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Crop watch

June 8, 2020
By Bob Streit - Columnist , Farm News

So how would everyone rate the spring, the 2020 planting season, the condition of the crop? All in all we would have to give it an A for most of the state. In parts of Nebraska and Missouri farmers are still struggling to get planting completed. So we have reasons to feel optimistic about the yield potential of both the corn and bean crops. Now we just need a strong rebound to feel that our efforts would get rewarded. Somewhere and for some reason we have to hope for and work for some black swan event to make that happen.

By now most fans of Elwynn Taylor, our now retired ISU climatologist tell about farmer Benner. He was an unknown farmer from Kentucky who carved diagrams in the wooden beams in his barn that depicted the 18.5 year solar cycle that traced the droughts that seemed to occur every 9 or 9.25 years, and the resulting low yields. He accompanied the droughts with a 2 year up cycle where the low yields created an economic boom cycle that resulted.

So just when the economy was beginning to open up in more states and cities there had to be the racial event up in the Twin Cities. The entire event seems too staged with lots of outside agitators getting paid to protest. And who delivered pallets of bricks to conveniently sit on the street available for anyone to hurl at windows and people?

And for my list of must watch videos or articles to educate yourselves. First of all, a great read and somewhat long is one entitled 'The Perps behind CoVid-19'. It is a full rundown of the clandestine labs and biological research being done in many countries and an assessment of the danger they present to the human race. A lot of them have serious splaining to do. Such articles mean more when you know a few of the individuals mentioned.

Then there is a two hour interview conducted by a gonzo, very insightful, somewhat rogue, person named Joe Rogan. He interviews a Libertarian, regenerative ag apostle who might be the most well known chicken and veggie farmers in the country, Joel Salatin. He has a few recent books to his name such as 'Everything I want to do it Illegal, where he names the many regulations and hoops an individual producer has to do to sell healthy and nutritious food to people who want to buy it. A more recent one is the 'Incredible Pigness of Pigs'. He was the keynote speaker at the Eco-Ag Conference a year ago and he gave a 105 minute talk that was information filled and hilarious. Everyone would have voted to give him another 30 minutes.

His message what that the virus shutdown was great for local food producers who sell directly to the consumers, as more of them want to be closer to the source of their food and where it is coming from. In the interview he does mention Iowa, with its great soil and industrious producers, but where a high percentage of the stuff that hits our tables is grown elsewhere. But he asks why we only raise two or three major crops. It may take some ingenuity and determination to break the mold, but there is money in food, just not much in commodities. So what will it take to make it happen? When one flies over European countries along the North Sea the number of greenhouses below is amazingly large.

The condition of the crops

The condition of the corn crop is good, with it needing more sunshine and heat. It sounds like the heat will be arriving in June. Most of the fields have taken on a yellowish caste in the last week. My guesses are with saturated soil conditions the roots are not as active as they should be thus are not pulling in the nitrogen sitting a few inches down. Until now the spring has still been on the dry side and not much leaching should have occurred yet.

Already it appears that in areas that consistently face woolly cupgrass moving in from the field edges are seeing it happen already. For corn taller than the V2 growth stage the top product to spray might be Capreno, with its two mode of action products that long residuals. The smaller and a bit later planted corn may be able to make a pass or two around the field edges and along the waterways with Corvus for longer control, or one to the three labeled HPPDs.

The tallest corn I am seeing locally is in the V4 and moving into the V5 growth stage. That means it is time for growers who like to manage their N programs by taking late spring soil nitrate tests to determine how much NO3 is present do so. The Solum Soil Lab, which was owned by Winfield Solutions for a short while can test for both NO3 and NH4 to give a broader view of the amount of residual nitrogen available to the plant. If you can get an accurate figure on those levels, and the amount of rainfall during the three spring months don't exceed 9 or 11 or 13 inches, I will have to be reminded what figure to use, then what shows up now should be plant available for the corn crop. This could be one area where a livestock feeder could save money.

Tissue testing

With poor prices a common refrain is that many growers don't plan on spending any additional money on the crop. Is that a wise move? To me each grower still needs to identify the low stave on their cropping barrel and make educated guesses on which products still have a high likelihood of giving a decent ROI. It may increase the chance of breaking even or returning a profit if prices rebound or there are shipping problems in the South American countries.

With knowing that four micro-nutrients are deficient 70 to 95% of the time, it is easy to tell growers to be sure to pull leaf or plant samples for lab testing of the major micros. The optimum time to pull samples is quickly approaching, so be ready with sample bags and a plan to do this sampling.

Soybean herbicide applications

The 25 to 30 days after planting for the post-emergent broadleaf herbicide applications will be here shortly. The bean plants may be shorter than normal, but some of your first applied product may be declining in effectiveness already. The earlier than normal bean planting date may be paired with an early then normal application of the overlapping residual products.

In making plans about how to manage any leaf diseases or any other fungal problems that may be showing up in six weeks, be aware of the new Impulse, a new mineral foliar product that besides supplying the micronutrients that are commonly deficient in bean fields, but it also keeps fungal diseases at bay for the rest of the season. In 2019 trials the bean plants exploded with branches and pods. Double digit yield increases are typically hard to come by. I view this as a groundbreaking new product. There is still a small supply available through dealers. In an era where strobes have lots some of their activity the cheap generics may no longer control the Cercospora.

May the sun shine all week with a gentle one inch rain on Saturday night.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or



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