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East-Central Louisiana 2010 Burndown And Planting Lags; Do Major Companies Want The U.S. To Remain In Cotton?

AgFax.Com - Your Online Ag News Source

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From AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC.: Tim White, Walter Myers, Wil Miller, Matt Myers, Lydia Ellett, Roger Carter and Chase Skipper

February 21, 2010 

WEATHER – Sunshine for several days. We saw tillage equipment running just north of Vicksburg on Friday afternoon. Rain predicted for today and possibly an unprecedented 4th Snow Event in Louisiana on Tuesday. But then again, the Saints won the Super Bowl and this was supposed to happen. Possible sunshine again for the end of the week. Weather is becoming slightly more favorable for farming, but a 24 day “Dry Event” is needed followed by a gentle 1” rain.

THANKS – Thanks to Owen Taylor with AgFax for his comments regarding our AMS Ag Report. He mentioned at the recent LA Agricultural Technology and Management Conference the good things about this report along with Johnny Saichuk’s rice newsetter. If you have not visited Owen Taylor’s website, AgFax.com, please do so. It is the greatest resource for up to the hour information on research, markets, and what is “really” happening in the field.

RICE TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP – Feb 22-25, Beau Rivage Resort, Biloxi, MS.

BURNDOWN – At least 50% of burndown yet to be applied. We are super-late on corn, and getting late on all other crops. Most are late due to adverse weather, but a few are still looking for financing.

Farmers should make certain when purchasing generic glyphosates or phenoxy (2,4-D, dicamba) herbicides that they are getting what they want. Several formulations have differing active ingredients. Some companies recommend lower rates of their product, but those lower rates are not giving us recommended rates of active ingredient. This is particularly true in the phenoxy market. We suggest no less than 0.8 lb ai/ac of 2,4-D. And, if it is cool, make certain it is the ester formulation.

Applicators and farmers should be aware of wheat fields in the area when applying burndown. And call us for your burn-down recs; they are changing as we get closer to planting and as winter vegetation increases in size.

THE FIRST 3-4 WEEKS – Most yield losses involving weeds come from lack of good weed control the first 3 - 4 weeks of a crops life. Starting with a clean seedbed is critical. Even dying vegetation will set crops back further than most farmers realize. And any type of vegetation during the first three weeks can decrease yields as much as 20% even if the vegetation is ultimately controlled.

A few farmers are reluctant to use preemerges and residual herbicides because of the expense; ultimately they will be paid for in one way or the other…either out of pocket and experience optimum weed control or by yield or crop quality reductions by not buying them. Saving $15 - 20/acre to lose $30 – 50 or more per acre will not keep farmers in business. One can “save” himself right out of farming.

It is more critical than ever to keep every crop clean and to apply herbicides when vegetation is small. No resistant weeds have been documented in our area, but we cannot kill the darn things; therefore it is just the same as being resistant as far as a farmer is concerned. Treating weeds when they are very small (< 2 – 3”) is a must if we are to stay in farming. Farmers should ditch the idea of delaying herbicide applications to save money.

In our area we have tolerant if not resistant tall waterhemp (pigweed near Vick), johnsongrass (near Alexandria), ryegrass (Tensas Parish), and Palmer pigweed (Concordia Parish). Additionally, the pigweeds and tall waterhemp are tolerant to Classic/Staple/Envoke-type herbicides in addition to glyphosate. If you are in our area and you don’t believe that these weeds are practically impossible to kill, we can give you the names of several farmers who can attest to our problems. If 1 gallon of WeatherMax/ac would do little but turn the growing point yellow, then there is an issue. And if we have them in the area it is everyone’s responsibility to farm using good herbicide resistance management programs. And that involves preemerge and residual herbicides. Spend the money and reap the rewards or call Keith Babb and arrange the farm sale.

WHEAT – Wheat on well-drained soils looks OK, but that on clay soils which may be less well drained is very ugly.

Most every wheat farmer has applied a second application of nitrogen. Most used ammonium sulfate in the 1st shot and urea the second. Total N was 80 – 90 lbs of N/acre. Many will be applying the second application sometime this week, weather permitting.

No disease issues at this time.

COTTON – Recent price increase and talk of $0.85/lb NY prices have farmers increasing acreage of cotton. A few landowners are lowering rent structure to as low as 15% to encourage cotton.

The National Cotton Council and others are meeting or have met with Monsanto to discuss how to share the risk especially in regard to tech fees.

