Blogging by the Bushel
With numerous challenges over the past several years for producers, we at Mercer Landmark understand the need for a comprehensive risk management solution. We seek to provide our customers with unparalleled service to ensure maximum results.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

By~Brian Mitchem
First two pictures below shows a virus disease, likely Barley Yellow Dwarf. The straight line below is a variety difference.

Virus’ are vectored by aphids typically in the fall. Bird Cherry Oat aphids are grass feeders and carry the virus in their saliva as they suck out plant juice.

Including insecticide on wheat seed helps to prevent the disease. By a wide margin, ROI for insecticide is best on wheat followed by corn and is costly replant insurance on beans.

Yield loss is commonly 50% and higher depending on when the disease sets in. Nothing can be done now to help.

Below shows some septoria starting in the lower canopy. Wet and cool this week will increase incidence. Thicker canopy, more risk. Any of the Strob based fungicides provide good control of early season diseases.

Late planted wheat has improved but still looks rougher than I like. Very consistent across my area. Early planted wheat has improved much over the last few weeks. Seeing some sulfur deficiencies showing up as well.

By~Brian Mitchem
Great progress for most this week on planting. Extreme rain in the north for the area Thursday hurts. Route 6 3+”.

Biggest issue – beans planted, no herbicide applied- ppo herbicides (Valor/Envive/Trivence) are labeled to be applied no later than 3 days from planting.

All ppo family herbicides can cause seedling injury and stand loss if we experience heavy rain and cool temps following application.

If you have beans planted with no residual applied consider Prefix herbicide (fomesafen(flexstar)+metolacholar(Dual). This has some residual for grasses plus some broadleaves such as Waterhemp. 1qt per acre of Prefix. By far the best performance and cost option.

IF Beans are NOT emerged you can and should add a product like Canopy Blend and/or a brand of metribuzen for additional weed control and resistance management.

Please contact me for any/all questions about herbicides and planting. This remains our main issue with crop success. We simply can’t catch up with gly only tolerant beans if we miss the residual.

Below – proof of concept is the first part of research. The pictures below were taken tonight – 5/4 of beans I planted 3/26.

I placed 1/2 of the beans in a wet paper towel to absorb water for 24 hours before planting inside at room temp and the other half was planted normal/raw treated beans for each planting date.

I am very surprised there is no significant difference in emergence between the two options. Appx 12 hours difference in favor of the moist beans.

Also planted beans April 21 but no emergence as yet.

A link to CHS morning and afternoon commentary can always be found under the grain tab, comments section at as well.

Any questions, please contact one of the grain originators.

By~Adam Farmer
Who among us has looked at the weather forecast over the past month and thought “yuck!”?
As we get later into this spring, it can be tempting to look at the calendar and get the itch to get seed into the ground, but the calendar should not be the only tool we use in determining the best time to plant.
The ideal soil temperature for planting corn is at around 50, and Soybeans 54 – below that and you risk injury and disease to the seed. On March 10th in the Van Wert area I measured soil temperature between 40 to 43 degrees, and on March 13th (after some beautiful 70+ degree weather) soil temperatures in the same fields were in the 46 to 48 degrees range. Temperatures are trending in the right direction – great right?
Let’s look at the weather forecast for the next week:

Focus on the temperatures – we may have a high of 77 today, but next Monday we are looking at a high of 40 after a weekend of rain – which is a recipe for cool, damp soil.
At Mercer Landmark – we keep an eye of both the weather and soil temperatures so that we can better advise you as to the best time to plant. Have a question about conditions in your area – contact your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist for advice from your local, trusted advisor!

By~ Brian Mitchem
I have had more conversations with Farmers this winter about attaining higher yield levels in both corn and beans than in recent years. We are seeing trend line improvement in crop yields with better genetics especially in soybeans of late. We have several key research studies that show we need to manage modern corn and bean genetics different than we currently are in order to attain higher yields.

300 bpa corn and 100 bpa soybeans are realistic stretch goals for individual fields. Many entries in yield contests are achieving these levels and higher across the nation. One common thread among those contest winners is an extreme attention to detail.

Some thoughts and considerations for maximizing yield potential.

Early planting with good soil conditions allows both corn and beans to extend the reproductive growth period. In a recent study beans planted in mid March had surprisingly good stand establishment and extended the R2 (full flower) growth stage by 11 days and resulted in a 10% yield bump over the same beans planted late April. I currently have a study in place and dropped the first planting in the ground March 26.

Maximizing days in reproduction directly leads to yield increase.

Plant populations – lots of debate but our data clearly shows that we should widen the plant population prescription across farms more than we do. Beans should vary 100,000 plants from 100 to 200,000 and corn at least 8000 from 28-36000 for most. Some will push corn populations even higher.

Check seed quality for early planting – seed is tagged with a warm germ score. Cold germ can vary significantly by product lot. I always encourage farmers to send a small sample to an independent seed lab for cold germ scores. I have used Midwest Labs for this service. A poor cold germ score does not mean the seed should not be planted but should be planted under warmer conditions.

