Monday, January 22, 2018

Flag Your LibertyLink® Fields

New soybean technologies have helped control herbicide-resistant weeds and allow growers to select the technology that will work best on their farm.  The freedom to use multiple technologies is great for soybean growers, but it can cause some headaches when there is no way of telling which technology is planted where.  Furthermore, application restrictions associated with the geographic relationship of dicamba tolerant soybeans to non-dicamba tolerant soybeans makes it even more important to know what is planted throughout the countryside.  At Burrus, we have encouraged growers to use the Flag the Technology system, created by the University of Arkansas, to not only let you know what technology is planted, but also let your neighbors know. 

We are excited to announce a new joint effort with Bayer CropScience for the 2018 growing season. We will provide one LibertyLink® flag per box or pallet of LibertyLink seed purchased (partial pallets not included).  This amount of seed covers approximately 60 acres which represents the average field size throughout our Burrus footprint. Flags are also available for purchase if you have smaller field sizes, are planting a different technology, or if you did not purchase the qualifying amount – ask your Account Manager for specific details. 

We advise placing the flag near the field entrance immediately following planting the soybean field.  This will help growers keep track during busy times of the season and will also let neighbors know what technology you have planted when they/their applicator makes a herbicide application.

We believe this program will help reduce confusion throughout the growing season for the grower, applicator, and neighbors. If you have any questions regarding this program contact your Burrus Account Manager.   

Jamie Long, C.C.A.
Burrus Seed Sales Agronomist

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Can Cold Winter Hinder Crop Disease?

Many have been talking about how the winter will affect populations of overwintering insect pests, but how will this cold winter affect the incidence of crop disease? 

Fungi can tolerate the range of temperatures that typically occur in the place where they have taken up residency. So, fungal disease pathogens that have made a home in the Midwest, generally have developed the ability to tolerate our cold, winter temperatures. Fungi have figured out several ways to survive cold temperatures, and many produce special survival structures that are thick walled, which can survive extended cold periods as well as extremely dry conditions, within residue or in the soil. 

This picture is courtesy of

The Disease Triangle: a plant pathological paradigm revisited

It depends on the type of fungus, but typically most fungi require some basic items: respiration, nutrients (nitrogen or other minerals), water, light (but not in most cases), and specific temperatures. 
Spring and summer bring warmer temperatures for fungi to become active and produce spores once again. However, most plant pathogens that cause disease require an even more narrow range of specific temperatures before they will sporulate (produce spores) or initiate infection. Fungal spores, of course, are one of the main ways that fungal pathogens spread among crops. 

Don't forget that some fungal disease pathogens do NOT overwinter here in Illinois. Most rust disease pathogens require a living plant for survival, and these are more abundant in the South during the winter.  Rust spores blow up from the South and under the right conditions, can infect plant hosts during our growing season. Some examples of rust diseases that infect corn are common rust and southern rust. Soybean rust can be an issue on soybeans, but, fortunately, this disease has not been a yield reducer in the Midwest. Soybean rust has infected soybeans in the Midwest, but historically has been found late in the season, which is not cause for alarm at this time. 

Up close picture of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi)  pustules on a soybean leaf. Picture taken by Mike Meyer.
The good news is that a severe winter in the South, where rusts overwinter, could decrease the amount of spores that are blown into "our neck of the woods". This is because the colder winter temperatures in the South can decrease the amount of living plant material, where these rusts are overwintering, which in turn, causes the demise of the rust pathogens. Reduced amounts of corn and soybean rust disease in the South will most likely mean less rust spores will make their way North. However, it is hard to predict the future, and rust disease scouting should continue throughout the growing season. Track the movement of both Southern rust on corn and soybean rust as they infect and spread on crops in the US at the iPIPE website.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Combine Management Strategies for High Soybean Yields

On July 19, 2017, the Illinois Soybean Association’s ILSOY Advisor Field Day took place in Roseville, IL on the farm of Ron Moore, current President of the American Soybean Association (ASA).  As a presenter, I spoke with growers answering questions about incorporating management strategies to increase soybean yields.  The foundation of this discussion was Dr. Fred Below’s Six Secrets of Soybean Success, but was focused on remaining profitable and sustainable in the future.  

