Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Is Wild

On Monday I posted some comments on Western Bean Cutworm and since then our local trap has produced 50 adults.  The above picture is from a trap near Dresden with over 300 adult moths.  Many traps in the southwest are overflowing with adults.  Let's hope they stay there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bugs Keep Agronomists Employed

If it wasn't for insects there would be a lot of unemployed agronomists.  This is the latest critter that provides a job security blanket.  The Western Bean Cutworm.

Pioneer has a network of traps across the southwest and there is one down the road from our farm.

This is the trap.  It has a pheromone in it which attracts adults with reproduction in mind, only to be sadly disappointed.

This is the count from the past weekend's party, 15 dead bugs.

This is a very low count in the world of western bean cutworm.  Heavy flights will fill traps with over 100 party seekers.  The trap counts have been increasing this past week with the heaviest concentrations around Bothwell and Tillsonburg. 
Hybrids at risk to WBC damage include conventional hybrids and hybrids with the Yieldgard gene.  Herculex and SmartStax hybrids have resistance built in. 
Will keep an eye on this trap over the next few weeks. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fungicides and Corn????

A lot of attention has been focused on applying fungicide to the corn crop and I will go on record as one who supports this practice, mostly because you can book new crop corn at over $6.00.  But I have a couple of bones to pick with the more vigorous promoters.

1. Yield Advantage.  There are reports of +20 bu per acre yield advantages for fungicide application on corn.  Anyone thinking this type of response is typical and achievable is talking through their hat and more interested in taking money from our pocket and putting it into theirs.  The manufacturers claim that yield advantages are in the 8 -11 bu/acre range plus some potential benefits to standability and DON levels if you use Proline. 
Brian and I have accumulated 3 years of side-by-side data using ground equipment.  Our average yield advantage has been a solid 5.5 bu per acre, with the range from plus 3 to plus 9 bu per acre.  A 5-7 bu yield advantage is probably more the norm than the exception.  OMAFRA research is in the 5-7 bu range as well.

2. Application Method.  There is only one way to put fungicide on corn.  Take to the air.  There are too many cowboys talking about ground application who have never driven a high clearance sprayer across a corn field.  GPS is a great tool, but common sense must come into the equation.  Sprayer jockeys are getting too used to letting their auto steer do all the work.  Unless the GPS planter data can be loaded into the sprayer's GPS, you are asking for trouble.  The sprayer will knock down too much corn and it won't come back.  Even if the sprayer jockey takes the time to steer the machine down the row, he will run over some corn.  Sprayer boom widths and planter widths don't match up very well and variable guess row widths make it worse.  Sitting in the sprayer seat, the decision becomes whether to beat up the row under the right wheel or the row under the left wheel.  Munching down 1 row out of 40 equals 2.5% loss.
We have measured the rows that run under the sprayer axles and found there can be a 4 bu /acre yield loss on these rows.  When corn is in full tassel these plants take a beating.  The faster the ground speed, the worse the beating.  And we haven't talked about headland losses yet.
Add it all up and our solid 5.5 bu per acre advantage soon dwindles to the 4.5 bu territory. 

Do yourself a favour and put the extra bushel toward the airplane.  The deer and the raccoons take out enough corn without us tramping more into the ground.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Early Wheat Returns Catch Our Attention

Wheat harvest swung into high gear this week and yield reports have been impressive.  Mind you, the first wheat harvested is the first wheat planted last September.  The early planting date gives it an immediate advantage. 
Regardless, 100 bu /acre reports are common in both soft red and soft white.  I weighed some 25W36 at Norm Bilyea's today that went 113 bu/acre.  Add on the premiums paid for white wheat and serious money soon starts to pile up on the table.

The above shot is a strip trial at Rick Merkel's.   25R47 sprayed with Prosaro fungicide is on the left and the untreated check is on the right.  Prosaro, like most wheat fungicides, always gives the crop a healthier appearance.  Only when you see them side-by-side does the visual difference become striking.  How did it yield?

The check plot ran 99.1 bu and the Prosaro plot ran 100.6 bu /acre.  Visual differences don't always translate into yield diffferences, but for my money I will still take the Proasaro treated wheat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take No Prisoners

Canada thistle and perennial sowthistle are tough hombres and it sometimes requires a "scorched earth policy" to eliminate them.  Every June too many customers inquire about how to control sowthistle or canada thistle in their corn and beans.  There is no good answer to this question.  Gyphosate tolerant crops have lulled us into thinking we can control every weed in the spring.  When it comes to thistles, this approach is a bust.

Summer is time to hit back and hit hard at these two.  A one litre pre-harvest glyphosate application to this wheat field will eliminate more thistles than any other time of year.  If the wheat is underseeded, sacrifice the clover and spray.  The weeds are flowering and setting seed.  Sugars and carbohydrates are moving back into the root systems to get ready for next year which makes the plants extremely vulnerable to glyphosate.  Most fields have tramp lines in them from fungicide application so the sprayer just has to follow the tracks.  Make sure the wheat is at 30% moisture or less.  Pressing your fingernail into a 30% wheat kernel will leave an imprint on the kernel.     

To really complete the job, spray again in early September.  When next June comes around you won't be asking what to do with thistles.  You will be too busy admiring your clean field. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sex? A Year Later and Still Waiting

One year ago on July 9 2010, I published a post entitled "Sex all around us".  It can be found in the July 2010 archives and I have reproduced it here.

"The corn crop is ready to reproduce. This is a shot taken on Wednesday, July 7 from Fred Olbach's 38N85 planted on April 14. Today, Friday July 9, we can find silks beginning to emerge on fields of 38N88 and 38M58 planted the week of April 19. It is normal to see silks emerge before tassels because breeders select hybrids that initiate silks first. It is a factor that contributes to yield stability."

"The rains that fell over the area last night could not have come at a better time. The peak demand for water and nutrients occurs at pollination. Corn silks grow at the rate of 3/4" per day under ideal conditions like we have now. The above two pictures were taken of the same plant 2 days apart. You can see how quickly silks grow. What this means is a large portion of our corn crop will be in full pollination mode next week. Pollination under good conditions lasts about 5-7 days, so over the next 14 days most corn fields will be pollinated in this area. It is a full 3-4 weeks ahead of last year's pace."

"What it also means is the early corn silage will be ready to chop on or about September 7, because it takes approximately 45 days to reach half milk line after pollination is complete. It takes about 60 days to reach physiological maturity, grain moisture 35-40%, after pollination is complete. A little more timely rain will set up some awesome grain yields."

Today on Saturday July 9, 2011 the prognostication is not quite as rosy.  There is some beautiful corn in the area.

This corn will silk the last week in July, which by the way, is right on a normal development pace.  Corn flowering by early August still has excellent yield potential.

Then there is also some not so beautiful corn.

Not much to say.  This field is in huge trouble.  The variability across all fields this year will be the killer.  
If 2010 was "awesome" on July 9, I guess 2011 will be "less than awesome".