Monday, January 30, 2017

Kernel Cleaning for Grain Premiums

Growers are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Identity preserving grain is an excellent way to increase premiums. Hard endosperm, high extractable starch, conventional corn and High Oil corn offer the possibility for additional premiums. 

Specific management techniques such as kernel cleaning your planter, flushing harvest equipment and identity preserving the grain are crucial to your success. Kernel cleaning your planter is a vital step to ensure hybrid purity. The only way to accomplish this is to carefully kernel clean each box. Kernel clean means dumping, shaking and twisting the metering device until every kernel is removed from the planter box. What happens if you choose the quicker way of planting down the seed and just dumping the new hybrid on top? A research study performed by Burrus showed nearly 2% of the seed was still being planted with the initial hybrid up to an hour into continuous planting.

The experiment was performed using a John Deere Finger Pickup unit on a check stand. Untreated yellow seed was placed in the bottom of the planter box. We used 8,000 kernels, 4.5 lbs. of an 80,000 kernel unit weighing 45 lbs. That quantity of seed would not plant a round of half mile rows. An addition of 80,000 kernels of treated seed was dumped on top of the yellow seed. Every five minutes a sample was taken to analyze the percent of yellow and treated seed. The first treated seed was observed in less than one minute. After 80,000 kernels had gone through the check stand, the last 4.5 lbs. of seed was analyzed. 24% of the seed left in the bottom of the planter was the first yellow seed that started in the box.

There are other ways to help minimize instances of contamination. Select a field or fields that minimize contamination from cross pollination from neighboring fields with potential GMO pollen. Another way to reduce possible contamination is to harvest buffer zones or field frames of 24 rows and deliver it to the elevator as regular #2 corn. These practices should help improve your odds of identity preserving your grain and earning the premiums you are after.

Written by: Tim Greene

Monday, January 23, 2017

Is it seed treatment or PowerShield®? Seed treatment is no longer just "pink stuff."

In December, we attended the annual ASTA (American Seed Trade Association) conference.  As usual, we were present for the normal genetics meetings, but also meetings focused on currently available or future seed treatments from various companies such as DuPont, Bayer CropScience, Valent, and Syngenta.  This comes as no surprise, as billions of research dollars are not only being spent on the research and development of new seed treatment components, but also for seed treatment facilities, proper seed treating techniques, and training.  Seed treatment components are becoming just as important as seed genetics.

It was brought up at one of the meetings by a company representative that growers just think of seed treatment as "pink stuff."  This may be true, but I think the tide is turning based on questions that I have received. The tricky part is knowing and understanding what is in the "pink stuff" that surrounds the seed.

One of my recent emails read, "Can you explain your PowerShield® seed treatment, so that the common man can understand?"  The question made me smile because understanding base seed treatments, "add-ons", and rates can be confusing.  Our PowerShield® treatment on corn and soybeans consists of an insecticide, fungicides, nematicide and a biological. To find out more, we have tried to create a fungicide guide to help you understand each component of PowerShield seed treatment on corn and soybeans.  Soon, this document will be simplified and show that we will be adding ethaboxam to our corn seed treatment!  

What is the take home message? That "pink stuff" on your seed does not guarantee protection against all pests, diseases and nematodes.  Make sure you ask all the right questions to ensure that you are getting a return on your seed treatment investment!  

  • What is the rate of the insecticide?
  • Do you have nematode protection?
  • Do you have SDS protection? We have PS SDS (ILeVO).
  • How many fungicides are in the seed treatment?
  • Do you have a fungicide that protects against pythium or phytophthora (oomycetes)?
  • What are the fungicide rates?
  • Do you have a biological?

Not all seed treatments are the same!  Burrus will extensively test more seed treatment components in 2017 in order to continue the success of our PowerShield® seed treatment in the future.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Top Agronomic Blogs of 2016

2016 has been quite the year!  Mother Nature was not kind and some in Southern Illinois were not able to plant until very, late in the season. Temperatures dropped and rains came again after many had planted during Mother's Day weekend causing stand concerns in corn and soybeans. 

Some areas experienced extreme wind events with hail, while the western and central part of the state remained very, dry right up until corn pollination.  There were times when night time temperatures were very, high, which caused corn to be further stressed during the critical pollination period. 
But, then the rains came. There were record breaking amounts of precipitation. This caused gray leaf spot to show up during corn grainfill and stalk or ear rots flourished. Despite moisture and wind stress, corn hybrids remained resilient. 

Soybeans were taller than ever this year and some areas experienced heavy sudden death syndrome pressure.  This was the year that many realized that weeds were out of control in their soybeans and many turned their attention to new soybean herbicide technologies. Despite the setbacks from Mother Nature, weeds, and diseases, many reported the highest soybean yields that they have ever had on their farm.

