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 August, 2014

By: Gary  Prill – Mercer Landmark Agronomist

What separates one Ag retail supplier from the next?  Why buy from one over the other if you are the customer?   One of the major factors that should come into play when deciding who you work with should be the TRUST factor.  Do you trust what your Ag advisor is recommending?  Do they have your best interest in mind when making recommendations for you, or are they just trying to sell product?  Cheap prices on products are often attractive up front, but hopefully you are ultimately focused on your return on investment (ROI) in the end, and your Ag retail advisor needs to be focused on the same thing.

To do this your Ag advisor needs to be knowledgeable about the products and services available in the market place, but also skilled in how to work with you to recognize which products and services will provide the best solutions for your areas of concern and your desires for improvement.  To this end Mercer Landmark invested in sending 13 of its newest Ag advisors to a 3 day training event on working with our customers in a step by step process to determine the best solutions for their situation.  Asking the right questions to fully understand what our customers goals are for their farming operation as well as identifying issues standing in the way of reaching those goals is our priority.  Working with you to maximize your return on your investment is how we intend to become your trusted Ag advisor.  If your current supplier isn’t making this kind of investment in their people, then you have to ask yourself if their goal is to become your trusted Ag advisor or are they just wanting to sell you something.  If it is the latter, then maybe it is time for a change.

By: Alison Rice, Markets and News Editor

But plants could use some rain, heat, and time to finish the growing season right.

Scouts in Ohio’s corn and soybean fields saw it all on the first day of the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

In Seneca County, farmer and scout Richard Guse pointed out the promise in a corn sample that registered a hearty average 18 kernels per row. “Look at the depth in these kernels,” said Guse, who farms corn and soybeans in Waseca, Minn. “That’s pretty impressive.”

So was the estimated yield for that field: 211.18 bu. per acre.

Agronomist Mark Bernard saw even higher yields—254 bu. per acre—on a stop where the ear count hit 117 and the average row reached 18 kernels around. “When you start pulling that type off corn out of a field, you know there’s going to be a lot of bushels there,” he said Monday.

Others did not find such a bumper crop on their route’s stops. Illinois farmer Pat Solon came across a troubled stand where the ears’ grain length measured just 4.3 inches. Plagued by emergence problems (skips, doubles, and gaps in the corn rows), that field produced the lowest estimated corn yield of his route with 104 bu. per acre. “The populations just seemed very low,” said Solon.

Such divergence was common among scouting groups. Even Brian Grete, editor of Pro Farmer and director of the tour’s Eastern leg, encountered two corn fields that were located only 12 miles apart in geography, but more than 100 bushels per acre in yield. “That tells you some of the variance out there,” said Grete, whose group calculated yields for those two fields to be 141 bu. per acre and 287 bu. per acre.

Overall, though, it adds up to a strong crop. With 104 samples (none irrigated) collected, Pro Farmer estimates the state to yield an average of 182.11 per acre, which is a 6.1 percent increase compared to 2013.

If the weather cooperates, that could improve. Maturity varied from early melt stages to dough, and many scouts noted the need for a little more rain and a little more heat to finish this corn up. “This crop is going to need some time,” Frete said.

So will Ohio’s soybean crop. According to Pro Farmer estimates, the average pod count for a 3’x3’ plot of soybeans is estimated at 1,342.42, which is nearly 5 percent more than last year. (The pod count measures the crop’s potential, which could grow or shrink, depending on weather conditions and other factors before harvest.)

“The beans were short,” observed Pat Duell, a retired Indiana farmer. “I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beans over here were as good as they were.”

What would make them better? Rain.

“Rain is the most important thing for beans right now,” Solon said. “The pods we have in the count right now won’t be there [to harvest] if we don’t get some rain.” Ideally, that would be 1.5 inches over a 24-hour-period, he says. “We don’t need a downpour.”

