Federated Co-ops Ag News

  • It's All About the Cows. Or is it?

    Cow up close

    One local dairy product manufacturer touts that "It's the cows" that make the difference in their products. While the cows likely do make a difference in the quality of the ice cream made with their milk, there's no denying that the ultimate source of dairy product quality and satisfaction lies in the farmers who milk, feed, and care for those cows!

    Behind every good dairy cow is a man or woman tending to her needs.During this month of June, Dairy Month, Federated salutes the farmers who rise up early and work late to tend to the many and varied needs of dairy cows. Thank you for all your hard work. We appreciate the important role you play in the agriculture economy, and we are grateful for your significant contributions to the quality of life enjoyed by many -- both cows and people!

    Thank your local dairy farmer this month. Because it's not just about the cows.

  • Top Dressing Alfalfa Promotes a Good Stand

    "Alfalfa establishment is very costly," said Craig Loen, Federated agronomist at the Osceola location. Maintaining a quality alfalfa stand, and prolonging the life of the stand, "depends on good management practices . . . and good management depends on maintaining, not mining, your fields' soil nutrient levels, controlling weeds, and insect management," Loen added.alfalfa

    The first 2016 crop of alfalfa is being harvested in some areas and, said Loen, "it's time to think about top dressing your alfalfa fields for maximum yield potential" in the remaining cuttings of this season.

    For every ton of alfalfa yield, the following nutrients are removed, and need to be replenished accordingly.

    • 51 lb. actual/ac. of nitrogen (N), which requires 111 lb./ac. urea to replace lost N.
    • 12 lb. actual/ac. of phosphorus (P), which requires 26 lb./ac. DAP to restore depleted P.
    • 49 lb. actual/ac. of potassium (K), which requires 81.6 lb./ac. potash to replenish K.

    Boron is also crucial to alfalfa yield. For "lush, highly digestible alfalfa," said Loen, "don't forget about adding boron to your broadcast application at a rate of 3-5 lb./ac. When alfalfa is deficient in boron, the growing points shut down, and the alfalfa will eventually die (if deficiency persists). Alfalfa lacking boron will also appear bushy, with yellowing or a reddish color on the tops of leaves.

    Just as soil testing -- the frequent cry of every Federated Agronomist -- reveals what's in the soil, tissue testing is the best way to determine deficiencies in alfalfa plants. Loen said, "Tissue sample at early bud stage" as part of good alfalfa nutrient management to determine what needs to be broadcast on the crop.

    Additionally, fungicides are valuable on alfalfa to promote faster and healthier regrowth of the next cutting.

    Talk to your Federated Agronomist to work out your alfalfa nutrient management plans.

  • Improve Plant Health While Controlling Weeds

    Versa Max® AC helps plants access vital nutrients when it is added to herbicide applications. It can also help crops through early stress -- such as that from the recent cold temperatures. Versa Max AC can improve plant health and maximize yield potential with its enhanced blend of macro and micronutrients (N, K, S, Fe, Mn and Zn), according to Russ Overaas of Rosen's.

    "The addition of Versa Max AC to the herbicide will keep it wet on the leaf longer and allow more of the nutrients and the herbicide to be utilized, and it will also aid in tank mix capabilities," said Overaas. While Versa Max AC will not meet all the plant nutrient requirements, it is a valuable part of an effective fertility program.

    step by step

    In 60 corn tests, Versa Max AC-treated acres averaged an 8.8 bu. advantage vs. untreated acres. In 59 soybean trials, treated acres averaged a 3.3 bu. advantage over untreated acres.

    Versa Max AC can be tank mixed with Flexstar GT 3.5 (see article at left) to help soybeans in their critical early growth stages. The mixing order is important to successful use of Versa Max AC with any herbicide, and is as follows:

    1. Fill tank half full of water.
    2. Add AMS-based adjuvants and other adjuvants as needed, agitate.
    3. Add Versamax AC, continue agitation.
    4. Add herbicides per label, continue agitation.
    5. Finish filling tank.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions about Versa Max AC and herbicide tank mixing.

  • Control Weeds While They're Still Small

    Flexstar GT3.5

    Weed control options are an important consideration as the soybean crop gets planted in Minnesota and Wisconsin. While there are 

    many acres yet to be planted, for soybeans already coming out of the ground, Flexstar® GT 3.5 is an effective herbicide choice on Roundup Ready soybeans (not on conventional beans). It is labeled from pre-plant to pre-emerge to post-emerge.

