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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

West Alton

I went to West Alton Via Shipman today. This my first day sampling for the fall season. Along the way, very little corn was harvested, but 95% is mature. Much more than Illinois crop report says, although, I don't think it matters this early. Farmers know when they are ready to harvest without the report. As I travelled in St. Charles County, I saw about 20% of corn harvested. Some are way ahead of that pace and others were just starting. I even found a few fields already fall tilled as below. Soybeans are still a very green for the most part. I did spot a little SDS, but nothing too serious. Just a few wet spots that probably were not going to make much anyway.
The people below were unloading on the go. This is a very good practice to speed up harvest, but it can create compaction. Soils was still wet in the wet swales. Moisture was good everywhere, even on the sandy ridges.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Streambank stabilization

I know I have written about his before, but it bears writing about again. People who farm land next to creeks are always battling stream dynamics. Streams move any time there is a disturbance on their banks. Overhanging trees falling in are the biggest culprit. Maybe this fall would be a good time to work on them. Right now it looks like harvest may be over early. The big thing to help yourself out is to get the snags out of the channels. The next thing to do is to remove trees that have potential to fall in the creek. You may need a 404 permit from the Corps of Engineers if you are uprooting stumps.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Harvest Report

We travelled to Monroe County yesterday. Along the way, the only field harvested was one at Edwardsville that was planted on April 3. I have been watching it all summer. It was probably pretty dry, but I don't have any first hand knowledge.

The picture above shows harvest underway in the bottoms in Monroe County. About 5% of the corn crop is harvested. Some are still not going because of uneven stands. There is wet corn and dry in the same field. One farmer was disappointed with 166 bu/ac because wet spots were drowned out. High water in the Mississippi all summer kept some of the holes still wet now. A long dry period caused some of the sandy soils drought stress too. 166 sounds pretty good under those conditions.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is CCA?

Short answer - Certified Crop advisor. But what does that mean? It means that someone cared enough about demonstrating their professional competence to get experience in their chosen field and then pass 2 exams that are a comprehensive look at their competence. CCA's also care enough to continue their education and get constant updates in new ideas and technology every 2 years to the tune of at least 40 hours. No degree is required for a CCA, but education and experience are combined to determine qualifications. Similar certifications which do require a degree are Certified Professional Independent Crop Consultant, Certified Professional Agronomist, and Certified Professional Soil Scientist. There are 12687 CCA's, 632 CPAg's, and 947 CPSS's along with 173 Certified Soil Classifiers which is a specialized soil scientist. All of the certifications demonstrate professional competence and should indicate that the individual has the education and experience to provide professional services to Farmers and others. Some states also provide certain professional certifications. I am a CCA, CPSS, and an Illinois Soil Classifiers Association CPSC. The reason for so many certifications is that some of them are written into certain regulations and I want to be covered on all accounts.

Certified Professionals also subscribe to a code of ethics that says they will always give honest advice. They also promise not to give advice on things where they are not competent.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Micor-Nutrient of the day is Manganese. In formation is from Nillson's article in Crops and soils. Manganese controls several oxidation and reduction systems and photosynthesis. Manganese deficiency cause Chlorosis in a general way. Several diseases are caused by deficiency.

A brief crop report is in order too. I went to a field day in Nokomis last night. One person in attendance was harvesting corn. Most are waiting for dryer corn.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A recent pole showed that the public believes that seed corn advertising signs indicate that the farms are corporate owned. That would be like if they saw someone wearing a Cardinals cap and thought they played for the Cardinals because of the cap. Sheesh!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I don't usually go out just to look for blog material, but today I did. The first sign of harvest was some silage being chopped on late planted corn. Silage is harvested at high moisture and is great feed for cattle and dairy.

This is the first field I spotted with combines going. They were just finishing end rows. It looked like it might have fairly high moisture. Over 16% moisture needs to be dried. Most farmsteads I passed had combines out of the shed being made ready for harvest, but the corn harvested or being harvested was very scattered. One farmer overheard in the cafe said his corn was about 25% moisture and he is waiting till it gets around 20 to begin harvest. Dry weather in the forecast should speed up the drying.

No waiting at the elevator.

Over 100 acres done in this field. They just needed to finish hauling it away.

Maybe 20% of the soybeans I saw were this far along. Just turning yellow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Septic Filter Field Investigation

Yesterday I worked on a Septic Tank Filter Field Investigation. THis is not agriculture except that most of these are in rural areas. I do find out how subsoil moisture is doing also. In this case the subsoil moisture was good in the lawn, but not under a Silver Maple. Trees use a lot of water when it is available, although they can weather a fairly severe drought as well.

