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 March, 2017

By~ Ben Stoller

Recent research by the University of Illinois has found some information worth noting.

Although many recognize the need to supplement soybeans with potassium (K), U of I research has found that we may be negatively impacting yield by not providing enough phosphorus (P), and that phosphorus provides the most potential to increase yield.  Additionally-more than any other nutrient-phosphate is accumulated later in the season, so having late-season availability is essential. It’s well known that potassium is important for soybean production, but we may need to more closely examine phosphorus levels.

According to the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), a 60 bushel soybean crop will remove the following:

Sulfur (S) is another nutrient that soybeans need in great amounts in order to produce grain.  Since we are no longer receiving S from the atmosphere like we have in the past, we must supplement soybeans (including corn and wheat) with some form of sulfur.  Sulfur in its sulfate form is subject to leaching, so it may be necessary to make multiple applications in smaller amounts in order to reduce losses.

Always conduct and follow soil tests and follow recommendations in order to reach your yield goals in an economical manner.  Your Mercer Landmark agronomy team can help in taking appropriate soil tests and recommendations.

By~Brad Miller

With top dressing of wheat getting under way I am receiving some questions on Nitrogen needs, frost damage and wheat growth     Wheat uses 1.1 Lbs. of Nitrogen for each bushel of expected yield and utilizes 70-75% of its total Nitrogen needs between Feeks scale 4 (beginning of erect growth) and Feeks Scale 8 (visible flag leaf).   Usually between 70-100lbs of Nitrogen is recommended. The chart below shows Nitrogen recommendations.

With wheat being taller than normal I get asked about damage to wheat if we get a late frost. According to Ohio State, when the wheat is in the tillering stage (Feekes 1-5),the temperature would have to get down to 12 F for 2 hours  for it to do serious injury.  The primary symptoms would be leaf chlorosis,burning of leaf tips, silage odor and a blue cast to fields.  If the wheat is at jointing stage then a temperature of 24 F for 2 hours would do serious injury.    Usually a week to ten days of good warm temperatures and adequate sunlight are required before damage from a freeze event becomes visible. Due to wheat having more tillers  this year, which causes less air movement through the wheat, you will have to keep a look out for diseases such as powdery mildew. Which I have seen in  some fields this spring.  If it becomes visible an early application of fungicide may be needed.   Contact your Mercer Landmark representative for more information or to have them check your fields.

By~ Rick Mollenkopf

Wheat And Cold Weather(Charles Mansfield) -

  • Cold night temperatures may have caused injury to wheat.
  • Jointed wheat is most vulnerable.
  • Evaluate for extent of injury after a few days of good growing weather.

Wheat may have been injured by recent cold weather. Low temperatures ranged from the upper teens to low 20s in southern Indiana to single digits in central and northern Indiana on Wednesday and Thursday mornings this week. Injury to jointed wheat normally occurs when low temperatures fall to 24oF or below for 2 hours or more. The rule of thumb threshold temperature that may cause injury to wheat that is not yet jointed but out of dormancy is 12oF or less. See table below for critical temperatures that cause injury to wheat and associated injury implications.

Many wheat fields in southern Indiana are at the jointing growth stage (Feekes 6). The first node is still close to the soil surface in some fields. In others, the first node is up to 1.5” above the soil. The embryonic head/growing point sits directly on top of the uppermost node, positioning it up to 2” above the soil surface in some cases. Therefore, exposed growing points and lower stems are susceptible to freeze injury.

Healthy tissue of the lower stem and growing point is a light green color and comprised of firm tissue. Damaged tissue will be mushy and watery, showing signs of tissue damage from ruptured cells. For wheat that is out of dormancy, but not jointed air temperature lower than 12oF may result in leaf tissue injury and/or injury to the crown. It usually takes a few days of good growing weather with daytime temperatures in the 40′s – 50′s to evaluate extent of injury.

Temperatures that cause freeze injury to wheat at spring growth stages, and symptoms and yield effect of spring freeze injury.


Growth Stage Approx. Injurious Temp. (2 Hours) Primary Symptoms Yield Effect
Tillering 12oF(-11oC) Leaf chlorosis; burning of leaf tips; silage odor; blue cast to field Slight to moderate
Jointing 24oF(-4oC) Death of growing point; leaf yellowing or burning; lesions, splitting, or bending of lower stems; odor Moderate to severe
Boot 28oF(-2oC) Floret sterility; head trapped in boot; damage to lower stem; leaf discoloration; odor Moderate to severe
Heading 30oF(-1oC) Floret sterility; white awns or white heads; damage to lower stem; leaf discoloration Severe
Milk 28oF(-2oC) White awns or white heads; damage to lower stems; leaf discoloration; shrunken, roughened, or discolored kernels Moderate to severe
Dough 28oF(-2oC) Shriveled, discolored kernels; poor germination Slight to moderate

By~ Brian Mitchem

Comprehensive studies done by extension researchers at Purdue University have shown that modern corn hybrids and soy varieties are using plant nutrition much differently than corn and soy products from previous decades.

