Production Blog

Farm Progress Postmortem

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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A new row configuration aimed at high plant population grabs attention during recent Farm Progress Show. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- Those farmers who need heat units to finish out this crop should give thanks for the Farm Progress Show. We always seem to have a scorcher when this event comes to Decatur.

I wish I could say I learned a lot of new stuff from pounding the pavement during the early September heat wave. It's a great place to look at shiny new equipment and whistle a wow over the enormous machines. Yields from the harvesting demonstrations were coming in around 200 bushel per acre and 19% moisture -- I found that to be good news since the crop in this area gave up and dried down quickly in August.

I was hoping to gain some solid predictions regarding new trait technologies, but got a lot of not much. There are a number of products on the cusp of introduction and farmers are anxiously awaiting approvals and the news wasn't all that promising.

Herbicide trait technologies from Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto await a nod from China. Although Syngenta's Duracade rootworm product has already been introduced to certain markets, despite the fact it also awaits import approvals from China. Dow has a new multi-trait above-ground insect product called PowerCore that still needs some final regulatory approvals before commercialization. Cotton growers got a taste of Xtend varieties last year, but still do not have an approved dicamba product to use on the trait. BASF's Engenia dicamba formulation is also pending a final label and won't be released until Xtend traits are available. Dow's Enlist Duo herbicide for cotton needs an approval and when that comes, they could possibly launch since cotton approvals aren't as much dependent upon China acceptance. Bayer CropScience is still working to bring Balance GT beans.

Ack! My notebook looks like a chicken got loose on the pages just trying to keep up with the approvals and delays. I've been writing articles on how to manage some of these new herbicide traits for three years and most of the traits are still questionable for the 2016 season (beyond the experimental and/or stewardship programs companies currently have in place). Now that I've put that in print, perhaps China will have a giant throat clearing and deem them all accepted. What I can tell you today is the marketing managers for these traits met my questions with weary "we don't knows" and "we are developing many contingency scenarios."

Here's a sampling of a few of the other agronomic topics I gleaned this week.

-- We were set up for a Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) outbreak of epidemic proportions this year -- the infection starts early in the season. However, the traditional discolored leaf symptoms we typically see didn't show up as expected due to a relatively dry August, according to Monsanto agronomist Lance Tarochione. Growers who used new seed treatments, such as Bayer's ILeVO, seemed happy and overall root systems seem healthier in side-by-side trials, but it takes yield results to justify expense. Stay tuned.

-- In the DuPont Pioneer booth, Dan Arkels, Peru, Illinois, talked about the secrets behind his 104 bushel per acre Illinois Soybean Association Yield Challenge plot. When I asked what keeps most growers around the 50 bushel mark he answered with one word: Fertility. The practice of fertilizing for two years and letting soybeans become a scavenger is a limiting philosophy, Arkels said. "It's amazing what you can grow if you are determined to keep the plant healthy all year long," he added. His advice: Set a fertility goal.

-- Credenz soybean seed get an expanded market for 2016. Bayer CropScience launched the brand last year, but this coming season, varieties will span all maturity zones.

-- Think in threes. A new fungicide called Trivapro offers broad spectrum disease control, long-lasting residual and will be a resistance management tool, says Eric Tedford, Syngenta's technical lead for fungicides. It has three active ingredients (strobilurin, triazole and SDHI) and can be used in three crops (corn, soy and cereals).

-- The twin 20-row planter sitting on the Stine Seeds lot falls into the machinery category, but there is an agronomic twist. The seed company has been exploring various row widths/configurations and breeding hybrids to be planted in high populations. The twin rows based on 20-inch centers have 12-inch spacings between rows and eight inches separating each pair of twin rows. It allows the use of a 20-inch corn head (unlike the 12-inch row system Stine had been testing). David Thompson, sales and marketing director, said 50,000 plants per acre may be just a starting point. Growers not quite ready to double up are looking at first going to 20-inch rows as a step toward higher plant populations, he added.

-- There's seed cost angst. Lower commodity prices have growers scrutinizing all input costs. I asked a lot of questions on this topic and got mostly off the record comments about tiered pricing for those who don't want to pay for the latest and greatest traits. Let me know what you are hearing and I'll keep asking questions.

Pamela Smith can be reached at



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Pamela Smith
9/17/2015 | 12:33 PM CDT
Most of the yields I've heard in the Farm Progress Show area are running 230 to 190 dry. However, I have heard test weights are light. I think we likely lost some top end yield off beans when we missed August rains. Haven't been many cut here yet. Would like to hear what others are seeing or hearing.
andrew mohlman
9/9/2015 | 8:09 AM CDT
Thanks Raymond for the realistic yield example
Pamela Smith
9/8/2015 | 9:23 AM CDT
I would say it depends on the field. There were some fields in that area planted in a timely fashion that should yield well, but there's no question we've lost some weight on this crop. It ran out of gas and fast.
Raymond Simpkins
9/8/2015 | 8:24 AM CDT
On U.S. Farm Report Sunday they said yields in the Springfield area were running 60 to100 bu. behind and light test wieghts.