My soil descriptions look at color as an indicater of wetness and clay content and structure as an indication of infiltration potential. Most soils in this area are not well suited to septic filter fields. The work is pleasant as you can see. I enjoy using the picnic table as my desk when I do this work.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Soil Pit

A soil pit is one of the best ways to look at the physical properties of your soil. It is a lot of work if you have to hand dig it, but may be worth it if you are having trouble with the physical properties of your soil. One of the big things to look for is compaction. An icepick is good for picking out compaction. Soil color is a good indication of wetness. Red, Yellow, and Brown soils tend to be well drained. Gray, green, and blue soils are poorly drained. Gradations between well drained and poorly drained soils tend to have flecks of well drained and poorly drained colors in them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eastern IL Roadtrip

Yesterday I took a road trip thru eastern Illinois and reported crop progress on twitter. Overall crops looked good, but there were some signs of too much water just about everywhere except along US 50. Over all, 85% of the corn crop appeared to be mature. I only saw 10 acres harvested east of Charleston. In a few places it was still not turning at all, especially south of Paris to Marshall where only about half the corn was mature. North of Olney, some of the corn was completely brown. I suspect it is dried down and harvest of dry corn could begin Monday. Along US 50 from Lawrenceville to Olney, corn showed some drought stress. The lack of moisture was most evident in trees that were starting to turn yellow. Even with the dry weather, I would guess yields will be average in corn and good in soybeans. Crops looked worst on the Effingham to Hillsboro leg. Stands are uneven and low spots are drowned out. There are lots of late beans in that area too.

Overall the soybean crop looked good. Only a few fields were turning yellow. In a test plot near Charleston one variety was turning. Many others have reported Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) to be very prevalent. I did not see any SDS. I suspect an excellent soybean crop overall. Rains have been timely if not somewhat excessive. Right now there is enough or more than enough moisture to fill pods nicely. If you followed me yesterday, thanks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Saale Field Day

SoilRight owner Randy Darr is explaing what we do to our audience at Saale's field day. we talked to about 40 people. We had a pit dug and also discussed root development, drainage, and compaction. About 4 people attended. The bounty of the day was Bandana's BBQ.

Friday, August 20, 2010

West Alton, MO

I went to West Alton, MO to participate in a field day put on by Saale Farm and Grain. It was nice to get out of town and see what is going on in the farming world. I saw a few wagons and trucks lined up at OK Grain in Litchfield, so I am led to believe that a few people are harvesting corn. I saw lots of mature corn as shown in the picture below. The earliest way to determine if corn is mature is to pull and ear and see if it has blacklayered. As it mature further the ears start to point down. At that point you can say it is mature without checking the black layer. We did here a report that one farmer was harvesting corn at 17 to 19% moisture. He was making around 200 bushels per acre. I heard another report that corn was being harvested around Medora, IL. It seems a lot of people are waiting to harvest dry corn. That should drive down the demand for propane and hopefully the price as well.
I saw the below field of soybeans starting to yellow. These beans were probably planted in April. It looks fairly even, so I am not suspecting SDS. I have been reading lots of reports of SDS in Northern Illinois and Iowa. The beans we saw at the field day were well podded and filling nicely.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glyphosate Resisitance

Below Dandelion seems to be Glyphosate resistant. I sprayed it twice and burned some leaves back, but I am not sure it will die. Keeping an eye on it. I have not sued Glyphosate nearly as long as it has been used in cropland. I suspect some natural resistance here, but not sure.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


From Nillson - Iron is one of the most common elements in the earth's crust. Plants need iron for respiration, same as animals. Plants also need iron for photosynthesis. Iron deficiencies show as yellowing leaves. Pinoak is a plant that exhibits iron deficiency in a lot of cases because genetics of some pinoaks blocks iron uptake.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Nutrient of the day is Copper. According to Nillson. Copper is needed for Chlorophyl respiration and protein syntheisis. Winter and Spring wheat are most sensitive to copper deficiency,

Monday, August 16, 2010


Again referring to Nillson's Article. Chlorine is required for leaf turgor and photosynthesis. It stands to reason that a deficiency would show up as wilting especially around leaf edges. Deficiency can also look like certain diseases.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


From Nillson in Crops and Soils.

