I have been ignoring this blog for the last few weeks, not because I have been on vacation, but because I was totally engaged in a project that had its beginnings with our home renovation project back in the summer and fall of 2012.
Guests would look out our new patio doors and inquire about our plans for the deck that they assumed would be built. Oh no, Cathy would say, a set of steps leading down to a stone patio would be much nicer than a deck.
Last summer we investigated some options and at one point were leaning to stamped concrete. Our daughter Melissa, cried foul and said oh no, stamped concrete is not the answer. There is a "concrete product" that would be much nicer. As everyone knows, the two words "much nicer" are always followed by the two additional words "more expensive". Nonetheless the special product was ordered. A quote on installation was also received. At that point Cathy declared oh no, that was too much money. We can do it ourselves, love will keep us together. Melissa concurred by telling us she had friends in the business of backyard installations who say the product is dead simple to work with. I know the sales rep and we can also ask him, she claimed. I think you can tell where this story is going.
Meanwhile agronomy questions need addressing. The most pressing question has been the topic of fungicide application to corn. Sliding commodity prices are taking the shine off the practice. If you questioned the economics of fungicide with $6.00 corn, current offers at less than $4.00 will make you question it more. I have to agree because if you weigh the average response of 7-8 bushels per acre against the additional cost of $16-35 per acre there is not much room for growth in the bottom line.
Ryan Kennes, a fellow Pioneer rep has written a nice summary of his feelings on fungicide use at the following link.
I particularly agree with his comments on Proline. Livestock producers need to seriously look at this as a means of reducing the risk of gibberella ear mould in corn. Our side by side work with Proline last year produced 10 bushels improvement in yield and 50% reduction in ear mould. We are conducting a Proline trial again this year to increase the data set.
A good discussion about Northern Corn leaf Blight is also available at this link.
In the meantime, if you want to help lay some flagstone or dig a water pond come on by.