What Do Low Tar Spot Levels and Prevent Plant Acres Mean for 2020 Corn Crop?
2019 was certainly a year we are all looking forward to wrapping up, and many are starting to do just that throughout the state. Our lab started harvesting both beans and #corn about a week ago and on my trip today I saw several combines cutting corn and beans.
As I mentioned last year, tar spot has made annual appearances in Illinois since it’s initial detection in 2015. Last season, conditions that favored disease development and spread allowed the tar spot fungus, Phyllachora maydis, to develop to a significant degree well before the crop had matured, and many saw significant losses. To add further insult to injury, the conditions that favored tar spot also favored other, more commonly encountered diseases including grey leaf spot, ear rots, and several types of stalk rots. The end result was a huge mess in the Northern part of the state, and many concerned producers.
This season, the overall incidence of tar spot is similar to last year in #Illinois, but the severity of the disease is significantly lower. In many parts of the state where tar spot has been detected it did not reach noticeable levels until the last 10-14 days, and in most cases corn in these areas is well past R5. Why was tar spot less severe this year?
We can speculate on several reasons. First, remember the disease triangle? Disease only develops when you have a susceptible host, appropriate pathogen, and conducive environment. This year we ran into a period of hot and dry conditions for a significant period of time in parts of the state where tar spot was severe last year. If you recall, we were close to a drought in parts of the Northern and East-central Illinois when many fields were hitting that crucial VT/R2 growth stage. The combination of the heat and dry conditions could have delayed the onset of tar spot, resulting in disease developing later in the season and to a lesser degree than in 2019. It is important to remember that onset of disease relative to the growth stage of the crop is critical in determining overall yield impact. When disease arrives early in crop development yield impacts are increased compared to disease arriving later in the season.
Second, the disastrous late start to the season resulted in a significant amount of prevent plant acres. Phyllachora maydis is an obligate pathogen, meaning that it needs a living host to grow and reproduce. Fewer acres of corn planted likely resulted in less overall inoculum at local levels. Tar spot is polycyclic, meaning that it can continue to infect and produce more inoculum (spores) as long as conditions are favorable. New spores can be dispersed, infect susceptible corn, and within 2-3 weeks, produce more spores. With fewer acres of corn planted, this means that there was less host material for the fungus to grow and multiply, and subsequently, less inoculum to cause disease.
A third potential reason could have been related to winter conditions from 2018-19. If you recall, we had several periods with freezing conditions, commingled with abnormally warm periods. We know that P. maydis can overwinter within the dark stromata (tar spots) on infected residue. However, these temperature shifts may have impacted fungal physiology and dormancy, reducing potential survival of the fungus.
That being said, what does the 2019 tar spot situation mean for 2020 corn? One cannot be certain, but for the reasons highlighted above, we would expect less P. maydis inoculum to overwinter, simply due to fewer corn acres planted and less corn infection in 2019. This could result in lower inoculum loads and potential disease in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens next year. In the meantime, keep up the great work scouting, send any tar spot samples to the UIUC plant clinic or myself (email, phone, twitter) and let’s look forward to a productive 2020.
A proposal released on Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture aims to satisfy both farmers and energy companies by increasing use of ethanol, a fuel additive made from corn. Ethanol-blending exemptions granted to individual refiners will be offset by higher overall requirements to incorporate the fuel into gasoline, officials said.
“Corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade dropped following the plan’s release, with the December corn contract slipping 1%. Traders said they were dissatisfied with the scant details in the EPA’s press release. Ethanol futures also declined, with the November contract down 2.2% at $1.39 a gallon.”
The Journal article explained that, “Ethanol production has been declining since August, after the EPA granted 31 waivers to small gasoline refineries allowing them to forgo mixing ethanol into their fuel as required. From the beginning of August into mid-September, U.S. daily ethanol production fell by roughly 100,000 barrels to 943,000 barrels, the lowest rate of production since April 2016. It has since rebounded to 958,000 barrels a day this week.”
“After Farm Belt Outcry, Trump Administration Revamps Ethanol Rules,” by Kirk Maltais and Jacob Bunge. The Wall Street Journal (October 4, 2019).
Reuters writers Humeyra Pamuk and Stephanie Kelly reported on Friday that, “While the move was largely welcome by biofuel groups, some industry players said they were concerned that the EPA declined to provide an exact figure for the 2020 blending quotas. A brief EPA call with reporters offered little insight, with an agency official saying only that the mandates will be based on a calculation of waived volumes over the previous three years.”
The EPA is set to formally propose changes next week. The agency said it would seek public comment on ensuring more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol are blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020 and that statutory obligations for biodiesel also are satisfied.
“The agency is set to effectively offset future exemptions by factoring a three-year rolling average of waived gallons into those annual quotas. In a forthcoming proposal, the EPA will propose a range of additional volumes informed by the last three compliance years and the underlying law, an EPA official said Friday.”
Gregory Meyer reported on Friday at The Financial Times Online that, “The Trump administration has changed course on US biofuels policy to placate angry farmers ahead of the 2020 election.”
Mr. Meyer pointed out that, “On Friday, Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced a new plan to allow exemptions without reducing the total size of the corn ethanol mandate, starting in 2020. The proposal would ‘result in sustained biofuel production to help American farmers,’ said Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator.
