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Articles from 2015 In April

Food safety webinar gives farmers convenient training option

Food safety webinar gives farmers convenient training option

Four new online training modules are being offered through Iowa State University Extension to provide science-based information on food safety liability risks at farmers markets. The Farmers Market Food Safety Training course gives vendors who sell their produce and food at farmers markets, and the managers of farmers markets, training on good agricultural practices for safe food production and handling. The training is specific to farmers markets, with a focus on specialty foods.

FREE TRAINING: You can minimize food safety risks at farmers markets through a free online certification process. The online classes teach good agricultural practices for safe food production and handling.

"It is critical for Iowa producers to educate themselves about safe food practices. That's why on-farm and at-the-market food safety training programs for farmers and market managers have been established by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach," says Angela Shaw, professor in food safety and program specialist with ISU Extension.

Good reasons why producers should take this free training
"One reason producers should invest time taking this free online training is to demonstrate their commitment to their customers," says Shaw. "With the number of farmers markets and local food groups in Iowa continuing to grow, making food safe is more important than ever. Farmers market managers and producers can learn at their own pace conveniently, any time or day in the comforts of their home office."

The new webinar series offers knowledge about farm-to-fork food safety and offers participants a certificate of completion suitable to display at their vendor's booth or market stall. The food safety training is available in four online video modules including preharvest, postharvest, marketing and best practices at the market, and value added products.

This isn't a substitute for full length "good ag practices" course
To register for one or all modules in the Farmers Market Food Safety webinar series, or for more information, go to Note: This course is not a substitute for the full eight-hour good agricultural practices course that is recommended for farmers serving multiple venues and farmers market managers.

The Farmers Market Food Safety Training materials were funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Watch for corn emergence problems in your fields

Watch for corn emergence problems in your fields

It's now the last week of April, and soils have finally warmed and planters are rolling across Iowa, putting the 2015 corn crop in the ground. But some corn was planted earlier in April and those soils stayed cold and wet for quite a while after planting. What happens when the seed just sits there in such poor germinating conditions, waiting for soil temperatures to warm up enough for germination and emergence to take place?

WHAT'S UP?: Do some digging, check your corn. Troubleshooting corn emergence problems early is critical in identifying solutions and developing successful replant plans.

Clarke McGrath and Aaron Saeugling, two Iowa State University Extension field agronomists in western and southwest Iowa, describe some of the possible problems to be looking out for with early planted corn in such situations. Here are some things they've seen in prior years in similar conditions:

Check your early planted corn for signs of imbibitional chilling
Imbibitional chilling: this is a common term for the chilling effect seeds may go through when they absorb water, especially when soil temperatures are less than the mid-50 degree F range for an extended period of time. Over the last couple weeks, soil temperatures in Iowa have been in the mid-40s to low-50s at the 4-inch depth in many fields. "I would guess we'll gain ground on that over the next week based on the nice weather forecast," says McGrath.

Keep in mind that with seed around 2 inches deep, temperatures can fluctuate a little more than at the 4-inch depth, so with some sun the soil temperatures often bounce back up this time of year, he says. On the other hand, it takes more BTU's or energy to raise the temperature of saturated soils vs. dry soils, slowing any warming. So given the cold rains and saturated soils, corn spent a few more days than usual suffering temperatures around the low to mid 50s or so. On April 24, most of western Iowa was around 55 degrees, then it dropped to 50 to 52 over the weekend.

Is your early-planted corn leafing out underground?
Corn seed absorbs around a third of its weight in water early in the germination process; if this water is cold enough (exact temperatures vary by source, but upper 40s to low 50s are often mentioned), cell walls can become "brittle" and even rupture.

"When this happens, we have seen all sorts of impacts," says McGrath. "Seed that just swells and never continues growth, sometimes corkscrewed seedlings, ruptured coleoptiles, leafing out underground, seedling death and other interesting but not good phenomenon. The good news is that often this impacts a relatively small percentage of a field; only occasionally do we see enough problems to warrant any action. So far I haven't seen or heard of too much of this."

