Friday, April 27, 2018

Percent Planting Completed in the Burrus Territory - 4/27/18

We recently polled the Burrus Account Managers and had them give us their best estimate of percent planting of corn that has been completed in the Burrus territory.  Below, you can see of those that reported, the highest percent of planting appears to be in the west.  This area, of course has been a bit warmer, but also missed some rains, which allowed for a broader planting window.  On the other hand, planting has just begun in the last couple of days to the north.  Many are also still concerned about the possible freeze warning over the weekend, especially as you move north.  There could be a lot of field work completed between now and the middle of next week, when rain is in the forecast.   
Map created by Michelle Sandman
As for percent soybeans planted, here what was reported:
Randy McCaskill:  25%
Ross Brockhouse:  20%
Riley Young:  10%
Corey Rimbey: 10%
Ted Ballard:  10%
Zach Whitehille:  10%
Jim Allen:  5%
Colby Reilson:  5%
Quinn Moller:  5%
Erin Holbert:  5%
Joe Fletcher:  5%
Mathias Hoffman:  5%
Brian Bredeson:  5%
Brent Angelo:  5%
Jeff Hyde:  5%
Donny Marnin:  5%
Jordan Watson:  5%
Ross Kleinsteiber:  5%
Rick Urish:  5%
Rob Church:  5%
Jeff Seckler:  1%
Brad Kufalk:  1%

Be safe out there! 
Stephanie and Jamie

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Prepping for #Plant18 Success

Every year, growers across the country begin preparing for planting season. We’re all familiar with the usual pre-plant chores. However, this article isn't meant to discuss things such as soil preparation or fertility.  No, the purpose of this article is to address the essential preparation of your equipment and technology that every grower needs prior to dropping the planter down in a field.

This time of year, everyone is anxious to get started planting and the recent weather pattern hasn’t helped relieve this anxiety. Instead, the energy just builds until everyone is about to come unglued. But all this pent-up energy can quickly turn to frustration if you end up experiencing problems with your equipment or discover too late that your precision data is not ready.

That’s why it’s always important to plan for success by ensuring your equipment and precision data are ready well in advance of planting season. This is the best way to guarantee success when it is time to put the seed in the ground. You’ve got too much at risk to not take the steps necessary to get this #Plant18 right. Here are some thoughts for you as you prepare for planting:

1. First and foremost, get yourself and your operation organized. Prioritize tasks and identify ones with which you need to enlist help on. If you have tasks that need others' assistance, be sure to get them set up as soon as possible.  If you need their help, it’s a good bet that others do too. So, don’t wait to the last minute.

2. Ensure you have a properly leveled toolbar - it's essential to the function of your row units.

3. Differences in soil as you move across a field make checking your down pressure imperative. This is of course something that isn’t set-it and forget-it. You should evaluate your down pressure all planting season, field by field to ensure proper seed placement.

4. Check and adjust your seeding depth.  Every year, you should make a zero adjustment to your press wheels.

5. Ensure your row cleaners are set properly. Remember, their purpose is to remove trash and residue from the front of the row unit. 

6. To ensure optimum seed-to-soil contact is obtained, check and adjust your seed firmers and see that close wheels are aligned behind the row unit properly. 

7. Check that your starter or two-by-two pumps are in working order. 

8. Don’t forget to make sure that your field data is loaded and ready to go on your monitor.

9. Verify all these adjustments are at the speed you normally plant. Varying planting speed can adversely impact your hard work. Doing this will ensure consistency in your planting.

10. Lastly, pay attention to soil conditions. 

After planting is completed, it’s important to validate that your equipment performed as you had expected.  Monitor crop progress throughout the year and document your findings to ensure you met prescription, planning and profit objectives.  With the uncertainty of today’s market, you need to extract every drop of value from every acre and every input. Managing each acre independently is imperative to your operation's success. Capturing data on soil type, soil texture, fertility, soil moisture, planting conditions, populations, product placement and yield history are all integral pieces of the puzzle that is ROI. Your Burrus team is here to partner with you to ensure that you achieve success year after year and build profitable operations for generations to come.

Troy Horton
Burrus Seed Precision Planting Specialist

Friday, April 13, 2018

Cover Crop Termination Tips

The calendar says it is the second week in April, but recent weather conditions suggest otherwise.  Cool, wet soils have halted field work throughout the Burrus footprint, but we are hopeful we will be able to get into the field soon to plant, apply fertilizer, apply a burndown, etc.  For growers with cover crops, there is also an additional step – terminating that cover crop.  Being able to adequately terminate your cover crop is essential to the success of your cash crop.  Most commonly, a herbicide program is used to control the cover crop. Helpful tips to ensure success are below.

