Wednesday, November 25, 2009
An excellent website on Grain Storage was has several calculators to help producers estimate the costs of drying grain, grain shrinkage, grain bin capacity, and related topics. Dr. Sam McNeill, Extension Agricultural Engineer, was the author of most of these calculators.
A related website for Proper Grain Storage and Handling includes additional relevant topics.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Commodity index traders view the return to commodities as negatively correlated with stock market and bond returns, and positively correlated with inflation. Therefore, the investment portfolio is viewed as being better balanced if it includes exposure to commodities in addition to stocks and bonds. The commodity index trader enters the futures market for exposure to commodities for the long-term. Positions are rolled from one contract month to the next, using a predetermined methodology. As a result, their actions are not based on reacting to fundamental supply and demand signals, but rather are a function of this predetermined method.
A commodity index trader can be classified as being either commercial (i.e., a hedger) or noncommercial (i.e., a speculator). A commercial commodity index trader manages hedges of cash transactions – private transactions that are not traded on an exchange. A non-commercial commodity index trader represents pension funds, endowment funds, and other institutional investors. A non-commercial commodity index fund is both passively managed and unleveraged.
Figure 1 shows the percent of open interest (i.e., the number of futures and options contracts that have not been settled) held by commodity index funds for corn. Commodity index traders, as a percent of open interest, ranged from almost 30% in April 2006, to just fewer than 15% in December 2008. For the last week of October 2009, commodity index traders represented almost 25% of open interest. Figure 2 illustrates the percent of open interest held by commodity index traders of soybeans; interest ranged from 30% in July 2006, to just less than 20% in October 2008.
During the commodity price run up in spring/summer of 2008 the percentage of open interest did not increase relative to other positions. In fact for corn, the percent of open interest by commodity index traders decreased overall during 2008. For soybeans a slight overall increase in percent of open interest occurred during 2008. Understanding their purpose and how they work will help the producer in making better hedging decisions in the future. (Cory Walters, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The report is linked to the Grain Crops Extension home page and the University of Kentucky Variety Testing website.
The soybean varieties are divided by maturity and compared in one of four studies:
1) relative maturities 2.7-3.0
2) relative maturities 4.0-4.5
3) relative maturities 4.6-4.9
4) Maturity Group V
Table 5 reports the all location average and is the recommended table for making variety selections.
Printed reports likely will be available at your county extension office in three to four weeks.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A hybrid that performs well across multiple envrionments has the best chance of performing well next year on your farm. Use the data from the tables with yields averaged across locations. Compare the data from this test with data from local tests and select hybrids that have done well in both.
If you have questions about hybrids in the test, please contact your county extension agent.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
A month or so ago I blogged about the prevalence in KY of Cercospora leaf blight, a fungal disease caused by Cercospora kikuchii. I mentioned that a phase of the disease - purple seed stain - was also likely to be prevalent once harvest got underway. Well this is now the case and many questions are being raised about purple seed. First of all, the purple coloration is caused by a plant toxin called cercosporin. Cercosporin is red-purple so any tissue it is produced in has a purple-tinted color. But the degree of infection is not always related to the extent of the purple coloration. Actual infected tissue may be considerably less than would be suggested by the purple color.
Typically, purple seed stain is a minor production problem. Yields are reduced by the foliar phase of the disease, Cercospora leaf blight, but purple seed stain is strictly a seed quality issue. Rarely, planting heavily infected seed can produce diseased seedlings, and reduce stands, in subsequent crops. More commonly, purple seed may be discounted at the point of sale in some, but not all, markets.
Other than that, I think the purple seed is kind of pretty. But you have to be a plant pathologist to see any redeeming qualities in a plant disease. All in all, I do not think anyone should get too worked up over purple seed stain.
Photo: Dr. Anne Dorrance, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
R.L. (Bob) Nielsen at Purdue compiled this list and plans to update it as new information becomes available.
If the thought of more rain makes your tempted to drink something stronger than black coffee, then consider getting your mind off of harvest and consider the following websites. Any listing of a website is not an endorsement of that site by the university.
Get your mind away from harvest:
Kentucky Sports (Herald-Leader)
Kentucky Sports (Courier-Journal)
Useless Information (no relation to this website whatsoever)
How Stuff Works what the title says...my wife says it's closer to the previous website
Prairie Home Companion the storytelling, humor and songs are enough to put you into a relaxing mood
google maps (type in a location, take a look at the satellite images and go to the next spot; if you want to download a 3-D program, then try google earth)
bing maps similar to google maps. Sometimes includes pictures in the "bird's eye" view.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Corn will ensile well at moisture levels less than 70% for upright silos and less than 75% moisture for horizontal silos. Corn harvested at 62% to 68% moisture (late-dent stage) is ideal for ensiling.
Last month, I wrote an article about Diplodia ear rot, our most common corn ear rot in Kentucky. Diplodia has no known associations with mycotoxins in corn. Gibberella ear rot is associated with mycotoxins and in some cases may look very similar to Diplodia. Normally, Gibberella ear rot is not a widespread problem in Kentucky, but this is not a normal year.