What causes those "corkscrew" corn seedlings?
"With wide temperature swings we sometimes see 'corkscrewed' seedlings in conditions like we have had this April," says McGrath. "But more often we see these in drier soils and wide temperature swings. That is, as we discussed previously in this article concerning water, soil temperature and heat units."


Some studies have shown that soil temperature swings of around 27 degrees or more are a primary culprit in causing this. "Again, typically it is a small percentage of a field and growers may not even notice most years," says Saeugling. "Given our wet soils in April, those early April planting dates are more likely to suffer the imbibitional chilling than this temperature swing 'corkscrewing', but things can change quickly. However, early scouting visits to farmers' fields haven't shown many problems so far."

Check emerging and yet-to-emerge corn for other problems, too
Look for signs of insect injury, diseases and herbicide injury on corn seedlings and young corn, advise the two ISU Extension agronomists.

Insect injury: The longer a seed or seedling is small and growing slowly, the greater the odds of a pest finding it and attacking it.

Diseases: Cold, wet soils slow corn growth and leave the seed or seedling exposed to pathogens for a longer time. Some pathogens thrive in these conditions (pythium comes to mind). So while the corn struggles, disease pathogens have a better shot at infecting the young plants.

Herbicide injury: This can also be more of an issue when seedlings are under a lot of stress and are growing slowly. "Experience tells us that usually plants grow through this with little, if any long-term impact," says McGrath. "Also, while we sometimes point the finger to herbicide injury when we see slow or uneven emergence, the real culprit is simply poor conditions."

When scouting fields as a young agronomist, McGrath says he sometimes diagnosed tough looking fields of small corn seedlings as herbicide injury. "But in subsequent years as we drifted away from preemergence residual herbicides towards total post programs, we'd see the same symptoms in the absence of any soil applied herbicides. Lesson learned. While early season herbicide injury to seedlings does happen, it probably isn't as common as we think. Conditions like these do increase the odds of issues, though, so careful investigation is warranted for any field that exhibits problems that may appear to be herbicide related."


Today's corn hybrids are bred to withstand more stress
The good news is today's hybrids are incredibly durable and can take a lot of stress based on the improved genetics alone, says McGrath. Advanced fungicide and insecticide seed treatments that seed companies offer increase the odds of a healthy stand. "While they have a limited window of protection, looking at growing degree trends for early May, the odds are that we'll see the corn take off quickly, helping it fight off early season insects and diseases," he adds.

The bottom line: There are no guarantees on the earliest planted corn being a perfect stand, "but experience and the calendar tells us that if conditions improve, the odds are in our favor," says Saeugling. "The best thing crop scouts and farmers can do is keep an eye on the planted acres and monitor seedling development and emergence and take stand counts."

Scout for seedling diseases in early planted corn
Besides keeping an eye on any chilling injury, the ISU agronomists say you also want to watch corn stands for seedling diseases. Refer to this article

Burndown herbicides still being sprayed, watch the temps
Some burndown herbicide applications are still being made. With overnight low temperatures sometimes hitting 40 degrees or below, and a lot of spraying still being done, here is an article from a couple weeks ago to refresh your memory about how to keep burndown herbicide applications effective in cool temperatures: Cold temperatures and applying burndown herbicides.

Timing of milk-based PAG pregnancy tests can make a difference

Timing of milk-based PAG pregnancy tests can make a difference

By Ryan Sterry

Identifying open cows in a timely manner is essential for successful reproductive management of the dairy herd. Fortunately, the options for doing so have been expanding.  In addition to palpation, ultrasound, and blood testing; milk testing is now being offered through DHIA testing centers.  Blood and milk tests both analyze for levels of pregnancy-associated glycoproteins, commonly referred to as PAG's. For accurate test results for either milk or blood PAG tests, cows need to be at least 60 days in milk and over 28 days post breeding before testing. 

Manufacturer recommendations indicate the milk PAG test should not be conducted earlier than 28 days after AI, and the results of this study agree with that recommendation.

