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


Articles from 2016 In December

SOIL SAMPLING is a critical first step in managing nematodes in cotton. If you have a nematode problem in your cotton fields, you could easily be losing the cost of the soil sample in yield, says Tom Allen.

Clamp down on nematodes in cotton

Louisiana witnessed a shift from root-knot to reniform nematodes in the late 1980s and 1990s. “We conducted nematode survey work in cotton in the mid-1990s, and found that 50 percent of the fields had reniform and only 25 percent had root-knot,” says Louisiana State University AgCenter plant pathologist Charles Overstreet.

“However, we’re now moving slightly back in the other direction because we’re rotating more with corn; we’re now finding a mixture of both reniform and root-knot in cotton fields. Corn is a host for root-knot, but not reniform, so yearly rotation helps manage reniform nematodes. Many Louisiana growers now plant one year with cotton and one with corn.”

In addition to yearly rotation, some Louisiana cotton growers plant root-knot-nematode-resistant cotton varieties in fields where a root-knot problem has been identified. “For example, some of the newer Phytogen varieties contain two genes that help control root-knot,” Overstreet says. “Phytogen 427 offers pretty strong resistance to root-knot.”

Planting resistant varieties helps control root-knot, but high levels of nematodes might also require using a nematicide. “In Louisiana, the most popular nematicide seed treatment is Avicta Complete Cotton,” Overstreet says. “Avicta Complete Cotton controls both root-knot and reniform nematodes when populations are low to moderate. A newer nematicide tool is Velum Total, which is applied in-furrow. In fields with very high levels of nematodes, growers might want to use both a seed treatment and an in-furrow treatment, providing dual methods of control.

“We also use a little Telone, a fumigant that is put out a week to 10 days ahead of planting, or it can be applied in the fall. We especially use the product in a site-specific manner where you just treat areas instead of the whole field.

“We have used Veris EC soil mapping data to help us identify management zones in a field based on soil texture where you’re likely to have nematode damage. You might not have to use Telone in other zones where the soil is a little heavier or has a clay content deeper in the soil profile.

“If you don’t know where to use site-specific in a field with variable soil textures, I recommend putting out several 6- or 12-row Telone strips in a field to see where you get a response and where you don’t.

“Additionally, when using site-specific, you need to be sure you have a problem field. So sample to see what levels of nematodes are present. If possible, divide a field into EC zones so you sample within a similar soil type rather than across the whole field.”

Root-knot nematodes favor a coarse textured soil like sandy soils; reniform thrives best in a silt loam soil. “Cotton sustains more damage in sandy soils that don’t have the water-holding capacity or nutrient-holding capacity to withstand root stress caused by nematodes,” Overstreet adds. “Low levels of nematodes can cause a lot of injury in sandy soils, while it takes a lot more to cause injury in some of the heavier soils.”

Tennessee situation

Tennessee cotton growers can face root-knot and/or reniform nematodes, says University of Tennessee plant pathologist Heather Kelly. The state’s population of root-knot nematode is mainly confined to sandy Delta fields while reniform nematode is scattered throughout other areas that mainly plant continuous cotton.

“The top control measure for reniform nematodes is rotation to a non-host crop, such as corn,” Kelly says. “For root-knot, one control option growers can use is planting a resistant cotton variety.”

Kelly notes that some Tennessee growers use a nematicide seed treatment in fields where they know they have nematodes, and where they plant continuous cotton. “We have several good options, including Poncho/VOTiVO or Aeris seed treatments,” she says. “Additionally, where nematode levels are high, growers can also apply Vydate early season on emerged cotton.”


Reniform nematode has been an issue in Mississippi cotton production systems for some time now, according to Mississippi State University plant pathologist Tom Allen. “We need to do a better job of managing nematodes because we now have a really big problem on our hands,” he says. “I think we have an increasing issue with both root-knot and reniform in cotton. A lot of that can be attributed to the loss of Temik.

“Additionally, even though nematicide seed treatments have been available for years, they are only good in locations that have a low-to-moderate nematode problem. Most of the areas where we have a nematode problem have populations that are well above the economically damaging threshold.”

Allen says the best management practice for controlling nematodes is first determining if you have a problem. Soil sampling to determine the nematode composition is the most important first step. Once that’s accomplished, growers can determine the best crop to place in that particular field.

