Federated Co-ops News

  • A New Way to Fight Broadleaf Weeds

    Late July brought much-awaited news: Roundup Ready (RR) 2 Xtend® soybeans cleared the final grain channel approval for food and feed use in the European Union. This means "we have full market approval," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist.waterhemp in soybeans

    As waterhemp, giant ragweed, lambs quarter, and other weeds are not being controlled by glyphosate applications, this approval gives growers a "very attractive solution" for that problem in 2017 and beyond, Carlson said.As waterhemp, giant ragweed, lambs quarter, and other weeds are

    Though the industry awaits EPA approval for over-the-top post spraying of dicamba, "Federated will be selling Xtend soybeans for 2017," said Carlson. The dicamba formulation is still moving through the EPA process, but its producer, Monsanto, believes they'll have a product available in 2017. Consequently, "roughly 20-40% of [Federated's] seed supply will be in the RR 2 Xtend trait," said Carlson.

    Carlson pointed out that these soybeans will be a very good solution for those growers who are struggling right now with late-season broadleaf control (another reason to scout fields throughout the season). However, he also noted that growers who are interested in trying RR 2 Xtend soybeans should call Federated soon. Supply will likely be a challenge, and "we anticipate that seed with this trait will be gone by spring," said Carlson.

    See this link for further information on RR 2 Xtend soybeans -- and be sure to attend one of Federated's upcoming August Discovery Plot Days (see note at left) where this topic will be discussed.

    Federated also has a Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean plot and will hold a tour on Sept. 7. The plot covers a wide range of Federated's geography: "We have soybeans in the field from 0.8 to 2.1 maturity (group 0 to 2.0)," said Carlson. More info to follow later this month.

    And as always, you can talk to your Federated Agronomist to learn more!

  • Alfalfa Seeding: Don't Wait Until Fall

    Late summer is a great time to seed alfalfa, and the window is closing fast. "Next to planting in the dry soil, planting too late is the biggest cause of [alfalfa] seeding failures," said Bob Marquette, Federated agronomist at the Albertville location.

    alfalfa plant"Quite typically in our area," said Marquette, "fall seeding should be done by Aug. 15. It's a game time decision [to plant later than Aug. 15] because of the moisture. That's usually the key."

    While this year has been good moisture-wise, the concern is heat -- and then frost. It's important to evaluate when it will germinate. "Alfalfa needs at least 45 days of good growing conditions to build up adequate carbohydrate reserves," he said, before a killing frost.

    The first thing to do before deciding to plant alfalfa in the late summer is soil testing for potassium, phosphorous, boron, and sulfur. "If your soil test says you are in the proper pH level, you are good to go," said Marquette.

    The optimum pH level is 6.8, and any liming to bring it to the desired level should be done 6 to 24 months before planting alfalfa.

    Advantages and disadvantages of later summer alfalfa seeding:

    • Good to follow summer grain harvest.
    • Fall seeding yields three crops in the first year, as opposed to one with spring seeding.
    • Potential moisture shortage and/or extreme high temperatures can prevent germination.
    • Frost damage from early frost, or if planted too late.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist to discuss your late-summer alfalfa planting plans or concerns.

  • HarvXtra: What is it?

    For either late-summer or spring seeding, Federated recommends HarvXtra™, a reduced-lignin Roundup Ready alfalfa seed, according to Craig Loen, Federated agronomist at the Osceola location. HarvXtra is among the results of over three decades work by alfalfa breeders to develop "new technologies that improve forage quality," he said.alfalfa field

    HarvXtra offers benefits that make it an excellent choice.

    • Higher yield potential and forage quality.
    • Longer interval between cuttings without compromising quality, allowing for one less cutting per season, which means:
      • flexibility in case of weather events;
      • fewer wheel tracks, thereby improving stands and persistence potential; and
      • lower harvest costs.

    Loen said, "Research has shown that HarvXtra in three cuttings can out yield the four-cut system by approximately 1 ton/ac., with similar or better quality."

    The question of standability of a reduced-lignin alfalfa comes down to this," according to Loen: "There are different genes in the plant that regulate lignin; the technology determined the correct gene and reduced the production of that particular lignin." One might ask, "Will the HarvXtra lodge?" Loen said, "No worse than the alfalfas in the system currently."

    Growers can choose their cutting schedule based on their desired outcome with HarvXtra.

    • Cutting in the 25-28-day interval increases forage digestibility.
    • Cutting in the acceptably delayed 32-35-day interval improves tonnage while maintaining forage digestibility.

    And because HarvXtra alfalfa includes the Roundup Ready technology, weed pressure can be eliminated.

    Federated will supply two versions of HarvXtra Alfalfa seed in 2017: HVX Driver and HVX Harvaton. Loen said, "They both will have a fall dormancy rating of 4 and winter hardiness rating of 2."

    Additionally, HVX Harvaton will include the wet-soil-disease package to fight against the disease pressure of Aphanomyces root rot (races 1 and 2), similar to Croplan's Rebound® 6.0 alfalfa, while maintaining high quality and tonnage.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist to learn more about HarvXtra alfalfa seed. And remember late-summer alfalfa seeding should be underway now (see article above).

