Scouting for Early Season Pests in Corn and Soybean After a Late Start
It goes without saying that this spring has been a challenge. With extreme planting delays throughout the state, crop development is well behind normal expectations, while insect pest populations have continued to progress. In addition, the tight schedule we have faced has forced planting into less than ideal conditions in terms of both soil moisture and weed control, which can have consequences for insect pest management. There are a few pests in particular to target during early season scouting this season:
True armyworm, black cutworm, variegated cutworm
These insect pests are more likely to be a problem in later planted fields, especially where late burndown herbicide applications allowed weed cover to build up (unfortunately, an all too common occurrence this season). All three usually develop on weedy plant species, then move to corn or soybean when their weedy hosts mature or are killed with a herbicide; armyworms are more of a concern where there are dense populations of grasses, while black and variegated cutworms have a wider host range that includes legumes and other broadleaf plants in addition to grasses. While all of these can cause defoliation, the cutworm species can reduce stand directly when their feeding “cuts” the plant close to the ground. (Note: be sure to follow Kelly Estes on Twitter [@ILPestSurvey] for periodical updates on moth flights for true armyworm, black cutworm, and other pests).
Slugs are primarily an issue in no-till or conservation tillage fields which have a lot of residue and moisture. The wet conditions that favor slug damage can also lead to problems with seed slot closure, which exacerbates slug damage by allowing them to feed on the developing plant as the seed germinates. Unfortunately we do not have a good rescue treatment for slugs in soybean in Illinois. The best management strategy is to plant into a warm, dry seedbed (not always an option this season), and tillage is the best control we have available.
Bean leaf beetle
Bean leaf beetle feeding is often noticed on soybean fields that are among the earliest planted in the state; when there are relatively few acres that have emerged, the highly mobile beetles are concentrated in those few fields. Usually this damage is mostly cosmetic, as soybeans are excellent at overcoming early defoliation. The economic threshold for defoliation of soybeans prior to bloom in Illinois is an average of 30% of leaf tissue removed with the defoliator still present in the field.
Fig. 6. A bean leaf beetle and its feeding damage on a young soybean plant (Photo: Nick Seiter)
Scouting is necessary to determine both the necessity and timing of an insecticide application for these insect pests. We want to avoid “revenge sprays” that occur after the insect has either progressed through its life cycle (in the case of the caterpillar pests) or moved along to another field (bean leaf beetles) and is no longer damaging the crop. As always, feel free to contact me if you are seeing anything unusual in the field related to insect management. Here is hoping for improved conditions as the season moves forward.
Positive Trade News with Mexico in the Midst of an Awful Spring for Planting
As a dreadful spring for planting limps into the second week of June, producers continue to assess the impacts of record Midwestern precipitation on corn and soybeans. Meanwhile, a welcome ray of good news appeared on Friday as President Trump announced that the U.S. would not be implementing tariffs on imported Mexican goods.
Impacts of Record Rainfall in the Corn Belt Persist
Paul Davidson reported in Thursday’s USA Today that, “American farmers already plagued by a near biblical parade of misfortune that includes years of low prices and a trade war with China are now grappling with record Midwest rain that will likely prevent a large portion of this year’s crop from even getting planted.
“The troubles have created the worst farm crisis since the 1980s, when oversupplies and a U.S. grain embargo against the Soviet Union forced thousands of farmers into bankruptcy, experts say.”
Front Page, Money Section, USA Today (June 6, 2019).
Mr. Davidson pointed out that, “Projected yield shortages have provided at least some boost to long-depressed prices.”
“Low prices, floods and trade wars plague American farmers, putting their survival at risk,” by Paul Davidson. USA Today (June 6, 2019).
“Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies have increased from 360 in 2014 to 498 last year, according to the Kansas City Fed. Although they’re still well below record levels, the filings totaled 130 the first three months of 2019, the highest first-quarter total in nearly seven years. Farms on average have been marginally profitable the past few years, but they’ll likely be in the red in 2019, Schnitkey says.”
Also last week, Financial Times writer Gregory Meyer reported that, “Over the past several weeks, fields of deep mud and pooled water have kept tractors out of fields, left tens of millions of acres uncultivated and fuelled a rally in Chicago grain futures as traders eye a smaller harvest.”
Mr. Meyer explained that, “With nearly half a billion tonnes of corn and soyabeans grown in the US each year, poor growing conditions in the Midwest have global consequences. The Agricultural Market Information System, an international body backed by the UN, the World Bank and other institutions, on Thursday slashed its world corn production estimate by 38m tonnes due to US planting problems.
‘If these delays continue, global feed grain supplies could be significantly reduced in the upcoming marketing year,’ the group said.
Meanwhile, Tony Briscoe reported on the front page of Friday’s Chicago Tribune that, “‘We’ve got data going back to the ’90s, and when we compare this year to those, we’re in uncharted territory,’ said Dennis Todey, director of the Midwest Climate Hub at the USDA. ‘Because of the lateness of the planting, we’ve lost some yield already; it’s about how much we’ve lost to this point. We must have everything go nearly perfect from here on out. We’ve got a Goldilocks situation. There’s not much room for error right now.’”
Front Page, Chicago Tribune (June 7, 2019).
And Kris Maher reported on Saturday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Like many farmers across the Midwest facing an exceptionally rainy planting season, [Ohio farmer Doug Hafer] is looking to fill the days he would normally spend planting.
“He is trying to plant as many acres as he can and will take crop insurance on the rest to cut his losses.
‘It’s going to be a year without income basically,’ said the 48-year-old Mr. Hafer, a seventh-generation farmer.
The Journal article noted that, “Earlier in the week, Doug Hafer checked on a field of corn he planted on May 26, before rain chased him home. Green leaves had sprouted. But the plants were uneven, and he said they would mature at different rates and produce less corn. He dug up a seedling that had rotted underground.”
While farmers anticipate more details of the executive branch trade aid program, which was announced last month, DTN Ag Policy editor Chris Clayton reported last week that, “Farmers in at least six states should be eligible for more financial aid under the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill signed into law Thursday by President Donald Trump.
Trade aid: @SecretarySonny noted: For all of #farmers out there, do what you were doing. Don’t try to “farm” this government program, don’t try to figure it out. Just do what you were doing in your production. We have a lot of Prev Plant-but do what you were doing ordinarily
Sec. Sonny Perdue
Here’s my interview with @KenSmithWRAL from yesterday — talked about @FoodShuttle, trade, support for farmers, and disaster assistance: https://www.wral.com/usda-sec-perdue-visits-raleigh/18432823/ …
“With $3 billion specifically set aside for agricultural losses, the legislation will help Southeastern farmers hit by hurricanes last fall, as well as offset losses for farmers who had grain stored on farms this spring that was destroyed in Midwest flooding. The bill, however, also causes some confusion over language regarding ‘crops prevented from planting in 2019.’”
