Join Farm Journal to get your planter ready for a successful spring with two events next week.Read more »
Join Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie in Lubbock for this one-day seminar to get your 2014 corn crop off to a strong start.Read more »
Let the Farm Journal agronomic experts give you take-home tips for top planter performanceRead more »
Join either Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer at two events this winter for the southern corn grower.Read more »
On the agenda for these two events is used equipment values expert Machinery Pete!Read more »
Corn College has announced its two winter seminars for the southern farmer.Read more »
Take a virtual tour around the expo tent from the Corn College Advanced events that took place July 15 to 18 in Heyworth, IL.Read more »
Maximize yield potential at in-field event hosted by Missy Bauer.Read more »
Burroughs’ Annual Grower Meeting
March 4, 2014 — Our Minonk and Washburn (Burroughs Ag Services) locations held their Annual Grower Meeting at the Rutland Legion Hall in Rutland, Illinois. There were about 48 growers in attendance. Speakers included Jeremy Hoskey (BASF) who led a discussion on Fungicides, Todd Taylor (Hintzsche Agronomic Services Manager) on Weed Resistance, Andy Paulson (General Manager Axis Seed Direct) on Axis Seed Varieties, and Rick Griesbach (Hintzsche Agronomist) shared a presentation entitled “What We Learned in 2013.”
Branch Managers Darcy Kessler (left) and Jamie Eilts, from our Washburn and Minonk plants respectively, share some cake with their guests.
MORE PHOTOS FROM THE MEETING:
Results of a Long, Harsh Winter
March 27, 2014 — I am finally seeing more and more evidence that winter is ending and spring is right around the corner! It’s been a long winter; one of the coldest on record with the third heaviest snowfall in northern Illinois. So, will this harsh winter have an impact on this year’s crop? Did the cold weather kill any insects?
Bean Leaf Beetles and Stinkbugs are the most vulnerable to cold because they overwinter as adults in crop residue. However, with all of the snow we got, it’s likely that they were well insulated and protected from the extreme temperatures. Rootworm overwinter as eggs in the soil and are generally rather winter hardy. Aphids overwinter in shrubs and are somewhat vulnerable to extreme cold. Bottom line; the arctic blast we all endured the last four months probably didn’t kill many insects. In fact, if spring-like temperatures take their sweet time and the soil is slow to thaw out and warm up, we could see above average insect impact in 2014.
Last week, when the snow was melting, one of my growers called and asked why his neighbor’s fields have large ponds, and his fields don’t. The neighbors had chiseled their fields relatively early, while this particular grower had chiseled late in the fall. I surmised that his field had probably frozen soon after being chiseled, without a chance to dry and settle. This left large pockets that absorbed the water, while his neighbor’s soil had settled, so the water sat on top of the frost. This observation has given me some clues about the seedbeds we will likely see this spring. Without repeated freeze-thaw cycles (we only had one long freeze cycle), the seedbed will most likely work up rough, and I would not be surprised if corn on corn fields will need to be worked twice. The corn on corn fields that were not chiseled last fall will undoubtedly present a huge challenge with no easy answers.
In 2012, the temperatures were around 80 degrees during the last week of March. The soils were warmed to a significant depth, and when cold rains came at the end of April, the soil temperature was warmer at depth than at the surface, allowing it to resist the cold rains. For 2014, we will be sitting on very cold soil temps below planting depth. Pay attention to the temperature of the first drink of water after planting. If it is cold, the shock will likely hurt yields. With a large reservoir of cold temperatures at depth, a cold rain will drop soil temps very quickly. Hence, planting right up to a rain is likely going to hurt both emergence and yields.
Follow us on Facebook under Hintzsche Companies or on Twitter: @HintzscheCo or @HzAgronomist for more field observations.
