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 October, 2015

By: Brian Mitchem

Mother nature has brought weather extremes to the Mercer area with regularity over the past several years. We have experienced record cool summers, record heat and drought recently and record rainfall this summer. Conditions we experienced in 2015 will have an impact on how we manage weed control in 2016.

With the area experiencing multiple fields of prevent planting, reduced growth and limited above ground bio mass and many areas in local fields we had complete crop loss and zero yield. Each of the listed conditions has resulted in the establishment of several weed species that farmers should consider planning to manage with herbicide programs starting this fall and into next year.

Annual weeds such as Waterhemp saw a significant expansion of plants this year. This weed is one of the most competitive weeds in our area and can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds per plant. The seeds are very small and are easily moved to additional fields through harvest equipment. Pre applied soy herbicides that contain a product from the PPO herbicide family such as Authority®XL, Enlite®, Envive® and Valor®XLT are effective on the weed. Adding a different family to those products such as metribuzen adds another site of action and is also effective in control of the weed. Research has shown that tillage increases germination of waterhemp by a significant factor.

Perennial weeds like Dandelion and Pokeweed could also be easily found in both corn and soy fields this fall. Pokeweed can be managed by an in crop application of glyphosate next summer. Dandelion should be sprayed this fall for maximum control. The light frost we received two weeks ago triggers sugars to be pulled from the leaves to the roots and rhizomes and when we add effective herbicides this fall they move deep into the roots for effective control. Fall applied herbicide programs that contain 2-4-D plus dicamba such as Brash® are good options for the weed. The addition of a low cost residual such as Canopy®DF adds significant control plus much needed residual for early application and additional sites of action for resistance management. Tillage does not control dandelion rhizomes well and in crop weed control is expensive and minimally effective.

By: Alex Fullenkamp

Glyphosate is a great tool for weed control in both corn and soybeans.  However, year after year it seems to have more weeds that it struggles to kill, in soybean fields especially.  That leaves us with very few options that effectively kill these weeds in crop.

I’ve worked with many growers with these issues and have effectively helped them control the problem.  We start by spraying in the fall prior to planting beans the next spring.  I have been using a mixture of 2-4D, dicamba, and sencor with great success.  Many people question why Glyphosate is not in the mix.  I feel anything it will kill in the fall can be controlled just as effectively in the spring and it is one less time we need to expose weeds to this product.

The fall provides a large window after harvest to get the product applied.  I have had some growers spray in December.  The cold weather does greatly slow down the rate of kill, but the end result has been great and we are in no hurry at that time.

Prior to spring planting, it is essential to have a good burndown/residual application.  There are many products that can be used for this.  Most fields that get sprayed will be very clean in the spring, but the residual application in the spring is critical.

The pictures below were on one of the first growers fields that I had spray in the fall.  His marestail problem was continuing to get worse and he was already putting down a great burndown/residual combination in the spring.  These pictures were taken on April 9, 2013 and the field was sprayed in November 2012.   He sprayed every acre going to beans but left a small test strip in this field.  The results speak for themselves.

We have been once again greeted with a “blue Monday” and it has nothing to do with clear skies and sunny conditions.  It would seem that the vast majority of markets, be they commodity or financial are under pressure.  Grain and soybeans are lower across all groups, energies are in the red, financial instruments and equity futures all negative and one of the few markets that I see with a plus sign in front is the U.S. Dollar.  Why this generally dour attitude as we begin this new week?  It would seem that no one likes the economic news from China this morning.  The third quarter GDP for that nation came through at 6.9% growth.  Interestingly enough this was .1% better than expectations and certainly above the 6.5% talk that was recently floated around by a government representative but I suspect just the fact that is was under 7.0% could have been a bit psychologically negative particularly with little else to focus on this morning.

Looking around the globe, the moisture outlook for Brazil could be improving with potential for rain to begin moving farther north where it has remained stubbornly dry so far.  On the other side of the southern hemisphere the Australian department of agriculture expects the wheat harvest could slip down to 24 MMT versus previous estimates between 25 and 28 MMT due to El Nino stress.

The bean harvest is definitely in the waning stages.  The trade is expecting to see completion between 78% and 85% on this afternoons update.  Estimates for corn harvest stand between 56% and 62%.  Several people in Iowa reported exceptional corn yields but some were still a little surprised that with the amount of acreage that seemed to be harvested.

