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Fight The Urge To Plant Into Vegetation: AMS Ag Report Covering East-Central Louisiana

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PLANTING INTO VEGETATION - There is much data to prove that yields will be severely affected when crops are planted into vegetation, including vegetation that is dying but not completely dead.  This is especially true in corn and in soybeans where farmers have typically thought they could burndown immediately in front of or even behind the planter with no adverse effects on the crop.

As much as a 20% decrease in crop yields of grain crops has been proven when such weed management is abused in such a manner. Fields should have only dead vegetation present for at least three weeks in advance of planting. That means that most burndown should be applied at least 6 weeks in advance of planting. Most farmers are waiting much too long before applying burndown.

Rain and wind has prevented some farmers from getting burndown out in a timely manner. Some have applied burndown to acres intended for corn the past few days. Erratic stands will be the norm in these fields unless that vegetation is removed prior to planting.  Using a drag in front would help, but most rows are too short for that.

Waiting another two weeks may be the better alternative. Planting the third week of March would be better than planting into a freshly-treated field of winter vegetation. 

WEATHER – Four days without rain. Three full of sunshine. And very little wind. Many farmers finally got burndown out.

Unfortunately rain is forecast for most of this week beginning tomorrow.

Ground temps still much too cold to plant corn, but we think some folks may have started anyway. Some tillage on Macon Ridge soils and ultra-light ridges, but majority of land still much too wet for tillage.

 BURNDOWN – Applicators and farmers should be aware of wheat fields in the area when applying burndown. Glyphosate can drift miles and miles when conditions are wrong.  Some wheat has already been hit with glyphosate drift. Even though visual symptoms may not be present, glyphosate can cause massive yield losses. If symptoms are not apparent, but glyphosate-drift may be of concern from any certain nearby applications, leaf samples should be taken immediately and sent to a lab for analysis.

We suggest that farmers and landowners first try to work out suspected drift complaints through the suspected aerial or ground applicator before turning in such claims to the state. Many times the situation can be resolved before filing a complaint with the LDAF. This reduces the number of complaints that must be turned into EPA and helps relieve us of future regulations that may be coming if too many complaints are turned in. 

WHEAT – Wheat still looks weathered. But the sunshine and warmer temps are allowing fields to finally grow so they resemble wheat fields instead of a field of winter weeds.

All wheat has been fertilized. No disease issues at present. 

COTTON – Cotton acreage continuing to climb. Some farmers who have not planted cotton in several years have now committed to planting the “white crop”.  

Landowners also having a pivotal role in helping to increase cotton acres. Some are offering rent considerations in exchange for more cotton on their farms.

Don’t forget the seed treatment. And don’t forget the Orthene on the seed.

Still getting calls about what varieties we will recommend this year if 555 or 515 was unavailable. Here is a list and not necessarily in the order that we would recommend them, but we will say that we have more good experience with ST 5288B2F than the others. The list is: ST 5288BRF, PHY 485WF, PHY 565WF, DPL 1050B2F, DPL 1048B2F, DPL161B2F.

We will be working again with Monsanto this year with small plots of their new class of 2011 cotton varieties. We are also working with Bayer on their FiberMax and Stoneville varieties and hope to have Dow’s varieties also in our trials, but this has yet to be confirmed.

CORN – Some corn may have been planted the past two days. Ground temps still 8 – 10 degrees from being comfortable for a corn seed. Will warm quickly where refuse is not thick. The darker the soil the better it will warm. Heavy clay soils will generally be 5 degrees warmer at 9:00 AM in the morning than silt loam soils.

One farmer commented that if we put corn in the ground now it will eventually come up. Well, remember last year. We had very similar weather and the corn did not come up. Rainy and cold. Over 70% of the early-planted corn was replanted in our area last year.

It is still not too late to have a good corn crop if we use good agronomic practices and plant when ground temps are right. Air temps can be cold as long as ground temps are 55 or above - corn can survive. Of course, 60 is better.

It is not too early to consider side-dressing with nitrogen. Applying 100% of nitrogen by the time corn is in the 5th true leave stage is the norm in our area. But that does not make it the best method. We are encouraging farmers who apply 200 units of N total to apply 150 – 160 units early and then fly out 100 lbs of urea with Agrotain/acre at pre-tassel. It makes much more efficient use of N than applying it all at once to a crop that doesn’t need it for another 6 weeks.

If one prefers to knife it all in then split it and apply 120 – 130 lbs of N /ac early and the remainder with one knife per middle at lay-by.

Even though some farmers have been farming corn a long time, we are still relatively new to corn. It likes nitrogen, but in a timely manner. Don’t forget the zinc and sulfur, especially on the lighter soils. The addition of zinc to starter fertilizer is a must on many soils. There is one particular brand of zinc we recommend. Call us for a recommendation.

We will again work with Derek Scroggs with Pioneer’s corn varieties. We hope to have Terral’s and Monsanto’s (DPL and Asgrow) varieties in similar trials, but have yet to receive the seed. 

RICE –We hate to continue reiterating what we have already stated, but growing rice without Command should be illegal. There may be some soils that lack enough OM to use Command as a pre, but it can certainly be applied after the rice has emerged. If one has had bad experiences with Command, then Prowl is an alternative. It is not quite as good under wet field conditions, but will last long enough to give us a clean start.

We keep hearing at rice meetings how rice is limited with herbicide selections in comparison to other crops. Whoa!  We have been working other crops for many, many years and think that the choices in rice are far better than ones we have in other crops. The only difference is the cost. Rice herbicides are much more expensive because they can be. The market will bear it and the cost of getting a rice herbicide to market is just as expensive as any other crop, but that cost must be spread over many fewer acres of rice.

Many farmers have forgotten about propanil. It is still as good today as it ever was. And it has its place. 

SOYBEANS – We will suggest to several farmers to plant a MG III soybean along the edges of one or more of fields to be planted to MG V soybeans to determine if we can trap the Red-banded Stinkbugs (RBSB) in the III’s before they move further into the V’s.

There are far too many soybean varieties. In a few years there may be as many as 400 varieties that would need testing. The industry can support this number of varieties only if the farmers can. One reason that everyone wants in on the soybean seed business is because that is where the money is. Not too long ago seed salesmen were considered second class citizens. Now, they are the most important sales reps we have since the cost of seed and the delivery mechanism for insect and weed control is being delivered in the seed itself. The same could be said of all crops, not just soybeans.

We will again be working with Derek Scroggs and Pioneer in evaluating some of their best soybean varieties. We hope to have Terral and other companies in the trials as well, but currently have no commitment from them.