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Articles from 1998 In December

Not just a ramp

Turn your pickup into a 1-ton lifter to easily load cumbersome objects.

Farmer and Team FIN member Daryl Bridenbaugh attended Ag Progress Days in Rock Springs, PA, and claims that the TK Loader, a multipurpose pickup truck loading device, was the show's most interesting product.

"It's the only one of its kind," says Tick Hubbard, business manager of Grant Manufacturing, the maker of the loader.

Crank it up. The TK Loader allows one person to load round bales, barrels, engines, crates, snowmobiles and other heavy, hard-to-move objects into a pickup without back strain and eliminates the need for a forklift, crane or tractor.

It consists of a heavy-gauge steel ramp that slides and tilts, with a winch mounted at one end. The ramp pivots and works off of a center of balance. To load, you slide out the ramp and lower it to the ground. At the base of the ramp, you position the object you are loading, then hoist it up with the winch. When the object gets to a certain point, the ramp levels out until it is parallel with the truck bed. Once the object is loaded, the ramp slides in and locks in place.

Fits most trucks. The ramp measures 48 x 120 x 24 in., weighs 340 lbs. And fits most pickup trucks. The standard unit is equipped with a manual winch rated at 1,800 lbs. Installation takes about 15 min. and requires no drilling of the truck bed, Hubbard claims.

Options include an electric winch, a round bale spear and other ramp-winch combinations.

Introductory price: $999.95, plus shipping costs. The price includes a one-year full warranty. Contact Grant Mfg., Dept. FIN, Box 955, Industrial Park, Petersburg, WV 26847, 304/257-5430.


The next generation Lower-horsepower tractors that are lightweight and versatile for light soil working, road transport, transplanting, mowing and forage harvesting are available from Landini Globus. The series consists of the Globus 50 (42-hp PTO), the Globus 60 (52-hp PTO) and the Globus 70 (581/2-hp PTO). All of the models feature a platform and safety frame, or you can get the new Landini Concept Cab in 4-wd versions of the 60 and 70. The Globus 50 uses the 3-cyl., 2.5-liter, direct-injection AD3-152 Perkins engine. The 60 and 70 models use the 4-cyl. 704-30 engines. The 60 uses the 3.0-liter direct-injection version reaching 55 hp at 2,600 rpm, and the 70 model features the 62-hp engine at 2,600 rpm. The tractors feature standard 12 forward and 12 reverse speeds plus synchronized reverse shuttle and a maximum speed of 19 mph as standard. Contact AGCO, Dept. FIN, 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096-2568, 770/813-9200.

Speedy seeding

High-capacity, high-rate seeding is possible with the Turfmaker II grass seeder from Brillion. A main hopper delivers tough-to-handle fine fescues at rates of up to 350 lbs./acre without bridging, claims the company. The 12-ft. seeder can hold 23 bu. of seed in its main hopper. Contact Brillion Iron Works Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 127, Brillion, WI 54110-0127, 800/409-9749.

More tire, more power

Michelin introduces the 18.4 R 46 Agribib radial designed for traditional 30-in. row crops. The tire is 78 in. in diameter and fits front-wheel assist, higher horsepower tractors. It can also be used as rear duals. A deep tread and large, flat tread area reduce wear to give the tires long life and lower cost per acre. A deep, sharp vertical lug design allows the tires to retain traction up to 70% worn. Flexible sidewalls give the tire a long footprint for increased traction, and they put the tires' R1W lugs in direct contact with the soil for more pulling power. Contact Michelin, Dept. FIN, Box 19001, Greenville, SC 29602, 888/552-1213.

Slice and drill

Crustbuster's new Trash Shank drills are designed to knife through and into the ground, yielding precise, single seed placement. Featuring the Wobble Slot seed cup, the drills provide accurate planting, according to the manufacturer. Trash Shank openers knife through trash, and narrow slicing locks the seed in place. Trash does not climb or catch due to the rounded design of the shanks, 20-in. vertical clearance and 20- to 21-in. diagonal clearance. The drills unique hinging system allows it to flex for even planting on rough terrain. The units fold to the front for easy transport. Contact Crustbuster/Speed King Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 1438, Dodge City, KS 67801, 316/227-7106.

