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...And Some Bad News
October 12, 2018
Kochia is becoming resistant to fluroxypyr (Starane) according to this article which outlines recent research done by KSU at the Hays Agricultural Research Center.
The article explains, in fairly dense scientific prose, how two different sets of kochia seeds reacted to varying doses of both dicamba (Banvel) and fluroxypry (Starane) in greenhouse plantings. The scientists used harvest dry-weight of the plants as a method of measuring herbicide efficacy. One set of seeds came from a field which has had repeated herbicide treatments for several years, and the other seeds--considered "susceptible"--came from a pasture where herbicides have not been used on the kochia.
The results, if predictable, were quite disappointing: both dicamba and fluroxypry showed significant loss of effectiveness on the kochia plants. The article says, "the selected kochia accessions also showed 3.2- to 9.5-fold level of resistance to Starane Ultra relative" to susceptible plants. Similar numbers were seen with the dicamba resistance tests.
This is bad news, as the herbicide options for controlling kochia are rapidly approaching zero. Best advice is use multiple herbicides and full-labeled rates when treating kochia. Treat when the kochia plants are small: rosette stage, if possible. If you know someone who works for a major chemical company, tell them that the ag industry needs new chemistry.
Kochia is a serious threat to the crops grown here in the tri-state area.
Some Good News...
October 12, 2018
We previously reported on the banning of chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) by a 3-judge 9th Circuit Federal appeals court. In that ruling, it was unclear if all the scientific evidence was available to the court, but rather a summary of data that came from sources which were biased against the pesticide.
In this USDA article, Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture, praises the Department of Justice for appealing the ban ruling. In the appeal, the DOJ asks for an en banc hearing, which means all of the judges will hear the case as opposed to the original 3-judge ruling. The full panel could overturn the previous ruling, which was a 2-1 vote. The DOJ's request was supported by many major farm groups with amicus curiae briefs.
The USDA article says, "The decision appears to be based on a misunderstanding of both the available scientific information and EPA’s pesticide regulatory system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other groups have pointed out significant flaws in the draft chlorpyrifos assessments on which the court based its opinion, and USDA supports EPA’s conclusion that the available scientific evidence does not indicate the need for a total ban on the use of chlorpyrifos (emphasis ours)." The article continues, "EPA should be allowed to continue its ongoing science-based and expert-led evaluation of chlorpyrifos, which is part of EPA’s registration review program that covers all pesticides."
We agree with the EPA on this issue. Regulations should be based upon science.
Fall Thistle Postcard
September 12, 2018
Fall is the best time to treat pasture thistles--musk, bull, and Canada. Please contact us now to treat your pasture ground.
We need your order and maps so that we can plan an application schedule. The window of opportunity can be very short in the fall, and small field sizes means multiple customers for a single load.
Our deadline for taking thistle orders is Monday, October 8, 2018.
Musk and bull thistle can be treated until the ground freezes, but Canada thistle needs to sprayed before a killing frost. We think the best chemical choice is GrazonNext HL, which is Milestone in a pre-mix with 2,4-D.
Please contact us for more information.
Trump Promises $12 Billion To Agriculture
September 3, 2018
In this article, Reuters reports that the Trump administration has promised to "provide up to $12 billion in aid for U.S. farmers in early September to shield them from the repercussions of trade disputes between the United States and China, the European Union and others."
The article says that the US government last offered farmers a comparable amount of emergency assistance starting in 1998 to address low hog, corn and soybean prices. It adds that in 2017, the federal government spent nearly $19 billion on agriculture support programs, and that total had been expected to rise to nearly $27 billion in 2018.
The USDA said the $12 billion would be divided into three different programs, including direct payments to farmers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs; purchases of foods for distribution to food banks and nutrition programs; and atrade promotion program to develop new markets. The funding would come from the Commodity Credit Corporation, which has authority to make loans and direct payments to U.S. growers when prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and other agricultural goods are low.
We looked at the USDA production numbers, and in 2017, the US produced 4.59 billion bushels of soybeans. If you assume all of the $12 billion were to go to farmers--an unlikely outcome--then the average price increase from the subsidy would be $2.61 per bushel.
We will keep you updated on this story.