Understand plant nutritional needs – we are experimenting with several area farms applying sulfur in front of soybeans based off key learnings about the increased need for the nutrient. Sulfur and calcium are the elements that cascade nodulation in beans. Increasing the nitrogen production system is key plus modern beans have been shown to need more sulfur for protein production. Consider 100# ams plus 25# potassium for ease of spreading as a trial.

Micronutrients such as boron, manganese and zinc are commonly limiting in our soils. These can be added in a foliar pass and in some cases added to a uniform rate of dry fertilizer.

In corn recent research released shows yield response to foliar nutrition targeting the ear leaf. The ear leaf feeds the ear more aggressively than other leaves on the plant and is our best diagnostic tool to use as a tissue sample. In our area most hybrids place the ear at nodes 12-14. Consider an application of key nutrients such as boron, manganese, zinc and possibly copper (surprising response in some research studies) along with a fungicide at the v 12 growth stage.

Several modern corn hybrids are showing much larger kernel size. While we are not adding kernel rows or ear length the individual kernels are much larger. In some cases we have measured near 300 bpa corn with 60,000 kernels per bushel as opposed to the old math of 90,000 per bushel. In order to achieve that performance level later season nutrition must be addressed along with later season plant health.

A study released this winter from Iowa State University showed similar leaf disease control of grey leaf spot plus equal or better yields from fungicides at v12 rather than applications made at tassel.

In both crops doing a nutrient test from leaf tissue can be valuable to determining the specific plant needs. Sampling at v5 and v 10 in corn and v3 and r2 in beans gives us a good sample pool and still allows time to impact the plants.

Please consult with your local Mercer Agronomy staff member to discuss your individual needs further.

By~Jeff Prickett
• In sustainable farm operations, cover cropping is an effective system to manage soil health, biodiversity, weeds, erosion, water quality, and other pests and diseases.
• Managing cover crops requires additional costs, such as: time, labor, modifications of existing operations to accommodate cover crop seeding, and termination of cover crops.
• Termination methods may change based on the type of cover crop used. Common termination methods include: chemical (herbicide application), environmental (e.g. winter kill), and mechanical (e.g. tillage).
• To evaluate different cover crop termination methods for their effects on corn growth and development and final grain yield.
Location Soil Type Previous Crop Tillage Type Planting Date Harvest Date Potential Yield Planting Rate
Huxley, IA Clay Loam Soybean Various 05/30/2017 10/28/2017 225 bu/acre 34,000 seeds/acre

Site Notes:
A 108-relative maturity SmartStax® RIB Complete® corn blend product was used for this trial.The trial was carried out in 30-inch row spacing, 30 rows/treatment, in 200 ft. long strips.Cereal rye was drilled in the fall of 2016 after harvest. In the spring of 2017, 4 termination methods were compared (Fig. 2):
1. Planting/Herbicide – planting into the cover crop, followed by herbicide application to kill the cover crop.
2. Herbicide only.
3. Herbicide/Tillage – herbicide application followed by tillage.
4. Tillage only.
Roundup PowerMAX® herbicide was applied at 32 fl oz/acre for the herbicide treatments. Application was made 2 days after planting in Treatment 1, and 48 days before planting in Treatments 2 and 3. Treatments 3 and 4 fields were disked 22 days before planting, and worked with a soil finisher 2 days before planting. Treatments 2, 3, and 4 received pre- and post-emergence herbicide applications for weed control. All treatments were planted on the same day.

Figure 1. Field conditions of each termination method at the time of planting. The cover crop was about 5 ft. tall at the time of planting in the Planting/Herbicide treatment.

Figure 2. Climate FieldView™ maps showing down force (left) and applied down force (right) adjustments for each termination method during planting.

Figure 3. Examples of corn growth and developmental difference as influenced by the four cover crop termination methods. A: young corn plants in the Planting/Herbicide treatment. B: young corn plants representative of the other three treatments. C: mid-season difference between plants of Planting/Herbicide (right 3 rows) and those representative of the other treatments (left 3 rows). D: while the other treatments were at full anther extrusion, plants of the Planting/Herbicide treatment were at least 4 leaf stages behind.

Figure 4. Effects of cover crop termination methods on corn productivity.
• More down force was needed to plant the Planting/Herbicide and Herbicide Only treatments than in the two tillage treatments. There was significantly better ground contact in the two tillage treatments than in Planting/Herbicide and Herbicide Only treatments (Fig. 1).
• Seedling emergence and vigor was inconsistent and not uniform in the Planting/Herbicide treatment, but was nearly the same for all other treatments.
• Growth and development of the plants of the Planting/Herbicide treatment were at least 4-leaf stages behind those of the other treatments (Fig. 3).
• At planting, cereal rye in the Planting/Herbicide treatment was about 5 feet tall as a result of delayed planting due to unsuitable soil/weather conditions. The tall canopy shaded the corn plants until about V10 growth stage. This could be responsible for the delayed growth and development observed.
• There was a slight treatment response to final harvest population in which the Planting/Herbicide treatment had the lowest population (Fig. 4).
• Grain moisture content was about 4% higher in Planting/Herbicide compared to the average of the other treatments.
• Average yield varied among treatments, with the Herbicide Only treatment producing the highest yield of 277 bu/acre (Fig. 4).
• Performance of the two tillage treatments (Herbicide/Tillage and Tillage Only) was nearly the same.
• Modifications of farm operations to include cover crops is a viable sustainability effort for growers to pursue.
• The choice of cover crop species or mixtures plays a significant role in the ease of which the system is managed.
• If planting is delayed in commercial operations, as was the case in the Planting/Herbicide treatment, cereal rye may be mowed for hay before planting.
• The Herbicide Only treatment out-yielding the other treatments is a great incentive, as this practice can easily be adopted in no-till systems.
• Growers should pay close attention to the herbicides used in their cover crop programs to avoid carryover issues.
• Growers should also pay attention to a corn products tolerance to seedling diseases and use the appropriate seed treatments for their fields.
Original article link can be found at:
Additional information on cover crop termination can be found at:
If you need help with your cover crop termination decision, please feel free to reach out to any of our agronomy staff here at Mercer Landmark. We are here to help!