“You should put the possibility of a government payment out of your mind and do what you would do if there were no payment program. Look to harvest a crop, not a government program.” @USDA General Counsel Stephen Vaden gives an update on #trade at the #MidSouthCLE
“USDA will have to figure out how to divvy up $3 billion in disaster funds for damage done by hurricanes Michael and Florence, as well as damage to crops from California wildfires and the Midwest flooding,” the DTN article said.
No Tariffs for Now on Mexican Imports
David Nakamura, John Wagner and Nick Miroff reported on the front page of Saturday’s Washington Post that, “President Trump announced Friday night that a deal was in place that would avert threatened tariffs on imports from Mexico in exchange for that country’s taking ‘strong measures’ to curb the influx of Central American migrants at the U.S. southern border.”
Donald J. Trump
I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to….
The Post article indicated that, “The deal came hours after Trump had arrived back at the White House after a week-long trip to Europe, during which U.S. and Mexican negotiators had worked feverishly to produce the outlines of an agreement that would satisfy the president.”
Bloomberg writers Nacha Cattan and Eric Martin reported Sunday that, “President Donald Trump hinted at additional measures between the U.S. and Mexico, a day after he vowed that Mexico would soon make ‘large’ agricultural purchases from the U.S. as part of a deal on border security and illegal immigration that allowed Mexico to avoid U.S. tariffs.
“‘Some things not mentioned in yesterday’s press release, one in particular, were agreed on. That will be announced at the appropriate time,’ Trump said Sunday in a series of four tweets about Mexico, the media and other matters.
…..Mexico was not being cooperative on the Border in things we had, or didn’t have, and now I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done. Importantly, some things…..
Donald J. Trump
…..not mentioned in yesterday press release, one in particular, were agreed upon. That will be announced at the appropriate time. There is now going to be great cooperation between Mexico & the USA, something that didn’t exist for decades. However, if for some unknown reason…
“Three Mexican officials said Saturday they were not aware of any side accord in the works, and that agricultural trade hadn’t been discussed during three days of negotiations in Washington that culminated in a joint communique late Friday.”
The Bloomberg article explained that, “On Saturday Trump told his 61 million Twitter followers in an all-caps message that Mexico had agreed to ‘immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers‘ following the border security deal. He retweeted the message overnight.”
Donald J. Trump
MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!
“In a tweet, Barcena said she didn’t contradict Trump. ‘I just explained that with no tariffs and the USMCA ratification the trade in agricultural products will increase dramatically. Mexico is already a big buyer of USA agricultural products and this trend will continue,’ she said.”
Just helping everyone understand where USA already stands with #Mexico when it comes to Ag exports. In the first 4 months of 2019, USA has shipped $6.1B worth of ag products to MX (3rd all time). Bulk commods + feed (#corn, #soybeans, etc) are #1 in 2019 with 9.6 mmt. Meat is #4.
“The deal reached late Friday included a provision that former diplomats and analysts said reinforces the idea that the U.S. will continue to use tariffs as leverage: The U.S. will review the effectiveness of Mexico’s immigration policies after 90 days.
“‘Unless we really solve the immigration issue in a way that’s intelligent and that respects human rights, the threat of tariffs will always be present, as long as President Trump is in office,’ said Gerónimo Gutiérrez, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. for the last two years of the administration of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.”
The Journal writers added that, “The U.S. Agriculture Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for information about any trade provisions that were negotiated this week. The U.S. Trade Representative deferred comment to the White House, which didn’t immediately share any details about agriculture purchases.”
Secretary Perdue Statement on Disaster and Trade-Related Assistance
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on disaster and trade-related assistance:
“Whether it’s because of natural disasters or unfair retaliatory tariffs, farmers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches. Last month, immediately upon China reneging on commitments made during the trade talks, President Trump committed USDA to provide up to $16 billion to support farmers as they absorb some of the negative impact of unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. In addition, President Trump immediately signed into law the long-awaited disaster legislation that provides a lifeline to farmers, ranchers, and producers dealing with extensive damage to their operations caused by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.
“Given the size and scope of these many disasters, as well as the uncertainty of the final size and scope of this year’s prevented planting acreage, we will use up to $16 billion in support for farmers and the $3 billion in disaster aid to provide as much help as possible to all our affected producers.
“I have been out in the country this spring and visited with many farmers. I know they’re discouraged, and many are facing difficult decisions about what to do this planting season or if they’ve got the capital to stay in business, but they shouldn’t wait for an announcement to make their decisions. I urge farmers to plant for the market and plant what works best on their farm, regardless of what type of assistance programs USDA is able to provide.
“In the coming weeks, USDA will provide information on the Market Facilitation Program payment rates and details of the various components of the disaster relief legislation. USDA is not legally authorized to make Market Facilitation Program payments to producers for acreage that is not planted. However, we are exploring legal flexibilities to provide a minimal per acre market facilitation payment to folks who filed prevent plant and chose to plant an MFP-eligible cover crop, with the potential to be harvested and for subsequent use of those cover crops for forage.”
For frequently asked questions regarding the USDA Risk Management Agency’s prevented planting policy and losses resulting from floods, please visit, here. For several frequently asked questions regarding how USDA will treat prevented planting acres with regard to the recently announced 2019 Market Facilitation Program and 2018/2019 disaster relief legislation, see below.
1. What is the purpose of the Market Facilitation Program? What is the legal authority?
· The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) assists farmers with the additional costs of adjusting to disrupted markets, dealing with surplus commodities, and expanding and developing new markets at home and abroad, consistent with the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act.
2. Last year, soybeans had the highest MFP payment per bushel, should I plant soybeans this year to get the highest payment if I have the opportunity?
· You should plant what works best for your operation and what you would plant in any other year, absent any assistance from USDA. 2019 MFP assistance is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to the MFP-eligible crops (outlined below) in aggregate in 2019. Those per acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019, and therefore will not distort planting decisions. Your total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed your total 2018 plantings.
· 2019 MFP-eligible non-specialty crops: alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.
· 2019 MFP-eligible specialty crops: tree nuts, fresh sweet cherries, cranberries, and fresh grapes.
3. My fields never dried out enough to get any crop in, do I get a 2019 Market Facilitation Program payment?
· No, USDA does not have the legal authority to make MFP payments to producers for acreage that is not planted. To qualify for a 2019 MFP payment, you must have planted a 2019 MFP-eligible crop. Producers unable to plant their crop should work with their crop insurance agent to file a claim.
4. I filed a prevented planting claim and I am going to plant a cover crop to prevent erosion, does that count for 2019 MFP if it’s on the 2019 MFP-eligible list you announced in May?
· If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance. You must still comply with your crop insurance requirements to remain eligible for any indemnities received.
5. I heard that I could get 90% of my crop insurance guarantee as a prevented planting payment through the disaster bill, is that true?
