Blogging by the Bushel
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Archive for August, 2016

By~Brian Mitchem


Recent rains across the area have improved the heath and the yield outlook for the soybean crop. With most of the crop planted in late May the August moisture will allow the crop to have a potentially strong finish. Most area fields have held adequate pods and numbers of beans in pods and now have the ability to fill well. The final determining factor of beans each year is bean size per pound. Size can range from 1500 to 4500 seeds per pound depending on how well the beans are able to finish.

Most of the late May planted beans are at the R5 growth stage (beginning seed fill). At this stage the beans begin to reduce nitrogen fixation from nodules and they must use N supplied from the soil to complete their grain fill. With adequate soil moisture this should be accomplished.

Late season disease is minimal as have been late season insects. However, beans should be scouted for the presence of pod feeding insects such as stink bugs and bean leaf beetles. Farmers with seed production as well as premium opportunities where quality is rewarded can find value in labeled applications of insecticides if pest pressure is at threshold.


Our area corn crop hasn’t fared as well as beans as most missed critical moisture during the key pollination period in late July through early August. Late rains will improve plant health, end of season stalk quality and grain fill.

One issue I am seeing in April planted corn fields that survived the cool and wet period are several plants that are showing signs of Pre Mature Death (PMD). I have included several images of plants that illustrates the disease.

Plants today can be found that show ear declination and have completely dead leaf tissue on the plant. These can be random plants in a field or several together depending on the severity. These plants will have lower yield, reduced test weight and stalk quality issues.

The cause of this is disease that established in the plant during early growth but wasn’t severe enough to kill the plant. The disease will remain active in the root crown of the plant and eventually grows enough to compromise water and nutrient movement from the crown to the stalk. This is what eventually causes the plant to die.

Simply dig or pull up the plant and carefully split the root mass in half at the lower stalk node and you will easily see the brown tissue in the crown. This is related to specific hybrids as well and if seen in quantity with a specific hybrid you may note that product as a concern for early planting.

Day 1 is in the books for the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour! Great day… warm to hot… wind blowing… no rain! It was perfect for scouts… not so good for the corn and soybean crops. It was a weird day. I followed a route from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Grand Island, Nebraska, that generated somewhat disappointing corn yields, but some outstanding soybean pod counts. And, as it turns out, we were “that route” for the day. When the 76 samples from South Dakota were gathered (4 more than last year), corn turned out better than we saw on my route… beans weren’t as good as we saw. It happens… all the time.

But as I was talking through the route reports tonight in front of a great crowd in Grand Island, I was reminded of something we’ve seen time after time on Tour: Where we find good beans, sometimes the corn isn’t… but when we find good corn, sometimes the beans aren’t. And that’s the way it played out for me today.

In the soybean fields, we found an average of 745.06 pods in three foot of row with an average row spacing of 29.53 inches. That compares to last year’s pods of 830.92 in 3-foot of row and an average row spacing of 28.32 inches. Fewer pods in a 3-foot row and a wider row space obviously point to a lower number of pods in a 3-foot-by-3-foot square.

Pods in 3-foot of row were down 10.3% from last year and were down 3.7% from the three-year average. Row spacing was up 4.3% from last year and was up 9.5% from the three-year average. This is a trend change from past tours when the average row width was narrowing on a consistent basis.

This data leads to an average number of pods in a 3-foot by 3-foot square of 970.61 in 2016, compared to 1054.98 on the 2015 Tour. That’s an 8% drop in pod counts from last year and compared to the three-year average, pod counts in South Dakota are down 7%. That’s a significant decline… but it’s not out of line with what USDA saw for this bean crop as of August 1. Last year, USDA put the bean crop in South Dakota at 46 bu. per acre. As of August 1 this year, USDA saw yield potential of 42 bu. per acre – that’s an 8.7% decline. So — based on the numbers only — that makes it tough to argue with USDA’s August 1 yield assessment on beans. Also, the soil moisture index we estimate while on Tour this year was 3.71 (1 driest, 6 saturated soils), below last year’s 5.03 (it was raining on us in South Dakota last year) and the three-year average of 4.06. Simply put… the bean crop in SD needs another rain to finish the yield potential we saw in the state today.

