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 May, 2013

BY: Gary Prill – Mercer Landmark Precision Ag Manager

When most farmers think about soil sampling, they think it needs to be done in the fall after harvest.  While most soil samples are pulled in the fall, sampling in spring even up until the early crop emergence growth stages is a viable alternative and can offer some advantages over fall soil sampling.  One of the biggest advantages is the opportunity to have time to get the test results back, think about what the yield potential of the field is, and then formulate the necessary recommendations without the time pressures present in the fall after harvest.  Then when the crop is harvested you can get your lime and fertilizer applications done with minimal delays to any fall tillage you need to perform. 

So if you have some fields you wanted soil tested last fall, but didn’t get them done, there are still several weeks yet this spring for Mercer Landmark to pull your soil samples without doing any lasting damage to your crops. If you have wheat in your cropping rotation, sampling after wheat harvest also allows extra time to get soil test results back, formulate recommendations, and make the necessary lime and fertilizer applications.  Contact your local Mercer Landmark sales agronomist to schedule your soil testing now.

BY: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales


We have been hearing several reports of armyworms being found in wheat fields near Chickasaw, OH with a few spotted in Van Wert County. Armyworms are active at night, so it is best to scout during the morning or late evening. To scout for armyworm Jason Diller, Mercer Landmark Regional Sales Manager, says to “vigorously shake down the wheat and count the number of armyworms on the ground; three armyworms per 19.2 inches of row is the threshold.” Armyworm will likely be found in denser areas of the fields, but it is important to scout several areas of the field to make an overall assessment of armyworm pressure. While scouting I have also seen several grass sawflies, which are fairly common in Ohio and normally are not considered a significant economic problem. However, it is important to make note of how many grass sawflies you see and to make sure you differentiate between the two larva. Talk with your local Mercer Landmark Sales Agronomist today about scouting your fields – Don’t wait until it is too late!

I have also seen a few black cutworms feeding on corn. Pay close attention to fields that have (or had) significant weed pressure or cover crops, moths find these areas ideal for egg-laying. Black cutworms are identified by their greasy appearance and will curl up when disturbed. Watch for wilted or dead plants when scouting fields, black cutworm will feed on leaves as well as clip plants both above and below ground. Inspect 20 consecutive plants in 5 different areas of the field for damage, and collect 10 larvae and determine their larval stage. If 3-5% of plants are damaged and a minimum of 2 larvae that are 4-6th stage instars (1-1.5 inches long) are found per 100 plants a treatment is recommended. Again, do not wait to scout your fields, and if you have any questions regarding scouting methods, thresholds, and/or treatments talk with your Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales person today. Happy Scouting!

By: Ted Seifried,

July soybeans have rallied over $2 from the April lows and have been lending strength to the entire grain complex.  Old crop soybeans broke through the $15.00 mark, moved to within 18 cents of limit up, set a new high for the year and reached levels that had not been seen since things fell apart last September.  And then the bottom fell out.  After soaring to new yearly highs by mid-day yesterday July beans fell apart going into the close.  The last trade was up only a 1/2 cent after being up 52 1/2 cents, and the settlement price of 1499 1/2 was 47 1/4 off the high.  What happened?  

Strong cash basis in the interior and sold crush margins have been fueling a strong rally in old crop soybeans.  Soybean demand has been moving at an unsustainable pace.  Export sales today were strong further adding to the concern.  Talk that a Chinese soybean crusher was caught in a cash basis contract and needed to cover futures contracts added fuel to the fire.  

In the mean time a strong US dollar and a huge South American soybean crop have been adding incentive for US imports of South American beans.  We have heard lots of talk of South American soybeans headed to US shores, and this is in part the problem as demand for soybeans has been high in the middle of the country and getting soybeans upstream has been slow.  At this point however it seems very likely that the proper motivation has occurred to get it done.  Also, talk mid-day that a port strike in Argentina had been resolved encouraged thought of more aggressive South American exports, including possibly to the US.  

From a technical standpoint the move today in July soybeans is not a traditional sell signal.  However, in my book whenever you close almost 50 cents off highs it is a huge red flag.  This is not a key reversal, it is not even a reversal as we still posted higher highs and higher lows.  But with the way things fell apart at the close I have to wonder where July soybeans would have ended up if grain markets were still open until 3.  For now, it was a day that should make soybean bulls take caution.  Honestly, I think there is a very good chance that 1546 3/4 is the high.  

