Monday, August 21, 2017

Stinkbug Mania

The stinkbug is not usually a pest we think about, but be on the lookout for these pests because by the time you see their injury, it could be too late.  Why?  We want to protect our seeds!

This pest is relatively new to the U.S. and is mainly an issue in the South and Eastern cornbelt;  however, they could be a concern in the Midwest.  A warm winter does not necessarily predict the invasion of the pest, but it can put fields at higher risk.  Fields that are late planted, have cool weather that delay maturity, or vulnerable to pests could also be at risk.  Heavy populations are possible and they are great hitchhikers.

There are many different kinds of stinkbugs and they can be pests of many different crops as well as fruits and vegetables.  They have round, oval bodies with a shield shaped triangle on their backs with 5 segmented antennae.  One stinkbug that we are especially worried about is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which has white bands on it's antennae as well as other distinguishing characteristics. This pest arrived in the U.S. in 1998 and its populations are building.   As they get hungry, we fear they will move from orchards to corn and soybeans.

Green stinkbug feeding in soybeans

Stinkbugs have piercing and sucking mouth parts that can poke through husks or pods.  This causes seeds to be shriveled, blasted, or flat.  We especially worry about injury on soybeans.  Most insecticides are labeled for stinkbug control.  Adult stinkbugs can tolerate more insecticide, but younger stinkbugs, such as nymphs, are easier to kill.

Stink bug nymph:  photo courtesy of University of Illinois, Kelly Estes Bulletin Article

Stinkbug injury in corn

Scout several areas (10) throughout the soybean field with a sweep net or visually, then average the number of stinkbugs that you find.  Populations will be higher at dusk or dawn.  If you see an average of 4 or more adults/nymphs after R2 growth stages or mid August, you may consider an insecticide treatment.  The threshold is lower for seed fields.

To find out more information, you can listen to Stephanie Porter's at Podcast, Stinkbugs: The Pest To Watch Out for This Year.

For more information, contact Kelly Estes, University of Illinois Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What the Heck is that Corn Disease?

Several weeks ago, Bryce Sandahl, our Account Manager near the Rockford, Illinois texted me a picture of a disease showing up on corn.  He thought it looked like gray leaf spot, but was not sure because we really had not had the right conditions for disease development.

When I looked at the lesion, it looked shiny, so I immediately thought bacteria.  We looked under the microscope and found bacterial oozing coming from the leaf tissue.  We did an ELISA quickstrip test to test for Goss's wilt (another common bacterial disease in corn) and it tested negative.

Back, in the old days, when I was at the U of I Plant Clinic, we would have assumed it was most likely Stewart's wilt by process of elimination.  But, with new diseases constantly emerging, such as Bacterial leaf streak, we need to be careful!  So, I sent a sample to the U of I Plant Clinic and they confirmed that it was Stewart's wilt by use of primers and sequencing!

Stewart's wilt was also a major threat to sweet corn!  It is vectored and spread by the corn flea beetle. After the recent mild winter, it is possible that  the corn flea beetle populations could be heavier this year.

There can be two stages of this disease:  seedling wilt phase, which affects susceptible young plants and the leaf blight phase, when infection takes place after tassel.  Remember that insecticides in seed treatments like PowerShield® help to control the corn flea beetle in young plants, so this helps to combat the seedling wilt phase of Stewart's wilt.

The main way to control this disease is resistance and if it is found today, the lesions will be small, watersoaked, following veins, with wavy margins (like the picture) and not extend much further than 2 to 3 cm from where the corn flea beetle fed. Before resistance in hybrid corn, the symptoms from Stewart's wilt were much more serious.

Fun Facts:  This disease was thought to be first described in the 1880's by the entomologist, T.J Burrill, who is famous for his work on Fireblight and helping to prove that plant diseases could be caused by bacteria.

Stewart's wilt held much economic importance throughout history because of quarantine restrictions, costs associated with breeding for resistance, and phytosanitary regulations within seed trade.

Lastly, this disease brought back many memories from my U of I college years when working as an undergraduate with Dr. White's corn plant pathology breeding crew.  If you were a short student worker, like me, you got the job of "clapping" the corn, during the seedling stage, with Stewart's wilt inoculum.   Later, these various corn lines were evaluated and rated after disease development.  If you were good, like me, you got to hold the clipboard for the grad student and take notes for them!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

2017 Burrus Seed Summer Interns

Each summer, Burrus Seed hires a group of interns to assist our production, sales, and agronomy teams. We would like to recognize our outstanding 2017 interns for their help and dedication to the Burrus Seed team. This year's interns logged a lot of miles and hours helping our growers with all their seed needs.

While our goal is to expose our interns to all sides of the seed business, we do offer internship opportunities in three different areas of focus: Sales, Production, and Agronomy.

We are now accepting resumes for our 2018 summer internships, and will be attending several college career fairs across our footprint this fall. If you are interested in an internship with Burrus Seed, visit our website or email us at

Sales Internships
Our sales interns work directly with our Account Managers, making sales calls and interacting with both customers and prospects. Our four sales interns collectively made over 380 calls to growers this summer.

Kevin Freel
Kevin is 21 years old from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He will be a senior this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Kevin is maintaining a 3.0 GPA, studying Agriculture Business with an emphasis in Commodity and Price Analysis. Kevin played 2 years for the Platteville Pioneer football team. This was Kevin's second summer interning with Burrus Seed in our Hughes territory, and he was excited to be back. 
Miles driven: 5,500

Carson Isley
Carson is from Rushville, Illinois, and will be a senior this coming fall at Western Illinois University. He is majoring in Agricultural Business with a minor in Agronomy. I have worked for on a farm now for about five years now who live just down the road from me. "I have always been involved in the production side of agriculture, so for me to be able to experience the sales side of agriculture is a great opportunity. I am not quite for sure what my dream job is, but this internship will help me get one step closer to where I would like for my career to go.
Miles driven: 9,000

Morgan McCormick
Originally from Sumner, Missouri, Morgan will be a senior this fall at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. She is majoring in Agriculture Business and is a hurdler on the track and field team. This was Morgan's second summer with Burrus, having worked as a production intern last year. Both years she has worked directly with Account Manager, Donny Marnin. "I was beyond excited to come back and be a part of this company! Donny inspired me to go into the sales side of this business and I am luck to be working under him for a second year."
Miles driven: 4,300
Katelyn Muhlenberg
Katelyn is from Aledo, Illinois and will begin her senior year at Western Illinois University this fall. She is pursuing a major in Agriculture Business because of her love for agriculture developed while growing up on her family's farm. "I heard about Burrus through past interns, and did my research before I attended WIU's agriculture career fair. Burrus stands out because the family communicates with you personally and isn't strictly business. They want to know about your personal life and do anything to help you have a better experience with the company." 
Miles driven: 5,000

Production Internships
Our second group of interns assist with the production side of our business. They serve as the face of Burrus Seed to our customers while delivering and picking up seed, installing field signs, and returning boxes and pallets. In addition, they work directly with both our sales and agronomy teams. 

Carson Bloomberg
Carson is from Orion, Illinois and attends Western Illinois University. This fall, he will begin his junior year, studying Ag Science with an emphasis in Animal Science. At WIU, Carson is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and the Hoof n’ Horn Club. "While growing up in a small town I have always been around agriculture and have loved every minute of it. I grew up showing cattle and pigs when I was younger, and have always worked for local farmers and cattle ranchers."

Mikayla Engeman
Mikayla is from Montrose, Missouri, and will be a senior at Northwest Missouri State University this fall. She is pursuing a double major in Ag Business and Communications. She is also a Northwest Missouri State cross country and track athlete. "When I’m not out running or working for Burrus, I enjoy working in the campus greenhouse or spending time outside. After college, I want to continue advocating for agriculture in a communications position at an agriculture business."
Miles driven: 11,600 Boxes/pallets returned: 171 Seed delivered: 477 Field signs installed: 113

Jacob Janssen
Jacob is from Beardstown, Illinois. He will be a senior at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale this fall. Jacob is studying Agriculture Business Economics.
Miles driven: 7,500 Boxes/pallets returned: 310 Seed delivered: 525 Field signs installed: 100