Courts: 2, Ag: 0
August 21, 2018
In a pair of negative courtroom results for production agriculture, Monsanto lost a civil lawsuit concerning Roundup worth $289 million, and a Federal appeals court ruled 2-1 to order the EPA to ban all uses of a widely-used commercial insecticide, chlorpyrifos.
In the Monsanto lawsuit, DeWayne Johnson, who is suffering from terminal cancer which he believes was caused by long- term exposure Roundup during many years of applying the herbicide, was awarded $250 million in punitive damages (along with $39 million in compensatory damages) by a San Francisco jury. In a novel argument, Johnson's attorneys argue that Roundup specifically, as a packaged product, and not the active ingredient--glyphosate--is responsible for the cancer. Monsanto will appeal the verdict, and cites hundreds of studies which show glyphosate is not carcinogenic.
The European Food Safety Authority recently said that glyphosate is not "likely to be carcinogenic". In December, 2017, we reported on this two-decades long Agricultura Health Study, which involved 89,000 farmers and their spouses. It concluded that glyphosate is a not a risk for cancer, even among groups which apply the pesticide.
Six days after the Johnson ruling, General Mills was presented with a class action lawsuit over glyphosate residue, even though the residues in the Cheerios product are well below the EPA thresholds for grains. The lawsuit alleges that General Mills had a duty to disclose the presence of the herbicide in the cereal.
In the second adverse ruling, chlorpyrifos, commonly known as Lorsban, may be completely banned by the EPA within 60 days, if the Agency follows the ruling of the Federal appeals court. The insecticide is commonly used in commercial agricultural, even though its use in households has been previously banned due to damaging effects on children. The Appeals court consisted of three judges, and they ruled in a 2-1 vote to force the EPA to act, thereby denying the appeal. There are allegations of political interference on the issue by the recently resigned EPA head, Scott Pruitt.
It is unclear what the EPA will do in light of the ruling. The New York Times, in the above article, said that, "The agency could ask the full Ninth Circuit to reconsider the ruling or appeal it to the Supreme Court, while perhaps asking for a delay in the order that it ban the pesticide. Alternatively, the agency could move ahead with the ban." (Emphasis is ours.)
We will monitor the issues and provide future updates.
Moths and Weevils
August 9, 2018
Sunflowers are blooming, and that means insect control is a possibility. The primary insects that are controlled are head moth and red seed weevil. As we reported previously, with confectionery flowers, most growers simply plan on two insecticide treatments about ten days apart, because the dockage from damage is so expensive, and the economic thresholds are so low.
With oilseed flowers, it makes sense to scout, because there because insect thresholds are sometimes not met. With red seed weevil, the easiest method is spray the head with insect repellent to make the insects active and easy to count. The economic threshold is 10-20 per head.
For head moth, 2-5 moths per head is considered economic. The adult moths can be difficult to find because they are elusive and because they fold up their wings upon landing. Best techniques include scouting at dawn and dusk in light winds, while walking quietly. Some scouts use a flashlight.
Much more information is available from KSU by clicking here.
Updates: Dicamba Debacle and Wheat Test Plots
July 24, 2018
We have previously reported several times on the damage done by dicamba on soybeans after Monsanto began selling the dicamba resistant seed, and BASF sold the Engenia branded dicamba to treat that special seed. In this post, we reported that Monsanto had sued the Arkansas Board of Agriculture, and we later reported on the new extensive training requirements to use the "RUP dicamba" products. The industry has been worried that the EPA might ban dicamba outright if the damage to conventional soybeans was not minimized. We also opined that some of the problem might be volatilization, not physical drift, and that new herbicides need to be developed.
In this update on the 2018 season so far, Dr. Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri, asks some of the same questions that we asked.
Bradley reports that while the early reports of soybean damage are down from 2017, the numbers are still significant. He says that in 2017, there were "1,411 dicamba-related injury investigations being conducted by the various state Departments of Agriculture while university weed scientists estimated approximately 2.5 million acres of soybean had been injured with dicamba. To date, at about the same time in 2018, we have somewhere around 600 cases being investigated by the state departments of agriculture and approximately 1.1 million acres of soybean estimated with dicamba injury by university weed scientists."