Plant Nutrient Levels in Highest Yielding Fields
February 2014 — I recently attended Midwest Labs’ agronomy conference in Omaha, Nebraska where I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Robert Miller speak on his topic “Corn Potassium Dynamics: A 21st Century Perspective.” I was very intrigued with the information he shared. It prompted me to take a closer look at the ratios between cations (K, Mg and Ca) on the tissue test database I manage here at Hintzsche. Our database now has over 2,000 tests and dates back to 2004. I selected a group of fields that yielded 240 bu/a or more and concluded: It’s all about the potassium! In those fields that yielded 240 bu/a, potassium levels were higher than average, and magnesium and calcium were both below average. Corn plants preferentially take up potassium, then magnesium, and finally calcium. In 2012, as the drought settled in, magnesium levels spiked as potassium crashed, which created a yield ceiling. This proves that getting enough potassium (K) into the plant while increasing the population (decreasing the root ball size) is key to unlocking the next level of yields.
As far as the calcium-boron relationship, the highest yielding fields in 2013 had significantly more calcium than boron. Was this the result of the wet spring and wet June? Or did boron become the limiting factor after the nitrogen (N) and K needs were met? It seems that both were true; that a deficiency in boron was a limiting factor in the highest yielding fields.
What’s the bottom line? In order to achieve the best possible yields, we need to better manage potassium, matching K levels to N levels to plant populations.
For more information or to order tissue tests for your fields, please contact me or your designated Hintzsche sales representative. Follow us on Facebook under Hintzsche Companies or on Twitter: @HintzscheCo or @HzAgronomist for more field observations.
Get To Know A Fertilizer Retailer
Ag Retailers: A Responsible Industry
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemicals Association (IFCA) recently shared a professional, short video that illustrates the commitment that ag retailers have toward safety, security, emergency response and regulatory compliance. This video, entitled ‘Get To Know A Fertilizer Retailer,’ was prepared by the Fertilizer Institute (TFI). Chad Lau, formerly of Burroughs Ag (a Hintzsche Company), also a volunteer firefighter, is featured in the video. Click http://www.tfi.org/safety-and-security-tools/get-know-fertilizer-retailer to access the video.
We, at Hintzsche, are committed to upholding the regulations set forth by the state of Illinois. We have a designated Safety Committee, which meets on a regular basis to track and report on any potential safety-related matters company wide. Our employees are trained to take the proper measures to ensure safety at all of our plants and throughout our communities.
Hintzsche Rebuilds Shop
March 5, 2014
Hintzsche Fertilizer, Inc. lost their shop and other buildings in a fire in February 2013. The company is currently in the process of rebuilding their much utilized maintenance building at their Troxel plant, located just south of Maple Park, Illinois. With multiple snow storms, high winds, and arctic blasts that have plagued the area during the winter of 2013-14, progress has been rather slow. Work has continued, however, and the framing of the structure is near completion.
A temporary shop has been set up on Route 23, south of DeKalb, Illinois. Chad Becker, Shop Manager, and his crew have continued to work hard, preparing equipment for the spring season. Chad said “We are all looking forward to our new shop with the extra room, which will enable us to work on multiple projects at the same time.” Chad continued, “This will have a positive impact on our productivity and efficiency.”
Gerry Hinkston, Senior Operations Manager, describes the features of the new shop: “The dimensions of our new building are 90 x 214 square feet with a 14,500 sq. ft. shop, a drive-through wash bay, and an area that will house some additional offices and a training facility that will be used for both employee and customer meetings.” Gerry continued: “While it’s been a challenge not having a shop on site, Chad has done a fine job making do with the temporary facility. I, personally, really look forward to having a wash bay which will allow us to keep our trucks and equipment clean throughout the season.”
The company plans to have the building completed and fully functional by year-end.
