Which weather forecasters are best at predicting precipitation and accurate temperatures?

Photo by Free Images

Weather forecasting is a competitive business, with many local, national and global options vying for your attention. There must be differences among them all, which begs the question – who gives the most accurate weather forecasts?

A group called ForecastWatch devotes all of its time to answering this question, as it turns out. From 2010 to 2016, ForecastWatch has analyzed more than 142 forecasts. It rated each one as accurate if precipitation predictions came true, and if high and low temperature forecasts came within three degrees Fahrenheit.

ForecastWatch then sorted the results into three categories – 1-3 day forecasts, 3-5 day forecasts and 6-9 day forecasts. The results were very close in several instances, but The Weather Channel and Weather Underground were often in the top two from year to year.

Here’s a look at the accuracy winners:

1-3 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2016), Weather Underground (2014, 2015) and MeteoGroup (2012)

3-5 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2015-tie, 2016), Weather Underground (2015-tie) and MeteoGroup (2012, 2013, 2014)

6-9 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) and Foreca (2012, 2014)

Other groups measured included Intellicast, AccuWeather, Dark Sky and World Weather Online. You can review the entire results here.

The data show that the law of diminished returns definitely holds true for weather forecasting. The 1-3 day forecasts were the most accurate, with the best forecasters getting it right about 75% of the time. The best 3-5 day forecasts slip to around 70% accuracy, while the best 6-9 day forecasts call it accurately just under 60% of the time.

AgWeb has a whole section devoted to weather news, analysis, real-time conditions and plenty of ag-specific maps that track cumulative rainfall, soil temperatures, soil moisture, growing degree days and much more. Go towww.agweb.com/weather to learn more.

Polar Vortex Redux? U.S. Forecasters say it Could Hit Next Week

image001Forecasters are sending chills down some spines with a prediction that much of the northern half of the United States could see frigid weather next week similar to life-threatening lows the polar vortex brought to parts of the country in 2014.

Anticipation of a freezing blast began to build this week when weather maps and forecast models showed similarities between next week’s system and one that developed in January 2014.

“Upper-level atmosphere configuration very similar in scale & magnitude as infamous Jan 2014 #PolarVortex popularized by me and @afreedma,” meteorologist Ryan Maue said on Twitter on Tuesday alongside maps comparing the two weather systems.

The southward shift in the polar vortex in 2014 brought the Midwest some of its coldest weather in two decades. Icy conditions snarled travel and thousands of flights were canceled or delayed.

Frigid temperatures combined with gusting winds to create life-threatening wind chills as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (minus 51 Celsius) that killed at least nine people.

The coldest weather next week is expected in the Midwest and Northeastern starting around Tuesday, according to forecasts that show temperatures in the single digits in some cities.

“The air mass on the way for the middle of December is likely to be substantially colder when compared to that of this past week and this weekend,” AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok wrote on Thursday.

Temperatures from the Northern and Central plains to wide swathes of the Midwest are likely to drop by between 5 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit compared to temperatures this week, according to AccuWeather.

It is unclear how far south the cold air will be felt, according to Pastelok.

Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest, is bracing for temperatures in the teens next week, according to an AccuWeather forecast, which showed a low of 17 Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius) for Wednesday and Thursday.

Further north in Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul NBC affiliate KARE forecasted temperatures dropping to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) on Tuesday of next week, then 8 degrees (minus 13 Celsius) on Wednesday.

By Reuters December 09, 2016 | 8:24 am EST

What’s to Come?

According to the political Monday morning quarterbacks, Donald Trump’s victory was fueled in part by strong support from rural America. Look at the cornfields of Iowa to illustrate the importance of flyover states. No doubt Trump garnered a bumper crop of support from those in agriculture.

The obvious questions now are what does Trump’s election mean for the agricultural sector and how might it steer technology adoption in the near future? Much of Trump’s support was garnered because of his “get the government off our backs” message. Specifically, Trump cited EPA overreach initiatives like the Waters of the United States ruling. Meanwhile, his inclusion of ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Act toward the goal of domestic energy independence was not missed by food, fiber and fuel producers.

Issues in focus. There are two other issues that may prove to be wildcards in impacting ag. Those are a more nationalistic trade agenda and a massive national infrastructure overhaul.

Trade policy under Trump could be the biggest prickly pear. The concern is whether ag exports would be caught in the middle of friendly fire of any trade war with major importers such as China and Mexico. Farmers who lived through Carter’s Russian grain embargo of 1980 certainly didn’t like seeing their fruits of labor being used as a political weapon. It’s a slippery slope, indeed.

In any such spat, there are some interesting ways U.S. producers could protect themselves from such collateral damage. Even as positive as U.S. ag exports are for the country as a whole, even most producers would be shocked at just how much food is imported. Are our land, resources and knowledge growing the foods and ultimately delivering the products the consumer craves? Bottom line: Should and could we be growing something different on millions of acres instead of corn and soybeans?  And could technology make that happen?

A sidebar to its trade stance–that may be more of a real-and-now issue–is how a Trump administration will view global mergers with companies based outside the U.S., for example, ChemChina/Syngenta or Bayer/Monsanto. The oversight by a Trump Federal Trade Commission could change the direction of Big Ag and Big Data. Would a Monsanto-owned Precision Planting sale to John Deere have a better or worse chance of going through? It’s certainly food for thought.

If there is to be a massive infrastructure push in this country it is imperative that rural America have equal seating at the table. It has to be real, unlike the hollow promises of the previous administration to cover small towns and farms with affordable high-speed Internet. This time such investment needs to be real and tangible. If done the right way it will transform rural America like the rural electric coops did in the 1930s, empowering an entire nation not just its big cities.

Technology investments like high-speed Internet and moving high-tech companies from out-of-touch addresses in San Francisco to the Silicon Prairie (Kansas City, Omaha and Sioux Falls) can and will transform rural America. Only time will tell if it’ll happen. Regardless, the course of agriculture and its related technologies have been changed forever.

Agronomy Update



As harvest is in full swing in Indiana, growers are coming across a number of issues as they are shelling corn. These issues are unsettling in a year that many growers are calling a disappointing corn harvest. Coffee shop talk has yields ranging from below whole farm averages where the growing season, in particular grain fill, was too wet or too dry, to just above whole farm averages where the growing season was seemingly perfect. Across Indiana though, most growers are experiencing some of the same challenges as the harvest season ensues. Many are claiming this to be “The Year of the Molds” while some are claiming it to be “The Year of the Worms,” and some unfortunate growers are calling it both.

Regardless of what you’re calling it on your farm, these agronomic issues should be noted. A change in harvest schedule and crop planning for the following years may need a changeup. Given varying environmental conditions, some of the common challenges that farmers are reporting have included ear rots, stalk rots, sprouting ears, or weak shanks. Wet conditions occurring during drydown has created an environment favorable for various diseases. Fields damaged by insect pressure such as corn ear worm and western bean cutworm can also increase the potential for ear rots to set in. All of the above issues can cause yield loss, and in some cases, cause significant grain quality loss. Below are some management tips on dealing with potential ear or stalk issues during harvest.

Correctly identifying the ear mold is important in order to understand your risk potential for grain marketing and/or livestock feeding. Some ear molds are capable of producing mycotoxins. To help identify the disease, consider the conditions the crop was planted into, the field history, and the environmental conditions at tasseling, silking, and pollination. Please see the table below (Table 1) for assistance in identifying ear molds.

Table 1. Common Ear Molds in Corn
Disease Diplodia Gibberella Cladosporium Fusarium Aspergillus
Ideal Environment Warm, moist conditions during silking Cool, moist conditions during silking Cool, moist conditions and damaged ear Hot, dry conditions and damaged ear Hot, dry conditions and damaged ear, especially during pollination
Husk Type Most Susceptible Loose Tight Loose Loose N/A
Mycotoxin Potential No Yes No Yes Yes
For more in-depth information on specific ear rots and management visit:
U.S Corn Pathologists Ear Rot Fact Sheet or Agronomy Bulletin 4- Ear Molds in Corn

Once you have determined ear rot exists, and you have diagnosed which ear rot you have, it is time to develop an action plan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established the levels of mycotoxins allowed in corn, so grain elevators actively test for mycotoxins. Minimizing mycotoxins at harvest time is important. If you are seeing 30 percent or more ears showing signs of being infected with rots that have the ability to produce mycotoxins likeGibberella and Fusarium, grain testing for mycotoxins is advised.

Harvest infected fields as soon as possible and dry the corn to 15 percent moisture. Store infected grain in temperatures less than 55 degrees to reduce the spread and growth of the fungus. Once harvested, it is advised to keep the infected grain separate from non-infected grain to avoid contamination. Avoid long term grain storage if possible, and move the grain through the appropriate channels immediately.

If long term storage is necessary, it is advised to dry the grain to 13 percent moisture or less. If the grain will be feed to livestock, test for mycotoxin levels before feeding.

For more information on mycotoxins and sampling visit these links: Mycotoxin Fact Sheet or Mycotoxin Sampling 

As harvest is progressing and many growers have switched to harvesting soybeans, those corn fields still standing are at further risk of lodging due to stalk rots. Stalk rots such as Anthranose are very prevalent across the corn belt and can cause significant yield loss if infected fields aren’t harvested in a timely fashion. Make sure to scout fields and assess which fields have the highest, or potential, of stalk rot infection. Plan to harvest those fields first to minimize yield loss.

For more information on specific stalk rots visit this link: Stalk Rots or Agronomy Bulletin 52 – Stalk Rots.

Ear drop is an issue that can take place during harvest that is usually caused by a combination of various factors, with weather stress as the biggest reason for ear drop issues. When high temperatures occur while the corn plant is silking, there is a high chance for a weak shank to develop. Most high-yielding hybrids will still make every effort to produce as much grain as possible, filling out the whole ear. This puts more weight on the already weakened shank.

Disease, drought stress, premature death, and insect pressure can also hinder shank strength. Ear drop can vary drastically by planting date, environment, genetics, and other agronomic factors. Ear drop typically won’t happen with specific genetics year-over-year due to the variations in the above factors.

To minimize the risk of ear drop, harvest fields with the highest probability of drop first. Where ear drop is a problem, running the combine head as high as possible and adjusting the combine ground and header speed can help minimize harvest lost by increasing ear retention. With any sort of harvest loss, be sure to have a plan for the next growing season for potential volunteer corn issues.

For more information on ear drop visit this link: Ear Drop 

Ear sprout, also referred to a vivipary, is the premature germination of corn kernels on the ear before harvest.

This is a rare occurrence, but usually takes place when the ear has dried down to 20 percent moisture or less and the ear takes on water while temperatures are still warm. Typically sprouted ears occur when the ears are still upright on the stalk and excess moisture is collected in the husk leaves.

Highly infected fields can have yield loss and extremely poor grain quality. Harvest infected field first, and dry the grain at a higher temperature to prevent further growth of the seedlings. Screening the grain before storage is also encouraged to reduce the amount of damaged grain in the storage bin.

For more information on ear sprouting visit this link: Vivipary 

No two growing season are alike. Each year Mother Nature provides different weather, and each grower farms differently on different soil types in different geographies.

If you are experiencing any of the above issues at harvest, environmental factors played a large hand in affecting the genetics you planted.

Work with your local Mycogen Representative and Commercial Agronomist to help select specific genetics and create a management plan to reduce the risks of the above occurrences in years to come, while at the same time choosing genetics that will give you the best chance of success for optimal yields.

The information and recommendations in this document are presented in good faith and for general information only. The information is believed to be correct as of the date presented. However, neither Dow AgroSciences LLC nor any of its related companies makes any representation or warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of any of the information. The reader assumes the entire risk of relying on the information.

®™Mycogen, the Mycogen Logo, and the Dow Diamond are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow.
©2016 Dow AgroSciences LLC.

Mycogen Seeds
9330 Zionsville Road
Indianapolis, IN  46268

How one farmer achieved world-record soybean yields

image001Dowdy at a recent press conference concerning his 171 bu. per acre soybean achievement. Photo by Sonja Begemann

Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy gained a new title last week. In addition to being a former world record winner for corn yield, last week he won highest soybean yield on record with a 171 bu. average.

In Georgia, soybean yield typically tops out at 80 bu. per acre, but three years ago Dowdy started on a mission reach 100 bu. per acre and after hitting it the first year wanted to see “how high they’d go.”

“[This year] we saw as high as 227 bushels per acre,” Dowdy says. He practiced careful management and made sure his soybeans never saw stress to achieve his record yield.

The work started before his seeds hit the ground. “We pulled soil samples preseason, looked at our goals and put down the recommended amount,” he says.

In addition to the standard N-P-K fertilizers he added micronutrients to maximize what the plant could take up and use. He started the season by applying poultry litter, planted cover crops [after they were killed, the nutrients in the residue mineralized to be used by the soybeans] and put out potash and other essential macro and micro nutrients preplant. Throughout the season he also pulled tissue samples to make sure the plants stayed within a comfortable range and applied nutrients throughout the season through fertigation or foliar application as needed.

Dowdy plants as early as he can and uses 15” row spacing and 130,000 to 150,000 plants per acre. In year one he used 30” row spacing but after learning he could gain 7 bu. per acre by switching to narrower rows he quickly made the switch.

Throughout the season he carefully managed environmental stress applying herbicides, insecticides and fungicides as needed. “One of the biggest stress times we saw was after spraying herbicide [post application],” Dowdy says. “We applied a fungicide as it [soybean crop] started to recover.”

Throughout the season he used irrigation to help alleviate stress from the extreme heat that often plagues Georgia. He says he used what he’s learned in corn and applied it to irrigating soybeans and found running pivot irrigation at night was the most beneficial method.

All and all he is excited about the accomplishment and grateful for everyone involved. “This has been a collaborative effort,” Dowdy says. He worked closely with fertilizer, chemical, seed and other input providers to minimize stress and maximize yield on each acre.

What are the highest yields you’ve seen in your area? Do you think 171 bu. per acre is attainable in a cost-efficient way?

By Sonja Begemann September 13, 2016 | 7:13 am EDT

Xtend Soybeans Finally Gain EU Import Approval

image002Farmers using Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans have more options for selling at the end of the year. On Friday, Xtend soybeans gained final approval in the European Union for food/feed use.

Xtend includes dicamba and glyphosate tolerance, which will eventually allow for over-the-top use of both herbicides in soybeans.

“It’s important to remind growers that, at this time, there are still no dicamba formulations registered for in-crop use in the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or Bollgard II XtendFlex in the U.S.,” says Miriam Paris, U.S. soybean marketing manager. “The approvals for in-crop use of dicamba are in late stages of review by the EPA and are tracking for a late summer, early fall approval.”

Farmers planning to use Xtend need to wait for final EPA approval before post-spraying dicamba.

Monsanto is preparing to launch the product on about 15 million acres in 2017. The company has also licensed the trait to Pioneer, Syngenta and others.

By Sonja Begemann July 22, 2016 | 10:22 am EDT

What is causing yellow soybeans?

image001Figure 1. Nitrogen deficiency in soybeans.

Photo by Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, K-State Research and Extension

When soybeans turn yellow at an early stage of growth, there are several possible explanations.

Nitrogen (N) deficiency. In fields that have been extremely wet or extremely dry, or under severe early heat stress, rhizobial nodule development can be delayed, resulting in N deficiency. As soil moisture levels return to more normal conditions (if a short-term stress), the nodule-forming bacteria will go to work and the deficiency symptoms will quickly disappear. With N deficiency, it is usually the lower leaves that are chlorotic or pale green. Within the plant, any available N from the soil or from N fixation within nodules on the roots goes to the new growth first.