In this unrelated article, we reported on the excellent and informative K-State Wheat Variety Demonstration Plots sponsored by Sunny Crest Farms and K-State University. Jeanne Falk-Jones has now published the 2018 results, and you can read them by clicking here.
Spider Mites in Corn
July 14, 2018
Many corn growers will soon be treating for spider mites. Last year, we noted that a new product--Portal XLO--was available, but priced substantially higher than either Comite 2 or Oberon.
The good news is that Portal XLO (fenpyroximate) is now priced competitively, and offers the best of all options.
Portal XLO controls all stages of mites, including eggs, and has a much shorter REI: 12 hours. (Comite 2 has a 13 day REI).
Portal XLO is advertised as being "soft on beneficial insects", and has a 14 day PHI (pre-harvest interval).
Timing is best when mite populations begin to build, and are 2 leaves below the ear leaf.
When applying a miticide, many farmers like to tank-mix in a fungicide--such as tebuconazole--since the application is already paid for. CoRoN can also be added for a foliar feed.
Talk with your consultant or contact us for more information.
Thunderstorms Wreak Havoc
June 20, 2018
On the evening of June 19th, 2018, a major thunderstorm complex moved through eastern Colorado and western Kansas.
The storm path was roughly parallel to Highway 36, so a drive from the port of entry north of Idalia, through Saint Francis, and toward Bird City revealed an alarming amount of crop damage.
The storm provided the full gamut of adverse effects, including damaged roofs and windows on houses, as well as extensive crop damage--not only to corn and wheat, but also some pasture ground. In addition, there was localized flooding, many damaged vehicles, and trees with stripped leaves and downed branches.
At least one mature cottonwood tree was completely uprooted (see photo).
The radar image as the storm approached was especially ominous, including a hook echo, which portends tornadic activity. Several tornadoes were reported, but not confirmed as this is written.
The plains are infamous for severe thunderstorms, but this one was worse than most.
Pre-Harvest Weed Control in Wheat
June 18, 2018
Wheat harvest in the tri-state area is rapidly approaching, and there are some area fields which will need pre-harvest weed control.
Timing and weed spectrum dictate the herbicide selection process. Timing is controlled by label limitations, and these include the wheat stage required prior to application and the pre-harvest interval (PHI).
Weed spectrum is mostly dictated by the amount of kochia, and whether you have susceptible or resistant kochia. Since most grasses and broadleaves are still controlled with a glyphosate and dicamba tank-mix, that is the most common choice. With this tank-mix, you must wait for the hard dough stage to apply, and you have a 7 day PHI. Application should be made as soon as the wheat is in the hard dough stage, both for efficacy and harvest timing.
However, if you have kochia that is resistant to both chemistries, you will have kochia failures with glyphosate/dicamba option. Then, you will need to aggressively control the resistant kochia after harvest, either with mechanical tillage or with a Starane-type (fluroxypyr) herbicide. Otherwise, the resulting seed will be predominantly resistant, and the kochia problem will likely be much worse in the future.
For the best control of resistant kochia, you can use a fluroxypyr product now. Colt-Salvo is a popular broadleaf control choice. Its label, interestingly, has no wheat stage limitations for pre-harvest application, but the PHI is forty days. This extremely long PHI is a significant barrier to usage: if you applied Colt-Salvo as this is written, the legal harvest date would be July 28th.
Given these choices, we think that most farmers will choose a dicamba/glyphosate tank-mix and simply accept some kochia failures. We wish there were better options, and we hope for better products and choices in the future. Here is an article from K-State Extension.
If you have wheat that needs pre-harvest treatment, contact us early so that we can apply as soon as the proper wheat stage and weather conditions permit. Delaying application will reduce control efficacy and needlessly delay your harvest dates.
Wheat Variety Test Plots
June 14, 2018
We attended the K-State Wheat Variety Demonstration Plots yesterday, June 13, 2018. The plots are five miles south of Wheeler, Kansas, and sponsored by Sunny Crest Farm and K-State University.
We counted about 45 people in attendance on the warm, windy evening.
