Renewable Farming

Crop Update from consultant Bob Streit

Bob Streit      515-709-0143

There are a few important things that must be addressed to produce the most bushels possible, where a good portion of the profits might be contained.

It has been a somewhat eventful summer. One event that many poultry farmers will never forget was that they got blasted by a disease that until now seemed like something that affected flocks over in Thailand and other southeastern countries. The problem is still having a major effect on counties were the facilities are located: Lost income, lost birds that may not now be reimbursed for, furloughed workers, and lots of flies and stinking rotting birds were commonplace in many communities.

A closed bird flu meeting was scheduled to be held in Des Moines today, July 28. The first hour is open to the press, but the best part is current closed to the public. I wonder if enough people will be willing to question what really went on. A good DVM on the scientific advisory panel did remark that it’s not often that we see an avian disease move north to south when the supposed carriers were migrating south to north. Whoever was in charge or appointed themselves to the investigative positions on this were never willing to accept input from good people who had valid ideas on potential causes or remedies. There were good scientist and producers from both the US and other countries who should have been heard, but never got the chance. Instead of finding the weaknesses in the systems and fixing them, few things were corrected to prevent another outbreak. 

The majority of corn fields tasseled and silked on time. Pollination was very good. It was difficult to find a field contained the long, blonde silks which indicate a lack of sufficient pollen or a mistiming of a good nick of the pollination process.

The corn plants in many fields have grown taller than average, thus many of the high clearance sprayers are not tall enough to drive thru the fields anymore. Usually airplanes have to be called in for any late season tasks.

The most common task at hand for many growers is the application of fungicides to combat the leaf diseases brought on by the triangle of wet weather, carryover inoculums and susceptible plants. Hopefully by now every field has been scouted in recent weeks to assess the condition of the plants in each field to see if spraying was justified and met the treatment thresholds established for each disease. In many cases there are no great guidelines for many of these diseases.

Years of experience coupled with idea of risk/reward along with a good handle on the price of treatment and value of the crop are the information needed to be able to make treatment decisions. There will be fields that should have been sprayed, but farmers were looking at tight budgets, while there will be other fields where no one with the experience was available to discern if the disease was going to progress or if the drier and warmer weather was going to slow the problems down.

The list of major storms that caused crop loss so far in Iowa had remained slim — until now. But several storms that rushed across the state late last week changed that. It is now possible to find bad hail as well as bad wind damaged areas. This late in the season there is not enough time to recover from such storm damage.

Crop rating wise, the eastern Cornbelt states, save Wisconsin, sat at about 50% Good to Excellent while in the western state the rating for Good to Excellent was about 81%.

Soybean Crop: There is also a large east-west bias for soybeans still existing at a Good-Excellent 74% rating for the west versus 41% east. Along with the wet conditions out east the lack of sun and heat is continuing the decline of the bean crop as it continues thru the flowering, pod setting and seed fill stages.

The beginning of the Sudden Death Syndrome problem seems to be emerging in several areas over the last ten days. It typically does not appear until after the last trifoliates have emerged, but it is not waiting that long this year. It was possible the last two months to notice bean fields where portions of the bean stand turned a yellowish color that typically identifies plants with a Fusarium root infection. The fungus keeps attacking the bean plant underground and waiting for the chance to make its appearance after the R3 growth stage. If I had to be a betting man I would guess that there could be many growers who get to see a very noticeable amount of SDS and white mold appearing in different areas.

To make up for the lack of podded nodes and lower than normal pod set, the best method is to compensate by making use of foliars that have performed well in recent seasons to add flowers, boost pod set, and make the applications to enhance stem strength and standability. High yields of soybeans are often dependent on understanding the plants’ physiology’ and fertility needs.

Soybean aphid populations are findable in all soybean fields, but at low numbers. In most I am finding maybe 15 to 25 on every 3rd or 4th plant. A betting man would assume they will continue to increase over the next three to four weeks, this adding in an insecticide like Kendo or another long lasting pyrethroid makes sense.

Drive Herbicide:  Most farmers and city people in the Midwest like to keep a decent looking yard that might be at risk of now becoming overgrown with weeds and crabgrass. In a wet year even the best pre’s dissipate early and let the second flush of crabgrass overtake a yard in July. I was losing the battle until I applied a newer product called Drive (BASF). I applied the labeled rate last Sunday and was watching the progress. One week later the target grass was gone except in a few areas that the boom missed. I would call it a spectacular success. Read the label and take the precautions if you apply it.


Speaking of Weeds

There are five known Iowa counties where the dreaded Palmer Amaranth has been identified. With the way machinery and birds migrate, most Midwest growers fully realize that fighting the dreaded weed is in their future. Usually when we see resistant weeds we can suspect that thicker wax layer on the leaf or resistance to root pathogens may be the cause of the weed’s survival.

Robert Hartzler at ISU says that an overproduction of the altered pathway gene sequence is the method of the six different modes of resistance of the Palmer. Be alert to any tall pigweed plant in your travels and fields that develops a very long seed head. If it appears to be Palmer, make sure it does not go to seed. There are more growers asking about row crop cultivation and what advances have been made with weed rollers and even the old rope wicks. Unfortunately or unfortunately the old technology of the two later items has not changed much, while the new optically controlled row crop cultivators will help. All three may be tools we will use again in the future.