Soybeans doublecropped after wheat can be N deficient for a short period of time shortly after emergence until the beans become well nodulated. As the wheat straw decomposes, some of the soil available N will be immobilized, making it unavailable to the young soybean plants. Applying a small amount of N (no more than 30 lbs acre) at planting time to soybeans planted into wheat residue is the best way to avoid early-season N deficiency.

Hail damage can also cause N deficiency in soybeans at times. If the foliage is damaged enough so that the plant can’t provide enough food for the rhizobia on the roots, the rhizobia will slough off the roots or become temporarily inactive. If this happens, the plants may temporarily become N deficient. Plants normally recover from this as regrowth progresses and photosynthates are translocated to the nodules.

Nitrogen deficiency due to a failure of soybeans to nodulate properly has also been a problem at times where soybeans are planted into new acres with no history of soybean production. In recent years, there have been reports of inoculated soybeans planted on “virgin” fields that have failed to produce nodules, resulting in N deficiency. An examination of the root systems showed very few or no nodules. Previous studies show that a rescue application of 90 to 120 pounds of N per acre gave good returns in these situations. A rescue application should be considered only if N deficiency symptoms are confirmed, and applications should be made as soon as possible to increase N uptake.

Iron (Fe) chlorosis. Soils that are too wet can also induce temporary symptoms of Fe chlorosis. With Fe chlorosis, the top most leaves will turn yellow, but the veins remain green. This problem is usually more serious in soils with highly alkaline pH. Additionally, soybean varieties have varying tolerance to Fe chlorosis so certain varieties may show more of the symptom than others.


Figure 2. Iron chlorosis on soybeans. The upper leaves become chlorotic.

Photo by Doug Jardine, K-State Research and Extension.

Excess nitrate in the soil can exacerbate problems of Fe chlorosis in fields with high soil pH and prone to causing Fe chlorosis problems. This can be particularly noticeable during early soybean growth.

An interesting phenomenon that occasionally has been observed is that soybean plants in slightly more compacted soil (for example in the wheel tracks associated with the last tillage pass) will be greener and display less yellowing from Fe chlorosis than the rest of the field. Recent studies have shown that soil nitrate concentrations in these wheel tracks are typically lower, so Fe chlorosis symptoms are alleviated compared to the rest of the field. The areas of compacted soil have less oxygen, likely resulting in more denitrification. Areas of higher soybean population in the field can also show greener conditions. Higher plant populations and greater root density can reduce the negative effect of higher soil nitrate concentrations on Fe chlorosis in the volume of soil.


Figure 3. Field of soybeans with iron chlorosis, showing greener areas in the wheel tracks.

Photo by Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, K-State Research and Extension

Potassium (K) deficiency. Another cause of yellowing could be K deficiency. Contrary to Fe deficiency, K deficiency is typically more common later in the season. Deficiency symptoms include an irregular yellow mottling around leaflet margins. The yellow areas coalesce to form a more or less continuous, irregular yellow border. Again, as with N, you can see symptoms both in fields that are too wet or too dry. Most of the time, the symptoms will fade with improved soil conditions that allow good root growth, unless the field is truly deficient in K. Potassium deficiency can also be caused by soil compaction, which limits root growth and development.


Figure 4. Yellowing around leaflet margins from potassium deficiency.

Photo by Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, K-State Research and Extension.





Figure 5. Chlorosis of the lower leaves from potassium deficiency shows up first on lower leaves.

Photo by Dave Mengel, K-State Research and Extension.

Rooting restrictions. Anything that restricts expansion of the root system (e.g. extremely wet or dry soil, compaction layers, sidewall compaction, root insects and disease etc.) can lead to reduced growth (Fig. 6) and potential leaf yellowing. With a restricted root system, the growing plant can’t access the nutrients it needs to make more leaves. As a result, many of the nutrient deficiencies described above can show up in fields where you might not expect them based on a typical soil test.

image007Figure 6. Rooting restrictions during early growth for soybeans.

Photos by Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.



Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist and Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, Nutrient Management Specialist, Kansas State University June 20, 2016 | 12:45 pm EDT

Bayer defies critics with $62 billion Monsanto offer

German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, defying criticism from some of its own shareholders in a bid to grab the top spot in a fast-consolidating farm supplies industry.

The unsolicited proposal, which includes debt, would be the largest foreign takeover by a German company if accepted.

The move, which would eclipse a planned combination of Dow Chemical and DuPont’s agriculture units, comes just three weeks after Werner Baumann took over as Bayer CEO, and was condemned by a major shareholder as “arrogant empire-building” when news of the proposal emerged last week.

Giving details for the first time, Bayer said on Monday it would offer $122 per share, a 37 percent premium to Monsanto’s stock price before rumors of a bid surfaced.

“We fully expect a positive answer of the Monsanto board of directors,” Baumann told reporters on a conference call, describing criticism from some investors as “an uneducated reaction in the media” when deal terms were not yet known, and driven by an element of surprise.

Monsanto, which said last week it had a received an approach from Bayer but gave no details, has yet to comment on the offer. The U.S. company’s shares jumped 9.5 percent to $111.17 in pre-market trading.

“Upper Limit”

Global agrochemicals companies are racing to consolidate, partly in response to a drop in commodity prices that has hit farm incomes and also due to the growing convergence between seeds and pesticides markets.

ChemChina is buying Switzerland’s Syngenta for $43 billion after Syngenta rejected a bid from Monsanto, while Dow and DuPont are forging a $130 billion business.

With German rival BASF also looking into a possible tie-up with Monsanto, Bayer has moved to avoid being left behind.

Baumann rejected suggestions from some investors that Bayer should instead try to forge a joint venture with Monsanto, saying this would have tax disadvantages.

Sources close to the matter have said BASF is unlikely to start a bidding war with Bayer. BASF declined to comment on Monday. But analysts say Bayer might still have to pay more to persuade Monsanto and its shareholders to sell up.

That could be a problem, with some saying Bayer’s proposal, at 15.8 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the year ended Feb. 29, is already a stretch for the German company.

“The price that has now been disclosed is at the upper limit and it is just about economical. Should it rise further, which is to be assumed, the takeover will become increasingly unattractive,” said Markus Manns, a fund manager at Union Investment, Bayer’s 14th biggest investor.

Shares in Bayer, which had already fallen 14 percent since rumors of a bid emerged last week, dropped as much as 3.6 percent on Monday to a new 2-1/2 year low of 86.3 euros.

“Very Ambitious”

Bayer said it would finance the bid with a combination of debt and equity, primarily a share sale to existing investors. Equity would account for about a quarter of the deal value.

Equinet analyst Marietta Miemietz, who has a ‘buy’ rating on Bayer stock, said the extra debt appeared manageable but could limit Bayer’s ability to invest in its healthcare business, which some analysts think needs a boost to its drugs pipeline.

Baumann said Bayer would continue to develop its healthcare arm, which includes stroke prevention pill Xarelto and aspirin, the painkiller it invented more than a century ago.

“We are not feeding Peter by starving Paul here,” he said, adding no asset sales were planned to help pay for the deal.

Bayer also forecast synergies from a deal with Monsanto would boost annual earnings by around $1.5 billion after three years, plus additional future benefits from integrated product offerings – a reference to its push to combine the development and sale of seeds and crop protection chemicals.

Berenberg analysts, who have a ‘buy’ rating on Bayer shares, described the synergies estimate as “very ambitious.”

By Ludwig Burger and Georgina Prodhan, Reuters May 23, 2016 | 8:56 am EDT

Congress questions EPA on glyphosate, atrazine

EPA is under fire from the House of Representatives, this time for agency decisions on two common herbicides.

In a May 11 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the House Agriculture Committee questioned why EPA posted and then quickly removed a “final report” on glyphosate’s cancer risk. The committee had similar questions for EPA regarding a preliminary report on the environmental effects of atrazine, another popular weed-killer.

