Nematodes finally may be meeting their match with new technology available. A range of products on the market, and in the pipeline, will help make short work of SCN. In soybeans alone, yield losses can top 30% with a heavy nematode infestation.
Want to achieve award-winning corn yields? You might find a successful strategy by looking over the equipment and input lists used by winners of the 2012 National Corn Yield Contest. Farm Industry News interviewed six of these growers to uncover tips on inputs and equipment that helped these champs reap their bin-busting yields.
Disaster decision making starts before disasters strike, says Chris Hurt, Purdue University agricultural economist.
“Insurance does not protect against a bad thing from happening; it protects against putting the family business in jeopardy if a bad thing does happen,” Hurt says. “The tendency is for younger people, who are less able to withstand a loss, to need more insurance coverage. Farmers who are more financially established can try to reduce their insurance costs if the feel they can cover a portion of the loss themselves.”
On July 11, 2011, a severe thunderstorm with straight-line winds up to 130 mph slammed through east-central Iowa and into northern Illinois during the early morning hours. The storm toppled trees, blew down power lines, ripped off roofs, knocked over grain bins and beat down the corn crop in its path.
In the Midwest, insect pressure varies widely depending on location, weather and cropping practices. But year-in and year-out, some pests tend to dominate more than others. According to Extension entomologists in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, corn rootworm is by far the region’s worst insect pest for corn. Soybean’s top insect pest is less clear, but the four most often mentioned in the Midwest are soybean aphids, bean leaf beetles, Japanese beetles and spider mites.
Widespread yield loss from the 2012 drought could cause a cash-flow conundrum this spring for many Midwestern farmers — even for those who obtain timely crop insurance payments, says Gary Schnitkey, Extension farm management economist, University of Illinois. As a result, he urges farmers to engage in some early tax and financial planning.
Midwest agricultural economists agree that fertilizer prices are likely to hold steady before the start of the 2013 cropping season. They also forecast a slight chance for nitrogen (N) prices to dip a bit. Still, outside market forces could alter those projections, particularly if similar events were to occur in 2013 as happened in 2008.
Having equipment that allows you to apply nitrogen (N) late in the season is well worth having — even if you don’t use it every year, says Clay Mitchell, Buckingham, Ia.
“Adding late-season N can be like putting on a booster rocket for corn production in a wet year, when it’s needed,” says Mitchell, who farms approximately 2,800 corn and soybean acres with his great-uncle Philip near Waterloo, Ia. “In dry years, you can save a lot of money by holding off on early-season N applications that don’t pay off.”
Midwestern farmers now have another commercial energy market for corn besides ethanol. It’s called biobutanol, a type of butanol that is produced from grain and/or other biomass feedstock sources, and a product that has many more industrial uses than ethanol.
Balers for corn stover collection are adding a new revenue stream for hay-harvesting machinery manufacturers and custom baler businesses, says Eric Woodford, Woodford Equipment manager/owner, Emmetsburg, Iowa. Woodford sells Vermeer Corporation's 605 Super M Cornstalk Special Baler that many of his customers rely on to provide corn stover biomass to a nearby Poet Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol production plant in northwestern Iowa.
A dry year like 2012 is the perfect year to test any new products being released to control soybean cyst nematode (SCN), according to industry experts. Luckily, two new nematicidal products are being tested this year that currently show promise in protecting roots from early-season SCN root feeding.
The next generation of insect-control traits from the seed corn industry will help growers deter yield loss, particularly from corn rootworm feeding.
“Historically, the main pests in corn have been corn rootworm and European corn borer,” says Clint Pilcher, DuPont Pioneer scientific affairs director. “Corn borers are not extinct, but we have seen a significant decrease in their overall population levels across the Corn Belt in recent years with increased use of Bt corn hybrids.