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 November, 2013

By: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark Agronomy

Did you know that corn rootworms rob farmers of over $1 BILLION annually?

Agrisure Duracade is a brand new mode of action against corn rootworm available from Syngenta being offered in the NK corn lineup. It is the only CRW trait on the market that was launched with the idea of insect resistance management in mind; it is only available stacked with a second corn rootworm trait. By planting hybrids with the Agrisure Duracade trait stack growers will experience the highest reduction in corn rootworm beetle emergence available on the market today (99.79%).

Not only is Agrisure Duracade offering growers 2 modes of action against corn rootworms, it is also only available as an EZ Refuge hybrid, containing 5% refuge in the bag- simplifying growers’ refuge requirements. See the data below testing Agrisure Duracade against Agrisure 3000GT and Agrisure Viptera, as well as an untreated check.

Corn stalk “goosenecking” resulting from CRW damage

Don’t want to harvest goosenecked corn next year? Talk your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist today to learn about utilizing the latest corn rootworm technology on your farm with the Agrisure Duracade trait stack.

I know everyone says it, but seriously, where has this year gone? I am excited for Thanksgiving, but hardly can believe it is tomorrow. As the year winds down and Thanksgiving eve is upon us, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I am thankful for. I am most thankful for my family. My husband and I were blessed about a year ago with becoming new parents and we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. My family is my rock and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I am also grateful for my career as it allows me to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table. This is just the top of my list because the list could go on for ages. I truly am blessed each an everyday. Being a farm wife, mother and daughter I wanted to take a moment today and look at where the food on our thanksgiving table really comes from.

When Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the celebrations range from the more serious, such as celebrating the peace between the Pilgrims and Native American Indians and the harvest that brought an abundance of food, to the not-so-serious, such as watching football and planning a roadmap of the shops to visit on Black Friday. The latter of the two is my personal favorite.

But at its core, the American Thanksgiving is a harvest-time celebration, and many parts of the world hold similar festivities. These harvest holidays can have both historical and spiritual roots, but the common theme is being thankful for a good harvest, hoping for prosperity and celebrating the agriculture of their culture.

For example, in Korea, Chu Suk includes a festival dedicated to thanking ancestors for their harvest and features rice cake and special foods during the three-day celebration. In Southern India, Pongal, carrying the name of one of its traditional dishes, is a four day festival marking the end of harvest, while Northern and Eastern India host their own harvest traditions.

The food that appears on today’s Thanksgiving Day table in our homes may not be a perfect replica of the first Thanksgiving, but the improvements in agriculture have made it possible for farmers to keep up with the demands of the growing population to produce a similar feast.

I love random facts, so here are a few fun facts about the crops that may make an appearance on your family’s Thanksgiving table this holiday season. Thank you Monsanto for sharing these.

Green Beans

Green Beans used to have a thick string running along the outside of the pod. This led to their nickname of “string beans”. The first “stringless” bean was bred in 1894 by Calvin Keeney, called the father of the “father of the sringless bean.”

Green beans are the third most popular vegetable grown in home gardens. After tomatoes and peppers.


California produces about 60% of the U.S. carrot crop

Carrots are members of the parsley family. Other members include celery, parsnips, dill and fennel.

Broccoli Casserole

Over the last 2 ½ decades consumption of fresh broccoli has mostly increased. We consumed 1.4 pounds per person in 1980 and 5.6 pounds by 2010.

The idea of cook casserole as a one dish meal became popular in the 1950’s due to the introduction of light weight metal and glassware.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are definitely America’s favorite vegetable. Did you know that every year we consume about 140 pounds of potatoes per person?

Apparently martians enjoy them, too! In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space.


The Pilgrims sure didn’t have any corn like we have during our meals today. Indian corn was dried up and then pounded into flour and cornmeal for cooking and baking.

The sweet corn you are eating makes up less than 1% of total corn acreage in the U.S.


Six states account for more than 60% of the turkeys produced, with Minnesota farmers raising the most.

In 2013, Minnesota farmers are expected to raise approximately 45 million turkeys.

45 million turkeys are eaten each thanksgiving. So we can thank Minnesota for nearly all the turkeys that we are eating.