Gibberella ear rot is caused by Fusarium graminearum, the very same fungus that causes head scab of wheat. Normally Gibberella ear rot can be a problem in northern state, but in Kentucky, we generally see very little of this disease. I am hearing of reports of epidemics of Gibberella ear rot in central and even southern areas of neighboring states to our north. Again, that doesn’t seem surprising, given the cool, wet weather generally experienced post-silking in many fields.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
John Grove, Research Agronomist, University of Kentucky
Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky
For decades, mono-cropping without rotation has been known to often result in reduced yield. Indeed, long-term studies at the University of Kentucky show that first-year corn-after-corn commonly experiences a "yield penalty" that growers should factor into their economic analysis (Figure 1). One of the interesting things about this yield penalty is that it appears to be greater as corn yield increases. This suggests that, in the future, the "rotation effect" will be not diminished (rather, will be enhanced) in the presence of better varieties, better management, and excellent corn growing conditions.
Figure 1. Comparison of yields first-year corn-after-corn vs. a one-year rotation for the 1989 to 2006 production seasons.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Don Hershman, Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky
Considering the cool, wet, and late year we have just experienced, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that certain late-season soybean fungal diseases are more extensive than usual. In a more typical year, crops that mature in late summer, especially early maturing varieties planted early, tend to experience the most intense foliar, stem and pod fungal disease pressure. This is because those crops are filling pods and maturing at a time when conditions tend to favor disease development (hot and wet). Normally, doublecrop and other late-planted crops are less susceptible to late-season fungal diseases because they mature in September-mid-October when conditions tend to be dry. Not this year!
The October ninth crop report pegs corn production at 13 billion bushels, about 8 percent more than 2008-2009 crop. The USDA is expecting yields to be a record at 164.2 bushels per acre, up 10.3 bushels per acre over last year and up 2.3 bushels from the September report. For Kentucky, the USDA increased average yield by 2 bushels per acre from the September estimate for an average yield of 157 bushels per acre. If realized this would be a record corn yield for Kentucky.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
According the October 4, 2009 edition of the Crop and Weather Report, about 86% of the corn crop was mature. The first occurrence of a fall freeze is normally mid to late October in Kentucky. A freeze event on corn that is not mature can reduce yields, depending on the stage of kernel fill.
Kernels are sprouting in the ear in many fields around the state. Normally, these sprouts are occurring from the lower portion of the ear. The ears typically are upright, the husks are open, and water collected at the base. The kernels are at blacklayer (35% moisture or less) and the water in the husk allows these kernels to imbibe water and germinate.
Sprouting kernels are not a direct hazard to livestock. However, molds are sometimes associated with sprouting and some molds can produce mycotoxins. If corn is being used for livestock feed, have it checked for mycotoxins.
Sprouting kernels will reduce test weight and yield, slightly.
This is just a symptom of the cool, wet fall.
Friday, October 2, 2009
At present FAW counts remain lower than the numbers associated with the known outbreak of 2007 and if they continue to a similar number, the peak will be a week or so later. The caterpillars from that peak could be a threat to early planted wheat.
In 2007 several individuals reported large FAW populations in wheat fields. However on the whole these populations were feeding on the volunteer corn and not the wheat. If you find large numbers of caterpillars be sure to distinguish on what they are feeding. Even though the numbers are large they may be (and likely are) doing no harm at all.
The crop most threatened by the fall occurrence of FAW is newly seeded grasses. This could be wheat but are generally, hay fields, lawns and cover for roadsides, construction sites etc. In the very early stages of these seedling grasses FAW can kill the plants. Once a good root system is established plant death is unlikely.
FAW will be present until the first hard frost. These are not cold tolerant insects; they migrate in annually from the gulf coast states. So, once cold weather becomes the standard this insect will disappear.
If insecticidal control were to be needed FAW will not be hard to kill in these seedling systems. Any product labeled for FAW and the crop of interest will provide sufficient control. One really only needs to reduce the population until cold weather arrives. BE very, very wary of replanting. It is often the case that damaged plants will survive and replanting often results in a double stand.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
USDA’s mid-September crop report predicted record level corn yields for Kentucky of 155 bushels per acre. Coupled with increased acreage, the state’s production could top 175 million bushels, which is also a record. However, a potential ‘fly in the ointment’ with this year’s crop is the delayed harvest coupled with damp weather which has led to stalk, ear and kernel rots. As noted in previous news stories, potential problems with field fungi (Diplodia, Gibberella, Fusarium, etc.) have lead to concerns about subsequent storage. While not all fungi produce mycotoxins, mold-damaged kernels are more susceptible to those that do. So it is best to err on the side of caution and check corn lots with field mold for mycotoxins before feeding to livestock.
When harvesting mold-damaged corn, adjust combines to minimize mechanical damage so that sound kernels are protected and to maximize cleaning, so that lightweight kernels are removed. Harvest, handle and store damaged corn separately when feasible and market early to reduce demands on storage management.
Grain moistures above 18-20% favor the growth of field fungi and the longer corn remains in the field the greater the chance of mycotoxin production. Thus, damaged corn should not be allowed to dry in the field to avoid drying costs. Corn with light damage should be dried to 15% within 24 hours after harvest and cooled to 40 degrees as soon as weather permits, in order to control mold growth during storage. This will create a storage environment within the grain mass that is below 65% humidity, which is dry enough to control mold growth and development (see values in the equilibrium moisture table). Corn with heavy to moderate damage should be dried to 13 to 14%, respectively, cooled as quickly as possible and moved before March.