“We are troubled that EPA mistakenly posted and later removed documents related to assessments of two different chemicals within one week,” the letter said. “These mistakes indicate systemic problems with EPA’s management of its chemical review and publication processes.”

Members are also frustrated by the pace of EPA’s process. “We are concerned that EPA has continually delayed its review of glyphosate,” the letter said.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology also wants answers from EPA about the glyphosate report slip-up.

“EPA’s removal of this report and subsequent backtracking on its finality raises questions about the agency’s motivation in providing a fair assessment of glyphosate,” the committee said in a May 4 letter to EPA’s McCarthy.

Both agencies have requested EPA to respond to their questions by May 18.

By Alison Rice, Markets and News Editor, AgWeb.com May 16, 2016 | 7:53 am EDT

University of Illinois research finds declining sulfur levels

Power plants burned coal that released sulfur into the atmosphere, but coal use has declined. Today, coal plants use scrubbers to remove sulfur, or burn low-sulfur western coal. This has led to a large decrease in sulfur emissions, and less atmospheric deposition of sulfate to agricultural fields. This has led to declining sulfate concentrations in rivers. Groundwater can be another source of sulfur in rivers when it comes in contact with underground coal or pyrite seams. In this sample from an Illinois mine, pyrite is visible as gold flecks in the center of the coal.

Air pollution legislation to control fossil fuel emissions and the associated acid rain has worked – perhaps leading to the need for sulfur fertilizers for crop production. A University of Illinois study drawing from more than 20 years of data shows that sulfur levels in Midwest watersheds and rivers have steadily declined, so much so that farmers may need to consider applying sulfur in the not too distant future.

“We don’t think there are actual sulfur deficiencies yet, but clearly more sulfur is coming out of the soil and water than what is going in,” says U of I biogeochemist Mark David. “As the Clean Air Act and amendments have taken effect there has been a reduction in sulfur emissions from coal combustion, so that the amount of atmospheric sulfur deposited each year is only 25 percent of what it used to be. At some point, farmers are going to have to fertilize with sulfur.”
David says farmers whose fields have fine-textured soils that are high in organic matter have less of a concern. “For many, it could be 10 or 20 years from now, but for some, particularly those farming on poorer soils, it’ll be sooner. Farmers whose fields have poorer soil or notice a yield reduction may want to have their soil tested for sulfate. If it registers low, they can consider applying fertilizer.”

David explains that sulfur in soil comes from two main sources. It’s in the air from fossil fuel combustion and in groundwater where water has come in contact with coal or pyrite seams. It comes out of the soil through tile-drained fields and it is taken up into plants as they grow and are then harvested. Most fields in Illinois do not receive fertilizers containing sulfur. Some in the Embarras and Kaskaskia watersheds apply ammonium sulfate, which adds not just nitrogen, but also sulfur.

In their study, David and his team analyzed data from three rivers in east-central Illinois at times when the flow was high and low from the field drainage tiles and the rivers. Sulfate concentrations were greatest in the Salt Fork River, followed by the Embarras, and then the Kaskaskia Rivers.

“As we go from northeast to southwest across this part of Illinois, the sulfate that we think is from groundwater near coal seams, decreases. In the Tuscola and Atwood areas, we don’t think there are any groundwater sulfate inputs.

“When we looked at a whole variety of fields with tile drainage systems, we found that some had very low sulfate concentrations – just a few milligrams per liter. One farm in our study had applied bed ash from a power plant. We saw high concentrations of sulfate in that field. There’s no doubt that it boosted the level of sulfur. But over the next three or four years most of it had washed out through the tile system,” co-author and U of I agronomist Lowell Gentry says.

The long-term nature of the study allowed the team to do watershed balances and look at the inputs and outputs of the sulfur “budget” for the area.

“That balance is negative, with greater outputs from harvest and leaching, than inputs from atmospheric deposition and fertilizers, so what is missing is coming from the soil. There is a lot of sulfur in soil in organic forms and that’s being slowly depleted. At some point, there won’t be enough to keep up with what the crop needs. That’s when farmers will need to add fertilizer,” Gentry says.

David began his career in the 1980s studying the effects of acid rain – a main ingredient of which is sulfur. “Back then no one ever thought about fertilizing with sulfur because there was always plenty of atmospheric sulfur available from burning coal.”

The samples David collected over the past two decades were primarily used to track nitrates that enter the rivers via drainage tiles in agricultural fields, and eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico. He says that unlike nitrate, “sulfate is not a problem in Midwestern streams and rivers. It’s not like other chemicals that cause problems downstream and in the Gulf.”

David believes that this is the first study looking at long-term trends in sulfur in agricultural areas. “Most of the studies about atmospheric deposition in sulfur have been in forested watersheds in the northeast where lakes were acidified, such as in the Adirondack Mountains in New York and in streams in the Appalachian Mountains, areas that were sensitive to acid rain. Sulfate is more of a problem in the northeast in forest soils,” he says.

“Riverine response of sulfate to declining atmospheric sulfur deposition in agricultural watersheds” is published in the Journal of Environmental Quality and is available online through open access. It was written by Mark B. David, Lowell E. Gentry, and Corey A. Mitchell.

The work is based on research partially supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, under Agreement No. 2011-039568-31127, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program through HATCH Project ILLU-875-935, and the Energy Biosciences Institute.

By University of Illinois May 11, 2016 | 8:08 am EDT

Learn About 12 New Soybean Herbicides

3024373c046e45d08e9271a5b8ca85091Several new herbicides were recently registered for weed control in soybean. These herbicides do not have an active ingredient with a new mode of action; but rather are pre-mixes of existing herbicides that can provide excellent weed control if applied according to label directions. A season-long weed management plan should include herbicides with multiple modes of action. (See Classification of Herbicides by Mode and Site of Action and Chemical Family, excerpted from the 2016 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management in Nebraska, available at Marketplace.unl.edu.)

The following soybean herbicides should be available for the 2016 growing season.

Afforia™ [flumioxazin (40.8%) thifensulfuron methyl (5%) tribenuron-methyl (5%)]. This is for burndown and preplant residual control of broadleaf weeds and partial control of annual grasses in soybean. It has two modes of action and rapidly inhibits the growth of susceptible weeds. It can be applied at 2.5 oz/ac a day before planting soybean or 2.5 to 3.75 oz/ac if applied at least 7 days before planting soybean. Crop injury may occur from applications to poorly drained soils under cool, wet conditions. EPA Reg. No. 352-889. Modes of action: 14, 2.

Authority®Elite [sulfentrazone (7.55) S-metolachlor (68.25)]. It is a soil-applied herbicide for control of broadleaf, grass, and sedge weeds in soybeans. The crop rotation restriction for corn and sorghum is 10 months. A maximum of 38.7 fl oz/ac can be applied per year. EPA Reg. No. 279-3442. BroadAxe XC EPA Reg. No. 279-3442-100. Modes of action: 14, 15.

Authority®Maxx [sulfentrazone (62.12) clorimuron-ethyl (3.88)]. It can be applied pre-plant or pre-emergence in soybean for broadleaf and partial grass weed control. The application rate is 6 to 9 oz/ac depending on soil texture and organic matter content. EPA Reg. No. 279-9560. Modes of action: 14, 2.

Fierce™ [flumioxazin (33.5%) pyroxasulfone (42.5%)]. Fierce is a new premix for pre-emergence control of broadleaf and grass weeds. The use of residual herbicides can help manage or prevent the development of glyphosate-resistant weed biotypes and reduce early season weed competition. Flumioxazin is a PPO inhibitor and pyroxasulfone is a seedling growth inhibitor. EPA Reg. No. 63588-93-59639. Modes of action: 14, 15.