Based on Scout data from 2015 and 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour


On to corn. Tour results this year generated an average calculated yield of 149.78 bu per acre, down 9.74% from last year’s Tour results. That’s also a decline of 6.5% from the three-year average for the state. USDA on August 1 put the South Dakota corn yield at 147 bu. per acre, down 7.5% from last year. We’re both pointed in the same direction from 2015, we just see a greater risk for a bigger drop from year-ago than USDA measured on August 1.

As everybody knows, ear populations have been on the increase for several years. This year, ear counts are down. We counted an average of 83.46 ears per two 30-foot plots (60-foot of row total). That is down 3.7% from last year and is down 1.1% from the three-year average. That’s “strike one” on the South Dakota corn crop.

The average grain length this year was 6.44 inches, down 8% from last year’s 7 inches and it’s down 6.9% from the three-year average of 6.92 inches. That’s strike two.

The average number of kernel rows around the ear this year was 16.35. That’s not strike 3. That’s actually up 1.6% from last year and is up 1.7% from the three-year average. The number of kernel rows around the ear in South Dakota helped to partially offset the lower ear counts and shorter grain length.

Finally, the average row width in South Dakota this year was 29.5 inches, down from last year’s 29.92 inches, but up from the three year average of 29.38 inches.

It was a great day. All the scouts made it safely from Sioux Falls to Grand Island and we meet with a great group of farmers at tonight’s meeting. Today we covered southeast South Dakota and everything east of Grand Island and north of the Platte River in Nebraska. Tomorrow, the southern most route in Nebraska will be working hard to stay our of Kansas, and we’ll cover everything from the Kansas border up to the Platte River before releasing the final results for Nebraska in Nebraska City. I had a great group with me today… Emily (my daughter) Carolan, Matt Bennett and Tony Mellenthin (from Wisconsin). Did we have some fun? Absolutely we did! Did we eat an excellent chicken-fried steak at the bowling alley in Bloomfield, Nebraska? Why wouldn’t you!!! Did we pull some great corn samples? Well… not really… but we’ll hopefully get that done on Tuesday.

From the Rows with Brian Grete

The 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour kicked off this morning in Dublin, Ohio, (a suburb of Columbus) and had scouts sampling corn and soybean fields along 12 designated routes to Fishers, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis).

My route took me northwest out of Dublin. We made three stops in Ohio crop districts 4 — two in Logan County and one in Auglaize County. Our corn yields on these three stops ranged from 150.48 bu. to 172.75 bu. per acre — good corn and probably better than I expected based on some of the reports I had heard prior to Tour. Crop maturity was advanced from normal, with all three of the fields dented. From there, we moved into crop district 1 in northwest Ohio. Yields immediately headed south and crop maturity declined. Our yields on two samples in Allen County were 129 bu. and 131.1 bu. per acre. On two samples in Van Wert County, we had yields of 135 and 106.7 bu. per acre. All of these fields were in the milk to dough stage. For the seven stops in Ohio, our average yield was 142.3 bu. per acre.

For soybeans, pod counts in a 3′x3′ square were all over the place, ranging from 835.2 in Logan County to 1,881.22 in Auglaize County. In Ohio crop district 1, our pod counts ranged from 857.2 in Allen County to 1,774.8 in Van Wert County. Our second highest pod count on our seven stops in Ohio today came from a field right next to our lowest corn yield calculation, proving once again that one crop is not a determinant for the other. Our average pod count in Ohio was 1,291.59 on our seven stops.