The table below presents the equilibrium moisture contents for shelled yellow corn at different temperature and relative humidity conditions. Example: Corn that is 40 degrees and 13.7% moisture will create a relative humidity of 55% within the grain mass, which is safe for storage.
Corn Moisture, %
If mycotoxin problems are suspected, check with crop insurance providers to see if adjustments may be needed and how to account for the areas that are impacted. Insurance adjustments generally need to be made on standing corn at or before harvest.
The following publications provide more information on vomitoxin, aflatoxin and grain testing labs:
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
An excellent article, Field Drydown of Mature Corn Grain was just updated on this very subject by Bob Nielsen at Purdue.
Dr. Nielsen says:
- "Simply put, warmer temperatures and lower humidity encourage rapid field drying of corn grain."
Also:"Average daily drydown rates will range from about 0.8 percentage point per day for grain that nears maturity in late August to about 0.4 percentage point per day for grain that nears maturity in mid- to late September... "
If corn has reached 25% grain moisture, the risks with leaving corn in the field with the current weather conditions are: 1) increased chances for sprouting in the ear, 2) increased chances for Diplodia, etc. to spread on infected ears, 3) increased chances for ear loss from wind, 4) increased chances for lodging, and 5) increased chances for another rainstorm to come in and do more damage.
The negatives of harvesting corn grain wet (between 25 and 16%) are: 1) increased demand and wear on drying equipment, 2) increased drying costs, 3) increased dockage if sold directly off the farm, 4) increased weight per bushel of grain for hauling (i.e. more hauling costs), and 5) increased chance for spoilage if dryers are not working properly.
In addition to these negatives, soil compaction is at a greater risk in some of these fields. Soil is most susceptible to compaction when the soil is just a little too wet to plant (ie. just below field capacity). Conditions favorable for field-drying of corn are also favorable for drying soil.
If we knew exactly what the weather forecast was for the next two weeks, we all could make some really smart decisions. Aside from an accurate weather forecast, I would suggest trying to get into fields between the wet weather. If possible, target fields that are drier and/or fields at greater risk for lodging. Also, if you haven't done so already, make sure your drying equipment is working at its best.
We have some very large yields currently in the fields across the state. Hopefully, we can get most of that into the bins.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
There may be considerable confusion regarding refuge requirements in 2010 for Bt corn. In the past in Kentucky all we need to understand was that the minimum refuge size needed to 20% of the total corn acreage. If there was a Bt toxin to control corn rootworm, then the refuge needed to be within the same field or immediately adjacent to the Bt field. Immediately adjacent to means that a fence, ditch, or road is all that separates the refuge from the Bt field. Bt corn that only had toxins to control corn borers and other Lepidoptera must have the refuge within ½ mile, but a ¼ is preferred.
This has become a bit more complicated with the approval of SmartStax corn. The minimum refuge size for SmartStax is different, it is only 5% of total corn acrage (in cotton producing areas it increases to 20%). Where the possible confusion lies is that the refuge size for all other Bt corn technologies stays the same, only the SmartStax will have the reduced refuge size of 5%. The table below outlines the refuge requirements for the various Bt technologies on the market, corn grown in Kentucky would use the corn belt minimum refuge sizes. The reason why there is a reduced refuge with SmartStax is that we use multiple independent toxins to control the key insect pests. This is a new strategy for resistance management that the other Bt technologies don’t have.
Order of details:
Product Name, Min. Refuge (Corn Belt), Min. Refuge (Cotton Areas), Proximity to Bt Field
YieldGard CB, 20%, 50%, Within 1/4 to 1/2 mile
YieldGard RW, 20%, 20%, Within or adjacent to
YieldGard Plus, 20%, 50%, Within or adjacent to
YieldGard VT, 20%, 20%, Within or adjacent to
YieldGard VT3, 20%, 50%, Within or adjacent to
YieldGard VT3 Pro, 20%, 20% Within or adjacent to
SmartStax, 5%, 20%, Within or adjacent to
Herculex I, 20%, 50%, Within 1/4 to 1/2 mile
Herculex RW, 20%, 20%, Within or adjacent to
Herculex Xtra, 20%, 50%, Within or adjacent to
Agrisure CB, 20%, 50%, Within 1/4 to 1/2 mile
Agrisure RW, 20%, 20%, Within or adjacent to
Agrisure CB/RW, 20%, 50%, Within or adjacent to
There are two other types of Bt corn that are still in the regulatory process with approvals pending. This includes AcreMax and Viptera. These again may have different refuge requirements, particularly the AcreMax.
While the reason for planting a refuge is to maintain a population of Bt- susceptible corn borers, growers should still manage those refuges to avoid serious losses. When using a 20 or 5 % (Smartstax only) refuge with Bt corn plantings, growers may consider spraying for corn borers if scouting indicates it is an economic problem.
Diplodia ear rot (DER) is being reported rather widely this year. Questions have arisen about storage of DER-affected corn. The fungus that causes DER won’t develop further if moisture content is below the normal target of 15.5%. However, rotted kernels are damaged kernels, and since the grain integrity is compromised, other fungi more tolerant of low moisture will have an easier time growing. Our agricultural engineers recommend drying damaged corn an extra 0.5 to 1.0 point of moisture for better storability and cooling it as quickly as possible. Producers should make sure to keep that grain well aerated and dry, and market it sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, there are no known mycotoxins produced by the strains of the DER fungus found in North America. In addition to several recent Kentucky Pest News articles on this subject, more information on this disease is available in a UK Extension publication available at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ppa/ppa43/ppa43.pdf.