There were 15-20 different wheat plots, and detailed comments about each wheat variety by two K-State specialists in plant pathology and agronomics, with comments by the local KSU contact, Jeanne Falk-Jones. The variety analysis included details on disease resistance, relative maturity speed, standability, leaf drop, yields, and drought resistance.
In addition, a pamphlet of previous results was distributed. The amount of information available was impressive. The 2017 results are published here.
It's a great event, and we appreciate the efforts of Sunny Crest Farms, Jeanne, and KSU. Nice work!
Honor Students: 14 Years
May 18, 2018
In 2005--so this is the 14th year--we launched our Honor Student Recognition Program. Our Honor Student Program is one that we love: it allows us to support scholastic excellence in the local high schools, a concept which we think is vitally important.
The Honor Student program is simple: the top five students in each High School class get special recognition via a letter and a momento. In 2018, the award was a wireless bluetooth headset displaying a "Honor Student" logo. The schools provide with the students' name, and we list them on our website, as well as provide the gifts to the school in time for the awards assembly at year's end.
As an extra bonus, we often get "thank you" notes from recipients of the award.
We are happy to announce that we have added Cheylin to the other two schools in the area: Idalia and Saint Francis. We wanted to include Cheylin for years, and it finally became possible this year.
Here is more about the Honor Student program and some of our other community programs.
K-State: Wheat Rust Update
May 6, 2018
The April 27, 2018, K-State eUpdate reports that stripe rust has arrived in southeast Kansas at low levels. Notably, the disease apparently traveled across the vast area of dry, poor wheat in Texas and Oklahoma. The lack of a wheat host which was thriving which was considered a mechanism to slow or suppress northward movement, so the arrival in Kansas was notable.
Despite this news, it is not clear if the disease will continue to spread across Kansas. The wheat crop in our region appears to have good yield potential, but might be behind in development stage, possibly because of cool weather and an extended spring.
The K-State article does quote Josh Coltrain, K-State Extension Agent in the Wildcat Extension District: "many growers are considering a fungicide to suppress stripe rust in the southeast region."
We have some growers who are now considering treatment, but the outlook is always difficult to predict. Best advice is to scout susceptible varieties (here is a K-State susceptible variety publication) and irrigated wheat first. Fields with high yield potential would come next in the process. To read the K-State eUpdate, please click here.
China Stops Importing US Soybeans
May 5, 2018
According to this Bloomberg story, China has stopped importing US soybeans. This termination of soybean imports is presumably in response to the growing trade war recently begun by the US. Last month, China annouinced tariffs on US soys, but now the world's largest oilseed processor--Bunge Ltd,--says China is ceasing US imports, relying instead on Canada, and to a greater degree, Brazil.
In our local area, soybeans are a relatively small percentage of the landscape, but they are important, and the implications of this action potentially affects other grain exports.
The article adds that, "Soybeans are the second-largest American crop and prices are heavily dependent on trade with the Asian nation, the world’s top importer."
The article continues, saying, "In the two weeks ended April 19, China canceled a net 62,690 metric tons of U.S. soybean purchases for the marketing year that ends Aug. 31, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. At this time of year, South American countries typically complete their harvests and become the dominant shippers for several months. Brazil’s lead on global exports is expected to widen to a record in the 2017-2018 season as it sells 73.1 million tons abroad versus 56.2 million from the U.S., the USDA estimates."
To read the entire Bloomberg article, please click here.
Ag Pilots And Video Cameras
April 25, 2018
About a week ago, a professional video crew--KEO Films--was working with a local pilot, Mike Callicrate of Callicrate Cattle Company, recording his landing as part of a documentary. By coincidence, we were returning from a job in the turbine Thrush ag aircraft, and saw the camera crew from a distance.
The old joke is that it is dangerous to get between a politician and a video camera, but a similar danger exists with ag pilots. So as soon as Mike's Piper Commanche cleared the runway, we dropped into the final approach slot on runway 14, and hoped for our fifteen minutes of fame. A careful approach and the judicious use of the Garret's beta power during rollout allowed us to stop precisely at the camera crew, resulting in this 34-second video.
We are admittedly biased, but we like this video, not to mention a fairly decent landing.
The video quality is reasonably high, so try the full-screen image. (It might take a few seconds to load if you have a slow connection: we feel your pain, but we hated to lose resolution.)
