Federated Co-ops Ag News

  • Drift Management Moves to the Next Level

    Managing drift when spraying crop protection chemicals has always been important, but Round-Up® Ready (RR) crops brought a degree of complacency about the issue. A lackadaisical approach to drift doesn't cut it with the steady increase of sensitive features (vineyards, organic farms, orchards, bee hives, etc.), and now, with the advent of RR 2 Xtend® soybeans and the chemicals recently approved for use on them, drift matters even more.

    Kevin Johnson, agronomy sales rep at Federated's Osceola location, offered these important reminders for managing drift with crop protection chemicals:

    1. Read the label. While this may seem obvious, it's often overlooked. Read it thoroughly. Product labels are designed to protect growers and their neighbors, chemical applicators, and the environment.
    2. Check the weather forecast. Wind speeds must be under 10 mph and blowing away from sensitive areas or features near the field being sprayed.
    3. Use the right spray tips/nozzles. Read and follow the guidelines for the specific products being applied; don't assume to know/remember what is required.
    4. Use a drift control adjuvant. There are several reliable options (see article below for two recommendations). For RR 2 Xtend crops, be sure to use an approved adjuvant.*
    5. Maintain the proper boom height, application speed, and pressure to keep the spray droplets on target.
    6. Beware of temperature inversions. A temperature inversion occurs "when warm air, which is light, rises upward into the atmosphere, and cool air, which is heavy, settles near the ground. When warm air hangs above cool air, the two won't mix . . . [with] a dicamba application (some other pesticides are also affected), spray droplets are unlikely to disperse. Instead, they'll stay bunched in a concentrated mass, and even slight airflow could move them off-target." (Source: Farm Journal's Ag Pro)

    By following these steps, Johnson said, "you should be good to go," to manage drift and guard against liability issues. Contact your Federated Agronomist with questions or concerns.

    *For Round-Up Ready 2 Xtend crops, the approved list of adjuvants to manage drift is updated regularly. The lists, along with application requirements, are listed on the MonsantoDuPont, and BASF websites. Growers/applicators are required by law to access the supplemental product labels within seven days of using the dicamba products. As always, call your Federated Agronomist with questions.

  • Adjuvants Serve More than One Purpose

    Not only do adjuvants improve the effectiveness of herbicide and insecticide applications, they can also help control drift and improve retention. Plexus® and Array® are solid adjuvant choices for use with many herbicides and insecticides.

    Array is an AMS-based adjuvant that conditions hard water and improves herbicide absorption by the plant. Array increases spray deposition, and improves retention and canopy penetration, according to Dale Hanson of Rosen's. ( AMS-based adjuvants are not approved for the RR 2 Xtend soybean system. See notes in article above.)

    Plexus likewise improves the performance of the physical properties of the herbicide or insecticide application by increasing penetration at the cuticle and cellular levels. It is easy to use, has a low rate, and is more efficient than other adjuvants.

    For dicamba-tolerant soybeans (RR 2 Xtend) the list of approved adjuvants is continually changing. Growers/applicators are required by law to access the product labels within seven days of using the dicamba products. Contact your Federated Agronomist for adjuvant recommendations and application guidelines.

  • Evaluate the Corn Stand, Treat the Soybean Seed

    "Ideally, we want corn stands to be within 2000-3000 of planting population," said Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist. The objective is even and uniform stands with all plants out of the ground within a day or two of each other, but "that's not always the case," said Carlson. 

    Carlson reminded growers to get out and check their fields: "Come behind the planter a week or 10 days later and see how the crop is emerging." Evaluate and monitor the stand as it comes up "because you may need to give it a little help [rotary hoeing, for example] when germination and emergence conditions are less than ideal," he said. This year, wet, cold, mastic soil has certainly been an issue. (See this article on Cool Temps & Rain After Planting Corn.)

    If corn isn't out of the ground at 21 days, it's probably not going to be. Carlson said, "It if gets to 20 days . . . give us a call, especially if it's our product in the ground." (Carlson recommends these articles on Corn Replanting Decisions and Time to Switch to Earlier Maturity? )

    Treated soybeans should also be out of the ground by 21 days, and if not, "they definitely are not going to come," he said.

    Carlson highly recommends treating soybeans. "If it's not our seed, we will treat that too," he said. Seed treatment gives added protection against the adverse effects of cold and wet soils. Call your Federated Location to order seed treatment.

    In the end, "forcing the planting doesn't work," Carlson said. "Be patient. When the conditions are good, get real busy." And call your Federated Agronomist with any planting or stand evaluation questions.