“The exemptions for oil refiners had begun to damage the goodwill Mr Trump established in the Corn Belt last spring when he allowed unfettered sales of petrol containing 15 per cent ethanol, an increase from the customary limit of 10 per cent. Since he took office, the average number of exemptions has trebled.”
“Trump moves to placate swing state farmers over biofuels,” by Gregory Meyer. The Financial Times (October 4, 2019).
The FT article stated that, “Eighteen of the nation’s more than 200 ethanol plants have closed in the past year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. US ethanol plant output has slumped to levels last reported in 2016…The slowdown has affected grain markets, with the US Department of Agriculture recently paring its estimate of ethanol sector corn use to 5.45bn bushels, which still amounts to 39 per cent of the projected 2019 harvest.”
“Trump moves to placate swing state farmers over biofuels,” by Gregory Meyer. The Financial Times (October 4, 2019).
Donelle Eller reported on the front page of Friday’s Des Moines Register that, “The waivers have been a major blow to farmers at a time when they are already experiencing reduced demand for agricultural products because of trade wars with China, Mexico, Canada and other countries.”
“Trump promises new ethanol fix,” by Donelle Eller. The Des Moines Register (Front Page, October 4, 2019).
Ms. Eller added that, “The plan unveiled Friday also calls for removing potential barriers for gasoline with 15% ethanol, called E15, and expanding infrastructure such as retail pumps that provides greater access to higher biofuel blends.
“It also calls for greater transparency in the market for credits used by refiners to show compliance with the federal mandate.
“The action outlined in the plan will become a supplemental document to the 2020 biofuels requirement. It’s required to be filed by Nov. 30.”
On Saturday, Joseph Morton reported on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald that, “Renewable-fuel groups, farm organizations and Midwestern politicians have embraced the Trump administration’s new ethanol proposal as a desperately needed production boost.”
“Midlands lawmakers praise Trump plan to boost ethanol,” by Joseph Morton. Omaha World-Herald (Front Page, October 5, 2019).
“Still, many details remain to be fleshed out, and the country’s oil and gas interests pledged to fight it every step of the way,” the World-Herald article said.
It’s official: The Trump administration is taking action to boost U.S. demand for corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel, as the president seeks to temper criticism from farmers and Midwest politicians before next year’s election.https://bloom.bg/2LKjoQO w @MarioDParker
Meanwhile, Donnelle Eller reported on the front page of Sunday’s Des Moines Register that, “On Friday, Siouxland’s board and 42 employees got some good news: The administration said it would take steps to begin restoring the market for billions of gallons of renewable fuel waived through small refinery exemptions.
While the announcement was widely welcomed, it lacked details, and it was unclear whether the president’s plan would be enough to immediately boost the market and help the nation’s ailing renewable fuel plants.
The Register article stated that, “Iowa’s Republican political leaders and farm groups lauded Friday’s announcement, which came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying President Donald Trump had heard the concerns of farmers, rural America and renewable fuels producers.
“Will Trump’s fix help ailing ethanol plants?” by Donnelle Eller. The Des Moines Register (Front Page- October 6, 2019).
“But tucked into many of their responses was an acknowledgment that more work is needed to ensure the proposal becomes the final rule,” the Register article said.
gr8 news! W 2day’s announcement @realdonaldtrump delivers on his continued promise to support ethanol+ biodiesel + farmers THANK YOU Pres Trump for your support of rural America & following the renewable fuel standard as Congress intended Promises made& promises kept
Good news for Southern IL farmers – Excited to share @POTUS‘s announcement on the Renewable Fuel Standard. It includes relief for Small Refinery Exemption waivers & ensures 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol will be blended into our fuel supply. http://bit.ly/330wdMD
BOST ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT ON THE RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) today announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached an agreement on the…
The #RFS has been widely successful, bipartisan, and benefits producers and consumers alike. The President’s RFS plan announced today restores credibility to the RFS and compliments his action to expand E-15. My statement here: https://bit.ly/2MhCrRm
Smith Welcomes President Trump’s RFS Action
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the Trump administration released the details of his plan to uphold the RFS.
Chinese Purchases of U.S. Soybeans Continue, as Range of Topics in Trade Talks Narrows
Bloomberg News reported last week that, “Chinese companies bought U.S. soybeans after the Xi Jinping administration issued more waivers from its retaliatory import tariffs, according to people familiar with the situation.
“Both state-owned and privately run firms purchased between 12 and 15 cargoes, or as much as 1 million metric tons, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Most of the cargoes are for shipment this year, with a few for January, they said.”
“The move may help lay the groundwork for a more conciliatory meeting between high-level officials next week in Washington, when they try to resolve the trade war between the nations,” the Bloomberg article said.
“Now, with new talks looming and China buying soybeans again, soybean futures have climbed 5.7% on the Chicago Board of Trade since Sept. 6 to $9.12 a bushel on Thursday, a level unseen since July. China’s big 100,000-ton-plus purchases began in mid-September,” the Journal article said.
“Farm exports, new purchasing deals and prices have all been climbing again in recent weeks. Reports from the Commerce and Agriculture departments last week showed China making some of its largest purchases in over a year.”
“China Is Buying Soybeans Again as Trade Talks Resume,” by Josh Zumbrun and Michelle Hackman. The Wall Street Journal (October 7, 2019).
