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 June, 2013

By: Kelsey Berger, Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales

As corn is coming into the V7-V9 stages across the region, deficiencies are starting to be seen. There are four main deficiencies that are showing up in Indiana and Ohio cornfields.

Zinc: Essential for development of roots, leaves, and vascular system. Zinc is rather immobile in the plant. Symptoms are seen as interveinal, light striping. It resembles a bleached effect from the base to the tip of the leaf. The midrib area usually remains green. Internodes may be shortened. If symptoms are extreme, new leaf tissue will appear white. Zinc deficiency can be coupled with high pH soils, especially in wet and cool soils, with low organic matter. The normal zinc level in soil is between 40-60 ppm.

Sulfur: Sulfur is key to the essential Nitrogen:Sulfur relationship. When combined, they have a profound effect on plant vigor, water use efficiency, carbohydrate production, rate of grain fill, along with other plant processes. Deficiency in sulfur can alter this ratio and ultimately affect these key plant processes. Sulfur deficent symptoms can be seen as general yellowing, similar to nitrogen deficiency. Interveinal yellowing on younger leaf tissue is common. Soils low in pH, no till systems, cold, dry soils can also delay sulfur release from organic material favor deficiencies. Early season symptoms can subside once temperatures allow sulfur release. The optimum Nitrogen:Sulfur ratio is 15:1. Ratios of 14:1 show no need for extra sulfur but may need additional nitrogen. Anything above 16:1 shows additional sulfur will be required.


Manganese: Essential for photosynthesis, nitrogen utilization, and optimum plant development. Also helps with disease and insect resistance. Deficiency symptoms can be seen as olive green or mustard yellow coloring within in the veins. High pH (above 6.2-6.3) and high organic matter soils can tie up manganese. Dry soils also contribute to manganese availability issues. The normal level is between 89-105 ppm.

Magnesium: Assists with formation of the nucleus of the chlorophyll molecule. Important in all respiration reactions and energy transformations. Initial symptoms are yellowing and white coloring. Beading is common on the leaves. Dead, round spots will sometimes follow. Older leaves become reddish-purple and the tips of the leaves die if the deficiency is serve enough. Deficiencies are often attributed to low pH soils, sandy soils in regions of moderate to high rainfall where magnesium leaching can occur. Applied potassium or soils already high in potassium can induce deficiencies. The normal level of Magnesium is between .19% and .50%.

Once a deficiency is seen in the field, yield has already been affected. But addressing these situations as soon as possible can minimize stress on your crop and help obtain the potential you want. A proactive approach to addressing deficiencies is tissue sampling. This will show possible deficiencies while you can still address the problem before there are any visual problems. If interested in tissue sampling or have any questions about possible deficiencies in your fields contact your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist.

BY: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomoy

Take a look at these pictures taken from Elgin, OH comparing wheat fields that were and were not sprayed with Prosaro this spring at flowering.



According to Purdue University, “As little as two or three days of light to moderate rainfall can favor infection. Optimum temperatures for infection are between 75⁰F and 85⁰F, but through prolonged periods of high humidity and moisture, infection will occur at lower temperatures. Infection will continue as long as weather conditions are favorable and wheat plants are at susceptible growth stages.”  What were the temperatures the end of May and the first week of June? According to The Weather Channel temperatures were in the mid 80’s and we saw two rain events amounting to ½ inch each between May 27th and June 1st, perfect conditions for the development of head scab.

Mercer Landmark tested both samples shown above, the sample with Prosaro came back at less than 1 ppm DON (parts per million of vomitoxin), while the sample NOT TREATED with Prosaro tested greater than 10 ppm DON*, keep in mind that milling quality is 2 ppm DON.

To scout for Head Scab while wheat heads are still green you will notice some spikelets that are

bleached, now that wheat has matured you will see pink/orange masses of spores visible on the infected spikelets(shown in the photos below), and kernels will appear shriveled, discolored, and lightweight.

A lot of growers are starting to automatically request all of their wheat acres to be sprayed with Prosaro whether or not it seems it will be an issue each year. Spraying Prosaro, practicing cultivation, and planting resistant varieties such as Croplan 8309 are all recommended for disease management, however no single tactic will provide adequate control of head scab if environmental conditions favor disease development.

