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Friday, May 22, 2009

Cornbelt Update


Extension Update is a weekly summary of news from Extension, government, and other attributable sources, focused on marketing, farm management, and other issues that are of interest to Midwestern farm owners and operators.

The market ought to be more worried about corn planting delays in the Eastern Cornbelt says IL Extension Specialist Darrel Good, who believes a potential 22 bu. per acre shortfall in IL, compared to 2008, could also be the case in Indiana and Ohio. Read his newsletter.

Good says the market may be ignoring planting delays because a similar situation in 2008 was erased with perfect summer weather. As a result he says the market:
1) may be primarily focusing on other supply and demand fundamentals.
2) may expect higher ethanol and export demand, along with Wall St. stability.
3) may not appreciate the yield implications of extremely late planting dates.

An IL weather and yield model developed by IL ag economists predicts:
1) A 175 bu. state average yield with average weather and only 14% planted late.
2) A 157 bu. state average yield with average weather and 75% planted late.
3) A 172 bu. state average yield with cool, wet weather and 75% planted late.
4) A 134 bu. state average yield with hot, dry weather and 75% planted late.

Planting delays will help push prices higher in a strong demand corn market believes Melvin Brees at MO Extension. His May newsletter says lower yields will lead to price strength, “One possible upside price objective is to target prices in December futures near the $4.70 high that occurred in January. Continued planting delays might provide the chance to increase price targets if prices continue to move higher.” Read his newsletter.

June 1 begins the ACRE sign-up, and some farms will either be helped or hurt by ACRE. OSU economist Carl Zulauf says put some in and keep some out.
1) For corn-soybean-wheat farms, the reduction in direct payment per planted acre usually will be smaller, the greater the share of base acres that are soybeans.
2) Compared to the counter-cyclical program, ACRE better matches current production risk because its payment is based on planted acres (up to the farm’s total base acres).
3) The higher a farm’s 5-year Olympic moving average yield, relative to the state’s 5-year Olympic average yield for a crop, the higher the farm’s ACRE revenue payment.
4) The more yield has increased the higher will be a FSA farm’s Olympic average yield. For example, recently tiled fields may have greater yield increases.
5) The closer changes in yield on a FSA farm and state move together, the more similar is changes in farm and state revenue, implying better risk protection from ACRE.

Flipping the switch. If you think that it is too late for corn and you are going to plant soybeans instead, work through a checklist from Vince Davis of IL Extension.
1) Review the economic decisions.
2) Variety selection will be a key, so look for university trial reports in your state.
3) Choose a variety with SCN resistance different that what was planted last year.
4) Warmer soils mean more fungal problems, so find varieties with disease resistance.
5) You will not benefit from any nitrogen application, so check that off as lost.
6) Check the label for issues with any corn pre-emergent herbicide that was applied.
7) With the intense fieldwork in narrow windows, keep rested, alert, and safe.

What little corn that has been planted in some states has been flooded out, and replant decisions are the top priority. IL Extension’s Emerson Nafziger knows you are wondering about using a shorter season hybrid. He says, “Early-maturing corn planted late is likely to be hurt even more by weather-related problems than mid-maturity hybrids would be, and both will be damaged by early frost. This suggests that going to earlier hybrids, especially if they are not adapted, may provide little or no benefit when planting is late.” Read more.

There is a similar philosophy from the OSU agronomists, who say, “In Ohio and Indiana, we've observed decreases in required heat units from planting to kernel black layer which average about 6.8 growing degree days (GDDs) per day of delayed planting. Therefore a hybrid rated at 2800 GDDs with normal planting dates (i.e. late April or early May) may require slightly less than 2600 GDDs when planted in late May or early June, i.e. a 30 day delay in planting may result in a hybrid maturing in 204 fewer GDDs (30 days multiplied by 6.8 GDDs per day).” Read more.

Some replant scenarios may have a farmer tearing up a marginal field that would have outyielded a newly planted late maturing field. Nafziger believes, “It is important to make the replant decision based on estimated effects on net income, not on an emotional basis or a need to "make the field look better." At the same time, listening to one's gut isn't always a bad thing,” especially if the numbers make it look like a wash.

The main problem with planting soybeans on drowned out corn is the issue of what pre-emergent herbicide was used. Purdue agronomists report, “The only herbicides labeled for use in corn which would allow replanting soybean immediately are Prowl and Python. All other soil-applied corn herbicides have a several month rotational interval which must elapse before beans can be planted. Most of the post-emergence herbicides have shorter rotational intervals, but would still require a couple of weeks before planting.”

Early planting requires higher planting rates, only because of the cooler soils earlier in the season. Later planting has the benefit of warmer soil temperature and germination improves, which may allow seeding rates to be lowered by 3-5% to reach the desired harvest population, since a higher percentage of seed will germinate.

Even though your planting date is delayed, that is no reason to change your plant population, say OH State agronomists. Regardless of the date, final stands of 30-36,000 population were required for optimal yields. However, they found that the lack of response to higher population was related to increased stalk lodging.