Both the blood and milk PAG tests require samples to be sent in to a lab for analysis. Milk sample based PAG tests may offer a labor savings over blood based PAG tests, since milk samples used for milk component and somatic cell testing can also be used for the PAG test. Blood PAG testing may require cows to be handled an extra time to draw the blood samples. 

While the existence of PAG's has been known since the 1980s, it hasn't been until more recently that commercial testing has become feasible. PAG's have a long half-life and are at their highest levels near calving.  Thus the need to wait at until least 60 days in milk before testing, or PAG levels from the previous pregnancy may still be detectable. PAG levels are relatively low in early gestation, and can fluctuate before rising again in later in gestation. 

A recent University of Wisconsin-Madison study by Dr. Paul Fricke and his research team tracked changes in the level of milk PAG's through the first 100 days of gestation, and then compared milk PAG test results to ultrasound pregnancy exam results. Milk samples were collected once weekly, starting between 25 and 32 days after AI.  Ultrasound was used to determine pregnancy status at 32 days after AI. Cows identified as pregnant by ultrasound at day 32 were then re-checked weekly with both ultrasound and milk sample PAG's testing until 102 days after AI. Results of the milk PAG tests showed that PAG levels increased from day 25 to 32 of pregnancy, but then declined until days 53 through 67.  Day 74 through each weekly test until day 102 showed PAG levels gradually increasing again. 

The results of this study indicated that between days 32 and 39 after AI were the best times to take the initial milk PAG test. During this time frame the milk PAG's test did not identify any cows as open that were identified as pregnant by ultrasound, along with less than 5% of cows classified as "re-check" with the PAG milk sample.  Taking an initial milk sample at 25 days after AI resulted in the highest proportion of cows classified as a "re-check" (around 35%), and a higher than desired proportion of cows called open by the milk PAG test but later identified as pregnant by ultrasound.  Manufacturer recommendations indicate the milk PAG test should not be conducted earlier than 28 days after AI, and the results of this study agree with that recommendation.  Between days 46 to 67 the proportion of "re-checks" based on the milk PAG test increased to around 15% of samples taken, until declining to around 5% at day 74 through the end of the study. 

Based on these trial results, dairy farmers using milk sample PAG tests should attempt to take the first sample between days 32 and 39 after AI. Cows identified as pregnant should then be re-checked at day 74 or slightly later to identify cows experiencing early pregnancy loss.  For more details on this study please view the paper "Pregnancy Diagnosis using Milk PAG Testing" by Dr. Fricke, available online at the UW-Extension Dairy Team page:     

Sterry is the St. Croix County Extension agriculture agent.

Maryland backs its conservation farm stewards with 'certainty'

Maryland backs its conservation farm stewards with 'certainty'

Hans Schmidt on Eastern Shore Maryland is a state-certified ag conservation steward – one of soon-to-be 100 farmers across the state recognized for exemplary conservation and environmental advocacy.

Schmidt's Sudlersville farm sits across the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore. That puts his farm operation almost in the center of the Chesapeake Bay water quality controversy. But he's not concerned.

CERTIFIED AND VERIFIED WATER STEWARD: Maryland soybean producer Han Schmidt is a certified outstanding water steward, verifies the United Soybean Board.

As president of Maryland's Association of Soil Conservation Districts and Maryland Soybean Board chairman, he's already meeting EPA's Chesapeake Bay model requirement for his farm. And he's pleased to show what farmers are doing on behalf of the Bay clean-up. That's why Schmidt was one of four U.S. farmers recently honored for outstanding water stewardship by the United Soybean Board.

Stewardship certification and regulatory certainty
On May 6, Maryland's  Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program  will honor its 100th certified farm, reports Gerald Talbert, who coordinates the FSCAP program administered by Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts. The 100th steward is Bill Gardenhour of Gardenhour Orchards at Smithsburg, Md.

FSCAP requires fully compliant nutrient management plans and that all soil conservation and water quality concerns have been addressed with best management practices. The assessment aspect covers all owned and leased land. Certification gives stewards first opportunity in MASCD projects, such as the Pollinator Habitat Project, says Talbert.