As has been the case many mornings recently, the FAS has announced additional bean sales to China.  This morning we find another 238,000 MT sold for the 2015/16 marketing year.

For now, markets remain trapped within the ranges we have developed over the past few months and we suspect that for now, prices will be in a defensive posture, potentially through the end of this month as we near completion of the 2015 harvest.

By: Kyle Imwalle

Gypsum has been used for a long time around here but the use of it has started to pick up steam. The reason for the resurgence is due to land grant universities, like Ohio State, continuing research and find more practical uses for gypsum.

Some of the benefits of gypsum are:

  1. Helps improves aluminum toxicity and acidic soils. Particularly in the subsoils gypsum’s main advantages is its ability to reduce aluminum toxicity, which often accompanies soil acidity. Gypsum can improve some acid soils even beyond what lime can do for them, which makes it possible to have deeper rooting with resulting benefits to the crops. Surface-applied gypsum leaches down to the subsoil and results in increased root growth.
  2. Help improve soil structure. Flocculation, or aggregation, is needed to give favorable soil structure for root growth and air and water movement. Clay dispersion and collapse of structure at the soil-air interface is a major contributor to crust formation.  Soluble calcium enhances soil aggregation and porosity to improve water infiltration. Addition of soluble calcium can overcome the dispersion effects of magnesium or sodium ions and help promote flocculation and structure development in dispersed soils.
  3. Help improve water infiltration. Gypsum also improves the ability of soil to drain and not become waterlogged due to a combination of high sodium, swelling clay and excess water.
  4. 4. Helps reduce runoff and erosion. Agriculture is considered to be one of the major contributors to water quality, with phosphorus runoff the biggest concern. Gypsum helps to keep phosphorus and other nutrients from leaving farm fields. 
  5. Source of calcium and sulfur for plant nutrition. As more and more coal plants are being shut down or converted, less sulfur is in the air for plants to absorb. Plants are becoming more deficient in sulfur and the soil does not have enough readily. Gypsum is an excellent source of sulfur for plant nutrition and improving crop yield. Calcium is essential for most nutrients to be absorbed by plants roots and help stimulate root growth.

By: Amy Hayes – Retail Agronomy Advisor

Soybean variety selection is one of the most important factors in producing a successful soybean crop. Unfortunately, soybean variety selection is often over looked, growers spend countless hours milling over what corn hybrid to plant, however often when it comes to soybeans, I hear “Oh, just give me your best Roundup Ready 2 Yield bean in a 3.1-3.5 maturity.” According to Dr. Fred Below from the University of Illinois we need to “appreciate the difference in yield that comes with variety selection.” With commodity prices lurking in everyone’s mind, as well as the memories of the extreme wet and dry weather events we have experienced in the last 5 years it is more important than ever to pay close attention to soybean variety selection.

WinField has partnered with Mercer Landmark to bring growers the R7 Tool, the best seed placement decision making tool available on the market, as well as WinPaks, a new soybean product to help combat the diversifying weather events and soil types we have in Northwestern Ohio.

A WinPak™ by Croplan is comprised of a 50/50 blend of an offensive and defensive bean in similar maturities combined into one bag. There are 6 WinPak varieties ranging from a 2.9-3.8 maturity in the RR2Y soybean lineup that are a fit in our demographic, and 4 varieties available from a 2.8-3.9 maturity in the Liberty Link lineup. The varieties in each WinPak work together to increase yield potential on tough acres while maximizing yield in higher producing areas of a field. WinPaks also buffer the effects of weather and soil variability on diseases and other stresses. In numerous multiyear studies WinPak™ varieties have out yielded their individual components. In fact, based on initial Answer Plot reports coming in throughout Ohio and Indiana, WinPaks are showing anywhere from 2-5 bushel/acre advantage.

So how do you know if and which WinPak™ will work best on your farm? Below is a soil map taken from the R7 Tool in Van Wert County, showing a breakdown of the drainage classifications of each soil within the field. As you can see, there are both poorly drained and well drained areas.

Based on the soil map data, as well as my knowledge of the management and fertility practices on this farm, I would strongly recommend the R2C3300 WinPak in this scenario. The offensive bean will dominate the moderately well drained areas, while the defensive component (R2C3323) will handle the disease pressure we have historically had, especially in the poorly drained areas of the field.