    Flexstar GT 3.5 offers multiple sites of action, which helps with resistance issues. Flexstar GT 3.5 is effective on broadleaves, even the resistant ones, according to Tim Stelter, manager of Federated's Osceola Country Store, adding, "but you have to spray early, when the weeds are small."

    "Whatever [herbicide] you are spraying, you need to have multiple modes of action," said Stelter, "so you kill the weeds twice - once with glyphosate, and once with fomesafen [which is in Flexstar GT 3.5]." Glyphosate alone offers no residual, and no help for resistant weeds.

    "You will see some crop response -- such as leaf bronzing, crinkling, or spotting on soybean leaves," said Stelter. Those issues can be minimized by spraying before it's too late, but soybeans will still outgrow any adverse effects and develop normally. Flexstar GT 3.5 controls:

    • black nightshade,
    • pigweed,
    • common ragweed,
    • waterhemp (partial control),
    • giant ragweed (partial control, but better than glyphosate alone).

    Rates vary with Flexstar GT 3.5, based on geography, from 2.68 to 3.5 pt./ac. (and can only be applied in alternate years). Talk to your Federated Agronomist for specific recommendations and/or custom application scheduling. As always, read and follow label instructions.

    If the beans are not out of the ground already, Federated recommends Enlite® or Ledger® pre-emerge herbicides, but either way, spray while the weeds are small. Contact your Federated Agronomist with questions.

  • Drift: Avoid it. Always.

    With the increase in organic farms, local vineyards, and the long-standing need to preserve lakes, streams, and rivers, it's even more important to protect nearby plants, crops, waterways, and property from chemical drift during application. It can also be costly -- through fines and potential lawsuits -- to ignore the risk.vineyard

    Craig Peterson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location, pointed out that whether it's the wind or temperature inversion (when the ground is colder than the air and fine [chemical] droplets easily travel long distances, even in calm conditions), it's imperative to pay attention to the wind and weather. Spraying downwind near sensitive features can mean death to unintended crops and plant materials -- not just the weeds for which the chemicals were intended.

    Incorporating the label-required (and enforced) buffer zones and/or waiting until ground temperatures rise and winds calm down are two key ways to control drift. Peterson outlined the additional ways to help control drift:

    • selecting the right nozzle for the product being applied (air induction nozzles, for example);
    • using lower spray pressure;
    • keeping the spray boom lower;
    • using the proper spray height, based on nozzle selection and spacing; and
    • controlling application speed.

    Peterson added that "there are many products on the market to help control drift" (see article at left). Talk to your Federated Agronomist for help with the right product for the chemistry being applied.

    Remember to read and follow label directions -- and always record what you plant and where it's planted.

    Peterson offered this reminder, too: "Always wear proper safety equipment so you have a safe and successful spring." Give your Federated Agronomist a call with any questions.

  • Just Keep Scouting . . .

    emerging corn

    Every spring Federated Agronomists start their seemingly neverending season-long refrain: Keep scouting your fields. As any one of them will be quick to say, you can never scout too much.

    Scout for corn emergence. Federated Senior Agronomist Kevin Carlson said that monitoring fields for corn emergence is critical because "we had some corn planting that was done before the rough stretch of weather." Check to see if the corn survived the cool, wet weather.

    Scout for weeds. It's very important to start clean. "It's time to apply pre-emerge herbicides before the weeds come up," said Carlson, adding, "We only have a few days," so communicate with your Federated Agronomist if you want the herbicides custom applied. Early weed control is critical for optimal yields."

    Scout for insects. "The monitoring stations in Minnesota have already been picking up black cutworm flights," said Carlson. "As the corn gets to 2-3 leaf, you need to watch," adding that there are some corn traits that do not cover black cutworm control, including conventional corn, Roundup Ready® corn, and VT2 Double Pro® and VP3 Triple Pro®. (See this link for more BT corn trait info relating to insects.)

    It's close to time for black cutworm to start to emerge. "If you start to see some cutting of the corn, then contact your Federated Agronomist to go through the control options," said Carlson, and then the fields can be sprayed with a post-emerge insecticide.

    It's the agronomists' mantra, all season long: Just keep scouting. And call with questions. "There's no such thing as an irrelevant question," said Carlson.

  • Adjuvants Positively Affect Product Effectiveness

    glyphosate with Plexus

    Adjuvants improve the effectiveness of herbicide and insecticide applications, and can also help control drift, and improve retention. 