The Journal article noted that, “When trade tensions erupted early last summer, the price of soybeans dropped by nearly $2 a bushel. The market has yo-yoed with the ups and downs of the talks ever since.
“The U.S. and China struck a tentative truce in November, which stabilized the market, but when those talks broke apart in May this year, prices fell to nearly $8 a bushel, a 25% decline from prices seen in early 2018, before the trade war began.
“Spirits had been buoyed in the spring when the U.S. and China appeared to be nearing a deal, but then fell apart.”
“China Is Buying Soybeans Again as Trade Talks Resume,” by Josh Zumbrun and Michelle Hackman. The Wall Street Journal (October 7, 2019).
Meanwhile, in news regarding Brazilian soybean production, Bloomberg writer Tatiana Freitas reported earlier this month that, “Brazilian soybean growers are on the horns of a dilemma.
“On one hand, they have good reason to plant aggressively given China has largely turned its back on U.S.-grown oilseed. Then again, trade wars don’t last forever and the spread of African swine fever in Asia is undermining feed demand. Weather and currency swings offer further variables.
The upshot is expected to be a modest 1.8% increase in planted area from the previous season, according to the average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the slowest rate of expansion in 13 years, trailing the 3.5% five-year average and the 5% annual rate of the past 10 seasons.
Also with respect to Brazil, a report late last month from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) (“Brazil: Oilseeds and Products Update“) stated that, “In the first seven months of this season, Brazil exported almost 55 mmt, which is 13 percent less than at this point last season. So far this season, sales to China made up 75 percent of total volume shipped. In this same timeframe, exports to China are down by 17 percent year-on-year, with volumes declining more rapidly – in percentage terms – in the last several months. In August 2019, Brazil shipped 4.1 mmt of soybeans to China, which represents a 40 percent decline from same month last year.”
The FAS update explained that, “Several factors account for falling exports to China, most notably lower demand due to the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), which curtailed feed demand. In the remaining five months of the season, Post anticipates further downward pressure on sales to China. Aside from lower overall demand due to ASF, competition from U.S. soybeans is likely to pick up. In mid-September, Beijing announced that it would waive import duties on certain U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans. At this point, there is no clear market take on whether the current détente between the United States and China will be long lasting. However, given that China typically sources U.S. soybeans in September-December timeframe, the news had dampened Brazilian premiums, and exerted downward pressure on sales at least in the short term.”
On the issue of U.S. pork exports to China, Reuters writer Tom Polansek reported on Friday that, “JBS USA will remove a growth drug banned by Beijing from its U.S. hog supply, the company said on Friday, accelerating the competition for pork exports as China grapples with a devastating pig disease.
“The meat packer’s move away from the drug ractopamine, a feed additive, shows how companies are maneuvering to take advantage of an expected shortage in China, the world’s largest pork consumer, due to African swine fever (ASF).”
More broadly with respect to U.S., China trade talks, Bloomberg writers Shawn Donnan and Jenny Leonard reported on Sunday that, “Chinese officials are signaling they’re increasingly reluctant to agree to a broad trade deal pursued by President Donald Trump, ahead of negotiations this week that have raised hopes of a potential truce.
“In meetings with U.S. visitors to Beijing in recent weeks, senior Chinese officials have indicated the range of topics they’re willing to discuss has narrowed considerably, according to people familiar with the discussions.
“Vice Premier Liu He, who will lead the Chinese contingent in high-level talks that begin Thursday, told visiting dignitaries he would bring an offer to Washington that won’t include commitments on reforming Chinese industrial policy or the government subsidies that have been the target of longstanding U.S. complaints, one of the people said.”
Also on Monday, Bloomberg writers Shawn Donnan and Jenny Leonard reported that, “The Trump administration placed eight Chinese technology giants on a U.S. blacklist on Monday, accusing them of being implicated in human rights violations against Muslim minorities in the country’s far-western region of Xinjiang.”
The Bloomberg writers explained that, “The move, first reported by Reuters, still takes President Donald Trump’s economic war against China in a new direction, marking the first time his administration has cited human rights as a reason for action. Past moves to blacklist companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. have been taken on national security grounds.”
Following this development, on Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that, “China signaled it would hit back after the Trump administration placed eight of the country’s technology giants on a blacklist over alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities.
“Asked Tuesday whether China would retaliate over the blacklist, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters ‘stay tuned.’ He also denied that the government abused human rights in the far west region of Xinjiang.”
Export sales this year started slowly, particularly for corn. Recent sales to China buoyed soybean export sales in September. Abundant crops around the world, competitive pricing, and trade issues slowed export sales early this marketing year.
At 2.050 billion bushels, the current USDA projection for corn exports during the 2019-20 marketing year sits slightly lower than the last marketing year’s export totals. On October 4, the Census Bureau released export data for August. Corn exports for the 2018-19 marketing year totaled 2.067 billion bushels; down 372 million bushels from the 2017-18 marketing year despite the torrid start for sales and exports at this time last year. Although outpacing the previous marketing year’s export pace by 334 million bushels through the first half of the 2018-19 marketing year, the second half saw exports come in 707 million bushels below the pace in 2017-18. Abundant South American crops and competitive pricing saw the U.S. export share of the world market fall precipitously.
