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.

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By Adam Farmer – Agronomist at Mercer Landmark Glenmore

We are getting later into the growing season, and overall the crops are looking good. However, one of the most common questions I get revolves around weed control. We are far past the window for

residuals applied this spring, and weeds are starting to rear their ugly heads. But – are we doing ourselves any favors? Most herbicides that are used make mention of a 4-inch weed-height restrictions – take a look at the picture from a field in Van Wert county – how tall do you think these weeds are? We also are now beyond the crop stage window for soybeans as many herbicides should not be applied once the plant enters the reproductive stage.

In addition to label restrictions – some weeds are not effectively killed once they reach a certain height no matter the timing. Marestail, Waterhemp, and Giant Ragweed are examples of this as spraying them at the wrong time will lead to what my father used to call a “pissed off weed”. The Marestail plant
pictures here was sprayed with one of the new dicamba formulations when the weed was well beyond the 4’’ threshold, and while the plant appears to be bent over it is not dead, and new growth can be observed starting to take place. The pictured Giant Ragweed plant was sprayed with Cobra when it was also well beyond the 4’’ threshold, and a few weeks after the application you can see it has not only recovered but is growing at a rapid rate.
So – should we be making applications this late in the season to control weeds? This question is one that is being asked all over the industry, and you will likely get a different answer depending on who you ask. We likely need to start taking a “Year-Round” approach to weed control – with fall burndown applications being normal operating procedure. I would recommend talking to your local Mercer Landmark agronomist to develop a “Year-Round” weed control plan so that we can start to turn the tide and win the war on weeds.

By: Steve Heckler

This is a Western Corn Rootworm Beetle that was found in a corn field recently in Mercer County. The field was planted in a corn on corn rotation. The corn Hybrid had above ground protection but not below. We were scouting corn fields for fungicide treatments and insects when we found these beetles. The Corn Rootworm beetle poses a double threat when we have heavy infestations: The adult snips corn silks and if unchecked, could prevent unsuccessful pollination and kernel development. The larvae feed on roots, which leads to risk for disease and plant stress. Some plants in this particular field were falling over from poor root structure and some of the silks were clipped. The yield loss in this field might be 20 bushel or more depending on the feeding that took place. In southern Darke county they found Corn Rootworm feeding on corn-bean rotation fields. If you have not done any root digs for a few years I urge you to look at some of your fields and dig some roots. As we are starting to plan for next year already, we might want to think about more traits that protect us from damaging insects. Back in the 1980’s I remember when corn rootworm larvae feeding caused severe damage to the corn crop in this area. In most situations it is more economical to protect your corn crop with traits than to treat the problem in season. Ask your Mercer Landmark Agronomist to help you with scouting your fields to determine what is best for your operation.

By Jeff Prickett 07/17/2018

As a follow-up to Jacob Lewis’s Blog article from last week, I have observed disease in both corn and soybeans really blow up this past week. Below are a few pictures I took yesterday. Frogeye Leaf Spot in soybeans is becoming more prevalent. Also, just about every corn field I have scouted this past week has gray leaf spot present at, or just below the ear leaf. Seeing some Northern Corn leaf blight move in as well.

It is not too late to treat your crops with a fungicide application! Most corn fields have not quite reached brown silk and most soybean fields are near R-3. The timing for a fungicide treatment is now!
This past week’s alfalfa scouting shows building pressure of potato leafhopper populations. Remember to perform 10 pendulum net sweeps in 3 to 5 areas of the field. Economic thresholds equal 1 leafhopper per inch of height. (example: 8” alfalfa has 8 or more leafhoppers per 10 sweeps, corrective action is recommended.)

I know this is a busy time of the year, so if you need any help scouting for disease or insect pressure on your farm, please feel free to reach out to any of us at Mercer Landmark Agronomy, we are here to help!

Within the past week many corn fields have tasseled or are near tasseling. Soybeans are approaching or are at the R3 growth stage. These two stages in corn and soybeans are recognized as the optimal times to apply fungicides to the growing crop and the perfect time to ad a plant nutritional product such as Max IN ZMB or Max IN for Beans. When thinking about a fungicide application, you should always ask three questions: 1. What is the hybrid? 2. Is the weather conducive to disease environment? 3. Is there disease present?
The first question in soybeans is not as relevant as corn, question 2 we can definitely answer yes with hot and humid conditions we have been having, for question 3 Septoria Brown Spot has been affecting the soybean plants for several weeks, in the past few days frog eye leaf spot has shown up in many (look at pictures below) for frog eye leaf spot one lesion per 25 feet of row can reduce yield up to 8 bushel per acre.

For corn, the yield potential is great so protecting it from disease is a must. Grey leaf spot has been found in many fields, (look at pictures below) scout your fields or ask your Mercer Landmark representative. With the warm humid conditions, the disease can progress up the plant very quickly. We have to protect the plant all the way through grain fill.

By: Randy Roe

The season has progressed rapidly throughout the area. I saw the first corn field with tassels today and would expect to begin seeing more corn tasseling this next week. The excellent growing conditions has left us with very high yield potential in many fields. Some places have been and are continuing to struggle with excess water that has started stressing crops, especially the soybeans.
Hot weather with high humidity makes for ideal conditions for diseases to begin showing up. Phytophthora began to appear in fields 2 weeks ago (picture below). While seed treatment helps early season, the Phytophthora infection occurred late enough that it had limited effect on reducing damage. At this point in the season, we are relying on the genetics of the soybeans to combat the disease.

Septoria is in most soybeans. You will notice it on the lower leaves as they will turn yellow and fall off.
Grey leaf spot (Picture below) has moved into the corn. Favorable weather conditions could cause this disease to explode over the entire area. Fungicide applications at the tassel (VT) stage will protect against disease moving up the plant and will help to maintain the greatest yield potential.

With high yield potential, we do not want to lose out on making the most out of every acre.
Stay safe as we continue to progress through the season and talk with your Mercer Landmark agronomy representative to assist you in your decisions to give your crop the best opportunity to produce high yields.

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.