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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Red Banded Stink bugs

Red banded stink bugs may be a new pest to our area. they are found already in southeast Missouri. If you think you found some, take a sample to your local extension office.

See article. bottom side is the key to ID.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking beans

Aaron Hagar presented information about herbicide resistant weeds. This a subject I have discussed several times before on here. he showed a chart with a recent study that shows that some weeds have triple resistance to ALS, PPO and Glyphosate herbicides. Mechanical weed removal may need to return to the arsenal. It would also be a good idea to plant liberty link crops on your weediest fields. I think we can continue to use roundup if we rotate it with other herbicides and or use it in tandem, but I would try to set it up so that roundup is my rescue treatment and not the primary herbicide. Also, sharpen the hoe and go get those last weeds that you do not kill manually.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I attended the annual field day at U of I's Brownstown research facility. Overall it was a very good program. Most interesting to me was the session by Emerson Nafziger. He discussed unconventional crop treatments. His bottom line is " DO GOOD COMPARISONS before using it on large fields. No such product is so 'essential' that you can't wait until you have good proof of effectiveness before extensive use." Often we hear people say they used this or that and made 200 bushel corn, but if you don't have check strips, you can't really give credit to a particular product.

Look for more tommorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yield Monitors

I am writing this in anticipation that harvest will be upon us before we know it. If your combine has a yield monitor, but you are not recording the readings, you just have a very expensive entertainment center in your combine. You need to be able to look at and study yield data in order for it to do you a lot of good. You can learn which varieties perform well on various soils. You can pinpoint trouble spots and manage accordingly. You might pick out parts of fields where you are not making any money and decide not to farm them or to grow something different on those areas.

Calibration is critical. If you do shoddy calibration you will miss the subtleties that you are looking for. Another one of my pet peeves with yield data is that most of the software available divides the yield up into 5 or 5 equal increments as the default setting. You need to work at it and divide the yields up according to increments that tell you something. One point that you will want to see is the breakeven point. You could look at what areas cover variable costs, what areas cover cost of land and variable cost. You could also look at other break points that you can think of. This is work to do in Farmworks, but worth the extra trouble. The map below has no legend, but it is interesting to not that soil sampling zones correspond pretty well with yield zones.

One of the things you should use the maps for is to figure out soil sampling zones. Sampling zones will them also be used as application zones if needed in your field. We find the need for variable rate application to be limited, but in some cases it is useful.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Magnesium is another of those nutrients that is listed as secondary main because it is usually not deficient. Magnesium however can be deficient on soils in areas where the lime is mainly calcitic. Magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule so it is very important. Excess magnesium is a common problem in areas where most of the limestone is dolomitic. Excessive Magnesium can cause tilth problems. Excessive magnesium can balanced by adding more lime or gypsum to the soil.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I went to Litchfield today, but really nothing to report.

Calcium is the nutrient of the day. Calcium is critical for proper maturation of plants. It is also a nutrient that contributes to soil tilth, microbial action and uptake of other nutrients. Calcium is plentiful in the soil, but it is often added to the soil in the form of lime to neutralize the effects of ammonia fertilizers. It is relatively inexpensive in the Midwest at least, so there is no excuse for not using lime. Calcium can also be added to the soil in the form of gypsum to balance excess magnesium without effecting pH. Gypsum also adds sulfur.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


We had 4.6 inches of rain in 2 hours last night. A total of 5 inches fell. This was not very widespread. A pop up thunderstorm did not move until the main body got to us. Also had electrical outage because a wire got burned off by lightening.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Went south for supper tonight. It has been along time since we ate at Diamond Mineral Springs. It is still a good place. Crops look about like everywhere I have been in this immediate vicinity. Wetness problems continue. Corn is maturing. Early soybeans are looking good unless too wet. Read Kelly's comments on RTK.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Crops look good where soil is not way to wet. Early corn is on a breakneck pace toward maturity. We are getting lots of growing degree days adn the corn "likes" the heat when there is plenty of moisture. Corn planted April 3 will be at 120 days in less than 2 weeks. Some of it was still pretty grean, but some is dropping leaves as high as the ear.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


We went to Valmeyer to get peaches yesterday. Fields along the way looked very wet. South of Columbia crops looked good, but fields were not overly wet. This was all before last night's deluge.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rainy day

We have had 2.5 inches in the past few days. This pretty much seems to eliminate the threat of a long term drought. Early corn is denting. It should be mature in a few weeks. Harvest will begin in August this year, but it will stretch out because planting was a bit stretched out as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Master's project