If moving from planting to spraying, IA St. ag engineers have several ideas to cut spray drift. They say a 100 micron drop will blow 96 ft. from a 3 ft. boom height, in a 20 mph wind.
1) Increase droplet size to prevent small droplets from entering air currents.
2) Use larger spray tips and operate them at lower pressures.
3) Keep booms at the lowest height that still allows nozzle overlap.
4) Drive slower near field borders if using spray controller that lowers pressure.

The wet spring may have placed weeds lower on your priority list, but IA State weed specialist Bob Hartzler says act conservatively to minimize the risk of yield loss by letting weeds get out of control. He says if weeds are more concentrated than 10 per square foot, they need to be controlled before reaching 2 inches in height. They will not only take moisture away from an emerging crop, but will steal any applied nitrogen.

Volunteer corn should also be on your priority list to control. Hartzler says one volunteer corn plant per 10 foot row of soybeans will cut yield by 1.3%. If your volunteer corn is glyphosate resistant, he says use paraquat or SelectMax, but if using the latter, there is a 6 day interval between spraying and planting to avoid residue issues.

Weed control #1. In no-till fields which have yet to be planted, failure to control glyphosate resistant weeds before planting could lead to significant challenges in bean fields where few alternatives exist for post emergent weed control. IL Extension’s Aaron Hager says glyphosate tank mix partners will be needed before and after planting.

Weed control #2. While growth regulators can be effective, there must be a time lapse between application and planting. If you do not have that time, eliminate the growth regulator from the burndown or increase the rate of the non-selective herbicide.

Weed control #3. Since larger weeds require a higher rate of herbicide application, delaying a burndown application until after planting may require high rates of application. For glyphosate burndowns, Hager recommends adding the full recommended rate of AMS, and be cautious of products without sufficient AMS.

As weeds escape a particular set of POST herbicides and become increasingly hard to control, PRE herbicides, selected for those weeds, will minimize the selection pressure of the herbicide resistant or tolerant weeds in that field, say Purdue agronomists. “Even if some of the weeds are not totally killed by the PRE treatment, weed growth is reduced allowing the POST application to be made to smaller weeds, ensuring better coverage and increased control. While herbicide resistant crops have allowed for a wider window of application over the past decade, as weeds become more resistant to these herbicides, it is important to change to different modes of action or add an herbicide with a different mode of action to the herbicide program to keep weeds in check and yields high.” Read more.

The loss of nitrogen will be minimal if you applied anhydrous ammonia, say OSU fertility specialists. They report it is “fairly resistant to microbial oxidation and eliminates the bacteria responsible for nitrification. Thus, that material can be in the field for a week or two prior to conversion to nitrate. Additionally, the speed of microbial oxidation is a function of soil temperature.” They say GGD are less than normal.

However, UAN dry or liquid may be more at risk of degradation, particularly if the field was waterlogged for more than a day. And liquid UAN, more so, than dry UAN. Again, temperatures are key to the speed of the nitrification, and coolness slows it down.

“Refuge in a bag,” also known as Pioneer’s AcreMax, has not yet been totally adopted by a government advisory panel. The concept is to reduce the Bt refuge from 20% of acreage to only 5%, but the group said the blended seed did not prove to be either toxic or a repellant. The result is more study, and EPA is expected to soon weigh into the debate.

Have corn rootworms drowned in the Eastern Cornbelt? Their mortality is high in saturated soils and standing water, but IL Extension entomologist Mike Gray asks if they have even hatched yet. Based on degree-days, Gray says we are at the midpoint of the hatch, and some are still in the egg stage and immune to the ponded fields.

Consider the rootworm environment. Cool water and soil will preserve rootworm eggs. Warmer temperatures will decrease the survival rate. Larvae have survival problems, until they can find corn roots, then survival in standing water is improved. Planting delays will jeopardize their survival, since about half will die within 24 hours if they cannot find corn root tissue to enter. 95% will starve in 3 days without corn roots.

Was wheat hurt by the recent cold nights? That is a possibility, but it depends on the variety, the growth stage, how cold it was, and the length of exposure to the cold. Spikes can be trapped, leaves discolored, flowers sterilized, and lower stems damaged. But, OSU agronomists say wheat is a winter crop and can tolerate cold temperatures.

Cattle feeders are still seeing red ink says livestock economist Dillon Feuz, who says “Nebraska feedlots have averaged a $120 per head loss since January 2008.” But he adds, “Cattle prices have strengthen this month to the point of a positive return for some producers. However, it would appear that feeder cattle that were purchased near the average market price and that have average feedlot performance will not break-even this summer. For those cattle to break-even, feeding costs would need to remain at present levels and the fed cattle market would need to regain that $2-3 per cwt that has been lost in the last two weeks.” He thinks $85 would be breakeven for some fed cattle.

Essentially, a catch-22 is what IA State ag law specialist Roger McEowen describes with the current federal policy on ethanol. He says the Obama administration wants the average fuel economy to increase to 35.5 mpg by 2016, but the move to increase the ethanol blend from 10 to 15% would cause a further reduction in fuel economy. Read his rather critical observation.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 05/22 at 02:37 AM | Permalink

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