All in a name

Worthington Tractor Parts Inc., a.k.a. Audubon Tractor Parts, Bettis Tractor Parts, Central Michigan Tractor Parts, Evansville Tractor Parts, Iowa Falls Tractor Parts, Leesburg Tractor Parts, Mid-East Tractor Parts, Mid-South Tractor Parts, Rempel Tractor Parts, South Central Tractor Parts and Watertown Tractor Parts has a new name: Worthington Ag Parts.

The company also now has its own network system. You dial one toll-free number, 1-888/845-8456, and you are connected to the store nearest you.

Tall truck sprayer

A high chassis and truck-mounted sprayer turn your pickup, any model, into a tall field sprayer.

Turn your pickup truck into a high-clearance sprayer with Hy-Trux, a new high-clearance chassis for a pickup truck and truck-mounted sprayer from F/S Manufacturing. Ground-to-frame clearance on the chassis is 45 in. The boom can be set in the cab on-the-go from 24 to 72 in. for short or tall crop spraying.

A standard pickup powers the Hy-Trux and can be mounted or removed from the chassis in about two hours, according to the manufacturer. The truck's front axle is secured to the chassis with cushioned mounting brackets that align the axle and the chain case input shaft. Drives are a positive, double-roller chain with oil bath and have 60% gear reduction.

Steering is connected by a steering rod extension to heavy-duty king pins. Diagonally opposing cushion joints on the two-piece frame allow the unit to give a smooth ride over rough field terrain. The frame is adjustable to accommodate a wide range of wheel bases, including a pickup with an extended cab and long bed.

Wheels, with standard 12.4 x 28 tractor tires, are adjustable to accommodate most row crop needs.

F/S has adapted its cushion boom truck-mount sprayer for use with the Hy-Trux chassis. The boom has independent, self-leveling linkages, which allow it to swing side to side, rather than dipping. With flexing action, the boom avoids ground contact, and it is hydraulically dampened to soften bounce. Other standard features include a 500-gal. tank and an electric start.

The unit can be ordered separately or as a complete unit with a Dodge pickup truck. Prices of the Hy-Trux chassis with the cushion boom sprayer start at $23,450. Price of the chassis alone: $13,200. Contact F/S Mfg., Dept. FIN, 1102 Center St., West Fargo, ND 58078, 701/281-1729.

Which Bt to buy?

AgrEvo expects anywhere between 1 and 1.2 million U.S. corn acres to be planted to its new StarLink Bt corn hybrids that control European corn borer (ECB), based on availability.

StarLink provides a new mode of action for the control of European corn borer. All other commercial Bt corn hybrids rely on Bt genes that attack the same place in the corn borer larva's midgut. If insects were to have a change in this binding site, they would be resistant to the Bt corn and would survive and multiply.

The StarLink technology is based on a Cry9C Bt protein, which is different from the proteins used in other Bt corn. The Cry9C protein attacks a completely different place in the insect's gut. Therefore, any corn borer larvae that have developed a resistance to other Bt corn hybrids will not be resistant to StarLink Bt corn.

In May the EPA approved registration, which requires that corn harvested from StarLink hybrids in 1998 be used in domestic animal feed and industrial non-food uses. AgrEvo has licensed the technology to Garst and Croplan for use in their 1999 hybrid lineups, and more will follow.

With one more Bt technology, your buying decision becomes all the more confusing. Candice Gardner, AgrEvo field agronomist-biotechnology, recommends you base the decision on five factors, prioritized as follows:

Buy the best Bt technology/event available that controls corn borer and meets your other insect control needs. For example, do you need control of both ECB and southwestern corn borer (SWCB)? Do you need control of other pests? StarLink controls all generations of ECB and SWCB and offers suppression of black cutworm and stalk borer.