· The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019 up to 90%. While the authority exists, USDA must operate within finite appropriations limits. It is highly unlikely that the supplemental appropriation will support that level of coverage in addition to crop insurance. Congress appropriated $3.005 billion in assistance for a wide array of losses resulting from disasters throughout 2018 and 2019, requiring USDA to prioritize how it is allocated. The Department plans to provide assistance on prevented planting losses within the confines of our authority.
6. If I plant a second crop or cover crop, can I still get my full prevented planting payment? What about an MFP payment?
· You must comply with crop insurance requirements to remain eligible for a full prevented planting indemnity. USDA encourages you to visit with your crop insurance agent to ensure you are aware of those various options for your operation. If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance.
7. I have heard that only acreage in a declared disaster area will qualify for prevented planting under the Disaster Relief Act. Is that true?
· USDA is currently evaluating the new authority provided under the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. However, it is generally true that producers with qualifying losses in a Secretarial or Presidentially-declared disaster area will be eligible for Disaster Relief Act assistance. Producers with qualifying losses outside of those areas will have eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis.
8. I have a revenue protection policy with a ‘harvest price option’, do I get the higher of the projected price or harvest price for my prevented planting payment?
· The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019 and also provides additional authority to compensate producers on the higher of the projected price or harvest price. USDA is currently exploring legal flexibility to provide assistance that better utilizes the harvest price in conjunction with revenue and prevent planting policies.
9. If I am prevented from planting but manage to get a cover crop or a forage in the ground, am I able to hay or graze that prior to November 1, given the forage shortage we’re going to experience?
· USDA encourages you to visit with your crop insurance agent to ensure you are aware of those various prevented planting, cover crop, and harvest options for your operation. USDA is currently reviewing the prevented planting restrictions in the Federal Crop Insurance Act to determine what options may be available to address this and other issues. Further clarity regarding this haying and grazing date will be forthcoming.
10. What if I don’t have crop insurance? How do MFP and disaster relief programs work for me if I’m prevented from planting due to natural disasters?
· Crop insurance is not required to qualify for 2019 MFP assistance. However, USDA requires that a producer plant a 2019 MFP-eligible crop to qualify for the 2019 MFP assistance.
· If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance.
· The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019. Producers with qualifying losses in a Secretarial or Presidentially-declared disaster area will be eligible for Disaster Relief Act assistance. Producers with qualifying losses outside of those areas will have eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis.
U.S. Corn and Soybean Yield Prospects
Market attention continues to focus on the potential size of the U.S. corn and soybean crops. Acreage totals look to remain uncertain for the rest of the year and any adjustments in the next WASDE report may not reflect the changes facing both crops this year. U.S. average yields appear set to move lower in the upcoming WASDE report as severe delays in planting indicate reduced yield potential.
Expectations for the U.S. average corn and soybean yields this year continue to deteriorate over recent weeks as planting delays dragged on over much of the Corn Belt. In particular, states in the eastern Corn Belt dealt with extremes moisture and massive delays this year. Yield potential falls for corn planted after the second or third weeks of May, all other conditions equal. Even though progress accelerated last week on drier weather, corn planting after May 25 came in at a higher than average percentage. Based on the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report, an estimated 51 percent of the corn acreage in the 18 major corn-producing states went in the ground after May 25, compared to the average of 16.8 percent from 1986 through 2018. Typically, late-planted acres remain isolated in specific areas of the country. While most of the very late planting this year occurred in eastern corn-producing states, a substantial amount of late-planted acreage occurred in almost every Corn Belt state (see farmdoc daily May 1, 2019 for more details).
The USDA’s weekly ratings of corn conditions due out this week in the Crop Conditions report should provide an initial indication of the 2019 crop. This conditions report is setting up to be one of the worst on record. Data available since 1986 indicate that as of the 23rd week of the year (June 9 this year), an average of 67 percent of the crop rated in good or excellent condition at the end of the 23rd week (excluding 1995 when ratings were not yet available due to extremely late planting). The five worst years for good and excellent ratings (excluding 1995) were 1992 (42 percent), 1988 (47 percent), 1996 (50 percent), 1990 (52 percent), and 1993 (57 percent). Late-planted corn acreage including 1995 came in well-above average in each of these years except for 1992 and 1988.
Crop condition ratings usually fall as the growing season progresses. Early season ratings do not supply an unbiased indication of the final U.S. average yield. Even so, the upcoming rating, along with severe planting conditions, should keep yield expectations low. If one includes 1995 with the five years mentioned above with the worst good and excellent ratings, the U.S. average corn yield came in above trend in only 1992 (+11 bushels) and 1990 (+2 bushels). The average yield over all six years totaled nine bushels below trend. While the upcoming WASDE report may not fade the corn yield very much, an expectation this year for corn yield at or below trend appears reasonable.
Soybean planting lagged well behind average pace this year as well. As of the June 3 Crop Progress report, 39 percent of the crop in the 18 major soybean producing states was planted. An expectation of substantial planting progress over the next few weeks is in place. Based on the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report, an estimated 72 percent of the soybean acreage in the 18 major soybean-producing states went in the ground after May 25. This amount sits well above the average from 1986 through 2018 of 39.2 percent. Field trials in Illinois indicate yield losses higher than ten percent after May 20 with increasing levels as planting moves into June. Planting after June 10 led to almost a twenty percent loss expectation for soybean yields. While this seems drastic, actual national data on soybean yields rarely falls outside a range of 3 bushels from trend (see farmdoc daily June 6, 2019 for more details). Due to the later planting of soybeans this year, the first crop condition ratings for soybeans looks to be out in the next two weeks depending on the percentage of the crop emerged. Crop condition ratings for soybeans tend to decline more than corn as the growing season advances. Like corn, early season ratings do not provide a reliable indicator of the final U.S. average yield.
Lower yield expectations for corn and soybeans seem plausible. By factoring in late planting, a conservative yield estimate for corn near 170 bushels per acre, 4.5 bushels below the current USDA projection, appears reasonable. Uncertainty regarding acreage levels for corn will linger, but acreage reduction in the 7-12 million acres range produces a corn crop 1.7 – 2.2 billion bushels smaller than currently projected by the USDA. For soybeans, an average yield of 47.8 bushels, which sits 1.7 bushels lower than the current USDA projection, fits current conditions. If one assumes 2 million additional soybean acres due to switching, soybean production comes in 150 million bushels less than forecast by the USDA. The June 11 WASDE report should provide the first indication from USDA about the size of both crops this year. The June 28 Acreage report will be the next major indicator.
Soybean planted in Missouri has been greatly delayed because of record breaking wet weather in May. Average yield for soybean planted in the third week of June is at least 25% less than when soybean is planted in early May. There are several management practices that may add a little extra yield to late planted soybean. Yield results from captured sunlight. Late planted soybean is at a disadvantage because daylight periods are shorter during seed filling, the length of the seed-filling period is shorter, and plants are often smaller with fewer nodes. So, managing soybean to increase light capture may improve yield potential.