  • RSVP Soon for Discovery Plot Tours

    Discovery Plot Days begin in less than two weeks. RSVP soon to your Federated Agronomist. The following topics will be featured this year.

    Discovery plot tour sign

    • The Do's and Don'ts of the RR 2 Xtend Soybean System
    • Adding Value with a Soil Sample
    • Fall Fertilizer Programs

    All Discovery Plots start at 10 a.m., followed by a steak dinner at noon. 

    • Monday, Aug. 22
      • Osceola - Craig, Janet & Neil Gustafson Farm
    • Tuesday, Aug. 23
      • Isanti - Paul & Janet Bostrom Farm
    • Wednesday, Aug. 24
      • Princeton -  Larry & Sharon Wilhelm Farm
    • Thursday, Aug. 25
      • Rush City - Cramaur Farm
    • Friday, Aug. 26 
      • Hinckley - Nathan Nelson Farm
    • Monday, Aug. 29 
      • Foley - Lezer Farm
    • Tuesday, Aug. 30 
      • Albertville - Lenneman Farm
    • Wednesday, Aug. 31 
      • Ogilvie - Steffen Farm
  • Scout Soybeans Soon, and Later

    It's time to watch for soybean insects. "Don't forget to scout fields for aphids and spider mites in soybeans," said John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location. "Spider mites are more prevalent when conditions are dry, but before the recent rains, spider mites were being seen," he said.word cloud2

    "Spider mites are really hard to scout for," according to Swanson, so don't hesitate to contact your Federated Agronomist if you think you might have them. If temperatures rise and rain chances diminish, the mites will thrive.  

    "We have not seen a lot of soybean aphids [yet], but across the majority of Federated's territory, aphids can still come in that early August time period, so continue scouting for aphids," Swanson said, noting that scouting along the way should be a given -- but it's not too late to start now.

    "Even though we haven't seen high numbers [of aphids] to this point, we need to remain vigilant and scout for them through mid-August," said Swanson. Aphids gain activity with moisture (they don't like it hot and dry), so they may pick up.

    Scout soon. Scout later. Treat as needed (see article at left). Call your Federated Agronomist with questions.

    These scouting guides from the U of M Extension service also offer helpful information: soybean aphids and spider mites

  • Keep an Eye on Fields to Protect Yields

    "This is a really good time to investigate problems in the fields through analysis," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. Tissue and soil sampling in the specific problem areas can reveal the exact causes of the problems because the physical symptoms are visible in the growing crop.

    "We can tie together what we are seeing with the tissue [and/or soil samples] to do some really good deciphering of what's taking place," said Carlson. "All fields are not uniform," he added, "and there always seems to be trouble spots." Composite soil sampling, while always helpful, doesn't find the exact reason for trouble spots because "they throw everything in there," said Carlson. It pays to narrow the focus with targeted samples.

    soybeans roots not nodulating

    soybean plant not fixing N










    Study the crop above ground and below ground (see photos above); the roots reveal the health of the plants as well.

    Look at fields now. Take soil samples. Get tissue samples. Take the time to analyze what's happening in specific trouble spots, and talk to your Federated Agronomist about any concerns.

  • Fight Yield Robbing Insects

    When soybean field scouting reveals yield robbing insects in the corn or soybeans, Federated recommends Brigade 2 EC, a highly effective pyrethroid insecticide labeled for both corn and soybeans. Brigade 2 EC, according to Bryan Thompson of Rosen's, has the active ingredient bifenthrin, which is very effective on all kinds of worms, beetles, aphids, and mites.soybean field

    Whether the goal is to knock down these pests fast, or provide long-lasting residual for pests yet to come, "Brigade conveniently does both," said Thompson. Brigade 2 EC is also very safe in comparison to organophosphate insecticides. "And it doesn't smell as bad either," he added.

    At 5-6 oz./ac., Brigade 2 EC is "very affordable and will provide quick kill and several weeks of residual activity to protect your crops," said Thompson. (See Brigade fact sheet.)

    Talk to your Federated Agronomist to learn more - and fight the insects before they rob yield.

  • Save the Dates!

    Discovery Plot Days are coming soon to farms near you! Plan to attend.

    • Monday, Aug. 22
      • Osceola - Craig, Janet & Neil Gustafson Farm
    • Tuesday, Aug. 23
      • Isanti - Paul & Janet Bostrom Farm
    • Wednesday, Aug. 24
      • Princeton -  Larry & Sharon Wilhelm Farm
    • Thursday, Aug. 25
      • Rush City - Cramaur Farm
    • Friday, Aug. 26 
      • Hinckley - Nathan Nelson Farm
    • Monday, Aug. 29 
      • Foley - Lezer Farm
    • Tuesday, Aug. 30 
      • Albertville - Lenneman Farm
    • Wednesday, Aug. 31 
      • Ogilvie - Steffen Farm

    All Discovery Plots start at 10 a.m., followed by a steak dinner at noon. 

    Agenda will be announced soon.