Stephanie Porter and Tom Corbin representing Burrus Seed at the ILSOY Advisor Field Day.
(photo courtesy of Jill Loehr, Prairie Farmer)
1.      Weather
Weather is the #1 influence on soybean yields.  We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can plant early to obtain more sunlight or photosynthesis.  Plant at the same time as corn, but make sure the soil is fit.  Next, look at the extended forecast and do not expose to temperatures below 50° F for the first 24-48 hours during their rapid water imbibition period. After this time, soybeans should be tolerant to cold but there can still be a frost risk after emergence, especially moving north.

2.      Fertility
Hands down, fertility has been most instrumental when it comes to obtaining soybean yields above 60 bu/a. In the past, our fertility program centered around corn and our soybeans often got the “leftovers.”  Recent research has focused on fertility needs of soybeans at key times during the growing season.  Soil test often and supply soybean crops with P (phosphorus) and K (potassium), so they are not limiting factors of yield. 

3.      Foliar protection
Because most soybean yield (60 – 80%) comes from the middle of the plant (nodes 5 – 16), it is vital to protect that yield by applying a fungicide or insecticide at the growth stage R1 – R3.  Canopy protection is needed to protect critical reproductive growth stages (R1 – R5). Soybean varieties can differ in disease and aphid tolerance, and scouting fields throughout the growing season will guide economic foliar management decisions.

Limited soybean yields were not attributed to a single insect in 2017, but rather a combination of pests.
4.       Genetics
The rate of soybean genetic gain has increased with investment and new breeding methods. When planting early, growers should choose the right variety that is a fuller maturity to increase yield. Since early planted soybeans will have a longer time to grow before bloom, they may grow taller; therefore, a reduction in planting populations is suggested not only to help encourage branching (more nodes/pods) and reduce lodging, but also to alleviate some disease issues.

5.      Row arrangement
Many university studies have shown that narrow row soybeans produce higher yields.  Dr. Below’s work has also shown crop yield in narrow rows is more responsive to increased management as discussed throughout this article.

6.      Seed treatment
When planting early, seed treatment such as PowerShield® for sudden death syndrome (PS SDS) is a must not only for root rot protection, but also for management of SDS and early control of soybean cyst nematode (SCN).  Don’t forget the insecticide (neonicotinoid) can not only increase vigor, but also manage early season insects, such as bean leaf beetle.
A systems approach of many different management strategies is required when seeking high soybean yields, but factors such as field drainage, proper pH, planting depth (1.5 - 2 inches), and weed control should not be ignored. We want each soybean plant to be a factory with efficient production, while overcoming potential limiting factors. When thinking high soybean yields, one must be willing to take risks to earn rewards, while incorporating good agronomics for success.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

10 Things to Know About Managing Soybean Cyst Nematode

Burrus Account Manager Ross Kleinsteiber & Jason Zimmer discuss SCN during an agronomic field visit.

1. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the #1 threat to soybean production worldwide.

2. In cases of high SCN populations, SCN cysts may be visible on roots. Roots could also have poor nodulation and plants could be uneven, stunted, or have low numbers of pods or beans per pod.

3. SCN can be confused with other problems such as root rot, nutrient issues, pests, or compaction. SCN, like other pests, will be located within patches of a field and symptoms may be more noticeable in seasons lacking adequate moisture due to root injury.

4. Growers can test for SCN in the fall by submitting soil samples to university labs where they will sieve, process, and do SCN egg counts for a fee.

5. We have been depending on the PI 88788 source of resistance in 95% of the U.S. seed market share. Other sources of resistance come from Peking, PI 437654, or combinations.