The weak pace of corn exports continues in the 2019-20 marketing year. Through the first 26 days of the marketing year, the USDA reported corn exports at 63 million bushels, down from 180 million bushels last year over the same period. Outstanding sales totaled 319 million bushels on September 26, compared with 596 million bushels last year. Sales of corn sit lower to all regions of the world, but buying from Asia is particularly slow. Sales of corn to Japan sit at 33 million bushels, down from 79 million bushels a year ago. Outstanding sales to all of Asia total 42 million bushels, well below the 162 million bushels recorded last year. Mexico sits slightly below the previous year’s totals in both sales and exports with total commitments coming in at 210 million bushels, 30 million bushels below last year. Total commitments sit at 19 percent of the projected export total for the 2019-20 marketing year, down from the five-year average of 30 percent.
Uncertainty about the size of the 2019 U.S. corn crop continues. A sizeable reduction in corn production this year will influence export totals. South American production looks to have a say in the U.S. export market share as well. Forecasts of corn production in Argentina and Brazil during the 2019-20 marketing year currently sit at 5.94 billion bushels, slightly below last year. The forecasts for corn exports are lower. Projections of Brazilian exports fell by 157 million bushels to 1.34 billion bushels. At 1.32 billion bushels, the projection for Argentinian exports sits 98 million bushels lower than the last marketing year’s estimate. A continuation of dry weather in the region holds the potential for full-season corn production to move lower.
USDA projections for the marketing year soybean exports sit at 1.775 billion bushels. Soybean exports for the 2018-19 marketing year totaled 1.759 billion bushels; down 370 million bushels from the 2017-18 marketing year. Driven by the trade war, exports to China fell 542 million bushels from the 2017-18 marketing year. The loss of the Chinese market overwhelmed growth to other trading partners.
Through September 26, the USDA reported soybean exports at 100 million bushels, on pace with last year. Outstanding sales totaled 415 million bushels, compared with 628 million bushels last year. An uptick in soybean sales to China continued over the last week as we move closer to the next round of trade negotiations. Outstanding sales attributed to China sit at 136 million bushels for the marketing year. A continuation of sales to China looks probable leading into the trade negotiations. Mexico sits slightly below last year’s totals in both sales and exports with total commitments coming in at 80 million bushels, 30 million bushels below last year. Total commitments sit at 30 percent of the projected export total for the 2019-20 marketing year, down from the five-year average of 46 percent. The ability to attain the current projection hinges on the size of the upcoming crop in South America and the trade negotiation dynamics associated with China.
Lower soybean acreage in the U.S. combined with a positive September 1 stocks report places 2019-20 ending stocks for soybeans near 550 million bushels under current consumption expectations. A lower yield than the current 47.9 projection promises to tighten ending stocks even more. Brazilian production forecasts near 4.52 billion bushels show a 220 million increase over last year’s crop. While the Argentine production forecast is down slightly, a larger soybean crop out of South America seems in the offing barring production issues. USDA forecasts 3.1 billion bushels of soybeans exports from Brazil and Argentina over the marketing year, up from last year’s 3.07 billion bushel estimate. Without a crop shortfall, stronger South American exports appear probable under current trade scenarios.
A stronger pace of exports this marketing year is a function of crop size both domestically and overseas. The October 10 Crop Production report will be significant for export potential and price prospects in corn and soybean markets. While exports started slowly, the potential to meet USDA projections still exists due to uncertainty on production potential and trade negotiations.
YouTube Video: Discussion and graphs associated with this article available at:
USDA Invests $152 Million to Improve Broadband Service in 14 States
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is investing $152 million in 19 projects (PDF, 121 KB) to provide or improve rural broadband service in 14 states.
“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” LaVoy said. “President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue are committed to fully utilizing all resources Congress provides for building and modernizing this critical infrastructure in rural America, because we believe that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Below are examples of the projects that will receive USDA funding.
Logan Telephone Cooperative Inc. will use a $34.4 million Telecommunications Program loan to upgrade a Fiber-to-the-Home system in Butler, Logan and Muhlenberg counties in southwestern Kentucky. The system will enable families, educators and businesses to access higher-speed broadband internet. More than 5,300 residential and business customers will benefit.
In Morton County, N.D., USDA is partnering with BEK Communications Cooperative by providing an $844,000 Community Connect Program grant to help spark economic and educational opportunities, enhance health care and bolster public safety. BEK will deploy a 49-mile Fiber-to-the Home network. This project will bring high-speed broadband to 125 underserved households.
In southwest Virginia, iGo Technology Inc. will use a $3 million Community Connect grant to bring enhanced broadband opportunities to 820 homes and businesses. Part of the grant will be used to provide free broadband services at The Bee Community Center, in the town of Bee in Dickenson County, for two years.
