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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Axle Broke

Gotta hate it when this happens.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Harvest drags on

As weather gets colder, harvest is dragging on.  We had  a few people finish up this week.  We still have more fields that are not harvested.  Last week's bug wind slowed down the already slow producers.

I am getting signed up for winter meetings and training.  I hope to see and or meet some of you, but that is another blog.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Soil Testing, Potassium, and Plant Nutrition

A recent article out of the University of Illinois called into question the whole idea of soil testing for Potassium, and the need for Potassium fertilizers.

Response from other knowledgeable sources has called their premise into question and debunked some of what they were saying.  This article is out of the International Plant Nutrition Institute.  Click on their link if you want the details.  Emerson Nafziger debunks his own department in this article. You may recall that I weighed in on the issue as well.  We are going to continue to recommend potassium fertilizer on soils that have low soil test levels.  We are going to continue to test frequently and make adjustments as needed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Still Soil Sampling

I worked today soil sampling in the Freeburg area.  In some places the bare ground was frozen solid enough that I could not push the probe in by hand.  The good news is that my customer had not tilled anything.  I could kick away some residue and push in easily.  The question many  might have, is, "Is it too cold to sample."  We know that temperature, moisture, and other environmental factors can affect soil test values, but the experts also say that if you sample a certain field at the same time of year you will be able to be fairly certain that your test levels are valid.  I always sample this particular client when the weather is very cold.  The only thing different about today was a bit of snow flying at times.  It amazes me how often I sample a field on or near the same date every year. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bee Keeping in Illinois

When I was very young, Illinois was the leading producer of clover seed.  My grandfather was a bee keeper so that he would have well pollinated cover.  About 2/3 of our crops require some sort of bee pollination including many vegetables and fruit trees.  This Prairie Farmer Article details the growth of the bee industry in Illinois.  It makes me curious as to how the industry can be growing when many allege that we are killing bees with chemicals.   

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Deer Blinds

In honor of deer season, I am posting some of the creative deer blinds I have seen.
Corn Stalk Bales

Camo Wagon

Traditional Tree Stand

Store Bought Blind

Gravity Wagon and Camper Top Blind

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sudden Death Syndrome Tied to Soybean Cyst Nematode?

Researchers out of Tennessee are suggesting that Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) may contribute to the severity of Sudden Death Syndrome.  They also say that the populations of SCN are highest in the fall of the year, so now is a good time to test for them.  I don't often get questions on the subject, but I would encourage everyone to manage for SCN at this time.  It seems that farms get larger every year.  With larger farms covering more land, it becomes more likely that at least one field will have SCN.  The nematodes are transferred as soil is moved on  equipment from one field to another.  You manage for nematodes through resistance or crop rotation or both. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Still Drying Corn

I was surprised on Wednesday morning to find that the elevator is still getting wet corn.  That is a pretty big cloud of steam rolling out of the batch dryer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Deer Stand

From a distance it was hard to tell what was laying in the field.  I guess the deer stand was not anchored well enough for the wind on Sunday.  I bet this hunter will be disappointed about 4 AM on Friday.
Deer Stand

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wind Damaged Corn

While no body lost their home in our immediate area on Sunday, we did have some wind damaged corn.  The field below is near Mt. Olive. IL weather and Crop Report says that 94% of our corn is harvested.  Most of the 6% remaining had some sort of wind damage.  This may be an opportunity to assess standibility.  It also demonstrates that timely planting and timely harvesting can make a big difference in corn yield.  This field will need to be harvested, but there is lots of corn on the ground.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Soybeans Are Being Re-Planted in Mato Grosso

By Eduardo Paim:

A producer friend told us that here near my city (Rondonópolis) in Mato Grosso soybean crops have already been replanted because there was little rain. This year we are seeing very irregular rains here with short spaces between rains places. One part of town has rain and the other part has no rain. Constant rains with large flows have not happened.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How about some Jersey Cows?