Rows of soybeans spaced at 15 inches on left and 30 inches on right
Planting in narrow rows allows plants to capture available sunlight sooner in the shortened growing season. I have a limited data set in which I tested both row width and planting date. This experiment was conducted for two years in central Missouri. Yield response to 15-inch rows compared to 30-inch row was 8% when soybean was planted in mid-May, but 14% when planted in the third week of June. For full season soybean we have found no difference for soybean yield between 15-inch row spacing and drilled soybean in 7.5-inch rows. However, as planting date gets pushed later into June, one might consider using a drill.
Late planted soybean plants produce fewer main stem nodes and smaller or fewer branches. Nodes are important because that is where pods form, so yield can be related to the number of nodes. If plants produce fewer nodes, we need to increase the number of plants. For soybean planted in early May we have found almost no increase in yield above 120,000 plants per acre. But, for late planted soybean stand density should be at least 150,000 plants/acre. So, increasing seeding rate is highly recommended. If you chose to use a grain drill, remember drills are challenged to control seed depth and soil closure. Again, you may want to increase seeding rate if using a drill for planting.
Soil conditions are likely to be less than optimal for planter operation. Patience is difficult as calendar days slip away, so what I write next is far easier to say than to do. Carefully monitor soil conditions and try to balance possible yield loss from additional planting delay with potential yield effects from soil compaction. Careful planter adjustment to reduce compaction near the seed will provide the best possible environment for early root growth. Seed treatments, especially fungicides that protect against Pythium and other fungi, will also aid stand establishment and early vigor. Because of a shortened season, rapid root growth and leaf production will help improve yield potential.
I do not recommend changing Maturity Group unless planting is delayed into July. As I wrote, late planted soybean plants may be reduced in size and that reduces sunlight capture. Early maturing varieties that are not adapted to your location are less likely than adapted varieties to produce the number of nodes and leaf area to maximize yield potential.
Superweed Resists Another Class of Herbicides, Study Finds
We’ve all heard about bacteria that are becoming resistant to multiple types of antibiotics. These are the so-called superbugs perplexing and panicking medical science. The plant analogue may just be waterhemp, a broadleaf weed common to corn and soybean fields across the Midwest. With resistance to multiple common herbicides, waterhemp is getting much harder to kill.
In a new study from the University of Illinois, scientists document waterhemp’s resistance to yet another class of herbicides, known as Group 15s. The study provides the first documentation of a non-grass plant to be resistant to Group 15 herbicides.
There are many herbicides on the market, but they all fall into one of 16 classes describing their mode of action (MOA), or specific target in the plant that the chemical attacks. Because of various regulations and biological realities, a smaller number of herbicide MOAs can be used on any given crop and the suite of weeds that goes along with it. Historically, about nine have been useful for waterhemp—and now the weed appears to be resistant to at least seven.
“In some areas, we’re one or two MOAs away from completely losing chemical control of waterhemp and other multiple-herbicide-resistant weeds,” says Adam Davis, head of the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. “And there are no new herbicide MOAs coming out. There haven’t been for 30 years.”
Illinois weed scientist and co-author Aaron Hager adds, “We don’t want to panic people, but farmers need to be aware this is real. It continues on with the challenges we’ve warned people about for years.”
The research team tested the effectiveness of soil-applied Group 15 herbicides in a Champaign County population already resistant to five MOAs. They applied eight Group 15 formulations in the field at their label rates, and chose three—non-encapsulated acetochlor (Harness), S-metolachlor (Dual Magnum), and pyroxasulfone (Zidua) – for a rate-titration experiment in which the herbicides were applied at one-half, one, two, and four times the label rate.
The eight Group 15 products varied in their effectiveness, with encapsulated acetochlor (Warrant), S-metolachlor, metolachlor (Stalwart), and dimethenamid-P (Outlook) performing the worst. These products provided less than 25% control 28 days after application and less than 6% control 14 days later.
Of the rate-titration experiment, Hager says, “We found we could apply significantly higher than the labeled dose and still see resistance.” For example, S-metolachlor provided only 10% control at the standard label rate, 20% at 2x the label rate, and 45% at 4x the label rate.
Hager says farmers might not notice the poor performance of these soil-applied pre-emergence herbicides because waterhemp germinates continuously throughout the season. When a weed pops up mid-season, it’s hard to tell exactly when it emerged and whether it was exposed to residual soil-applied herbicides.
“If you think about how you use these products, rarely do they last the entire year. They’re very dependent on environmental conditions to work effectively. It could be too wet or too dry. Generally speaking, you have some weed escape. But many farmers would chalk it up to these weather issues. If you’re not thinking about it, you could very easily overlook resistance,” Hager says.
To confirm results from the field, the team performed a dose response test in the greenhouse. In that test, four waterhemp populations—three with resistance to multiple herbicides and one that is sensitive to all herbicides—were dosed with increasing levels of S-metolachlor, acetochlor, dimethenamid-P, and pyroxasulfone. Populations from Champaign County and McLean County survived higher levels of the Group 15 herbicides than the other populations.
Hager suspects the plants are breaking the chemicals down before they cause damage, a trick known as metabolic resistance. All organisms can turn on cellular defenses against toxins, but it is rather worrisome when weeds and other undesirable pests use their biology against human interventions.
“As we get into the era of metabolic resistance, our predictability is virtually zero. We have no idea what these populations are resistant to until we get them under controlled conditions,” Hager says. “It’s just another example of how we need a more integrated system, rather than relying on chemistry only. We can still use the chemistry, but have to do something in addition.
“We want farmers to understand that we have to rethink how we manage waterhemp long term.”
The article, “Characterization of multiple herbicide-resistant waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) populations from Illinois to VLCFA-inhibiting herbicides,” is published in Weed Science.
Source: University of Illinois
Prevent Plant Decisions in Early to Middle of June
Many unplanted acres remain across the Corn Belt and in Illinois. As of the week ending on June 9, only 73% of the intended corn acres and 49% of the soybean acres have been planted in Illinois (Planting Progress, June 10, 2019). In this article, prevent planting decisions on intended corn acres are examined first. For farmers that have not incurred costs, prices must rise before planting corn in mid-June will return more than taking prevent planting payments, for those with that insurance option. In most circumstances, a corn prevent planting payment will have higher returns than planting soybeans. Then, decisions on intended soybean acres are examined. Planting soybeans have the potential for higher returns compared to taking a soybean prevent planting payment until about a week after the Illinois soybean final plant dates. Before prevent planting decisions are discussed, a policy update is provided.
The 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments will be based on acres planted. A per acre rate will be established for each county. Acres planted to eligible MFP-crop will receive the same per acre rate. The county rates were not released.
A minimum MFP payment will be received if a cover crop is planted and that cover crop has the potential to be harvested, providing a way to get a minimal MFP payment on prevent planting acres. What constitutes a harvestable cover crop was not defined. We suspect the payment will be modest and will not include this payment in the analysis below.