“Managing reniform nematode can be achieved via crop rotation,” he says. “Corn is a non-host for the reniform nematode so rotation to corn for one to two years will reduce the soil populations of the nematode.

“Root-knot management is a little more difficult. Corn, cotton and soybean are all hosts for the southern root-knot nematode. Managing that particular nematode is best achieved with a resistant cotton or soybean variety or planting peanuts if the particular soil class will support peanut production.”

Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, Ark. Photo: Kevin Quinn/University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, Ark.

Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center: Focus on real-world challenges

As the nation’s number-one rice producer, the economy of Arkansas places a premium on every aspect of the crop’s production, from the the availability of unique and hardy varieties, to the financial success of our producers in the field, to the impeccable quality of the finished product.

As the primary institution of higher education in support of agriculture in the state, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture spends a significant portion of its resources and efforts working to make sure rice, and the people behind it, succeed.

Nathan McKinney, interim director of the Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC), came to the research station in the summer of 2016, after serving various roles in the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station.

McKinney said he encourages his researchers — there are about a dozen scientists attached to the RREC — to take a “portfolio” approach to their research. Solving problems that rice growers face today is the highest priority.

“That’s what I call ‘applied’ research,” McKinney said. “Most of our effort is targeted towards answering present-day questions or applying a new approach, a new variety or technology to solve a problem.

“However, part of that research portfolio is also forecasting what problems producers may see 10 years from now,” he said.

“Some of our far-reaching, basic research is trying to answer the question, ‘what happens when rice is exposed to high nighttime temperatures?’” McKinney said. “And what causes the physiological stress in rice under various climate conditions? What physiological pathways can we exploit to overcome heat stress? We have fundamental questions that we currently have no answers for — we have some blank spots in our knowledge of the physiology of rice.”

Focus on rice

Although researchers at the RREC conduct studies on other crops essential to Arkansas and the region including corn, soybeans and wheat, the focus is on rice.

Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, has been with the RREC since 2012. He described his applied agronomic work at the research center as research aimed at affecting production-based recommendations.

“We look at every variety of rice available to us, from both commercial seed companies and those varieties we breed ourselves, to see what works best under a range of conditions,” Hardke said. “One of the biggest points of emphasis is on-farm cultivar trials — actually comparing the different varieties and hybrids a grower has to choose from to observe their relative differences on various farms under different production systems.”

Over the course of multiple years and weather cycles, Hardke said, the Division of Agriculture is able to synthesize data that gives growers the best shot at success, from choosing the best cultivar for their soil to dealing with pests and environmental pressures as they arise.

Hardke said that over the long term, rice research in the state evolves through the extension and feedback process, as agronomic data is pushed out to growers through Cooperative Extension Service agents, and agents deliver feedback back to researchers.

McKinney said the research has also been guided by challenges specific to Arkansas and the region, such as a potential scarcity of groundwater in the near future.

“Our irrigation engineer, Chris Henry, has introduced a wealth of ideas new to Arkansas farming, and various water conservation measures for rice production,” McKinney said. “So that’s broadened the scope of the station’s research.

“We’ve also had a rice breeding program here for 60 years or so, but we’ve recently added a hybrid breeding emphasis. A new hybrid breeder joined us in November of 2015,” he said. “Hybrid seed production in rice is relatively new, and it has broadened the scope of our breeding program.”

Research umbrella

McKinney said all the researchers working under the RREC’s umbrella are to some degree involved in evaluating constant and increasing environmental stresses, and taking measures to help growers overcome those challenges.

“For example, this year and in some recent years, it’s turned out that high nighttime temperatures created a lot of yield and grain quality problems for rice producers,” McKinney said. “It’s robbed us of millions and millions of dollars. And we’re attempting to solve that problem. Some of the pieces of the puzzle are falling in place, but there are still other pieces we’re trying to discover.

“Everybody on this station is involved with that, either directly or indirectly. All of our scientists have their hands in it,” he said.

Researchers and staff at the RREC also work closely with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dale Bumpers researchers at the nearby Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, also located in Stuttgart, as well as other entities, including the Mid-South Breeding Consortium.

“We’re bringing in the best resources to collaborate with, and to give us ideas and input,” McKinney said.

Hardke said the facility is unique in that it remains the only fully faculty-staffed research Extension center in the state.