To date, 147 assessments have been done on 126 farms involving 29,630 acres in 16 counties. "We feel that FSCAP recognition can inspire some farmers to do a little more, although most have met or exceed the standard for years," adds Talbert.

"We've installed 30X24 two-sided signs. Many of our stewards believe the recognition of doing a great job in conservation is also good for business."

Maryland's new Agricultural Certainty Program will soon be rolling out next-level regulatory protection. Administered by Maryland Department of Agriculture, it, too, requires a fully compliant nutrient management plan, but covers owned land only. A farmer can sign up parcel by parcel.

Certainty requires a baseline assessment with MDA's Nutrient Tracking Tool software to confirm that each farm parcel is in compliance with the Total Maximum Daily Load plan in effect. While FSCAP doesn't require that, 22 stewards already have the baseline assessment performed, notes Talbert. Certainty requires inspections every three years by an assessor.

MDA-certified verifiers determine compliance with local, state and federal environmental requirements. Once a farm is approved, the operation is excused for a 10-year period from meeting new regulatory programs or standards that put further restrictions or performance standards in place to address nitrogen, phosphorus or sediment runoff. Participating farms also must undergo inspections by a certainty verifier at least once every three years with oversight provided by Maryland Department of Environment. 

The Certainty program is scheduled to open soon. For more details, see the above noted website, visit a Maryland soil conservation district office or contact Colin Jones, MDA's Agricultural Certainty Program Coordinator at 410-841-5868 or email

Where we're at with avian flu

Where we're at with avian flu

As of Wednesday, 67 farms in 19 counties have been hit by avian influenza.

USDA Wednesday confirmed the presence of H5N2 HPAI in eight additional flocks. The following counties are affected:
•Steele – 1st detection (turkeys, flock size pending)
•Kandiyohi – 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd detections (turkeys, flock size pending)
•Stearns – 11th (turkeys, flock size pending) and 12th detections (layer chickens, flock size pending)
•Swift – 3rd detection (turkeys, flock size pending)

Promoting turkey. To show support for turkey farmers, Gov. Mark Dayton carved up a 25-pound turkey Wednesday for lunch served to spring interns in St. Paul.

In addition, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced three presumptive positive flocks. The following Minnesota counties are affected.
•Kandiyohi – 24th and 25th detections (turkeys)
•Meeker – 7th detection ( 72,400 turkeys)

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the state's ongoing response to avian influenza. HSEM will coordinate resource needs with several state agencies including the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Total number of birds affected in Minnesota – 3,460,532 (not including pending flocks)

All affected farms remain under quarantine. To date, animal health officials have completed the following response zone activities:
•Appraisals have been completed for 64 of the affected premises.
•Birds on 52 of the affected farms have been euthanized.
•The composting process is underway on 42 of the affected farms. Animal health officials are currently working with producers to begin composting on others.
•The affected farm in Pope County (1st detection in Minnesota) is done with composting and is working on cleaning and disinfection of the barns.

National Guard completes mission
The Minnesota National Guard completed its water delivery mission. Private contractors are now in place to provide water support for foaming operations on affected farms. The National Guard remains involved at the State emergency Operations Center and is available if their support is needed in the future.


Behavioral Health Medical Reserve Corps
The Minnesota Department of Health has activated its Behavioral Health Medical Reserve Corps to help provide mental health resources for those Minnesotans impacted by avian influenza. MDH is working with regional public health preparedness contacts to assess specific community needs. The immediate focus is on the three most heavily impacted counties: Kandiyohi, Meeker and Stearns.

The BH-MRC is a statewide group of volunteer behavioral health specialists that supports individuals, communities and the Incident Command System during disasters by providing expert behavioral health skills. The BH-MRC may be deployed during disasters that include but are not limited to natural disasters and public health emergencies. The group was last activated during the 2012 floods.  More information is available on the MDH website.

