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Dicamba, Weather Hot Topics at Agricultural Media Summit

Off-target dicamba movement dominates conversation at meeting of agricultural communicators.

Dicamba and weather were two hot topics at the Agricultural Media Summit (AMS), an annual meeting for agricultural journalists and communicators from the U.S. and Canada held in late July. But 2018 seed offerings, the ever-wily corn rootworm, and in-furrow applications also surfaced at the meeting site of Snowbird, Utah. 

Dicamba, dicamba, and more dicamba

Talk of off-target movement of dicamba has permeated virtually every rural coffee shop, co-op, and field day this summer. It was no different at AMS. 

For applicators, it’s been an anxious year. “From an application perspective, if you are managing the things you can control, it does reduce the risk (of off-target movement),” says Jim Reiss, senior vice president, product development for Precision Laboratories. 

That means being on top of factors like:

  • Proper sprayer setup
  • Nozzle selection
  • Sprayer speed
  • Tank mix components
  • Following buffer zone guidelines

Be aware of temperature inversions, too. There are times you can see a temperature inversion, such as fog. Ever heard a train or town fire whistle that you can’t normally hear? That’s a sign an inversion is occurring, says Reiss. The state of Missouri has taken steps (dicamba applications can be made only between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.) to dodge inversions. 

Regular sprayer cleanouts are key, even before you spray dicamba. Other tank mixes that applicators spray can be anchors for dicamba, he says. “Flush systems at the end of the day so it (the mix) doesn’t settle overnight,” adds Reiss. That can be time consuming – but so can being blamed for off-target movement of dicamba. “The liability is huge,” he says.

Lots of corn was replanted last spring

“It’s been one of the biggest years for replant in the last 10 years,” says Mitch Heisler, Wyffels Hybrids marketing manager. 

This spring, heavy rains hit many areas in western Illinois, such as 10-inch amounts in five- to seven-day spans. 

Other areas, like parts of eastern Illinois, didn’t receive as much rain, but corn sat in the ground for long periods of time due to cold temperatures. In some cases, replants made sense due to poor stands that resulted, says Heisler. 

Last spring can impact this fall’s harvest. “August is especially a good time to get together with your local seed rep and assess your crop,” says Heisler. “Determine if maladies like stalk rot or nutrient deficiencies start cannibalizing stalks,” says Heisler. If that happens, move fields up in order at harvest, he says.

It’s dry in lots of areas

Northwestern Iowa is some of the best farmland in the world. Its soils ooze with black topsoil with high-organic matter levels. 

Still, these soils need rainfall, and that’s been lacking this summer. Fields that typically produce 250 bushels per acre are looking at yields revolving around 170 bushels per acre, says Mike Vondrak, a Channel Seedsman from Galva, Iowa. 

Like many other areas, it was wet in Kevin Wulf’s area around Holstein, Iowa, this spring. “Thank goodness we had that water then,” he says. “It’s the only thing that’s saving us right now.”

Still, timely rains like a .2-inch rain Wulf had around July 20 or so aids key corn kernel setting. Those timely rains can pay big dividends, even later in the growing season in September. “We were dry, but then we got rain every four days, and our kernel size doubled in three weeks,” says Wulf. 

Soybeans? Well, much depends on August rains. Soybean yields are particularly difficult to predict, but one good omen is that soybeans are now flowering well, says Vodrak. That’s a good omen if sufficient rainfall occurs in August to fill pods, he notes. 

Seed companies are launching their 2018 lineups

Wyffels Hybrids announced its new product offering last week. It features 17 new hybrids with relative maturities ranging from 96 to 116 days. 

Overall, prices are stable from last year, says Heisler. “There are some new products that are a bit above prices from last year, but overall, it’s pretty typical to what was seen last year. There are no big increases.”

Corn rootworm has been quiet, but it’s still lurking out there

Wyffels Hybrids’ customers are split around 50-50 on SmartStax hybrids and those hybrids with lesser trait packages and conventional products, says Heisler. Much interest still exists in lesser trait offerings in areas that have had little corn rootworm pressure in recent years. 

Meanwhile, SmartStax hybrids still are an excellent option for areas with heavy rootworm pressure and secondary pests like black cutworm and earworm, says Heisler. 
This split could move in either direction, depending on if rootworm damage surfaces next month. Areas with no or light pressure this year may see a larger movement toward no rootworm trait. Be wary, though.

“What we don’t want to see are farmers in areas with (historically) heavy rootworm pressure who have not seen it for a couple years go all at once in one direction (away from the rootworm trait),” says Heisler. Instead, ease away on a trial basis, says Heisler. If it works and farmers become more comfortable, they can incorporate it across more acres, he adds.

In-furrow application of insecticide and/or fungicide and liquid fertilizer is growing 

Darren Anderson, president of Vive, a Toronto-based firm, discussed two new products Vive has launched in the U.S.: AZteroid FC and Bifender FC. Farmers have used these products on around 150,000 acres in the U.S., he says.

AZteroid FC is a broad-spectrum fungicide that mixes with all types of liquid fertilizer. Company trials in 2015 and 2016 conducted throughout Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota showed corn yield increases in 19 out of 24 trials and an average yield increase of 6.2 bushels per acre, says Anderson. 

He says a strength of the products is stability. Settling out has always been a bane of liquid fertilizer mixed with insecticide and fungicide mixes. In Bifeder FC’s case, the product stays mixed with fertilizer for 24 hours with only light agitation needed. In AZteroid FC’s case, it can mix with fertilizer with no crystallization and no clogging, says Anderson. 

There are no new modes of actions coming in corn and soybean herbicides anytime soon, but…

“There will be more of an emphasis on premixes and new formulations of existing active ingredients,” says Joe Middione, chief operation officer for Willowood USA. Meanwhile, generics will continue to grow, particularly with low commodity prices.

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