If you have any questions regarding Head Scab in your wheat fields please talk with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist.

*Keep in mind this sample was handpicked in order to show the comparison of treated vs. non-treated for the sake of this article.

This article is from the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, Beef At A Glance Publication (June 2013)

  Cattle Producers should Control Fly Populations

  Hoosier Ag Today

One of the best ways to keep cattle healthy and gaining pounds in hot weather is to control flies, a Purdue Extension beef specialist says.

Heavy populations of flies can cause stress in cattle herds and spread disease. Both stress and disease can reduce milk production and calf gain.

“We’re into June, so producers should start looking for the fly populations, and they need to knock those fly populations down soon,” Ron Lemenager said.

There are two main fly species that Indiana cattle producers need to worry about: the horn fly and the face fly.

The horn fly is a small, blood-sucking insect that feeds mainly on the backs, sides, shoulders and underlines of cattle. They reduce weight gain and make animals more prone to stay in the shade instead of going out in the sun to graze, Lemenager said.

Horn flies are usually easier to control than face flies because they don’t travel far. “Horn flies typically stay with the animal, only leaving to deposit eggs in manure,” Lemenager said.

Face flies are known to travel more from animal to animal and from farm to farm. “If neighbors aren’t controlling face fly populations, you will get more flies bothering your herd,” Lemenager said.

Non-biting face flies are about twice the size of horn flies and similar in size to houseflies. Face flies feed on the secretions around the eyes and heads of cattle. In addition to irritating the skin, they can spread pink eye, Lemenager said.

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, can rapidly spread through a herd and reduce weight gain and milk production. But the face fly spreading the Moraxella family of bacteria isn’t the only contributing factor of the infection.

Lemenager said pink eye requires three basic elements: flies transmitting the bacteria, ultraviolet radiation from the sun and mechanical injury to the eye. Dust, seed heads, pollen, fescue leaves or sharp points on grass can all irritate an animal’s eye. So in addition to fly control, farmers should knock down or clip pastures before turning the herd into a new pasture or paddock.

Producers have a few options for controlling flies in their herds. One option, a newer technology, is to use insecticide-impregnated ear tags. The tags contain the pyrethroid or organophosphate class of insecticides and are effective in reducing face fly populations for several months.

Lemenager recommended rotating pyrethroid and organophosphate products so flies don’t build up resistance.

Farmers also can control fly populations for several weeks by using insecticides in dust bags, oilers, pour-ons and sprays. Feed-through larvacides in a mineral supplement form also have efficacy in disrupting fly life cycles.

More Purdue Extension information on fly problems in cattle is available at and

“Rain makes grain” again the market’s mantra. Tonight’s planting and condition reports will gain intense scrutiny ahead of the Friday reports.

Speaking of… Friday, USDA has 2 reports for us. First is the June 1 Planting Revisions – which should show a reduction of corn acres at the least. However, there was still a significant amount of land remaining to plant as of that date – which opens the door for an August revision. The other, and arguably more important report is the Quarterly Stocks in All Positions report.

Interesting that late last week, USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber essentially admitted there are difficulties tracking grain stocks in this country, and it revolves around the interplay between DDG utilization in feed rations. Below is what he had to say.

Glauber says USDA studying corn stocks controversy – RTRS

20-Jun-2013 13:28

By Christine Stebbins

CHICAGO, June 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has commissioned an industry study on the agency’s estimate of U.S. stockpiles of corn to address widespread concerns about the accuracy of the quarterly report, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber said on Thursday. “The presumption from a lot of people is the survey is wrong,” Glauber told Reuters on the sidelines of a grain industry meeting in Chicago. “I have a project ongoing right now looking at that issue. I contracted out some work.” The study focuses on why trade expectations have diverged so much from USDA’s reported data, Glauber said. But he would not give details about the USDA-commissioned industry survey or when results would be available.

 Glauber acknowledged that grain industry complaints of an inaccurate count for the largest U.S. crop had persisted for the last couple of years. But he expressed confidence that USDA was doing its best to track stockpiles in a rapidly changing corn marketplace, where ever more grain is being held “off-farm” and less subject to the department’s farmer surveys.