For this agronomist, there was never a dull moment, and I was able to learn more than ever about our products when weeds, insects, and diseases made their debut along with the "roller coaster" weather during the 2016 growing season.  The most read agronomic blogs or "hot topics" of 2016 are as follows:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ethaboxam added to Current Corn PowerShield® seed treatment

When I starting working at Burrus, just about three years ago, one agronomic concern to corn that had just began to surface was pythium root rot, but only in specific areas of southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri if environmental conditions were conducive. To learn more about pythium, you can visit Smells like Pythium root rot.  

Patches of stunted corn with rotted roots had to be replanted in 2015.
Dark root rot on the root mesocotyl was diagnosed as pythium.
Pythium is an oomycete or fungal-like organism. All oomycetes need water for infection to occur.  Previously, it was thought that pythium infections only occurred in cool conditions, but now we know that pythium can favor both cool and warm conditions, depending on the species.  Pythium is also more often found in soils with compaction, poor drainage, heavy soil types, or fields without tile.

Since the 1970's, the seed industry has relied upon the fungicide metalaxyl within their seed treatment mixtures to combat oomycetes such as pythium.  In 1996, Mefenoxam, another form of metalaxyl, was used. The problem was that since the 1970's the same chemistry was being used year after year within corn, soybean, wheat, and other seed treatments. Thanks to the latest in ag technology, new pythium species are being discovered at a rapid pace.  

Unfortunately, some of these new species appear to be "insensitive" or tolerant to metalaxyl or mefenoxam.

Burrus is excited to announce that we will be one of the first seed companies to add ethaboxam to our current PowerShield® corn seed treatment at no extra cost. Ethaboxam has the active ingredient, Thiazole carboximide, and was approved in the US and Canada in 2015.  It is a unique mode of action that is active only against oomycetes.  

By adding ethaboxam, in combination with metalaxyl or mefenoxam, we not only are adding a new active ingredient with a different mode of action, but we are providing a more consistent protection of corn seedling against a broad spectrum of pythium species. Ethaboxam stays in the seed zone; whereas metalaxyl/mefenoxam moves to the upper part of the plant.

In the past three years, when 49 replicated research locations were analyzed, it was found that on average, by adding ethaboxam, plant stands were increased by 174 plants per acre as well as an additional 2.9 bu/a. (65% wins) over the current PowerShield.  That additional 2.9 bu/a. equates to a 5:1 return on a $5 investment, at no additional cost to our customer.  This is why the Burrus standard is another’s extra mile!

Herbicide System Comparison: Liberty® and XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip™ Technology

Burrus has a history of providing high yielding Hoblit and Hughes Brand LibertyLink® soybeans within our lineup, and now we are offering a Power Plus® Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybean variety as well.  We know the genetics that we have chosen are competitive, but how do the herbicide systems compare for these two very different trait technologies?

1.  XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip™ Technology was the first "over the top" dicamba herbicide approved for use with Xtend™ soybeans, but only for two years.  DuPont’s FeXapan™ herbicide has also just granted a supplimental label.  It is similar to XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology.  Both contain a DGA salt to reduce volatility.  BASF’s Engenia™ is also approved and their BAPMA salts may further reduce volatility risk. 

2.  These dicamba based herbicides are considered to be more volatile when compared to glufosinate (Liberty®). While the DGA and BAPMA salts reduces volatility, it is not less likely to drift. The reduction of drift will be dependent upon the spray operator following the herbicide label, which is the state/federal law.

3.  Glufosinate is a nonselective, contact herbicide, which means coverage of weeds is key.  Dicamba is a broadleaf, no grass control, systemic herbicide, with off target movement as a concern.  The weed spectrum controlled can vary between these two very different herbicide systems.  See the table below:

4. Stewardship is important for both herbicide systems. Diversified weed control strategies should be implemented within the same growing season to help deter the selection for weed resistance.  Multiple herbicides with different sites of action and overlapping weed spectrums should be used.  The use of a pre-residual herbicide product is recommended for both herbicide systems.  Dicamba may offer more residual properties when compared to glufosinate, but is very water soluble.  Rain can eliminate dicamba's presence in the soil. 

5. Both of these herbicide systems should be applied before soybeans bloom, although the XtendiMax label restrictions will likely result in fewer days favorable for application when compared to the glufosinate herbicide system.

6. Both herbicide systems should be applied when weeds are small (below 3 to 4 inches; see each herbicide label for details).  While the Liberty label consists of approved herbicide tank mixes, we anxiously watch each of the websites to for approved tank mixes for the dicamba based herbicide systems.

This raises concerns about grass control with the dicamba based products and if needed, will need to be made in a seperate herbicide application until approval is given.

8. No products with ammonium salts, such as AMS, can be applied with the dicamba based herbicides because it could cause negative affects and increase drift potential.  Adjuvants such as AMS are required with Liberty to aid with coverage.

9. The biggest difference between these two herbicide systems is that XtendiMax will require a downwind buffer, 110 or 220 feet depending on the rate of application.  Engenia will require a 110 foot downwind buffer.  So, a buffer consisting of roads, corn, dicamba-resistant crop, prep fields, or man-made structures will need to be used if wind is blowing towards soybeans without dicamba trait.  No application of XtendiMax or Engenia can take place if winds are blowing towards a sensitive crop such as grapes, tomatoes, or fruiting trees. 