Choose the hybrid that best fits your particular maturity zone and yield environment.

Look at other management considerations. For example, is it important to have a hybrid that is resistant to not only Bt but also a herbicide? StarLink hybrids also are LibertyLink hybrids and provide resistance to AgrEvo's Liberty herbicide.

Know the refuge rules for Bt hybrids. Growers planting StarLink Bt hybrids must plant 25% of their total corn acres to a non-Bt hybrid to reduce the possibility that insects will develop resistance. If you spray for ECB, the percentage is 40%. Refuge rules currently may be different for other Bts.

Know where the grain can be marketed. Some Bt products only can be used domestically.

Farmer tests StarLink Bt

Steven Sterling, a farmer and Garst dealer from Garden City, KS, had been holding off from trying a Bt corn hybrid because he wasn't impressed with what was on the market. "The Bt hybrids controlled corn borer, but the varieties seemed to have yield drag," he says. But when AgrEvo's StarLink Bt was approved for market in May, Sterling thought he'd give it a try. On 65 acres, or half of a circle of his center-pivot irrigator, he planted a Garst 8366 Bt/LL corn hybrid. On the other half of the pivot, he planted a conventional hybrid, Garst 8366, for comparison.Turns out the StarLink Bt hybrid yielded 10 bu./acre higher than the conventional hybrid in spite of a light year for southwestern and European corn borer and hail damage of 10 to 15%. In a year of normal pressure and no hail, Sterling figures the advantage would be 15 bu./acre. "It was great," he says. "The corn stayed healthier longer and there was virtually no damage at all from corn borer." He says that on his conventional corn acres where corn borer pressure was high, 40 to 50% of the plants fell to the ground.

As a result of his test, he plans to plant 300 of his 600 corn acres to StarLink Bt next year.

Pooling precision farm data

Growers are sharing their information to make better decisions.

Scott Annexstad of St. Peter, MN, first became involved in precision farming when he tested a prototype yield monitor with GPS in 1994. By the 1996 crop year, he was fully invested in precision farming technologies. Now with three years of good data, he says, "I know this information has value, but quite honestly, much of the value has been hidden to us. By sharing and comparing information with other growers, we could all make better decisions and put some value behind the time and money we've spent on monitors and mapping."

Annexstad is one of about 35 farmers in southern Minnesota who are pooling their precision farming data into a regional database to more quickly realize the value of their precision farming investment. The database is managed by GeoFARM, located in Lake Crystal, MN. The company is owned and operated by a consortium of independent crop consultants who have hired a GPS information specialist to manage the data. Bernie Paulson, McPherson Crop Management, says, "Precision farming software tools are continually being upgraded. It's expensive and time consuming to keep up with it all. By partnering with other crop consultants, I can offer cutting edge analytical tools. Plus, I have the time to do what I do best work directly with producers in the field."

A thousand acres. Maggie Jones, Blue Earth Agronomics, adds, "GeoFARM is a place where interpretation, implementation and local aggregation of precision farming data can occur. Data by itself are abstract, but when they are linked to a network of local consultants and farmers who share their findings, they can be used to make really good management decisions. The consultant link is extremely important."

The company provides mapping, data storage and data analysis to precision farming customers as an authorized regional SST Information lab. In this first year of full-scale operation, it expects to warehouse and analyze data from 40,000 acres. Farmers will receive their individual reports, plus various aggregated regional reports. "We've put a lot of effort into making the reports and analysis statistically valid," says Jones.

Annexstad is excited about the company's capability to compare variety performance across several characteristics such as soil type, fertility level, pH and other management factors. "I can have greater confidence in my hybrid selection if I can see how the new hybrid that I planted on 20 acres performed on 1,000 acres under similar conditions," he says. With the speed with which new hybrids are being introduced and replaced, this provides a much needed tool.Guy Ewald, a client from Waldorf, MN, concurs, "By sharing information, we'll all benefit. We'll multiply our experience with a variety, a chemical or a farming practice on a certain soil type and that will let us make sound decisions faster. I've had a yield monitor for six years and have been yield mapping for three years. Now I'd like to finally come to some conclusions on these things."

