Federated Co-ops Ag News

  • 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.

  • Picture These: In-Season Tips & Reminders

    weevils on alfalfaalfalfa weevilsLeaf-eating weevils (pictured at right) are showing up on alfalfa (Senior Federated Agronomist Kevin Carlson started seeing them on June 2). Check your alfalfa for these yield-reducing pests. Talk to your Federated Agronomist to discuss treatment options. Don't wait to treat until it's too late.

    waterhemp seedlingThe weeds are coming up -- all kinds, and primarily in soybeans, according to Carlson. Scout your fields. Know what to look for. Waterhemp (seedling pictured here) is spreading fast throughout Minnesota; watch for it everywhere. 

    As for other weeds, "if the herbicides didn't kill it, the weed is resistant," said Carlson. Talk to your Federated Agronomist to determine your best options for weed control. "We will help you identify the weeds," said Carlson, and find products to help you control them.

    4-collar cornCounting corn collarsIt's time to be staging corn -- count the collars. (see photo at right; shown at left: 4-collar/ leaf corn. At this stage, it is almost ready for fungicide and/or Stoller products, and foliar nutrient application. (Learn more at the Early Season Discovery Plot Days next week.

    Now is a good time to soil sample for fall applications of P, K, and lime so you have the latest soil info available when you need it. Federated recommends sampling every 3-4 years. Grab your probe, bucket, and some sample bags, or call Federated to help.

    As the growing season progresses, don't hesitate to contact your Federated Agronomist with any question or concerns. 

  • N is Essential: It's Time to Top Dress

    "We are reaching a critical point in the life of a corn plant," said Brian DeVries, manager at Federated's Ogilvie location, adding, "Corn does not use a lot of nitrogen (N) between emergence and V5, but it becomes very important around V6. The largest portion of the total nitrogen taken up by corn happens during the V8 to the VT (tasseling) development stages."  

    While corn still uses N after pollination, most of the uptake is done prior to that point, which is why it is critical to apply N before V8. According to DeVries, research has shown that if N is applied around V6, yield loss due to N stress is rare. 

    Another key reason to apply N by V6 is that both kernel rows and kernels per row are being determined between V6 and V8. 

    Top- (side-) dress applications should be done by the V6 stage; timing can be delayed only if there was N applied pre-plant that did not get heavy rain. 

    DeVries pointed out that "top dressing N is both an economical and environmentally friendly means of application, and N is always a good yield booster." Adding Factor® to any top dress application can help protect against volatilization. Mixing urea with SuperU® can also help keep N available for the plants when they need it most. (See article below.)

    Federated has the equipment and service people ready to custom apply nitrogen on corn, or Federated has spreaders for growers to use. Talk to your local Federated Agronomist about the different options that will work best for you.

  • Quality Products Protect Against N Loss

    Nitrogen (N) is essential to corn production (see article above), and feeding the plant additional nitrogen at top (side) dress time is always a good agronomic decision, according to Russ Overaas of Rosen's, but protecting against nitrogen loss is also very important.

    Nitrogen can be lost on the surface, through volatility, and in the soil through denitrification and leaching. Two products recommended by Federated help help reduce N loss in these areas.

    Factor® -- This urease inhibitor prevents N from volatilizing off the surface before the nitrogen gets worked in or rain pushes it into the soil profile. Factor is applied to the urea and will protect N on the surface for up to 14 days. (See Factor info sheet.)

    Super U® -- This fertilizer puts two nitrogen management products on the urea granule, providing both surface and in-ground N protection. Its uniform granules also promote more even spread patterns.

    As Overaas said, "N makes yield," so talk to your Federated Agronomist to determine which nitrogen protection product fits your application preferences -- to maximize your yields.

  • Early Season Discovery Plot Days: June 20 & 21

    Come to at an early season Discovery Plot Day! Get in on the info-rich presentations offered by Federated Agronomists at 10 a.m., June 20 or 21. Lunch follows. Please RSVP to your local Agronomist.

    Monday, June 20, at the Craig Gustafson farm in Osceola, WI.  Discovery plot sign

    - or -

    Tuesday, June 21, at the Brian DeVries farm in Ogilvie, MN

    Both meetings will cover the following topics.

    • Topera® and Topera Plus fungicide/insecticide on corn at planting trial.
    • Stoller BioForge®
      and Stimulate® on corn at planting trial.
    • Yield opportunities with Stoller products on soybeans.
    • Foliar nutrients on soybeans.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions, and plan to join us in Osceola or Ogilvie.