Answer Plot 2014
February 11, 2014 — Growers Attend 2014 Answer Plot Meeting–
The kickoff of the 2014 Answer Plot program was held at Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois. Larry Fiene with Winfield Solutions was the moderator, who kept the program moving swiftly. Dan Frieberg (Premier Crop) opened up with a discussion about trends and stats revealed via their impressive data pool which now exceeds 1 million acres. Dan’s discussion provided a nice segue into the next segment presented by Hintzsche Sales Agronomist Rick Griesbach. Rick shared his local observations gathered during the 2013 crop year. Bob Beck (also with Winfield) shared some slides pertaining to many different Answer Plots throughout the Midwest. The meeting concluded with Dr. Davis (University of Wisconsin) who shared some facts about weed resistance, specifically relating to Palmer Amaranth, a nasty resistant weed that may cause havoc in our area in the coming years. There were approximately 80 growers in attendance. For more information, please contact your Hintzsche sales representative.
Yield Factors for 2013 Crop Year
It looks like the weather gave us one last window before the hard freeze set in, shutting down fall activity. The 2013 crop year was an exceptional year for yields in Northern Illinois. Let’s explore the the factors that influenced these yields in 2013. The August 22nd rain was clearly the most significant weather event for northern Illinois, resulting in a 30 bushel per acre increase in corn yields. Heavy June rains were the next most notable weather event. Poorly drained areas of many fields had significant yield losses, much more than expected. The factor with the biggest impact that we could control was Nitrogen management. Overall, emergence this spring was excellent, resulting in above average stands. Nitrogen loss in June was above average, which set the stage for many fields to run out of it because the population to Nitrogen balance was upset. Sidedress Nitrogen paid handsomely this year, often in the 20 bushel range, and adding some Potash to the sidedress gave an additional yield bump. Plant growth regulators and Starter also increased yields this year, giving a nice return on investment. This fall, three professors from the U of I Department of Natural Resources produced a thesis paper called “The Potassium Paradox.” It states that after ‘an extensive survey of more than 2,100 yield trials,’ corn does not respond to applied Potassium fertilizer. However as I study the relationship of yield files to soil tests and examine what has driven yields over the past 12 years, there is no doubt in my mind that aside from Nitrogen, one of the most significant factors we can control is Potassium levels in the soil. Premier Crop, one of the sources of ‘big data’, shows a nearly straight line response to Potash levels on a database of over 1 million acres.
For Soybeans, early planting was a large yield contributor. As always, getting soybeans to flower on the longest day of the year is a big plus. White mold management was very important, either by phenotype, soybeans that allow more air movement, or with multiple fungicide applications. But once again, the August 22nd rain really made yields. At that point, the number of beans per plant had been determined, but good growing conditions in late August and early September made for very large soybeans.
As we look to the 2014 growing season, everyone at Hintzsche Fertilizer would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
Follow us on FB under Hintzsche Companies or on Twitter: @HintzscheCo or @HzAgronomist for more field observations. Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy New Year!
Harvest is here!
As the days get shorter and nights get cooler, it is clear that Autumn is here, which means HARVEST time is here.
Soybeans are now being harvested all across northern Illinois and most of the yields so far have been a bit better than average. I anticipate a better return on investment this year. There was enough brown spot taking out lower leaves to make fungicides pay, and soybeans always respond to Potassium fertilizer.
Corn planted before May 15 is now at black layer, and corn planted later in May has a week or so to go, so frost is a minor concern now. Fields being harvested today tend to be fields that died down as opposed to dried down. Nitrogen management is going to pay handsomely. Growers who applied enough Nitrogen to match the populations, and split applications with sidedress generally have fields that are drying down today. Anthracnose took out the top several levels in many fields and Nitrogen cannibalization stripped leaves below the ear. When the plants got down to several green leaves, they died and formed a black layer, which is die down. Yields in northern Illinois should average from 150 to 250 bushels per acre. I see starter and sidedress each adding 15 bu/a.
Rootworm reared their ugly little heads very late this year. With the drought last year, rootworm eggs where laid very deep in the soil and emerged 3 to 5 weeks late. These rootworm attacked the brace roots, causing significant damage. Fortunately the yield impact will be minor this year, as the brace roots don’t have much to do with feeding the corn plant, but harvesting down corn is always a pain. Beetle populations in September were higher than ever, feeding anywhere they could find pollen. Generally, the proteins for rootworm control are poorly expressed in the brace roots. So most of these rootworm are not resistant to CRW traits, but there has been significant feeding on all three main proteins, when rootworm traits are relied on exclusively to control rootworm. Growers who have approached root protection using multiple traits or multiple control mechanisms generally have significantly less root damage.