  • Schedule Custom Applications Ahead of Need

    Federated Co-ops, Inc. offers a wide range of agronomic services but near the top of that list each spring are custom services:

    • traditional dryfertilizer and ag lime application,
    • variable rate fertilizer and ag lime application,
    • pesticide application, and
    • top dress application with highboy spreaders.

    Federated's highly trained professional applicators are among the best in the industry, but they need a few important pieces of information to do their jobs:

    • Scheduling info - the earlier growers schedule application services, the better Federated can stay on top of demand.
    • Well-mapped fields - either by growers themselves or through Federated using the Surety Mapping System - will ensure that applicators show up at the right fields with the right products, at the right time. A good map "tremendously reduces missed fields" and "eliminates questions about the correct fields," said Craig Peterson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location.
    • Identification and locations of special features adjacent to fields - anything that could be adversely affected by the products being applied: vegetable and flower gardens, organic farms, vineyards, beehives, etc.
    • Information on what will follow application to help with timing and application windows.

    And last, but certainly not least, Federated needs each grower's current (2017) signed Product Service Policy on file before products can be applied or delivered.

    Talk to your Federated Agronomist with any questions about custom application, and call your nearby Federated location to schedule applications.

  • What's So Important About a 50-Degree Soil Temp?

    Why do we always tell growers to wait to plant until soil temperatures are 50 degrees and the extended forecast looks good (for 24-48 hours)?

    Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist answered this question:

    The first 24 to 48 hours after planting corn are extremely important to seedling health and for optimum stand establishment. Corn seed needs to take up roughly 30% of its weight in water prior to germination. Since the corn seed can take up water under that 50-degree mark, the potential problems start: If the soil is cold, the corn kernels take up cold water and begin to swell. If the conditions are too cold, the cell tissues become less elastic and may rupture during the swelling process.

    Even if the cell tissue does not burst with the cold water, other chilling injury symptoms can occur including:

    1. stunting or death of the seminal root system,
    2. deformed elongation of the mesocotyl (corkscrew effect),
    3. delayed emergence,
    4. complete failure of emergence,
    5. leafing out underground.

    The nearly guaranteed results of cold soil at planting are poor germination and a thin stand count.  Once the soil temp reaches that 50-degree critical level, the above stated problems start to disappear.  

    Thus, the million-dollar question: Do you wait? Feel free to discuss the answer with your Federated Agronomist.

  • Adjust Planting Depth as Needed or Error on the Deep Side

    "Planting depth in corn is very important," said John Swanson, Federated Agronomist at the Ogilvie location. It's a given to adjust planters first thing in the spring, but "we really should be making adjustments [on the planters] as we change soil types or as planting conditions change," said Swanson, adding that "shallow placement of seed increases the risk of poor nodal root establishment."

    He further explained: "The mesocotyl is the portion of the corn shoot below ground between the seed and the crown of the plant. The crown is the base of the corn plant from which the permanent roots grow. We need to be sure we plant deep enough or the roots develop too close to the surface and we can end up with what is known as rootless corn . . . the condition where the permanent or secondary roots do not grow from the crown."

    The end result is a serious stand-ability issue because the necessary roots for proper support are missing. "This is why we say, said Swanson, "in corn it is better to error deep on your planting rather than shallow."

    Swanson indicated that a planting depth of 2 in. is optimal for corn in most situations in east central Minnesota and western Wisconsin, but as shallow as 1.75 in. is acceptable on tight clay soils, or as deep as 2.25 in. on sandy soils.

    Check planting depth regularly and make planter adjustments as conditions vary. Talk to your Federated Agronomist with any planting questions.

  • Enlite® Battles Tough Weeds with Pre-Emerge Control

    Pre-emerge herbicides on soybeans are gaining ground. Enlite®, from Dupont®, helps fight the battle against tough, glyphosate-resistant weeds and weeds that get too large, too fast, such as waterhemp, lambsquarter, and giant and common ragweed.

    "While post-emerge herbicides remain standard, what used to be true only in corn has proven true in soybeans: waiting to kill weeds with only post-emerge herbicides is a sure way to give up yield," said Bruce Carlson of DuPont.

    Waterhemp, which is now commonly glyphosate resistant, is one of Enlite's primary targets as this tough weed emerges all season long, grows very quickly (1-1.25 in./day), and produces prolific seeds (2500+/plant) that remain viable for several years.