Wayne Molitor from Nicollet, MN, adds, "By combining our data, we'll see patterns sooner and we'll be able to make decisions sooner." Another tool is cross classification, which can assimilate multiple years of yield data and other information to create management zones for fertility, weed control or insect sampling.

Gigabits and gigabits of data. Beyond the knowledge and understanding that can come from aggregating data, farmers also are interested in data warehousing for the physical management and storage of vast amounts of information. For example, Illinois farmer Kent Western has four years of precision farming data from 800 acres of cropland that occupy 60,000 computer files. Several years' worth of yield and other precision farming information becomes a valuable asset that farmers don't want to inadvertently lose due to a computer malfunction.

More companies, more data. Deere & Company, Farmland Industries and Growmark recently formed a joint task force to look at ways of managing the large amount of data being generated from precision farming. "Growers have expressed their interest in the establishment of some type of database that would be open to all farmers for storing, retrieving and analyzing their production data with complete security and privacy," says Bernie Hardiek, president, worldwide agricultural equipment division, Deere & Company.

Input suppliers are similarly investigating data management services. Ag Chem offers a Soilection Archival Service for agricultural spatial data, including field boundaries, soil samples, as-applied data and yield data. Helena Chemical Co., Memphis, TN, recently announced it would become an authorized SST Information lab with specialized software, staff and training programs designed to efficiently process and analyze site-specific data. Initially the lab will service 11 Helena retail facilities in northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio. Eventually the lab will be run as a profit center and will offer its services to farmers, farm managers, consultants, rural appraisers and other ag retail establishments.

Data ownership and privacy. Farmers are concerned about data ownership and privacy when considering participation in a "data warehouse." They recognize that their combined data are valuable to ag retailers, university researchers, regulatory agencies and many others.

"When joining GeoFARM, my first question was about privacy and confidentiality," says Annexstad. "Other businesses don't give up information for free and there is no reason ag should be an exception to that. If they want our precision farming information, they should have to pay for it."

Western agrees, "I'm very protective of my data. It's mine and I want a piece of it if it's going to be shared with anyone." In addition to farming, Western provides precision farming data warehousing and analysis services to other farmers. "I have a marketing remuneration' clause in my contract with farmers so they will share in any profits from the sale of their aggregated data," he explains.

As farmers consider participation in a data warehouse, they should demand that data ownership and use be addressed in a contract that both parties sign. Generally if a person pays for a service, he or she legally owns it. Beware of complimentary services, notes Western.

GeoFARM's data use and ownership agreement states that any data shall remain the sole and exclusive property of the farmer client. The agreement also authorizes the company to aggregate the client's data with any other data for the purpose of improved decision support tools and management reports. The right to sell or share aggregated data is left to the company. "Our farmers have said they would consider selling the aggregated information if it reduced their costs of participating in GeoFARM," says Jones. The cost of participating in the program varies depending upon the services desired by the client, but a basic package would cost about $3/acre.

For more information, visit GeoFARM's Web site at

For the farm

For the love of cows

If you're a cow lover (you can't resist mooing out the window as you drive past cows down a stretch of country road), then this coffee-table book is a must.The Complete Cow takes you on a journey from the myth of Isis the fertility goddess (depicted as a woman with cow's horns) to "Moo-Glide," a special-edition Harley-Davidson motorcycle painted black and white and outfitted with cowhide saddlebags and seat. The book also includes cow poetry from the likes of A. A. Milne and Gary Larson.

Aside from the fun and trivia, the book gives a history of breeds, from Angus to Zebu, accompanied by color photographs. Price: $29.95. Contact Voyageur Press, Dept. FIN, Box 338, Stillwater, MN 55082, 800/837-2210.