Sarah Kilver
Sarah is from Winchester, Illinois, and has previous Burrus experience working with our detasselling team! This coming fall, Sarah will be a junior at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, studying Agronomy Management with a Political Science minor. "I have loved getting the opportunity to work with Burrus this summer, and cannot wait to take the skills I have learned back to school with me."
Miles driven: 10,000 Boxes/pallets returned: 50 Seed delivered: 1,300 Field signs installed: 125

Peyton McClure 
Peyton is from Paxton, Illinois and is preparing to begin his sophomore year at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. He is studying Agribusiness, Markets, and Management with plans to pursue a career in seed sales, merchandising, or purchasing.
Miles driven: 11,600 Boxes/pallets returned: 171 Seed delivered: 477 Field signs installed: 113

Andy VanLanduyt

Andy is from Hinckley, Illinois, and will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the fall where he is studying Agribusiness. "Getting to know customers has been a great learning opportunity and has allowed me to learn from growers. Because the seed industry is such a competitive market, it has been fascinating to see what goes into the relationships that account managers have with their customers."
Miles driven: 7,287 Boxes/pallets returned: 30 Field signs installed: 532

Agronomy Internships
Our agronomy interns work directly with our team of agronomic experts, gaining behind the scenes experience with the planning and planting of research plots. In addition, they gain hands-on training walking farms to identify weed and pest issues, and discover solutions with our sales agronomists.

Griffin Greene
Griffin is from Concord, Illinois and attends the University of Illinois. He studies Agriculture Leadership Education with a goal to one day go into Ag sales, and will be a junior this fall. Griffin is the Vice President and Recruitment chair for the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. This marked Griffin's 8th summer working at Burrus. "I have worked in the seed fields until this summer where I have been working in the research department.  I have really enjoyed my new role this summer and have gained a vast amount of new knowledge I plan to use in the future." 
Miles driven: 9,000

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Could Two-spotted Spider Mites be Lurking in your Soybean Field?

Spiders. These creepy crawlers makes a lot of peoples skin crawl with discomfort, but how would you feel if you had to deal with spider mites? Occasionally, we can have a problem of two-spotted spider mites.  They are very, tiny greenish-yellow arachnids, overwinter as adults, and then lay eggs in the spring. The hatching mites establish colonies on the undersides of leaves and produce webbing over the leaf surface, prompting the name “spider” mites. 

Spider mites occur during periods of hot weather and drought, when there is low humidity.  Their symptoms can range from silvering, yellowing, browning, lower leaf loss and death, or could possibly be mistaken for drought symptoms.

Drought is a big contender in outbreaks of mites, along with natural enemies, weather, and host quality. This is because drought will enhance the spider mites acceleration of reproduction as well as  movement to a crop from surrounding vegetation as it improves food quality for mites.  Since fungal diseases flourish in wet, cool conditions, drought diminishes the diseases that normally attack spider mites. 

Now let’s get to the important stuff, scouting! The best time to scout for spider mites is during times of hot and dry weather.  The first place you should look for mites are in areas where soybeans are stressed.  If you are in an area where the leaves looked sandblasted, take a clipboard with a white piece of paper and tap the leaves on it. After you tap the leaves and there appears to be yellow, brown, or black speckles on the white paper, you probably have found some mites! Crush the speckles on the paper and if they appear to be a reddish-brown spots, then you have spider mites. 

There have not been thresholds established for two spotted spidermites in soybean as of yet, but we do know that we need to protect the canopy during the most critical growth stages during pod and seed development.  Since these pests are "mites", not all insecticides will kill them, so be sure to apply a miticide only in severe infestations. 

(Maggie Prather, Burrus Agronomy Intern and Stephanie Porter, Burrus Sales Agronomist)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Later Planted Early Hybrids - Can they Perform?

When recently stumbling across a year-old email from Jim Hughes, I found information worth sharing with our growers. Knowing your genetics is key; for example, early hybrids could work well for a late planting in terms of not only yield, but ability to finish. Power Plus® 2F91™* is a recommended early hybrid example from our line-up.