The press released indicated that disaster assistance in the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019” will be targeted to Secretarial or Presidentially-declared disaster areas. The nature of this designation was not discussed. Currently, there are eleven counties in Illinois declared a 2019 disaster county (Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Massac, Monroe, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Rock Island, and Union counties). These counties may or may not be in a targeted area. This assistance could increase the prevent planting payment factor. The press release suggested modest increases. The bill authorizes use of the higher of projected or harvest price in prevent planting payment calculations. Because of the uncertainties in targeted areas, we will not include higher prevent planting payments in the analysis below.
Intended Corn Acres
The final plant date for crop insurance purposes has arrived in all of the Midwest. June 5 was the final planting date for corn in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and most of Illinois (see Figure 1, farmdoc daily, May 7, 2019). As a result, a prevent planting indemnity is available to farmers who have purchased Revenue Protection (RP) and other COMBO plans (Yield Protection and RP with the harvest price exclusion). A prevent planting indemnity can be taken any time during the late planting period which runs from June 6 through June 25 in Illinois. Farmers have the following options on intended corn acres not yet planted:
Take a prevent planting indemnity,
Plant soybeans, or
Take 35% of the corn prevent planting indemnity and plant soybeans after the late planting period (June 25 in Illinois).
Many farmers continue to struggle to get all intended corn acres planted to corn and some have not applied pesticide or nitrogen on intended corn acres. For these acres where no costs have been incurred, our analysis suggests that planting corn likely will not yield higher returns than prevented planting unless corn price increases (farmdoc daily, June 4, 2019). Moreover, expected corn returns decrease the later corn is planted, thereby making the corn prevent plant a more attractive option the later planting is projected to occur. Expected corn returns become lower the later corn is planted because 1) expected corn yields decline, 2) drying cost likely increase, and 3) crop insurance guarantees decline 1% per day during the late planting period and thus potential insurance indemnities decline.
Some farmers have applied their nitrogen and pesticides. Farmers in this position likely will find returns from planting corn to be higher than returns from taking prevent planting indemnities, at least through the middle of June.
Overall, planting corn rests upon an expectation of higher prices. Currently, the December Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) corn contract is at $4.50 per bushel, which will not cause planting corn to have a higher return than taking a prevent plant indemnity for farms with no costs incurred. Higher prices are possible, particularly if growing conditions this summer are not conducive for yields. Yet, higher prices are not guaranteed.
Another option for an intended corn acre is to plant soybeans (option 3). Extreme caution should be used when planting soybeans on an acre eligible for a corn prevent planting indemnity. Under most circumstances, soybeans have a lower expected return than taking a corn prevent planting indemnity.
Finally, farmers do have an option to take 35% of the corn prevent plant indemnity and plant soybeans after the late planting period. At this point, this decision does not need to be made. This option can be evaluated closer to the end of June when market signals can be evaluated to see if this option is advisable
Intended Soybean Acres
The final planting date for soybeans is June 15 in northern Illinois and June 20 in central and southern Illinois Illinois (see Figure 2, farmdoc daily, May 7, 2019). Until the final planting date is reached, farmers need to continue to plant intended soybean acres to soybeans or another crop. If all intended corn acres have been planted, corn could be planted on intended soybean acres. These acres will be covered by the corn insurance policy for that county. In certain situations, planting corn may have higher expected returns than planting soybeans. Most likely, planting corn on an intended soybean acre only is advisable up until the final planting date for soybeans.
Once the final soybean planting date is reached, the following two options are realistic to consider for most Midwest situations:
Take a prevented planting indemnity on soybeans, or
A farmer could plant another crop on intended soybean acres, but the economics of those alternatives likely are not competitive with soybeans after the soybean final planting date has arrived. A farmer with qualifying insurance coverage could also wait till the end of the late planting period (25 days after the final planting date) to plant another crop for harvest besides soybeans, resulting in a reduction to a 35% prevented planting indemnity. Viable alternative crop options to be planted on intended acres are difficult to identify aside from specific situations such as a livestock farmer who needs the acres for feed grains.
When considering the prevent plant or plant options for soybean, the following is useful to calculate: 1) net return from prevented planting and 2) minimum net return from planting soybeans. These calculations are illustrated for an 85% RP policy with a Trend Adjusted Actual Production History (TA-APH) yield of 60 bushels per acre. The 2019 projected price of $9.54 per bushel is used.
Net return from prevented planting: The prevent payment factor for soybeans is .60. An option of 0.65 prevent plant payment factor exists but it must have been purchased during the insurance enrollment period. For the .60 payment factor, the prevent planting indemnity is:
$292 per acre = .60 PP factor x .85 coverage level x 60 TA-APH yield x $9.54 projected price
From the prevented planting indemnity, costs of $40 per acre will be subtracted to cover weed control costs and the crop insurance premium. As a result, net return from prevent plant is:
$252 per acre = $292 PP payment – $40 costs.
Minimum net return from planting soybeans: Revenue is often lowest when crop insurance elected by the farmer will just make a payment. This revenue can thus serve as a comparison to evaluate the risks of planting. In the case of late planting, it also often is a reasonable expectation of net return from planting.
To calculate minimum net revenue, a price and yield that just triggers crop insurance indemnities is needed. Prices at the $9.54 projected price will be used. A $.40 basis is subtracted from the $9.54 projected price to reflect the fact that farmers receive funds based on cash sales in a local area. As a result, the price that will be used is $9.14 ($9.54 projected price minus $0.40 basis). At that price level, a yield just at the TA-APH yield times the coverage level will trigger a payment. Note that the guarantee must be adjusted down 1% per day after the final planting date. Soybeans will be assumed to be planted 2 days after the final planting date, resulting in a yield of 50 bushels per acre (60 TA-APH yield x .85 coverage level x (1 – .02)). The 50 bushel yield and $9.14 price gives revenue of $457 per acre (50 yield x 9.14 price).
The minimum net return will equal this minimum revenue minus costs yet to be incurred, plus a per acre estimate of Market Facilitation Payment (MFP). In our estimate, a $260 cost and $50 MFP payment is used. The net return from planting soybean at its lowest level is:
Comparison: Note that the minimum net return from planting soybeans is $5 less than the net return from taking the prevent plant indemnity: $247 minimum net return from planting compared to $252 net return from prevent plant. Other than reductions to APH yield because of a low 2019 yield, late planting of soybeans presents little risk, particularly in 2019, and some upside return potential. The downside risk will become greater the further past the final planting date because the crop insurance guarantee will continue to decline.
The above analysis is based on several assumptions:
The 2019 MFP payment will be near $50 per acre, a level that has not been announced by the Farm Service Agency.
Costs yet to be incurred are $260 per acre. Costs can vary from this estimate. Some farmers have purchased treated soybean seeds, which cannot be returned. Alternatives for storing this seed should be considered. This seed could also be used as a cover crop for prevent planting acres.
