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The Cropwalker - Volume 1 Issue 7

Always read and follow label directions.


Choosing Hybrids for 2019

Okay, so, everyone is talking about the problem with vomitoxins in the 2018 crop. Lots of theories about why, what, etc. But now you have to get on and pick hybrids for 2019. Especially to get early order discounts. There are some hybrids that some believe are less susceptible to vomitoxins. They will sell out early. Suggest you trust your local dealer. They have seen the good and the bad from their company, and of the hybrids in their area. They are not apt to sell you a hybrid that had problems this year. If you look far enough you can probably find bad fields of most hybrids. No problem with talking to two or three companies. This is a year where I would want to deal with experienced seed dealers. I want to deal with someone who knows more about hybrid traits than volume discounts. I want someone who will be around for a few years, especially next year if something bad happens. You normally pick hybrids of different maturities anyways, since you never get all your corn planted on one day. That strategy should give different hybrid characteristics; including flowering times. I probably would not pick a hybrid with tight husks, unless bird damage is a big issue. But pick your hybrid now, while there is good seed availability. Most companies will allow you to switch hybrids later, if something comes out later, suggesting that you picked the wrong hybrid. Provided they still have seed of the hybrid you want to switch to.

Pitfalls of Planning 2019 Season

Do not spend a lot of time worrying about vomitoxins from the 2018 season. That is over. Two years ago, too much time was spent talking about neonics. Last year too much time was spent about Western Bean Cutworm. Or was it the other way around. I don’t remember now, and you probably don’t either. Point is that during all that time we could have been discussing things that really make corn grow, like fertility, populations, rotation. Besides odds are that vomitoxins will be a lot smaller issue in 2019.

A Bit More on Vomitoxins

If you haven’t read enough already here is a bit of a summary. There are about 100 toxins produced by moulds in corn. You need certain weather and growing conditions to have these moulds develop. They (moulds) start many years but never get a chance to produce the toxins. Of all the toxins produced we zero in on DON. Other bad ones include zearalenone and aflatoxin. Some US states test for aflatoxin. From my corn breeding background all traits are genetic by environment. That is, you need specific genetics and specific environment to produce certain traits. Probably the most well documented is purple leaf in corn. Certain hybrids carry the trait to produce purple leaves if they encounter certain environments. Typically, cold or another stress. Under certain conditions hybrids will allow mould to grow.

Crop Insurance and Ploughing Down Corn

Crop Insurance has still not released any acres for ploughing down. We ploughed down thousands of acres in 1992, when Crop Insurance allowed ploughing down corn. If you have to plough down corn, you do not worry about volunteer corn if you mouldboard plough. Anyone who used soil savers had a horrendous volunteer corn problem that following year.

Safety at this Time of Year

We all know that this is the time of year when too many farm accidents occur. Probably the most common element is too much hurry. Take frequent breaks, stop to eat, and think about tasks ahead. I have farmer acquaintances/friends who were injured hauling grain, doing unwise things in grain bins and working with augers, working under equipment. Over my years I know too many. Some suggestions, take frequent breaks, think through most actions from climbing down a ladder on combine or bins, to unplugging combines, to hauling grain on roads. A lot of drivers travelling the same roads as you are. I used to tell summer students, “just presume they are idiots and will do something stupid” Think ahead. And one other thing. A friend of mine had his truck stolen, and smashed. Remove all keys from trucks and equipment. Have a common place to place them every time you leave your truck/equipment.

Tillage for Cover Crops

If you have an annual cover crop, such as oats and peas, really no reasons to do any tillage this fall. With these crops a bit of light tillage next spring will do enough if the crop is going into soybeans. If going into corn and you have a heavy cover crop, consider some very light tillage.

Corn Stalk Tillage

Some soils you will be able to use a conservation tillage tool, whether it is Lemken, Salford, Case IH or one of the many lines from AGCO, it doesn’t matter. You should not use anything with a deep ripper. You want to go shallow. All you want to do is cut up the stalks, leave some dirt on them to help break them down and level off the ground. If you have compacted headlands or places where you continuously drove the grain buggy, mould board plough those areas. Some of the wise folks are suggesting if we mould board plough all the corn stalks, we won’t have a fusarium problem. Not quite that simple. Since the disease can travel a long way if you mould board plough yours and the neighbour does not then you will still have spores to start the disease.

John Deere Conservation Tillage Tool in Corn Stalks

Spraying Volunteer Wheat

All fields that have volunteer wheat should be sprayed this fall with glyphosate. If no other weeds are present, then use the lowest labelled rate of glyphosate.

Spreading Fertilizer This Fall

Any phosphorous spread this fall should be incorporated. Lime must be incorporated. Potash does not need to be incorporated. If you are using MAP or some other phosphorous source that has nitrogen, you will lose 50% of the nitrogen. Nitrogen and sulfur must be applied in the spring.

Consider others at Harvest

Lots of hurry and worry. Take time to thank the others you work with whether they are family, hired help, the equipment repair guy, the folks at the elevator. A thank you goes a long way. Maybe even bring them coffee.

Building Soil Organic Matter

David Montgomery, geologist and Anne Bilke, biologist and authors of the books; Dirt, The Hidden Half of Nature and most recently, Growing a Revolution, spent considerable time researching how to build Soil Organic Matter as part of the latest book. In their research it came down to three factors; minimize soil disturbance (park the plough); grow cover crops (to add carbon to the soil), and grow a diversity of crops (to break up the pest and pathogen carryover problem). These three factors were common amongst farmers that had restored degraded soils. For more information, see their website at https://www.dig2grow.com/

Yield Loss due to Overly Dry Grain

Had a request from a member. What is the yield loss if I dry my grain TOO MUCH? The elevator or end user pays on weight, based upon standard moisture. If you are below that moisture you are giving up dollars by delivering less water.

For Corn, standard trade is 15.5% moisture, see table below for dollars lost per bushel for overly dry grain.

Drying corn below the moisture of commerce costs dollars

Link; https://agrilife.org/texasrowcrops/2016/10/13/dry-corn-grain-harvest-potential-income-losses-i-description/

For Soybeans, standard trade is 13% moisture, see table below for dollars lost per bushel for overly dry grain.

Drying soybeans below the moisture of commerce costs dollars

Link: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/harvest-soybeans-13-moisture

Data Management - Layers vs Zones

Often people use the terms interchangeably. Layers are geo-referenced data points from your field. They can be used on their own to make a prescription or zone, i.e. yield data to generate crop removal fertility recommendations. Layers can also be from multiple sources and combined to create a management zone. Zones are defined management areas within a given field. Zones are built upon manipulating a single or multiple layers of information. Depending on the application, you may be able to use one zone map for multiple applications. However, in most instances, you will likely have multiple zones maps for applying various types of inputs.

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. - Niccolo Machiavelli