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Zinc. Alphabetically at the end, but agriculturally at the start, Zinc (Zn) is one of the first elements crops need. This important micronutrient is essential for plants and, when deficient, is the one most commonly limiting yield, according to Duane Droogsma, Federated agronomist at the Rush City location.
"Zinc deficiency happens due to earlier planting of corn in cool and damp conditions," he said. Zinc is heavily involved in enzyme systems that regulate the early growth stages, and zinc is vital for root system development; it is also required in protein synthesis and growth regulation.
"Zinc is a team player with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in many plant development processes," Droogsma said.
Federated recommends Racer™, from Rosen's (see fact sheet), to be mixed with dry fertilizer (see article above) at 6.3 lbs./ac. to provide 1 lb./ac. of zinc on corn.
Alternatively, MicroEssentials™ SZ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn), by Mosaics, is a granule created through a fusion technology process to get N, P, S, and Zn into one "nutritionally balanced granule" that creates a single source of nutrition for the crop (see fact sheet).
MicroEssentials SZ provides:
- uniform nutrient distribution,
- improved nutrient uptake (especially of phosphorus in diverse soil conditions, as are typical in the early part of the growing season), and
- season-long sulfur availability (with two forms of sulfur - sulfate and elemental sulfur - in every granule).
Contact your Federated Agronomist to discuss the best fertilizer and micronutrient options for your crops this year. Plan now for great yields this fall.
Federated's Soybean Grower Workshops get underway later this month, and as spring plans take shape be sure to attend one of these informative meetings. Get the latest information on these important topics for 2016:
- Xtend® 2 Soybean Weed Control System, and Related Genetics
- Enlist® Soybean Weed Control System, and Related Genetics
- Winning the Fight Against Weed Resistance
- Using Biologicals and Growth Promoters in Soybeans
RSVP to your Federated Agronomist to reserve your space at one of the free workshops listed below. Meetings start at 10 a.m. with lunch to follow at noon.
- Mon. March 21
- Albertville - Albertville City Hall
- Tues., March 22
- Rush City - Rock Creek Town Hall
- Wed., March 23
- Isanti - Captain's on Long Lake
- Thurs., March 24
- Ogilvie - Northern Lights, Pease
- Fri., March 25
- Osceola - American Legion, St Croix Falls
The main purpose of in-furrow liquid corn starters is to get nutrients to the plants from the get-go. Readily accessible nutrients give corn a faster, healthier start, from the roots up, as they pave the way for better yields.
PMax Plus® (emphasis on the "plus") is a premium liquid starter fertilizer for corn that provides the standard macronutrients, N, P, and K (7-20-3) along with chelated micronutrients, namely, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc.
The PMax designation (without regard for the "plus") indicates that the fertilizer has "an additive that reduces soil fixation of applied phosphate for maximum crop availability," according to PMax informational literature.
XLR-rate™ is another high-quality choice for liquid starter fertilizer, and is an effective and affordable option. It offers the same macro nutrients (N, P, K -- 7-23-5) as PMax Plus but without the enhancers and micronutrients (see XLR-rate fact sheet).
According to Tim Stelter, manager of Federated's Osceola Country store, either PMax Plus or XLR-rate on corn will help alleviate some of the stress from cold or compacted soil [common in Minnesota and Wisconsin springs]. Additionally, "the lower salt content of liquid fertilizer is safer on the seed itself," he said.
Stelter said that aside from the advantages of starter in general, in-furrow liquid fertilizer has a lower use rate of 3-5 gal./ac., "which means you can cover more ground with less product." Dry fertilizer, with its 100-400lbs./ac. use rate, needs to be refilled more frequently during planting.
He also noted that liquid fertilizer provides a more precise application of nutrients; dry fertilizer offers a less exact range of nutrient levels in every application.
Stelter said, "Research shows it pays to use starters even on soils that test high in fertility because important nutrients may not be available to young crops due to cold soils, compaction, or improper pH."
"Typically corn is 1-2% drier at harvest with the use of starters," said Stelter, and that contributes to profitability.
Plan now to get your corn off to a good start. Contact your Federated Agronomist to discuss your fertilizer options.