Prevented planting payments will not change. There is some discussion that prevented payments may be increased because of a recently passed disaster assistance bill. Increases in prevented planting payment would increase the returns from prevent planting.
For the above analysis, there is some upside to planting soybeans. Yields could exceed the 52 bushels per acre minimum level resulting in higher return. Prices could also increase above the $9.14 cash price used in the minimum guarantee calculation, although current fall bids in central Illinois are $.60 below the $9.14 price used in minimum revenue calculations. While there is an upside, the upside on soybeans appears limited. This suggests taking the soybean prevent planting payment may be the best alternative, particularly the later soybeans are planted.
Prevent planting decisions will continue to be difficult. The advisability of planting corn versus taking a corn prevent plant indemnity will end soon, if it hasn’t already passed. Planting soybeans has limited risk as compared to taking a soybean prevent plant indemnity, particularly if planting can occur near the final planting date. However, upside of soybean planting likely is not large and will deteriorate during the late planting period. Many will find that the reduced upside potential and higher risks warrant not planting soybeans about a week after the final planting date. Moreover, some farmers may find taking the prevent planting payment immediately after the final plant date has arrived a proper alternative.
Because each farm situation is unique, we suggest using the Prevent Planting Module to aid in calculations of returns from alternatives. The Prevent Planting Module is part of the Planting Decision Model, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet available here on the farmdoc website. Moreover, alternatives should be discussed with crop insurance agents.
Schnitkey, G. and C. Zulauf. “Late Planting Decisions in 2019.” farmdoc daily (9):83, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 7, 2019.
Source: Gary Schnitkey, Krista Swanson, Jonathan Coppess, Ryan Batts and Carl Zulauf, Farmdocdaily
7 Considerations if Planting Cover Crops on Prevented Plant Acres
Excessive precipitation and persistently wet conditions have prevented the planting of corn and soybean in some fields and led to ponding and drown-out areas in others. On acres where “prevent plant” is claimed for insurance, the USDA-Risk Management Agency (RMA) requires protection from erosion and control of noxious weeds. Planting a cover crop to these areas can help control weeds and prevent erosion, while enhancing soil structure and preventing “fallow syndrome.”
Fallow syndrome can occur when there is not enough living root material for beneficial soil mycorrhizal fungi to survive. These “good fungi”, also known as AM fungi, facilitate the uptake of nutrients that are less mobile in the soil, such as phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn). Fallow syndrome has the potential to hurt crop yield the following year. See “Reduce risk of fallow syndrome with cover crops” for more details on this issue.
Considerations when planting a cover crop:
Check which residual herbicides might be in your soil to give cover crops best chance of success. There is typically little or no information on herbicide labels related to establishment of a cover crop after herbicide application. In general, herbicides with longer residual activity have greater potential to hinder cover crop establishment. Another general guideline is that there tends to be more risk to grass cover crops if a residual grass herbicide was applied, and more risk to a broadleaf cover crop if a residual broadleaf herbicide was applied. Cereal rye and oats tend to be among the most tolerant cover crops to previously-applied herbicides, although this will vary depending on the herbicide applied, application rate, soil type, environmental conditions, and time of application. More details on herbicide interactions with cover crops can be found at:Managing risk when using herbicides and cover crops in corn and soybean.
Think ahead to spring 2020. Cover crops that winterkill, such as oats, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass, radish, turnip, barley, and crimson or berseem clover, eliminate the need to plan a spring termination. Cover crops such as cereal rye and winter wheat will overwinter. If you’re interested in a cover crop which overwinters, make a plan for termination that fits with your rotation and herbicide program. See Spring management of cover crops for termination options.
Select a cover crop to provide coverage throughout the rest of the 2019 growing season. Cost, availability of seed, and when you can plant the cover crop are key factors when deciding what cover crops to plant and whether or not to plant a single species or mixture of cover crops. For example, a mix of radish and sudangrass might promote soil structure and produce a lot of biomass during a hot summer. You can explore species attributes on the Midwest Cover Crop Council website: Cover crop decision tool. Also, consult with your local NRCS to determine approved cover crops and practices on prevent plant acres.
Seed a cover as early as possible to compete with weeds. Winter cereals (e.g. rye, winter wheat, and winter triticale) and warm season grasses like sorghum, sudangrass, or sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are favored by planting dates in mid-June through July. When seeded during this time frame, spring cereals such as oat, barley and spring wheat will likely develop a seed head, which could shatter and produce volunteer plants. Brassicas (e.g. radish, turnip, rapeseed) can help break up compaction with their taproots, but some species may bolt and produce seed if planted before August.
If it gets late, adapt. Control weeds with an herbicide or tillage before planting a cover crop. If you use an herbicide, keep in mind the potential for herbicides to impact cover crop establishment (see above).
Use a reliable seed source. Use good quality seed that has been cleaned, tested for germination and weed seed contamination. Utilize local sources of seed as much as possible to help prevent the introduction of invasive noxious weeds such as Palmer amaranth. Note that if you are considering using bin run seed as a cover crop, be aware that most of the seed purchased today is protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act and other seed laws and regulations. This means that at a minimum most bin run seed cannot be sold or given to another person to plant, and depending on the protections of the seed originally purchased, any planting of the bin run seed may be illegal. More details on MN seed laws can be found at: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants-insects/can-i-sell-seed. It is also important to note that FSA does not allow straight seeding of corn or soybean on prevent plant acres.
Utilize available resources. Check out U of MN resources at http://z.umn.edu/cover-crops and be sure to consult with your local NRCS to ensure you have an approved cover crop plan. This NRCS spreadsheet gives recommended seeding rates in different regions of MN as well as information on the qualities of different crops.
Follow insurance dates and restrictions
You can plant a cover crop after the “final planting date” for your intended crop (e.g. May 31 for corn across southern MN and June 10 for soybean) and receive a full prevented planting payment. See Prevented planting decisions.
To be eligible for the full prevented planting payment, you cannot hay or graze the cover crop before November 1 or harvest the cover crop at any time.
If you plant a cover crop AFTER the “late planting period” (25 days after the “final planting date” for the insured crop) and hay or graze it BEFORE November 1, you will receive 35% of the prevented planting payment for your first crop.
If you plant a cover crop DURING the late planting period (e.g. May 31 + 25 days for corn in southern MN) and you hay or graze your cover crop BEFORE November 1, you will receive no prevented planting payment.
Note that grazing a cover crop BEFORE November 1 will impact your reportable APH for the year – consult with your crop insurance representative for details if you are considering this option.
Be sure to consult with your crop insurance representative for further details and to ensure you are meeting their guidelines and specifications.
Losing a year’s cash crop is devastating, but planting a cover crop will help ensure that you keep your topsoil in place and possibly even see some soil improvements in the coming years.
Rabobank is predicting an unprecedented number of unplanted acres of corn, the most widely grown American crop. A Bloomberg survey of 10 traders and analysts indicates growers could file insurance claims for about 6 million corn acres they haven’t been able to sow, almost double the record in 2013.
