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Crop Watch

By Bob Streit - Columnist | Dec 9, 2020

The last month of the year is here as I sit writing this article. Dec, 7th is commemorated each year as it marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the event that pulled our country into WWII, which they had hoped to avoid. The blatant, dawn attack work the citizens of the U.S., up as many countries hoped. Our people recognized that outside country’s citizens had been waiting for the super power to make their entry. The people here had endured the Great Depression and the long slow climb out of that agonizing decade, and were not ready to get into another long and costly fight. But our country’s leaders and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the 5 foot, 6 inch tall Winston Churchill, knew this country had the industrial might the rest of the free world could depend on if they were going to defeat the Axis Powers. One of the ready reminders can be seen in the harbor where the carcass of the sunk Arizona Battleship releases a slow drip of oil that slowly rises towards the surface even after all these years.

So here we are over a month after our national election still not knowing how things will turn out. The televised hearings held in the swing states were great theater when any knowledgeable trained forensic computer sleuth get to share their expertise with the attendees. I have mentioned being in Brazil in their national presidential election. Everyone was required to vote or lose any federal benefits for the next few years and provide a picture IDs and their fingerprints. It is no different than other events where positive ID is needed. How is that infringing upon anyone’s rights? It is time to make this change.

The meeting and convention season

The first week of the time period when the big ISU Extension Crop Management Conference is held and where we get to hear speakers from this and several surrounding states present on topics important to both growers and professional involved in production ag.

It got canceled so those of us who needed to add continuing educational credits missed out on the chance to learn from those sessions and add the knowledge that should have been disseminated. For those who are involved in production ag, the world kept turning and all the normal tasks had to get done. No one simply sat in their basement wearing a tin foil hat. Heck most livestock producers realized they get exposed to more viruses walking through their sheds or buildings.

The past week was also the time for the big EcoAg conference scheduled to be held in Columbus, Ohio. It went virtual also. Even if a person can view the videos over a screen much of the information and learning comes from small group discussions with friends or strangers who can share their knowledge. I know that is how most normal people feel about this season, let’s just get back to normal.

As far as product meetings where growers get to learn about new crop protection products or varieties, will any of those be held? I know any crowd of more than 10 or 15 people has been forbidden by governor assistants. So a lot more may have to be done over the phone or in one on one sessions.

And who wants to hear a speaker who has to mumble through a face mask? It might be possible but I have not seen it yet.

What topics might emerge in 1:1 planning sessions?

There are a few areas, mostly in the northern two or three counties in the state where corn and bean yields were good enough to turn a profit on $4 or $4.15 corn, but south of there the rains stayed away from late June through mid-September. So the common fear is that there are a number of cycles and observations that suggest 2021 and 2022 may be drier than normal. While we see grain prices increasing, will we get enough rain to grow decent crops next season? The last crop report showed that grain stocks and carryout numbers tell of lower grain inventories than we have seen in years. If it is dry next season what steps can be taken and what product may protect our crops from excessive heat stress. In the management sheets I prepared and am sharing with my clients this winter I listed a number of items that can be considered suggestions:

– Build soil health and grow a larger microbe population to serve as a moisture reserve next summer.

– Eliminate or limit tillage that allows moisture to evaporate.

– Keep either a residue layer or cover crop on the ground to help keep it cooler.

– Increase moisture infiltration to keep any rain where it falls.

– Consider applying ethylene inhibitors which function by reducing ethylene production to reduce the canopy temps in the plant.

– Use a fungal product discovered and tested by Rusty Rodriguez and his team in Seattle, which when| applied to many crops allows them to tolerate extreme heat and dryness. (Sold as BioEnsure, Heat Shield, StressTec or Protect +); making an application of monosilisic acid as Mainstay Si creates a more intact vascular system that offers a 33% increase in water use efficiency.

– Eliminate any insect feeding on the roots; form as deep of a root system as possible. There are two minerals have proven to do this when tested in Brazil by Yamada.

The topic of corn rootworms comes up and except for being able to suggested crop rotation, the options for guys who raised continuous corn are limited. In walking through soybean fields that held lots of pollen shedding waterhemp plants late last summer, it is easy to suggest that there could be a sizeable eggs that could be hatching and feeding there next season. We know that the Herculex gene as developed in Ames by Bing and Bystrek with Mycogen stayed effective in controlling feeding larvae, but was always tough to manipulate and was kind to all insertions. It got tamed down finally to where it is kinder to a high percentage of hybrids and inbreds, but that it has been challenged in a number of fields. The current recommendations include using the traits but still have a soil applied product applied along with it. Nature is trying to win again. My hope is that a Georgia could resurrect a proven award winning program where egg laying adults are attracted to a miniscule rate of a non-target safe insecticide to eliminate egg laying.

A common question

How many corn growers have asked why their second year or continuous corn was ten, thirty or even sixty bushels less than where it followed a bean crop in the rotation? How the seedbed was prepared or the presence of a compaction layer in the ground may have been a factor. How many growers have ever wondered how the rooting characteristic of the inbred families are still coming into play as to directing what shape, depth, recovery growth, number of root hairs formed, and nutrient capturing ability each of the few major genetic families possesses and passed on to their progeny which were the plants in your fields last season? What is going on below ground is not readily observable and can only be found with lots of spadework. The noted corn breeder Forrest Troyer used to mention it. There in one person in the state that I would consider the expert who learned it over his working career. It has been an ongoing conversation.

A personal note about a little soldier

Our youngest daughter, Jessica, gave birth to Jack Robert in early July this past summer. He was the typical baby for the first few months, but always seemed to be uncomfortable without being held by his mother. We had to wait until he was a few months old before they relented to us visiting them in St Louis. That Sunday they took him to the nearest hospital and after a lot of testing determined he had a hyper active immune system that would not turn off and would start attacking his spleen and other organs.

The short acronym we learned for the long worded condition was HLH. When caught early they can treat it but it requires lots of grueling treatments including chemo and a bone marrow transplant. At the age of 4 months he has had more needles stuck in his body than most people do in their lifetime. Jess had to relocate to Cincinnati, where the HLH expertise is, while Jake commutes on weekends and takes along their 2.9 year old, William. We and all of Jake’s relatives and friends are supporting them as much as possible. The restrictions due to the virus makes everything more difficult in deciding who can do what.

If we have to be gone every so often it may be involving Jack and the rest of the family. As to the cause or occurrence of HLH, it is relative rare to be diagnosed, but is being found more often in recent years. How often might it never get diagnosed? The specialists suggested it could be a gene mutation or it may have an environmental cause. There is a large river that flows right by St. Louis. We plan to help them do a survey in case it may help other young couples. Carol provided a few links to look up if you would like a few more details about this.

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/h/hlh

Go Fund Me: https://gf.me/u/y4hgst

If I don’t have the chance to write another column before the Christmas Holidays have a good Christmas and remember what it celebrates.

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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