Some seed companies maintain era genetics for research purposes. In this research both corn and soy products were grown as far back as products commonly grown in the 1920’s. Each decade from the 1920’s forward were included up to modern genetics.

Dr. Tony Vyn has been analyzing corn genetics for the differences in nutrient uptake.

Dr. Vyn’s research shows that the following nutrients are being taken up in greater quantities post flowering:

Phosphorous – 55%

Zinc – 55%

Sulfur – 40%

Nitrogen – 30%

Potassium – 10%

Of those nutrients listed above, only potassium is similar in older lines.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and sulfur are mobile in the soil and we can make a later application (v10-v14 growth stage) and potentially see a benefit to corn. If considering a late N application the addition of a sulfur source should also be used as the corn plant uses a specific nitrogen:sulfur ratio at the ear shoot and cellular levels.

For phosphorous and zinc, since those nutrients are not mobile in the soil they can be placed deeper into the soil profile for later uptake by plants. Consider a fall deep placed band of P and Zn to accomplish this.

Dr. Shawn Casteel has been doing similar research with decades of soy varieties.

In soybeans we see more late season nitrogen accumulation in leaves, pods and seeds, therefore getting good N fixation started in beans is of high importance.

Also found in the research was that during the rapid growth phase of soy at R2 (full flower) that beans can remove more nutrition from the leaves than can be replaced even with adequate soil nutrition. Of particular importance is that potassium levels in leaves drop at R2 but recover by R4 (full pods).

In addition beans can show a response to sulfur especially under stress and P uptake increases rapidly at R4 growth stage.

Additional research findings have shown a significant response in beans to sulfur applications when applied between the V4 and R1 growth stages. Casteel’s 2016 data on sulfur applications on soils in Indiana. In replicated trials when adequate rates (20# sulfur) was applied as AMS on soil or a two pass post program at V4 and R2 with foliar sulfur delivered large yield increases to the beans vs the untreated check and other treatments.

In our area the two most common nutrient deficiencies I see in crops are potassium and sulfur.

Mercer Agronomy is interested in working with area farmers doing trials applying Potassium Sulfate to both corn and beans with the Y Drop system as well as a foliar program with Max-In Sulfur (potassium sulfate).

By~ Jeff Prickett

Early spring is a great time of year to start a management plan for your alfalfa crop. This would include fertility, pH, insect and disease control, plus varietal selection for new seeding alfalfa. It is essential that soil pH be adjusted to 6.8 to 7.0 range prior to planting of the crop. To facilitate these pH levels, it may be necessary to plan a new alfalfa crop 2 to 3 years in advance.

Alfalfa has a high demand for K20 and levels need to be adjusted to 350-400 lbs/acre. Also, P1 levels need to be adjusted to 40-60 lbs/acre.

On average, 1 ton of alfalfa hay will remove 50lbs of K20 and 15lbs of P205. If you harvest an average of 6 tons of alfalfa hay per acre per growing season, this would require 500lbs of 0-0-60 and 200lbs of 11-52-0 to keep up with crop removal. I would recommend a split application of nutrients to achieve these crop removal requirements. Also, alfalfa responds well to sulfur (a secondary nutrient) and boron (a micro-nutrient). With the first application of fertilizer, I would apply sulfur and boron (spring) just prior to green-up or after 1st harvest. Requirements for Sulfur and Boron vary by region and soil type, but a typical application in the Mercer- Darke county area provides 20-30 lbs/acre of sulfur and 10-15 lbs per acre of boron. The second application of fertilizer should be applied after last harvest in the fall which will help the alfalfa winter over.

Another consideration for alfalfa is disease control. There are several fungicides labeled for alfalfa which would include Headline, Quadris and Priaxor. The best timing for a fungicide application would be before 1st cutting at 6-8” regrowth. If an application is not possible before 1st cutting, there is still a great benefit to apply a fungicide prior to second cutting at 6-8” regrowth. Fungicides have several benefits for alfalfa which would include increased disease control, increased leaf retention, increased harvest tons, quicker green-up after cutting and higher quality hay.

If you are looking to establish a new alfalfa crop this spring, we at Mercer Landmark have a great selection of Croplan Alfalfa varieties.  Two of our most popular conventional varieties would be Croplan Legendairy XHD coated and treated with GroZone plus Advance Coating + Stamina and Croplan Rebound 6.0 also coated and treated with GroZone plus Advance Coating + Stamina. As for Roundup Ready Alfalfa, RR Presteez has become quite popular among our alfalfa growers wanting the added weed control Roundup provides (especially important in initial stand establishment). I do have a few customers planting the new HarvXtra alfalfa technology which is a double traited alfalfa variety – contains both Roundup Ready Technology and low lignin technology.  Low lignin technology allows for a wider window of harvest opportunity without sacrificing hay quality and digestibility.

If you have any questions concerning your alfalfa crop, or need some ideas on establishing a new crop, please feel free to reach out to us at Mercer Landmark Agronomy. We have a great staff with many years of experience in all crops and situations. Remember, we are here to help you succeed!

Have a safe spring!