The article explained that, “Corn futures surged more than 20% to a three-year high over the past few weeks on fears farmers wouldn’t be able to get seeds in the ground ahead of crop-insurance deadlines. So-called prevented plant claims reached 3.6 million acres in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.”
“Corn That Won’t Get Planted This Year Could Shatter All U.S. Records,” by Michael Hirtzer, Isis Almeida, and Dominic Carey. Bloomberg News (May 30, 2019).
The Bloomberg writers also noted that, “Field conditions deteriorated over the past few weeks, indicating significant corn acreage loss was a risk, according to Gro Intelligence, a New York-based analysis firm that uses satellites among other data sources. Areas with the biggest risk of acreage loss were in central Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and the region around the borders of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.”
“Corn That Won’t Get Planted This Year Could Shatter All U.S. Records,” by Michael Hirtzer, Isis Almeida, and Dominic Carey. Bloomberg News (May 30, 2019).
Washington Post writer Katie Mettler reported on Friday that, “From the Rocky Mountains to the Ohio River Valley, millions of Midwesterners have endured unremitting rainfall, hundreds of dangerous tornadoes and debilitating flooding brought on by swollen waterways that are spilling into already saturated grounds — much of it farmland.”
The Post article indicated that, “The next hurdle farmers face is what to do about crop insurance. Each state has deadlines for full coverage, meaning farmers must have their crops in the ground by a certain date to qualify for assistance. Corn comes first, then soybeans. Some of those deadlines have already passed or are fast approaching.”
There has never been a spring planting season like this one. Rivers topped their banks. Levees were breached. Fields filled with water and mud. And it kept raining.
“‘You hear words like biblical, unprecedented,’ said Sherman Newlin, a corn and soybean farmer in Illinois. ‘That’s all true.’”
The Bloomberg article added that, “In Illinois, Newlin, whose farm is about a four-hour drive south of Chicago, said he has been rained out most days since he started planting on May 17. He did manage to sow about 60% of the 1,000 acres where he wanted to put down corn, but standing water and muddy conditions in those fields likely will drag down yields.”
And John Reinan reported on the front page of Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune that, “Minnesota is in a historic state of sogginess after one of the coldest and wettest springs ever.”
“Minnesota is in a soggy state after a historically wet spring,” by John Reinan. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (June 2, 2019).
Sunday’s article noted that, “With so much cold and rain this spring, some farmers, particularly in southwestern Minnesota, are debating whether to even plant a crop this year.
“[Tom Hoverstad, a scientist with the University of Minnesota Extension in Waseca] said roughly 15% of the corn crop in his part of the state has already been lost due to delayed planting caused by the saturated soil. And for every additional day of delay, a farmer can expect to lose about 2 ½ bushels of yield per acre at harvest time.
“Many farmers may ultimately decide not to plant corn this year and instead take the payoff from their planting insurance, Hoverstad said.”
Policy Uncertainty Lingers for Farmers
Des Moines Register writer Donnelle Eller reported late last week that, “With the planting window closing, farmers must decide whether to push ahead with a corn crop and face diminished yields, switch those acres to potentially money-losing soybeans, or decide against planting a crop at all.
Ms. Eller explained that, “Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said trade assistance would be provided only on acres that have been planted.
“That appears to close the door on farmers who have been inundated by rain.
“‘In order to qualify for trade aid, I have to plant a crop. But in many cases, Mother Nature isn’t allowing me to,’ said Chad Hart, an Iowa State University ag economist.
“‘It really throws a monkey wrench in what a farmer should do,’ Hart said. ‘It adds to the financial stress that farmers are feeling.’”
Meanwhile, on Friday’s Adams on Agricultureradio program, host Mike Adams asked House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) about the trade aid package.
“Let’s talk about another key issue now, the market facilitation program payments,” Mr. Adams said. “I know you raised questions about the timing of the announcement of them, as many others have. And now the issue is coming up, should prevent plant acres, which are going to be many, should they be part of this program. And now Secretary Perdue says he’s thinking about it. What are your thoughts on that? Should prevent plant be part of the package?”
Chairman Peterson stated: “Well, I’ve been talking to the Department, and talking to [Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue], and [Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky]and [Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey] about this, and my concern is that the track they were on, in my opinion, was actually going to affect planting a lot more than, you know, if they’d have done a program like last year, because of this preventative planting situation. And, you know, the weather in the south part of my district, I was down there yesterday, some of those guys are not going to get the crop in at all, I don’t think.
“And so the way they’ve got this thing, you know, was heading, they were saying that it had to be planted acres. And I thought it was pretty firm, and I talked to [Under Secretary Northey] on Wednesday afternoon. That was the one thing that he was pretty firm about, that they were going to do this on planted acres. And one of the reasons he cited was that the CCC, the authorities within the CCC, I thought he said that their lawyers thought that they had to be tied to planted acres in order for them to be able to take the money out of the CCC.
“Now having said all of that, given the situation that we’re in and the dilemma farmers are in, even though it doesn’t make any sense in terms of paying people for trade damage; probably, if they’re going to use this new scheme they’ve got, they’re probably best off to not penalize the people for not planting and use some other formula, even though it doesn’t make any sense. But I don’t know.
So I told the farmers yesterday the one thing I was almost sure about, it’s going to be planted acres, and then this morning I found out I was wrong. So I think the message to farmers is I don’t even think the department knows at this point exactly what they’re going to do on either the market facilitation payments or on the disaster, because there is some latitude there as well.
In reference to the disaster aid measure, Chairman Peterson noted that, “There’s a provision put in that says that it’s a plus up when prevented planting in the disaster deal up to 90% if you had crop insurance, and they could pay up to 70% if you didn’t.”
Chairman Peterson added that, “Farmers don’t know what to do. And what I’m concerned about is the way this thing is heading is you’re going to have people not plant corn, and they’re going to plant soybeans, and we don’t need soybeans, and the whole thing is just going to be backwards from where we need to be.”
Christopher Flavelle reported on Friday at The New York Times Online that, “Corn prices are rising as surging floodwaters and soaking rains — combined with President Trump’s trade war with China — are making it an exceptionally difficult year for farmers facing risky choices about what crops to plant, or whether to plant at all.”
The Times article stated that, “To help farmers, the Trump administration has offered assistance payments designed to offset lost income from the trade war. However, those payments will be calculated on how many acres of crops a farmer plants this year — which means any cutbacks in planting due to floods or rain will hurt farmers even more, by reducing eligibility for the government assistance.
“And there is yet another complicating factor. Often, farmers who aren’t able to plant corn choose soybeans instead, which can be planted later in the year. But that strategy might not make sense this time around, given China’s retreat from buying America’s soybeans.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation has urged the Department of Agriculture to change the way it sets the assistance payments, according to John Newton, the group’s chief economist. The bureau wants acres that can’t be planted to count toward a farmer’s eligibility for federal assistance.”
