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, 2016

By~ Steve Hecker

After crops are off it is the perfect time to take soil samples, fertilize for next year’s crops, plan for next year, and spray burndown in corn stalks.

When we get our samples back we have our Agronomist help us determine what rates of nutrients we need on that field, and if any lime is also needed. Maintaining the proper soil PH is as important for maximum crop yields as fertilizer. The soil PH has a direct influence on the quantity and quality of a crop. It can restrict the root and top growth of plants, reduce the availability of plant nutrients, and decrease desirable biological activity. For growers to maximize their yields, they must balance or manage their PH levels for full benefit of their soil available nutrients.

The term “PH” refers to the degree of acidity of a soil. The PH of soil indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions held on the clay and organic matter particles. A PH of 7.0 is neutral; below 7.0 is acid, and above 7.0 is alkaline. The lower the PH, (which is below 7.0), the more acidic the soil. The higher the PH, (above 7.0), the more alkaline the soil. For the crops grown in our geography, 6.5 to 7.0 is perfect.

To correct lower PH soils we can apply limestone. It supplies calcium or magnesium, or both, improves the availability of some plant nutrients, promotes desirable biological activity, and improves the structure of some soils. Proper liming combined with other desirable soil management practices usually brings increased yields and better quality crops.

As shown in the chart the availability of plant nutrients changes as the soil PH is increased or decreased.

For further information and planning please contact your  Mercer Landmark agronomist.

By~Brian Mitchem

As we harvest the 2016 crop it is advisable to evaluate and note critical observations so to better plan for success in 2017.

With corn be sure to fully evaluate late season plant health for both grain and stalk quality.

To evaluate stalk quality in hybrids pinch the lower node above the ground with your thumb and finger. If the rind is firm there is good integrity in the plant. If the rind is soft and crushes easily that should be noted on that hybrid. If soft you can break apart the lower nodes and look for either black, brown or pink streaks at the nodes. Each color can illustrate a specific disease.

Another way to evaluate stalks is to simply push the stalk at the ear over about halfway between the row. If the plant crushes there is a quality issue.

Pictured above is an ear evaluated for ear mold. While much of the mold can be seen on the kernel surface when mature it is important to shell down the cob to see mold growing between the kernels. This ear shows clean kernels on the surface but when shelled the mold is evident growing between the kernels. In addition, you notice the color change on the cob when shelled where the mold has progressed into the cob as well.

In soybeans, yields should be relatively consistent across most fields. If a farm is experiencing wide variation in yield the causes should be investigated. In beans yield loss is often associated with low soil pH, soybean cyst nematodes primarily but fertility levels can also play a role. Please contact your Mercer sales professional to discuss if you have questions.

Fields should also be carefully inspected for weed issues. The vast majority of the Mercer trade area has witnessed a significant increase in

hard to control weeds such as Common and Giant Rags as well as Waterhemp. In the picture above shows a late germinating Waterhemp plant from the area. What is very noteworthy with this weed is that despite the germination in October in standing corn the weed immediately produces viable seeds.

Strategies must be in place to manage Waterhemp and other weeds in the area.

Fall applied weed control can begin anytime now that we are experiencing seasonal temperatures. Fall applied burndown plus residual is a necessity for controlling perennial weeds such as dandelion and thistle plus is a positive step for spring residual and burndown applications. For high level spring/summer marestail control the fall pass has proven to be a necessary step.

By~Amy Hayes

Green stem syndrome in soybeans is prevalent throughout our trade area this year. Although there isn’t an exact cause of green stem syndrome, factors such as viruses and environmental conditions can influence the severity. According to Monsanto, “Green stem syndrome occurs when soybean pods and seeds mature but the stem remains green. When producers proceed to harvest according to seed moisture content, the green stems can make for a slow and difficult harvest. However, delaying harvest until the entire plant turns may increase harvest efficiencies, but result in reduced yields due to lower seed moisture and a higher potential for shatter.”

Most of this year’s issues with green stem syndrome can be attributed to the dry conditions experienced from June to September. Purdue University has stated that, “Stressed-soybean plants ‘decide’ which pods to retain and seeds to fill. A loss of pods and/or seeds reduces the demand for photoassimilates (sugars and nutrients) that are transported from the leaves. The redistribution of sugars and nutrients is rapid during R5 (beginning of seed fill) and continues at a slower pace through R6 (full seed).”  High temperatures and limited rain during these times stressed soybeans leading to aborted pods and seeds, even though the plant had built up a large supply of photoassimilates in the leaves and stems. Other attributing factors to green stem syndrome would be low humidity and high temperatures experienced in September, which attributed to fast grain drydown in the field. Below are a few pictures taken near Neptune, OH.

As far as harvest goes, it is very important to remember when faced with green stem syndrome do not wait until stems are dry to start combining. By waiting for stems to dry, shatter losses occurring at the header or before the combine enters the field will be high. Here are a few recommendations from Michigan State University to help with harvest timing and to improve harvest-ability:
-If shatter losses are excessive, consider combining earlier in the morning or later in the evening when pods have regained some moisture and are less brittle. However, this may increase plugging problems.
-Reduce ground speed to 3mph or less if necessary.
-Harvest at a 20-25° angle to the rows. This improves cutter bar performance and provides more even feeding of the crop into the threshing cylinder or rotor.
-Draper heads reduce plugging as well as offer a more uniform feeding into the threshing cylinder or rotor.

For more information and advice on dealing with green stem soybeans at harvest talk with your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist, and have a safe harvest!