For all 12 routes combined, the Ohio corn yield came in at 148.96 bu. per acre on 111 samples. That was up 0.4% from last year’s Tour results. On Aug. 1, USDA estimated the Ohio corn yield at 163 bu. per acre, up 6.5%. While we didn’t sample all of Ohio, and the areas we sampled were the “bad” areas this year, it appears USDA may have overestimated the Ohio corn crop on Aug. 1.

For soybeans, the 12 routes combined netted an aveage 3′x3′ pod count of 1,055.05 on 109 samples. That’s down 6.2% from last year’s Tour results in the state. But soil moisture is up from year-ago, suggesting the crop has potential to add some pods and fill the existing pods.

After leaving Ohio, my route took me into Indiana crop district 3 in the northeastern portion of the state. On five samples in Allen, Adams, Well and Huntington counties, our corn yields ranged from 127.94 bu. in Wells County to 176 bu. per acre in Allen County. From there, we moved into crop district 5 in central Indiana, pulling a sample each from Grant and Madison counties. The Grant County sample was our lowest of the day at 97.33 bu. and had significant green snap issues. The Madison County sample yield was 200.28 bu. per acre and our highest of the day. In total, the average yield on the seven stops we made in Indiana was 153.61 bu. per acre. The average yield on the 14 stops we made during Day 1 in western Ohio and eastern Indiana was 147.96 bu. per acre.

Our soybean pod counts in a 3′x3′ square in Indiana crop district 3 ranged from 307.20 in Adams County to 1,931.76 in Allen County. In crop district 5, our pod counts were 748 in Grant County and 1,372.80 in Madison County. For all seven stops we made in Indiana, our average pod count was 1,146.92. Our average Day 1 pod count in western Ohio and eastern Indiana was 1,298.8.

Final Day 1 observations

As expected, there are some definite “problem” areas in western Ohio. Tour ear counts came in below year-ago, but up marginally from the three-year (2013-2015) Tour average. Grain length was down from year-ago and the three-year average. Kernel rows were up marginally compared to both year-ago and the three-year average. Row spacing was marginally wider. The driver of our modestly higher yield estimate compared to year-ago was kernel rows, but that was mostly offset by lower ear counts and grain length. Scouts noted tipped back ears in many (most) of the samples. If the Ohio corn crop losses any more grain length late in the season, it would counteract the benefit of modestly higher kernel rows.

We don’t measure ear weights on Tour, but many veteran scouts can tell if the ears they are pulling are heavy, normal or light. None of the scouts I talked to after Day 1 felt ear weights were heavy this year. If ear weight is limited by the advanced maturity, it could limit yields. But not all of the corn in western Ohio is advanced in maturity.

The big take away from soybeans on Day 1 was the vast variability in pod counts from all of the routes. It’s extremely hard to predict how beans will yield in the third week of August. The extreme variability in pod counts makes that an even tougher task this year.

On Tuesday, scouts will sample fields on routes from Fishers, Indiana, to Bloomington, Illinois. We expect to see better and more consistent crops on Day 2 as we push westward.

By~ Amy Hayes

Waterhemp, one of the most common weeds in the Midwest, has finally shown its ugly face in northwest Ohio. About two years ago we started finding plants here and there, numbers increased last year, and erupted this year. This IS NOT a weed to take lightly. If you thought marestail was an issue, waterhemp will surpass it in an instant. So, what do we know about this relatively new-to-us weed?

There are actually two different species of waterhemp, tall and common, due to being very similar and frequent hybridization between the two, botanists group them together into one waterhemp species.
It is a member of the amaranth (pigweed) family. This also includes palmer amaranth, redroot pigweed, and smooth pigweed. There are a few key differences to tell each weed apart:
-Waterhemp and Palmer amaranth stems DO NOT have any hair on them, pigweeds have hairy
-Waterhemp’s first true leaves are longer and more oval shaped than other pigweeds
-Waterhemp seedlings are hairless and leaves look waxy/glossy

According to Purdue University, “Waterhemp is a dioecious weed, meaning that its male and female flowers are separate plants. The simplest way to distinguish between male and female plants is to rub the mature flowers between your fingers and look for shiny, black seeds found only in female plants. Palmer amaranth also is diecious; whereas redroot and smooth pigweed are monoecious.” Waterhemp ranges anywhere from 4 inches to 12 feet tall, and emerges throughout the growing season, with a high amount of plants emerging late in-season compared to most other annual weeds. Below are pictures taken this year throughout the Mercer Landmark trade area.