And Associated Press writer Scott McFetridge reported on Saturday that, “Iowa farmer Jeff Jorgenson, 44, said it’s a puzzle trying to figure out how much land should remain unplanted and eligible for insurance payments, how much should be planted, how much money in federal aid will be available and whether those funding sources will be enough to cover his operating loan.
“‘Honestly, 24 hours a day, this is all you can think about,’ he said.”
Response of Germinating and Early Season Soybeans to Flooding
The 2019 growing season has been one for the record books. In May, the entire state experienced above-average precipitation, ranging from 100% to 300% over normal (Figure 2). Longer term, from October 1 to May 28, the majority of the state experienced above normal precipitation (Figure 3). Depending on location, significant moisture events have left soil profiles extremely full or saturated, which is causing more flooding/ponding to occur. As we look at soybean planting and growth across the state, there is significant variation in plant development. For example, crop progress in Holt County ranges from just planted to V1 while in southern Nebraska, beans are at V2-V3.
Plant stage is one of several factors affecting the extent of plant injury due to flooding:
soybean development stage at the time of flooding,
frequency and duration of flooding,
air-soil temperatures, and
rate of drying after the flood event.
For portions of northern Nebraska, a high percentage of soybeans have not emerged. What are the impacts of flooding on germinating seeds? A growth chamber study conducted by Wuebker et al., 2001 explored the effects of early-season soaking on seeds and seedlings.
Germination was reduced by more than 20% when seed were soaked (fully immersed in water) beginning one day after imbibition (the process in which the seed fills with water); however, there was little difference in germination among soaking times (ranging from 1 to 48 hours).
When a 48-hour seed-soaking period began two or three days after imbibition, germination was reduced by 50% to 70%, respectively. However, germination was reduced by 25% to 33% when seeds were soaked for 1 to 24 hours, respectively, two or three days after imbibition.
Other sources stated that severe losses occurred when soybean seed was subjected to four days of soaking prior to germination; however, there were varietal differences in how they responded to flooding.
Soil temperatures also play an important role in germination responses. Soaking seed from 1 to 48 hours at 59oF reduced germination by an average of 22% less than control plants. However it is important to note that germination was similar no matter how long the seeds were soaked. When temperatures were increased to 77oF and seeds soaked for 48 hours, germination was reduced 40% compared to the control plants. But, when seeds soaked 1 to 24 hours at 77oF, germination averaged 11% less than the control plants. Cooler soil temperatures improve soybean seed viability when subjected to flooding.
In general, soybeans in the vegetative stages can tolerate a fair amount of flooding without major impacts. It is important to note that research on flooding at these stages is divided into either water-logging, where only the roots are flooded, or complete submergence, where entire plants are under water (VanToai et al., 2001). Water-logging is more commonly observed than complete submergence, and in general less damage is observed. Research has shown that soybeans can generally survive for 48 to 96 hours when completely submerged. The actual time frame plants can survive depends on air temperature, humidity, cloud cover, soil moisture conditions prior to flooding, and the rate of soil drainage.
Cool and cloudy conditions increase survivability.
Higher temperatures and sunshine increase plant mortality because plant respiration rates increase, depleting oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide levels.
Saturated soils prior to flooding will result in more rapid soybean mortality because the soil drainage after flooding prevents gas exchange between the rhizosphere and the air above the soil surface.
The injury sustained to fields of soybean following water logging is difficult to assess. In 1990 Oosterhuis et al., reported soybean yield losses of 17% to 43% from water-logging at the vegetative stages. Yield loss is the result of reduced root growth, shoot growth, nodulation, nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, biomass accumulation, stomatal conductance, and plant death due to diseases and physiological stress (Oosterhuis et al., 1990, VanToai et al., 2994 and 2003). It is important to note that there is a significant amount of genetic variability for flooding tolerance in Maturity Group (MG) II and III soybeans (VanToai et al, 1994) and probably within other maturity groups as well.
Soybeans Diseases that Develop after Flooded Conditions
Saturated soils and flooded conditions promote a number of diseases in soybeans that producers and crop consultants should watch for now and later in the season. Wet conditions are favorable for several pathogens helping them to sporulate, germinate, and/or infect plants. Fungicide soybean seed treatments can provide protection against soilborne diseases commonly observed during flooding. However, it is important to note that seed treatments only protect seeds and seedling for approximately three weeks after planting, depending on product and disease (Wise, et. al., 2016). If environmental conditions are conducive for pathogen infection after that three-week window and a susceptible variety is grown, disease will develop. Below are a few of the diseases that are more common in soybean subjected to flooded conditions.
Pythium Seed and Root Rot
Wet conditions are favorable for Pythium which is our most common seedling disease of soybean in Nebraska. Cooler soil temperatures can make this disease worse as the seedling will be stressed and grow more slowly. Typical symptoms of Pythium include seed decay, pre-emergent seedling rot, and seedling damping off after emergence (Figure 4). If the plant has emerged, it often has a root system where the outer layer can be easily pulled off while the center of the root remains intact.
Phytophthora Root and Stem Rot
As soil temperatures increase, Phytophthora often becomes more common with heavy rains. Fields with a history of this disease will flare up again when rain events saturate soil profiles. Phytophthora is often indicated when a field was planted with a standard rate of seed treatment, but still has significant stand reduction following wet conditions. Management of Phytophthora requires higher rates of metalaxyl or mefenoxam seed treatments. Ethaboxam seed treatment can also be effective at managing Phytophthora. This is a field-specific issue and usually does not occur as often as Pythium.
Typical symptoms of Phytophthora are seed decay and pre-emergence seedling rot, and seedling damping off after emergence. Typical symptoms on seedlings are darkened stems at the base of the plant starting at the soil line (Figure 5). When cut open, young plant stems often have dark centers. Phytophthora can kill plants at any stage of development through the remainder of the season, but Pythium typically does not kill plants much past the V5 development stage. Both Pythium and Phytophthora are caused by fungal-like organisms, Oomycetes, that require wet conditions and produce swimming zoospores that are attracted to roots.
Oosterhuis, D.M., H.D. Scott, R.E. Hampton and S.D. Wullschleger 1990. Physiological response of two soybean [Glycine max, (L.) Merr.] cultivars to short term flooding. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 30:85-92.
VanToai, T.T., Beuerlein, J.E., Schmitthenner, A.F., and St. Martin, S.K. 1994. Genetic variability for flooding tolerance in soybeans. Crop Science 34:1112-1115.
VanToai, T. Y. Yang, P. Ling, G. Boru, M. Karica, V. Roberts, D. Hua, B. Bishop.(2003) Monitoring soybean tolerance to flooding stress by image processing technique. In T.T. VanToai, et al. (ed) Digital Imaging and Spectral Techniques: Applications to Precision Agriculture and Crop Physiology. ASA Special Publication No 66. The American Society of Agronomy. Madison, WI. Pp 43-51.