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Crop watch

By Staff | Jun 19, 2020

Thus ended the first week of June, 2020. All seven days were suitable for fieldwork, which let a lot of work get completed and the crops noticeably add height and development stages. A few areas had heavy rain and a few of those experienced damaging hail where the damage will have to be assessed this next week. Temperatures were quite a bit above normal as were average wind speeds. In fact the first three days had prolonged winds above 25 mph with reported gusts of 50-plus. If your job was to get a full day of spraying done, it meant starting around 4 a.m. and hope to get one or two loads applied. It was still better than sitting on the sidelines for multiple weeks like in 2019 and 2018.

It must have been a blessing that we received the hot weather to compensate for the cooler than normal May temps. The cold front arriving on Tuesday is predicted to stay around for the rest of the week. In 2018 the crops got off to a late start and appeared to have no chance for the corn to hit knee high by July 4th, the warm June allowed the corn crop to add about four feet of growth and catch up.

Virus news

A number of you have called and expressed gratitude for me passing on information about the current pandemic. Over the weekend a Detrick contact said the Chinese were disappointed that the virus did not kill enough people and would work on making the next released virus more virulent. Your job then is to eat healthy, build your mineral profile and get your immune system fully functioning by this fall, as it is your best defense.

A new book by a French scientist who had great insight into the workings of BioSecurity Labs just wrote a book entitled ‘The Wuhan Lab and the Mad Scientist Dr. Fauci Funded’. On page No. 1 it lays out this timeline:

  • 12/19/2016 Trump Gets Elected by Electoral College.
  • 1/9/2017 Obama lifts his ban against making corona virus infectious to humans.
  • 1/11/2017 Fauci said “there will be a surprise outbreak”.
  • 1/20/207 Trump is inaugurated.
  • 1/22/2017 Gates predicts ‘An epidemic, either naturally caused or intentionally caused’

Would you believe the book has already been banned and pulled from sale by Amazon? I already have my copy. It is one that Grassley and other investigators will be reading. Knowing this do we freely allow Chinese students and visitors entry into the U.S. this fall? This could be a serious issue.

Super market prices

At a time when the prices for market ready cattle and hogs are in the toilet and feeders are searching everywhere to find a plant with open process capacity, who can justify the large price increases seen in many grocery stores. The stated margins between live pork and cattle and boxed prices are at record levels. The expected response by quite a few people was to take the animals to a local locker for processing, but those plans are often thwarted when one finds their open dates are often into 2021. Most of us can butcher but cutting it up into finished cuts without a cold room would be difficult.

Dicamba news

The news of the week was the announcement of a major court ruled that the EPA erred in not giving any or enough consideration to all the collateral damage incurred from dicamba drift and vaporization in many of the soybean growing states. In an honest world the herbicide would have never been considered to be used as it was. It was widely sprayed on corn two decades ago when there was typically a 7 – 10 day hiatus between the completion of corn planting and the start of bean planting. Everyone knew they had to get their Banvel sprayed before the beans emerged in order to avoid drift complaints.

There is no longer that hiatus and a growing number of growers are planting beans in mid to late April. The mention of air inversions is legit. A collaborative project between the Herbicide Departments at the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University wanted to observe and record exactly how many air inversions occurred between a date in late May and a month later at several sites in 2018. It turned out there were air inversions in nearly all days. If the vapor pressure of the herbicide remains high enough for 4 or 5 days to volatilize and move miles to cause damage, what were and what are the chances that there won’t be more drift cases in this and future years. Strict adherence to all application rules was not enough to stop vapor drift.

The court recognized that being told by a seed salesman that they need to buy tolerant varieties to avoid drift problems on their own fields amounted to extortion. In the 90-plus page suit transcript it is pointed out that four notable university herbicide researchers tried to obtain for testing each of the new formulations to see how much the vapor pressure had been reduced. Each of those researchers were only given flimsy excuses as the companies knew the reduction in drift potential was only marginally smaller.

The fact that the confusion resulting from this ruling could have been announced before the seed was sold, delivered and planted, could have been avoided. We are just entering the normal time for applications and this timing puts a lot of distributors, retailers and growers behind the 8-ball. There is still confusion as to when the ban applies to sales, deliveries and application in each of the states.

In recent seasons the state drift investigators have been swamped with no relief. Internal documents disclosed that the herbicide companies had circulated memos advising no settlements for any of the complaints. Meanwhile DNR personnel had been noting lots of damage to older trees that are now in a state of serious decline. Would we really want each of the soybean growing states bare of trees?

Moisture conditions

This year while watching radar maps of incoming fronts and the amounts of delivered rainfall there were many fronts moving into Iowa from the southwest, west or northwest that seemed to detour around us. Rainfall was actually scarce in what should have been our wettest month. Our deeper moisture profile is in fine shape yet. Going into this week the question for the eastern cornbelt and maybe eastern Iowa/Missouri/Illinois is where does Cristobol track. Getting drenched now when the chance of nitrogen loss is greatest is something we would like to avoid. Another potential problem with the projected near term, wet weather for the next week is that the next one to two week period will be the optimal time to spray for broadleaves in soybeans. Not being timely with this application would allow weeds to get taller than 4 inches and where they develop additional growing and recovery points on their stems.


I was preemptively mowing lawn until late on Thursday night. My Grasshopper has great lighting. The high topped thermal thunderheads had tremendous cloud to cloud lightning displays. That evening similar high topped clouds dropped lots of hail in different communities along and north of Hwys 20 and 3. If you were in one of those areas and your crops received damaging hail you may be out there with your seed reps and agronomists judging the extent of the damage and response. Allow 3 or 4 days to elapse before you can see new regrowth tissue forming and if the plants’ growing points remain intact. Hail adjusters typically begin their work on the fringes and move inward to the worst of the damage.

Mainstay Si

The value of silica has been recognized by crop producers in countries in South America and Asia while it remains mostly an unknown here. Its application and use on many crops has shown it offers multiple benefits. When I toured production fields of corn, sugar beets and potatoes in Idaho’s high desert country in 2017, I saw crops that no longer needed the normal three applications of fungicides and insecticides the neighboring fields needed. These fields also flourished with one third less water. We’ve also seen greatly strengthened corn stalks and a reduction in or an elimination of green snap. In a nebulous category we see treated plants having measurably thicker leaves with a thicker layer of chloroplast containing cells that capture sunlight energy packets, creating increased radiation use efficiency (RUE). In cloudier or cooler years this could be very valuable in increasing yields or helping to reach maturity. The optimal time for applying the silica based product is V6 thru V8. For many fields that will be during the next two weeks.


2020 is not forecast to be a high European Corn Borer year. The best way to track their and other insects’ presence and population. The way to manage them is to make use of light traps or light trap catch data. With such data and calendar correlation you can see which moths are flying and will be laying eggs in the fields. Looking for every damaging insect every time you scout is energy wasted. Know what is flying, what the adult, eggs and larvae look like. Update yourself on treatment thresholds and which products are labeled to give control. Now is when you are both producing as well as protecting bushels.

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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