Friday, October 18, 2013

Some Reflection Required

Soybean harvest is over and it is time to evaluate performance.  IP promoters have been active in their quest to sign up growers for next year.  Premiums have been established earlier than ever and the story is demand for IP soybeans is high.  Please sign up, life is good for IP producers.
I admit to a having a bias because I sell RR soybeans, but the interesting thing is there is a lot of RR soybeans grown in the area for crush and for seed production.   I have been doing a straw poll among growers inquiring about yields and a clear trend has emerged.  I know that my poll has no scientific basis for accuracy because IP and RR soybeans are never grown by the same grower in the same field.  However, this is what I have found out so far.
RR soybeans are yielding better than IP soybeans.  Using 50 bus as a bench mark, RR soybeans are consistently above 50.  Out of my poll of 20 RR soybean growers, 17 reported yields of over 50 bus.  They consistently mentioned a high level of satisfaction with the performance of their RR varieties.  Contrast this with the average response of an IP grower.  IP varieties have been consistently yielding less than 50 bus and growers express a much higher level of disappointment with these varieties' performance. 
If I were to put an average to it I would say the minimum difference is 5 bus.  If you take the newest RR genetics like 91Y01, P16T04R and P19T01R the difference is greater than 5 bus. 
Assuming 50 bus yield plus a $3 IP premium nets an additional $150 per acre for IP.  No doubt this is attractive and worth considering. Taking a 5 bus yield penalty and extra herbicide cost cuts the premium in half.  Is $75 dollars worth the extra hassle of making sure the beans are perfect to capture all the premium offered?
I encourage everyone to offer their opinion.  If I am wrong, please tell me.  I know the discussion will continue. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Let The Kids Out

A common question the past few weeks has been whether I had seen any ear molds. After the debacle in wheat this past summer and the wet foggy mornings in September, the common assumption was ear mold levels in corn would be high.  I have been seeing some low level infection like the picture below for several weeks, but it had remained spotty and not high enough to raise alarm.  However, gibberella ear rot is very unpredictable.
Three weeks ago this is what it typically looked like.  The black tip is a symptom of giberella ear mold development.  When you break the cob open it looks you see a rotten core which is a clear illustration of why it is called gibberella ear mold.
I was interested to hear the OMAF summary of their gibberella ear mold survey in corn this past week.  The synopsis was ear mold levels are very low, with the exception of a couple of hybrids.  I know enough about ear mold to never make too many assumptions and looking around the last few days has made me increasingly nervous.  I am seeing more of this white cotton like symptom which most producers identify with ear mold.
Another thing I know about ear mold is that visual assessments can be misleading.  The presence or absence of visual mold has little bearing on actual toxin accumulation.  Mold will continue to grow and produce toxins until corn moisture drops well below 25%.  With grain moistures in the 30% range there is still time for toxins to accumulate.
I would agree that most fields do not have a mold issue, but corn growers need to pay attention if they see ear molds developing.  Moldy corn will always yield less because mold feeds on the starches in the kernel reducing test weights and dry matter..
If you are a livestock producer, harvest and dry the crop as quickly as possible.  If you have the flexibility, keep your cleanest fields for feed and sell the rest on the cash market. Blending grain is a tactic that can reduce problems because it is the toxin amount in the finished ration that determines livestock performance.  
Going forward Pioneer continues to screen genetics for gibberella mold tolerance.  P9754 has been advanced due to outstanding tolerance to ear mold infection.

 Clean grain right to the tip.  Priceless.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back in Black

A lot of chatter last week about black layer in corn.  It seems everyone is out looking. Some are finding black layer and others have not.  Is this a cause for worry?
No.  This kernel is from a 3000 HU hybrid and is displaying a distinct black layer.  Fuller season corn hybrids may not be showing a visual black layer, but they are finished the grain fill process.
This is a 3100 HU hybrid on the left beside the 3000 HU kernel on the right.  There is no moisture left at the base of the later kernel.  It just takes a few days for the black layer to visually appear
If you pick the right kernel you can see the early formation of a black layer which some confuse with brown layer.  The take home message is this corn crop is complete from a dry matter accumulation point of view.

Grain moisture is a different matter.  Healthy corn is anywhere from 28%-35% moisture. Dry down is now a function of heat and humidity.  Fifty heat units will take 1 point of moisture out of a kernel that is over 25%. After 25% it takes 75 heat units to drop 1 point of moisture because drier kernels take more heat to remove moisture. With three weeks left in October corn will be 25%-31% by the end of the month.  Remember, this is healthy corn.  There are already reports of corn at 25% moisture.  Corn this dry died a month ago due to northern leaf blight infection and while it may be dry, yield and test weight will be poor.

A customer also asked last week about ordering seed corn with no Cruiser or Poncho insecticide.  His field is beside a bee yard and the bee owner has concerns about his bees dying from neonicotinoid poisoning next spring at corn planting time.
The issue of bee mortality is very complicated and even bee keepers do not agree on the causes.  However, if the bee owner is concerned with the use of neonic insecticides there are options.  Pioneer has committed to providing neonicotinoid free seed for 2014 spring on specific hybrids. The list of hybrids available are popular hybrids over a range of maturity and include the following three which fit our area.

The important point is if you want to keep your bee neighbours happy and enjoy their honey I need to know.
There is a deadline of October 15  for these orders to be processed because the majority of the seed supply will still be treated with neonicotinoid insecticide.