Governor Dayton hosts turkey lunch for interns
Governor Mark Dayton hosted a Minnesota-grown turkey lunch Wednesday at the Governor's Residence for interns who are working this spring in the Office of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The lunch featured a 25-pound turkey, which was raised in Glenwood.

"As turkey farmers across our state deal with the devastating effects of avian influenza, it is more important than ever for all Minnesotans to support the Minnesota turkey industry," Dayton said. "Our turkey growers need more than our help in stopping the spread of this disease; they need our full support as consumers to buy and eat good Minnesota turkey."

5 soil questions landowners should ask potential tenants

5 soil questions landowners should ask potential tenants

Don't be surprised if landowners you rent ground from quiz you on the following questions. Better yet, be prepared to answer them – even if you're the landowner.

Nationwide, there's a resurgence of farmers focusing on improving soil health via cover crops, diverse rotations and no-till. And when they're building the soil, they're doing something else, says Barry Fisher, a nationally recognized soil health specialist with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. They're building the land's long-term productive potential.

Fisher, who also farms in Indiana, recommends that landowners should ask their tenants these five questions:

NATURE'S BEST BLANKET: Fisher stresses that cover crop plants and roots are key to building healthy soils. NRCS photo by Rebecca Fletcher.

1. Do you build soil organic matter and how?
Organic matter (carbon) may be the most important indicator of a farm's productivity. Soil organic matter often determines the price farmers will pay to rent or buy land. Finding a farmer who's interested in building organic matter by using practices like no-till and cover crops is like finding a bank with a better rate on a Certificate of Deposit, contends Fisher.

2. Do you test the soil at least once every four years?
Regular soil testing can give an indication of trends in soil fertility, pH and organic matter levels in each field. If a field has a history of manure application and very high fertility, you can save money by planting cover crops to keep those nutrients in place rather than losing them.

3. Do you use no-till?
Some landowners like the look of a clean-tilled field in the springtime. That "nice look" is short lived, though.

A field that has bare soil is subject to erosion and loss of organic matter," explains Fisher. No-till's crop residue blanket protects soil from intense rainfall, conserves moisture for the crop, prevents from wind and water erosion and prevents carbon dioxide (carbon) from being burned off by summer heat.

4. Do you use cover crops?
Like no-till, green and growing cover crops provide a protective soil blanket while collecting solar energy, putting down roots and providing habitat. They provide food and shelter for wildlife above ground and beneficial organisms below ground.

Cover crops hold onto the nutrients left from the previous crop, then release them to the next crop. Solar rays collected by the plants are powering photosynthesis, taking in atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce food for plants and root-zone microbes. This same process also releases clean oxygen to the air and builds nutrient-rich soil organic matter.

5. What can we do to improve soil health?
Landowners and tenants must think long-term. Duration of lease agreements is perhaps the most critical matter in encouraging soil health management. It takes more than several years to benefit from building soil productive capacity and resiliency, he points out.

Consider multiple-year leases that provide tenant tenure security and more opportunity for both to gain through sustainable conservation practices. "Improving soil health also can decrease the effects of flooding, make food production more resilient to weather extremes, and improve the health of water and wildlife," Fisher adds.

Source: NRCS

USDA designates Lincoln County in Nevada as a primary natural disaster

USDA designates Lincoln County in Nevada as a primary natural disaster

USDA has designated Lincoln County, Nev.,  as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by a recent drought.

"Our hearts go out to those Nevada farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy by sustaining the successes of America's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We're also telling Nevada producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood."

Lincoln Co., Nev., is the latest western area to be declared a droughty natural disaster area by USDA.

Farmers and ranchers in Clark, Nye and White Pine counties in Nevada also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Farmers and ranchers in Mohave County, Ariz., and Box, Elder and Tooele counties in Utah also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on April 22, 2015, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency,  provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

Emerald ash borer found in Fillmore County

Emerald ash borer found in Fillmore County

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture last week identified an emerald ash borer infestation in Fillmore County.

Suspected EAB larva and feeding activity consistent with emerald ash borer was found in a boulevard ash tree in the city of Rushford.