Following are final Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour results from Ohio:

Pro Farmer Crop Tour Data — Ohio Corn
2014 District Ear Count in 60 ft of Row Grain Length
Kernel Rows Around Row Spacing
(per bu.)
OH1 102.82 6.55 15.64 29.46 181.72 28
OH2 98.50 6.90 15.87 29.00 185.63 10
OH4 100.33 6.93 15.68 29.23 186.53 39
OH5 98.19 6.45 15.62 28.33 177.01 21
OH7 96.50 6.88 15.21 30.00 167.21 6
Ohio Average 100.17 6.73 15.65 29.13 182.11 104
3-year avg. by district Ear Count in 60 ft of Row Grain Length
Kernel Rows Around Row Spacing
(per bu.)
OH 1 90.73 5.96 15.33 30.00 141.42 28
OH 2 94.22 6.22 14.58 30.07 143.88 12
OH 4 89.64 6.31 15.20 29.90 146.94 40
OH 5 86.13 6.34 15.45 29.38 149.04 21
OH 7 80.97 5.81 15.83 28.75 134.65 4
OH Average 89.37 6.22 15.31 29.81 146.13 106
Pro Farmer Crop Tour Data — Ohio Soybeans
2014 District Pod Count in
3 feet
Soil Moisture Growth Stage Row Spacing
Pod Count in
3 X 3 Square
OH1 506.58 2.20 4.77 12.67 1525.68 30
OH2 462.80 3.00 4.55 15.45 1174.48 11
OH4 521.81 2.49 4.56 16.01 1260.33 39
OH5 463.12 2.45 4.75 14.10 1290.05 20
OH7 544.87 3.50 5.00 13.75 1383.37 6
Ohio Average 501.61 2.51 4.68 14.52 1342.42 106
3-year avg. by district Pod Count in
3 feet
Soil Moisture Growth Stage Row Spacing
Pod Count in
3 X 3 Square
OH 1 382.42 2.62 4.72 12.59 1170.44 28
OH 2 412.79 2.67 4.62 12.34 1275.30 12
OH 4 395.59 2.45 4.85 13.04 1172.79 40
OH 5 478.03 2.89 4.86 14.74 1268.79 21
OH 7 340.45 2.56 5.06 13.92 909.05 4
OH Average 408.88 2.60 4.81 13.27 1190.18 106

By: Alison Rice, Markets and News Editor

Like so many Midwestern farmers, Ohio growers and their crops got a late state this year, thanks to a harsh winter and uncooperative weather.

For Buckeye farmers, the issue was rain, rain and more rain, which pushed corn planting as much as two weeks off schedule. “All of this delay was due to the constant rain. It just didn’t dry out,” says Peter Thomison, an agronomist with Ohio State University’s Cooperative Extension in Columbus.

Soybean farmers experienced similar problems. “This year, 34% of soybeans were planted before June 1,” says Laura Lindsey, an assistant professor of soybean and small grain production at Ohio State. “The five-year average is 54%.”

Thanks to rainfall, farmers planted the majority (51%) of their soybeans during the first two weeks of June, almost twice the historical five-year-average figure of 24% for that time frame, according to Lindsey.

The good news is that the weather has cooperated beautifully since then. “It’s been almost stress-free for corn,” says Thomison. “There have been very favorable conditions.”

As a result, he expects yields to be “well above average” for the state, which last year notched record yield of 177 bu./acre. “If things don’t change, we might be competitive with last year,” Thomison says.

There have been some challenges. Heavy rainfall has caused nitrogen leaching in many fields, causing corn stalk leaves to yellow and other effects. That’s been confusing for some farmers, who may have forgotten just how young this crop is, thanks to the late planting. “They’re just not used to seeing [the yellowed leaves and other symptoms of nitrogen loss] so early in the season,” says Thomison.

All those weather delays also created some seriously staggered plantings. “Some corn got off to a bad start, and fields are wavy with different maturities,” a farmer in Hardin County, Ohio, reported to AgWeb’s Crop Comments.

As for Ohio soybeans, they also have some growing to do. “Lots of short beans in our area of the state,” reports a farmer in east central Ohio. “In general, everything seems to be at least a few weeks or more behind,” the farmer says. “We need heat and a late frost to finish decent.”

Ohio State’s Lindsey agrees, saying that an early freeze would be a concern.