  • Cover Crops (a.k.a. Sustainable Agriculture)

    Experimenting with cover crops is not a fad; cover crops are one element in sustainable agriculture, one of the many practices Federated Co-ops is committed to promoting.

    "In the last decade or so, we have been looking for more profitable ways to produce crops while being more environmentally sensitive," said Joel Hagen, a certified crop advisor responsible for seed education with Deer Creek Seed.sustainability sign

    In the cycle of food production and consumption, "farmers wish to preserve water quality, optimize fertility, and retain soil on their farms," said Hagen, while consumers want food grown with fewer pesticides and a smaller impact on the environment and wildlife.

    Sound Reasons to Use Cover Crops

    • Erosion Control. Exposed soil, like that found after small grains, vegetable crops, and corn silage are removed, is subject to rain and wind erosion. Adding cover crops shields the soil from direct rain and wind impact.  Stabilizing soil by preventing the lift of wind or water will retain soil and the nutrients it holds.
    • Nutrient recovery, production, and storage. Legume plants (as a cover crop) can produce nitrogen fertilizer and their deep roots can capture nutrients and draw them back to the soil surface.  Other non-legume plants can also capture these nutrients, store them in the roots, leaves and stems and release them where and when the new crops need them.
    • Reduce Soil compaction. For years, growers have been trying to reduce compaction with tillage, but current thinking asks, "What if compaction can be reduced with natural plant growth instead of tillage, allowing the plants to do the work instead?"
    • Increase water infiltration and storage. Breaking hard compacted layers allows more water to be stored throughout the soil profile versus being restricted to the top 4 to 8 inches. This additionally means reduced runoff - less water running into rivers and streams.
    • Improve organic matter and soil composition. Soils are composed of air, water, organic matter sand, silt, and clay. Cover crops and reduced tillage increase the organic matter in the soil, which means greater retention of water and nutrients for future crops.
    • Suppress weed growth. Specific cover crops can be geared to suppress weeds. Herbicide resistant weeds require a non-conventional system for common sense weed control. While cover crops are not perfect in these areas, simple low-cost solutions may help reduce herbicide usage.
    • Break disease and insect cycles. Two decades ago farms were more animal related with a higher usage of crop rotations that included clover, grass, and alfalfa. Increased acres of corn and soybean have reduced or eliminated this rotation, and consequently growers struggle with increased levels of disease and pests. Certain cover crops appear to break the cycle of some insects, diseases, and nematodes.
    • Provide wildlife habitat. Cover crop seeds tend to be from groups of seeds that go to flower, and those flowers provide nectar for bees and habitat for birds and other wildlife. These crops produce green, high-protein forage, not low-quality feed. 

    Cover Crops = Good Farming Strategysustainable ag illustration

    Using cover crops should be part of a planned strategy -- a deliberate component in good crop management. With a defined strategy, the process of choosing the best cover crop seed is simplified. While "nobody can guarantee specific results," said Hagen, it is possible to effectively leverage the benefits of cover crops.

    Cover crops, like any crops, are affected by the length of the growing season, rainfall, temperature, and existing or added nutrients. Hagen said, "Rely on cover crop to soak up fall applied nutrients and release in the spring."

    Cover Crops Follow Grains, Corn

    Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist, said, "It is important to note the value of cover crops following small grain harvest." And that means the time is near.                       

    Cover crops integrated into a corn cropping system can also be good strategy. Carlson recommended this link from the University of Minnesota Extension Service for more information. Of course, you can always contact your Federated Agronomist for help with cover crop strategy.

    Choose the Best Cover Crop Seed

    Small Grain: Primarily used for weed suppression, nutrient tie up and organic matter production.

    • Oats and barley (fall death with no spring burn down needed)
    • Winter wheat and rye (green cover, spring and fall crops           

    Brassicas: Primarily used as weed and nematode inhibitors; these plants put on deep penetrating roots, and store nutrients in the roots that are released in spring.

    • Radishes, mustards, forage rapeseed and forage rapeseed crosses 

    Legumes: Primarily used for corn or small grain production but vetches are sometimes used for limited weed control; these crops produce nitrogen and release it in the spring, and they also add organic matter to soil.

    • Annual and perennial clovers, alfalfa, vetches, and pea

    Others: Primarily used to add plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat; these plants have some weed control properties.  

    • Sunflowers, buckwheat, safflower, and other flowering plants

    Contact your local Federated Agronomist for help with choosing the best cover crop seed, or feel free to direct specific seed questions to Joel Hagen (320-260-4674).

  • Improve Yield Potential with AMS on Soybeans

    "It's not too late to top dress sulfur on soybeans," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. The standard recommendation is 80-100 lbs./ac of AMS on soybeans (fertilizer grade AMS: 21-0-0-24S).

    "We've seen significant yield responses top dressing AMS on soybeans," said Carlson, adding, "It's mostly a sulfur response - but it could be an N response, too - AMS is the product of choice."

    Federated's "self-propelled applicators make it easy to do," said Carlson. Contact your Federated Agronomist to schedule custom top dressing with AMS on your soybean fields.