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Crop watch

By Bob Streit - Columnist | Nov 24, 2020

Sunday was November 22nd, the 57th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. I know that every person who were in any grade at school, even kindergarteners, remembers that day and of being told what had happened in Dallas early that afternoon. When discussing it with their parents or any other thinking adult they recognized that the American people were being lied to. Even though Walter Cronkite repeated the lie, the facts didn’t add up to all of the men who had been in the army and knew anything about ballistics. Then when Oswald was shot before he could tell his side of the story, he was killed by a man with mob and CIA ties. Now here we are 57 years later and the official mainstream media is asking us to believe another tall tale. I don’t think one side of the aisle is going to buy their blather. A good contact who operated in that world shared what he saw, knew, and learned at the time and over the years. I had the chance to visit with a friend last week. He is an expert at running many high dollar medical detection instruments and related how the official WHO and CEC recommendations were told to run 35 to 40 amplification cycles of the PCR device. However lab tests have verified that when running this device which indirectly amplifies small amounts of RNA into DNA the greatest accuracy occurred when only 15 cycles were run. Running more than 15 destroyed its accuracy and magnifies any past virus DNA unrelated to the CoVid to create lots of false positives. Above 35 magnification cycles the rate of false positives was >80%. Plus the Nobel Prize winning inventor of the machine stated it should never be used as a diagnostic device. Unofficially more than a few people had the ‘Chinese Crud’ as it was called in Wyoming and Utah ski towns last fall months before it officially arrived in the U.S. A few people around me reported it was the worse cold they ever had experienced. I may try to post the article yet.

And with this issue that will be sent out and read during the Thanksgiving period, which is meant to commemorate the first European settlers surviving the harsh winters in this brave new world, with help and hints from a number of local inhabitants, we have to be thankful for surviving another year. We just hope we never have another year like it. Now if Leif Erickson and his band of Norsemen who canoed as far south as Minnesota had set up permanent settlements here, we might be eating Lutefisk instead of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

The grain markets

It has been a long five or six years since there was enthusiasm in the grain markets. Unfortunately the bears and lack of storage by guys in the derecho territory forced a number of corn and bean producers to sell before the run up in prices occurred. With the recent moves in the bean markets the ceilings are off and the market will have to ration bean sales. It has been a rare event when U.S. beans were shipped south to go into Brazil ports for livestock and crushing needs. In one of my later trips two of us took off across Sao Paulo and western northern Parana states through towns I could not pronounce to meet with heads of various producer groups. At our western most jaunt we stopped at several large cooperative offices and learned that those grower groups figured out there was a huge demand for frozen chickens in Europe, so they had member growers build enough barns that their slaughter plants could process as many as 500,000 birds per day. Now it sounds like those poultry farms may be feeding Midwest grown beans to their birds.

One of the benefits of farmers making some money producing and selling grain is that there could again be enough cash flow to purchase needed inputs and equipment to increase efficiency needed to raise their 2021 crops. A lot of growers were having combine breakdown problems when they likely put off expensive repairs due to budget concerns or simply old age of their machines.

The one thing that is creating apprehensive among observant growers is that part of the reason for the run up in prices this fall is that we had the drought and derecho that made a lot of bushels disappear. China had historic flooding in their prime grain growing areas. The Ukraine also had dry conditions. And now the dry conditions are continuing to shut down the planters in Brazil. They typically like to see a week of rain on their lighter OM, low CEC soils before they take the risk of planting their first crop, which is normal soybean. They ultimately will get the beans in, but it forces a later bean harvest, and limit or eliminate the planning of the rotational corn crop. Because rain in their four winter months is rare, they have a firm drop dead date past which they will forego planting dryland corn. That lays out a bullish outlook for our 2021/2022 corn price in a year when second year corn could be a rarity in the territory where the windstorm blew over so many acres of corn.

Winter meetings

Once the Thanksgiving period is over with the winter meeting and ag conference season typically begins. We typically get updated on new products and get to hear the summaries of how well different input products worked or disappointed. Those with their CCA certification recognize they need to build their CEU resumes and have enough to meet their requirements and not fall short. A few of us may need to contact the ASA office up in Madison and have Luther Smith react proactively to have more online certification classes offered on a very flexible schedule.

Conferences that already have or will go virtual were the Annual Agronomy and Soil Scientist meetings, The Acres Eco Ag conference in Columbus, OH. We have not heard anything about the Iowa Power Show, Normally held in late January in Des Moines.

Last year most seed company reps and herbicide salesmen from the major companies were instructed to have no face to face contact with their customers, sometimes with the threat they would be terminated if their disobeyed. Reps from smaller companies had more leeway in what they were allowed to do. How some of the business that needs to be completed with a face to face meeting may have a hard time getting completed. Luckily most farmers recognize they face more of a disease threat when their walk into a confinement building than they do with this flu.

Fieldwork ongoing

Until this past weekend there was still lots of tillage, fertilizer application, and deep ripping taking place, and tiling being done. Now with the nighttime temps falling into the teens the ground is going to get harder and harder as it begins to freeze. If the forecasts are correct we may see one to two inches of rain fall and soak in. After that very little moisture will be added to the profile and we will have a substantial deficient existing in the western two thirds of the state.

Insect outlook for 2021

Expect the 2021 season to be nearing the peak of the 2022 five year corn borer cycle. So growers who have continued to plant conventional hybrids simply need to be able to recognize when the first and second brood moths are flying into the fields to deposit their eggs, be able to make counts of the moths or shot holed plants and take action if needed. Timing is still everything, but longer lasting insecticides like Stewart, and the use of polymers to lengthen their residual period could all play a role.

A tougher insect is the rootworm and their larvae. So far they have foiled anything and everything that growers and input companies have developed to control them, be it crop rotation, planting time insecticides or traits. The recommendations I have heard giving for this year call for multiple strategies to be used in any suspected problem field. Controlling them will get expensive, but not getting control will be more expensive.

Seed selection

In a year when there were very few averages, drawing a clear cut conclusion about varieties and how they performed was difficult in many parts of the Midwest. Planting dates, rotational differences, soil types, duration and extremes of stress periods, plus method and amounts of N applied were very important in most fields. Will those extremes ever be duplicated or are they already in the cards?

A wise man hopes for the best but plans for the worse. What may help a lot is that there are five or six things that can be done to minimize the effects of heat or moisture stress. I will spend time discussing them in my next column.

So have a piece of pumpkin or pecan pie and say thanks for all the great things we have been blessed with in this great country. Plus thank the persons who grew and prepared the food. They deserve thanks every day.

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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