While the soybean crop nationally could be a record, Lindsey says she expects Ohio yields to be average, between 47 and 49 bu./acre. “We conduct research at nine locations in Ohio,” she says. “Our southern Ohio locations look very good, but northwest and west central Ohio are expected to be average.” Central Ohio, however, will likely report below-average yields. “The area has received quite a bit of rainfall,” she says. “Delayed planting and poor stands will probably reduce yield.”

For reasons I can’t explain, I tend to get giddy when the Pro Farmer tour kicks off and it kicked off yesterday. Maybe it’s because like many farmers, I don’t always believe the USDA numbers. The results are usually followed by the market fairly close. Time will tell if this year is any different. Below is an article by Chip Flory about the kickoff.

By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Pro Farmer Editorial Director

Some of the scouts traveling to Sioux Falls, SD, for the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour must be feeling like it’s a bad scene from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Delayed and canceled flight threw the first wrench in the workings of the Tour to get things started, but everybody will eventually make it to the starting line for the first day of our four-day trek around the western Corn Belt.

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete is out in Columbus, Ohio, with about 60 scouts ready to hit fields in western Ohio and eastern Indiana on day 1 of the Tour. I’m sitting in Sioux Falls waiting for the final of about 60 scouts to arrive. We’ve got a record number of scouts on the western leg of the Tour representing at least 7 different countries, and we’ve got a full load of farmers on Tour this year that are ready to act as “host” to our foreign visitors. And their ready to provide insight into the 2014 crop potential for the non-farming scouts, as well.

We’re running 10 routes again on the western leg of the Tour, but we’ve got 16 drivers moving scouts from Sioux Falls to Grand Island, Nebraska, tomorrow. These are the same 10 routes we’ve run for several years – that’s part of the consistency of the Tour. We do not, however, preselect fields to sample. Field and plot selection is left up to the scout teams that stop every 15 to 20 miles on their route – that’s part of the randomness of the Tour.

Once a field has been selected, scouts will walk past the end rows, and then go 35 paces into the main rows of the field before laying out two 30-foot plots. Scouts will count all the ears that will make grain in the two rows, and record the tally. Scouts will also pull three ears from each field; the 5th, 8th and 11th ear from one of the 30-foot rows. That’s consistency and randomness in one step of the sampling process. By selecting the 5th, 8th and 11th ear from one row of the plot, we could end up with the three best ears in the row, the three worst ears or three very average ears from the row. That’s an important part of the process because it removes any bias the scout might have.

On the sample ears, we measure the length of grain on each ear in inches… we don’t measure bare cob or aborted kernels, just the length of viable kernels. We also count the number of kernel rows around each ear. Along with the row width in the field, the data driving the yield calculation is the ear population, the average grain length and the average number of kernel rows around the ear. The yield calculation we use: Average ear population in 30-foot of row TIMES the average grain length TIMES the average number of kernel rows DIVIDED BY the row width in the field.

In soybean fields, scouts go to a “representative” spot in the field without cutting a path through the field. We then measure a 3-foot plot and count all the plants in the 3-foot plot. Three plants are then selected at random and we count all the pods that measure at least 1/4 inch on the three plants and calculate the average number of pods per plant. We then calculate the number of pods in the 3-foot plot by multiplying the average number of pods per plant by the number of plants in the 3-foot plot. To calculate the number of pods in a 3′X3′ square, it’s the number of pods in 3-foot TIMES 36 and DIVIDED BY the row space. This gives us the ability to compare soybean fields regardless of row width.

As tweets, reports and conversations start to flow from the Crop Tour, please keep in mind you’re reading reports from 1 of the 10 western routes or 1 of the 12 eastern routes. What the other routes are seeing might, and very likely will, be different than what other routes are seeing. We will do our best to get the information out as soon as we can each evening, and waiting for the full results from each state is the safest way to get perspective from the Tour.

Also, the Tour results should not be compared to USDA yield estimates in each state. We do things differently than does USDA, so the results should be expected to be different. Each night, Brian Grete and I will provide the perspective to allow you to compare this year’s Tour results to last year’s results and to the three-year average for each state. If you must compare it to the USDA data, do it on a percentage basis.

