ASK THE AGRONOMIST BLOG

Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

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    Agrisure Duracade® Corn Fully Approved and Available for 2020 Planting Season

    January 23, 2020

    Posted by Stine Seed in Products

    Agrisure Duracade® received full import approval in July 2019, which means that U.S. corn growers have the green light to plant the industry’s most advanced trait for corn rootworm control without any stringent grain marketing requirements. The trait, developed by Syngenta, was originally introduced and available for sale in 2014, but it’s been subject to certain stewardship and grain restrictions while awaiting full approval from the European Union.

    We’re pleased that U.S. corn growers now have full access to this important trait in 2020. When combined with Stine’s high-yielding corn genetics, Agrisure Duracade offers growers one of the most powerful tools for dealing with heavy corn rootworm pressure. In fact, Stine Agrisure Duracade brand corn features both above- and below-ground control of more than 16 yield-robbing insects, including corn rootworm and many lepidopteran insects.

    The success of the controls lies in the trait’s unique modes of action, which combine the Agrisure Duracade trait with Agrisure RW® — a trait specifically designed to control corn rootworm as soon as newly hatched larvae begin feeding on corn roots. Agrisure Duracade expresses a unique protein that binds differently in the guts of corn rootworms, providing effective control of Western, Northern and Mexican corn rootworm. Although helpful in mitigating black cutworm, the cutworm most ingest Duracade-treated corn to die, so it’s more of a reactive treatment to suppress black cutworm.

    Stine Agrisure Duracade corn comes in EZ-Refuge, which means it’s conveniently packaged with five percent integrated in-bag refuge. The trait also features tolerance to glyphosate, so growers can use their preferred glyphosate herbicide program. Stine has a complete lineup of Agrisure Duracade brand corn options for growers to choose from in 2020. You can view those options in our 2020 Stine Seed Catalog.

    Growers are advised to use best stewardship practices when planting Agrisure Duracade brand corn. Consult the 2020 Syngenta Corn Stewardship Guide for additional refuge requirements.  

    To learn more about Stine Agrisure Duracade brand corn, reach out to your local Stine sales representative.

  • Usage of Drones in Both Corn and Soybeans
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    Usage of Drones in Both Corn and Soybeans

    January 15, 2020

    Posted by Stine Seed in Technology

    The use of drones in crop scouting is becoming more commonplace. At Stine, we’ve found that drones are very resourceful tools for research. We first started using drones a few years ago in Argentina to perform comparisons — walking fields and taking maturity notes versus the data collected by drones. Our goal was to see if the algorithms from drones were in line with the maturities we found walking the fields. We had very good results, so much so that we started using drones in the United states on about one-third of our plots. Again, we compared our walking notes to the notes from drones for maturities and our results were very successful! In fact, we’re finding that the drone is more precise and gives us more consistent data over time.

    In Soybeans
    When we go into a soybean plot (roughly a 25-acre plot), we look for the plants that are starting to turn into their maturity zone. From there, we start calculating when they mature. Collecting this data would normally take four to five people with tablets four hours in a day to walk, followed by walking the same plot every five days to take additional notes to call the maturities in that plot. A drone can collect the data much more quickly. With a drone, we can now go to that site with one person who launches and flies the plot in 30 minutes. The drone operator still returns every five days to check maturity, but the efficiency is tremendous! We operate the drone on our own, and once the drone pictures are available, we work with a secondary provider to calculate the findings with their algorithms and send us the data with relative maturities. 

    In Corn
    In addition to testing maturities in corn, we’re also able to view plant populations and corn stand with drones. We fly the drones when plants are small to calculate how many plants are in every one of our plots. Similar to soybeans, what used to take four to five people counting every plant so we can see the population to calculate harvest results, drones help us perform the task in a fraction of the time and with fewer people. In a few hours, the drone can calculate how many plants are out there. There’s a lot less labor involved.

    Future of Drones
    As the technology advances, we anticipate drones playing a larger role as we move forward. Testing maturities and plant stand are just the tip of the iceberg. There are companies that are now working on other purposes to help advance agriculture, including aerial herbicide applications with drones and detecting diseases. While we’re not using that specific technology on our farm, it’s not out of the question for the future. We first need to compare the data to what we do manually to ensure the technology is accurate before we pursue additional opportunities. The future is endless with this technology, and we’re excited to get involved to help make our research programs better and more efficient. With over 970,000 soybean and 350,000 corn plots in our research program, drone technology allows us to do more with fewer resources and with better accuracy. And the more we expand our research efforts, the better genetics we develop for the future of farming.  