    Enlite offers two modes of action (with three active ingredients), can be used in any tillage system, and can be applied up to two weeks ahead of planting and up to three days after planting. (It must be applied before soybeans crack the soil surface.) Enlite also provides excellent burndown and long residual control on many annual and perennial weeds. Its effectiveness on broadleaves and early grasses means a wider window for post treatments. Enlite is applied at 2.8 oz./ac., alone pre-emerge, or in a tank mix with glyphosate if weeds are present (see fact sheets).

    Contact your Federated Agronomist to learn more about the benefits of Enlite pre-emerge herbicide on soybeans.

  • No Such Thing as Too Much Safety

    Tom Rausch, Federated's safety director, reminds everyone that farm accidents are usually avoidable with a little extra care, and proper attention to equipment and the people who use it.

    Stay aware, and use this simple checklist throughout the growing season.

    • Is all farm equipment in proper working order, with all parts properly secured?
    • Are machinery safety guards and other protective features kept in place?
    • Is equipment turned off, hydraulics lowered, and keys removed before leaving equipment unattended?
    • Is proper eyewear worn when working on equipment?
    • Is loose clothing removed or tucked in securely when approaching any moving parts on machinery?
    • Are product labels intact - and read before use?
    • Are chemicals locked up and out of reach of children?
    • Are children kept away from tractors and machinery and not allowed to operate or ride as passengers on any equipment?
    • Are equipment operators - growers, family members, hired hands - getting enough sleep so they are alert on the job?
    • Is there a plan in place in case of accidents or injury - who to call, etc.?

    Federated looks forward to serving growers all the way to harvest!  Safety is no accident.

  • Nutrition is Essential. MicroEssentials Makes it Easy.

    Crop nutrition is made easier with MicroEssentials. "Everything is all in one pellet," said Ron Paulson, manager of Federated's Isanti location. MicroEssentials, by Mosaic, is a starter fertilizer that combines all the nutrients in one granule -- which, as Paulson put it, "is the whole deal that delivers uniform nutrient distribution."

    The traditional method of adding sulfur, phosphorous, and zinc to starter fertilizer doesn't ensure that nutrients are evenly spread across the field, but MicroEssentials solves that problem with a patented Fusion technology (see video below).

    MicroEssentials contains 12% nitrogen, 40% phosphorus, 10% sulfur, and 1% zinc. It includes two forms of sulfur, both the quick-acting sulfate that plants need early, and the long-lasting elemental sulfur that won't be gone with the first heavy rains (especially in sandy soils).

    Paulson noted that "MicroEssentials offers a yield advantage, too," based on field testing. It's crop nutrition for the 21st century that works. Contact your Federated Agronomist to learn more.

    See video
  • Healthy Soil, Healthy Yields

    Many agronomy publications talk about soil health, fertility, soil management, and natural additives to improve soil health," said Craig Gustafson, Federated's eastern division agronomy manager, but what is healthy soil?

    To understand what makes soil healthy, it's necessary to understand what destroys soil health. "That could be a long list of possibilities," said Gustafson, and he went on to describe what can improve soil health:

    1. Tillage. While working the soil is important, don't overwork it. Multiple tillage trips across the field in the spring disrupts soil microbes. These are living organisms that make nutrients available to your crop, which translates into yield. Overworking the soil also increases the possibility of erosion and soil loss, reduces water holding capacity, and increases the possibility of compaction.
    2. Soil Acidity (or pH). Acidic soils are like battery acid; living organisms cannot survive inside a battery. Such is your soil; beneficial soil microbes cannot survive in acidic soil conditions. The loss of soil microbes means a loss of the natural mode of transportation for crop nutrients to the plant roots. When this take place, soil health is reduced and so is yield. The addition of a high-quality ag lime will sweeten the soil.

    Soil health is measured through a soil health test. Gustafson offered an example from his own farm in Osceola, WI. He pulled a five-acre composite soil sample in the fall of 2015. "The last time this field was tilled was 1999, and it has been in a corn and soybean rotation. [The soil health test] looks just like a normal soil test with the addition of what is called a Soil BRAN test. This is the measurement of biological respiration and nitrification." (See attached soil health assessment from Midwest Laboratories.)

    So then, Gustafson mused, "What do I do with the information? Great question." He continued, "Soil health testing is relatively a new tool in the tool box, and we are still learning how to interpret the results. Next step would be to resample this area in the fall of 2018 and compare." Healthy soil is undeniably the best soil.

    For further information regarding soil health, contact your nearest Federated Agronomist and discuss crop management options to improve soil health.

    "And," Gustafson added, "think safety this spring as the planting season arrives."