The projects USDA is investing in today will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
Managing Corn Harvest this Fall with Variable Corn Conditions
Thanks to the weather we had this year, corn is variable across fields and in some areas we will be harvesting corn at higher moistures than normal. Stalk quality may also be variable by field and amount of stress the plant was under, see the article Stalk Quality Concerns in this weeks CORN Newsletter. This variability and high moisture may require us to look harder at combine settings to keep the valuable grain going into the bin. Each ¾ pound ear per 1/100 of an acre equals 1 bushel of loss per acre. This is one ear per 6, 30 inch rows in 29 feet of length. A pre harvest loss assessment will help with determining if your combine is set properly. Initial settings for different combines can be found in the operator’s manual but here are a few adjustments that can be used to help set all machines. Thanks to the weather we had this year, corn is variable across fields and in some areas we will be harvesting corn at higher moistures than normal. Stalk quality may also be variable by field and amount of stress the plant was under, see the article Stalk Quality Concerns in this weeks CORN Newsletter. This variability and high moisture may require us to look harder at combine settings to keep the valuable grain going into the bin. Each ¾ pound ear per 1/100 of an acre equals 1 bushel of loss per acre. This is one ear per 6, 30 inch rows in 29 feet of length. A pre harvest loss assessment will help with determining if your combine is set properly. Initial settings for different combines can be found in the operator’s manual but here are a few adjustments that can be used to help set all machines.
Setting the combine starts at the header with an average of 66% of all machine harvest loss in corn occurring here. The major adjustments on the header are deck plate width and gathering chain speed. Setting deck plates in variable field conditions can be challenging, hydraulic adjust deck plates help a lot but if they are not automatic adjust you will have to keep up with changing conditions throughout the field. Under normal conditions deck plates should be set to 1 ¼ inches in the front and 1/8 inch wider at the back, 1 3/8 inches. While this is a starting point, a better method is to use actual stalks of corn and set the deck plates 1/16 of an inch wider at the front than the third node width of a corn stalk. If you check the best and the worst corn in the field you should be able to get an idea of how to vary deck plates on the go, possibly make marks on the indicator gauge to know where you want to be in each area. The basic goal is to keep deck plates narrow enough that we avoid butt shelling and ears slipping between the plates into the stock roll but still manage to be wide enough that most of the stalk and leaves get pulled though. If stalk lodging is present, increase deck plate taper, more open at the top will decrease fodder entering the combine. The other major setting is matching gathering chain and stalk roll speed to combine ground speed, which can be a challenge if you cannot vary header speed from the combine cab. The threshing system works best when full so we speed up in lower yielding areas but if the gathering chains/stalk rolls don’t change speed our header loss will increase. This leads to another balancing act of increasing speed for harvest efficiency and seeing increased grain loss. If ground speed is 4 mph gathering chains should be running at 55 rpm. With the ratio staying constant across all ground speeds. Chain lugs should be opposite each other. With variable field conditions, making sure your rubber ear savers are present and flexible will retain whole ears from being lost.
If the header worked properly there will not be a great deal of fodder in the threshing system, increased fodder leads to higher threshing losses. The first consideration in threshing settings is cob integrity, which is often compromised in stressed and high moisture corn. When setting concaves the goal is to not break cobs into more than 2 pieces crosswise and not break them length wise at all. The initial concave clearance on most machines is 3mm over cob diameter. Cobs should be coming out the back of the machine intact but when you break them in half, there should be signs of compression. Rotor or cylinder speed should be set using your book and only sped up if concave clearance is set and ears are still not threshed. Increasing rotor speed can increase threshing quality without breaking cobs, better than tightening concave settings. In wet corn, damaged grain is more often caused by high rotor speed than narrow concave settings. When harvesting high moisture corn, technically anything over 22%, according to most manufacturers, different concaves can help with threshing. Changing the large wire concaves to round bar, either straight or fish bone helps maintain cob integrity and grain quality in wet corn. Extremely wet corn, over 30% moisture, will need round bar concaves to maintain threshing grain quality. Wet corn can be damaged much more easily during threshing.
The last settings are in the cleaning shoe, fan speed and sieve opening. In corn, especially wet corn, most if not all of the separation and cleaning should take place on the top sieve. For dry corn, the lower sieve should be closed a little tighter than the top sieve. In wet corn, many manufacturers recommend opening the bottom sieve all the way so that corn easily moves into the clean grain elevator and does not over load the tailings auger. All the separation is then taking place on the top sieve. A common starting opening is 5/8 inch, then open until the first cob appears in the grain tank and shut one notch. A challenge this fall will be with kernel size. Even wet kernels may be smaller than average this year causing you to need a top sieve opening to be less than 5/8 inch. Kernel size will have increased variability, ears with many aborted kernels will have much large kernels than those on normal ears. Fan speed should be increased until all red chaff is gone from the grain tank then slowed down 30-50 rpms to keep grain from being blown out the back. This may actually be at lower rpms this year than most years due to low test weight which makes each kernel lighter than normal and more likely to blow out of the machine. Often fan speed settings are opposite of logic, increasing fan speed often decreases losses because chaff floats more allowing grain to fall through the sieves better.