Because wheat is planted early, and the soils are generally still cold and wet, seed treatment has become a fairly common practice among wheat producers in east/central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The cold and wet soils can contribute to poor germination. Research has shown a 10-12% increased emergence rate and much healthier roots when treated seed is used.
The treated seed also helps prevent diseases common to this area, according to Craig Peterson, Federated Agronomist at the Ogilvie location, including:
- rhizoctonia root rot,
- common root rot,
- septoria, abd
- seed-borne fusarium.
Federated recommends Raxil® MD for wheat seed treatment. "It will control these and many other diseases," said Peterson, adding, "Raxil prevents fungal diseases on the seed, in the seed, and also in the soil."
Peterson noted that starting with quality seed that is treated will get crops off to their best possible start, "which results in a healthier stand that can increase yields."
Federated Coops has also made a commitment to providing excellent seed treatment options in its recent investments in new seed-treating equipment -- some of "the best and fastest in the industry," said Peterson. Talk to your local Federated Agronomist to line up your wheat [or soybean] seed treatments for spring. It's coming soon!
It's old news that agriculture goes in cycles; glyphosate eliminatedsome of the cyclical weed issues -- until recently. Last year many areas of Federated's trade territory experienced a new issue, according to John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location. "Coming off the prevent plant year , weeds seemed to explode and a new weed showed up."
Most Minnesota and Wisconsin growers have never had to deal a weed as competitive as Waterhemp. "And it took us by storm," Swanson said. Waterhemp is a prolific seed producer and can germinate all season long. Many growers discovered this weed didn't need to develop resistance; it came that way.
Waterhemp is resistant to glyphosate (and other chemistries), so now what?
This is where the cycle comes into play. As glyphosate moved the corn and soybean market away from pre-emerge herbicides, waterhemp and other tough weeds are bringing them back.
Pre-emerge herbicides are not only the new trend, but they are the best currently available way to fight these tough weeds. "This will be extremely critical for protecting our current technologies -- the glyphosate resistant crops," said Swanson. And, he added, "We also need to protect our future technologies -- the 2,4-D resistant and dicamba resistant crops -- so we will be able to use these technologies in the future.
A good foundation of pre-emerge herbicides will provide an additional mode of action, which will help break the resistance cycle, but will also "decrease the weed population by killing the seeds before they ever have a chance to germinate," said Swanson.
The downside -- and more experienced growers will recall this fact -- is the narrower window of application for pre-emerge herbicides. Most of pre-emerge products need to be applied before the crop cracks (roughly within three days), which adds to the stress and labor of planting season, but this timing is extremely critical. Pre-emerge herbicide application is critical to our weed control success in the future.
Pre-Emerge product options include (but are not limited to):
- Sonic® (by Dow) + Blanket® (a great waterhemp and giantragweed combination program),
- Blanket (one of the best waterhemp products on the market),
- Ledger™ (reasonably priced combination of Dual and Sencor),
- Enlite® (by DuPont, a combination of Valor®, Classic®, and Harmony®, also good for waterhemp),
- Afforia® (also by DuPont, Valor withExpress® and Harmony -- good in no-till since Express helps with dandelions and white cockle),
- Dual® II Magnum® (by Syngenta, offers a wider application window as pre-emerge or early post, and can be applied and incorporated with fertilizer).
Talk to your local Federated Agronomist for rates and more details. Plan now for effective weed control this year -- starting with pre-emerge applications to break the tough weed cycles.
Weed pressure on soybeans continues to challenge growers. One program that can provide "better control than what you're used to," according to Bryan Thompson of Rosen's, is a tank mix of 3 oz./ac. of Sonic® with 3 oz./ac. of Blanket®4F.
Thompson recommended the Sonic/Blanket tank mix as a pre-emerge option, adding, "If we need to clean it up post we can go back with Battle Star GT, or Buc Plus tank mixed with Firstrate, or Ultra Blazer, or another tank mix."
Thompson noted that Buc Plus is very affordable now, so it is possible to make one's own tank mix to create a "Flexstar GT" with Battle Star, but talk to your Federated Agronomist to determine the best options for cost-effective weed control.
Blanket 4F provides:
- early season and residual control;
- small seeded broadleaf control;
- waterhemp, kochia, pigweed, lambsquarter, nightshade control;
- performance in all soil types;
- alternate mode of action to glyphosate.