10. Overall, with both herbicide systems, spray timing will be important, and there will be tank clean out concerns and water needs.  However, with the XtendiMax and Engenia herbicide system, there will be more risk, importance of wind speed and direction, and need for buffers.  Ultimately, the applicator is responsible for drift.

Some additional considerations will be seed genetics, seed cost, retailer availability of herbicide product, as well as application, generic herbicide availability, herbicide guarantee and rebates offered by chemical companies. 

Stay tuned for more information DuPont's FeXapan .

Monday, November 14, 2016

Needing to be Advised on Soybeans? Check out

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 45,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts.  The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education.  Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C.  ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace.  For more information, visit the website

In 2015, to improve Illinois soybean production and profitability, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) partnered with the Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Program to launch the Soy CCA Envoys.  The Soy CCA Envoys are a network of Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) in Illinois who will share management information and recommendations on  These CCAs work directly with producers and, through partnering with ISA, will share high-yield management strategies and technologies to help growers discover the true profit potential of soybeans.

The Soy CCA Envoys program is funded in part by the Illinois soybean checkoff and is included in ISA's efforts with CCAs to continually improve soybean production in Illinois.  For more information on the Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Program, visit

In 2016, Stephanie Porter, Burrus Seed Sales Agronomist was asked to be an ILSoy CCA Envoy, along with 5 others across Illinois.  To date, Stephanie has written 22 blogs on website as well as a soybean disease webinar and podcast. To access this information, you can click here or below: 

Managing Japanese Beetles

By Dan Davidson8/4/2016Will a Japanese beetle breakout this year force growers to spray?  Our advice – scout your fields to see if beetles are a threat and if treatment is warranted. Photo...

Meet Your Soy CCA Envoys

By ISA6/14/2016There are six soybean experts who are part of the Soy CCA Envoy program, each specializing in a different area of soybean management. Read their bios below. Lance...
(The above links can be found at

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Foliar fungicide on corn in 2016: why, when, and did it pay?

After pollination, the corn yield potential is set.  We can't add to the corn yield potential, but we can try to preserve it!  Think of the corn leaves (especially the top leaves) as factories for photosynthesis and their job is to make sugars for plant growth, development and grain yield.  If there is leaf loss or stress at tassel or during grain fill, the corn plant may have a reduction in yield potential.

In 2016, when we scouted at tassel, disease did not appear critical, especially in areas where it had been dry in June.  But later during grain fill, after massive amounts of rain, diseases such as gray leaf spot and southern rust (in the south) came in full force, especially if susceptible hybrids were planted within heavy residue. 

A fungicide application may have been warranted on susceptible hybrids between the corn growth stages of tassel and brown silk.  In some cases, fungicide could have been applied before dent if warranted, to try to preserve corn yield, but in these tight economic times, this was risky.  It has been well documented that the higher percentage disease on the plant, the greater the yield loss.  Leaf disease can also be indirectly correlated to the development of stalk rot. Research has also shown that if there is high disease pressure present and fungicides are applied at the right time, there is a greater potential for a yield response from a fungicide, which can increase your return on investment.

(Western Illinois)
On April 8 and 23, 2016, fungicide trials labeled as dryland and irrigated were planted into fields that had been corn planted after corn near Arenzville, IL by the Burrus research team.  The dryland study consisted of four replications and the irrigated study consisted of three replications of 14 hybrids, which were either treated or a control.  On June 30, 2016, a 14 oz. rate of Headline AMP® fungicide was applied to treated hybrids and no fungicide was applied to the control hybrids.  Even though it was dry in June, before pollination, the dryland study appeared to have very good disease pressure later in the season, due to rain and river bottom environment. There was also a distinct visual difference between the treated and control hybrids.  Hybrids that received a fungicide application appeared to stay green and have overall better health. On average, this fungicide application added a 5 to 9 bu/a increase depending on hybrid and location. 

(Eastern Illinois)
On the other side of the state, The BASF Midwest Research Farm (Seymour, IL) conducted a hybrid x fungicide trial in 2016 that included 53 hybrids from 8 different seed companies in a field that was third year corn.  Similar trials were conducted in 2014 and 2015.  The trial was planted April 18th and received adequate rainfall throughout the growing season. Foliar disease pressure was relatively low, but the application of Headline AMP (10 fl oz/A) fungicide at (VT/R1) resulted in improved growth efficiency and stress tolerance (ie., late season stalk integrity, stay green, and extended grainfill).  The average Headline AMP® fungicide yield advantage of the Burrus hybrids was 10 bu/A and the average yield response of all hybrids was 10.7 bu/A. 

Fungicides can range in price from $16 to $31 per acre which includes fungicide, airplane application, and adjuvants. So, 2016 was a year when a fungicide application could have given a return on investment as well as improve overall plant health and standability.  Remember in some situations, you may want to factor in the cost of increased moisture.