Corn fields in the many areas that experienced wet, overcast, soggy weather since the last issue of Kentucky Pest News for the most part remain unharvested. Weather conditions generally, and the widespread occurrence of southern corn rust, conspire to make this a season with increased risk for stalk rots.
Be sure to scout fields for stalk strength. Scouting will help you select fields for harvest based on how strong the stalks are. Harvest those with the weakest stalks first, before they blow down from a strong gust.
The easiest way to check for lodging potential is to walk through the field and, at about chest height, push the plants about 8-12 inches from vertical. A stalk that bends and fails to spring back is prone to lodging. If 10-15% of the stalks in a field exhibit lodging potential, the field should be scheduled for early harvest.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The median first freeze dates (32 degrees Farhenheit) for most of western Kentucky are near October 22 (about 30 days from this posting). Of course, October 22 is an average, meaning that the first freeze date can occur before or after the average. In one out of 10 years, the earliest freeze date is around October 6 (about 15 days from this posting). On the other side of the spectrum, the earliest frost freeze date can occur as late as around November 6 (about 45 days from this posting).
Generally, soybeans in Kentucky require about 30 days for seed fill (R6 growth stage). So, soybeans currently at R5 would require about 35 days to reach physiological maturity. The cool, cloudy weather might delay maturity a couple of days.
So, if you are considering spraying a fungicide to prevent yield losses from soybean rust, also consider your chances for a freeze event.
On Friday of last week we found soybean rust in Ballard County in far west KY. The level of disease was as low as it could possibly be (one leaf out of 100 that had one lesion, with one pustule!). This was the third SBR find in KY, the other two finds being in Warren County and Henderson County.
I have been pretty open about my belief that the vast majority of soybeans in Kentucky are well beyond the point where they could possibly be damaged by soybean rust. However, I also know that some fields in the state were planted very late and that development in July may have been hindered by wet and cool conditions. The bottom line is that there may be the rare field that needs all of October to completely fill pods. When I say, rare field, I am talking about fields planted in July to a group 5 soybean. By way of comparison, our Grains Crop Specialist, Dr. Jim Herbek is conducting a planting date study here at the UKREC where he planted a mid-group 4 variety on July 7th. That field was at the beginning flowering stage (R1) on August 10 and currently is at the full seed (R6) stage. The fields I am referring too would probably be at the full pod (R4) stage or barely into beginning seed (R5) at the present time.
My guess is that we could have considerable soybean rust in west Kentucky by the middle of October. By then, most soybean fields in the state will be at the R6 stage or later, and some will have been harvested. But, I am aware of the possibility that a few soybean fields may still be filling pods during the second part of October (assuming we do not have a hard frost before then). So, while most of you will not be impacted, if you have a field that may still be filling pods by mid-October, it would be wise to consider the prospect of applying a triazole fungicide (like Folicur or a generic, all of which are fairly inexpensive) soon if a highly specific set of conditions exist.
If you believe you have fields that may still be filling pods the last two weeks of October, please contact your local county Extension office. I have given them a soybean rust "Yield Loss Calculator", developed by UK's Dr. Saratha Kumudini, that will help you decide if spraying is to your economic advantage or not.
This advisory applies to the area west of I-65. If you are east of I-65, I would say you are “good to go” for 2009.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Regardless of the reason, soybean plants less mature than R6 will remain at risk of SA populations. There are still fields of soybeans at the R4 stage (seems unbelievable, doesn’t it?!), which will take several weeks to mature to R6.
The threshold remains the same 250 aphids / plant, on 80% of plants with an increasing population. In addition this threshold accounts only for the aphid damage on the plants. As KY producers most always plant narrow row soybeans you will need to consider the losses associated with running down your beans. A very rough guess is about 9%, but this depends upon your row width,the width of the tires on your spray rig and the width of each pass (boom width).
On a final note; a population of Mexican bean beetle (MBB) has been reported from Pickett Co. TN. This is a TN/KY border county just south of the Kentucky Co.’s of Cumberland & Clinton. It has been many years since we have seen problems with MBB in KY, but it may be worth a look in the eastern region of our soybean production area. My thanks to Mr. Richard Daniel, Extension Agent,Pickett County, TN. for the photo of the MBB damage.
MBB Damaged plants
Corn harvest can begin when grain moisture approaches 25 percent. Corn grain should be dried to market moistures (usually 15.5% for field corn and 14.0 % for food grade corn) or to 13 percent if corn will be stored throughout the summer.
For excellent resources on grain bins, drying grain, storing grain, etc. visit the University of Kentucky Grain Storage website operated by Dr. Sam McNeill.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Is a highly efficient agriculture and cheap food necessarily a bad thing? A recent article by Brian Walsh for Time Magazine (Getting Real about the High price of Food, Aug. 21, 2009) suggests that it is and that our cheap food is an illusion and is really costing much, much more. This is the latest in a series of articles, books and films questioning modern agriculture and its methods.