Boron is needed for cell wall formation and reproductive tissue. Alfalfa uses a lot of boron. Important for sugar translocation and carbohydrate metabolism.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


WE received 3 inches of rain. According to NOAA that was not widespread, but over an inch was common across Central ILLInois. With corn maturing, the rain will speed up the process. Also, soybeans with pods should start filling and soybeans without pods should start getting them. Over all this rain had excellent timing for Illinois crop production. THe central part of the state was not really dry, but the rain last night could take some fields from very good to excellent when it comes to yields.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crop Report

I am hearing reports of harvest starting and dry corn. I saw lots of mature corn on the way home from St Louis yesterday. Corn planted on April 3 has very little green in it. Reports of moisture are as low as 19%.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back from St Louis

We toured Monsanto yesterday. It was quite interesting to learn more about plant breeding/gene splicing. I took one thing away from the tour. All the high tech stuff still leaves the plant breeder with a hit an miss method. It just increases the number of swings you can take and speeds up the testing.

Monsanto did little to alleviate my concerns about glyphosate resistance.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

St Louis Again

Toured Agrotain facility. It was very interesting leaning about Urea and Agrotain. It was also interesting seeing once again how vital the Mississippi River is to St Louis.

Monday, August 9, 2010

St Louis

We are staying at the Sherton at West port. Yesterday's technology session was pretty wide open. ONe of the things we discussed was possible uses for the data in our databases. IT is under utilized for sure. Also talked about accuracy of GPS systems.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Carbon seqestration

One of the things that has been pushed to sequester carbon is no-till. Ken Olson, a researcher who I respect a lot, has data that shows that organic carbon declines even in no-tilled soils. His data shows a hold your own situation at best with a decline in a lot of his studies.

I see carbon enrichment in the surface of notilled soils, so I am not sure why the rest of the profile would decline. This was interesting data to view in any case.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dixon Springs

I took the long trip to Dixon Springs Research Center field day yesterday. What a wonderful place. I am not sure that people realize how much important research is one there that cannot be done on campus. I hope they find a way to keep it open. Saw a long term erosion study that was very interesting. That will be another day. I also saw a high tunnel at work, blueberry production and healthy looking cattle living on Tall Fescue.

Crops in the southern part of the state are spotty. Saw some really nice looking soybeans. Saw some burned up corn. Some corn was at the drying down stage. Probably could begin harvest next week. Also saw some corn with huge ears that had dropped over. Probably not planted close enough together.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nutrient review so far.

National Weather Service Precipitation for last 60 days. Southern IL shows dry.

From Matt Nillson -- "Crops and Soils" His source is North Carolina Dept of Ag and Consumer Services.

Carbon - Comes from Carbon dioxide in the air. It seems the supply is increasing. Carbon is a component of carbohydrates.

Hydrogen maintains the osmotic balance and is also a main part of carbohydrates; comes from water.

Oxygen - a constituent of carbohydrates- comes from air and water.

Nitrogen - comes from organic matter and or fertilizer as well as air. It is a constituent of proteins, chlorophyll, and nucleic acids.

Phosphorous - is a constituent of proteins, coenzymes, nucleic acids, and metabolic substrates. It is important in energy transfer. Comes from organic matter, soil minerals, and fertilizer.

Potassium is involved in photosynthesis, carbohydrate translocation, protein synthesis and a long list of other processes. It comes from soil minerals, organic matter and fertilizer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Crops and Soils Magazine has a good article on micronutrients by Matt Nillson. I plan to use it as a reference frequently for nutrient information. His article says that soil testing is only part of the picture with micronutrients. He advocates regular tissue testing as well. Using a targeted approach will help to identify deficiencies and correct them. One caution would be that deficiencies can be caused by physical problems as well as nutrient shortage.

Monday, August 2, 2010

diplodia ear rot

Diplodia ear rot is back again this year and why not? We have the same wet conditions we had last year. This is probably not a big problem south of I-64. I suspect that next year's drought is getting a bit of a start down there.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nitrogen management

This will be my last report on Brownstown. Dr Steve Ebelhar presented this information and I find myself in agreement with him. Fall application of nitrogen is a crap shoot. Prompt incorporation of Urea is essential. His results concerning nitrogen additives is that most of them seem to work on the average, although he showed some results where they did not work. Nutrisphere is a mystery. It seemed to work but not in the way that the manufacturer claims. It would appear that Nitrification inhibitors, polymers, and urease inhibitors all seem to at least pay for themselves on the average. Also consider that they prevent some nitrate leaching into the ground water, because it is likely that more nitrate is taken up by the crop.