Along with its size and emergence timeframe, waterhemp is a prolific seed producer, producing an average of 250,000 seeds per plant, with some plants producing 1 million+ seeds. Waterhemp seeds also remain viable in the soil for several years, and research has shown that 1-12% of seeds are viable in the soil seedbank after 4 years. Although this may not seem like a lot, if you only had ONE waterhemp plant that went to seed 4 YEARS AGO, there would still be anywhere from 2,500-30,000 viable seeds in your field waiting to emerge in the coming growing season.

“So what’s the big deal, can’t I just spray Roundup later in crop?” is a question I’ve been asked often this year. However here’s the problem: not only is there confirmed glyphosate resistance to waterhemp throughout northwest Ohio, it has an incredible ability to adapt and evolve resistance to many different classes of herbicides. For now, in our area, there are several different herbicide classes that have good activity on waterhemp. However throughout the Midwest there has been confirmed resistance to the following 6 classes: Group 5 (triazine), Group 2 (ALS), Group 14 (PPO inhibitor), Group 9 (glyphosate), Group 27 (HPPD inhibitor), and Group 4 (2,4-D). Waterhemp is our area are NOT resistant to all of these at the present time, however it is crucial that we utilize these chemistries effectively and responsibly to prevent resistance in the future.

For now, scout your fields- both corn and soybean- for waterhemp before running the combine through the field and spreading seed. Talk with your Mercer Landmark Agronomist about resources and action plans available to keep waterhemp under control on your farm. Stay tuned to Blogging by the Bushel for more waterhemp updates, follow-up blogs about effective control of waterhemp, and utilizing current and new chemicals and seed traits to keep your farm clean!

By~Alex Fullenkamp

In the geography I cover, the year started out excellent.  Emergence and plant health were both excellent.  Unfortunately since then the crop went through a very hot and dry time period.  We’ve since gotten some very nice rains, but for many fields it is just too late.  The soybeans still have a great chance of yielding well, but the corn is just too far along.  On top of this, commodity prices are lower than they have been in years.

Some inputs have followed the grain markets better than others.  Fertilizer in my opinion has corrected its prices very well.  Prices are probably down 25-35% from this date last year and probably just don’t have all that much more room to go lower.

Between now and harvest would be a great time to look at soil test with your Mercer Landmark branch to see where you need fertilizer.  Also to come up with a plan to get acres sampled and applied this fall.  We have a lot of options from grid sampling, to soil type sampling, to spreading removal rates based off of your yield data.

Contact your local branch today to explore your options.

Putnam County

Corn Summary: The field had very small diameter stalks and could have problems in the wind. Yield looks like 100 bushels per acre. There was tip-back, aborted ears, smut, GLS and signs of very dry conditions.

Soybean Summary: The beans were 32 inches tall and the plants had aborted a few pods. The plants still had many pods and there is average yield potential if they can keep getting more rain. There was a little Septoria.

Van Wert County

Corn Summary: This stand was thin at a 25,000 population and a 110-yield average. There was some limited GLS and it didn’t look bad for as little rain as it had gotten. It was planted April 27 right before a big rain and extended cold weather, which really hurt the stand.

Soybean Summary: The canopy was at 33 inches and the first node was at four inches. There was no disease and light bean leaf beetle feeding. There were two to three beans per pod in early pod fill. This field is at least fair with more potential with additional rains.