By~Brad Miller
As Wheat is now starting to emerge from dormancy it is time to check the stand count and check for winter kill. You should have a stand count of 20-24 plants/square foot with 3-5 tillers is optimal. If your Stand count is 10-12 plants/square foot or less then you should consider replanting to a different crop. An Old rule of thumb is 1.3 to 1.6 bu/ac for each head/square foot. So how much Nitrogen should get applied on once we determine the wheat has survived the winter? Wheat uses 1.1 Lbs. of Nitrogen for each bushel of expected yield and utilizes 70-75% of its total Nitrogen needs between Feeks scale 4 (Beginning of erect growth) and Feeks Scale 8 (Visible Flag Leaf). Usually between 70-100lbs of Nitrogen is recommended. The chart below shows Nitrogen recommendations.

A question I get asked is should I Apply Sulphur with the nitrogen. Sulfur affects plant metabolism, enzyme activities and protein production. A good rule of thumb is a wheat crop will take up about a quarter-pound of sulfur for each bushel of wheat produced. So 100 Bu wheat will use 25 lbs of sulphur.

For more information or to have your wheat field scouted contact your Mercer Landmark representative.

By~Ben Stoller
The talk has been all about dicamba, but 2,4-D (Group 4, growth regulator) remains a viable and inexpensive option for many smaller broadleaf weeds.
In order to reduce the likelihood of crop damage, certain labeled pre-plant delays should be followed. The chart below outlines several formulations and the needed wait times prior to planting corn or soybeans.

Please contact your Mercer Landmark sales agronomist on the effectiveness and availability of 2,4-D formulations.

By~ Jeff Prickett
Plant Health University
By Jeff Prickett
Greetings from Mercer Landmark! We recently held a “Plant Health University” meeting for our growers in some areas. This was a joint meeting put on by Bayer Crop Science and Winfield United. I thought it would be valuable to share the highlights of this meeting with those who couldn’t attend. Plant health and disease control is a key part of crop management that can take our yields to the next level and add valuable bushels to our bottom line.
Here are the highlights from Plant Health University Meeting:
Fungicide “University” Notes
Three most common sites of action:
1. Strobilurin (Group 11) – Preventative – need to be applied prior to disease presence.
a. Lots of similarities between strobilurin chemistries.
b. Broad spectrum of disease activity.
c. Good residual activity
d. Improves plant health, reduces stress, maximizes limited resources.
e. Slow “battery drain” of mitochondria of disease pathogen.
2. Triazoles (Group 3) – Mostly curative. Control disease.
a. Any lesions will remain, but disease will be stopped.
b. Greater variation among triazoles in spectrum of control and length of residual.
c. Cell destruction by “exploding” cell walls of disease pathogen.
d. Some control quicker, some last longer.
3. SDHI (Group 7) – The specialist. Also preventative
a. SDHIs tend to be really good at a few diseases.
b. Targeted for key diseases
Products with effective curative and preventative activity are recommended for resistance management.
Be sure the product you are choosing has activity on the diseases you are targeting.
Target corn hybrids with known disease issues to maximize ROI. (High response to fungicide scores).
Mercer Landmark Fungicide Yield Trials show a 5 year average soybean yield increase of approx. 4bu/ac.
Partner soybean fungicide applications with an insecticide like Leverage 360 or Grizzly Too to increase consistency and yield increase. Mercer Landmark Fungicide plus Insecticide Yield Trials show a 5 year average soybean yield increase of approx. 5.29bu/ac
Mercer Landmark Fungicide Yield Trials show a 5 year average corn yield increase of approx. 13.15bu/ac.
Utilize foliar nutrition products in conjunction with your fungicide application to help the plant maximize limited resources based on tissue sampling.
Applying fungicides ahead of dry weather can positively impact yields by reducing plant stress during drought periods.

For more information concerning plant health and disease management, please feel free to reach out to any of us agronomy staff here at Mercer Landmark. We have the knowledge and experience to help you make the right decision and product selection for your specific situation. We are here to help! Have a safe spring!

Jeff Prickett – CCA
Mercer Landmark
Agronomy Sales/Trusted Advisor