Several area farmers and RC will be meeting with Monsanto this week to hopefully share ideas about Monsanto helping farmers reduce financial risks. This is especially important since tech fees continue to climb while the value of the tech fee in a farming operation may be at its lowest point ever, especially the cost for Flex. Herbicide resistance management programs begin with a good preemerge and residual herbicide program. This adds more expense to cotton production. Yet the cost of technology continues to climb.

We are treating Bollgard II just as if it were Bollgard. Bollworms have learned how to wriggle around the harmful spots in the cotton plants or else are becoming tolerant to both proteins. Therefore we are using pyrethroids to currently control bollworms in Bollgard II cotton. And, the bollworm is becoming more tolerant to pyrethroid chemistry, therefore more expensive worm killers must be applied in the near future.

We learned yesterday of the exclusion of DPL 555 and 515 from any seed dealer rebate programs that are offered by DPL. This, in essence, forces dealers to raise the price of those varieties up to the Suggested Retail Price rather than allowing them to sell it at the same price they sold it for last year. We were not told of this when we committed to 555/515 last fall.

BIG QUESTION - Our question is this:

”Does Monsanto, et.al., want us to remain in the cotton industry in the United States?”

If the answer is “Yes”, then what will be done to keep us in the cotton production business? If the answer is “No”, then let’s put all of our land in CRP and go to the house and let industry deal with foreign farmers.

Helping pay a mere pittance for the application of herbicides of Monsanto’s choosing for our resistance management programs is a beginning to spreading risk, yet the program does not allow for substitutions that actually may be better and last longer. And, there is no program for such events in other crops outside of cotton where weed resistance is just as much of an issue.

We will give Monsanto credit. They are at least trying to attack the resistance issue. The only contribution we are seeing from some other companies is strictly a sales pitch, “Here, buy mine. It can be used to fight weed resistance.” But so can a hoe.

Instead of meeting each other in court to do battle over who can do what to whom it would behoove biotech company stakeholders to meet with other biotech companies to determine not how much money they can get from the poor farmers, but rather how can we help to keep cotton farming in the United States. And it had better become soon before grain farming becomes a habit or more land goes into CRP.

SOYBEANS – Seed starting to dribble into some dealerships while other dealerships are stacked. Farmers should make certain that all of their soybean seed are tested after arrival at the dealers and prior to planting. With the price paid for soybean seed now farmers should make certain they are receiving the best seed possible.

CORN – When it dries farmers will be planting corn regardless of ground temps. However, it would be best to wait for ground temps to increase to tolerable levels prior to throwing so much money in the ground. Corn seed is no longer an “inexpensive art form” and there should be none wasted on what could be a first plant scenario.

Using Resolve or Basis in a burndown program now should extend some vegetation control into the growing season.

Many farmers think that phenoxy herbicides can be used immediately prior to or behind planting of corn. Sorry, but serious injury to emerging corn seedlings can occur if phenoxy herbicides get into the zone during germination and emergence.

RICE – Farmers to our south will soon be planting rice, while nearby farmers are worrying about how to get rid of all the ruts. “Snake-killers” have been used on many acres, but some fields are just too far gone for that to work.

The ideal scenario to get a stand of rice without having to flush is to plant through a stale seedbed crust and then catch a gentle shower after 5 days or so. Remaining seed not in moisture will germinate. Stale seedbeds are less likely to crust and cause farmers to flush in order to let rice emerge.

Command is the most important herbicide in local rice weed control programs. If conditions are warm little Command injury will occur; however, if conditions are very cool there is likely to be some damage especially in cuts or on lighter soils.

Make certain that the correct amount of Command is being used. Many of our rice fields are stiff clay with a cut or two being fresh from leveling. But ignore the cuts and get the Command out there at a rate heavy enough to work as a friend. As our friend Henry Stefanski says, “If you ain’t got 50% bleaching by Command in your rice field, you didn’t use enough Command.”

And we do not believe in the split Command program in our area. First of all we need the full amount to get proper weed control on our soil types. And if the material begins to break there may be little to no time to visit the house.

We also do not like “half shots” f/b “half shots” of any herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide unless it is guaranteed not to cause a resistance problem.

Starting with a clean seedbed is the number one priority in a rice weed control program. Make certain that the ground is clean prior to rice seedling emergence.

Dermacor finally received its label. Dermacor vs Cruiser seed treatments for rice water weevil control is a hot topic. Dermacor may be better on borers; Cruiser better on chinch bugs and aphids. Both should do very well on rice water weevils. Dermacor is higher, but only slightly. Our recs are to try some Cruiser before going 100% with it. Let’s see how it will work in a truly commercial farming operation before trusting all of our crop to it.