The recent announcement  that the FDA plans to ban trans fats got me to thinking.  Is this a good time to follow in my Grandpa' s footsteps and get into the Jersey Cow business?  Jersey's are known for the high butter fat content of their milk.  With Trans fats to be phased out, butter is a logical substitute.  One of the things I have done to soften my butter and reduce the saturated fat is to mix it with canola oil.  Just soften a stick of butter in a bowl and add a half cup of oil.  I suppose any mild edible oil would do.  Whip it with an electric mixer for about a minute and pour into a plastic container.  It makes a very tasty spread.  You can also buy this margarine substitute in the store if you don't want to make it yourself .  Ironic talking about butter as a margarine substitute isn't it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tracks in the frost

Last week on one of those frosty mornings I took this  shot of the tracks left in the frost by the 4 wheeler.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nitrogen Credits for Cover Crops

In planning ahead for next year, one of the things producers might want to consider is, how much nitrogen will you get from your cover crop.  We know that some cover crops like annual ryegrass, oilseed radish and cereal rye will scavenge left over nitrogen from the soil.  This is an environmentally sound benefit of the cover crop, but how much of it is available for next year.  I suspect less than half of what is scavenged.  I am basing that assumption on typical release rates of the organic portion of the nitrogen in manure.  Legume cover crops will add nitrogen and those amounts are pretty well documented depending on the crop.  This University of Wisconsin document can help get you in the ballpark.  As nearly as I can tell the nitrogen benefit in non-legumonous crops comes from building up organic matter in the soil.  Cover crops and No-Till combined are really the only way to build organic matter in our soils.  This recent article out of the University of Minnesota also has some good discussion on the topic nitrogen credits for cover crops.  This University of Nebraska article shows how to credit soil organic matter for nitrogen release.  As your oganic matter builds because of your use of cover crops, the nitrogen mineralized from the soil will increase.  So for short term extra nitrogen plant legumes.  For long tern nitrogen release, build your agranic matter and feed your microbes. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cover Crops Tour

After a good deal of arm twisting I decided to attend the Montgomery Count Soil and Water Conservation District Cover Crops meeting and tour.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Dan Towery on the program.  Dan is an old friend and true expert in cover cropping systems and no-till.  The producer chose a very diverse mix of cover crops and most of them are shown on the table in the photo.  Pits were dug to look at the effects on the soil.  There was a big difference in root distribution and size between the field with cover crops and an adjacent one with double crop soybean stubble on it.  He planted buckwheat, crimson clover, oil seed radish, sunflowers, and a few other species that escaped my memory.  It would seem that for a first year endevour it turned out well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Frosty Mornings

Cold mornings have left us with some interesting looking frost. The sun is rising behind me.  Yes I get out early.  click on the picture to enlarge it. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Map adopts emergency measures to control Helicoverpa

By Eduardo Paim:  
Due to the severe damage caused to crops by the caterpillar Helicoverpa armigera , the Minister of Agriculture , Livestock and Supply , Antonio Andrade , signed text that establishes guidelines for the integrated management for the control of pests . Ordinance No. 1109 , linked to the 8133 decree was published on Thursday , ( 7:11 ) , in the Official Gazette

As of now , the states that have officially declared a state of emergency in relation to plant caterpillar Helicoverpa have a plan prepared by the suppression Organ State or District Agriculture Defense state . The plan should be based on the concepts and practices of Integrated Pest Management , developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation ( Embrapa ) with the participation of representatives from academia , government and manufacturing .

In the opinion of researchers from Embrapa , the growth of Helicoverpa is due to inadequate farming practices , which must follow certain guidelines as fallowing the adoption of shelter areas , destruction of crop residues combined with the controlled use of chemicals , including other practices .
The text signed by Antonio Andrade authorize , on an emergency and temporary import of pesticide products that have the ingredient active substance emamectin benzoate . Properties that use the substance will be accompanied by supervision . " The plan , in addition to establishing the guidelines of a suppression program , authorizing the import of benzoate to be used as an adjuvant in a program of Integrated Management of Prague which aims to control it ." Explained the director of the Department of Plant Pathology , Cósam Coutinho .


On 28 October this year , the President of the Republic , Dilma Rousseff signed Decree 8.133 , which authorizes the Minister of Agriculture to establish the control actions needed to face agricultural diseases or pests , when officially declared state of emergency sanitary or phytosanitary , which includes the temporary importation of pesticides not allowed , provided it meets certain technical criteria , including the proven efficiency and not being involved in risks to the environment and public health .