Gas stabilizer

Prevent fuel from deteriorating and gumming up gas engines when storing your farm equipment, chain saws, generators, ATVs or other items. Simply mix 1 oz. of Amsoil's Gasoline Stabilizer with 21/2 gal. of fuel and fill gas tanks for cold storage. The product reduces the oxidation process in fuel, claims the company. Contact Amsoil Inc., Dept. FIN, Amsoil Bldg., Superior, WI 54880, 715/ 392-7101.

Warm, dry hands

Keep your hands warm and dry with the three layers of protection in Polar Gard gloves from Compliance Safety.

A leather outer shell stands up to rough farmwork while a PVS barrier and Thinsulate lining keep your hands warm and dry even when you're working with livestock waterers or in wet weather. Priced under $10. Contact Compliance Safety Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 676, Northbrook, IL 60065, 800/340-3413.

Portable power

Get charged up with Marquette's new Quick Kick rechargeable, portable battery booster and DC power supply.

The model 1000 power unit jump-starts vehicles and powers generators or power tools with 1,000 amps and a 17 amp/hr. rating. Or for more power, model 2000 offers 2,000 amps with a 34 amp/hr. rating. Both models feature insulated color-coded safety clamps with side terminal capability, a 12v power socket (model 2000 has two power sockets) and an impact-resistant case. Contact Marquette, Dept. FIN, Drawer 443401, One Lincoln Way, St. Louis, MO 63120-1578, 314/679-4300.

Gifts for brand fans

The farm shows this fall almost looked like sporting events with all the farmers decked out in jackets, T-shirts and hats sporting logos. But they weren't showing off their favorite ball team or sporting good line. Case, New Holland, Caterpillar, Deere and AGCO were some of the insignias of choice in this latest, growing craze to hit farm show aisles, college campuses, and rural and city streets.

What's in the store.

The array of giftware and clothing available from major agricultural equipment manufacturers is large and varied - from warm, insulated jackets that will take you outdoors through fall and winter to get chores done comfortably, to long-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks and shirts stylish enough to wear out to dinner. And watch out for watches. Whether it's the rugged sport/stopwatch from AGCO, the leather-banded Powerglow or keepsake Johnny Tractor watches from Deere or the "must have" watch from Cat, they'll all keep you on time for dinner.Beyond company colors. Each year, New Holland commemorates the holidays with a special line of regional giftware and wildlife wearables. Its wildlife clothing line features a different wild animal every year; this year it's the black bear. For its giftware line, it features a farm scene from a farming region in the United States. Previously it was Longhorns from Texas; this year it's oranges from Florida and California.

AGCO also offers a special line of clothing each year. This year the Massey name is emblazoned on its clothing line along with an embroidered pheasant scene. The company offers items with logos of most of its brand or product names.Along with its wearable lines, Case offers a line of giftware depicting a Christmas scene. This year it's "Hanging the Star." It also is offering one of the largest model tractors available. On a 1/18-scale, its antique replica Farmall is sure to be a collector's item. Caterpillar's agricultural line of wearables (it also has a complete industrial line) includes a denim, insulated jacket and a commemorative belt buckle. Deere offers stylish but rugged clothing for men, women, children and even babies.So, come, all ye faithful fans, and pick out gifts for you or your loved ones that tout brand loyalties.

Team FIN tests ATVs

Whether used for spraying, checking crops or livestock, handling chores or just basic transportation, today's ATV continues to gain greater acceptance as a needed and valuable tool for the farm.

Because of this, we persuaded our Team FIN farmers to stay a few more days after testing pickups for our Truck Rodeo (see October issue, page 4) to give their opinions of the latest four-wheelers on the market. All were eager to help.

Serious protocol. First we developed testing protocol to include braking and handling, pulling and hauling a heavy load, driving over rough terrain, and the comfort, convenience, maintenance and service of the machines. We then asked Arctic Cat, Bombardier, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha to supply one model that best fits the farm market. All but Bombardier sent machines (the new Traxter wasn't available yet) and safety equipment.

Not all the companies brought their largest model, so farmers were asked to consider size differences to make fair comparisons. They rated the ATVs in each event on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).