Checking harvest loss and combine settings
When assessing combine settings there are four areas of loss to consider. The first is preharvest lost which is one ¾ pound ear per 1/100 of an acre which is one ear in 30 inch rows per 29 feet in 6 rows or 21.8 feet in 8 rows. The next source of loss is header loss, then threshing and sieve loss. When counting individual kernels, 2 kernels per square foot equally distributed equals one bushel pre acre. In order to determine which part of the combine to adjust you need to calculate loss from each area. To check header loss stop the combine and back up the length of your combine. Then for 30 inch rows count the number of kernels in front of the combine from center of row to center of row for 4 feet of length which equals 10 square feet and divide by 20 to get bushels per acre. Each row of your header should be checked, since only one may be out of adjustment, record each row separately. Also check for additional ears that may have been lost by the header and not pre harvest, remember one ¾ pound ear per 1/100 of an acre equals a bushel. Record header loss to subtract from separator and cylinder loss. Preform the same kernel count behind the machine as you did in front subtract each row individually from header loss calculate separation loss. Watch for any cobs that still have corn on them this is threshing loss count these separate. A study conducted in Iowa found the best set combines have a total loss, pre and post-harvest loss, of 1.5 bushel per acre. Use the table below to calculate losses, remember kernels per 10 sq ft divided buy 20 equal bushels per acre.
Setting Harvest Loss/Tattletale Monitors
Once your machine is set to expected harvest losses, adjust your loss monitors in order to use these monitors in the field. Harvest lost monitors work by sensing grain impact on the sensors, grain size and sensitivity can be adjusted to calibrate these loss monitors. Larger grain hits more area on the sensor increasing loss values. Larger harder grain also hits with more force. Usually you adjust grain size and then sensitivity. Good luck with harvest this fall.
With forage production abundant in most areas of North Dakota, producers may be using options to extend the grazing season, including stockpiled pasture, hay regrowth and warm- or cool-season annuals.
“It is important to consider grazing management and potential plant and animal health implications when evaluating options for fall grazing,” cautions Janna Block, Extension livestock systems specialist at North Dakota State University’s Hettinger Research Extension Center.
Bloat With Highly Digestible Forages
Bloat can occur any time that cattle are grazing large quantities of highly digestible forage. Gases produced through the fermentation of forage are trapped in the rumen, putting pressure on the lungs and nerves, which affects the animals’ breathing. Pastures that contain 50% or more legumes such as alfalfa or clover present a bloat risk, as do volunteer canola and small grains.
The incidence of bloat tends to be greater early in the day, following a rain or after a frost. The risk is greatest in the first three to five days after a killing frost, but the best option is to avoid grazing for at least a week. This risk will decrease after the top half of the plant has dried down. Best management practices include:
Ensuring that cattle are full of dry hay before allowing them to graze.
Delaying turnout until pastures are dry after dew or rain.
Monitoring animals every couple of hours after turnout.
If possible, provide cattle with access to other grazing, such as a permanent pasture. Providing a poloxalene block prior to and during grazing and placing hay bales in the field for grazing are additional management considerations.
Bloat also is a risk for cattle grazing crop aftermath or standing grain crops. High grain intake by cattle that have not been adapted properly can lead to bloat, founder or death. If volunteer grains matured to seed formation or mature grain is present in a field, grain overload from selective grazing could be a problem.
Block suggests producers scout fields before turning cattle out to determine how much grain is present, or consider using strip grazing to limit access and/or adapt cattle to grain a week or so prior to grazing to help manage this issue.
Grass tetany is a potentially fatal condition in beef cattle caused by a magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) deficiency combined with high levels of potassium (K). Although most producers associate grass tetany with grazing immature cool-season grasses in the early spring, cattle can be affected by tetany when consuming lush fall regrowth in grass pastures or annual cereal forages. This situation is less common in North Dakota because the mineral profile of fall regrowth is not exactly like new spring growth; however, being aware of the possibility of a problem in the fall is important.
Tetany also may occur during the winter, when cattle are consuming a diet based on grass, alfalfa or annual forages harvested for hay. Forages that contain less than 0.2% Mg and greater than 3% K represent a potential tetany risk.
Block recommends testing a representative sample (about 10% of the bales from each lot of forage) using a hay probe and submitting the samples for forage analysis.
“Challenging weather conditions during harvest could have a variety of negative implications on hay quality this year,” she notes. “Producers should consider laboratory analysis for crude protein, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and mineral content at a minimum.”
To prevent tetany, producers should consider supplementing their cattle’s feed with a mineral containing 8% to 12% magnesium. Most mineral supplements contain magnesium oxide, which is unpalatable and may need to be mixed with grain or molasses to encourage consumption. If available, magnesium sulfate also is a good source and may be more palatable.
Other Health Issues
Other potential issues that can occur in cover crops and small grains include prussic acid poisoning, nitrate toxicity and sulfur toxicity (polioencephalomalacia or PEM). Brassicas in particular carry a high risk of multiple toxicities and should not constitute more than 70% of the diet. For more information about grazing cover crops, check out https://tinyurl.com/FallGrazingCoverCrops.
“It is important to understand that nitrates and prussic acid are two separate issues and are not directly related to each other,” Block says.
Prussic acid (also known as hydrogen cyanide or HCN) mainly is a concern with sorghums and sudangrass, while pearl and foxtail millet typically do not cause issues. Toxic levels most commonly are associated with frost because freezing ruptures the plant cells and releases cyanide gas.
After a killing frost, released HCN will dissipate within a week to 10 days. New growth from frosted or drought-stressed plants is palatable but also will be dangerously high in cyanide. Leave a stubble height of at least 6 inches and do not graze regrowth until it is 18 inches tall.
Nitrate-accumulating crops include small grains, millet, brassicas, corn, sorghum and sudangrass. Rangeland or pasture weeds such as pigweed, Russian thistle, lambsquarter and kochia also are nitrate accumulators. Reduced growth in annuals during the fall may slow conversion of soil nitrogen to protein and amino acids in the plant, causing high levels of nitrate to accumulate.