Farmers grow cranberries in just 5 states. Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Wisconsin produces 4.5 million barrels of cranberries in 2012.

Some cranberry vines on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old and still bear fruit.

Pecan Pie

There are more than 1,000 varieties of pecans.

The U.S. produces more than 80% of the world’s pecan crop.

Every pecan pie uses ½ to ¾ lb of pecans. In total, there are about 78 pecans used in every pecan pie.

Wine (My favorite!)

Just how many grapes are in a bottle of wine? Approximately 600 to 800 wine grapes (2.4 lbs) are in each bottle.

Want to have an authentic Thanksgiving? Swap out your wine for beer. That’s what the pilgrims drank and it was made from corn.

Temperatures are dropping – Are your calves ready?

Article by Ed Denton, calf & heifer specialist, Purina Animal Nutrition
In many parts of the country the heat has subsided, replaced with crisp fall air. “We aren’t yet in the cold weather mindset, but if you’re finding yourself putting on an extra layer of clothes, chances are your calves are already experiencing cold stress.” This according to Ed Denton, a calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition located in New York.

Calves under 3 weeks of age can begin feeling cold stress much earlier than most people think. Denton notes that even at ambient temperatures of 60 degrees F and below, cold stress can hinder calf growth and perfor­mance. Cold stress can continue to affect calves over 3 weeks of age as ambient temperatures dip to 40 degrees F and below.

Denton offers some tips to help keep calves growing and thriving until temperatures begin to heat back up.

Use calf jackets

Calf jackets are a simple and effective tool to help calves conserve heat. Denton recommends using calf jack­ets on newborn calves and continue using until they outgrow them. When using calf jackets, calf raisers should review their sanitation practices, as it is important to properly wash calf jackets between uses.

Maintain dry and deep straw beds

A deep straw bed can help calves’ ability to nest and conserve heat. Calf pens and hutches should always be clean and dry, notes Denton. A quick way to test whether or not bedding is dry is the knee test. If you put your knee down and it stays dry, your bedding is dry enough. If not, it is time to re-bed.

Denton uses a 1 to 3 bedding scorecard to evaluate whether or not bedding packs are deep enough based on how much of the calf’s legs are showing when they are lying down. If no legs are showing (optimal), the bed­ding score would be a 3; if half of their legs are showing (acceptable), the score would be a 2; if all of the legs are showing (unacceptable), the bedding score would be a 1. A score of 1 indicates that it is time to add bed­ding to the pack.

Cold weather adds stress for both the calf and the producer. Taking a proactive stance in keeping calves’ energy levels up, stress levels down and facilities up to par can help your calves avoid winter growth slumps so that they can keep growing and gaining and enter the lactating herd sooner.

Offer consistent nutrition, formulated for cooler weather

Feeding calves a higher plane of nutrition, formulated for the season is particularly important as temperatures begin to drop. Denton recommends feeding calves 2.5 pounds of calf milk replacer powder per day to ensure that calves are receiving enough energy.

Providing the correct balance of fat and carbohydrates is key to achieving optimal energy intake, says Denton. A common misconception amongst calf raisers is that increasing fat alone in the calf diet during cooler weather will make up for a calf’s increased energy demands. Denton notes that a 50 percent increase in calf milk replacer powder can yield a 50 percent increase in energy. Alternatively, a 100 percent increase in fat alone in the calf diet may only yield a 12 percent increase in energy (NRC 2001).

Denton also stresses the importance of limiting the time that calves are not receiving nutrition. A three times per day feeding program (eight hour increments) allows for more balanced energy intake and availability.

Denton advises calf raisers to introduce calf starter ad libitum to calves at 2-3 days of age and increase feeding rate as appetite increases. In cool weather, a calf starter formulated to stimulate appetite and provide optimal energy availability can help support calf weight gains and structural growth in spite of cold weather.

Offer plenty of fresh, warm water

During heat stress periods, providing calves with extra water is a no-brainer. But calf raisers often underes­timate the level of dehydration associated with the lower relative humidity and dry air brought on by colder weather, says Denton. He recommends feeding calves warm water between 101-102 degrees F. Water tem­perature becomes increasingly important in cold weather. Cold water forces calves to use extra energy to heat the water up to their core body temperature post-consumption.

