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Crop watch

By Bob Streit - Columnist | Apr 6, 2021

For about two weeks whether or not spring had arrived was debatable. Night time temps in the low 20s and daytime highs in the low 40s are not real warm and do not spur soil warmup or plant growth. Now in the last few days the daytime temps are above 60-70 degrees and expected to keep climbing. This was perfect for the Easter Weekend, outside activities, and family get togethers typical of that holiday. Here is wishing everyone a belated happy Easter and a rewarding church service to attend.

Easter is a Holy Day and its symbols are those that represent new life. Those symbols include emerging flowers, eggs, seeds, baby rabbits and young lambs. It is a time for refreshing and renewal of things precious to us. Our slates can be swept clean and we can give life another go

I am going to go a bit off course in recommending a few YouTube videos to watch which involved medical doctors sharing their opinions on this large health topic. Check out Dr. Ryan Cole – Covid Mistakes, Dr. James Neuenschwander at Medical Freedom Pennsylvania Press Conference, and James Lyon-Mechanism of Vaccine Injury. The one thing that has been missing over the last 14 months from the news media, radio, television and print, has been the truth plus advice on cheap and easy to obtain, mineral, vitamin, or essential oil-based treatments. Most groups have earned an F minus grade for their scare mongering, money grubbing performances. Too many people accept things that are told to them without questioning the source and the intentions of the source. For that side look up Peter Daszak-Eco Health Alliance and his funding of GOF work. Bad people can turn defensive strategies into offensive ones.

The USDA acreage report

What is the final interpretation of the recently released acreage projections? What are all the factors making the corn acres disappear? Bean prices are attractive and they are cheaper to raise than corn, especially with the high NH4 cost. In the Derecho affected area there was so much grain left on the ground cobs in in the flattened that the cautious growers are opting to try to maximize their bean yields.

I was thinking that a portion of the lost acres may show up being switched to wheat or sorghum, which for export markets, is worth more compared to corn than ever. The later crop can also tolerate limited water and heat better than corn.

Weather observations

Two weeks ago, as two fronts moved across the Midwest we were predicted to pick up sizable amounts of rain. The fronts over a week’s time period dropped as much as 7 inches of rain through central Nebraska but only .7 inches in central Iowa. That helped to refill their dry subsoil but did not help fill the profile in Iowa. We are running out of time before the start of the corn planting season to capture enough ran to fill the profile to within 2 inches of being full. Will this missed opportunity be a harbinger of us missing more rains during the 2021 season? With much of the western 2/3rd Iowa still being in a D1- D3 drought we have to wonder if significant rains will arrive yet prior to planting. The latest Eric Snodgrass forecast is still predicting a few cold weather systems and moisture fronts due in the next three weeks.

One newer product that I have mentions in recent seasons that could help both crops tolerate stress conditions immensely is a Trichoderma fungus (Protect+) discovered a team headed by Dr Rusty Rodrigues. It’s a fungus that lives inside plants. In the case of this microbe makes the plant extremely heat and drought tolerant. We were touring Yellowstone last August and there were too-numerous-to-count geysers and hot vents where the water and soils were at 160+ F. The plants that live in those soils were resistant to those conditions because of the presence of this microbe. Rusty and his team isolated this fungus and have tested it in harsh conditions such as in India where day time temps can reach 126 F and in Australia where severe droughts are common.

You can watch his YouTube Ted Talk video called Symbiosis. This refers to microbes and plants helping the other survive and is occurring all the time with plants and the microbes living in their root zone. The plants release a portion of the sugars they produce into the root zone to feed the microbes which in turn perform tasks helpful to the plants.

One Nebraska corn grower who has used it for two years attended our meeting in Atlantic and told how he has used it in his corn fields in 2019 and 2020. He saw a 25 Bu/A avg yield increase on his corn acres southwest of Kearney. At a cost of about $6/A and $5+ corn price it makes sense to use it. Protect+ is now available both as a liquid and a dry planter box treatment. We are expecting a new shipment shortly if you would like to call to use it on any crop you are raising. In 2018 a cow calf corn grower in northern S Dakota applied it to his legume/grass pasture and tripled his grazing capacity. In other trials it helped alfalfa increased yields by breaking dormancy 2.5 weeks earlier than untreated parts of the same field. Call the office at 515-231-6710 to speak for the 45 oz cartons which will treat one pro box of corn or beans.

When might corn planting get started?

Corn planting was expected to get started on Easter Saturday in the Fort Dodge area with an early bird wanting to get an early start hoping to capture higher yields. The ground is dry enough but most operators would feel more comfortable if the soil temps was in the mid to high 40s and heading upwards. Along I-80 there was a lot of fertilizer being applied but I saw no planters in the field on a run down to Avoca on Friday.

The same early planter fellow was expecting beans being planted this next week in central Illinois as those early planted beans in recent years have responded by forming more podded nodes. The small V-cotyledon stage plants contain enough sugar to tolerate lower temps than we previously thought possible.

If the air temps reach into the 70s in the week after Easter and the rains don’t move in we are likely to see more corn acres being planted. The memories of the delayed planting seasons of 2018 and 2019 are still entrenched in grower’s minds, so given the opportunity to make progress with getting a sizeable portion of their crops in the ground, they will be operating their planters.

Soybean management

For the farmers who see the high soybean prices for their 2021 produced crop, they have to be asked what plans they will be making to improve their yields over what they have done in the past. There are a select number of bean producers who have blazed their own paths to higher yields. They were able to glean ideas that champion growers have adopted and proved to work that now accepted. Kip hated harvesting his 150 Bu/A beans, but he learned enough from them that he was able to apply to his larger acreage of green beans. There is no silver bullet involved in high yield beans. Placed fertilizer, not being short on any mineral, developing a healthy root system in biologically rich soil, manipulating plant architecture thru hormones and foliar applied products and then late applied nutrition helped to plump up bean size are all crucial steps.

To establish healthy plants with a deep root system use a good inoculant along with a biological. I like GraphEx with SabrEx as an inoculant. To maximize podded node number plant early or use Lactobacillus and Acetobacter bacteria in furrow. To maximize branch counts, apply a hormone producing PPFM bacteria or Impulse or a combination of the two. To maximize pod retention there are several products that look good: Seed Set; Advance from BW Fusion, or a combination of the two. To increase seed size there are several products that have looked good: Seed Set/Rondo; Advance; or NutraBoost. There was limited testing of a mix of minerals, AAs, micros and fish that gave fantastic results in a drought area last year. Stress can be minimized with Phonix/Respite or foliar Mainstay Si. Maximize nutrient uptake and efficiency with products like Take Off. I was told of a newer product Seed plus Graphite from Phytozyme which is being folded in with Verdesian Life Sciences. Growers like Jimmy Fredricks use their imagination and the ideas from high yield innovators to better understand plant growth and physiology. They then understand the different plant growth steps and needs to develop an action plan for what the needs of each step will be.

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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