Even though it only "won" the hauling event, Yamaha's Grizzly received the highest overall average score of 3.9. The Arctic Cat 500 and Kawasaki Prairie 300 had very close scores of 3.85 and 3.8, respectively, and the Suzuki Quadrunner 500 and Honda FourTrax Foreman ES tied at 3.7. The Polaris Sportsman 500 was just a shade behind at 3.65.

The top-rated machine and the bottom-rated one were separated by only a quarter of a point in overall average score. One farmer aptly summed up the performance of the ATVs when he said, "All the machines were quite good; there were no real dogs here."

However, differences in these iron horses do exist. As an astute buyer, you need to define your needs in horsepower, powertrain, operator comfort and service ease - and even consider dealer support - and then select which features best fit your use criteria.

Braking and handling, unloaded. The farmers tested braking and backing up by maneuvering through pylons, then driving on sections of a road course. All the machines scored well, within a half point of each other.

The Kawasaki, the smallest horsepower rig tested (although not lightest in weight), drove to top honors in this category. Farmers were impressed with the 290-cc, air-cooled, four-stroke engine, claiming it handled the hills as well as the 500- to 600-cc machines. And its automatic tranny was a hit with most testers, who stated they'd rather put the machine in gear and go than bother with shifting any day.

"The Grizzly [Yamaha] offered the best engine braking on downhill terrain," said Ohio farmer Daryl Bridenbaugh. A few farmers downgraded it slightly for being somewhat top-heavy while cornering. The massive Yamaha, with a 595-cc engine, and the Polaris, with 499 cc, tied for second place in this category. Nebraska farmer Scott McPheeters thought the Polaris "delivered the tightest turning radius of the group."

Comfort and convenience. During the numerous test rides during the two-day event, farmers continually analyzed each ATV for comfort and convenience, and they were tough. Although the other tests garnered scores ranging from about 3.6 to 4.4, this test scored low with ranges from 3.0 to 3.4. Kawasaki won this category by edging out Arctic Cat, Honda and Yamaha by one tenth of a point.Benefits cited on the Honda included a headlight on the handlebar for good night viewing, a handy digital speedometer, and rear electrical outlet to aid in spraying. Steve Webb from Needham, IN, thought that the Honda "had the most quiet ride of all models," and Illinois farmer Gary Appleby liked the design and styling of both the Honda and Yamaha.

The testers had both praise and concerns about Honda's new push-button shifting, because although it was very easy to shift, the gear changes often jolted the rider. Testers went back and forth on Polaris's and Yamaha's 4-wd on-the-go shift button, but in the end they appreciated it as a feature. "It's nice but you must take your thumb off of the throttle to use it," said Webb.

The Arctic Cat received praise for being one of the most solid pieces of equipment, but farmers commented that the heal/toe rocker shifter was more difficult to learn than straight toe shifting or an automatic transmission. John Bovill, Beresford, SD, thought all of the models could use less plastic.

Iowa farmer Rolland Schnell liked that the Yamaha gave a choice between 2- and 4-wd. He said that the Yamaha has "improved maneuverability in 2-wd and allows 4-wd traction."

Towing power. Farm-ers tested towing capabilities by hitching each machine up to two trailers: first one hauling 420 lbs. of sandbags, then the other trailer with 840 lbs. They climbed and descended the steep hills of the motocross track to really put the four-wheelers to the test. The Arctic Cat captured first in this category, followed closely by Polaris, Honda and Yamaha.

"All machines handled the load well on the smaller grade in either high range or second speed," said Schnell. "And the engine braking on the Honda and Yamaha was great." Gary Appleby gave the Polaris and Yamaha an "excellent" for downhill braking.

The smaller Kawasaki finished the towing category in last place, but it was only a little more than a half point behind the leader. Illinois farmer Jack Appleby commented, "With only 290 cc, it truly is the mouse that roared.'"