Finally, a big thank you to KEO Films for providing the footage.
Cheyenne County Land Auction
April 11, 2018
A land and mineral auction was held at Western Auction and Real Estate in Saint Francis, Kansas, on April 11, 2018.
Two tracts were sold: the first was 480 acres of grass and dryland. The second tract was for mineral rights on some adjoining property: the mineral rights for the first tract were sold with the tract 1 sale. The seller was Gladys E. Cullum.
The land in the first tract is located just southwest of Saint Francis: the W 1/2 and SE 1/4 of 12-4-14. The northwest quarter of the land is divided by a rural, hard-surfaced county road. The 480 acres were advertised as 130 acres of summer fallow, 156 acres of wheat, 152 acres of grass, and 39 acres of waste. The 2017 taxes were $1,945, and the wheat base was 141 acres with a PLC yield of 35 bu/acre. All of the land was shown as HEL and UHEL.
The second tract was listed as "An undivided 1/4 of all, gas, and other minerals...in NW 1/4 of 17-4-40 and the NW 1/4 of 8-4-40 and the seller's lease interest in section 17-4-40", the latter listed as $825.46 in 2017.
There were about fifty people attending the sale, and there were also telephone bids. The first tract sold to a local buyer for $740/acre, and the mineral rights sold for $14,000.
The Western Auction and Real Estate website is here.
Wheat Herbicides Postcard
March 23, 2018
Our area's wheat crop currently has excellent prospects: generally good stands, adequate sub-soil moisture, and recent rain and snow. It is time to consider your spring herbicide and top-dress options.
If you have any mustards or wild lettuce, treating now with Ally (metsulfuron), dicamba, and 2,4-D is a good option. This treatment must be applied before joint stage, and before the kochia grows out of its early dicamba-susceptible stage. This is the least expensive option, and with early timing, is a proven effective program, despite minor kochia resistance concerns.
No mustard in your wheat? Kochia and summer annuals can be treatment can be delayed up to the wheat's flag-leaf stage, using a tank-mix of Ally and Colt+Salvo, for a cost of less than $4/acre more than the early treatment above. Note: Colt+Salvo is a trade name for a mixture of the active ingredient in Starane (fluroxypyr) and 2,4-D.
Weed control with this tank-mix is normally very good, and is reliable on kochia, with no resistance issues. In addition, the soil activity is more likely to extend into the post-harvest stubble season, because of the later application date.
All herbicide applications in growing wheat aid harvest and also delay the stubble's post-harvest weed flush.
We have CoRoN in stock: If you want, we can add it to a herbicide applications for a foliar boost. Any CoRoN which lands on the dirt, as opposed to the leaf surface, needs incorporation by moisture to be effective. So earlier top-dress has more time to catch rain, but later applications have more leaf surface to "catch" the CoRoN. We think timing should be based more upon the weed profile than the top-dress considerations, but sooner is probably better than later if you are adding top-dress.
Remember that we leave no tracks, and we do all required application paperwork for you.
Questions? Please contact us.
The above article is from the postcard that we recently mailed to our customers. This article has some added detail that space constraints on the postcard prohibited. If you would like to be on the postcard mailing list, please contact us and give us your mailing address.
Pigweed DNA Sometimes Circular
March 16, 2018
Kansas State University researchers published a technical paper which outlines a previously unknown mechanism which allows Palmer amaranth plants to modify their DNA in order to rapidly develop resistance against the herbicide glyphosate. According to this article the new structure is described as extra-chromosomal circular DNA or eccDNA. It says, "Each eccDNA has one copy of the gene that produces an enzyme that is the target for glyphosate."
The KSU article says that “We found that glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth plants carry the glyphosate target gene in hundreds of copies,” Mithila Jugulam, a researcher, said. “Therefore, even if you applied an amount much higher than the recommended dose of glyphosate, the plants would not be killed.” “Because of the presence of hundreds of eccDNAs in each cell, the amount of the enzyme is also abundant,” researcher Bikram Gill said. “Therefore, the plant is not affected by glyphosate application and the weed is resistant to the herbicide.”