Overall the continued strength in old crop soybeans has been surprising to me.  With a stronger US dollar and higher prices and a huge supply of soybeans in South America it would seem that we should be seeing large imports of soybeans.  In fact, there is a good chance that we are.  Once the beans at the ports make their way upstream there will be substantial pressure on cash markets and probably futures markets as well.  

As far as new crop is concerned, November soybeans have been supported by strength in old crop but have not followed on a large scale.  With the potential of 1-1.5 million acre increase in planted acreage it is difficult to get too excited about the new crop situation unless there is a major weather issue.  Now, we still have to grow the crop (shoot, we still have to get much of it planted) and we will be very sensitive to weather this year, but if things go well there will be a lot of soybeans in the world.  

July Soybeans Daily chart:

All this means that speculators should be looking for opportunities and producers need to look to lock up some prices while we have corn near $7.00 and soybeans near $14.00.

By: Clint Muhlenkamp

Due to our wet fall, most growers got a late start on planting wheat and some of us were unable to plant it at all.  But for those of you who did – don’t give up on your wheat just yet.  High wheat yields are still attainable. 

One way to achieve these yields is by applying a fungicide at heading, such as Prosaro® (which should be applied when you see a full head out of the boot).  Prosaro® is designed to clean up the flag leaf and protect the wheat from head scab.  But how does Prosaro® boost yields?

Bayer chemical rep, Rick Williams says “in Ohio, wheat is in grain fill anywhere from 22-25 days.  In most cases, diseases cause wheat to die before it is done maturing thus shortening the amount of days of grain fill. 

So simply put – each day of grain fill is crucial to increasing test weight and yields.

Prosaro® can extend grain fill two to three days and that is where you see the yield boost!” says Williams.  

It’s not too late to have Prosaro® applied.  Mercer Landmark will be starting to apply Prosaro® toward the end of the week to early next week.  Visit or call your local Mercer Landmark ASAP and give your wheat yields a boost!

Try the new “Warm Weather Starter” from Purina Animal Nutrition with Fly Control and an Appetite Enhancer for the summer months.

For more information please contact: Emily Siegrist at 937-417-0183, Randy Seeger at 419-230-9832 or John Wenning at 419-733-2344.

Ampli calf warm weather

BY: Kelsey Berger – Agronomy Sales Mercer Landmark

As we all know, the recent rains have not been very forgiving in regards to getting into the fields. With this late planting season, questions have been coming in on what options are there for no-till herbicide options especially in beans and the competing idea of for going a pre-plant herbicide. A pre-plant burndown is very important especially if that field did not get a fall burndown application.

According to this week’s C.O.R.N newsletter, there are some alternatives to spraying 2, 4-D when if finally dries up and everyone can get into the fields. Most rates of 2, 4-D recommend a 14-day wait period before planting beans. Since this time period is difficult to achieve in some cases here are a few suggestions:

  1. If at all possible, keep some 2, 4-D product in your bean burndown. Even if that means planting corn first and coming back into beans These is a possibility of increasing your glyphosate rate and dropping down the 2, 4-D rate to .5 lb ae/ac. But this still requires a 7-day wait period.
  2. Substituting with Sharpen is also an option. With the recent label changes with Sharpen, restricts use with Authority products and Valor XLT, this could raise some other questions of what product to use and this should be brought up with your local Mercer Landmark agronomist. Also substituting with Sharpen could result in limited control of dandelion, large deadnettle, and giant ragweed.
  3. Also, Gramoxone and Liberty can also be used as a burndown when combined with metrabuzin. Something else to talk with your local agronomist about.
  4. Finally, going back to how grandpa used to do it, tillage deep and consistent enough to uproot those weed root masses is something to think about.

With the growing population of glyphosate-resistant marestail, early season control is important. Another concern is planting when some areas of the field are still too wet. Both corn and beans will have a difficult time coming back from dense compaction that can occur in these situations. Again, each planting situation is different so be sure to contact your local Mercer Landmark branch with any questions you have about your burndown options.


The potential of reduced production due to delayed planting in 2013 because of the cold, wet start to the growing season could result in additional challenges in managing marketing. This month’s Grain Service Newsletter provided some insight into why in may be too soon to worry.

