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Crop watch

By Bob Streit - Columnist | Nov 10, 2020

The tasks at hand for most growers included continuing to do any fall tillage that needed to be done, emptying any pits under their confinement buildings before the ground froze, applying any dry fertilizer or 82% that needed to be delivered and applied while the weather conditions were conducive to such work.

Our 2020 election

Apparently companies and network executives never took a course in government. Since when do they get to announce who won an election? It appears that the final determination is still weeks away. Common sense says that when someone tries to keep all attention away from what actually happened, they are hoping to divert attention from the truth.

We were down in Brazil a few years ago for their national election. The voting lines in the area we were in were very long, as every able bodied person is required to vote. If they don’t, the ability to get a driver’s license, participate in any government program, or do a number of other important things is denied. Only housebound and the very elderly can skip the process. The voters all needed to show their picture ID and give their fingerprints. We have to ask why in a country with supposedly more advanced communication systems and networks, why don’t we have the same requirements in the U.S.? Only Putin gets 100% of the votes in every election. Or else.

In my opinion we may get to hear more about the Hammer and Watermarks. A few of us were invited to speak at a Food Security Conference in Beijing back in 2014 and spent over a week in the country. We did get travel to see the historically important sites and visit with a few of the local hosts and academics. It seemed completely different than travelling in South America or Europe since the language and businesses were completely different. Citizen conformity through constant monitoring and surveillance is real. Knowing that China has their ‘China 2020’ stated goals of supplanting the U.S. as the world leader in 8 to 9 areas of industry by any means possible does not mean they are looking out for our best interests. Who is our media serving?

Fall harvest still progressing

The harvesting of most corn and soybean acres was 90+ percent in most of the state one to two weeks ago. That is not the case in areas when the derecho flatted the corn fields. Apparently the insurance companies say harvest them and the farmers are saying the plants are too flat. If they do try to get the flattest areas the speeds at which they can travel are less than 1 mph and the risk of tearing up their corn heads or taking in rocks is multiplied over normal years, plus the machine owner gets to fund any repairs. The final chapter on this story may be decided when we get a measurable and lasting snow cover. The conclusion might be that there will be many fat whitetails in the state by spring.

Insect and SCN news

A pressing topic at recent winter meetings has been how to manage the increasing problems with corn rootworm feeding? Several decades ago every planter carried insecticide boxes. With the advent of CRW traited hybrids and larger folding planters those mostly disappeared. Now with Duracade being the only effective trait left, second year corn growers are looking for answers again and are checking on products or ideas that offer an affordable solution. AmVac has developed advanced high concentrate, low use rate granules and pulsed liquid systems to lend efficiency to planter applied systems. A few years ago we tried to convince that company to develop polymerized, slow release granular products since our suspicions were that we have selected for late hatching eggs. Both planting time products and the use of traits, where the toxin levels drop with advanced growth stages, fail to last long enough into the season.

Stay tuned for performance information as to how the EPN (insect eating nematodes) plot work turned out. We had planned to collaborate with a Cornell University entomologist who had isolated nematodes that fed on CRW larvae and their eggs. All of a sudden he quit communicating with us as the Iowa Corn Promotion Board found the funds to work with Dr. Cassman of ISU. Aaron and Elson are Arizona natives. They ended up with at least one university plot plus more with one or two seed companies within the state. The other use area not in New York is down with irrigated corn growers near Dalhart, Texas.

Another likely cause of the increase in CRW problems is that escaped waterhemp plants are becoming more common. They are heavy pollen shedders that attract lots of hungry, egg laying beetles late in the season. Their eggs hatch the next spring to feast on the corn roots.

New this year are limited quantities of seed from Syngenta and Golden Harvest developed using the PI89772 source of resistance. This source was found during s 1930 collection trip to China. Those early sources look more like morning glory plants that need years of backcrossing before they can be claimed as agronomically sound, disease resistant varieties. The work on this RM 2.3 variety was aided by a nationwide collaborative research effort headed by Greg Tylka, ISU, and Melissa Mitchum, University of Georgia.

Speaking of insects be aware that 2021 will be year #4 in the 5 year peak to peak European corn borer cycle. If you plan to plant conventional corn varieties pick up scouting guides that provide guidance on identifying and scouting for the moths, eggs, and larvae. Knowing when and how to scout could be important in 2021 and 2022.

Where corn ear worms were bad in previous seasons we have seen the different Beauvaria b. products available in either liquid or dry formulation do a good job in preventing damage when applied to the seed.

Fungicide results

I am interested in hearing from growers on the results from their fungicide applications on corn and if the residual period seemed to be as long as long as seen in previous season with the same products. I recognize that the marketing and use of the three way mixes including one of the Carboxamides increased dramatically in 2020. Plus disease pressure was minimal thru early August due to the dry conditions. Then once mid to late September turned wetter, early planted fields matured while still green fields were affected by heavy Southern Rust. This fungus hastened the browning of most still green corn fields.

Dicamba renewal

It surprised a lot of us after there were a record number of complaint cases that Dicamba received a five year renewal by the EPA a few weeks ago. The university weed specialists who spent time chasing damage complaints were hoping it would be gone for good. In addition weed specialists in four states have seen the development of dicamba resistance weeds in their screening programs. Except for widening the no-spray borders and requiring the inclusion of a pH adjustor, not much has changed since 2020. Their chemists hopes are that by keeping the pH of the mix from dropping into the 4.5 or lower range, the volatility of the product will be reduced. Nothing has been said if work to eliminate this ‘gassing off’ problem continues.

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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