“We house all relevant disciplines in the faculty here at the station, permitting us to be housed right in the heart of the rice-growing region of the state, performing our work,” Hardke said. “We’re here, we’re accessible. Our full-time job is rice, the rice industry and its improvement. That’s how all our time is spent — that’s unique to this location.”

FFA Chapter Tribute: Top of the 2016 crop

The top three FFA Chapters of the year are awarded this week, coming in 3rd is Bronaugh FFA, Bronaugh Missouri, in 2nd the Paoli FFA, Paoli Indiana, and coming in 1st place is Holden FFA, Holden Missouri.

This Week in Agribusiness, December 31, 2016

Part 1

Max Armstrong opens this week’s special episode with a review of what is to come, a look back at important events from this year, and Orion Samuelson’s interview with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack one last time. Max Armstrong talks to Mike Pearson, host, Market to Market, about the big stories of 2016. Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Network, comments on issues his part of the country faced this year.

Part 2

Max Armstrong talks to Duane Murley, KWMT – Fort Dodge, Iowa, about the crops produced in the state this year. The top three FFA Chapters of the year are awarded this week, third is Bronaugh FFA, Bronaugh Mo.; in second, the Paoli FFA, Paoli Ind., and in first place is Holden FFA, Holden, Mo. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje gives an overview of what to expect from winter in 2017.

Part 3

Max Armstrong talks to farm broadcaster Steve Bridge, WFMB – Springfield, Illinois, about the year farmer’s had in his area of the country.

Part 4

Orion Samuelson begins his interview with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for a historic eighth time.

Part 5

Orion Samuelson continues his interview with Tom Vilsack.

Part 6 

Orion Samuelson continues his last conversation with Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, who talks about his humble beginnings and his time in office.

Part 7

Once again, Orion changes Sameulson Sez to Secretary Sez, so Tom Vilsack can give one last insight as Secretary of Agriculture.

A This Week in Agribusiness Tradition: Secretary Sez

Orion hands the reins to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who uses this opportunity to thank the citizens he has served, everyone working in the American agriculture industry, and thanks his family for their continued support.

Jefferson Street BBQ
WOULD YOU EAT HERE? You’re really missing out if you don’t go in. Some of Indiana’s best food is served up in out-of-the-way places in small towns.

Hickory-smoked meats help this restaurant draw a crowd

One thing I’ve learned through 35 years of traveling the back roads of Indiana is that when it’s lunch time, farmers know where to find the best food. More often than not, it’s at a simple café in a small town.

While it doesn’t apply to Jefferson Street BBQ in Converse, featured in this first edition of Hoosier Fare, many times the buildings aren’t exactly the best-kept establishments. In fact, some of the tastiest food I’ve eaten was served up in places I wouldn’t have entered unless I was with a local farmer!

Farmers Nathan Hunt and Mark Boyer introduced me to Jefferson Street BBQ. The proprietor is Lindsay Baker, who buys pasture-raised meat for her pulled pork from Hunt. Hunt’s hogs eat canola meal from Boyer’s canola oil processing venture.

Many entrees served at this restaurant are farm-raised. Baker herself raises chickens that wind up in the smoker.

Since Hunt and Boyer were with me, I chose pork. I saw a huge baked potato go by stuffed with pulled pork and topped off with sour cream and melted cheese. I couldn’t resist.

It was delicious, and it filled me up. It set me back $9, but trust me, you get what you pay for! There was hickory flavor in every tender bite of cheese-covered, sour-cream dipped pork!

Invite me over!
Do you have a place that fits the bill as a Hoosier restaurant that serves great food, no matter where it’s located or what it looks like? Tell me why I should visit. If I choose it, I’ll not only visit, but I’ll also take you and a friend to lunch or dinner. You can’t beat that deal.

Simply email information to, or write to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131. And by the way, I’m on a quest to find the best breaded tenderloin, the most mouth-watering fried chicken, the best pot roast — you get the picture.


Business vitals

Name: Jefferson Street BBQ
Location: 101 N. Jefferson St., Converse
Feature: farm-to-table meats
Menu: whole-hog pulled pork, beef brisket, pork sausages, baby back ribs, pasture-raised chicken
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. EST; Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, noon- 9 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday
Other: reservations accepted, catering offered
Phone: 765-395-5117




Indiana FFA’s Country Store
URBAN AG PRODUCES FOOD: Some of the products offered in Indiana FFA’s Country Store at the Indiana State Fair come from nontraditional operations, such as those in urban agriculture.