I’ll check in with you guys tomorrow night from Grand Island. We’ll have the final results from South Dakota and will give you some perspectives on corn and soybean yield potential in northeastern Nebraska.

By: Ryan Stucke – Mercer Landmark Agronomist

Are you noticing spots in your soybean field that have yellow leaves when the rest of the field is still dark green? These areas may likely be affected by sudden death syndrome (SDS).  Visual symptoms on plant leaves infected with SDS include green leaf veins with yellow/brown tissue between the veins. Splitting the root reveals the inner core, or pith, remains white while the stem area between the pith and the outer stem have turned a milky gray-brown color.  This condition arises from cool wet conditions early on the in growing season (exactly what we had this year throughout the area).  Here are some symptoms and pictures to help you identify this disease.

Root Symptoms

  • A blue coloration may be found on the outer surface of taproots due to the large number of spores produced
    • These fungal colonies may not appear if the soil is too dry or too wet
    • Splitting the root reveals cortical cells have turned a milky gray-brown color while the inner core, or pith, remains white
    • General discoloration of the outer cortex can extend several nodes into the stem, but its pith also remains white

Leaf and Plant Symptoms

  • Leaf symptoms first appear as yellow spots (usually on the upper leaves)
  • Yellow spots come together to form chlorotic blotches between the leaf veins
  • As chlorotic areas die, leaves show yellow and brown areas contrasted against green veins
  • Affected leaves twist and curl and fall from plants prematurely
  • Flowers and pods abort, and seeds are smaller

Disease Facts

  • Fungal disease caused by Fusarium
  • Has spread to most soybean-growing states
  • Continues to spread to new fields and larger areas of infected fields
  • Ranked second only to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in damage to soybean crop
  • Above-ground symptoms are caused by a toxin produced by the fungus and translocated throughout the plant

Ways to avoid this disease

  • Select an SDS resistant variety
  • Manage your soybean cyst nematode
  • Improve your drainage and reduce compaction
  • Plant your most problematic fields last

Thank you to our friends at FC Stone for sharing this information.

Weekly Continuation Corn Chart: I wanted you all to be able to see this chart a little closer. Since peaking the week of May 5 at $5.18, the front month corn contract has declined 11 weeks, gained twice, and one push. We are currently in position to show only our third positive week of the last 15. Interestingly, the stochastic momentum indicator has crossed, and moved higher on a lower move – which would then call for a bullish move. These are to be respected. A September trade over $3.64 would create a key reversal on this chart – also something to be respected.

December Corn: CZ posted a reversal after the adverse reaction to the report placed a new low on the chart at 358. Parabolic stop at $3.72 ¼, gap at $3.78 for resistance. Support at contract low of $3.58. Reminder: if the ‘3 gap system’ is accurate, one would project CZ to about $3.31.

Well, another report day has come and gone. My friends at FC Stone said it best, “We may well be more confused now than prior to its release”. They have also provided me with some information that may be interesting to ponder.

Here is a chart of the last 3 stellar national corn yields.

2004 was a year very much like this one where we had cool / wet conditions through the end of the growing season. The result was a crop that continued to add bushels through the end. 2009 was a more normal year, and 2013 finished out hot and dry, where the top end was removed from many fields.

If we were to track somewhat as last year, perhaps a warm / dry finish, we could expect our production to climb to around 172 bushels per acre. If we were to track with a more normal finish, perhaps something in line with 2009 is in order, with a final yield of near 172.9 bushels per acre. A cool / wet finish in line with 2004 could push a yield closer to 180.2 bushels per acre. We think it is safe to say that the number revealed by USDA is the lowest number we will see down the stretch. Here is how those respective yields would play out with holding our demand base constant.

The market must figure out how much of a potential extra billion bushels we have coming our way, and how to get rid of it.

USDA on Tuesday in its latest crop report said it expects U.S. farmers to harvest record large corn and soybean crops this fall, with the corn crop forecast to top 14 billion bushels.