Mr. Walsh ties pork production to pigs grown in extreme confinement, doped on antibiotics and fed with cheap corn grown with “millions of tons of chemical fertilizer.” The events of pork production are grossly distorted. To describe pork production that way is akin to suggesting that mountains of forests were clear-cut, tons of timber were milled and barrels of poisonous ink were used to print the very magazine in which the article appears.
Both statements above have a shade of the truth, but the truth is heavily draped in exaggeration and fear. The argument strikes at emotions, first, by telling people that they should be afraid of their food and then speckles in a few facts, distorted as they are, as an attempt to appeal to logic. The double-pronged approach is extremely effective.
The very tone of the article is indicative of people who worry very little about having enough to eat, a luxury not shared by many people around the world. In some ways, U.S. farmers and agriculture are victims of their own successes. In the United States, we now have the smallest percentage of the population producing the largest supply of food ever. By having a very small proportion of the people producing food, a very large proportion are free to pursue other interests, develop new technologies, advance new policies and to even become journalists.
As people move away from the farm and lose their connection with their distant ancestors, they tend to romanticize agriculture. Farming is often depicted as a “simpler lifestyle” as many urban dwellers remember summer visits to grandparents or cousins in the country. Memories of the old family farm mingle with songs like “Old McDonald’s Farm”, and television shows like “Little House on the Prairie” where all the animals live peacefully together in a single barn and the family spends more time singing or playing than actually working.
The reality is that agriculture always has been challenging. If it were not so, more people would live and work on the farm. Agriculture is inherently risky. It requires huge investments up front with only the potential for profits several months to years away. A drought or a flood or an outbreak of disease or insects can destroy crops and months of hard labor and investment. The goal of farmers, ranchers and researchers is to improve efficiency, quality and consistency of the food supply and the facts demonstrate our shared success. The result is a food supply that is the cheaper, safer and more abundant than ever . . . and unfortunately an urban population completely disconnected from the realities and challenges of agriculture.
This disconnection is clearly on display with what Mr. Walsh deems an acceptable farm. Mr. Walsh decries the modern large farms as being “factory farms” because they sell large quantities of cattle or crops. His alternative is Niman Ranch, which markets large amounts of “all-natural” beef, pork and poultry from many farms, has its own CEO and was founded by a former attorney for Earthjustice. So, Mr. Walsh complains about a modern feedlot operation who buys cattle from many smaller farmers across the country, finishes those cattle, and then sells those cattle at a price that is affordable by most households in the U.S. However, Mr. Walsh favors a farm corporation with a CEO who markets and sells cattle for many farms at a price that only the wealthy can afford. Bashing the large family farm in favor of another large corporation with projected 2008 revenues of $75million (according to Wikipeda) seems highly illogical.
Mr. Walsh says that the recent recalls and outbreaks are examples of a dangerous food supply that is getting more dangerous. The recalls are examples that the regulatory agencies are doing their jobs. Food contamination is as old as agriculture, itself . . . actually, it probably predates agriculture when people first killed animals and didn’t fully cook the meat, or when they used unsanitary methods to handle and consume fruits and vegetables. Mr. Walsh would likely suggest that we didn’t have recalls 100 years ago. He’s right. No one was checking; people just got sick and died!
Mr. Walsh says that farmers are eroding soils with modern agriculture. Erosion has and still does occur in the United States. In fact, erosion has always been a challenge in agriculture. The U.S. farmer in conjunction with researchers at Land Grant universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service have worked very diligently over the last 100 years to develop production techniques that greatly reduced erosion. By comparison, the largest loss of soil from erosion from farming occurred in ancient Africa with primitive farming techniques. Mr. Walsh praises today’s ‘organic farmer’ as being sustainable. The irony is that organic farming uses practices very similar to those used by ancient Africans as they destroyed their soil resources.
The disconnect between those who consume food and those who produce it likely will widen as agriculture continues to improve production practices. Many modern farms are large farms, and many large farms are family farms. These family farms are intent on producing food safely, efficiently and sustainably. They think long term and are planning to pass on the farm and its natural resources to the next generation. The American consumer should thank the American farmer for producing such a safe, abundant and relatively inexpensive food supply…and for not having to produce it themselves.
The disconnect between people consuming food and the efforts of producing it are fertile ground for seeds of fear and distrust. Those of us who work in Cooperative Extension at Land Grant Universities constantly field questions from well-intentioned citizens who are genuinely concerned about their food. They are not exactly sure where and how their food is produced. Those who adamantly despise modern agriculture, or perhaps the consumption of animal proteins, are prolific at writing and communicating. They are very effective at delivering their message. Those engaged in producing food are much better at …well, at producing food. In general, we are great at talking shop with our counterparts, but we are terrible about explaining to our neighbors what we do. Those of us remaining in agriculture must defend the successes of modern farming.
The opinions of Chad Lee were expressed above and not necessarily those of the University of Kentucky or the Cooperative Extension Service.
The SA economic threshold is 250 aphids per plant, on 80% of the plants, with an increasing population. This threshold holds through plant stage R5. For more mature plants a great many more aphids per plant would be required to provide a benefit for an insecticide application. The exact number is currently under investigation but it is likely at least 500 aphids per plant and may well be 1000 aphids per plant.