Dangerous levels of nitrate occur several days after a light frost but typically decrease within 10 to 14 days if conditions improve and the plant starts actively growing again. However, unlike prussic acid, nitrate levels do not decrease after a killing freeze. When plants die off, nitrogen uptake by roots will cease, but nitrate that is in the plant at that time will remain because no further photosynthesis will take place.
Most NDSU Extension offices offer a “Nitrate QuikTest” that can be used to determine presence or absence of nitrate prior to grazing or haying. For baled hay, the best option is to use a hay probe to collect samples and analyze them for nitrate content.
“A variety of options are available for extending the grazing season into the fall and making efficient use of available resources,” Block says. “Awareness of potential issues and attention to grazing management will minimize losses and optimize success. Contact your local NDSU Extension agent for more information about potential toxicity issues and grazing management strategies.”
A killing frost is expected within a few days in North Dakota, which will end corn development.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, 84% of corn in North Dakota had reached full dent on Oct. 6, which likely will result in corn with a test weight of 50 to 53 pounds per bushel and a moisture content of 35% to 45%, according to Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer and grain drying expert.
Only about 22% of the corn had reached maturity on that date, and that corn probably will have a test weight of about 56 pounds per bushel and a moisture content of about 30%.
“It is important to check each field because these values will vary depending on planting date, corn maturity rating and growing degree days during the year,” Hellevang says. “For the 18 states producing the majority of the corn in the U.S., only 58 percent of the corn was mature on Oct. 6.”
The amount of drying in the field depends on parameters such as corn maturity, hybrid, moisture content, air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.
Corn growing degree days have been used to predict the rate of field drying, but they do not consider all the drying parameters. Another predictor of the drying rate is potential evapotranspiration (PET), which is based on parameters similar to those that affect drying. Values for PET are available on the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network website at http://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu. About 1 inch of potential evapotranspiration results in about 4 percentage points of corn field drying.
Standing corn in the field may dry about 2.5 percentage points per week in North Dakota during October, assuming normal weather conditions, and about 1 percentage point per week during November. Corn at 35% moisture content on Oct. 11 might be expected to dry to about 27% by Nov. 1 and about 22% by Dec. 1, Hellevang says. Therefore, corn moisture content at harvest likely will be in the mid-20% range this year.
The current forecast is for the minimum temperature to be in the 20s in the western portion of the Dakotas and Nebraska on Oct. 11 and below freezing for the Dakotas and Nebraska on Oct. 12, but Minnesota and Iowa are forecast to stay just above freezing. The Oct. 14-18 temperature is predicted to be much below normal across the Corn Belt, with a tendency for above-normal precipitation for Oct. 16-22.
“If these forecasts are accurate, the amount of field drying will be reduced,” Hellevang cautions.
Iowa State University has a field dry-down model that may be helpful. Do an internet search for Iowa corn dry-down calculator. It estimates that if corn is at 35% moisture on Oct. 11, it will, on average, dry to about 22% on Oct. 30.
Field drying normally is more economical until mid to late October and mechanical high-temperature drying normally is more economical after that, Hellevang notes.
Field drying is extremely slow during winter months and corn will dry only to about 20% moisture content based on the equilibrium moisture content for the average monthly air temperature and relative humidity conditions in North Dakota. Corn that remains in the field during the winter may dry from 25% to 30% moisture in November and to 17% to 20% when harvested in February and early March.
Corn losses will depend on stalk strength, ear shank attachment to the stalk, winter conditions and wildlife. Accumulated winter snow adds water to the soil as it melts. Plus, standing corn shades the ground, which reduces drying and may lead to wet fields in the spring, so consider harvesting the corn before the ground thaws.
Natural-air and low-temperature drying are limited to initial corn moisture contents of about 21%. Even at that moisture content, air drying is limited in the northern states due to the colder outdoor temperatures in late October and November.
The moisture-holding capacity of air is very small at temperatures below about 40 F. Expect to store the wet corn for the winter by cooling it to 20 to 30 F and finishing the drying in the spring when outside temperatures average above 40 F.
Provide an airflow rate of at least 1 cubic foot per minute per bushel (cfm/bu) to complete the drying before corn deterioration affects the market quality. The required fan size to provide the needed airflow can be determined using a fan selection program. Do an internet search for NDSU grain drying and storage to access a fan program.
The midportion of the corn-producing states will have a more rapid field dry down due to the warmer temperatures, Hellevang says. Natural-air drying also is more feasible there due to the warmer November temperatures.
For example, corn reaching maturity in Nebraska on Oct. 11 is expected to dry in the field to about 21% on Oct. 30. The average November temperature in Nebraska is about 40 F, so air drying likely is feasible in November. However, with an airflow rate of 1 cfm/bu, drying may not be completed in November.
High-temperature corn drying may face challenges with high-moisture corn. The kernel color of immature corn may be affected during drying due to sugars still being in the kernel. Reduce the dryer temperature to reduce the potential for affecting the kernel.
Hellevang also warns that corn at moisture contents above about 23% may have enough surface moisture on the kernels that the kernels freeze together and will not flow.
For more information on high-moisture corn drying and storage, do an internet search for NDSU corn drying.