It is too soon to know if there are practical applications to be gleaned from this discovery, so KSU says that the existing practices for combating herbicide resistance should be followed. The study indicates that once a weed has acquired eccDNA, the resistance may evolve as quickly as one generation.
Grain Prices Rally
March 9, 2018
This article from Successful Farming outlines the recent rally in hard red winter wheat prices, along with soybeans and corn.
The article says, "... prices were reacting to the new developments that included the deterioration of the US HRW wheat crop as well as the Argentine 2018 crops. So, prices of winter wheat (and) corn are now near or at their highest price levels since August and highest prices for soybeans since Jan. 2016!"
Widespread drought conditions in the major wheat growing areas of the US, as well as in South America, are reportedly driving the rally in prices. Fortunately, here in the tri-state area, the abundant snows we had early in the year have helped soil moisture, and we are in much better shape than our neighbors to the south.
The article notes, "...as March unfolds we are at a most critical point in the crops development, as March and April usually make or break the winter wheat crop. Rains must arrive soon, or the winter wheat crop will suffer irreversible damage, as this is the time of year that winter wheat gets a good deal of its moisture and best growing season weather, typically. But currently, the warm/dry weather is forecast to continue through the next few weeks..."
We agree that spring rain would help a lot, but since our wheat is just now breaking dormancy, we can wait a little longer in this area. To read the entire Successful Farming article, please click here.
New Dicamba Certification Requirements
February 12, 2018
For the first time since 1958, when the dicamba molecule was discovered, some formulations now require a special training and certification to mix and apply the product. The new certification is added to your existing pesticide license in whichever state(s) that you have pesticide certification.
The new formulations are classified as Restricted Use Products (RUPs), so they require a pesticide license to purchase them, and the new additional training and certification to mix and apply them.
The new "RUP dicambas" are used on dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton varieties, and no other formulations of dicamba require the special certification, although the 1.5 hour training session might be useful to remind applicators of the safeguards to be employed when applying any pesticide. The RUP dicambas are now sold as FeXapan (DuPont), XtendiMax (Monsanto), and Engenia (BASF).
We attended a certification seminar held by DuPont in Colby, Kansas, on February 9, and found the discussion interesting. Because dicamba is slated for re-certification by the EPA in November, 2018, and because of the debacle (click here for our previous reporting ) that occurred in the 2017 growing season, the chemical industry says that they are very concerned that if the new practices and record-keeping requirements aren't adopted for this season, there is a very real chance that dicamba could be lost to agriculture. As you might imagine, this loss would be considered a major issue for both the chemical companies and for agriculture in general, given the widespread usage of relatively inexpensive dicamba products.
We don't have enough space to go over all of the new requirements, but here are a few highlights of the training seminar:
-certification is automatic upon attendance of the training: no testing is required.
-the RUP dicambas must be applied in less than 10 mph winds, and no treatment is allowed if susceptible crops exist downwind and adjacent to the the target crop.
-15 gpa is the required volume, and nozzles used must be on a list of approved nozzles which is obtained from the label's website.
-before application, the applicator is required to read the label website to get the most recent information.
-all tank mix products must be listed--by trade name, not merely active ingredient--on the label website.
-the spraying equipment must be cleaned, using an approved procedure, both before and after application.
-the record keeping requirements are extensive if not onerous: there are 16 parameters that must be recorded.
-a 110 foot wide buffer-strip must be left if there are non-cropland targets downwind. The buffer strip is not for crop damage protection, but rather an endangered-species requirement mandated by lawsuits against the EPA by environmental groups.
-even very small amounts of AMS in the tank mix will greatly increase the dicamba's volatility, which is why the equipment cleaning requirement is so extensive.
-it has been demonstrated that non-resistant soybeans will exhibit cupped leaves if subjected to an application rate of dicamba that is only 1/20,000 of the labeled rate.
DuPont believes that some of new requirements, especially those concerning buffer strips for endangered species and the enhanced record keeping, might be required for new herbicides as they are granted labels by the EPA.
Even though many farmers in our area only use the older formulations of dicamba, and therefore won't need the additional certification, it would be a good idea to review your current practices and record-keeping. We imagine that regulatory agencies will be on increased alert this summer for misuse of any form of dicamba, not just the RUP formulations.