Bigger crops had been expected because of nearly ideal growing weather this summer. USDA’s numbers were down from the averages of trade estimates collected ahead of the report.

USDA forecast the corn crop at 14.03 billion bushels, up from the July estimate of 13.86 billion, and it expects a soybean crop of 3.82 billion up from July’s 3.8 billion. The Farm Futures survey had forecast 14.331 billion for corn and 3.857 billion for soybeans.

In Chicago’s grain markets, corn futures showed little reaction trading down 3 to 5 cents a bushel after the report, while new-crop soybean contracts moved lower with November down 22 cents at $10.51-1/4 per bushel. Wheat markets were lower before and after the reports with only minor changes seen.

U.S. wheat production was raised to 2.03 billion bushels, up 2% from July, due to increases in hard red winter, soft red winter, spring wheat and durum.  Last year’s crop was 2.13 billion.

Spring wheat production went to 572 million bushels from July’s 565 million. An increase had been expected after crop scouts, who recently toured those fields, had forecast a record average yield if the conditions continued through harvest.

Hard red winter wheat production was raised to 729 million bushels from July’s 703 milllion because of better yields in northern areas than from the drought-damaged crop in the southern and central Plains.

By: Jeff Keller – Mercer Landmark Agronomist

The soybean crop is on its way, growing and filling pods. They mostly have reached their full potential height and it time to see some timely rains to finish the crop up to get to maturity. Along with these soybeans doing their reproductive cycle, so are some weeds. One in particular is causing a fair amount of problems in certain locations, depending on the pressure.

Water hemp, in fact, is becoming a very troublesome unwanted plant that is showing signs of Glyphosate resistance. When post spraying beans it is important to scout for this plant and treat it sufficiently to keep the field looking clean the rest of the season. Water hemp is in the same family as the pigweeds and palmer amaranth.

For treatment of the water hemp plant in soybeans is an application of a site of action of PPO inhibitor, for example a “burner” type herbicide works best such as Flexstar, Cobra, or Phoenix. However, timely applications of PPO’s are critical to control these weeds. 4-6 inch weed height is optimal. However, as fast as the water hemp grows by the time the application is made we will see these well over a foot tall. Just keep in mind, getting good coverage is very important, as well as plant height.

A few of these weeds in your fields can create thousands of seed that will be there for next year. So, keeping a preventative approach to this is very important. Keep in mind fall and spring burn downs with a residual will be helpful to post applications in soybeans. Talk to your local Mercer Landmark agronomist to get a program together for your herbicide applications.

By: Amy Hayes (Battles) – Mercer Landmark High Yield Specialist

The photos attached below are from a field near Glenmore, Ohio showing a comparison between beans that were and were NOT sprayed with Max-In for Beans.

Top leaf: Max-IN; Bottom leaf: Untreated                                     Left side: Max-IN; Right side: Untreated
Max-IN for Beans is a next generation foliar nutrition product containing CornSorb technology, which greatly increases movement of nutrients through the leaf cuticle to internal leaf structures, hence making more applied nutrient available for use by the plant. Max-IN for Beans is made up of Boron, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc. In the photos above you can truly see these micronutrients at work, Zinc increases root growth, promoting a massive root system, and Iron increases chlorophyll content in soybeans, leading to a more photosynthetic product.

The next photo was taken near Elgin, Ohio, where Mercer Landmark is conducting a soybean fungicide timing study using Stratego YLD. In the plot we have untreated soybeans, a section treated at V3, a section treated at R3, and a section treated twice, at both V3 and R3. As you can see, the double application is showing a drastic difference in the amount of pods, branching, and overall plant health as compared to the other two plants shown. When counting developed pods, untreated had 9 pods, the single application at V3 had 12 pods, and the double application had 26 pods!

Look for the data regarding this test plot, as well as several other studies being conducted throughout the growing area in the Mercer Landmark 2014 Yield Results book coming out this winter.
If you have questions regarding fungicide and Max-IN applications to improve your soybean yields talk with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales Representative today. There are still quite a few bean fields that are in the R3-R4 stage that will show a tremendous ROI from a fungicide application.