SCN cysts were found on the roots of this soybean variety which consisted of the PI 88788 source of SCN resistance.
6. SCN resistance to PI 88788 was documented in 2007 and 2008, by Mitchum et al and Niblack et al, respectively. As SCN presence within soil samples are screened at the university level, the problem appears to be getting worse.

7. Each nematode has different genes and those not affected by plant resistance can pass along those genes to their offspring (200-500 eggs) by reproducing sexually, which only increases the number of SCN unaffected by PI 88788.

8. If you want to confirm PI 88788 resistance, there is a HG test that can be done by university labs. It is a 30-day greenhouse test which will determine a female index, the average number of SCN females produced on seven indicator lines relative to the number produced on a standard, susceptible soybean cultivar.

9. Another control of SCN consists of an integrated management approach that includes crop rotation to help reduce populations and if possible, but not likely, see if you can use another source of SCN resistance such as Peking. In addition, the Illinois Soybean Association is seeking grower partners for a study next year to validate the hypothesis that wheat straw (or grass cover crops) can suppress SCN populations. For more information, visit 

10. Though not a total cure-all, we strongly recommend ILeVO®, included in our PowerShield® SDS seed treatment, for the early season control of SCN in conjunction with SCN management strategies.

by: Stephanie Porter, Burrus Sales Agronomist

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Few Questions about Corn Rootworm Management

1. We have often heard corn rootworm larvae are not fond of sandy soils.  Do you recommend a rootworm trait(s) in continuous corn acres grown within sandy soils?
The risk would be reduced in any kind of sandy soil environment because as rootworms move through the soil, the sandy texture abrades their soft exoskeleton. Even in a continuous corn situation, larval mortality would be pretty high. However, it is tough to make a recommendation without knowing what the adult population was like in the field last year. You may need to dig deeper with the grower or agronomist to understand what adult populations were like this past August to determine whether or not a trait is needed. Another risk factor to consider, if the grower can’t remember whether or not they saw a lot of adult rootworm beetles, compare the planting date of the field to others nearby. Later planted corn tends to attract more adult beetles than neighboring fields that were planted earlier.

2. What is the rootworm risk in non-sandy soil that has previously been in continuous corn, but then soybeans last season?  Is a rootworm trait(s) recommended when the field goes back to corn after one year of soybeans?
The location of the field will determine a lot of the risk. If the field is located squarely within an area where corn rootworm has been found to have rotation resistance, then there may be need for a rootworm trait. Generally, this would be the northern 3/4 of Illinois and Indiana, the eastern 1/5 of Missouri and Iowa, and the southern 1/3 of Wisconsin. Even within this area, rotation will reduce the population by about 50% because adults lay their eggs in both corn and soybeans. This should mean the population will be reduced even in corn following soybeans. Without some idea of what the adult population was like in August last year, it’s really tough to make a blanket recommendation.

In 2017, rootworm populations seemed to increase somewhat based on University surveys in east-central Illinois (e.g., Livingston Co.) and west-northwest Illinois (e.g., Knox Co.). You can learn more by going to Increased Insect Densities Reflected in Annual Corn and Soybean Survey. Of course, any first-year cornfield will not have issues if it is located outside of the area where rotation resistance is a concern.  Unfortunately, this is really a tough insect to get a handle on without some kind of in-season insect counts. 

Answers courtesy of Nick Tinsley, Bayer SeedGrowth Technical Representative, Crop Science Division, Bayer US

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Exploring Cover Crops and their Relationship to Seed Treatment

Dr. Alison E. Robertson, Professor and Extension Field Pathologist, Iowa State University, was invited to speak during a Seed World Strategy Webinar called Exploring no-till, cover crops and the relationship with seed treatmentsShe began by giving a brief overview of past research done that has led up to recent information pertaining to seedling diseases in cover crops. 

