Monday, March 12, 2018

National Women's Month Spotlight: Erin Holbert

Erin Holbert, Burrus Account Manager

Continuing our celebration of National Women's Month, meet Burrus Seed Account Manager Erin Holbert!

What's your position at Burrus Seed?
Account Manager covering a multi-county territory covering southeast IL and southwest IN

Where do you call home?
Dana, IN

Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and Crop Science from Purdue University

Where did you work before joining the Burrus team? 
Sales Agronomist at Cargill in southwest Michigan

What do you enjoy doing with your free time? 
Spending time with friends and family, reading, and working on the family farm

What made you want to work in the ag industry? Agriculture is something that I’ve always loved and have grown more passionate about as I grew up.  I love the opportunity to work with the people who grow our food, fuel, and fiber and feel very blessed that I’m a small part of the industry.

Did you have a lot of exposure to agriculture growing up? 
Yes, I grew up on a family farm and was a ten year 4-Her.  My school didn’t have FFA, but my mother is the 4-H extension educator in our county, so I was heavily involved in my 4-H club, Jr. Leaders, and the livestock and forestry judging teams.   

Having grown up in the ag industry, Erin still enjoys spending free time working on the family farm.

What is your favorite thing about working in the ag industry? 
It’s definitely a biased opinion, but I believe the people in the ag industry are some of the best people out there and are always willing to help each other out.

Are there any women in the ag industry (past or present) who have inspired you? 
No one person in particular

What is your favorite part of being an Account Manager at Burrus Seed? 
The best part of being an Account Manager is building a relationship with farmers and being a small part of helping them to be successful. 

Do you have any advice for younger girls thinking about pursuing a career in agriculture?
Personally, I was very blessed to grow up in a family and farming community where it didn’t matter that I was a girl.  My dad always expected me to do my fair share of the work.  I didn’t realize until I went to Purdue and then graduated and moved on to my career that there were people who saw a difference between men and women in the industry.  My advice would be that there are plenty of people who are more than willing to treat you as an equal, and if there’s someone who doesn’t, then it’s not worth wasting your time on them. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

National Women's Month Spotlight: Jamie Long

Jamie Long, CCA-RMS Burrus Seed Sales Agronomist

In honor of National Women's month, we are spotlighting some female members of our Burrus Seed team. First, get to know Jamie Long! 

What's your position at Burrus Seed? 
Sales Agronomist covering Missouri and western Illinois territory

Share some of your awards and certifications. 
Certified Crop Adviser with Resistance Management Specialty, Illinois Pesticide Applicator License, multiple awards at North Central Weed Science Society

Jamie with boyfriend, Brad and dog, Gauge
Where do you call home? 
I grew up in Ellis Grove, IL but I'm currently living in Carlinville, IL.

A.S. Southwestern Illinois College, 2012.  B.S. Plant and Soil Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2014. M.S. Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, 2017.

Where did you work before joining the Burrus team? 
I was a Graduate Research Assistant at Purdue University, an Agronomic Research Intern with BASF, and an Undergraduate Research Assistant at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren't in a field? 
I like hunting, attending concerts, spending time with my black lab (and people too).

What made you want to work in the ag industry? 
During my childhood, my mom was an extension educator. I wanted to be like her and help farmers raise the best yields. 

What was your exposure to agriculture growing up? 
I was raised on our family farm outside of Ellis Grove and both my dad and stepdad farmed.

Hunting is a favorite hobby of Jamie's
What is your favorite thing about working in the ag industry? 
I enjoy the comradery.  I have met so many great people through agriculture; it’s really a close knit industry.

Are there any women in the ag industry (past or present) who have inspired you? 
Every woman in agriculture inspires me! The list could go on and on!

What is your favorite part of being a Sales Agronomist at Burrus Seed? 
I really enjoy the diversity within my job.  I’m fortunate enough to work directly with the entire company, including growers, account managers, the research team, owners, and external suppliers.

Do you have any advice for younger girls thinking about pursuing a career in agriculture? 
Do it! If you have a passion for agriculture, nothing should hold you back.

To keep up with Jamie in and out of the field, be sure to follow her on Twitter @jamieatburrus!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Higher Populations Do Not Always Equal Higher Yields

One of the most critical decisions a farmer must make each spring is what population to set the planter. This decision can make an enormous difference in overall performance in both yield and standability. All too often, growers like to set their planter at the start of planting season and leave it there while planting all their acres. This is not how to optimize the full potential of each seed. We all know the price of seed has gone up over the last decade, making it even more important to maximize inputs.

Most have heard growers can increase corn yields by increasing planting population, that isn't always the case. As corn genetics become more and more complex, we need to start treating different hybrids differently. Some hybrids have a fixed ear, meaning no matter how good the growing conditions are, the ear isn't going to be any larger than a predetermined size. Others, however, are considered flex eared; these hybrids can flex the size of the ear to make the most out of a good year. Flex hybrids also have the advantage of being able to help compensate for a row with gaps or uneven stand. Fixed eared hybrids usually respond better to a higher planting population, whereas with a flex hybrid you typically don't see an increased yields with an increased seeding rate.  You are often just increasing the plant to plant stresses with no added benefit.

Each year, the Burrus research team runs a series of population studies replicated 14 times in different environments. In this study, we place our current products as well as promising experimental products ranging in populations from 21,000 seeds/acre to 46,000 seeds/acre. This study, year after year, gives us the best planting rate for each hybrid to help maximize yields, manage risks, and optimize seed cost per acre. Yield is only one factor when looking at the data from this study Another important component is overall standability. When planting populations are increased, plant to plant stresses which will make the plant more susceptible to root lodging and stalk lodging are also increased. These different components are considered when making a planting population recommendation.

Another factor to consider when making your seed selection, along with product and price, should be seeding rate. With tighter margins in the agriculture sector, growers are starting to make more of their decisions based on price, which is understandable in these economic times. But to get the full picture, look at the price of seed on a per acre basis instead of per bag. Many of our competitors are recommending populations nearing 40,000 seeds/acre. Having to plant at these high populations to maximize yields makes the seed much more expensive, even if the seed is substantially cheaper per bag. 

As an example, let's look at hybrid A which has a recommended planting population of 38,000 seeds/acre and costs $260/unit, and hybrid B which has a recommended planting population of 32,000 seeds/acre and costs $300/unit. At first glance, many growers would choose hybrid A at a savings of $40/unit. However, once you take the seeding rate into consideration, you realize that on a per acre basis hybrid A costs $123.50/acre while hybrid B costs only $120/acre. That savings of $3.50/acre make hybrid B the better value even though the price per bag is higher. These differences change dramatically depending on cost and planting rates, but we implore you to take the time to run a cost per acre analysis when making your decisions.

With all that being said, price should not be your only consideration when making a seed selection. Every farm should diversify their portfolio with both offensive and defensive products. Burrus' Corn Planting Rates chart will assist you with getting our hybrids at the ideal planting rates for your soils. Each of these hybrids have been tested in a range of populations, across different soil types, over several years to place them in the corresponding categories (A, B or C planting ranges). This will not only help you reach the highest yields across your farm, but it will reduce the risk across your farm as well. This is just one more example of the true passion of the Burrus mission statement: "To provide quality seed, consistent performance, and exceptional value ensuring the ongoing success of our customers."

By Josh Gunther, Product Lead

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