In addition there have been scattered questions concerning stinkbugs and bean leaf beetles. Both of these insects are still present and will be feeding directly on the pods. At least one report I have seen, contains stinkbug numbers much greater than the threshold and bean leaf beetle populations very near thresholds. Both of these insects bear close observation as beans progress to maturity.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Both of these contests are opereated through the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and funded by the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, the Kentucky Soybean Board and agricultural industry.
Rules and guidelines are very similar to the 2008 contest. For the 2009 contest, we are asking for soil series (Huntington, Crider, Pembroke, etc.).
The National Corn Growers Association also has the NCGA Corn Contest, which has state and national winners. The rules and regulations are more restrictive than the Kentucky Corn Yield Contest. A farmer may submit a copy of the NCGA entry form to the Kentucky Yield Contest.
For more information about these contests, please contact your extension agent.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I (Paul Vincelli) just returned from a trip inspecting corn diseases through western Kentucky as far west as the Mississippi River, and here is a quick summary and comments.
1. Southern rust is prevalent in Kentucky, having been found in Fayette County and every western Kentucky field inspected. See most recent article in Kentucky Pest News, http://www.uky.edu/Ag/kpn/kpn_09/pn_090818.html. This disease can progress very rapidly on corn, since almost all corn hybrids vary from moderately susceptible to highly susceptible. However, incidence and severity vary widely from field to field. In some fields, it is hard to find; in others, many plants show leaf reddening and desiccation in the lower canopy and the upper canopy has a few pustules. It is a little difficult to decide when to pull the trigger on spraying fungicide, if for no other reason than to protect stalk health. Most fields I inspected were at early dent, which in my opinion is too late to treat with fungicides. The very few fields I saw that were in early dough might be candidates for treatment, but only if rust was present, easy to find, and producing abundant reddish sporulation in at least some spots in the field. Cool weather expected over the next few days will slow it down, which is good news. I think the main thing is that growers should scout all fields for stalk health as they mature, and schedule early harvests on those fields with weak stalks. In at least some cases, spending money on propane for grain drying probably makes more sense than a fungicide application.
2. Northern leaf blight is widespread but generally occurring at levels that will not hurt yields. There is also another look-alike out there: Diplodia leaf streak. This disease has lesions that look somewhat like Northern leaf blight, but the edges of the lesions are wavy like Stewart’s wilt. Also, the lesions might follow the secondary views like Stewart’s wilt. Lab diagnosis is the way to confirm this disease. The fungus that causes Diplodia leaf streak (Diplodia macrospora) is distinct from the common one that causes Diplodia ear rot and stalk rot (Diplodia maydis), but Diplodia macrospora will also cause ear rot and stalk rot. Diplodia macrospora may be increasing in occurrence in Kentucky; seed companies will want to keep an eye on this.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The latest Wheat Science newsletter addresses some of the lessons about wheat and head scab in 2009. Options for seed wheat are also considered.
Monday, August 17, 2009
See Kentucky Pest News at: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/kpn/kpnhome.htm for more detail on late season soybean insect pests.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
According to the Crop Production report, corn yields are expected to average 159.5 bushels per acre, the second highest yield on record. The USDA also revised planted acreage in this report from the June report, in which they slightly decreased corn acreage by 100,000 acres from the June report. Producers are expected t o harvest 80.0 million acres, up 2 percent from last year. Coupling good yields with a small decrease in acreage corn production is expected to increase by 5 percent from last year to 12.8 billion bushels. This would mark the second largest corn crop on record.
The U.S. soybean crop is also looking good. According the Crop Production report, soybean yields are expected to average 41.7 bushels per acre, an increase of 2.1 bushels per acre over 2008 but .9 bushels lower than the July Crop Production report. Revised planted soybean acreage came in slightly higher than the June report. Producers are expected to harvest 76.8 million acres, up 3 percent from last year. Additional acres and good yield prospects pushes soybean production into a record tie with 2006 of 3.2 billion bushels, 8 percent more than last year.
Kentucky corn and soybean producers are also looking at good yields, while wheat yields were lower than expected. According to the USDA, expected corn yields are up 14 bushels per acre over last year to 150 bushels per acre. This would be the second highest corn yield in Kentucky. For soybeans, the USDA increased expected yields by 6 bushels per acre over last year to 40.0 bushels per acre. For wheat, the USDA decreased yields by 14 bushels per acre over last year to 57 bushels per acre.
Using Kentucky yields and the average World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) average farm price received (report is available at: http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/ ), we can determine which crop(s) have the highest probability of receiving an ACRE payment. This helps in identifying what farms to sign up based upon their planted crops. Using the University of Kentucky ACRE calculator, found at: http://www.ca.uky.edu/agecon/index.php?p=110, we can predict potential ACRE payments by crop. State yields (prices) used in the calculator are 150 ($3.5/bushel), 40 ($9.4/bushel)), and 57 ($5.2/bushel) for corn, soybeans, and wheat, respectively. This combination of state yields and national prices results in an ACRE payment at the state yield for only wheat. Moving corn and soybean price to the WASDE lower bound drops the national corn price to $3.1/bushel and national soybean price to $8.4/bushel. This combination of state yields and national prices results in an ACRE payment for both Corn and Soybeans. At this point in time it is possible for corn, soybean, and wheat to all receive ACRE payments. There is a higher probability of receiving a wheat payment than corn or beans. After wheat, corn looks to have the next highest probability of receiving an ACRE payment. Soybeans have the smallest probability of receiving an ACRE payment. This example assumes that the farm level trigger was met so the producer qualifies for the state ACRE payment. Keep in mind that if your proven farm level yields are significantly lower than the expected yield of the currently growing crop it becomes harder to trigger at the farm, even if an ACRE payment exists at the state level. Cory Walters can be reached at email@example.com
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
However, the report says that for corn, 20% is at dent compared with only 16% a year ago and 34% for the 5-year average. Corn in the milk and dough stages is behind the pace of 2008, however.
