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Crop watch

By Staff | May 22, 2020

Another week of the 2020 planting season has passed and basically it was a good week after our warmup finally arrived. Most farmers in the state lucked out by just a few degrees as temperatures in different parts of the state and Midwest had one of our most severe late season cold air intrusions for this late in the spring. What likely saved us were the cooler days since planting which slowed emergence of the early planted beans.

Most of Iowa was spared. In visiting with ag people in neighboring states the cold air mass move east, where they saw north central parts of Illinois missed the heavy freeze. The cold air skipped that area and nail emerged beans in the Bloomington area where they may now have to replant. We wish them the best with this task if they have to replant many acres.

For much of the week wet fields slowed down continued progress, which in most cases involved getting residual herbicides applied. Rain was welcome in many areas as working the corn ground twice before planting beans dried the soil tremendously and many beans were laying in dry dirt. Generally dry conditions in May and early June are beneficial to the crops and work schedule as farmers can get their tasks done rather than sit idle waiting for the fields to dry.

On the national scene it feels good to see that society is emerging for the mandated slowdown imposed by the governors. Many of us are still waiting for published recommendations on immune system boosting, good diets, and the use of tonic water and zinc as effective alternatives to collapsing the economic systems and throwing ag into complete disarray.

One good 37 page report I saw was from Nobel winning French scientist, Luc Montagnier. He is now retired from heading the European IBM Artificial Intelligence Lab which did a complete search of the CoVid-19 structure and inserts. He listed the amino acid sequences in the constructs, mentioned all of the inserted genetic material they found, which lab and country they came from, and who if anyone has the patent or library for them. His work quiets anyone who still professes it is a naturally occurring organism.

Over the weekend one observant gentlemen from South Central Iowa apparently obtained from John Hopkins, by state, the number of deaths, apparently for all normal causes, by month at least for Iowa. He listed the number of deaths by month for 2017 through all of 2019 and Jan through May of 2020. Then he focused on the Jan through April tallies and compared each year and the three year average for the first four months of 2020 when the ‘news’ of this ‘Plandemic’ was being blasted over every media outlet. Guess what? When adjusting for the one extra day in Feb 2020, the Jan through April death toll was actually 210 less in 2020 than Jan through April in 2017-19. (10,580 avg. for 2017-19 versus 10,370 for 2020) So they crashed the general and ag economy, violated everyone’s constitutional rights and disrupted society for that?


The most recent market news was that the Chinese officials were advising their major grain importers and processors to buy and transport more corn and beans soon to meet their needs and build their stockpiles before any new virus outbreak occurred in China or if loading delays worsened in Argentina or Brazil due to shortages of dock crews. This should add to our export numbers and support prices.

Crop conditions

Observing and watching the corn plants emerge in their own corn fields was the big item for most growers over the last two weeks. The soils were in great working condition and the planting season progressed so well for growers that many were wondering what black swan event was in the future. Nearly all fields have excellent stands in spite of many fields being planted in front of a cold rain.

Those fields that were emerged had to miss the freezing temps that posed a theat. Luckily the growing points were below ground, partly because most growers now plant at 2 to 2.25-inches deep. Thus the corn crop in the state is off to a great start. In-season N supplies need to be managed as do in-season minerals and micronutrient levels. If you don’t monitor those micro levels have someone perform the sampling and get them tested.

The current at risk areas for preventive planting appear to be parts of the Dakotas, Missouri, Illinios, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohios where wet conditions have slowed or stopped planting progress. Areas in those states appear to be a situation similar to last season.

This was a year where more bean growers chanced planting a portion of their bean acres 10 to 14 days earlier than they had ever done before. The frost was worrisome for them, especially with those that had emerged, and knowing that once the cotyledons opened up the freeze susceptible would be exposed. Those old seed halves have enough sugar and solid material in them to be freeze tolerant but the growing point does not.

What we have seen with field inspections so far is that plants along grass field edges and those near root balls and residue clumps were the ones most affected by the cold. It was Wednesday when temperatures warmed up again and the newly formed tissue appeared to give a more accurate clue as to whether the corn plants and new growth were going to be normal and the plants were going to survive.

As nice as the soil worked, the top few inches of soil were very dry last week and the rainfall amounts of .75-inches to 1.5-inches were welcome. Having it fall late on Saturday night was perfect. A full day on Saturday to get outside work done, rain after midnight, and then take time off on Sunday.

Herbicide apps and weed/fungal resistance

The sprayers were busy the last three to four weeks applying the pre-emergent herbicides. They have become important again in the battle against weeds. Vital enough for bean growers to have become believers in applying a second dose of residual herbicides like Zidua to beef up season control of late emerging waterhemp. Weed scientists are also pointing out that having this overlapping system of residual herbicides should also extend the number of years that each post-emerge products could maintain effectiveness.

It will be interesting to see if any of the research plot generated waterhemp that demonstrated resistance against the amide class of chemistry progresses to doing the same thing in the field. We hope this does not happen in the near term. There are a few new numbered compounds in research plots that are still a few years off from being commercialized and available to growers. What we would do if and when this happens is something that weed scientist David Mortensen of Penn State is often asked about. He is dubious about total weed control with herbicides only as a viable program and is working on constructing alternative, integrated approaches.

While discussing weed resistance, the reality of fungicide resistance is also a reality. A very good article and guidebook on this topic is now available from the Univ of Wisc. (Publication A3878) We will have it posted to our site shortly. It will help demystify the different branded products and premixes for growers.

Bean beetles and weevil larvae

The two insects mentioned in most IMP newsletters are the bean leaf beetles and alfalfa weevil larvae. Both appear early to feed on their preferred hosts, which are the leaves of the first alfalfa cutting and the newly emerged soybean seedlings. So if you are in the business of raising high quality alfalfa scout your fields now to spot any leaf skeletonizing feeding and spray if 10 to 20% of the foliage show the feeding.

With the BLB the survival rates are higher with a milder winter, which we had in the Midwest. But with a high percentage of the fields being planted early with most of the plating being completed within one week, the populations should not be zeroing in on just a few fields. They may still be showing up but at no high levels yet.

Tissue sampling

With V5 to V6 corn being here within two weeks or so it may be time to call one of the soil analytical labs and get a supply of tissue sampling bags ordered so you can be timely with your sampling. The main Labs for our areas are Midwest Labs in Omaha and Ward Lab in Kearney. I sent most of my samples last year to Ward Labs in Kearney, Nebraska as he can perform and explain a Haney Test Report very well. He can also test for Moly while doing the other minerals, thus is able to minimize cost.

Be aware that 90 to 95% of the corn and SB fields are testing low for Moly and boron. So correcting those two deficiencies if they are the low stave on the barrel may give you your highest ROI of any input products this season.

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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