What is urban agriculture, and why is it important?

Watching plants grow isn’t the most interesting pastime for most high school kids. Neither is doing chores, nor going to school. Yet there are now more and more schools including an urban agriculture component to their curriculum, and hopefully increasing the number of youths in the agricultural field, experts say.

Urban agriculture is defined by Purdue University Extension educators simply as growing or producing food in urban spaces. Urban agriculture comes in many forms, but the most popular are urban farms, community gardens, and hydroponics or aquaponics programs.

Urban agriculture programs can help local communities in both an economic way and a social way. They allow for people to have more immediate connection to their food, as well as help stimulate a local economy. Urban agriculture programs such as community gardens can target young people in nontraditional agriculture backgrounds, experts note.

Urban ag in Indiana
In Indiana there are about 20 urban farms and over 100 community or urban gardens, according to the latest statistics available. Many urban agriculture programs help stimulate the local economy, as well as try to improve the community by hiring people who are re-entering the workforce.

Urban agriculture is often used as a contrast for production agriculture. Specialists believe that in reality, these systems are complementary and essential in creating an ag industry that will allow for people of nontraditional backgrounds to experience the challenges and joys of being in agriculture.

Don Villwock, an Edwardsport farmer on special assignment from Purdue University College of Agriculture Dean Jay Akridge, is exploring how to set up a program that would connect nonfarm kids with farmers so they can get exposure to agriculture. Many of Purdue’s ag students today come from nonfarm backgrounds, including big cities. Villwock hopes to have a pilot program up and running this summer.   

Urban agriculture and programs like the one Villwock is putting together can help keep the ag industry strong, as they will allow for many young people to have a greater understanding of agricultural systems, challenges and operating practices. This understanding will allow for better conversations around controversial topics in agriculture. Urban agriculture that features youth programs and engagement will provide a multidimensional level of understanding to its participants by teaching them how to think critically as well as work on their problem-solving skills, experts believe.

Why urban ag matters
“Urban agriculture creates opportunities for the students to try things out,” says China Finkton. “The kids are putting together their own worldview, and right now, agriculture is shaping it. Some of them are starting to realize that they can go into agriculture and create something.” This happens when students connect their lessons to real-world problems and solutions, Finkton says.

Finkton is a senior in animal science at Purdue, and is coordinator for the Jr. Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences chapter at Thea Bowman High School in Gary. The purpose of Jr. MANRRS is to encourage high school students to participate in agricultural sciences and pursue a degree in one of those fields. 

At Thea Bowman, Finkton has a front-row seat to watch high school students grow and become more comfortable in their knowledge of agriculture. The students have begun to put together research projects that they will present to the MANRRS chapter at Purdue.

Thea Bowman High School has an urban garden that the students are responsible for. The garden includes chickens and goats.

“The students have a maturity to them, which some people do not have at that age,” Finkton says.” It’s the weight of knowing something is depending on you and having to adapt to take care of an animal.” Finkton believes that the students learn personal responsibility when they work in these programs.

“We talk a lot about the year 2050 and how to feed all of those new people, but urban agriculture is really a solution,” Finkton says. “It will help increase the land area. We need more programs like this. Working with kids is one of the best ways to get the ball rolling, as it will bring new ideas and people into the agriculture field.”

Urban ag issues
Funding and urban contaminants are two large issues that stop urban agriculture programs from coming to fruition. The cost that comes with starting up a farm or garden is expensive. Many urban farmers also are tasked with the cost of having to rehabilitate the soil to get rid of contaminants, or place a tarp over the contaminated soil and place piles of new soil on top of it in order to start growing safe produce. 

“Right now, some of these programs target rich people,” says Steve Hallett, a professor in Purdue’s Horticulture Department. “They are economically biased, so they are not in the places they need to be. These programs can help fight food deserts that impact low-income populations.” Food deserts are areas that do not have access to fresh and healthy produce.

Hallett is also the faculty adviser for the Student Farm on Purdue’s campus. He points out many of the joys, as well as the issues, that some urban agriculture programs are currently facing when talking to students.