Attributes observed in hybrids to help later planted performance in Woodstock, IL:

  • Strong northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) tolerance. As you push grain fill later in the season, conditions for NCLB become more favorable.
  • Strong late season stalk health or staygreen. Hybrids that tend to "die and dry", seem more prone to premature death when planted late.
  • The 105 day (mid-season at Woodstock) has delivered the highest yield across years on average.

Both ears shown below are Power Plus® 2F91™*, but were planted at different dates (May 6 and June 2) in the Woodstock, IL plot in 2016.  

Top ear: June 2, 2016 planting date. Bottom ear: May 6, 2016 planting date. 

Top ear: June 2, 2016 planting date. Bottom ear: May 6, 2016 planting date.
Notice the overall ear size is pretty close, with no tip-back. The kernel depth of June 2 is pretty close to May 6 as well. 

Top kernels: June 2, 2016 planting date. Bottom kernels: May 6, 2016 planting date.
The main difference is that the corn planted on May 6 had just black layered in this picture, while the corn planted June 2 had one or two weeks until maturity.  

Below are the whole-trial yield and moisture difference between normal and late-plant at Woodstock during 2014, 2015, and 2016. As you can see, there is still a lot of yield potential with a June 1 planting date. The big differences occur during critical growth stages, such as pollination. For example: in 2012, the late planted corn was much better, because it flowered after the brunt of the heat and drought broke, thus it had a much better seed set and grain-fill opportunity. 

Later planted corn was significantly worse due to lack of moisture late, combined with crushing late disease pressure. This is when fungicide can be very important for later planting corn, but the further reduction in dry down does need to be taken into consideration.  In 2014 and 2016, without a strong bias to early or late, there was only about a 5-10% yield penalty for the later planted. 

One huge asterisk here: these late plant trials were intended to be planted late, and went into ideal conditions. Corn mudded in on June 1 is still corn mudded in. We know the penalty from improper seed bed conditions can be severe, regardless of planting date.

Track Insect Pressure with the Z-Trap System

Having issues with corn earworm, western bean cutworm or European corn borer on your farm?  This becomes especially important if you have hybrids with no Bt traits or food grade corn.  Depending on your location in the state, the western bean cutworm and corn earworm can attack between July through harvest.   The 1st generation of corn borer can attack from June until mid-July and can be worse on early planted corn. The 2nd generation of corn borer can be worse on later planted corn and can attack from mid-July until harvest.

There is a new way to track insect pressure on your farm, that we are experimenting with at Burrus Seed, called the Z-Trap system. The Z-Trap is a new product produced by Spensa, an agricultural company that develops software to help growers be more aware of what is happening in their fields. The Z-Trap measure insect activity in your area, then deliver pest population data in near-real time. 

Z-Traps produced by Spensa

The Z-Trap is easy to set-up, requiring only a stake to hang the trap and a cellular signal.  In the Z-Trap, you insert a pheromone attraction piece to attract the desired insect.  There are bioimpedance sensors to shock the insect, which then allows it to fall into the holding tank.  The trap measures the electrical impedance of the insect.  Then, the computer built into the onboard controller, processes the signal and validates the target insect. 

After an insect is trapped in the Z-trap, it sends the results of what it has just trapped to you via email, web or app.  You can then trace insect pressure by graphs and charts that are produced through Spensa, with data sent directly from your field. 
“The Z-Trap system is a way for farmers to use smart insect traps to analyze and predict insect populations in their fields,” says Spensa.   The goal of the Z-Trap is to catch problems early and use pesticides with more precision for increased yields.  Spensa says there is “no substitute for boots in the field.”  But with the Z-Trap, it can give you in-field human judgment for spotting and documenting insect problems.
Johnny Park, President and CEO of Spensa Technologies, which is headquartered at Purdue University, says knowing when to timely apply pesticide is crucial for any crop being grown.  “, is a software that presents the data to growers and consultants so they can make an informed decision on what to use.”  Park adds that having the information sent straight from to your phone or computer is a new step in production agriculture.

2017 Burrus Agronomy Intern, Griffin Greene installing new Z-Trap

Burrus Seed has implemented one of these Z-Traps on a test plot in Arenzville.  We look forward to seeing the corn borer pressure that we catch this summer near our conventional corn plot.  

Written by Burrus Agronomy Intern, Griffin Greene