Notes from the Field 5-9-22

May 09, 2022

Notes from the Field 5-9-22
  1. The cold wet soils this past week kept the planters in the shed till Saturday afternoon. Soil temperatures Sunday morning (yesterday) in Malone finally made it to 43 degrees. There were a few farms in the area starting to plant some corn, alfalfa seeding, and oats. The sprayers finally got a work out in the past few days spraying burndown and wheat herbicides. Looking ahead, I would presume we will see more tillage, planting, and spraying being accomplished. The annual weeds will definitely make an appearance this week as we will finally be accumulating some growing degree units. Giant ragweed has been noted heavily along the edges of waterways and ditches. It looks like the planting and growing season of 2022 will be commencing this week!
  2. Alfalfa continues to grow at a relatively slow pace. Average alfalfa height on Saturday was about 5 inches. With the impending heat and adequate moisture in the soil, alfalfa growth will probably pick up this week. Alfalfa fungicide applications probably will occur in the Malone area this week as alfalfa height should reach the trigger height of about 8 inches sometime this week. Alfalfa continues to look very good. There are a few random spots in fields where alfalfa may have had some winter injury as those spots are recovering slowly. Pasture grasses are finally looking better as they were looking relatively brown a week ago. Talking with Mike Kuffel from the Plymouth location last week, it sounded like he had some grass fields that were not looking very well and may have winterkilled. These fields are aggressively managed and cut. It is not too often that the alfalfa survives and the grass fails. Who knows maybe with some warmer weather the grass will look better.
  3. Winter wheat continues to look good. Fields are in the Feekes 4-5 stage. There are a few fields out there that are awaiting a nitrogen application as the ground conditions are still too wet for equipment. Nitrogen and sulfur deficiency are noted in these fields that have not received fertilizer yet. Lower leaves have the traditional nitrogen deficiency symptomology (yellow bottom leaves moving up the plant). I did run across a wet field with low soil fertility that was showing phosphorus deficiency. The field was alfalfa last year and was showing the traditional purple coloring of the leaves due to a lack of phosphorus.
  4. Two wheat trials comparing the use of Envita were sprayed with herbicide/fungicide/micros on Saturday in the Malone and Brothertown areas. I will keep you updated with pictures, tissue samples, and yield results.
  5. Corn planting has just started on the hills south of Malone. Now would be a great time, if time allows you, to visit growers that bought seed from you to check planting depth and seed placement. I have found these planter visits useful in that it puts the farmer at ease that he or she is planting his or her corn properly and it also adds credibility to you in recommending the corn to the grower. A little time spent at planting time can pay big dividends at the end of the year with better yields due to proper planting and potential seed sales this fall.
  6. Are you planning on using the Flag Emergence Kit from Precision Planting? I think this is an excellent tool to use on a farm to document the importance of uniform corn emergence. A plant that emerges a day or more after the other plants have emerged has reduced yield. I like to call these late emergers “feel good corn.” This “feel good corn” looks good in that the seed emerged and is producing a plant, but unfortunately these late emerging plants contribute less yield and in some cases could be considered weeds. Corn emerging one day later than the rest of the corn may experience 15% yield loss, 2 days later could be up to 78% yield loss, and 3 days later could be up to 90% yield loss!
  7. Last week, Tyler Peterson from the Plymouth location and I were scouting alfalfa and wheat fields in the St Cloud area. We had a discussion about soybean inoculant. We discussed why soybeans need rhizobia bacteria and what could happen if soybeans are not inoculated properly. We discussed the importance and role of nodules on the roots of soybeans. Land that has never had soybeans grown are especially in need of proper inoculation since the soil may not have any rhizobia bacteria in the soil to “infect” the soybean roots and eventually create nodules which are important for nitrogen fixation for the plant. Soybeans require 4 to 5 pounds of nitrogen per bushel produced. 50-75% of the soybean plant’s demands for nitrogen are met by the bacteria producing nitrogen in the nodules. The rest of the nitrogen needs to come from the soil. Healthy nodules should be pink/red in color when split open. The red color inside the nodules comes from iron from a molecule similar to the hemoglobin in our blood. Products that can be used to inoculate soybean seed with rhizobia include N-Take, Exceed SAR (SAR molecule gives the added benefit of improving the plant’s immune system to form a bio-chemical barrier against pathogens and disease), and N-Dure dry inoculant. The addition of inoculants to the seed assures high numbers of rhizobia bacteria for the benefit of the plant for obtaining nitrogen.
  8. Conditions that increase odds of seeing a response to soybean inoculation: 
    1. Flooded to wet soils lasting greater than 7 days during the year.
    2. Soil pH over 7.3 or below 5.7 (Most soils in the Malone area are over 7.3 to near 8.0)
    3. Compacted soils which are low in oxygen
    4. Ground that has never been planted to soybean or has not seen soybeans in over 5 years.
  9. High numbers of black cutworm moths were noted in traps last week in Green Lake, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Adams, and Marathon counties last week indicating possible egg laying of the moths in cover crops and broadleaf weeds and crops. These moths travel northward from the Gulf of Mexico and Texas each spring and lay eggs in vegetation. It takes roughly 300 GDU with a base of 50 degrees for the damaging fourth instar larval stage to develop starting from the time of the high numbers of moths are noted in the traps. Moth numbers are significantly down from last year at this time. There is no guarantee that black cutworm will be a problem this spring. Just need to be vigilant in watching corn fields toward the end of the month into early June.

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