The future
“When the community invests in them, community gardens help the community,” Hallett says. “Urban gardening might not save the world, but there is no reason not to try it.”

Agriculture programs that target young people could increase the health and longevity of a community. Urban agriculture will allow many young people to invest in their community and make it habitual, while also educating themselves and the people around them about agriculture and its systems, Hallett observes.  

Urban agriculture programs with young people are a field that is about more than growing your own herbs and tomatoes. It’s about putting in hard work for the present while also investing in the future. These programs help ensure that in the future, agriculture will carry the same core values it always has: health, quality time with family and community enrichment, specialists conclude.

Baker is a senior in ag communication at Purdue University.







Traders place orders for futures contracts in this undated photo from the Chicago Board of Trade Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Traders place orders for futures contracts in this undated photo from the Chicago Board of Trade.

INTL FCStone launches new Converge platform

In a perfect world, a farmer could sell a futures contract or hedge his crop, grow it, harvest it, sell it and close out his futures position at even money or a profit.

As many growers know all too well, the futures market rarely provides a perfect hedge because a merchant or commodity fund manager sitting in an office can make a decision and move the market 200 to 300 points, leaving farmers just shaking their heads.

INTL FCStone Inc., is announcing the launch of a new analytic and risk management platform aimed at helping producers and other middle-market participants manage their commodities exposure, avoiding such problems.

The platform, Converge, applies INTL FCStone's global reach and capabilities to the unique needs of middle-market organizations operating within the commodities and foreign exchange space, enabling them to organize, track, and analyze commodities positions, the company said in a press release.

Converge provides a comprehensive, fully customizable offering for retail producers and consumers of exchange-traded products that require the services of a brokerage firm to connect to global financial markets, but lack the resources of traditional account holders.”

“From the small coffee grower in Colombia to the regional supermarket chain in the U.S. Midwest, Converge users can customize their risk management solutions and rely on our proven analytical instruments to protect their bottom line,” said Jared Ortner, director of innovation, commercial technology at INTL FCStone.

“The intuitive, easy-to-navigate SaaS platform combines our cutting-edge technology, risk management solutions and deep market expertise, providing middle-market organizations with financial transparency and risk tools, which allows them to efficiently manage risk and focus more time on their core businesses operations."

The platform interacts with commodity exchanges worldwide and enables users to enter custom commodity prices, and track and manage futures market as well as cash market positions, Ortner said.

“Converge provides clients with a world-class mechanism to guard themselves against adverse market conditions utilizing sophisticated strategies once reserved for the largest market participants. Its intuitive functionality streamlines the management of multiple commodity positions.

“The platform includes dozens of report options that help users to understand their positions, exposures, and historical performance, as well as analyze ‘what if’ scenarios.”

Converge also provides users with industry-leading financial market insights as well as educational materials on risk management, foreign exchange and commodities, enabling users to more effectively plan their go-to-market strategies.

“Converge allows middle-market operators to identify and understand risk embedded in commercial activities, and develop detailed situational analysis, all on a historical performance dashboard that tracks physical activities and related hedges.”

“Converge provides clients with a world-class mechanism to guard themselves against adverse market conditions utilizing sophisticated strategies once reserved for the largest market participants,” Ortner said. “Its intuitive functionality streamlines the management of multiple commodity positions.”

For more information, visit

Market update 12/30/16

Corn, wheat finish out low for 2016 while soybeans see increase. Eyes on weather in Argentina, while Brazil continues harvest.

Farm Futures Market Update is a twice weekly conversation with market analysts with Farm Futures. Bob Burgdorfer, senior editor, and Bryce Knorr, senior market analyst, offer their insight into markets and what's impacting prices for crops and inputs.

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MIDDAY-Midwest Digest-December 30, 2016

Max Armstrong offers a look at a January 1 event in several states - a boost to the minimum wage. Twenty states will boost wages for workers including several Midwest states. He explores how those increases impact retailers. The winter meeting season starts right after the start of the New Year. And Max shares that this last week of the year has been filled with year-end requests for charities - and he advises you check out any charity where you donate. He notes that several groups may not have an agenda that agrees with you. He also suggests some others to consider.

Midwest Digest is a twice-daily look at news from around the Midwest. Veteran broadcaster Max Armstrong offers news and commentary for the region.