Provide a draft-free environment

In warm weather, drafts can keep calves cool, but when the air cools, cold air drafts promote body heat loss. Body heat loss requires calves to allocate more energy towards body temperature maintenance and thus limits energy available for growth. A simple way to check for drafts is with your bare hand. If you feel more than slight air movement, a draft could be present.

Cold weather doesn’t only affect young calves, says Denton. Calf raisers need to address post-weaning calf management, especially in cooler weather. To help cut down on the added stress of weaning, post-weaned calves should be grouped in small, even groups for up to three weeks post-weaning. To help promote intake post-weaning, Denton recommends that calves be fed the same calf starter, all the way up to twelve weeks, where they can then be fed a grower feed as they transition to a diet higher in fiber.

Cold weather adds stress for both the calf and the producer. Taking a proactive stance in keeping calves’ en­ergy levels up, stress levels down and facilities up to par can help your calves avoid winter growth slumps so that they can keep growing and gaining and enter the lactating herd sooner.

Contact a Mercer Landmark feed specialist for more information:

Matt McVey
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (567) 644-3189
Randy Seeger
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (419) 230-9832
Joe Siegrist
Feed – Sales & Service
Office: (419) 678-3520
Cell: (419) 305-2541
Travis Spicer
Feed – Sales & Service
Cell: (419) 733-9915
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
John A. Wenning P.A.S.
Dairy Nutritionist
Cell: (419) 733-2344

By: Ben Stoller – Mercer Landmark agronomist

A Purdue University study published in the Agronomy Journal has found that newer high yielding corn hybrids treated with increased nitrogen rates pull more micronutrients from the soil.  The study sought to determine how the increase of both plant density and nitrogen rates affected concentrations of zinc, copper, iron and manganese in two corn hybrids.

Micro nutrients are essential for plant growth and reproductive development.

Tony Vyn, Purdue agronomy professor and co-author of the study, indicates growers need to pay special attention to not only how much macronutrients are being drawn, but also the drawdown of essential micronutrients as yields and plant matter increase.

The study-with the assistance of co-author Ignacio Ciampitti of Kansas State University-has found that higher plant populations had a rather minor effect on micro uptake, but that the increased nitrogen rates did: as nitrogen rates (and yields) rose, corn plants took up substantially more micronutrients, ultimately to the ears of the plants.

Vyn notes that growers need to consider how much zinc leaves the field at harvest.

The study also noted differences in nutrient uptake and storage.  Zinc is absorbed throughout the season and stored primarily in stems, while iron is stored in leaves.  Copper and manganese are stored in both stems and leaves and absorbed primarily before flowering.

Vyn recommends adding zinc to bulk phosphorus fertilizer (due to similar plant uptake) or in a starter; manganese in a foliar application.

Tim Maloney, a crop consultant in Wisconsin, has studied effects of micronutrients (primarily zinc and sulfur) on corn for several years.  He has found improvements in tissue color, vigor and plant health-even increased root mass- after early micronutrient treatments from the V4-V6 stages.  Moreover, he has found 3-5 bushel increases with zinc applications in corn.

Mercer Landmark provides soil and tissue sampling services to determine deficiencies in macro and micronutrients, as well as supply growers with their crops’ nutritional needs.  Please contact your local Mercer Landmark Agronomy sales representative to help you reach your crops’ full potential!

For the upcoming decade, most analysts—though certainly not all—are looking for corn prices to have a $4 in front of them, not a $7. Case in point: Prices projected by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri call for corn prices less than $5 per bushel for 2014 through 2023. But what exactly is cheap corn? Below is an article that was posted on Ag that provides some critical insight into this question.

By: University News Release

Are corn prices moving to a new, higher plateau?

By Daryll E. Ray and Harwood D. Schaffer, Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee

Looking at the Nov. 8 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) numbers for corn, we wonder if the next couple of years might provide a test of the “new plateau” hypothesis.