Soybean blooming is slightly ahead of 2008 and on pace with the 5-year average. About 48% of the soybean crop is in the pod stage compared to 39% for 2008 and 54% for the 5-year average.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Image 1: Yellow soybeans in this field are the result of sidewall compaction.
Image 2: Soybean roots restricted by sidewall compaction. Root growth is limited mostly to the furrow created during planting.
Image 3: Soybean roots restricted by compaction just beneath the soil surface. Root growth is bending to curve around the compaction. The overall root mass is reduced from the compaction.
Image 4: Soybean roots with little to no restriction. The whole plants are greener and larger. Root mass is greater and there are more nodules per plant.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
This is typical for SA in Kentucky. Experience has shown me that when soybean aphid populations are detected they will most likely be found in the counties between I-65 and I-75. Also, this area generally has larger populations than found in the western production area. In addition the only SA populations that have approached threshold levels have occurred in these counties. Nevertheless, we do know that this pest is active state wide so no one should dismiss it out of hand.
Our history with this insect tells us that we are unlikely to need a treatment but insects are very adaptive, and local populations can vary from the norm. Keep an eye on them!
See Kentucky Pest News at: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/kpn/kpnhome.htm for the complete story.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Small soybeans or late-planted soybeans that do not reach full canopy by flowering probably have lost some yield potential. Cooler temperatures also reduce the chances of soybeans reaching full canopy by flowering. In hindsight, the best management practice would have been to plant in 7.5-inch rows. The narrow rows would have improved the chances of getting complete canopy closure by flowering. Foliar fertilizers and fungicides will not make up the difference in temperatures, planting date or row spacing.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Printed copies of both publications should be available within several weeks. Both of these publications are linked to the Grain Crops Extension Website at: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/GrainCrops/
Friday, July 10, 2009
I had a question on how the ACRE program will calculate the average yield per planted acre for Kentucky. The ACRE program will use yields provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). However, the calculation for yield per planted acre used by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be a little different than how NASS defines yield per planted acre. The FSA defined yield per planted acre as harvested acres plus failed acres. Failed acres are intended for harvest but not harvested. To then calculate yield, divide the state’s production by the harvested acres plus failed acres. With few failed acres in Kentucky this approach will not make much of a difference but a difference may be seen in the FSA calculated yield per planted acre and the published NASS yield per planted acre. The FSA yield per planted data will use come from both published and unpublished NASS data. You can reach Cory Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The acreage report indicates planted corn acreage is up one percent from 2008 to an estimated 87 million acres. Besides 2007 this is the largest planted acreage since 1946. Traders were expected either for corn acreage to stay the same or decrease, therefore, we may see an initial decrease in corn price. For Kentucky, planted corn acreage is up 10,000 acres to 1.22 million acres from 2008. Corn stocks are estimated to be up 6 percent from last year to 4.27 billion bushels.
For soybeans, U.S. producers have planted an estimated 77.5 million acres – a record and up 2 percent from 2008. This amount of planted acreage is less than trader expectations, which may positively affect prices. For Kentucky, planted soybean acreage is up 60,000 acres to 1.45 million acres from 2008. Soybean stocks are estimated to be down 12 percent from last year t o 597 million bushels.
For winter wheat, NASS estimates planted acreage at 43.4 million acres, six percent lower than 2008. Of which 8.4 million acres are Soft Red Winter. For Kentucky, planted winter wheat acreage was down 50,000 acres to 530,000 acres from 2008. All wheat stocks are estimated to be up 118 percent from last year to 667 million bushels.
Even with this information, corn, soybean, and wheat prices can still be influenced by a number of factors, especially yields. There is still a lot of the growing season left to put downward pressure on yields. You can reach Cory Walters at email@example.com.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
As of this writing we have not found any soybean aphids in our sentinel plot system. The aphid suction traps in Lexington and Princeton have not caught any soybean aphids. Additionally, I have not received any reports from agents or consultants (who often find the first aphids).
So, at present wer are in good shape with reference to soybean aphid. I see no reason, except late plantings, to assume that anything other than the norm will occur this season. However, you should keep your eyes open! You are encouraged to report soybean aphid finds to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use your information to keep us all informed.
For more complete stories see Kentucky Pest news at: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/kpn/kpnhome.htm.
You may follow the natioinal soybean aphid activity through the SoybeanPIPE at:
Monday, June 22, 2009
200 lbs of N/acre applied preplant
Corn plants from four N rates (0, 67, 133 and 200 lbs/acre, respectively).
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The barley contest is new this year and is being administered by the University of Kentucky, but is fully sponsored through Osage BioEnergy, a company interested in turning barley into fuel ethanol.