Fierce XLT [flumioxazin (24.57%) pyroxasulfone (31.17%) chlorimuron (6.67%)]. Fierce XLT in Nebraska can only be used in fields south of US Route 30 and east of US Route 281. This herbicide provides residual control of broadleaf and grass weeds in soybean. It also provides additional burndown activity when used as part of a burndown program. Moisture is necessary to activate this herbicide in soil for residual weed control. Do not apply more than 5.25 oz/ac per growing season. Do not apply additional herbicides containing chlorimuron to fields treated with Fierce XLT. Modes of action: 14, 15, 2.

Marvel™ [fluthiacet-methyl (1.2%) fomesafen (30.08%)]. It is a new premix herbicide from FMC for post-emergence weed control in soybean. It can be applied at 5 to 7.25 fl oz/ac from pre-plant through full flowering stage (prior to R3). It is a contact herbicide and therefore, thorough coverage is essential for optimum weed control. Do not apply more than 7.25 fl oz/ac per application and 9.75 fl oz/ac per year. EPA Reg. No. 279-3455. Mode of action: 14.

Ransom™ [flumioxazin (12.92%) metribuzin (56%)]. It is a selective herbicide for pre-emergence control or suppression of susceptible broadleaf weeds and certain annual grass weeds in soybeans. It also offers control of certain emerged broadleaf weeds when applied as part of a burndown treatment. EPA Reg. No. 66222-260. Modes of action: 14, 5.

Rovel™ [flumioxazin (51%)]. It can be applied to soybeans prior to planting or pre-emergence application must be made within three days of planting soybean. Application after soybeans have begun to crack, or are emerged, will result in severe crop injury. Do NOT apply more than 3 oz/ac per growing season. EPA Reg. No. 59639-99-524. Mode of action: 14.

Rovel™ FX [flumioxazin (30%) chlorimuron (10.3%)]. It is a selective herbicide for pre-emergence control of broadleaf weeds and suppression of certain annual grasses in soybeans. Do NOT apply more than 5 oz/ac during a single growing season. EPA Reg. No. 59639-117-524. Modes of action: 2, 14.

Surveil® herbicide [Surveil V (flumioxazin 51%); Surveil® FR (cloransulam-methyl 84%)]. This is a new premix formulation for pre-emergence control of certain weeds in soybeans. Read herbicide label for complete directions to use. EPA Reg. No. 62719-689. Modes of action: 14, 2.

Trivence™ [chlorimuron ethyl (3.9%) flumioxazin (12.8%) metribuzin (44.6%)]. Trivence is a burndown as well as a residual herbicide that may be applied preplant or pre-emergence to soybean. It has three modes of action and rapidly inhibits the growth of susceptible weed species. It can be applied at 6 to 9 oz/ac depending on soil texture and soil pH. EPA Reg. No. 352-887. Modes of action: 2, 5, 14.

Warrant Ultra [acetochlor (30.2%) fomesafen (7.1%)]. It can be applied as a preplant surface, pre-emergence, or post-emergence treatment in soybean. It can provide residual as well as burndown activity.  It can be applied only once per growing season and is limited to a maximum of 48 fl oz/ac applied in alternate years in Nebraska. Modes of action: 15, 14.

Always refer to herbicide product label for complete details and directions for use.

More information about the efficacy of these herbicides is available in the 2016 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska (EC130) available online to purchase at https://marketplace.unl.edu/extension/extpubs/ec130.html. Cost is $15.

By Amit Jhala, Nebraska Extension Weed Management Specialist

ChemChina’s Bid for Syngenta Needs Scrutiny, Senators Say

A bipartisan group of farm-state senators called on the Treasury Department Thursday to review a state-owned Chinese company’s proposed acquisition of Syngenta AG over concerns that Chinese control could impact U.S. food security and farm interests.

The senators asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to include representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States when it reviews the acquisition by the China National Chemical Corp., or ChemChina. The letter to Lew was signed by Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, and three other members of the committee: Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

“While this committee has not reached any conclusions regarding the proposed purchase of Syngenta by ChemChina, we believe that any foreign acquisition of an important U.S. agricultural asset should be reviewed closely for potential risks to our food system,” they wrote.

1eac6642b3d5418796c52f2162cd21881“It is not unreasonable to suggest that shifts in company governance; operational strategy; or financial health — particularly in light of the magnitude of this leveraged transaction — could have consequences for food security, food safety, biosecurity, and the highly competitive U.S. farm sector as a whole,” the lawmakers wrote.

’Negative Outcomes’

The fear is that China could use its power to hurt U.S. farm interests, given that Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta is a major producer of pesticides and seeds.

“The risk of negative outcomes is heightened to the extent that an acquired U.S. agricultural asset becomes in some part governed by a foreign government with clear strategic interests,” they wrote. “Non-market behavior due to state ownership could lead to inconsistent or seemingly arbitrary treatment of U.S. farm products in key export markets, particularly when company governance includes governments of countries with which the United States exchanges a high volume of trade.”

Syngenta said it welcomed a full review and that the deal is good for farmers and customers in the U.S.

“We do not believe the proposed transaction raises any food safety or significant national security issues,” Paul Minehart, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Syngenta will remain Syngenta. It will retain its broad portfolio of businesses and geographic presence. In the U.S., nothing will change for farmers or customers.”

CFIUS Reviews

Food security has not traditionally been a big consideration when it comes to reviews by CFIUS, which takes into account a range of national security concerns when it scrutinizes foreign acquisitions.

But the committee did review and approve the 2013 purchase of Smithfield Foods Inc., a major hog and pork producer, by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

The committee, led by the Treasury Department, is made up of representatives from the Justice, Homeland Security and Defense departments, as well as five other agencies.


How Might an El Nino Transition to La Nina Affect Yields?

In spring, weather concerns are top of mind for farmers and analysts alike as they try to guess how the growing season will pan out.

A major factor this year:  the current record-strong El Nino and when that weather pattern will transition to La Nina. That matters, because La Nina is associated with hot, dry weather that typically lowers yields.

That could boost crop prices, much to growers’ likely gratitude—but there are still plenty of unknowns, according to the team at farmdoc Daily.

drought_corn2First, such weather pattern shifts take time. The transition to La Nina can take months and might not occur until fall 2016, according to some forecasts. If the El Nino pattern persists through the summer, farmers—and the market—should expect higher than average yields.

Second, timing matters. Depending on when El Nino turns into La Nina, the effects on the growing season—and crop yields—will vary. “History suggests that a transition to La Niña by June, July, or August may measurably raise the risk of corn and soybean yields falling below trend,” wrote Scott Irwin and Darrel Good, both at the University of Illinois, adding that “yield risk was generally larger the earlier that La Niña conditions emerged.”

For example, a June transition to La Nina resulted in corn yields almost 10 bushels below trendline, compared to July or August transitions, which reduced yield by roughly 5 bushels, according to their analysis.

Soybeans also lost more yield based on when La Nina arrived. A June transition trimmed 2.4 bushels of soybean trendline yields, compared to approximately 1 bushel for a July or August La Nina shift.

What can farmers do? Continue paying close attention to the weather and the arrival of La Nina, so you and your advisers can respond quickly to changes in your agronomic and marketing plans.


What Might a Spring Rally Look Like?

Is a spring rally already pushing back a bearish market? Some analysts think so, with prices rising for corn, soybeans and wheat. Others believe a rally is coming.

Their advice for farmers is to be ready to sell instead of waiting for a better price.

“We’re seeing a spring rally right now. We’re going through short covering, and we’re at the mercy of speculative positioning,” said Mike North, senior risk management advisor of the Commodity Risk Management Group, in Chicago.

North points to an upswing of 20 cents to 30 cents for corn, 40 cents to 60 cents for soybeans, and 40 cents to 50 cents for wheat.

“Farmers have to respect the fact that the rally is much more compressed,” cautioned North, pointing out that “if a drought is coming, a buy call option is the same as the cost of storage.”