Disconnects between trade expectations and USDA stock estimates have occurred off and on historically but the frequency has increased in recent years, analysts say. Since March 2010, 12 of the past 14 quarterly corn stocks figures have been well out of sync with private estimates, generating huge price swings in Chicago Board of Trade corn futures markets.

“When NASS does its survey they essentially do a census of all the commercial operations,” Glauber said, referring to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service which does the count. “So you would think with more grain being held off-farm, those numbers should be even better. Whereas on the farm they do it by survey, so there are some inherent sampling errors. But there’s been a lot of theories why those expectations vary,” Glauber said. “I don’t know that there will be an answer.” “What I’ve been looking at is trade expectations relative to the reports,” said Glauber, adding there have been “surprises” between expectations and the actual numbers.“There’s no question that a lot has changed in the corn market over the last 5-6 years.

Ethanol is now a major factor. Trying to estimate feed use is difficult. We know corn for feed has declined, while distiller’s dried grain have come in. That’s one issue,” he said. Ethanol, which now consumes up to 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop, produces a by product called distiller’s dried grain (DDG) which in itself has become a massive new source of livestock feed for home and export markets. “With the corn stocks, increasingly a larger portion is being held off farm – some for ethanol production,” Glauber said. “These are trends. To explain the discrepancies, I haven’t found a smoking gun yet.” Glauber said USDA is looking at every “theory” it could about why traders were questioning USDA’s corn stocks. “For example, we are seeing a lot more corn being grown in areas where it wasn’t grown before. Years like last year, there’s more corn coming on early – more corn planted in the South,” Glauber said. “As a consequence, there are thoughts that some of the new crop could be fed in the fourth quarter, which would explain the discrepancies. However, that should balance out when you get to first quarter stocks for the next year. We have seen a little of that.”

BY: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales

Things are starting to get a little weedy, this past week your local Mercer Landmark Agronomists have spent a lot of time scouting  soybean fields, the three main problems we’re running into are dandelions, marestail, and giant ragweed.

What are your options for controlling these troublesome weeds postemergence? Let’s start with dandelions.  To control or suppress dandelions that have already been injured by preplant herbicides apply an application of glyphosate (to RR soybeans) or Liberty + atrazine (LibertyLink corn). On well-established dandelions Mercer Landmark Agronomist Jason Diller recommends spiking glyphosate with FirstRate or Synchrony/Classic. It is important to remember that the recommended treatments are intended to provide suppression only of plants that were not previously treated with a fall or spring burndown.

Moving onto marestail; growers are limited when it comes to completely cleaning up an infested soybean field postemergence. If you are lucky enough to have populations that are not glyphosate- or ALS- resistant, an application of glyphosate, FirstRate, or Classic can control small plants that have emerged after planting. Try combining glyphosate with FirstRate or Classic to up your chances for success, however the likelihood of completely eliminating all marestail from the field is slim. Another option is to plant LibertyLink soybeans, talk with your local Mercer Landmark Sales Representative about the superior LibertyLink soybean varieties offered through Croplan Genetics and Beck’s Hybrids. The photo below is from soybean field in Elgin, OH that was treated prior to soybean planting. On the right you will find a test on the effect of FirstRate on marestail from Jackson County, IN.

Lastly, when it comes to giant ragweed (as well as the weeds previously discussed), the most effective method of control is the combination of a pre- and postemergence herbicide plan. In Roundup Ready soybeans where giant ragweed is an issue apply a postemergence application FlexstarGT when weeds are small and actively growing, when the main flush of weeds in complete and the majority of the weeds are at the cotyledon 3-4 true leaf stage. In fields where glyphosate- and ALS-resistant giant ragweed have been identified Ohio State and Purdue University recommend planting corn to utilize the effectiveness of corn herbicides on resistant ragweed or planting LibertyLink soybeans. Don’t allow weeds to reduce your yields, talk with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomy Representative today for additional advice on controlling these weeds in your fields before they become a problem.


BY: Clint Muhlenkamp – Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales

With bean prices north of 15 dollars, it is wise that we utilize every opportunity to squeeze out extra bushels.  Well I have good news.  Now – is an opportunity.

 Now is a great time to be checking whether or not your fields need a follow-up pass of glyphosate to clean up some escaped weeds. Now is also a great time to tissue test your fields for micronutrient deficiencies. Weeds have been known to reduce yields immensely, so making an extra trip is a wise investment; especially when you have the flexibility to add profit to your tank mix.

 That potential profit booster is called Max-IN® for Beans.  Max-IN® has a combination of five micronutrients (Boron, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc) that all contribute to bigger yields.  Here are several reasons why adding Max-IN® to your mix is a smart decision:

1)      Glyphosate can tie up micronutrients in the plant; Max-IN® counteracts against it (keeping the plants greener).

2)      Micronutrients are fairly immobile in the plant, so direct contact on the leaf surface is a highly effective way of feeding it.

3)      Healthier plants

4)      Cost efficient

5)      Bigger yields!

All are reasons that contribute to increasing profits!  There’s still time to take advantage of this opportunity.  But if I were you – I would do it now.

 Talk with your local Mercer Landmark and learn how simple it is to add to your mix.  Also, ask about Max-IN®’s entire line of products that work great on a wide variety of crops all designed to do one thing – “MaxIN-mize” profits.

There is always a flurry of anticipation around USDA report day. And the five minutes after the report is released produces absolutely chaotic trading, even if the numbers are as expected or boring.  

Then the next day, traders are stuck asking, “Now what? What do we focus on?” This is especially true this week, as the USDA had really nothing to offer in terms of the fundamental questions of supply –acreage and yield.  

So, the focus goes back to things like export sales. Exports continue to be anemic for corn and have definitely tailed off for beans. Meal export sales are still large, but are also tailing off. Although not perfect, the effect on the market is one of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In this case, the end of the tunnel is the beginning of new-crop harvest.  

There is also some speculative liquidation taking place as traders must reduce the size of their positions close to the delivery period. Also, July grain and soy options expire next Friday.    

If planting season is perceived to be generally over, then the market may limp along until the next news story grabs its attention. With pollination so far in the future, weather may not be the next news story. It could be demand, the price of old-crop supplies, or tidbits out of China. Or maybe something in the wheat market could catch traders’ eyes.  

Eventually, the market will care about acreage again. Perhaps at the end of next week, pre report estimates will begin for the acreage and stocks reports which will be released June 28. Estimates that are unusually large or small will begin to refocus traders’ attention on the incredible planting season of 2013.

Need to catch up? Here are some stories you might have missed this week.

1. FSIS rolls out mechanically tenderized beef label changes. After some scrutiny about food safety issues for mechanically tenderized beef, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service this week rolled out new rules that would require tenderized meat packages to be clearly labeled as such, complete with cooking instructions.

2. Monday vote scheduled on Senate Farm Bill. The Senate voted 75-22 to close the debate on the Farm Bill Thursday by calling for a vote. Senators now have fewer than 30 hours to debate any additional amendments prior to final vote.

More GMO wheat news, food waste mitigation and a new produce plan for Walmart

3. Sabotage a possibility for Monsanto in GMO wheat case. Monsanto Wednesday said it is not ruling out a ‘purposeful release’ of volunteer wheat plants in Oregon allegedly containing the company’s Roundup Ready glyphosate-resistant trait. That hasn’t stopped the blame game, though. There’s already a lawsuit brewing over the issue.

4. World Pork Expo wrap-up. The World Pork Expo wraps up this week after providing several discussions on producer hot topics, from PED virus to a possible EU trade agreement.

5. USDA has big plans for climate change concerns. Following the agency’s push earlier this year to find strategies to mitigate climate variations, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced USDA would also implement climate “hubs” to serve as information sources for farmers and forest owners. The announcement also included an online carbon calculation tool.

6. Walmart launches direct-from-grower produce plan. Walmart this week announced a plan to hire produce experts to work directly with growers in procuring produce for some 10,800 stores nationwide. The rollout also includes weekly produce checks and a produce training program for employees.

7. USDA getting serious about food waste. We have all been there. You fix a meal, forget it’s in your refrigerator, and bam – it’s rotten. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that food accounts for just a portion of the 40% of food that is thrown away in the U.S. annually. But the EPA and USDA have joined forces to tackle this issue.