Roundup Ready Xtend™ 2 Soybean System is available for sale in the marketplace this growing season. The germ plasm was cleared by the Chinese market for export, allowing the soybean system to be used in 2016.
Federated will present additional information on this system at the Soybean Grower Workshops next month. Additionally, Federated Senior Agronomist Kevin Carlson said, "We will be talking to growers about trials for the Xtend 2 Soybean System."
Plan now to attend one of Federated's Corn Grower Workshops, Feb. 22-26. RSVP soon for one of these workshops:
Mon., Feb. 22 - Albertville
Tue., Feb. 23 - Rush City
Wed., Feb. 24 - Isanti
Thur., Feb. 25 - Ogilvie
Fri., Feb. 26 - Osceola
This year's workshops include informative presentations on the following topics.
- 2016 Nutrient Management Decision-Making
- Responsible Nitrogen Management
- Federated's Product Service Policy
- Early Season Discovery Plot Results in Corn
Each workshop begins at 10 a.m. and will conclude with a complimentary lunch at noon. Contact your Federated Agronomist.
To cut or not to cut - that is the 2016 question. With current grain prices, cost-cutting measures are likely and crop input budgeting for the upcoming growing season is anything but easy.
Ron Paulson, Federated agronomist at the Isanti location, pointed to one survey [see this link] of 1500 farmers that found their proposed cuts for 2016 as follows:
- Machinery - 38%
- None - 15%
- Fertilizer - 9%
- Seed - 6%
- Crop chemicals - 2%
Paulson said, "Machinery cuts are the easiest. You don't want to cut the chemicals and fertilizer costs because that is going to affect yield."
"Everyone has a different cost per acre," he said. "Growers need to figure out their break-even point and work from there," adding that grain marketing is a significant factor in these difficult decisions.
Throughout Federated's service areas, many bins from 2015 (and in some cases, 2014) are still filled with grain that needs to be marketed. No one knows definitively where prices will go, but it's good business to set goals for marketing grain - before another harvest rolls around. "With some goals in place for marketing grain, growers will be prepared to sell when the price gets [to their break-even point]," said Paulson. Sometimes selling in the summer, well before harvest, is the best marketing choice.
When budgeting for input costs, a soil test is the most effective tool for determining fertilizer needs. "If the levels are high," said Paulson, "you might be able to cut back on fertilizer, but you need to do a soil test to see what you have in the ground." With high levels of nutrients, it's possible to cut back and get by. If the soil tests are low, cuts set the stage for yield loss.
"The big thing," when it comes to staying on top of input costs, said Paulson, "is to stay in contact with your Federated Agronomist for fertilizer, seed, and chemical pricing. Federated is committed to helping growers find the most effective ways to control costs and promote higher yields.
"Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybeans will provide tolerance
to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, offering farmers
more consistent, flexible weed control, especially
tough-to-manage and glyphosate-resistant weeds."
- as stated in a recent Monsanto R & D pipeline report
"Roundup Ready 2 Xtend crop system for soybeans is still waiting for final commercialization for the 2016 crop planting season," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist, "and at Federated, we are waiting just like you [growers] are."
For those growers who are challenged with resistant weeds such as water hemp, and difficult to control weeds like giant ragweed, this new weed control technology is the next step in managing weeds in crop with no crop response.
Carlson said that once the official go ahead is given to start selling Xtend soybeans, Federated will be ready. "We have received limited allocations of Xtend soybeans that we can sell, from 0.9 to 2.0 maturities, to try on some area farm fields, he said, adding that because these are new products with limited production information, there are only trial quantities.
As with any new weed control technology system introduced in the marketplace, everyone will need to get to know how to use it. The labeled chemical that will be sold for use on the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in crop is yet to be named but will be in the dicamba chemical family.
Weed control for today's soybeans -- including RR Xtend soybeans -- needs to include several important steps:
1. application of a good pre-emerge herbicide that has activity on the targeted problem weeds;
2. application timing that hits weeds when they are less than four inches tall; and
3. using the right adjuvants and the right nozzles.
"We will know a lot more about the application parameters when we see a final product label," said Carlson, "and it will include buffers on the label."
There is much more information coming in the months ahead on this new change in weed control technology. "Federated will keep you informed of the changes," said Carlson. And as always, contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions.