Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: United States

Sitemap


Articles from 2001 In November


Time crucial for new farm bill

Months of hearings, debates and political promises have come down to this: a cloture vote in the Senate that will determine whether the Harkin bill is brought to the Senate floor for debate without a filibuster.

"Within the next 24 hours or so, we should get a clear signal of what will happen with the farm bill," said Mark Lange, vice president for policy analysis with the National Cotton Council, Wednesday night.

On Thursday or Friday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is expected to request a vote for cloture on the farm bill reported out two weeks ago by the Senate Agriculture Committee. If the motion passes by the required 60 votes, the bill will be brought to the floor. If not, the situation is unclear.

"A vote for cloture would prevent a filibuster," said Lange. The bill could be amended, but no senator could mount a filibuster against it. The problem is the Democrats don’t have 60 votes, so they will need some Republicans to cross over and vote with them."

Lange said the National Cotton Council has sent an action request to its members, asking them to contact their senators and voice their concerns about the vote for cloture to avert a threatened filibuster by Republican senators.

"If Sen. Daschle can obtain the 60 votes, he has said he will bring the bill to the floor," he said. "If not, we don’t know what will happen. Sen. Daschle seems to feel that if he can win a cloture vote, the Senate will have a floor debate next week and pass a bill before it adjourns."

Failure to pass a Senate farm bill before adjournment, possibly on Dec. 10, would mean that Senate leaders would have to start the process again in January under what is likely to be a much different budget outlook than the current scenario.

Last spring, the House and Senate passed a budget resolution allocating an additional $73.5 billion over the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline projection for agriculture over the next 10 years.

If the farm bill is delayed until next spring, Lange says, the CBO forecast on which the $73.5 billion was based, would likely be much less rosy than in the winter of 2001.

"Quite frankly, we probably would be lucky to get half that amount," said Lange, speaking at Crompton Corp./Uniroyal’s annual Cotton College in San Antonio. "If we have to wait until March, there will be considerably less money for agriculture.

"And that will mean the U.S. cotton industry will have to get smaller."

Clearfield rice varieties headed for Texas fields

Three Clearfield rice varieties resistant to Newpath (imazethapyr) will be available through Horizon Ag and its Orygen seed marketing group. The Orygen system includes 22 Southern seed companies.

The varieties, which are non-transgenic, have been in university variety trials for the past two years. Two were released for seed increase production last year. They are:

1. CL121, a very early, semi-dwarf variety. According to Horizon Ag, it displays characteristics similar to Cocodrie, but is shorter and four to six days earlier. Milling results are good. The variety seems to be susceptible to sheath blight, blast kernel smut and straight head. Performance indicates good adaptability across the entire Southern rice-growing area.

2. CL141 is a very early, traditional height variety with good yield potential. It most resembles Drew, but should reach maturity and 50 percent heading eight to 12 days earlier. Lodging potential and seedling vigor are similar to Drew. Mill results are very good. CL141 seems to be susceptible to sheath blight, kernel smut, straight head and blast. Preliminary results indicate excellent second-crop potential due to its earliness and yield.

3. CL 161 was released in mid-November 2001. The variety appeared in university trials as CFX 18. It is an early, semi-dwarf, long grain variety, close to Cypress in appearance, but reaches 50 percent heading 1-2 days earlier.

According to Horizon, there will be good supplies of CL 121 and CL 141 and very limited supplies of CL 161. The varieties are adapted to all the Southern U.S. rice-growing states, including Texas.

In the spring of 2000, EPA approved a two-year, Section 24c label for BASF’s Newpath, which is from the imidazolinone class of herbicides. A full Section 3 registration for the herbicide is expected soon. At press time, the Clearfield rice technology was at a final legal hurdle, Canadian clearance for the import of the rice as a commodity.

Newpath controls a wide array of weeds, including barnyardgrass, yellow nutsedge, broadleaf signalgrass, smartweed, goosegrass and red rice.

Because red rice and commercial rice are closely related, the potential for out-crossing (creating herbicide-resistant red rice) is significant. So, Horizon Ag and BASF are implementing a strict stewardship program for Clearfield rice seed, including a prohibiting saving seed to replant.

According to Dwight Cowan, chief executive officer of Horizon Ag, there’s more to the seed piracy policy than insuring the company’s annual seed sales.

“The main component of the stewardship program is to prevent out-crossing,” he said. “The way to do that is to make sure that all our seed production is absolutely clean and that there is never a potential for out-crossing on the seed production side. That’s a big focus for Horizon.

“We ask that growers not harvest and save seed and replant it. If you have any red rice in the field that has had the potential to outcross, in a very short time, you will have lost the core value of the technology. You will no longer be able to control red rice on your farm. So we ask the grower to buy only certified seed every year.”

Growers must undergo certification before they can purchase Clearfield rice. Horizon and BASF scheduled a series of retailer training meetings in November and started the grower certification process in late November, according to Cowan. “Growers will get all the information on how best to manage the varieties and the weed control technology.”

Bob Scott, BASF technical service representative for Arkansas, said a key point of the training sessions “is to make sure everybody understands that this is a system. You purchase the seed and the chemical and unless you use them together, you’re not using the system.”

The system includes two 4-ounce applications of Newpath, one applied in the soil either preplant incorporated or pre-emergence, followed by another application at early post.

“You have to put the soil-applied application down (Newpath) and if you don’t get a rain, you have to flush it for activity,” Scott said. “Then you have to make that second-shot post. If you don’t, you could have failures in red rice control.”

The discovery that led to the development of the Clearfield technology for rice occurred in the 1990s when Rice Research Station scientist Tim Croughan (Crowley, La.) isolated a single imidazolinone-resistant rice plant, using conventional breeding techniques. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder with the LSU AgCenter, put the trait into more commercially acceptable varieties. The herbicide-resistant rice varieties are not the result of genetic engineering.

American Cyanamid and Louisiana State University worked out a licensing and royalty arrangement for developing the herbicide-resistant technology. The agreement is now between LSU and BASF, which purchased Cyanamid in 2000.

Formed in 1997, Horizon Ag, LLC, is a joint venture of five established seed marketing companies with locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.

A portion of the royalty from the sale of Clearfield varieties will go to the Rice Research Station for its part in supplying the germplasm and for the patent it has on the technology.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com.

Clearfield rice varieties headed for Mid-South fields

Three Clearfield rice varieties resistant to Newpath (imazethapyr) will be available through Horizon Ag and its Orygen seed marketing group. The Orygen system includes 22 Southern seed companies.

The varieties, which are non-transgenic, have been in university variety trials for the past two years. Two were released for seed increase production last year. They are:

1. CL121, a very early, semi-dwarf variety. According to Horizon Ag, it displays characteristics similar to Cocodrie, but is shorter and four to six days earlier. Milling results are good. The variety seems to be susceptible to sheath blight, blast kernel smut and straight head. Performance indicates good adaptability across the entire Southern rice-growing area.

2. CL141 is a very early, traditional height variety with good yield potential. It most resembles Drew, but should reach maturity and 50 percent heading eight to 12 days earlier. Lodging potential and seedling vigor are similar to Drew. Mill results are very good. CL141 seems to be susceptible to sheath blight, kernel smut, straight head and blast. Preliminary results indicate excellent second-crop potential due to its earliness and yield.

3. CL 161 was released in mid-November 2001. The variety appeared in university trials as CFX 18. It is an early, semi-dwarf, long grain variety, close to Cypress in appearance, but reaches 50 percent heading 1-2 days earlier.

According to Horizon, there will be good supplies of CL 121 and CL 141 and very limited supplies of CL 161. The varieties are adapted to all the Southern U.S. rice-growing states, including Texas.

In the spring of 2000, EPA approved a two-year, Section 24c label for BASF’s Newpath, which is from the imidazolinone class of herbicides. A full Section 3 registration for the herbicide is expected soon. At press time, the Clearfield rice technology was at a final legal hurdle, Canadian clearance for the import of the rice as a commodity.

Newpath controls a wide array of weeds, including barnyardgrass, yellow nutsedge, broadleaf signalgrass, smartweed, goosegrass and red rice.

Because red rice and commercial rice are closely related, the potential for out-crossing (creating herbicide-resistant red rice) is significant. So, Horizon Ag and BASF are implementing a strict stewardship program for Clearfield rice seed, including a prohibiting saving seed to replant.

According to Dwight Cowan, chief executive officer of Horizon Ag, there’s more to the seed piracy policy than insuring the company’s annual seed sales.

“The main component of the stewardship program is to prevent out-crossing,” he said. “The way to do that is to make sure that all our seed production is absolutely clean and that there is never a potential for out-crossing on the seed production side. That’s a big focus for Horizon.

“We ask that growers not harvest and save seed and replant it. If you have any red rice in the field that has had the potential to outcross, in a very short time, you will have lost the core value of the technology. You will no longer be able to control red rice on your farm. So we ask the grower to buy only certified seed every year.”

Growers must undergo certification before they can purchase Clearfield rice. Horizon and BASF scheduled a series of retailer training meetings in November and started the grower certification process in late November, according to Cowan. “Growers will get all the information on how best to manage the varieties and the weed control technology.”

Bob Scott, BASF technical service representative for Arkansas, said a key point of the training sessions “is to make sure everybody understands that this is a system. You purchase the seed and the chemical and unless you use them together, you’re not using the system.”

The system includes two 4-ounce applications of Newpath, one applied in the soil either preplant incorporated or pre-emergence, followed by another application at early post.

“You have to put the soil-applied application down (Newpath) and if you don’t get a rain, you have to flush it for activity,” Scott said. “Then you have to make that second-shot post. If you don’t, you could have failures in red rice control.”

The discovery that led to the development of the Clearfield technology for rice occurred in the 1990s when Rice Research Station scientist Tim Croughan (Crowley, La.) isolated a single imidazolinone-resistant rice plant, using conventional breeding techniques. Steve Linscombe, rice breeder with the LSU AgCenter, put the trait into more commercially acceptable varieties. The herbicide-resistant rice varieties are not the result of genetic engineering.

American Cyanamid and Louisiana State University worked out a licensing and royalty arrangement for developing the herbicide-resistant technology. The agreement is now between LSU and BASF, which purchased Cyanamid in 2000.

Formed in 1997, Horizon Ag, LLC, is a joint venture of five established seed marketing companies with locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.

A portion of the royalty from the sale of Clearfield varieties will go to the Rice Research Station for its part in supplying the germplasm and for the patent it has on the technology.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com.

Buffering pesticides

MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. — Environmentalists and citizens concerned about agricultural chemicals moving into the environment from farms may take heart from a project investigating the fate of pesticides.

David Shaw, a scientist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, has found that herbicides and other pesticides used by the agricultural industry are present in ground water at amounts below health advisory levels, even at times of peak pesticide usage. In the few instances that they are present above allowable levels, naturally occurring microbial, chemical and photochemical processes appear to aid in their degradation.

Still, Shaw wanted to find ways to further reduce the impact of lingering pesticides on the environment.

"We certainly want to do everything possible to minimize the load of pesticides in the environment because of the problems they can cause," Shaw said. "One question I asked was, ‘are there easy things, which are both farmer-friendly and environmentally-friendly, that can be done to reduce pesticide amounts?’"

Shaw looked at grass filter strips — a type of conservation buffer — as a possible remedy for pesticide runoff. Conservation buffers are small, vegetated areas or strips of land that slow water runoff. They can be planted at intervals within fields or at the edges of fields. Some examples of buffers include contour grass strips, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetlands and grassed waterways. Shaw said effective placement of buffers in and around fields can reduce soil erosion, as well as nutrient and pesticide runoff.

As part of his studies, Shaw and then-graduate student Al Rankins evaluated five species of grass — big bluestem, eastern gamagrass, giant reed, switchgrass and tall fescue — for their ability to filter out different herbicide treatments.

"We found that all the grass species we tested were able to reduce herbicide load in runoff by 50 to 80 percent," Shaw said.

Because these grasses have a broad range of physical characteristics and soil adaptability, several options are available to producers, he added.

"Conservation programs can be tailored to best meet the individual farm or farmer’s needs," Shaw explained.

Shaw and graduate student Brooks Blanche also tested the filtering effectiveness of grass buffers used as part of a comprehensive conservation system. Conservation tillage practices, such as no-till, have been adopted by many producers as a way to reduce soil erosion. But, Shaw said, results from earlier studies evaluating the impact of no-till systems on water quality have been mixed.

"There is an automatic assumption that if you go no-till, it must be beneficial for the environment," Shaw noted. "While this is certainly true in the case of the movement of soil sediment into water, it’s not as clear from a pesticide standpoint."

In his study, Shaw found that herbicide loss was two to five times higher in no-till and no-till/double-crop systems compared with conventional tillage. With a tall fescue buffer, herbicide runoff was reduced up to three times for no-till and no-till/double-crop systems. Shaw also saw reductions in herbicide loss when a tall fescue buffer was incorporated into conventional tillage systems.

"Just having a grass filter strip, even a small strip, has a significant effect on reducing herbicide runoff," Shaw said.

In other work, Shaw and then-graduate student Mark Shankle determined how buffer strips control herbicide runoff. To do this, they evaluated the soil properties of field areas planted with new and established buffer strips, and they compared them to areas that had not been planted with a buffer strip.

"Our results show that the organic matter content of soil increases by more than twofold when a buffer strip is planted," Shaw said. "This increases the soil’s adsorptive rate, stimulates microbial populations resident in the soil and greatly increases the breakdown of herbicides in runoff.

"One of the most striking things we observed is that in an established buffer strip, herbicide half-life was only 12 days, compared with more than 100 days when no buffer strip was present."

However, while buffer strips are relatively easy to establish and maintain, Shaw said producers should be mindful of them and use good management practices to insure their proper function.

"We’ve found that the grasses are sensitive to accidental oversprays or drift from many of the postemergence herbicides used in cotton and soybeans," Shaw said.

"Buffer strips are no panacea, but they are an effective tool for farmers in their efforts to maximize profitability, while at the same time preserving and enhancing our environment," he said.

For more information, contact Dr. David Shaw, 662–325–9575.

Charmain Tan Courcelle writes for MSU Ag Communications.

How do foreign cotton producers get by at current prices?

One effect of China’s move toward a more market-oriented farm policy is that some Chinese cotton producers have had to accept IOUs in lieu of cash when selling cotton.

Will this uncertainty, plus lower prices and a potential for higher imports under China’s expected entry into the World Trade Organization result in declining Chinese cotton acreage in the coming years?

"That’s the question of the day," said Hunter Colby of Globecot, a Nashville, Tenn., cotton news and analysis service covering worldwide cotton production and textiles.

Colby will discuss China’s potential acreage shifts and other subjects during a panel discussion, "Perspectives on the Practices of Competitors," at the Hyatt Regency Centennial Ballroom, Thursday morning, Jan. 10, during the 2002 Beltwide Cotton Conference, Atlanta, Ga.

Colby noted that one reason for the issuance of IOUs is that the Chinese banking system has implemented much stricter criteria for providing the working capital for cotton purchasers.

"It’s been difficult for purchasers and for farmers. Domestic prices have fallen a lot, but there is still a margin there where imports are expected (under WTO membership). That will put more price pressure on the Chinese farmers."

Colby said that prices expected to be paid by procurement agencies will barely cover the farmers’ costs of production, a situation familiar to U.S. cotton producers.

Will Chinese producers stay with cotton? And how much Bt cotton will they plant? Colby will offer his insight at the 8:40 a.m. session. Other cotton production competitors to be highlighted include India, Brazil, West Africa and Australia.

Nematode panel

It’s amazing how something so small can cause so much damage in a cotton field. But make no mistake, nematodes are in every U.S. cotton-producing region, sucking the life out of cotton plants and money from farmers’ pockets.

Bonito, La., cotton producer John Shackelford saw the pest invade a neighbor’s field six years ago, prompting him to start preventive measures. Even with such a head start, he couldn’t prevent significant yield loss in some fields.

"It took one of our better fields, making 900 to 1,000 pounds, down to 550 pounds."

Shackelford will offer a grower’s perspective on nematodes during a panel discussion on "Cotton Nematode Management" during the conferences, at 10:30 a.m., also at the Hyatt Regency Centennial Ballroom.

"Apparently, our soil type around here (silt loam) is real susceptible to reniform nematodes," Shackelford said. "They have been devastating, not on a cropwide basis, but on certain fields."

The best control alternative for Shackelford is rotation, but on heavily infested fields, it often takes two years of corn to successfully reduce populations. Shackelford also rotates cotton with peanuts to reduce reniform nematode populations.

Managing nematodes "is not a very exact science," Shackelford added. "We had one field in corn for two years, then put it back in cotton and we went right back up to 20,000 (nematodes per pint of soil). The most promising thing is that some cotton varieties are more tolerant than others. But what we need are resistant varieties."

Before you rotate, know your nematode, say nematologists. That’s because corn, a good rotation partner for reniform nematode, is a host crop for Southern root knot nematode.

The latter pest is a big problem on the deep sandy soils of southwest Georgia, said Eddie McGriff, Decatur County Extension agent. McGriff will provide a county agent’s perspective on nematodes during the panel discussion.

While the Southern root knot and reniform nematodes are different critters, the root knot nematode is no less destructive. McGriff noted that the pest can significantly impact yields in the region. "I’ve seen irrigated cotton on a 200-acre field that normally yields 1,000 pounds, yield 240 pounds because of nematodes. They can devastate you."

Growers in the region can rotate to peanuts to bring down populations, but McGriff pointed out that too many years of peanuts can cause problems with the development of peanut root knot nematode and other peanut diseases.

Another advantage of adding peanuts into the rotation is that most of the peanut fields are treated with the fumigant Telone. Growers may add Temik at planting in cotton fields or Temik at planting followed by a sidedress application of Temik.

Other panel members will discuss ideas for using resistant cultivars, crop rotations and integrating management of nematodes, weeds and insects. The use of precision agriculture applications will also be explored.

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 9, a panel discussion will focus on what is being done to improve cotton yield and quality on the farm and through cotton breeding techniques.

"I personally think we have tremendous yield potential in cotton and we have to learn to capitalize on that," said breeder Dan Krieg, Texas Tech University, who will talk about the genetic potential and varietal differences within various environments; the quality factors that are genetically controlled; and the extent to which environment can alter genetic potential.

New technology is promising, but can you afford it? Another Wednesday morning panel discussion will attempt to shed light on new cotton technologies, but with an eye on costs. The session, "Cultural Practices Impact Costs," will convene at 10:30 a.m.

The theme of the conference, which will be held Jan. 8-12, is "Technology — the Common Thread." Host hotels are the Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis (headquarters) and Hilton Atlanta.

Cloture vote crucial for farm bill success

Months of hearings, debates and political promises have come down to this: a cloture vote in the Senate that will determine whether the Harkin bill is brought to the Senate floor for debate.

“Within the next 24 hours or so, we should get a clear signal of what will happen with the farm bill this year,” said Mark Lange, vice president for policy analysis with the National Cotton Council, Wednesday night.

On Thursday or Friday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is expected to request a vote for cloture on the farm bill reported out two weeks ago by the Senate Agriculture Committee. If the motion passes by the required 60 votes, the bill will be brought to the floor. If not, the situation is unclear.

“A vote for cloture would prevent a filibuster,” said Lange. “The bill could be amended, but no senator could mount a filibuster against it. The problem is the Democrats don’t have 60 votes, so they will need some Republicans to cross over and vote with them.”

Lange said the National Cotton Council has sent an action request to its members, asking them to contact their senators and voice their concerns about the vote for cloture.

“If Sen. Daschle can obtain the 60 votes, he has said he will bring the bill to the floor,” he said. “If not, we don’t know what will happen. Sen. Daschle seems to feel that if he can win a cloture vote, the Senate will have a floor debate next week and pass a bill before it adjourns.”

Failure to pass a Senate farm bill before adjournment, possibly on Dec. 10, would mean that Senate leaders would have to start the process again in January under what is likely to be a much different budget outlook than the current scenario.

Last spring, the House and Senate passed a budget resolution allocating an additional $73.5 billion over the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline for agriculture over the next 10 years.

If the farm bill is delayed until next spring, Lange says, the CBO forecast on which the $73.5 billion was based, would likely be much less rosy than in the winter of 2001.

“Quite frankly, we probably would be lucky to get half that amount,” said Lange, speaking at Crompton Corp./Uniroyal’s annual Cotton College in San Antonio. “If we have to wait until March, there will be considerably less money for agriculture.

“And that will mean the U.S. cotton industry will have to get smaller.”

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com.

Ginners see problems from cotton modules

The fallout from early harvest rains on Mid-South cotton continues. Cotton prices are still the real bugaboo, said several ginners. But from a ginning perspective there are several other things worth noting.

"We’ve noticed problems with module covers and building modules. We had an extremely dry fall in the Bootheel until a spate of early October rains dumped 6 to 8 inches of water in just a couple of days. After that, we started having trouble ginning wet cotton," said one Missouri ginner.

Unlike other ginners, "We didn’t see any indication of water being wicked up from the ground. The troubles around here have mostly been with tarps. But it’s module building, too. If a module is packed right, even a tarp with pin-holes in it doesn’t usually cause too much trouble."


Wind or rain?

The tarps causing the most trouble are those with angled ends designed to combat high winds. These tarps have no mesh and work very well in stopping wind damage to modules — the harder wind blows, the tighter the tarp grips. But the covers channel water to module corners, said the ginner.

"Modules with these covers cinched down tight were victims of an angled surface and the laws of physics. Water is going to run down an angled surface to the lowest point. Unlike a tarp that’s flat and has water going off the side, these cause water to pocket up at the corners."

The ginner said this fall he’s had many modules with the problem. Before sending the cotton through the gin, workers lopped off 25 to 40 pounds of ruined cotton at the corners.

"Sometimes we’d uncinch the cover and water would pour out of the cotton. We left the balance that wasn’t too bad. The only problems we found with modules covered with this kind of tarp were at each corner."

While he’s aware there is a problem with these tarps and rain, the untimely downpours experienced this year have been tough on all types of covers, said Herb Willcutt, Mississippi State University Extension agriculture engineer.

"In these circumstances, any tarp will sometimes have trouble," said Willcutt.

When an affected module hit a gin feeder, it was apparent that something bad was happening.

"We’ll be running middling cotton and then, all of a sudden, we’ll get a bale or two of poor-quality cotton. Then we’ll be back to decent cotton. This occurs about every 12 bales. The bad cotton is at the ends of modules. If you’re running at capacity, a soaked area in a module throws the gin into a bad spot. No amount of heat from a gin will dry soaked cotton economically," said the ginner.

Each cover has advantages and disadvantages. Ginners say the offending module covers aren’t poorly designed and work very well in stopping wind damage.

"I wouldn’t rule out these covers because of this. But they do need to correct that water flaw."

Other covers use no mesh and cover two-thirds of a module. That probably is ideal for stopping rain, but ginners complain they don’t allow modules to "breathe" enough. If moisture gets under that kind of tarp, a bit of wind is needed to help remove moisture.


Tarp etiquette

As in other regions, southern Missouri gins typically furnish module covers.

"A farmer will come in and say, ‘I need 50 tarps.’ Those are checked out to him, and he’s responsible for them. If he only makes 45 modules, he’s in the debit column for five tarps."

Gins have to check the tarps out that way because farmers often gin at two or three locations. A gin might end up with other gins’ tarps.

"So we have to police it to make sure we get back the tarps. The tarps last about three or four years, but they cost $50 to $75 each. That’s a chunk of change for us."


Module packing

Modules have helped keep the cotton business going, said a ginner from Arkansas. But this year too many farmers are soft-packing them.

"Some of the modules that come in here have the consistency of a Twinkie. When a module looks like a block of concrete, you can tarp it down and it’ll hold. But the soft-packed ones — done for lack of time, laziness, whatever — cause trouble," said the ginner.

Controlling seed cotton moisture is one of the keys to fighting grade loss in a module, said Willcutt. He said farmer should do two things:


o First, pick clean, dry seed cotton. Seed cotton that is below 12 percent moisture will store without appreciable color degradation. Seed that are firm and give a distinct "crack" sound when bitten between the teeth are below 12 percent in moisture. Seed cotton that will fluff back to pre-compressed levels after being squeezed in a tight fist will be below 12 percent moisture.

o Second, pack a module that is well-rounded, front to back and side to side, said Willcutt. That leaves little chance for depressions in the module.


"Once you start collecting water atop a tarp, it doesn’t matter the manufacturer, the tarp is liable to leak. If it starts leaking just a bit, right under the depression, there will be further depression and ponding from soggy and rotted cotton," said Willcutt.

This sometimes causes an area up to 3 feet in diameter to soak up water and to rot from top to bottom.

This year’s loosely packed modules are probably a result of several things, said Willcutt. Decent yields, farmers in a hurry and excessive harvesting capacity for module builders all contributed, he said.

"One six-row picker is about all a farmer needs per module builder. Once the cotton is in a builder, it needs to be packed continuously. About one module per hour is probably about all that should be attempted. Sometimes when there’s a picker sitting and waiting to dump, very little packing is done.

"Modules should be layered and tightly packed.

"Dumping on both sides of the builder also results in a better compacted module. Usually, you’ll need five or six dumps from a smaller picker into a module builder. That’ll be about 14 bales to be leveled out from one end to the other," said Willcutt.

Polypropylene tarps work well for a first couple of years. After that they should be checked closely because they tend to photo-degrade.

"The best tarp probably is one made of a vinyl material. Several grades of material are used.

"The old cotton tarps are still great, but no one can afford them or wants to fool with the weight. Tying them down is a pain."

One way to spread the pressure of the tarp is with a string placed under the module or with steel pins placed into a module.

"Inserting the pins isn’t easy, but by tying the tarps onto pins or strings at two places along the side of the module, it doesn’t put as much strain on the ends," said Willcutt.

And above all, frequent checks of stored modules are essential, especially after rain and wind. If modules have ponded water, drain the water off and schedule ginning as soon as possible, said Willcutt. Replace or repair tarps damaged by wind if ginning isn’t possible and the module is dry.


Missouri looks good

All the news out of the Bootheel isn’t bad. Yields have been surprisingly good. "Our dryland crop really suffered. We weren’t expecting an above-average crop. We’ve ended up with one, though. We were expecting 400 to 500 pounds from dryland cotton, and we ended up with 600 pounds. From irrigated cotton fields that got timely rains, we’re getting yields of more than two bales. Everyone is surprised," said the Missouri ginner.


e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com.

Broccoli yield gain missing with slow-release fertilizers

Hartz, who worked on Salinas Valley trials with slow-release fertilizers on broccoli last winter, said he saw no significant yield advantage over standard practices.

However, he said, "There are differences in release rate and temperature-sensitivity among these products."

The trials, which will continue in 2002, showed that some products release their nitrogen content in the first four weeks, and others release as little as 20 percent during the same length of time.

Broccoli was selected for the trials because it is extensively grown in the Salinas Valley during winter, when growers struggle with wet fields to make timely application of side-dressed fertilizers.

Definition of slow-release and controlled-release varies, even in the fertilizer industry, he said. Slow-release is generally applied to materials having nitrogen forms that are not readily available and must be mediated by microbial action. Composted manure qualifies, as do some chain urea compounds.

Controlled release products, on the other hand, have a coating encasing a soluble, synthetic fertilizer like urea. The coating controls the rate the fertilizer dissolves.

‘Pretty good match’

Slow-release products commonly available for use on coastal vegetable crops are "a pretty good match for what we need," and soil type appears to have no influence, Hartz said.

Hartz collaborated with Richard Smith, Monterey County farm advisor, in the project supported by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP). Hartz summarized their work, which was also funded by the California Lettuce Research Board, during a recent FREP Conference in Tulare.

Smith did his field trials (including earlier work with lettuce) with the products Polyon and Duration at preplant rates from zero to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre. He charted nitrate-nitrogen movement from the root zone from December to February. Meanwhile, Hartz carried out laboratory leaching studies with the two products used in the field trials and seven others.

They found that slow-release fertilizer applied at the beginning of the season maintained higher levels of nitrate-nitrogen during the season than either a combination of slow-release and standard fertilizer or the standard treatment.

But, just as with lettuce trials earlier, there was little to conclude about increasing yields. "In the broccoli trials, there was virtually no difference, yield-wise, between the treatments. There was a marginal trend for an increase in average weight of heads with some of the slow-release treatments," said Hartz.

Throughout the history of slow-release fertilizers, he explained, consistent results haven’t been observed in every field, every year.

One reason is leaching loss due to rainfall, which has been relatively light in recent years. Another is the difficulty in detecting an overall nitrogen response in highly enriched cropping systems.

Soy/corn markets watching exports

URBANA, Ill. – The soybean and corn markets will be monitoring the rate of exports and export sales closely, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"For soybeans, the development of the South American crop and purchases — or cancellations — by China will be of most interest for evidence that exports could exceed the USDA projection," said Darrel Good. "For corn, the market will show some patience with the slow pace of export sales. However, the pace will need to accelerate after the first of the year to maintain expectations that shipments can exceed two billion bushels."

Good’s comments came as he reviewed USDA’s Nov. 23 Export Sales report. USDA reported that 52 million bushels of soybeans had been sold for export during the week ended Nov. 15. That brings total export commitments (shipments plus outstanding sales) for the year to 575 million bushels, compared to a total of only 450.5 million on the same date last year.

The largest increases in sales compared to last year’s sales are to Japan (up 28 percent) and the European Union (up 26 percent). Sales to China are about equal to those of last year, while sales to Mexico are down 10 percent.

"Those four customers account for nearly 60 percent of total U.S. export sales to date," said Good. "Outstanding sales to unknown destinations, however, totaled 105 million bushels on Nov. 15, compared to 37 million on the same date last year. Those sales may be to China. If so, the four customers account for 76 percent of total U.S. export sales to date."

For the year, the USDA projects exports at 980 million bushels, 18 million less than exported last year.

"With nearly 59 percent of that total already sold, some wonder if exports will exceed the USDA projection," said Good. "History, however, suggests that the pace of export sales early in the year is not a good predictor of exports for the year. Sales as of mid-November exceeded 50 percent of the USDA projection in six of the past 10 years.

"Exports for the year exceeded the USDA’s November projection in four of those six years. Excluding 1999-2000, exports exceeded the November USDA projection by 12 million to 40 million bushels (1.3 to 5.5 percent). The average increase was 30 million bushels, (3.8 percent). In 1999-2000, exports exceeded the USDA’s November projection by 109 million bushels (12.6 percent). In the four years with a low start to the U.S. export sales program, export sales exceeded the USDA’s November projection three times."

Good added that the fact that U.S. soybean exports have exceeded the USDA’s November projection in seven of the past 10 years gives some support to the argument that exports this year might exceed 980 million bushels. The market is cautious, however, due to the potential for another large crop in South America in 2002 and because of the current economic slowdown.

For corn, export sales during the week ended Nov. 15 totaled 27 million bushels, bringing total commitments for the year to 663 million bushels. Commitments on the same date last year totaled nearly 667 million. The slightly smaller total this year is the result of declining sales to South Korea and Egypt. Japan accounts for one-third of all U.S. export sales of corn.

For the year, the USDA projects U.S. corn exports at 2.05 billion bushels, 113 million bushels (5.8 percent) more than exported last year.

"Only 31 percent of that total has been sold for export," said Good. "Does the slow start to the export program imply that the USDA export projection is too high? That conclusion is not supported by recent history.

"In the five slowest starts to the U.S. corn export sales program over the past 10 years, marketing year exports equaled or exceeded the USDA November forecast three times. In the five fastest starts to the corn export sales program, exports also exceeded the November forecast three times."

Exports, then, have equaled or exceeded the USDA November forecast in six of the past 10 years, Good noted. As a result, the corn market has not panicked because of the slow start to export sales ane export inspections this year.

"There is a general expectation that U.S. corn exports will accelerate during the last half of the marketing year due to smaller supplies and exports from other key exporting countries," Good said. "As an example, the USDA projects that combined corn exports from Argentina and China will decline by 188 million bushels this year compared to last year’s exports.

"Exports by all countries excluding the United States are expected to decline by 233 million bushels. Even with a reduction in world trade of corn, there is room for U.S. exports to expand."

Bob Sampson is an Illinois Extension communications specialist. This news release is a service of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Releases on other topics can be found on the ACES News Web site http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news.