DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Leave no waterhemp behind is Chandra Langseth's motto. This week the Barney, North Dakota, farmer was buzzing through fields doing weed cleanup duty on an all-terrain vehicle mounted with a small tank and spray boom.
"It's one of my favorite jobs because it gives me a chance to get out and really see what is happening in each field," said Chandra. Wet weather delayed getting preemergence herbicide applications completed this year on their farm, so weed check-ups are particularly important. She's also watching for other potential problems such as iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC), a physiological disorder in some soybean varieties that begins to display with the first developed trifoliate leaves.
Field operations in northwest Missouri are mostly done for the time being for Zachary Grossman. Instead, his attention has been focused on searching the weather forecast for chances of rain.
"I mowed hay. I've washed my truck. We're leaving the windows down and all the tried-and-true things known to bring a rain," Grossman said, only partially in jest. Everyone knows when conditions get dry, superstition and hope go hand-in-hand. Spotty showers have been blessing some and missing others, Grossman said. He's been on both sides of those hits and misses.
"We know other regions are hurting worse -- even in our own state," he acknowledged. "Right now, we're hanging in there, but I'd feel better if we'd get a rain.
Grossman and the Langseths are participating in DTN's View From the Cab series, a weekly review of what's happening in the field and on the farm. This is the 7th installment of the feature for the season.
Weatherwise for the two regions, DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick sees "everything about to get more active."
"A front moving through Friday to Saturday in North Dakota and Saturday night or Sunday in Missouri is going to bring scattered showers with it," said Baranick. "It'll be the start of a much more active period across the country. The good news is that storm systems will be more frequent. The bad news is that if one misses your area, you will have to wait until the next one to see any rainfall."
This will be hit-or-miss relief across the Corn Belt in terms of rainfall, but temperatures should be more stable and closer to normal, Baranick added. "It might get briefly hot ahead of a cold front before cooling down again behind it," he said.
Read on to learn more about what's happening in the field on these farms, including a word to the wise regarding anhydrous application and how a trip to the local sale barn sometimes brings surprises.
ZACHARY GROSSMAN: TINA, MISSOURI
Missouri's northwest corner of the drought map looks surprisingly normal, compared to some of the central parts of the state. Overall, the latest USDA Crop Progress Report ranked Missouri topsoil moisture supply 31% very short, 44% short and 25% adequate. Subsoil moisture supply rated 27% very short, 42% short and 31% adequate.
Statewide, corn was 96% emerged with a condition rating of 4% very poor, 12% poor, 38% fair, 44% good and 2% excellent. Soybeans planting was running ahead of normal at 91% complete, compared to the five-year average of 57%. Soybeans emerged was 80% complete, compared to the five-year average of 42%. Soybean condition rated 4% very poor, 10% poor, 38% fair, 44% good, and 4% excellent.
"There have been some strong showers that have literally slid around us the past few weeks," Grossman said. "I would shy away from completely crying the blues because our crop put on a good root system early and it can struggle a bit more before it is really hurting.
"We do have some yards starting to turn brown. Corn on hill ground is starting to roll where there's a clay spot. Some of the sandy bottom spots are also rolling in the afternoon trying to protect itself," he said.
Besides the obvious reason of giving the crop a drink, the farm also recently applied the remaining nitrogen needs for the year -- about 25% of the total -- as broadcast coated urea. That fertilizer needs a rain within a two-week window to remain viable.
Custom broadcast applications are a common sidedress approach in this region. "I'd like to look at some alternative sidedress options down the road. However, they all need rain to move the product down to the root system," he noted.
Baranick thinks the area around Tina should get a few chances next week with a stalled front to the south and a couple of impulses riding along it. "Depending on if that front moves north or not will determine temperatures, which could be warmer or cooler than the current forecast. These things tend to change as models don't forecast their subtle movements that well," he said.
This week the University of Missouri reported some very early detections of charcoal rot in the hardest hit drought areas of the state. It's typically thought of as a late-season disease that rears up around pod-fill stage. However, the disease is favored by warm soils and dry conditions.
So far, Grossman hasn't seen evidence of it in his fields. However, another disease that shows up as symptoms later in the season is Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). What he's aware of is infection of the roots by the pathogen occurs around this time of year. Infection and disease development are also favored by early planting.
"We've upgraded our seed treatment to help protect against SDS because we are planting beans earlier and earlier," he said. Variety selection and managing soybean cyst nematode (SCN) are also tied to SDS management.
Grossman said his soybeans look on track to close the row by the first day of summer. Early postemergence spraying for weeds is complete. This year the farm is trialing a foliar applied "sweetener" with micronutrients on corn and soybeans.
"We've got some beautiful fields of crops right now -- both corn and soybeans," he said. "I really want them to stay that way!"
Out in the pasture, Grossman turned the herd bulls in with cows this week. He also sorted a few cows off the breeding herd and hauled them to the sale barn. "They brought $1.13 for weigh-up cows or over $1400 per head. I thought that was pretty good for cull cows," he said.
CHANDRA AND MIKE LANGSETH: BARNEY, NORTH DAKOTA
High humidity and 90-degree temperatures aren't the norm for early June in North Dakota. "But it is making the corn happy as heck," reported Chandra Langseth.
Actually, except for trying to thread the needle on weather for herbicide applications, the Langseths are also feeling lucky about how things are shaping up for the year. "Overall, the crop is really looking good. Stands are good and we're on the back side of getting field operations done," Chandra said.
While parts of the state have experienced wet conditions, overall, the latest USDA Crop Progress Report pegged topsoil moisture at 6% very short, 22% short, 67% adequate, and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5% very short, 23% short, 67% adequate, and 5% surplus.
Corn condition rated 22% fair, 72% good, and 6% excellent. Corn planted was 91%, ahead of 77% last year, and near 87% average. Emerged was 47%, well ahead of 20% last year, and equal to average.
Soybean condition rated 31% fair, 63% good, and 6% excellent. Soybeans planted was 79%, well ahead of 38% last year, and ahead of 72% for the five-year average. Emerged was 32%, well ahead of 4% last year, and equal to average.
A couple of storms rolled through the southeastern part of the state during the past week, missing the fields near the Langseth's home farm, but delivering slightly more than an inch of precipitation to their more sandy acreages to the west.
The area near Barney could see a drier period after the front goes through this coming week, noted Baranick. "There will still be a system that moves through the area on Thursday to Friday on the current model projections, but precipitation coverage and amounts look lower at this time. That can change, too, since forecasting thunderstorm coverage a week out is little more than a crapshoot. It may get warm ahead of that front, but temperatures generally are forecast where they should be for this time of year," Baranick said.
With an herbicide pass finally made over most of the planted acres, Chandra followed behind this week looking for skips. Most of their fields are square, but a 120-foot boom isn't always the nimblest machine.
"I've got one field with eight or nine 90 degree turns in it. Yeah, I probably left some skips there," said Mike. That's where the ATV with 20-gallon tank and boom comes in handy. Chandra waits four to five days after spraying to do a fast sweep of the fields.
"We had quite a bit of common lambsquarters this year, but it is still relatively easy to control," Chandra said. "Waterhemp is much more difficult and grows so fast."
She's also looking for that distinct yellowing that indicates iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) in soybeans, which is caused by the inability of the plant to take up iron. Most soils in North Dakota have sufficient iron but can be naturally calcareous with a pH that exceeds 7.0. Those IDC trouble spots on the Langseth's farm typically have a pH of 8 and carbonate levels from 3% to 5%, Chandra said.
Iron is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll. Yellowing occurs when the plant fails to take up enough iron and it is observed in the youngest leaves first because iron isn't mobile in the plant.
No soybean variety is immune, but they vary greatly in their genetic ability to tolerate IDC. There can be big differences in stunting and yield reductions between varieties. "The seed choices we have are much better in the past," Mike said. "However, finding the tolerance combined with soybean cyst nematode (SCN) tolerance in the herbicide trait platform we want can sometimes be difficult."
IDC often shows up in low, wet areas of a field. "Variety selection is our first management strategy," Chandra said. "The other thing that really helps water management and tile."
Sidedressing corn was also on the agenda this week for Mike. Knifing in anhydrous has been a long-term practice on the farm. "Agronomically, I think anhydrous is better than liquid because it adheres to the soil particles better. If we do happen to get a 3-inch rain before there's room for it in the profile, there's a better chance of anhydrous sticking around.
"It's cheaper," he added. "And there's less volume to deal with."
But he quickly acknowledges the need to take every safety precaution during application. "Go slow and don't get in a hurry -- which is pretty much my recommendation for every farm operation, but especially so when handling anhydrous," he said.
Pamela Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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