My son borrowed my ATV in order to pack equipment into a site that he is evaluating for his master's degree. It is an interesting project and I like the photo. You see soil probes, a bulk density probe, a hammer, 5 gallons of water, infiltrometers, notebooks, sample bags, drinking water, and etc.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Went south to visit family. This corn is showing the effects of dry weather in the southern part of the state. It is the extreme because it was late planted corn and it is growing on reclaimed strip mine land. It needs rain soon.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Healthy Plants

Well balanced soil means healthy roots. Healthy roots means healthy plants. This is an interesting article.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


About 67% of the corn was planted in the first window of oportunity between April 3 and April 22 or around there. Most of that corn is in the good to excellent category. The picture below shows corn planted in wet ground a little later that did not do well because it got even wetter after it was planted. There are lots of uneven stands. like the one below. I think we might see record yields on early planted field, but fields like this will drag the average down.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We sometimes get questions about the value of micronutrients. Prairie Farmer had a good article in June. One thing they left out is that micronutrient deficiencies often occur because of pH levels in the soil. Correct the pH and the micronutrient deficiency is corrected.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Driving between Shipman and Medora today I spotted some doublecrop Milo, also known as grain sorghum. I am surprised we don't see more of this.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The last of the big 4. Potassium is one of the most stable elements in the soil. Some soils absorb potassium and make it difficult to increase test levels. Potassium is the largest of the cations needed by plants.
It is needed for photosynthesis and transport.

More info below

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We went to the winery east of Coffeen. Crops have plenty of moisture. THere were some very small soybeans. I am not sure if they were first crop or double crop, but they had been tilled.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Phosphorous is one of the big 3 (4 if you count water) that the plant uses in fairly large amounts. Below article has a good explanation.

Phosphorous will be one of the first nutrients to come under regulation. States that have a lot of chickens and hogs have excess phosphorous. I my opinion we need to learn how to concentrate these nutrients so they can be shipped to states that have short phosphorous. Phosphorous is a problem in fairly low amounts because it can cause algae blooms and contribute to eutrophic conditions.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Nitrogen is recognized as very necessary to produce high yielding grain crops. Legumes such as soybeans and clover fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Nitrogen is the most volatile and difficult to manage nutrient. It has all kinds of ways to get into the soil. Lightening fixes small amounts. Plant residues decaying to humus contain lots of nitrogen. Some is released each year. Manure is a wonderful source of nitrogen, but if you put on enough for the crop, you will tend to over apply phosphorous or potassium depending on the source. Nitrogen sources containing ammonia forms will acidify the soil. Nitrogen is needed for proteins to form in plants. IN order to minimize nitrogen needed in fertilizer, apply close to when the crop needs it. Try the NRate Calculator to determine economical rates.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


ON the days that I do not travel this summer, I will post a nutrient of the day. Todays nutrient is water. Water, sunlight and carbon dioxide are needed for basic photosynthesis. The only one we can do anything about is water, although in the midwest we rely on what nature provides in rainfall for the most part. Too much water cuts off growth and nutrient uptake. Too little water kills the plant. In those years when we produce record yield, rainfall amounts and timeliness are usually just what we need. Timeliness can be as important as amount. I could ramble a long time about water, but you get the idea. Even though we have moisture at uptake depth even in dry areas. We need some rain in some of those areas to boost plant growth so that the crop can get to the moisture.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sweet Corn

It is sweetcorn day. We picked sweetcorn and prepared it to put in the freezer. Corn is very tasty. It seems the deer, raccoons, and earworms also think so, but there was still plenty for us. I think all of the above have been chewing on this ear.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monroe County

Looks like a drought is shaping up in the Southern part of Illinois. Corn is starting to drop lower leaves and soybeans are showing the stress on sandy ground too. Rain has been as little as one half inch in the last 45 days. Crops look excellent north of I 64, except where they have had excessive water.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Carlinville Staunton

Sampled wheat ground today. It was more moist than I was expecting after a week with no rain. Perfect for double crop beans.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Global Climate Change.

You may not believe that climate change is man induced. You may not believe that we can do anything to reverse it. It appears to me however that we are headed toward more hostile growing conditions.

This article is about one of the concerns related to climate change.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Below is a riparian restoration near Panama. I found it on Tuesday. Shoal creek must have flooded to much for it to be productive cropland. I suspect it is already supporting a lot of wildlife.