On the last day November 4 , west of Bahia was officially declared a state of emergency in relation to plant pest Helicoverpa armigera . With the announcement , the state government can now define the area of action and adopt management measures through suppression plan

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tillage Radishes

Cover crops have gained a great deal in popularity in the past few years, and tillage radishes are among the most popular.  These were planted near mid summer to provide cover after some land clearing so they are extra big.  They are also very tasty.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wheat Condition

Wheat is looking good in our area.  Most of it was planted in a timely manner and got a bit of rain to germinate it.  Good looking wheat in November does not always translate to good looking wheat in June. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Scenic Shots

Sunrise on the Piasa United Methodist Church

Sun has the Milkweed Fuzz Glowing

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cypress in The American Bottoms

This Grove of Cypress trees was planted before I was born by one of my Dad's neighbors.  We used to play in it as kids.  Apparently the Native American mound builders who lived in the area depleted the cypress to extinction.  We find the wood in the archeological record, but no mention of the trees in the historic accounts.   They are now several cypress groves and trees in the area that were all planted in modern times.  We had one in our timber that was planted by the flood of 1993.  My son spearheaded planting aver 100 in addition as part of his FFA project.  They do reproduce on their own in the area, but not extensively.  I like the rusty red color in the fall. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Illinois Research about Potassium Soil Test

University of Illinois Researchers have raised some concerns about Potassium Soil Testing.  The Prairie Farmer covered the story and the end has a link to the paper as written. 

I know that potassium soil testing is imperfect, but it is all we have for a scientific basis for determining fertility needs.  We do have clients that have soils that have not needed potassium fertilizer in twenty years or more.  We have not had any apparent yield loss and the test levels remain high.  We also have clients who have low potassium test levels who have benefited from potassium fertilizer.  I have one fairly new client who raised a field of wheat that yielded 80 bushels per acre for the first time ever this year.  His potassium levels were low, but his phosphorous levels were fine.  We upped his potassium fertilizer and improved his yields a good bit. 

Another indicator of the need for potassium fertilizer is symptoms of deficiency.  This Iowa State University Bulletin has a good discussion of potassium deficiencies.  They go into some explanation of causes of potassium deficiencies other than low soil test.  We have seen some drought induced deficiencies, but not in all fields.  Fields with good potassium levels seem to resist that deficiency better. 

I am not ready to give up on potassium testing even knowing the weaknesses of the test. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Colors

I might be prejudiced because I grew up there, but the bluff in Monroe County is one of the most beautiful places to see fall colors.  Sometime you are too close driving down the bluff road to really see it, but pull out into the bottoms a quarter of a mile and take it in. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nice Looking Tractor

I spotted this nicely restored IH 1056 this weekend.  Seems like overkill on an auger, but it is good to see it all shined up and still doing farm work. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Soybean Planting going well in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:
Here in Mato Grosso since last Thursday (31/10) we are having rain every day (good rainfall) that is helping farmers to grow well and the areas planted in dry weather rebounded with the rains. Overall in Mato Grosso we have 70% planted. In Brazil we do not have news of problems with planting in any state, everything is going well!
We are not having problems with pest control yet.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Invasive Honeysuckle

The beautiful fall photo below shows green honesuckle still growing along the edge of the timber.  Honeysuckle is usually the last plant to drop leaves in the winter.  It is an invasive species and spread by birds.  Since almost everything else is dead and the honeysuckle is still alive, now is a good time to treat it with glyphosate.  It will die slowly, but the treatment is effective.  You will likely need to treat for a number of years because there is a lot of seed out there.  This Ohio State University Bulletin offers good guidance.  As with all herbicide use, please read and follow label directions. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Blimp Sighting

Ok so maybe this is a bit off topic, but I was soil sampling when I spotted a blimp to the south of where i was working today.  I decided to try to get close enough to get a decent picture and finally caught up to it near Delhi, south of Jerseyville.  It was the Direct TV Blimp moving very slowly.  This photo with my phone camera turned out best.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Good Rain

We had 2 inches of rain since Tuesday around noon.  That does not recharge the subsoil, but topsoil moisture went from marginal to adequate.  The soil probe works much better now.  I am sure I will stop carrying my hammer.