Pack-mule strength. To test the ATVs' hauling power, sandbags were put in both the front and rear racks of the machines. Our testers then took them through the pylons and on the motocross track to determine handling with a load. Yamaha earned the top spot, outdistancing all others by a comfortable and consistent margin. Farmers reported that almost all the models were difficult to steer on the pylon course and that some seemed more top-heavy with a load. Kansas farmer John Engelland said that the Suzuki was the easiest to maneuver and steer under load and thought that "the Polaris and Yamaha steered sideways when braking."

Gary Appleby commented that it's during situations like this type of hauling that you really need automatic shifting. "Being able to shift into 4-wd on-the-go is a nice feature, when you really need it," he said.

Four-wheeling. A two-inch rain the night before the 4-Wheelin' event made the motocross track - and the testing - more challenging. Built for motorbikes, the hilly - and subsequently muddy - terrain became the perfect surface for the group to cut loose and test the handling and steering capabilities of each machine.

After climbing up and down the steep and sloppy hills of the track, the testers barreled through a pit area, in between pylons spaced at uneven intervals, to test steering, suspension, climbing and descending.

Kawasaki beat out all the others with a score of 4.0 to garner one of its three category wins. Yamaha and Suzuki tied for second place, both scoring 3.9; Arctic Cat received a score of 3.8; Polaris, 3.7; and Honda, 3.3.

Maintain and service. Although many of our Team FIN members enjoy tinkering with equipment, they still rate a vehicle's ease of maintenance and service as a top priority. During this test, company representatives walked around their machines, explaining maintenance and service aspects, while farmers challenged them with questions.

Five ATVs were within mere tenths of a point of each other. The Arctic Cat earned its second category win here, followed closely by the Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha.

Bridenbaugh cited Arctic Cat's sealed back end (a rubber bladder that expands or deflates to protect it) as "a good feature to keep out dirt and moisture," and thought that the Polaris had the best front CV joint protection.

Finishing at the bottom was the Polaris Sportsman, docked by all farmers as having too much plastic to remove to get at components, along with numerous grease zerks (found only on this machine) needed to lubricate its independent rear suspension.

User-approved. In the end, all Team FIN members headed home with big smiles on their faces after fun, yet grueling, days of testing. Although they discovered differences and some picked favorites, they all claimed that any of the machines tested would be a good workhorse to have around their farms.

Is Roundup ready for corn?

Early results show many farmers are satisfied with Roundup Ready corn.

Kevin Koepp was one of more than 13,000 farmers who tried Roundup Ready corn for the first time this year. The Belle Plaine, MN, farmer and his brother, Curtis, planted 40 of their 1,000 acres to Dekalb's DK493RR. They planted another 20 acres to conventional DK512 for comparison.

"I wish I could have started planting it three or four years ago," says Koepp, who reports a 2- to 5-bu. yield advantage with the Roundup Ready over the conventional hybrid. "We have woolly cupgrass up here, and two passes of Roundup Ultra takes care of it."

He says each pass cost him $10/ acre versus $25 to $30/acre with conventional herbicide programs. Next year the Koepps plan to more than double their Roundup Ready corn acres.

Mark Sybesma, farmer from Hull, IA, was another first-time planter of the corn technology. He planted Dekalb's DK512RR along with two non-Roundup Ready numbers DK566Bt and Pioneer 36F30. Harvest results showed the Roundup Ready hybrid yielded equal to DK566Bt but 10 bu. lower than the Pioneer. He says the weed control was good and the cost was comparable to his conventional herbicide program. Will he plant it next year? "I don't know yet," Sybesma replies.

Side-by-side comparisons. Yield results were still coming in at press time for this genetically altered seed corn that allows you to apply Monsanto's Roundup Ultra over the top of the crop. Dekalb was the first and only company to market it in 1998 with five numbers that ranged in relative maturity (RM) from 99 to 108 days.