    Federated recommends two adjuvants, Plexus® and Array®, as part of a strong weed and insect management plan.

    According to information provided by Dale Hanson of Rosen's, Plexus is "an advanced adjuvant system" that improves the performance of the physical properties of the application; Plexus is great for wetting, spreading, reducing fines, retention, and pesticide coupling. Plexus also improves the performance by increasing penetration at the cuticle & cellular levels. It is easy to use, low rate, and more efficient than other adjuvants.

    Array is an AMS-based adjuvant that conditions hard water and improves herbicide absorption by the plant. Array is great for increasing spray deposition, retention, and canopy penetration.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist to determine which adjuvants are best for your crop plans.

  • Communication is the Key to the Best Custom Application

    Spring spraying

    The right equipment and the right product at the right time is essential, but without good communication between the grower and Federated, custom application services can go south quickly.

    "The big thing is planning ahead, and communication," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. When growers take the time to meet with Federated prior to when the custom application service is needed, fields can be mapped and "we can talk about what to apply to their fields," said Carlson, adding, "Don't wait!"Surety map example

    Federated uses the Surety program (yield mapping software) to map out fields (as shown at right). "We map growers' fields, and then we send that map out with a sprayer or spreader so the applicators know the correct field [on which to apply the product]," Carlson said. But it all takes planning.

    Spreading is underway now and spraying will be ongoing for the next three months, so it's not too late to communicate custom application needs to Federated. "There is no such thing as too late for planning, as long at it's not too late for the application," said Carlson.

    Growers need to give their spraying and spreading orders to the people in a position of authority -- Federated agronomists or location managers -- to ensure the service gets done properly and on time. Federated drivers are not the appropriate people to talk to.

    It's also important to note that growers need to sign the Customer Service Policy before any application can be scheduled. This policy (available at Federated Locations) outlines what growers can expect from Federated, and what Federated expects from the grower. "It's an important communication piece between the customer and the co-op," said Carlson.

    Come on in to your Federated location and take the time to "map, decide, and communicate," he said. Give your Federated Agronomist a call today.

  • Seed Treatment Promotes Plant Vigor and Better Yields

    Federated continues to promote -- and invest in -- seed treatment as a proactive way to promote plant health, and boost yields from the first moment the seed hits the soil. Two proven soybean seed treatment products include Primo CL for soybeans and CruiserMaxx® with Vibrance®.

    treated seeds

    "Federated has chosen Primo CL because it has superior flow-ability after it's applied to soybean seed," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. Primo CL also has one of the highest count of rhizobia inoculate available today. According to Verdesian Life 

    Sciences , "Primo CL elevates custom applied inoculant products to a new standard."

    Federated also recommends Cruiser Maxx with Vibrance soybean insecticide/fungicide seed treatment. This product contains three fungicides for broad spectrum control. As described on the Syngenta website, CruiserMaxx with Vibrance offers seed safety and low use rates, as well as the following:

    • plant protection even before the seed germinates;
    • better emergence, faster speed to canopy, and improved vigor;
    • protection against damaging chewing and sucking insects and pests;
    • effective protection against major fungal diseases such as Rhizoctonia, early season Phytophthora, Pythium, and Fusarium;
    • increased yield even under low insect pressure. 

    Talk to your Federated Agronomist about yield-boosting seed treatment options. 

  • Pre-Emerge Herbicide Options include Dual II Magnum® SI

    Among many pre-emerge herbicide options, Federated Co-ops recommends Dual II Magnum® SI, a Syngenta product, to keep early weed pressure down. Dual II Magnum SI is safe for use on corn or soybeans and is effective on a wide range of grasses and small-seeded broadleaf weeds, including waterhemp, which is becoming an increasingly troublesome weed due to increasing buildup of glyphosate resistance.

    Dual II Magnum SI can only be used impregnated on dry fertilizer; its low use rate keeps fertilizer from getting too wet, and ensures better spreading.

    Bob Marquette, Federated agronomist at the Albertville location, said, "Dual II Magnum SI allows you to delay your first post-emerge application if wet conditions are a factor" because the product doesn't break down too quickly.

    Dual II Magnum SI can be applied pre-plant, pre-emerge, and post-emerge. For additional information, contact your Federated Agronomist.  Also read this Dual II Magnum SI fact sheet, and label.