Paulding County

Corn Summary: This field will yield around 149. The ears were large but the stand was extremely variable with a population of 26,000 or so. The confidence in the estimate may be high though due to variable stands outside of the check area. We found tassel ear in the field and it was planted late, still pollinating.

Soybean Summary: There was some insect feeding and the canopy was short at 25 inches. It was podded well but yield is average in this field. We found what may be sudden death syndrome in small areas.

Defiance County

Corn Summary: There was a population of 32,000 with some denitrification due to dry conditions. You could see the crack from the knife when they put on anhydrous. The ground never closed back up. It was planted between May 22 and May 29. It had a yield of 130. There was no real disease pressure.

Soybean Summary: There was a canopy height of 32 inches with a node height of 4.5 inches. There was no disease pressure and light bean leaf beetle feeding. There were many two or three bean pods with a fair overall rating and great weed control.

Hardin County

Corn Summary: Planted on May 9 looks like around 150 bushels at a population of 34,000. A little GLS but not enough to spray. Stalk strength looks good but fired up three to four collars,  though not past the ear. The stand looks good but tipped back ears from the hot and dry conditions, maybe 20 bushels worth.

Bean Summary: Population around 130,000 and canopy at 40 inches or so the pods were three inches apart with many thee-bean pods and no disease. We saw a lot of hovering flies and a few Japanese beetles, but nothing serious. Good yield potential, maybe in the 50s with the nice recent  rain.

Allen County

Corn Summary: The population was 24,000 with a yield around 136 for the April 27 planted corn. There was very little disease, if any. The field struggled with emergence early. It was moderately dry here with 6 inches in June and 1.5 inches in July. It just got a nice rain.

Soybean Summary: This gravel underlay farm has a 125,000 population with 34 inches on the consistent canopy height. The node height was 3.5 inches and many three and four bean pods. No disease and light insect pressure. They were planted May 23 with average to good yield potential.

Hancock County

Corn Summary: This field had 140 bushels per acre with heavy GLS. Half the field looks good and half looks bad. It was planted May 16 and suffered some denitrification with some smut and drought stress. The plants had cannibalized themselves in some parts of the fields with a population of 33,000 or 34,000.

Soybean Summary: Canopy highest was at 30 inches with low disease pressure and a little insect feeding. There were several Japanese beetles making babies. Pods were filling with fair yield potential for this field. This was one of the cleaner fields in terms of weed pressure.

Seneca County

Corn Summary: This field was planted May 23 and suffered from drought. The population is 33,000 and has good ear fill with no disease. The stalk quality is still good and the yield is 140.

Soybean Summary: The canopy is at 31 inches and it is a clean field. There is maybe a little mold developing and really no insect pressure. It has been dry here but there was a nice rain recently. There is pretty decent yield potential in this field.

Wood County

Corn Summary: The field was at 34,000 population with a yield at 152 planted May 19. It had the least denitrification of a field we have been in so far. There was significant tip-back and a little green snap in the field from some wind early in the season. Minimal GLS and little insect feeding.

Soybean Summary: We saw 38 inches tall for the canopy and 3.5 inches on the node height. We had three bean pods with a few bean leaf beetles. Not much disease in these 7.5-inch row beans. The field was clean with a fair yield potential in the low 40s.

Henry County

Corn Summary: There was a 28,000 population with no disease, no insects and good ear fill. There was quite a bit of ear size variability with a yield of 146 bushels. It was planted May 22.

Soybean Summary: This was the tallest canopy of the day so far at close to 40 inches. Very healthy with good pod set and still blooming in the very good to excellent yield potential field.

Fulton County

Corn Summary: We saw a yield of 146. It was a replant situation and the replant was not going to make anything. There was not a lot of drought stress but we saw a major insect issue with western bean cutworm in two of the six Bt corn ears we pulled. The population was 33,000 and it was planted in April and replanted the end of May.