WinField Technical Seed Manager, Bradley Miller says, “Not only do these products offer an exciting tool to help growers spread risk and manage variability, often they are top performers in yield!  We have something special here.” Talk with your Mercer Landmark Agronomist today about incorporating the valuable insights of the R7 Tool onto your farm, and let us help you manage risk for the 2016 growing season by utilizing the WinPak™ that best fits your farm’s specific needs.

On Friday, October 9th, the USDA will release its monthly supply and demand report. This will be the first report that uses acreage based on data provided from the FSA. It will also be the first report that will incorporate actual yield results, instead of results based off of a model. So, there could be fireworks this Friday. If you remember, last year corn made a low on October 1st, and as a result of a friendly October USDA report, corn prices then rallied 81 cents and made a high around Christmas. Similarly, soybeans rallied $1.22 from the October 1st lows to the highs made around Christmas time, again largely based on the friendly October USDA report.

Of course, no two years are the same. There are many differences between this year and last year. For example, this year our beginning corn and bean stocks are a lot bigger than they were a year ago, so the pipeline is not as empty as it was a year ago. Also, the world economy (China, in particular) is not growing as much as it was last year. Thirdly, commodity interest from the speculative and hedge funds is not as great this year as it was a year ago. Finally, the northern hemisphere has had 2 good bean crops (2014 and 2015) and the southern hemisphere had a good crop in 2015, and is expected to plant more bean acres this fall for next spring’s harvest.

Last fall, most farmers employed the “hold and hope” strategy. And it worked (at least until Christmas). What should you do this year? Based on the factors mentioned above, here are some things to consider:


  1. Have offers in to get a percentage of your 2015 corn sold when December futures get to $4.00. Many farmers are very undersold this year due to the uncertainty about crop size. With a projected 1.6 billion to 1.7 billion bushel carry-out, we are not going to run out of corn. So use any rally as an opportunity to make catch-up sales.
  2. If you have on-farm storage, lock in the carry. March corn futures are just over $4.00. As the deferred futures prices approach $4.25, corn that you can store in the bin and deliver next winter or spring will be worth well over $4.00. If you wait until next spring, the prices may not be there. Be ready to capture the carry.
  3. It is not too soon to think about starting to sell part of your 2016 crop. December 2016 futures are currently $4.13. Anything over $4.35 futures should allow most producers to lock in a $4.00 cash price for bushels that they cannot store next fall. However, pretty good resistance remains at $4.19-$4.20 December 16 futures, so target that level first. If you are waiting for $4.00 this year, what’s wrong with starting your marketing at $4.00 for next year?


  1. Think revenue, not price on old crop soybeans. Many people want $9.00 for their soybeans, not taking into account the fact that their soybean yields in some case have been better than expected. If you were expecting your beans to make 35 bpa and to sell them at $9.00 per bushel, your expected revenue would be $315 per acre. Since the beans are making 45 bpa, you can sell them at $8.75 per bushel, which would give you a $393.75 per acre return, higher than what you were originally hoping for.
  2. Play defense on new crop soybeans. With a huge world supply of beans, and with South America expected to plant more beans this fall, we have the “potential” to have beans prices below $8 per bushel next fall. Of course, any weather problems would send prices higher. Look at locking in floors, while still giving yourself upside price potential.

By: Ben Stoller

There are some basic concepts we need to consider when thinking about applying lime this fall:

  1. Does my field even need lime?
    1. Applying lime without a soil test is a bad idea; the field may already be in an acceptable range.  The concept of ‘too much of a good thing’ applies: too high of a pH can limit nutrient uptake and limit production.  The soil test will also provide additional clues pertaining to the levels of calcium and magnesium in the soil.
  2. “But I found a great deal…”
    1. Even if a ‘cheap’ source of liming material is available, it’s still a waste of time and money if the pH is already acceptable.  Even if lime is needed, a cheap source can also become very expensive (or the real problem never fixed) if it’s ENP (effective neutralizing power) is too low.  Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware!
  3. What about gypsum?
    1. Although gypsum (calcium sulfate) contains calcium and sulfur and has merit as a soil amendment, it does not neutralize acidity.  It takes calcium carbonate (lime) to fix low pH.
  4. Do I need hi cal (calcium) lime?
    1. This depends on your soil test (see 1.a above).  According to Ohio State University soil scientists, you need high calcium lime if your soils contain more magnesium than calcium.

Contact your Mercer Landmark agronomy representative to start a soil testing program that will establish a great foundation for improved productivity potential on your acres.