Another trader who sees a spring rally is DuWayne Bosse, owner of Bolt Marketing in Britton, S.D. “We’re seeing a rally right here, right now,” said Bolt. The market movers are mainly large funds getting out of short positions ahead of the March 31 USDA plantings report, according to Bosse.

markets-upThe rally for corn has it just one cent off a bullish range of $3.90 to $4.20; while soybeans, at $9.14, are closing in on a $9.15 to $9.30 range and Chicago wheat, at $4.75, is within hitting a $4.90 to $5.10 range, in Bosse’s view.

The market has been under pressure from huge bearish bets by funds, weather concerns, strong competition from South America and Ukraine for China, and a worldwide oversupply of old crops. A strong U.S. dollar and cheap crude even has had East Coast farmers buying Argentine grain for feed.

Other analysts, like Ted Seifried, vice president and chief market strategist for Zaner Ag Hedge in Chicago, believe a spring rally will depend on the weather and funds.

“The great commodity funds are short. A powder keg could go off with a really nice rally. The question is, if it gets set up,” Seifried said.

In Seifried’s view, a rally would mean corn at $4.44, soybeans holding steady and July wheat at $5.50.

“The bigger concern is whether El Nino becomes La Nina for the growing season,” said Seifried, A significant rise in temperatures could mean too much rain in April or May and too much heat in June and July.


The 4 Rs of Topdressing Wheat

Scout your wheat crop to monitor for yellowing on the lower, oldest leaves. If it looks like the younger, newer leaves are stealing nitrogen, it’s time for a boost.

Maximize yield by mastering nitrogen timing, source, method and rate

c71a029c91e343899c185e542c7226a11Whether you’re preserving winter wheat yields or thinking ahead to your spring wheat crop, take into account nitrogen needs. Topdressing with nitrogen midseason can give your wheat the extra boost it needs for top-end yields.

The keys to nitrogen efficiency include the right timing, right source, right method and right rate.

“Consider topdressing this year because a lot of the region had fall rain and any nitrogen applied preplant [winter wheat] could have leeched and might not be enough to get through the season,” says Brian Arnall, Oklahoma State Extension precision nutrient management specialist. “If you’ve lost enough nitrogen you could get protein deductions and lose test weight at the end of the season.”

The optimal time to topdress winter wheat is right around the corner. It’s important to apply nitrogen before jointing. “After jointing, when you drive over wheat you kill the growing point,” Arnall explains. “Prior to the flag leaf any nitrogen applied goes into grain yield.”

The nitrogen source often plays a role in application method. Urea and liquid UAN are the two most common forms of nitrogen used for topdressing. “Both will get nitrogen to the roots with rain,” says Romulo Lollato, Kansas State Extension wheat and forages specialist. Urea is typically applied broadcast, and UAN can be tank mixed and applied with herbicide.

While UAN might be more appealing because it can potentially cut down trips across the field, it might not be as effective in no-till. Unless you change your application method, “when UAN hits residue it can be counted as a loss,” Arnall says. He advises using streamers to concentrate UAN down into the residue.

Right rate is more difficult to advise in general terms because it depends on several factors, such as yield potential, how much nitrogen was leeched, if the field is showing signs of deficiency, field history and year.

“Optimal nitrogen rate varies year to year,” Lollato explains. “For the past few years, it’s been 66 lb. per acre. But one year it might be 90 lb. and another year 30 lb.”

“Ideally you’ll know what the nutrient profile looked like at planting if you had a soil test. You can base your rate on that,” he adds. “At $10 per soil sample and 15 to 20 minutes dedicated to pulling, a good sample is worth it.”

On average, each bushel takes 2 lb. of available nitrogen, so you can estimate what you need to finish the season strong based on your yield goal.

If you didn’t get a soil sample, scout your fields for areas with nitrogen deficiencies. “Wheat can be more challenging to scout since the leaves are smaller,” Arnall says. “Look for yellowing or chlorosis on the lowest, oldest leaves where the young leaves rob nitrogen from the older leaves.”

Yellowing on the lower leaves from tip to inner leaf indicates a nitrogen deficiency. If you see yellowing on the top new leaves, it likely indicates a sulfur deficiency. When you find large spots, it might be time for a boost of nitrogen (or sulfur), or pull a soil sample for a more precise reading.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that can make or break yield. “Nitrogen increases tillering, influences head size—it’s like gas to a car, you need it,” Lollato says. “Cutting back on nitrogen cuts back on yield potential. We need to make sure we use the four Rs to maximize results.”


Think No-Till or Continuous Corn Systems Through–Or Yields Can Crash

No-till and strip-till can be very successful, but they require an understanding of the entire system, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie.

p30-One-Change-Begets-Another-1When local yields range widely, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie suspects farmers made big changes to their crop practices without thinking the system through.

“The biggest yield crashes I see usually involve a transition from one production system to another,” Ferrie says.

Examples include switching from a corn-soybean rotation to continuous corn or from horizontal tillage (disk, moldboard plow or field cultivator) to vertical tillage (or, as Ferrie says, “farming in a vertical format”).

Farming vertically is more than just tillage, Ferrie says: It’s a system designed to keep water and nutrients moving up and down, as needed, through the profile.

Failure often results from not removing dense soil layers before transitioning into no-till or strip-till.

“If you have a sudden change in soil density under the surface, preventing water from percolating down, and residue on top, preventing it from evaporating, you may have to wait for the field to dry out for planting,” Ferrie says.

He recommends spending up to three years to prepare soil for no-till planting. The first step is to remove dense layers with vertical tillage tools, such as in-line rippers. “Forget the myth that freezing and thawing will take out a sudden density change. It can’t remove a layer from a soil finisher or moldboard plow,” Ferrie says.

Shallow sudden density changes are one reason why farmers who are successful with conventional horizontal tillage, run into problems with no-till.

The way to identify dense layers is to dig in your field and examine soil structure and root growth. “If you are already no-tilling and experiencing problems, you may have to get out of no-till for a while and do some vertical tillage,” Ferrie says. “Once you have removed dense layers, and improved drainage if necessary, no-till can be very successful.”

Some farmers slip up by not understanding that vertical tillage may require two steps: breaking up dense layers in the fall, with vertical primary tillage, and then leveling the field in the spring—without putting in another layer. That requires a vertical-till harrow in the spring, rather than a field cultivator or soil finisher. “The last pass before converting to no-till must be vertical,” Ferrie says.

p32 One Change Begets Another 2

Transitioning to vertical tillage may be a two-step process. The first step may require deep tillage in the fall to remove dense layers.

p32 One Change Begets Another 3

The second step is leveling with a vertical-till harrow in the spring. Using horizontal tillage in the spring puts in a new dense layer.

Nutrient preparation. Removing dense layers allows you to work through other aspects of your new system, so problems don’t emerge later. If you plan to no-till or strip-till (as opposed to using vertical tillage tools every year), you must balance pH and fertility in the soil profile. Acidity or low fertility levels lower in the soil profile may not hurt yields when there is adequate moisture and normal temperatures. “But if surface temperatures get too hot and the roots in the top 3″ die, the plant will be forced to feed deeper,” Ferrie says.

“If soil pH is low, incorporate lime through the top 6″ of the profile,” he says. “Trying to correct acidity in the top 6″ of soil with surface applications could take 12 years, because lime moves down only 1⁄2” per year.

“After you correct the pH in the profile, you can lime from the top. I know no-till growers who have maintained pH that way for 25 years. But if you start out with an acid soil profile, lime applied on the surface can’t move down fast enough to correct it,” Ferrie adds.

Follow the same procedure with phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), incorporating it into the top 6″. After you move into your no-till or strip-till system, you can feed from the surface.

“Where no-till growers have removed sudden density changes and built up subsurface fertility during the transition period, their P and K levels at the 3″ to 6″ depth have remained the same for 20 years,” Ferrie says.