According to the new plateau or new price era hypothesis, the season average prices of corn paid to farmers that broke the $4 per bushel price barrier in the 2007 crop year will now average or plateau at about $4.50 per bushel, largely due to the growth of the corn-for-ethanol market and other demand increases. Corn used for ethanol increased from 2.1 billion bushels in 2005 when the price was $2 to the 5 billion bushel level in 2010.

To provide some historical context, during the period right after WWII through 1972, the season average price of corn ranged between $1 and $1.66, depending mostly on the level of the announced loan rate. 1972 saw the beginning of a 10-year period of increasing exports as corn prices doubled to over $2 per bushel, where it remained for all but six years between 1973 and 2006.

In addition to the ongoing upward shifts in demand, those expecting a new price era for major agricultural crops also point to the increased production costs of recent years as another reason that annual prices will average well above earlier price plateaus.

Turning to the November WASDE report, we see that the USDA projects the 2013 corn crop will come in at 14.0 billion bushels, well above last year’s drought-plagued 10.8 billion bushels. At the same time, total use is projected to increase by 1.8 billion bushels.

As a result, year-ending corn stocks jump from an estimated 824 million bushels in 2012 to 1.9 billion bushels at the end of the 2013 crop year with the stocks-to-use ratio increasing from 6.4% to 14.6% between the two years.

With higher year-ending stocks for the 2013 crop, the USDA projects a mid-range season average price for corn of $4.50 per bushel, well below the $6.89 season average price for the 2012 crop. This represents a projected price decline of 34.7%, the largest single-year price decline in more than 60 years.

The last time that the season average price was below $5 was 2009 when it was $3.55.

A comparison between 2013 and 2009 shows that in 2013 production is projected to be 900 million bushels higher than 2009, domestic consumption is projected to be 463 million bushels higher, and exports are projected to be 579 million bushels lower. Total use in 2013 is projected to be 116 million bushels lower than it was in 2009, suggesting that if spring 2014 planting goes well, prices could go lower yet.

Could prices drop back to the previous $2-plus plateau? The answer to that question depends on how one interprets history. It is well and good to draw a parallel to the move from the $1-plus plateau for corn to the 2-plus plateau, but in doing so one must ask what made the new level stick? Our read of the history suggests that the new plateau stuck because of the 1977 increase in the non-recourse loan rate, thereby setting a limit to how far the price of corn could fall.

After the 1996 farm bill effectively eliminated the use of any reserve program through the use of the marketing loan program, we saw four consecutive years of sub-$2 corn prices. As for the contention that higher production costs will do the trick, it did that not work in the 1998-2001 period when the government backfilled farm income with tens of billions of dollars in government payments.

This time around, there is no price safety net to make a new higher price plateau stick. Furthermore, if prices fall well below the total cost of production and stay there for several years, revenue insurance will be of little value as an income safety net for crop farmers as well.

By: Amy Battles – Mercer Landmark agronomist

You’ve just arrived at your first corn field for 2014, tractor and planter are all greased and ready to go, and you have your seed corn all counted out and ready in the back of your pick-up truck. You start dumping the future of your 2014 income into your planter, it is a perfect May day, not a cloud in sight, planter boxes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are full, and then it hits you – “I forgot my refuge corn at home.”

There is a lot of talk out on the country side about RIB (refuge in the bag) products this year as more and more companies move hybrids into RIB in order to help farmers save time and ensure that growers are complying with insect resistance management guidelines.

You may be asking yourself, “So how do I know if the corn I bought is RIB?” Below I have outlined the main products offered by national companies that we currently use in Northwestern Ohio. You can also find a complete list here Handy Bt Trait Table.

Monsanto has moved almost all of it’s hybrids into RIB

Syngenta has moved some hybrids into RIB, but has also continued to introduce hybrids in the Agrisure Viptera trait stack, which still requires growers to plant a separate refuge in the field.

DuPont has moved most of their hybrids into RIB, but watch for Optimum AcreMax1,  growers still need to plant a refuge for corn borer.

The Herculex trait family still requires growers to plant a separate refuge.

Dow offers most hybrids as RIB products, however hybrids with the Herculex trait family still require refuge.

If you are ready to simplify your refuge system, talk with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales rep today. Let us help you make planting season a little easier!