Worrying about corn yields may be premature. Worrying about how much corn will be available by early September is justified. Last year over 1 billion bushels of corn had been combined by September 1 due to the combination of the record early planting and the extreme drought – adding much needed supplies to a dwindling domestic pipeline. Even that wasn’t enough to prevent high basis values well into September up north. But planting date isn’t the issue – it’s when the corn might get into the pipeline this year. In three years, ’91,’08 and ’11, the US total harvested was small enough that USDA didn’t even report it. The chart shows there’s just one year – 2007 – where such late planting was followed by at least 10% harvest by mid-September. Seeing 5-7% by mid-Sept might be possible this year, although the odds don’t favor much harvest before Sept 1. The pipeline will just have to do without much new-crop corn in August this year – even in the Mid south where planting also lags. Tennessee was less than 50% planted by April 28, versus 92% last year and 63% on average. Planting was only 15% done in Missouri, a full 24 days behind last year and 15 days behind normal. As happened last year, another point to remember during this transition to new-crop is that when the pipeline is empty it doesn’t refill in one day. Red hot basis values tend to spill forward to capture early bushels and encourage farmers to keep the combines rolling. The weight of huge corn and soybean crops should eventually plug the pipeline and force basis values down in most all areas – just not on Day 1. Be careful about shorting basis for early corn or soybean harvest time slots. One exception might be the Mid south/Delta region where corn exports have all but vanished.

By: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales

What if there was a weed that could reduce your corn yields by up to 91%, and soybean yields by 78%? What if this weed
could produce 1 million seeds per plant and grow 3 inches per day? What if it was resistant to glyphosate, atrazine, ALS inhibitors, and/or Prowl? What if this weed was in Ohio? According to Mark Loux, Ohio State Weed Specialist, Palmer amaranth was seen in a large field near Portsmouth, Ohio last year. With confirmations in Northwestern Indiana, Southern Michigan, and 14 other states I’d say it is time we start doing everything we can to ward off this invasive weed that has already taken over numerous soybean and cotton fields in the Southern United States.



Palmer Amaranth in Southern cotton field

So what can we do to fight off Palmer amaranth? For starters we can look at our herbicide program and identify the current sites of action
 we are using, and how many times each site of action is being used throughout the growing season. Palmer amaranth is a dioecious species, meaning there are separate male and female plants, which increases the ability of cross pollination resulting in increased genetic diversity within the species.

Check out the Corn and Soybean Herbicide Chart which classifies herbicides based on their site of action. By using several different sites of action you will limit your risk of developing herbicide resistant weeds on your farm. Take a few minutes to write down your current herbicide program in a chart similar to the one below for a quick view of how many sites of action you are
currently using in your fields.

Does your chart look similar to the example listed above? Notice that Group 14 herbicides are being used three different times, which may eventually lead to PPO resistant weeds in your fields.

Don’t wait until you have resistant weeds in your fields; take action now by talking with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist about weed resistance management and the importance of herbicide rotation.

Heat stress during dry period affects calves, too
Penn State Dairy Digest | Updated: 04/26/2013

Cows that experience heat stress during their dry period produce less milk, are more prone to disease, and are more difficult to breed back than cows that do not suffer from heat stress just prior to calving. These negative impacts of heat stress on cows are well known. But what about the calves these cows are carrying?
In the April 2013 issue of Penn State’s Dairy Digest, Coleen Jones, research associate, discusses a recent study conducted at the University of Florida that offers some new insight on calves born to cows that experienced heat stress during the dry period. The study was published in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.
Some important findings include:
• Calves born to heat-stressed dams weighed 13 pounds less at birth and 28 pounds less at weaning than calves born to dams with access to cooling.
• Colostrum IgG content was not affected by heat stress. However, calves born to heat-stressed dams were less efficient in absorbing IgG from colostrum and had lower serum IgG concentrations for the first 28 days of life than calves born to cooled cows.
• Calves exposed to heat stress before birth also had a compromised T-cell response, as measured by the number of monocytes in circulation at 7, 28, 42, and 56 days of age.
“These results confirm that calf body weight can be significantly impacted by heat stress during the final weeks of gestation,” Jones says. “In addition, both passive transfer and cell-mediated immunity were compromised in calves exposed to heat stress.”
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to evaluate your cooling strategies. Don’t forget about your dry cows!
More in Heat Stress during the Dry Period Affects Calves TooSource: Penn State Dairy Digest April 2013