Stratification. “After you begin no-tilling, you will get some stratification at the surface, but that usually is not a bad thing,” Ferrie adds. “Stratification is really a form of banding—it can be beneficial if you are fighting K availability problems.”

Failing to understand that a new system requires equipment and management changes has left more than one farmer disappointed at harvest.

Plan what kind of planter attachments you will need. “In a high-clay soil, that will be something that will do tillage ahead of the double-disk openers,” Ferrie says. “This could be a wavy coulter, a row cleaner or a combination of both. They do a little tillage, so the disk opener on your planter won’t create sidewall compaction. You also need a row cleaner to sweep away residue.

“On very sandy soil, if your goal is to leave residue on the surface to conserve moisture and prevent erosion, use a sharp coulter, bubble or slightly fluted, without a row cleaner. You want to place seed beneath the residue, without hairpinning residue in the furrow.”

You may need to change attachments from field to field. “Coulters are only for no-till,” Ferrie says. “If you have fields in horizontal tillage—or if you are moving from no-till to a vertical-tillage program to correct problems—a coulter will work against you. In tilled soil, the coulter has no cutting platform, so it will push residue into the seed furrow.”

Before you abandon horizontal tillage, plan a herbicide program to control winter annual and perennial weeds. “A carpet of weeds in a wet spring prevents soil from drying,” Ferrie says. “And it can be almost impossible to plant into.”


Problematic Weeds

Although all weeds are problematic, some are worse than others. The five worst? Waterhemp, marestail, palmer amaranth, giant ragweed and Italian ryegrass, because they are resistant to multiple herbicide groups, makes these yield-robbers difficult to control.

And, in addition to being resistant to many herbicide, these four notorious plants have a natural ability to evade herbicide control methods.

  1. Waterhemp

What it is: Summer annual in the eastern and central U.S.

What it looks like: Grows up to 9′ tall; stems are bright red or green, oar-shaped cotyledon leaves; first true leaves are oval with a notch at the tip; true leaves are alternate, oval, hairless and waxy with green to dark pink flowers with spikes.


What it’s resistant to: ALS (Group 2), T1R1 Auxin Receptors (Group 4), Photosystem II inhibitors (Group 5), PPO Inhibitors (Group 14), EPSP synthase inhibitors (Group 9, glyphosate), HPPD Inhibitors (Group 27)​​.


  1. Marestail

What it is: Winter or summer annual all over U.S.

What it looks like: 
 Grows up to 6.5’ tall; hairy; tiny,
oval cotyledons; egg-shaped and hairy young leaves with toothed edges; 4” narrow and toothed true leaves that crowd the step and get smaller near the top with small white or yellow flowers.

What it’s resistant to: PSI Electron Diverter (Group 22), EPSP synthase inhibitor (Group 9, glyphosate), ALS inhibitors (Group 2), Photosystem II inhibitors (Group 5), PSII inhibitors (Group 7).


  1. Palmer Amaranth

What it is: Summer annual in southern U.S. moving north; up to 6.5’ tall; green to red cotyledons with red and hairless hypocotyls; 2” to 8” long lance- or egg-shaped hairless true leaves with white veins on lower side and small, green, spiked flower clusters long a 6” to 18” panicle.

What it’s resistant to: Microtubule inhibitors (Group 3), ALS inhibitors (Group 2), Photosystem II inhibitors (Group 5), EPSP synthase inhibitors (Group 9, glyphosate), HPPD inhibitors (Group 27), PPO inhibitors (Group 14).


  1. Giant Ragweed

What it is: Summer annual throughout U.S. (with the exception of the Pacific coast, parts of Southwest, Florida and Maine).

What it looks like:  Grows up to 16’ tall. hairy; round, thick and large cotyledons with a hypocotyl that’s usually purple; true leaves are opposite, hairy, three- or five-lobed with toothed edges and 4″ to 8″ wide by 6″ long with small and green flowers at the end of branches or bases of upper leaves.

What it’s resistant to: ALS inhibitors (Group 2), EPSP synthase inhibitors (Group 9, glyphosate).


  1. Italian Ryegrass

What it is: Winter annual or biennial (depending on conditions) throughout the U.S.

What it looks like:  About 3′ tall; stems can be single or in clumps and are round to slightly flat; ligules are membranous and up to 1⁄10″; auricles are up to 1⁄12″ or not present and the flowerhead is 3″ to 12″ with stalkless spikelets that alternate along the main flowering stem.

What it’s resistant to: ACCase inhibitors (Group 1), ALS inhibitors (Group 2), EPSP synthase inhibitors (Group 9, glyphosate), Long chain fatty acid inhibitors (Group 15), Glutamine synthase inhibitor (Group 10, glufosinate).

“Weed resistance is something you ought to respect, it’s going to keep happening if we do the same thing over and over,” says Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weed scientist. “Figure out what’s your most problematic weed and target some of its weaknesses.”


What can you do if you find these weeds in your fields? Contact your local CFS for more information!


Learn more about the 7 newest corn herbicides

Curtis Thompson, weed management specialist, has compiled information about seven corn herbicides newly available for the 2016 growing season. Visit http://bit.ly/1WXodTT for additional details.


1. Acuron. This herbicide from Syngenta contains atrazine and three other active ingredients. It can be applied from 28 days prior to planting until corn is less than 12” tall to control broadleaf weeds such as Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, kochia and more. For use on grain or silage corn.

2. Armezon PRO. This herbicide from BASF controls postemergence weeds. It is similar to Armezon, but by adding dimethenamide-P, farmers also gain residual activity on pigweeds and annual grasses. This herbicide can be tankmixed with other corn herbicides and is synergistic with atrazine.

3. DiFlexx. This herbicide from Bayer controls a similar weed spectrum as other dicamba products, and has a safener with soil and foliar activity. Tankmix with other products to control kochia, palmer amaranth, marestail, ragweed species and Palmer amaranth.

4. DiFlexx Duo. “This is not registered as of Feb. 1, 2016, but registration is expected prior to corn planting,” Thompson notes. This herbicide adds tembrotrione, the active ingredient in Laudis. The combination of active ingredients can provide excellent of control of most annual broadleaf weeds, Thompson notes.

5. Enlist Duo. This herbicide is a combination of glyphosate plus 2,4-D acid as choline salt. Thompson says the recent history of this herbicide is a bit complex. In November 2014, Enlist Duo received a full federal label. The EPA later motioned to vacate the registration, but Dow AgroSciences reported on Jan. 27 that a court case denied this motion. According to Thompson, some foreign export approvals for Enlist corn hybrids, including to China, are still pending.

6. Resicore. This herbicide from Dow AgroSciences contains three active ingredients. Use pre with atrazine for control of pigweeds and most other broadleaf weeds, and use post with atrizine for control of most broadleaf weeds, Thompson says. It will provide adequate control of most annual grasses in post if tankmixed with a herbicide that has activity on grass species, he adds.

7. Revulin Q. This herbicide from DuPont has activity on both grass and broadleaf weed species. “Best control will be attained if tankmixed with glyphosate, which enhances grass control, and/or atrazine, [which] synergizes mesotrione and enhances broadleaf control,” Thompson notes.

Resist the temptation to cut soil fertility in 2016





2016 is projected to be a bleak year in terms of commodity prices. Although agriculture economists are recommending cutting costs across the board to balance farm budgets, it’s important to look at your operation as a whole. The key is to find places where you can become more efficient rather than blindly cutting expenses.

One tempting cut is with your soil fertility. Like every input you use, your soil fertility has value, and it may be a good place to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

“I tend to find that there are folks that are probably putting out more fertilizer than they need,” says Josh McGrath, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Extension soil fertility specialist. “What I find is that during the good years, many farmers invest in things like phosphorus and potassium, which are elements that tend to stay in the soil if leftover between seasons.”

Soil fertility is a vital, long-term investment for all farmers. Nutrients are necessary to produce good yields, so applying fertilizer according to soil-test results is a best practice. On the other hand, too much of a nutrient when crop prices are high doesn’t do your bottom line any good either.