A study done in 2011-2013, throughout the Midwest, showed Phytophthora spp. was not considered the main source of seedling disease as it had once been 20 years ago. Instead, the main fungal-like organism found in soil was pythium spp.  Researchers discovered a total of 82 oomycete species in the soil during two years of totally opposite environments. Of this total only 2 to 4 Phytophthora species were in the mix, with 52 to 57 pythium species found. Not all of these pythium species were considered pathogenic. They also found various communities of pythium species found within different fields and this could be influenced by several factors such as soil temperature, drainage, management, planting date, etc.  She also reported that these pythium species varied by latitude.  

This research opened Pandora’s box and the next step was to figure out which pythium species were pathogenic. The next research, done in 2016, showed some specific pythium species favored cooler temperatures, while others favored warmer temperatures. Researchers then discovered that seed treatments have different sensitivities to different pythium species. They tested both metalaxyl and ethaboxam, which are common seed treatment components that protect against oomycete fungi. They found, for example, a particular pythium species that prefers warmer temperatures was less sensitive to metalaxyl and ethaboxam during warm conditions. They continue to work on this research.  

The next study evaluated temperature swings after planting, which are very common in Iowa, to see if they affected the amount of seedling disease in a field. Researchers found, via greenhouse work, that there was a greater amount of seed disease in soybeans when there is cold stress 1 to 4 days after planting. For example, cold stress reduced emergence by as much as 50%, but the good news is that they saw seed treatments mitigated this stress.

We have always known that corn planted right after winter rye had reduced yields, but no one really knew why this was happening.  Researchers discovered that winter rye was a host of the same seedling pathogens, such as pythium and fusarium, as corn. As the rye roots die, pythium spp. can increase in the soil. The objective of recent research was to find out if rye was serving as a green bridge for pathogens that could later infect corn seedlings. Cover crop termination trials revealed that corn planted into rye right after it was terminated had a higher amount of disease compared to corn planted after rye that had been terminated 14 to 21 days earlier. The primary disease isolated from these corn roots was pythium spp., not fusarium spp. I look forward to learning more.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What I Learned from Tom Burrus

I believe that everything happens for a reason and not just by chance. I believe that God put Tom Burrus and others in our lives as teachers and I was able to learn something from Tom every day.  I will try to touch on some of the most meaningful things that I will cherish always. He taught me:
This is a picture of the last field day that Tom and I attended together in September of 2017 near Reddick, Illinois.  The corn and soybean field day was hosted by Jason Zimmer with topics that included high yielding soybeans and and an update on soybean technologies.
1.) The seed business and its history, as this is something I had not ever experienced before.  He was proud of his family's impact on the seed business not only in the past, but also their future business plan.

2.) Pride of product, seed quality, and seed treatment and basically, how to be an honest salesman (or woman).

3.) How to manage my time, so that I could work a 26 hour day, but remember my family and to have always have fun.  I will never forget his little chuckle and the way he bounced when something tickled him.

4.) Co-workers are family, and no matter what they do, they should be treated fairly and with respect.

5.) Our Dealers and customers are family. If they need me, they know I care and I will go above and beyond for them.

6.) If I make a mistake, I take ownership of it. I will face it square on and no matter how bad it may seem, I will make it right, then learn from my “bad day.”

7.) Respect is something that is earned, and it does not come easy.

8.) How to work a room or a crowd. I will never be able to do this like Tom Burrus, but I will never forget everyone’s smiles when he told his “stories/jokes.”  His daughter, Lori said that many remember him starting his jokes with, "Marcy said I can't tell this, but...."

9.) Never be afraid to stand up for what I believe is right, even when everyone else is afraid.  Never be afraid to call bullsh*t.

10.) My gender does not matter. He believed in me and I believed in him, as well as everything he and his family have worked for over the years. This is not just because he (and the Burrus/Hughes families) hired me to do a job, but because this is what my own family would do too, if put in many of the same situations.

He will be greatly missed, but forever in our hearts.  Goodbye Tom, Stephanie Porter, Burrus Seed Sales Agronomist.

Special thanks to Holly Spangler of Prairie Farmer for including my thoughts in her blog, Remembering the Grand Gentleman of the Seed Business.