The wheat yield contest is administered by the University of Kentucky and is sponsored by the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky Small Grain Growers and several agribusinesses.
While the entry forms are different, the rules are very similar for the two contests. Contact your county extension agent if you have questions/comments about either contest.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Normally, for full season soybeans, we suggest that a final stand of 100,000 plants per acre is sufficient for maximum yield. However, we are getting later into the season. For full season soybeans planted today or later, farmers may want to increase the goal of a final stand to 140,000 plants per acre. Double-crop soybeans (soybeans planted into wheat stubble) should attempt to get a final stand near 160,000 plants per acre. In addition, any soybeans being planted today or later should be in row widths of 15 inches or less.
The recommendation for the higher target population and narrow rows, is because a fundamental principle for higer yields is getting full canopy closure when the soybeans flower. These later planting dates require more soybean plants per acre and narrow rows to get to full canopy closure by the time the soybeans flower.
The newsletter is available as a pdf at: https://www.ca.uky.edu/ukrec/newsltrs/News09-FHB.pdf
A recent report from Dr. Clayton Hollier with Louisiana State University (LSU) documented the first find of soybean rust (SBR) on soybean in Louisiana and the U.S. for 2009. The find was in a soybean sentinel plot at the R4 (mid-pod) stage. That is a fairly early stage for a first find of SBR and it is cause for some concern (but NOT alarm). Usually, the first find of SBR in soybean for the year is made in beans that are at a later stage of development (late R5 or later).
According to a crop consultant I spoke with in southern Louisiana, this is the first time that SBR has been found in soybean BEFORE his growers had a chance to make fungicide applications. His point was not that they have “missed the boat”, but rather to indicate the earliness of this find relative to what they are used to seeing in southern Louisiana. To back up his statement, he told me about a rather large kudzu patch near an local apartment complex that LSU scientists regularly monitor, and that historically has developed massive SBR infections later in the summer. He said that patch is now heavily infected and is showing profuse sporulation. The weather conditions in much of Louisiana have been favorable for SBR for quite some time. So, this earlier than usual find does not come as a great surprise.
The US, from south to north, has a great many acres planted later than normal this year. This could increase the crop risk for SBR, but not necessarily so. We could have a late season dry period that shuts the disease down; or not. Time will tell, and I cannot rule anything in or out at this time. Thus, I encourage you to stay tapped into trusted sources of SBR information. As I learn more details, I will be certain to pass them along.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Prepare bins two weeks ahead of time.
Insure your bins are in good repair. Even small holes will allow insect entry. Be sure the roof does not leak!
Do not store with carryover grain.
Thoroughly clean all equipment from the combine to the bin to avoid seeding the newly harvested grain with insect pests.
Consider fumigation of areas below perforated floors and in aeration ducts. Get a professional fumigator to do this dangerous task, correctly. Save your life and money in that order.
Treat the insides and around the outsides of bins with an approved insecticide.
Bin dry wheat if possible at 12 to 12 ½ % moisture.
Move air through the grain to reduce temperature any time that is possible until the grain temperature is below 50 F. Consider installing automatic fan controllers.
If you use an insecticide applied to the grain, make sure it is labeled for that purpose. If you use a grain dryer do not apply insecticide before the grain moves through the dryer and until the grain has cooled after exiting the dryer.
Check your grain regularly. At a minimum look in the hatch and use your nose to perform a “sniff test” to detect out of condition grain. Insect traps can be a good indicator of problems if you will learn to use them. Do not wait until delivery time to look for insects. That is often too late for any remediation.
For the full story check Kentucky Pest News #1198 at:http://www.uky.edu/Ag/kpn/kpnhome.htm
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Stagonospora leaf and glume blotch are also getting quite severe in many fields and I am starting to see a lot of leaf rust, even in fields that were sprayed (fungicide protection is wearing off). In some cases, leaf and glume blotch are quite severe in treated fields. While modern fungicides do an excellent job in managing leaf and glume blotch, fungicide must be applied before infection occurs. In many fields, applications timed properly for FHB control (early flowering), were probably too late to achieve good leaf and glume blotch control. The fact is, the main infection period for both diseases can be the same, but many times is not. This year, fields treated while the heads were emerging seem to show the best control of leaf and glume blotch.
Many (most?) years it is hot and dry by the time we get to the end of May. Not this year. Our wheat crop is steadily declining and will probably continue to do so until harvest maturity is reached.
Friday, May 22, 2009
As for marketing new-crop soybeans producers should be selling in small increments into this price rally. However, the amount of grain prices should not exceed 30 to 40 percent of expected production. As of 5/22/09 November soybean futures are trading around $10.29 per bushel, a value that should exceed production costs. The carry between November and January is only 2 cents. This indicates to me that traders are expecting a small crop because they are not paying much to store. The carry between November and March is -6 cents. This negative carry indicates to me again that traders are expecting a small crop and want soybeans delivered in November. Food for thought; if traders are expecting a small crop and want soybeans delivered in November and they do not get all the want...then what do you think they will be willing to pay for soybeans in January or March? –probably a lot more. However, as we progress into the growing season and more information about the condition of the crop is revealed traders’ expectations can quickly change. If you have already sold up to 40 percent of your expected production I would hold tight on the other 60 percent. By Cory G. Walters, UK Ag Economist. email@example.com