Soybean Summary: We had a canopy height that averaged 38 inches with a first node around three inches. There was no disease or insect pressure with many three-bean pods. There were many pods with good yield potential.

Williams County

Corn Summary: This was a good stand but a low population of 27,000. There was no disease or insect pressure, though there was one ear with zipper ear and a little tip-back. The kernel depth was excellent with an average yield of 195 bushels in by far the best corn we have seen. It was planted May 20 with multi-hybrid and variable rate.

Soybean Summary: The canopy was at 38 inches, the tallest we have seen. They were still blooming and pods were still forming. There was a fungicide application and no diseases or insects present.

The 2016 growing season started wet and cool then turned hot and dry in many areas — a classic worst-case scenario for corn and soybeans. There were certainly some examples that showed up in fields on the 2016 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour displaying evidence of those challenging conditions. But, at the same time, we saw many more examples of how solid farm management practices made the most of some challenging weather situations and others capitalized on timely rains. The Tour was sponsored by AgroLiquid.

In the West, the I-75 group had an average corn yield over both days of the Ohio Crop Tour of 148 bushels. Rather than break it down by days, the group felt it would be more appropriate to break the yields up geographically with corn yields north of I-70 in some of the tougher growing conditions averaging 134 bushels per acre and yields south of I-70 (where there was generally more rain in July) averaging 180 bushels.

The Eastern leg of the Ohio Crop Tour also averaged 148 bushels over the two days. Day 1 in the East averaged 160 bushels and Day 2 averaged 151 bushels, an opposite yield trend of the West.

In total, corn and soybean fields were sampled in 44 Ohio counties. The formula used in estimating corn yields is accurate plus or minus 30 bushels for the areas of the fields sampled.

The Ohio average corn yield from the tour is 148 bushels. Soybeans were generally poor to average in the north and generally improved in southern Ohio, but with the recent rains Ohio’s soybeans have significant upside potential.

By: Ben Stoller

Below are pictures taken on Thursday, August 4 after a Quilt Xcel fungicide application on July 28.  On the first two pictures, the treated area is to the right of blue line, where greener, healthier plants are visible tolerating high temperatures and drought conditions much better than the untreated area.  On the bottom picture, one can see a treated area in between two checks.

Mercer Landmark agronomists have been advocating the benefits of fungicides in not only diseased fields, but also in those where other pressures are present.  This dry summer has been a perfect example of the plant health benefits fungicides provide.

Contact your Mercer Landmark agronomy representative to learn how we can help you protect your yield potential.

By~Brad Miller

With the dry weather we have been experiencing I have been receiving calls about spider mites. How to scout for them and what the economical threshold is.  To see if you have spider mites in your field, look for symptoms such as Yellow Stippling on leaves.  See photo below.   Also check for the presence of spider mites by getting a white piece of paper,  shake the leaves on the paper, and look for dust that crawls.  There are no number-based thresholds available for mites.  Populations can increase rapidly so scouting fields every 4 to 5 days is recommended in dry conditions. Use the following scale developed by the University of Minnesota to evaluate spider mite damage in soybean, with treatment recommended at level 3.

0. No spider mite injury observed

1. Minor stippling on lower leaves, no premature yellowing observed

2. Stippling common on lower leaves, small areas on scattered plants with yellowing

3. Heavy stippling on lower leaves with some stippling progressing into middle canopy. Mites present in middle canopy with scattered colonies in upper canopy. Lower leaf yellowing common and some lower leaf loss. (Spray Threshold)

4. Lower leaf yellowing readily apparent. Leaf drop common. Stippling, webbing and mites common in middle canopy. Mites and minor stippling present in upper canopy. (Economic Loss)

5. Lower leaf loss common, yellowing or browning moving up plant into middle canopy, stippling and distortion of upper leaves common. Mites present in high levels in middle and lower canopy

For more information on controlling spider mites or to have your fields scouted contact your local Mercer Landmark representative.