“While high yields are great, maximum yield is not the optimum rate of return,” says McGrath. “You need to make sure you are maximizing your returns on investment.”

Balancing crop-nutrient needs is a science. To begin, farmers should take soil samples and have them tested to determine soil-nutrient and pH values. Those readings provide information about what nutrients need to be applied and at what rate.

“You can’t pick and choose your nutrients,” says McGrath. “The way that soil fertility works is if any nutrient is limiting, the most limiting nutrient will limit your yield. Even in times of low crop prices, you should still apply every nutrient to the soil-test recommendation.”

So, where can you cut?

University of Illinois Farm Management Specialist Gary Schnitkey, Ph.D., says it’s time to rethink your budget for the short term.

“While we hope they don’t, these commodity prices could persist into 2016-2017,” he says. “I would plan for commodity prices to lead to lower levels of returns for a couple years.”

He recommends taking a look at everything when budgeting for 2016.

“Typically, people think of an input as fertilizer, seed or pesticides, but I would throw machinery in there as well,” Schnitkey adds. “I would recommend cutting back on all of them in 2016, particularly machinery and capital purchases. This is also a time to take a look at the rate you’re paying in cash rent.”

McGrath agrees on the cost-cutting potential of machinery.

“Equipment doesn’t make yield,” says McGrath. “If you cut that, you may be slower, but you’re reducing costs. In comparison, you expect a specific return per dollar invested in fertilizer. You can make cuts there, especially if you have a history of over-applying, but make sure you’re not under-applying, either, or you’re going to lose yield. Ultimately, following sound soil test recommendations is best.”

Commodity prices will eventually rebound, and there’s nothing wrong with positioning yourself to take full advantage. That includes keeping up with fertilizer applications.

“Fertility is a long-term investment,” says McGrath. “Don’t start cutting back too far on nutrients. Follow your soil-test recommendations. If you do, you’ll be able to capitalize on future high commodity prices because you won’t have to catch back up on fertility.”

By United Soybean Board January 06, 2016 | 8:20 am EST

EPA Broke Federal Law

“Covert propaganda” and “grassroots lobbying” has landed the Environmental Protection Agency in hot water after being investigated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for inappropriate use of social media to promote the “waters of the United States Rule” (WOTUS).

On Dec. 14, the GOA ruled the EPA broke federal law through an online campaign utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Thunderclap to flood the public comment period in support of the rule under the impression that it was to protect the nation’s drinking water.  In a screenshot from The New York Times, it was shown @EPAwater tweeted a link to their followers with a link to their Thunderclap campaign, which essentially floods supporters’ social media pages with common messages about the campaign for their friends and followers on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter to see once a supporter quota is met. In the screenshot captured by Farm Journal Media, the Thunderclap page set up by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had a social reach of 1,803,761 people ending Sept. 29 at 2 p.m., with the message, “Clean water is important to me. I support EPA’s efforts to protect it for my health, my family and my community.”

“We conclude that EPA violated the described provisions through its use of social media in association with its rulemaking efforts to define “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA) during FYs 2014 and 2015,” states GOA in the 26-page-report.
WOTUS has been a continual battle for the agricultural community, including Republicans and business groups, in clarifying the reach of the CWA in efforts for it to not include ditches, ephemerals, ponds or puddles, protecting farmers and ranchers from the ability to operate only within EPA granted permits for simple acts of building fence across a ditch to applying fertilizer to crops.

In an article by The New York Times, Liz Purchia, a spokeswoman for the agency, debated the GOA’s ruling, and was quoted, “We use social media tools just like all organizations to stay connected and inform people across the country about our activities. At no point did the E.P.A. encourage the public to contact Congress or any state legislature.”

While the breaking of federal is speculated to not result in criminal penalties, it does give Republicans more ground to stand on just as they moved to block WOTUS, “through an amendment to the enormous spending bill expected to pass in Congress this week,” reports the same article in The New York Times.

The EPA’s actions also come to no surprise by opponents of the rule.

“G.A.O.’s finding confirms what I have long suspected, that E.P.A. will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda,” states Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“The EPA’s zealous advocacy of their rule in violation of federal law shows the extremes to which this administration will go to subvert public opinion in favor of their far-reaching environmental agenda,” says Philip Ellis, President of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“It’s clear from this report that EPA orchestrated this matter in a biased fashion. Now it’s up to Congress to clean up this mess by including a corrective measure in the omnibus bill now taking shape on Capitol Hill,” says Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau Federation. “Courts already have declared serious doubts about the legal authority for the rule. Now that it has become clear that the agency used illegal tactics to manufacture ill-informed support for the rule, Congress should act immediately to prohibit implementation of this rule, which is the product of an unlawful and misguided process.”

-By Laura Mushrush

Dow Chemical Co and DuPont are in talks to merge…

Dow Chemical Co and DuPont are in talks to merge, creating a chemicals giant with a market value of more than $120 billion that could then break up into different businesses, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

A deal, which would face regulatory approval in several countries, would allow the two U.S. companies to rejig their assets based on their diverging fortunes. Their plastics and specialty chemical businesses have benefited from lower energy costs, while their agrochemicals divisions have struggled to cope with weak demand for crop protection products.

Following what would be structured as a merger of equals, the combined company could split into material sciences, specialty products and agrochemicals, the people said, cautioning that the plans have not been finalized.

Dow’s Chief Executive Andrew Liveris and DuPont Chief Executive Edward Breen would have the two top jobs in the combined company, one of the people said. An agreement could be reached in the coming days, that person added.

Dow and DuPont declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the merger talks earlier on Tuesday.

The possible merger may see cost synergies to the tune of $3 billion, CNBC reported citing people familiar with the matter.

As of Tuesday’s trading close, Dow had a market valuation of $58.97 billion, while DuPont was valued at $58.37 billion.

DuPont, under Breen, who took over as CEO last month, had already been in talks with rivals, including Dow, about exploring options about its agriculture business.

Dow had also been reviewing all options for its farm chemicals and seeds unit, which has reported falling sales for nearly a year.

In August, the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto , abandoned a $45 billion bid for rival Syngenta as declining grain prices and farm income led to the major players in the farm chemicals and seeds business becoming the subject of consolidation talks.

However, even before the merger is announced, speculation is rife that the potential combination, which could overtake Germany’s BASF in revenue, may come under intense scrutiny by antitrust regulators.

“A deal like this will definitely be subject to close antitrust scrutiny by Chinese regulators – not just MOFCOM but many other government actors will be involved in the process. That doesn’t mean the deal will necessarily be prohibited,” said Angela Zhang, an antitrust expert at King’s College in London.

Zhang warns that the merger review process will be protracted. However, if the companies “can offer remedies that satisfy the Chinese regulators,” they could obtain clearance subject to conditions, Zhang said.

Turnaround Expert

Breen took over after his predecessor and company veteran Ellen Kullman resigned abruptly in October. Best known as a turnaround expert, Breen was the CEO of Tyco between 2002 and 2012 and split Tyco into six companies, a sprawling conglomerate beset by scandal and strategic flipflops.

DuPont, which gets about 60 percent of its sales from outside North America, has seen a strong dollar chip away 53 cents per share from its earnings this year. The company has been facing sliding sales for nearly two years.

Kullman had blamed much of the stock price drop on global markets including a rising dollar but some investors had already grown restless with her leadership, complaining that she was not fully executing on the changes she initiated.

In the intervening period in May, when Kullman was fending off a proxy battle from activist investor Nelson Peltz to get representation on the board, the company’s stock price fell over 25 percent, weakening her support among investors.

In analyst views, the appointment of Breen has been welcomed by Peltz, who has been pushing for DuPont to separate its volatile materials businesses from more stable businesses and save $2 billion to $4 billion in annual costs.

A 213-year-old company, DuPont makes products and chemicals that go into industries such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and construction.