Flood-tolerant soybeans The Agricultural Research Service reports it has identified a marker that points to genes responsible for flood tolerance in soybeans. The plants with the genetic marker produced 50% more beans than traditional soybeans after both spent the two-week flowering stage in waterlogged soil. The two-year study was conducted at the Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus, OH.

Speed up seed delivery The new Seed Cyclone is a self-contained hopper with air vacuum that holds as many as 220 50-lb. bags of seed. It's designed to be used to fill taller drills and planter boxes, and with large fill openings on top, it can receive seed right from the bin or from a mini-bulk unit. Lids on top of the unit protect the seed compartment from moisture. When hooked to a pickup truck, the unit can be pulled down the highway at posted speeds. Price: $7,475 for tender and air conveyor; $2,795 for optional trailer. Contact Friesen of Iowa, Dept. FIN, 2897 Expansion Blvd., Storm Lake, IA 50588, 712/732-1780.

Seed transfer system You can reach and fill the length of a 16-row planter in less than 10 min. with this Seed Sucker transfer system, without having to move the transfer unit.

Using an 18-hp Honda electric start engine, with a Sutorbilt displacement air pump, the 007 can move up to 350 lbs. of seed/min., according to the manufacturer. The company says it's especially helpful when filling split-row planters because of the position of the boxes. The unit can be towed behind a gravity box to fill or empty a planter, or hauled with a pickup to clean out a grain bin. Price: $5,995 without trailer; $6,395 with trailer. Contact Prairie Products, Dept. FIN, 3013 Newport Dr., Springfield, IL 62702, 217/546-9133.

Biotech potential Monsanto announces the development of a new variety of rapeseed that could help alleviate vitamin A deficiency. A diet deficient in vitamin A can cause severe health problems, including blindness, loss of immune system functions and the inability to absorb proteins. It has been estimated that 800 million people worldwide suffer from this deficiency.

Monsanto's rapeseed produces beta-carotene-enriched oil, which the body converts into vitamin A. The new rapeseed is being field tested in the U.S. and should be available for commercial production in a few years, the company reports.

Soybeans can benefit from fertilizer University of Minnesota studies show that soybean yields increase 5 to 7 bu./acre after P and K are added, when soils test low in these nutrients.

Seed-buying savvy Research and buy your seed online this year with just a couple clicks of your mouse when you log onto the new Web site SeedSmart.com.

The site offers results from more than 1,000 independent university seed trial plots, conducted over a three-year period. You can select studies of the performance of different companies' seed tested in 12 states (north, central and south regions within each state). Plot results show moisture level, bushels per acre, test weight, and lodging, if applicable. The site also offers a list of the "top contenders" in seed, or you can search for a particular seed trait. Headline news in the world of agriculture is also included. Go to http://seedsmart.com.

You can also research Gold Country Seed's offerings at its Web site www.goldcountryseed.com and purchase your seed pick via a Web service link. Check through corn, soybean and alfalfa numbers to find maturity rates and highlights of the seed.

Stine Seed is offering its product through a Web service link, too. If you purchase 60 bags or more of seed through www.directag.com by April 15, you'll receive a free pair of 14-channel two-way radios.

8 tips for lowering risks in drought conditions 1. Pay close attention to the drought stress rating when picking corn hybrids. 2. By eliminating one stress on a crop, the effect of a second stress such as drought will be lessened. 3. Watch maturity rates. Full-season varieties may struggle through a dry period but resume growth when water arrives. 4. Spread out corn planting over more days. Some corn may receive timely rain during its critical growing stage. 5. The amount of population a hybrid can handle is directly related to soil moisture; lower or improve populations for better spacing. 6. Select hybrids that tassel at different times to avoid a period of heat stress. 7. Pay attention to corn size, additive recommendations and other warnings with postemerge herbicides. 8. Planting corn in spring-plowed alfalfa or in fields that have sand or rock underlay can reduce subsoil moisture; avoid these practices, if possible. - Courtesy of NC+

Liberty trial results A total of 173 comparison tests (some done by Aventis, some by midwestern universities and some by midwestern farmers) shows that LibertyLink and certain hybrids treated with Liberty herbicide outyielded certain hybrids treated with a traditional herbicide program by 5.4 bu./acre.

The same hybrid numbers were used when comparing herbicides, but the comparisons were conducted differently. Farmers sprayed half their field with their own herbicide program and the other half with Liberty. Average bushel increase was 4.53 bu./acre. The universities used a two-pass weed-control strategy. In one field, a program of Balance followed by Liberty outyielded competitive programs by 9 bu/acre. In trials comparing fields treated with Liberty with fields treated with sulfonylurea herbicides, the Liberty fields improved yield by an average of 7 bu./acre.

Check soil for sulfur Applying sulfurs as starter fertilizer may help offset the effects of drought that experts predict may be on the way. The amount of sulfur the atmosphere provides (a major source) is minimized with low amounts of snow and rain.

"The amount of atmospheric deposition from S has been decreasing since the '70s; farmers will start to see sulfur deficiencies where they've never seen them before because of this trend," says Dean Collamer, agronomist, Honeywell International. "And what they think is an N deficiency in their soil is more likely an S deficiency."

Researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) suggest adding sulfur to any soil type where corn is planted early (where soil is below 50 degrees F) and grown under reduced tillage or no-till systems (decomposition of organic matter also is a major source of sulfur). You may need to purchase 10 to 15 lbs./acre of sulfur as a starter fertilizer this year. Collamer says sulfur typically costs about $2.50/acre for a 10-lb. rate, and a KSU study showed a 10-bu./acre yield increase when sulfur was added to corn starters.

Insecticide seed treatment Novartis claims that its insecticide thiamethoxam, which has just been granted a U.S. patent, will get rid of just about anysap-sucking insects from your fields, no matter how it's applied.

"The control is as good if not better than what's on the market," says Jeff Santosuosso, product portfolio manager, Novartis. "It can be formulated as a seed treatment or it can be applied in furrow or as a foliar application." As a seed treatment or in-furrow application, it takes only a single application for protection of most of the growing season, Santosuosso says. He adds that the chemical makeup in thiamethoxam performs well even in dry conditions.

Crop uses will include wheat, canola and sorghum, with anticipated corn use. EPA registrations are expected in time for 2001 spring planting. Contact Novartis, Dept. FIN, Box 18300, Greensboro, NC 27419, www.cp.novartis.com, 336/632-6416.