Agronomists at the Hintzsche Companies pulled nearly 1,000 tissue tests this summer. Once the yields are in, I will be excited to compare the tissue tests results with the highest yielding fields across northern Illinois to see which nutrients impacted yields the most.
Fertilizer prices are currently lower than last year, which is good news for growers facing lower corn prices.
Follow me on twitter @ HzAgronomist for more field observations.
Hintzsche Utilizes the Latest in Scouting Robotics
Hintzsche recently announced their new scouting robotics ‘drone’ provided by DMZ Aerial. This way of scouting is brand new technology, utilizing a drone, otherwise known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It is designed to fly over fields and record photos and related data. Aerial devices provide a clear picture of what is going on, and now Hintzsche has adopted this technology to capture that unique perspective. “Our plan is to use it early in the crop growing season (just as the plants have become too large to drive through the field on an ATV), and then again in late August-early September when our guys are out checking fields for yields,” said Agronomist Rick Griesbach.
Robert Phillips, Hintzsche Agronomist, demonstrated the drone at a Customer Answer Plot session this summer. The drone is currently available so growers can take advantage of this great new technology. Contact your Hintzsche agronomist/sales representative for more information on how this service can help you find even more ways to increase your yields.
Field Update 8-28-13
What a difference a week makes! The crops would be really hurting about now if we had not received that wonderful rain last week! The heat is also helping to push us toward maturity. Here in northern Illinois, corn planted May 1st is now at 2,240 heat units, fully dented and should hit black layer in less than 30 days. May 15th, is now at 2,100 heat units, starting to dent and black layer in about 35 days. May 25th plantings are at 1,940, about 40 days away from black layer, and those who waited until June to plant are just over 1,800 heat units, and probably won’t make black layer. Remember a 112 day corn needs 2,800 heat units. As of August 27, we are back on track for the ten year average, and remain a full 3 weeks behind last year. It looks like we will have to dry this crop this fall—the first time in almost 4 years!
Soil Nitrates actually improved somewhat from samples pulled on August 14th, before the heat hit. I also have seen signs that significant mineralization has occurred since the rain last week. Tissue tests continue to decline toward maturity. I have begun to graph the tissue tests by grower. Later I will put the yield results onto these graphs, and I will review this information individually to plan for 2014 fertility.
The largest thing in the corn field is the race to see which will run out first; water, Nitrogen or the calendar. I expect very big responses to soil type (water holding capacity), total N rate (including carryover for CoC), and splitting N applications. If you have all three, this is going to be a good corn year. Most of the corn is now dented, so kernel count is set and test weight is the only variable left. Rootworm beetle numbers have climbed in some fields, with very late emergence from eggs laid very deep in the soil. Most likely there is a significant reward for fungicides, from rust prevention and lowering ethylene production. I am predicting the DeKalb county average to come in at 180 to 185 bu/a, with that trending down a bit with this week’s higher temperatures.
Soybeans are now in pod fill, now that the flowering is done. White mold is showing up in fields that have a history (2009), and growers who applied a split fungicide program at R1 and R3 have successfully prevented white mold. Sudden Death is killing plants in areas of some fields with compaction problems. Aphids exploded in populations last week, and I would spray ALL of the fields that did not have a previous insecticide treatment. Keep in mind, however, that the heat this week is knocking the aphids down very hard. It amazes me that if a field had an insecticide treatment four weeks ago (when there was almost no insect pressure), it has no aphids today. There is also a lot of Brown Spot in SB fields that are dropping off the lower leaves. This year I expect a better response to fungicide in SB compared to corn.
Follow me on twitter @ HzAgronomist for more field observations.