the closure was that the initial 3 day shutdown was extended to 14 days. We have to hope that news report was wrong. There was similar news about several beef plants. That places and extreme amount of financial uncertainty if no designated alternative facility is announced.

The confounding facts that while possible meat shortages are being suggested, and the prices for cattle and hogs have dropped by a large percent, the prices in the stores have not dropped and packer margins are at or near record levels.

Actions by Governors

It has been interesting to see what the governor of people of South Dakota have done. The state is less populated than Minnesota and Iowa. Nothing has been shut down as churches and restaurants have stayed open. Except for the packing plant workers they have not had any major cases of the virus. Kristy Noem, the Governor, has lined up a large research project between several major hospitals and drug companies to enroll 100,000 residents in a well funded, epidemiological study of the drug Hydroxychloroquine to test its effectiveness. In an interview given to a news staff she decided that rather than having the citizens shut in their houses cowering in fear and disrupting their lives and tanking the economy she decided to go on the offensive. She said if the drug remains as effective as many long time doctors have reported, and it is off patent, so remains inexpensive, that it will help them much more than waiting years for a vaccine.

Last week one person gave their opinions about what might happen in the southern hemisphere. What has been seen is that in countries where they have hot and humid climates and mosquito vectored malaria is a problem, the commonly used quinine controls the virus. The tonic water is made from the bark of the same tree that the quinine is produced from.

Through this mess it has been interesting to hear from well trusted reports that major groups of people in western states have been found to have the antibodies to the CoVid-19 in the last four months of 2019. Acknowledging this fact does not match the narrative the media and the so called experts keep repeating.

Soil temps and the urge to plant

The warmer weather with sun boosted soil temps up into the 50s along Highway 30 by Saturday afternoon. If we can avoid major amounts of rain midweek across all section of the state we could see a great start to this cropping season. The same thing happened in 1992 following a weather delayed 1991 planting season.

The weather service that about a dozen of us subscribe to was predicting a month that would end up being about 3 degrees cooler than normal. This compares to the -13 degrees of last week. Moisture amounts are expected to be drier than normal, which is a plus given how full the soil profile currently is.

Weed control

A hot topic in papers and magazines being delivered to growers is to make sure they have a good residual component to their weed management program. This is the complete opposite to ten years ago as many fields were allowed to get overgrown with grasses and weeds before the crops were rescued with a systemic, non-selective product. It was too easy and that program did a great job of selecting for many tolerant or totally resistant weeks we now have.

No matter what the insightful weed scientists as quite a few universities recommended and advised against good advertising won out. So now we get to start a new season with only new combinations of older products that we hope can be applied on time, and hope that they last long enough for either the plants to shade the row or until the second batch of residuals can be applied. With corn there are still a few two, three or four component mixes that can last the full season. Not many bean mixes can claim to do so on a regular basis.

A new company

There is one new company that is putting out field trials again this season. It is a German company that has made its mark in the animal feed arena for about twenty five years. PhytoBiotics is testing a few mineral products that are delivered using an amino acid component to aid in their systemic and long lasting activity. So far the list includes copper, iron, manganese and calcium. From my and other peoples perspective the greatest gains in the near future are likely to come from the use of stabilizers, specific microbials and mixtures of them, hormonals and amino acid applications. Their rep in DM might be looking for a few more cooperators across the state. Contact me or Grant Directly at 515-512-2385.

Another horror from Asia

I received an article about another pest that has made its way from Asia and is being found in a few Pacific Northwest states. It is a giant 2-inch long hornet that lives in large underground colonies and is devastating to bee hives. Supposedly a few of them will attack a bee hive, biting the honey bees’ heads off until the hive is cleaned out, and then feed off the honey and larvae for a few days.

They pack a nasty sting that will create a large wound that may require hospitalization, with there being no current antidote.

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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