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    Get Ahead of White Mold in 2020

    January 09, 2020

    Posted by Tony Lenz in Crop Management

    Last year presented a number of growing season challenges. One of particular concern was the increase of white mold in soybeans, which affected large portions of Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and the Great Lakes region. We’ve witnessed and heard about a lot of white mold damage throughout this area over the past few years, and for those with a history of white mold issues in their fields, it will likely be a problem again in 2020. Let’s take a look at the make-up of white mold and management strategies growers can implement to help prevent the disease from robbing yields this year.

    What is white mold?
    White mold, or sclerotinia stem rot, is a fungal pathogen that starts on soybean stems. Tissue infected with sclerotinia forms a white fungus called mycelium, which gradually turns into a dark, hardened structure referred to as sclerotia. Sclerotia is known to overwinter and can come back year after year. From sclerotia, apothecium can form, producing small mushroom-like structures on infected plants. This often occurs at the same time that flowers are present on the plant, from the R1 to R3 growth stage, especially when moderate temps and high humidity persist.

    What conditions favor the development of white mold?
    White mold thrives in moderate temperatures that range below 68 degrees within a 30-day window. This encourages the apothecium to grow during bloom to early pod set. Other favorable conditions include higher humidity (greater than 60 percent), wet weather and fields with a past history of white mold. Irrigation has also been known to encourage white mold, as it cools the crop canopy. If warmer temps are in the 30-day forecast (e.g., multiple days measuring 86 degrees Fahrenheit or above), irrigated acres may be susceptible to apothecium.

    Other factors that promote white mold include no-till or minimum tillage fields, narrow-row spacing, higher planting populations, high manure level in soil, high nitrogen level in soil and areas of lodging. Not rotating crops and choosing a susceptible variety for your field can also play a factor in encouraging white mold growth. Also, watch for fields with increased weed pressure. Pigweed and ragweed species are hosts to white mold.

    What are some key management strategies to combat white mold?
    Growers need to consider a systematic approach and keep an open mind to combat white mold. A field-by-field approach may be necessary. 

    First, growers should look for soybean varieties that have good tolerance to white mold and a plant structure suitable for the environment they are planting into (e.g., no-till, narrow rows). In some instances, growers may need to switch to 30-inch rows and push back their final population to around 100,000. While studies in the North have shown around a 3 bu/acre yield advantage with 15-inch rows, narrow rows are more susceptible to white mold because there is less air movement between rows. Growers with heavy white mold pressure need to consider if the advantages of narrow rows outweigh the higher likelihood of white mold.

    A bio fungicide is a parasitic fungal organism that lives and feeds off sclerotia. Bio fungicides should be incorporated into the soil approximately two inches deep for three months prior to soybean blooming. The biggest concern with using bio fungicides is if they’re economical. These products can be costly (around $35/acre) and are sometimes a multi-year commitment.

    Stine XP soybean seed treatments can offer growers extra protection from white mold early in the growing season, when seed is at its most vulnerable. Our Stine XP Complete option combines fungicide with Heads Up® plant protectant. Seed treatments can help kill fungal pathogens like sclerotia that weaken a soybean plant at the very beginning of its lifecycle.

    Growers interested in fungicide options for white mold should consult their local Stine agronomist or university extension office. There are a some really great new foliar fungicides available that feature multiple modes of action to help control diseases like white mold; however, it’s important to know the appropriate timing of application during the reproductive stage of the soybean plant before proceeding. Remember that fungicides need to be applied down into the canopy to be properly effective and to follow specific boom height recommendations before spraying. While fungicides are a great option for white mold in corn, not all products are labeled for use in soybeans.

    When there’s a history of heavy white mold pressure, growers can also consider certain burner herbicides to burn back the canopy of the soybeans. We’ve seen some good response with this method for white mold control. While a bit riskier, if you have favorable growing conditions, this method can reduce the risk of yield loss caused by white mold.

    I also recommend that growers who are concerned about white mold in their soybean fields consult the University of Wisconsin’s Sporecaster. This app was developed to assist growers in making management decisions for white mold. Their research indicates that the appearance of apothecia can be predicted using several variables, such as weather and the amount of row closure in a field. Sporecaster uses GPS coordinates to see if weather has been favorable for apothecia in a specific field, factoring in max temps, relative humidity, max wind speed and risk predictions, to name a few. Learn more here.

    The most important thing you can do to prevent white mold from hitting your fields this growing season is to plan ahead. Evaluate your fields and make the necessary preparations to proactively respond to the potential threat of white mold. For more information on white mold management, contact your local Stine agronomist.