New equipment has just arrived to help serve the Gold-Eagle membership. This new delivery equipment will service customers from the Kanawha bulk plant
Stalk Quality Concerns Widespread in Areas of Nebraska
Extremely stressful growing conditions occurred during much of 2019 in Nebraska, including wet conditions early that delayed planting, record rainfall during July and August, and continued wet conditions into September. Stressful growing conditions anytime during the season can lead to poor plant health and subsequent impacts on late season stalk quality. Corn plants in many areas are showing poor stalk quality that may indicate a need to scout fields to determine which may need to be harvested first or earlier than planned to avoid losses due to lodged corn.
Stalk rot and lodging (Figure 1) was evident as early as August in some York, Seward, Clay, and Nuckolls county cornfields, particularly in those along waterways that experienced flooding earlier in the season. In Boone, Nance, and Platte counties, weak stalks and stalk rot was confirmed to some extent in 90% of cornfields surveyed recently. This number indicates the presence of weak stalks/stalk rot, but does not indicate the severity within the field. This would need to be categorized by completing the push test.
Flooding and wet conditions in the spring delayed planting for many producers across the state. Late planting generally reduces corn yield, but, it can also impact plant height, leaf number, ear height, stem diameter, and other plant characteristics.
The effects of late planting potentially causing thinner stalks with ears set higher on plants puts them at greater risk for lodging. In addition, corn diseases, such as those in recent samples submitted to the UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic from across Nebraska, will contribute to stalk problems. Many of the diseases developing in Nebraska cornfields are stalk rot diseases, caused by common fungal pathogens decaying the internal pith tissue inside the stalks.
Stalk rot diseases occur every year in cornfields. Stalk rot disease can prematurely kill plants causing direct impacts to yield. Greater incidence and severity of stalk rot diseases can also have a serious impact at harvest as plants may lodge, falling to the ground out of reach of combine heads during harvest.
The risk of stalk rot diseases is increased in some fields, especially when:
Leaf diseases, such as gray leaf spot, southern rust, Physoderma brown spot, and others, are severe. Loss of leaf area can lead to stalk cannibalization as the plant fills grain.
Plants were in standing water.
Stalks were wounded due to hail and/or insect damage, allowing for infection by some pathogens.
Susceptible hybrids were planted.
Soil fertility challenges – too much or (especially) too little nitrogen that may have leached away during wet conditions.
Higher than recommended plant populations.
Fields have a history of stalk diseases, especially in continuous corn with carryover fungal inoculum from the previous season(s).
Diseases of Concern this Year
Physoderma brown spot (Physoderma maydis) does not cause a true stalk rot disease, but spores can accumulate and infect at nodes, weakening them. Infected nodes may become brittle and snap when pushed, revealing darkly discolored stalk rinds (Figure 2), often with healthy interior tissue.
The leaf phase of the disease (Figure 3) was common in many Nebraska fields this year. Infection usually occurs earlier in the season when wet conditions at V3-V8 lead to water accumulation in the whorl of plants where infection usually occurs. Lesions on the leaf blades are yellow to brown and on the midrib and leaf sheath they are black. Lesions often occur in bands across the leaves.
Corn hybrids vary in their resistance to the disease, so hybrid selection may help to reduce severity, although brittle stalks may develop in some hybrids with only low incidence and severity of foliar disease symptoms.
Anthracnose stalk rot (Colletotrichum graminicola) is common in Nebraska. The pathogen creates dark, black splotchy lesions visible on the outside stalk rind. When the fungus becomes systemic, a top dieback may occur in nodes above the ear and was common in 2019 cornfields (Figures 4 and 5). Resistance is available in some hybrids for stalk rot, but is not always effective against the leaf blight phase of the disease. Generally, when 10-15% of plants are affected within 60 days of harvest, early harvest may be beneficial to minimize future losses.
Fusarium stalk rot (Fusarium verticillioides) is common in Nebraska. Discolored, softened stalks may have loose strands of vascular bundles inside. White, salmon, or light pink discoloration is common. Stalks may develop brown streaks visible on the outside or evidence of fungal growth or spores, especially on the nodes. Plants may die prematurely. Splitting stalks may reveal discoloration that is in the lower crown/nodes (crown rot) of the plant, resulting in rapid plant death. Generally, when 10-15% of plants are affected within 60 days of harvest, early harvest may be beneficial to minimize future losses.
Gibberella stalk rot (Gibberella zeae) may cause development of dark streaks on the lower internodes of stalks. Close examination may reveal raised, black specks (fungal fruiting bodies called perithecia) on the surface that cannot be scratched off. The pathogen also can cause scab disease in cereal grain and will be more common in crop rotations that include susceptible crops. Dark pink to red discoloration may develop inside stalks. Generally, when 10-15% of plants are affected within 60 days of harvest, early harvest may be beneficial to minimize future losses.
Management of stalk rot diseases depends on the specific disease, making a proper diagnosis key. Discoloration of leaves and death of the upper plant leading to harvest can also be more common in some hybrids than others and not caused by disease.
If submitting suspected stalk rots to the UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, include stalks and crowns. The foliar top dieback that occurs with some diseases is a response to infection and the pathogen cannot be found in foliar tissue. Information on submitting quality samples can be found on the PPDC website.