And your bonus:

It’s National Donut Day. Or doughnut, whatever. The point is, today is the one day of the year folks are happy to indulge in the tasty treat – but it actually has a historical meaning. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the doughnut has roots in World War I, when Salvation Army Volunteers used to hand out doughnuts to American soldiers. There’s more to the story here.

Despite the slow start, it appears the summer heat will soon be upon us in the Midwest.  Today, the 5 –Day forecast shows temps in the mid 70’s with a 10 –Day outlook including low to mid-80s and 40% humidity.   While the forecast may bode well for growing corn, it does not fare as well on maintaining high milk production.  According to work presented at the 2011 Western Dairy Management Conference, a cow producing 70 lbs. of milk can be stressed at temperatures as low as 72 Degrees and a relative humidity of 50%.   (Collier, Hall, University of Arizona) 

With so many of our cows milking over 70 lbs., the approaching heat merits the question, “Are we doing enough?”  A farmer’s tool box contains an assortment of tools from fans and sprinklers to extra water and feed additives.  As Dairyman your job is to use these tools to cool your cows and improve your bottom line.  At Mercer Landmark we believe it is our job to help you utilize those tools to maximize your profit.  In order to meet your needs we have brought on Caitlin Gehret to assist local Dairyman this summer in reducing heat stress.  We have also invested time in training our consultants to be on the lookout for effective means at reducing heat stress.  Lastly, in conjunction with Purina Animal Nutrition we are excited to announce the launch of “RALLY” Dairy Feed for heat stress.  To learn more about Rally Dairy Feed please logon to or contact a Mercer Landmark Feed Specialist: 

Matt McVey
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (567) 644-3189
Fax: (419) 678-8675
Randy Seeger
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (419) 230-9832
Fax: (419) 925-5908
Joe Siegrist
Feed – Sales & Service
Office: (419) 678-3520
Cell: (419) 305-2541
Fax: (419) 678-3578
Travis Spicer
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (419) 733-9915
Fax: (419) 586-9717
Emily Siegrest
Calf & Heifer Specialist
Cell: (937) 417-0183
Fax: (419) 678-8675
Dave Puthoff
Agronomy/Feed Sales Manager
Cell: (419) 305-1817
Daren Fogle
Dairy Feed Specialist
Cell: (419) 230-7565
Fax: (419) 673-8815
John A. Wenning P.A.S.
Dairy Nutritionist
Cell: (419) 733-2344

Fax: (775) 923-7354

By: Anna Kaverman – Grain Originator

After suffering through one of the hottest, driest summers in history and seeing the market sky rocket, who can blame farmers for being afraid of another summer of drought. The fear was compounded by an almost total lack of moisture recharge over the winter.  Now, we are locked into a weather pattern that is directly the reverse of what most farmers thought. The weather rally that most observers thought would be in place by now is in fact causing price improvement. However, the cause is not what we anticipated it would be.

The characteristics of the recent price move are different than last years drought market. A normal weather market takes a long time to develop. The peak of a dry weather rally usually comes in middle to late summer. Unless the weather pattern is in a prolonged spell, the top usually comes a day or two before a general rainstorm large enough to relieve the crop stress. In the case of last year this never really happened.

A weather rally caused by excess rainfall comes much earlier in the growing season. It is unusual for a wet weather problem to be severe enough to reduce yields nationwide. The peak of this type of weather rally usually ends the day planting progress reports reveal more than expected planting progress. With the old-crop supplies so tight this year, the effects of delayed planting and cool weather may be exaggerated. With current corn planting progress at 86%, as reported last week, and with the rains that fell most of the week, reduction in planted acres may support prices for most of the summer at a higher level than anyone thought a month ago.

Judging by past years, excess rainfall at planting time and cooler-than-normal temperatures rarely have a lasting positive effect on grain prices. Will conditions this year be different enough to support prices at a higher level all summer? Time will tell. However, this rally looks like a selling opportunity for those of you that have their crops planted and emerged. I can only hope that this weather rally results in new-crop bids getting high enough to result in a profit with normal yields.