Dr. Tracy Klingaman, product manager of corn agronomic traits with Dekalb, is encouraged by the reports he has seen. "Throughout the summer, farmers were really positive about the tolerance and weed control of the Roundup Ready program and were saying, If it yields we will plant more in 1999,'" Klingaman says. "Now that it is yielding, growers are confirming their purchases for next year."

Product comparisons conducted across the Corn Belt by Dekalb show the following results.

DK493RR (99-day RM) yielded an average of 0.5 bu./acre lower than competitive Bt and conventional hybrids of 97- to 109-day RM in 226 comparisons. However, it was 1.9 percentage points drier, resulting in a $6.37 economic advantage assuming $2/bu. corn and $0.025/pints/bu. dockage at 15% moisture.

DK512RR (101-day RM) yielded an average of 1.4 bu./acre more than competitive Bt and conventional hybrids of 99- to 109-day RM in 62 comparisons and was 1.9 percentage points drier for a $9.79/acre advantage.

DK545RR (104-day RM) yielded an average of 4.6 bu./acre higher than competitive Bt and conventional hybrids of 99- to 114-day RM based on 59 comparisons and was 1.3 percentage points drier for a $14.31/acre advantage.

Results for the other two 1998 releases DK566RR and DK580RR were not available.

In addition to an economic advantage, other reported benefits of the technology are weed control, crop safety and a wide window of application, Klingaman says. "When I ask customers what they liked about the Roundup Ready corn system, their first response is weed control," Klingaman says. "It gives you perennial control of tough weeds like wirestem muhly that you can't get with a lot of other herbicide programs. And it is equally effective on annual weed species."Monsanto sponsored its own study in August. Of the 500 Roundup Ready corn growers surveyed, 75% said they were very satisfied and 21% were somewhat satisfied with the overall performance of Roundup Ready corn. Satisfaction levels are as high as they were for Roundup Ready soybeans when that crop was introduced in 1996, Monsanto says.

In addition, more than nine out of 10 growers surveyed said the seed technol ogy met or exceeded their expectations, citing satisfaction in such areas as overall crop safety, weed control, stand quality and application flexibility. Seven out of 10 growers surveyed said Roundup Ready corn was a much better or somewhat better value than traditional corn programs.

New for 1999. Monsanto says at least 80 other companies will be selling Roundup Ready corn seed next year. Dekalb has introduced an additional 12 new numbers for 1999, for a total of 17 that range in relative maturity from 83 to 116 days. The hybrids will carry an $18/bag technology fee, or $6/acre. Prices for the seed will remain essentially flat.

"With Monsanto's recent $10/gal. price cut on 30-gal. jugs of Roundup Ultra, this herbicide system is now an even greater value for farmers," says Jim Badger, Dekalb's corn products communications manager.

New application option. Due to a label revision, farmers will have the option of applying up to two treatments of Roundup Ultra, at rates up to 32 oz., over the top of growing corn. This is an increase from the single over-the-top treatment of up to 32 oz. allowed on the 1998 label.

Two other treatment options are a preemerge grass herbicide application like Harness or Harness Xtra followed by an in-crop application of Roundup Ultra before weeds become competitive to the crop; and an in-crop tank-mix application of Roundup Ultra with Harness or Harness Xtra herbicide to allow postemergence residual control. The latter tank mix should be applied before weeds become competitive with the crop.

What about resistance? Klingaman says farmers who plant Roundup Ready soybeans and are considering rotating to Roundup Ready corn can do so without concern that the weeds will become resistant to Roundup Ultra. The reason, he says, is that its mode of action is unique and is rated by weed scientists as having a low probability of developing resistance.

Farmers worried about volunteer Roundup Ready corn in their Roundup Ready soybeans can control it with labeled rates of Assure II and Select.Regulatory approval of grain harvested from seed of Roundup Ready corn is pending in certain export markets and may not be received before the 1999 harvest. As a result, growers should be prepared to feed the grain domestically or sell it for use in domestic markets only.

For more information, contact your local Dekalb dealer or Dekalb Genetics, Dept. FIN, 3100 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb, IL 60115-9600, 815/ 756-3333.