Showing posts from October, 2023

Corn Vomitoxin

  In between rains, farmers are harvesting corn. Due to cooler temperatures, Canada smoke, and fewer growing degree days; moisture levels in corn are wetter than normal. August rains also promoted Gibberella (GIB) ear rot or vomitoxin. Vomitoxin levels above 5 PPM can not be fed to hogs and some elevators are reporting 6-10 ppm or higher. Farmers are getting charged discounts for both vomitoxin and high moisture which lowers the price. Farmers also cannot deliver high vomitoxin corn for ethanol because it concentrates vomitoxin levels in the distilled grains (DDGs) which are fed to livestock. Elevators often mix good grain with poor grain to dilute the vomitoxin levels to an acceptable level. Michigan seems to have more vomitoxin issues than Ohio. GIB is caused by Fusarium graminearum, a fungus that is also called Gibberella zeae. This pathogen infects corn and wheat causing ear rot, stalk rot, and head scab. Corn symptoms include a reddish or pinkish-white mold on the ear tips which i

Breaking Down Corn Stalks

  A common farm problem is how to get corn stalks to break down. Many environmental and soil conditions affect residue breakdown including air and soil temperature, moisture, oxygen, biological activity (microbes and arthropods (shredders)), and different farming practices. Tillage and the addition of fall nitrogen after harvest are common practices that farmers use to speed up residue breakdown. Some farmers feel that the GMO (genetically modified) corn residue is also much slower to break down. Iowa State University (Dr. Madhi Al-Kaisi) conducted a 3-year trial to test how corn stalks break down. ideas. Researchers used both Bt (Bacteria Thuringiensis) and Non Bt or Non-GMO corn varieties and evaluated three tillage systems: deep tillage, strip till, and no-till systems for three years, in the field and under controlled laboratory conditions. After 12 months in the field, they found no significant differences between Bt and non Bt corn and no differences between tillage system in cor

Updated Manure Value

  Manure is a valuable commodity to farmers for its fertilizer value and it beneficial role in feeding soil microbes and plants. As fertilizer prices have moderated, the value of manure has declined\ slightly, but its still a good product for the soil if put on thin with live plants (cover crops) to recycle it quickly. Manured fields on average have a yield increase of 4.4%. That adds value to any farm. To get the best results from manure applications, follow these recommendations Manure should always be tested because nutrients values vary. Take a manure sample close to the date of application to get accurate results. Soil testing is also recommended to avoid over application. Pre-side dress nitrogen tests (PSNT) are commonly taken in the spring or early summer but take these tests close to manure application date. Weather, moisture, soil temperature, and overall soil microbial activity changes PSNT values tremendously. To protect water quality, apply manure based on the phosphorus (P

Declining Fertilizer Prices

  Fertilizer prices this fall have started to decline since this time last year. Overall, fertilizer prices have dropped almost 66% since their all time highs but are still about 20% higher than pre- COVID levels in 2019. For farmers this is good news because fertilizer is a major cost. However, grain prices and fertilizer prices tend to correlate which means they travel in the same direction. Grain prices are declining also. Generally, fertilizer prices follow the grain price, so it is not all good news. Why are fertilizer prices falling? Fertilizer production is a global industry. Russia is a major exporter of fertilizer, and the Ukraine-Russia war caused fertilizer prices to soar. For the United States, we had to find new supplies and new input sources. Canada stepped in and started producing more fertilizer, especially potash or potassium fertilizer, so prices have declined. Russia and Belarus are major exporters of fertilizer. Although government sanctions were imposed on their ex

Planting into Dry Soil

  Grain harvest has started but many areas have low soil moisture. Planting grains or a cover crops into dry soil can be difficult. The crop may germinate but may not grow or survive if adequate moisture is hard to obtain. Here are some planting considerations if your soil is dry and you are trying to plant another crop. First, the goal is to conserve moisture. No-till grains like wheat or rye or even other cover crops will help conserve moisture. Tilled soils lose about .5-1.0 inch of soil water. Most wheat and cover crops need at least 35%-45% soil moisture to germinate. A worst-case scenario is if just enough moisture causes seed to germinate, but then not enough to keep it alive. If your soil is really dry, either plant before a good rain or right after one. If planting deep, a hard rain may cause the soil to crust. This would be less of an issue in no-till fields than fields that are excessively worked, where the soil is fine, which tends to crust more. Second, for wheat, plant a