1. Herbicide selection
Herbicide selection can be dependent on which cover crop you used.  It is important to know what species you have in your mix to get the most control.  For instance, a dense stand of cereal ryegrass will not be controlled with 2,4-D products. Glyphosate is a commonly used active ingredient which is non-selective.  For added broadleaf control of possible broadleaf cover crops or broadleaf weeds, the addition of a growth regulator type herbicide can give added control.  If you are applying the herbicide prior to planting the cash crop, know plant back restrictions (see chart below).  If you are applying the herbicide in-crop, know which herbicide tolerance your crop has.

Purdue University Extension

2. Cover crop growth stage
Although we know there are numerous benefits to using cover crops, when it comes to termination, we must think of them as a weed.  By this I mean we want to apply the herbicide when we would apply it to weeds, therefore follow height and growth stage restrictions or adjust rates accordingly.  Plants that are jointing or bolting are more difficult to kill. Therefore, other means of termination may be warranted.

3. Weather conditions
For the best herbicide efficacy, the plant needs to be actively growing otherwise you will not get adequate control.  For the plant to be actively growing we typically recommend temperatures greater than 50 degrees.  This does not mean one day above 50 degrees, but multiple days to have the plant active and therefore taking up the herbicide.  Timing becomes important here because as we start warming up, the cover crop will begin actively growing and will rapidly gain size, making the herbicide possibly less effective. 

With the delay of planting, growers are going to be rushing around trying to get field work completed in a timely fashion.  If you do have cover crops, make sure that you are prepared to properly terminate them to prevent weeds in your cash crop.  As always, if you have any questions about cover crop termination reach out to your Burrus Sales Agronomist.

Jamie Long, CCA-RMS
Burrus Sales Agronomist

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Soil Health Class: Can we meet in the middle?

Several months ago, my former junior college, LLCC ag teacher (Dick Lyons), nominated me for a second round of “soil health training”.  A month later, I received the email saying, “Thank you for applying to participate in the upcoming Advanced Soil Health Training, sponsored by IL Corn Growers, Ag Conservation Solutions, and The Nature Conservancy.  We are excited to welcome you to join us this year! Your application showed dedication to advancing soil health systems in Illinois, and we look forward to having your unique expertise and perspective in the group.” 

Everywhere I turn, “soil health” seems to be the new buzz word.  When I arrived to my first classroom experience, I did not know what to expect, but I soon learned that the agenda was packed full of positives of no-till and cover crops for the soil and ecosystem.  There is nothing wrong with this, but the training took on what I would call a “sales approach” and with my University Extension background, I was hoping for more of an unbiased training.  Our room was filled with instructors from the USDA, NRCS and American Farmland Trust as well as farmers, agronomists, ecologists, biologists, and conservationists.  There were video cameras everywhere!

It did not take long until I got this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It was the same feeling I got a long time ago when I was in graduate school.  I was studying plant pathology (study of plant diseases).  Back then, I loved microbiology and my microscope, so I was really excited to take Mycology (study of fungi) with some of the other Crop Science students.  A few days into the mycology course, I realized 2 things: our professor was brilliant and the mycology students shunned the crop science students.  They labeled us as “fungi killers.”  I had never really thought of myself as a killer before.  Heck, I was just trying to feed the world.  But, it did give me a whole new fungal perspective, which was good.

Barry Fisher, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) taught us some visual ways to show the positive aspects of long-term no-tilled soil (left) showing no sediment compared to conventional tilled soil (right), which produced sediment after a "big rain." No-till is one tool to help keep our soil (and some nutrients) in place.
 Barry Fisher, NRCS shows us by pouring water (heavy rain event) and letting it infiltrate conventionally tilled soil, it creates cloudy water in the glass on the right.  This is erosion or sediment is what can change our landscape.  Soil health is the continued capacity of a soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.   

A positive perspective on cover crops and how they relate to soil health is just what I needed after being called out on many “negative” field calls last year. It is obvious more farmers than ever are trying their hand at cover crops.  Many have been successful but others have given up too easily when things don’t go their way.  The truth of the matter is that not every farmer manages their farm in the same way.  Many farmers may not be utilizing cover crops, but are implementing many other different strategies to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss.  So far, I have learned a lot, especially from actual farmers, and continue to keep an open mind.  I hope to share with you my thoughts on what I would label as “farmer, pesticide, and nutrient misconceptions” as well as some agronomic red flags. And yes, my hope, after much thought, is that we can meet in the middle.