Renewable Farming

Bob Streit: Ways to keep your crops growing through dry stretches

Crop consultant Bob Streit of Central Iowa Agronomics is one of our key WakeUP distributors, and he also allows us to occasionally post excerpts from his reports to farmer clients. The six points he offers here are timely as Central Corn Belt farmers wrap up corn planting after one of the driest Aprils we’ve seen.

May 6, 2021 Bob is a veteran consultant, and before that he has deep experience in seed corn development. In today’s newsletter he reported asking several farmers in their ’70s if they had ever seen an April in Iowa with so little rain. None had. Thus, he offered this potential to-do list: 

Dry Weather Advice
Though we are not going to use the D word, there are a few items that could help plants tolerate dry conditions much better than doing nothing. Allowing them to minimize their response to stress can be big, as the ability to sustain longer without permanent wilt gets your crops days closer to receiving a soaking rain.
1. Improve soil biology, as the little critters will serve as a moisture source during dry weather. Their exudates will also foster a more dynamic rhizosphere and more active root system with better uptake.
2. Take tissue tests to monitor nutrient levels. With adequate foliar nutrition they can tolerate D much better.
3. According to the head of IPNI Brazil (Tosh Yamada) the inclusion of two minerals in a foliar mix will help the plants form a deeper and more expansive root system. The AgriGuardian mix includes those.
4. Keep the plant canopy cooler. Keep the plant from forming ethylene. Respite from BW Fusion will keep the canopy of any crop 8 to 10 degrees cooler for 15 to 20 days. Cheap and low rates.
5. Applications of MainStay Si foliar near V6 will create a more intact vascular system and will improve water use efficiency by 33 to 36%. This was verified by MD Guy Abraham.
6. All of these steps will help, especially if you selected varieties with a more penetrating, deep root profile. Shallow but massive root architecture genetics prefer wetter seasons.

Now we’ll add a recommendation from Renewable Farming which you can use to give your crops more endurance through extended dry stretches.  Foliar-apply the endophyte fungal and bacterial blend, BioEnsure and BioTango. We’ve been shipping this to clients earlier this spring for in-furrow and planter box application. 

With planting heading for completion, the next opportunity to confer your corn and beans a measure of dry-weather tolerance is to include it in a foliar spray trip. That could be a postmerge herbicide application, or a trace element feeding such as Bob Streit mentioned earlier. 

We’ve reported several times on this technology in recent weeks — hoping that Midwest soil moisture prospects would improve. That still may happen, but if your level of dry-weather concern rises (amplified by higher corn and soybean prices), please consider foliar-applying a combination of BioEnsure and BioTango.  The Drought Monitor map issued today shows “Moderate Drought” invading northeast Iowa, with most of the remaining parts of Iowa abnormally dry.

See our earlier articles for details!  Here’s a link to results on soybeans from applying BioEnsure alone.

Crop consultant Bob Streit