Renewable Farming

Consultant Bob Streit: Update on field day today, plus harvest news

Oct. 2, 2017 By Bob Streit — The year is now three-fourths over as harvest gets a good start in northern areas and chugs on further south. This is usually a time to think back on the growing season and how things went very well and knowing that the chances of garnering a profit with the bushels you are putting into the bin now are high. Instead a reality check this fall for many growers is the shortfall in bushels versus the last few seasons.

Where the rainfall amounts were greater the yields are surprisingly good, likely because the August temps were about ten degrees below normal reducing the number of stress days. In a lot of fields the crops limped across the finish line with the moisture profile on empty. As to showing a profit on regular #2 yellow corn, that gets much tougher as the carryover bushels, whether real or perceived, keep a lid on any rally. And at the same time our growing season has come to a close, the planting season in South America is ramping up as the beginning of their planting season is generally September 20th.

In last week’s Farm News we placed an ad for a ‘Show Me the Money” Field Day for Oct 2. I guess while driving back from Kearney, NE to participate in harvest activities and to visit with Ray and Lance at Ward Labs I stopped by the Verdesian Life Sciences Research Farm west of Guthrie Center. I had my Canon XF100 camcorder with me and the corn looked so good we caught it on tape and the thought came to us that rather than just writing and talking about how it looked this fall it may be rewarding to collaborate on an informational field day for interested people.

The next weekend held two 90+ degree days which took away some of the green, but still worth looking at. So about nine hours from now it will be time to drive down there to help chair the event. We don’t have a firm agenda, but the people we plan to have time and then mike to discuss their role in growing the crop are: Dave Schwartz with Verdesian; Mitchell Hora, Greg’s nephew who has his own soil health consulting company; Bob Wagner, Dan Coffin, head agronomist, and Gil Farley, president, all of BioDyne to talk about their stalk degrading and soil health promoting microbes; Marv Mortensen to talk about what he saw in the treated fields, and myself to related what I see as how all the pieces fit.


Dicamba News

What a way to start out a column, but it might be important. A person could join a discussion on this product and Extend Soybeans and see it from several viewpoints. First of all, you didn’t have to drive very far along rural blacktops or gravel roads during August and September and see that there were no longer many picture perfect soybean fields, due to the many large weeds that were poking thru the canopy, often two feet or taller than the bean plants.

These were often marestail or waterhemp that we have selected for their tolerance to our current herbicide arsenal and have survived or recovered from being sprayed with a previously effective herbicide. So we have a lack of effective herbicide problem. I also know that more than one grower is still using air assisted nozzles with contact herbicides, in spite of many articles advising switching to hollow cone, twin directed, or one of the new specified nozzles on the market. So we have a lack of education and equipment problem. This can be corrected.

Time of spraying is still an issue in that due to frequent rains or an excess of windy days, spraying the beans while the weeds are less than 4 in. tall doesn’t always happen. More like 6 to 8 in. is common, thus there are more growing points. So we have a timing problem, which may be manageable problem if conditions are halfway agreeable, but become problematic with frequent rains that prevent spraying.

There were growers who used one of the new forms of Dicamba, followed the label closely and went beyond by using new drift retardants, and were very watchful of neighboring fields. Things went well for them and their neighbors. Drift retardants and polymers seemed to have helped. I would hate to be a custom applicator that had a long list of anxious growers during a windy spring wanting their fields sprayed next before the next big rain hit. The inclinations would be to push the boundaries a bit.

But in a number of cases the properties of the target chemical are such that it does turn into gas, and as the season advances the chance of the product turning into a volatile gas and drifting quite a distance near sundown or sun-up become greater. The three companies involved seem to not want to discuss this property, because they failed miserable in getting any third party verification or testing done, and they recognize they erred. Has anyone heard any ‘mea copas’?

I still think they should delay any decisions until after the court cases from 2016 are settled to see if they screw the victims who suffered major damages. The Golden Rule should apply here.

They had scheduled a Dicamba summit for near St Louis with quite a few people in attendance, but about 70% of the invited experts declined to attend as their colleagues had already been belittled by the organizers. Let’s see what happens at this event.

 Corn Harvest

Yields seem to vary widely. There are 80 Bu/A fields and there are 280 Bu/yields. Both amounts of precip and if the growers were able to keep their fields green and filling longer to add to grain depth influenced results tremendously. Building soil health and moisture holding capacity were huge factors in boosting yields. The take home message there is that soil health is not typically something that comes out of a jug, it is something that is learned and will take dedication and several seasons to achieve. At the same time an advocate tells people what they need to do to build soil health, they should also tell people what products to avoid, as they are damaging to soil micro-organisms.

Stalk quality in the areas of high stress could be a problem, so stay on top of this issue and stay on top of this with some field scouting where you conduct your own pinch tests on the stalks.

 SB Harvest

In the northern half of the state soybean harvest is just getting a good start. Those growers have fields that look very good and had adequate rainfall during the growing season. If their results follow the trend seen in central Iowa there yields could be about ten to fifteen bushels better than expected.

In discussing soybeans it should also be a good time to mention that it can be a good time to sample for SCN. Be aware that there are several new products that can be used to control these small pests. There may be a fungal based product, two of three bacterial ones including a chitin degrader, and a biological extract called Root X.