Related: Emerald ash borer now confirmed in 21 Iowa counties

The infested tree was found through a routine visual survey of ash trees currently being conducted by the MDA. This survey is designed to find EAB in new locations at high risk for EAB infestation.

Emerald ash borer found in Fillmore County

Because this is the first time that EAB has been identified in Fillmore County, a specimen also was sent to USDA for confirmation, which was expected this week. Pending confirmation, the MDA and USDA will work closely to determine appropriate follow up actions.

Fillmore County will likely be put under an emergency quarantine in the next week and eventually join Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Houston, Olmsted, Ramsey and Winona counties in a state and federal quarantine.

The quarantine is in place to help prevent EAB from spreading outside a known infested area. It is designed to limit the movement of any items that may be infested with EAB, including ash trees and ash tree limbs, as well as all hardwood firewood.

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on the tree's nutrients. Since its accidental introduction into North America, EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 24 states.


The invasive insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009. The last county to be quarantined for EAB was Anoka in March 2015.

Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by EAB. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.

Related: 'Femme Fatale' Emerald Ash Borer Decoys Lure, Then Zap Males

The biggest risk of spreading EAB comes from people unknowingly moving firewood or other ash products harboring larvae. There are three easy steps Minnesotans can take to keep EAB from spreading:

• Don't transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from approved vendors, and burn it where you buy it;

• Be aware of the quarantine restrictions. If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood; and,

• Watch your ash trees for infestation. If you think your ash tree is infested, go to and use the "Do I Have Emerald Ash Borer?" guide.

Also, MDA considers May 1 – September 30 to be the flight season for EAB. This means that EAB adult beetles are emerging from infested wood or trees and flying in search of new hosts during this time. EAB larvae complete their development by pupating into adult beetles in the spring and early summer.

So keep an eye out for this tree-killing pest.

Herbicide options for weed control in winter wheat: Things to consider

Herbicide options for weed control in winter wheat: Things to consider

By Christy Sprague

Most of the 2015 wheat crop faired considerably well over the winter. Over the next couple of weeks, many of these acres will be treated with herbicides for weed control. While there are several herbicide options available for use in wheat, there are many factors that growers should consider prior to deciding when to spray and what products to use.

Related: Palmer Amaranth: Understanding the Profit Siphon in your Field

Herbicide options for weed control in winter wheat: Things to consider

Cold temperatures
The colder than normal temperatures that we have experienced over the last couple of days should have kept most sprayers out of the field. Most herbicides labeled for weed control in winter wheat have specific instructions that applications should be made when weeds are actively growing. Herbicides should not be applied when the crop is under stress from very cold temperatures, when there are wide fluctuations in day/night temperatures, when a frost has occurred or when temperatures are below freezing prior to, at, or immediately following herbicide applications. A good rule of thumb is to only apply herbicides to winter wheat when the daily temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Winter wheat growth stage and weeds controlled
All herbicides have a maximum wheat growth stages for application listed on the label. Late herbicide applications can lead to excessive crop damage that can cause kernel abortion and blank wheat heads that can ultimately reduce yield. Some of the more restrictive herbicides that are used in winter wheat are the plant growth regulator herbicides including 2,4-D amine, 2,4-D ester, dicamba (Banvel or Clarity), MCPA, and Curtail (2,4-D amine + Stinger). The plant growth regulator herbicides are typically good on summer annual weeds like common lambsquarters, pigweed, and common ragweed, but vary in their control of some of the more common winter annual weeds like common chickweed. 2,4-D, MCPA, and Curtail will not control chickweed. All plant growth regulator herbicides need to be applied prior to winter wheat jointing (Feeke's stage 6). Other herbicides that need to be applied prior to Feeke's stage 6 are some of the more popular herbicides for control of grasses in wheat, like windgrass. These herbicides include: Osprey, PowerFlex HL, and Puma. PowerFlex also has good activity on many of the broadleaf weeds encountered in wheat, including common chickweed. If winter wheat is at jointing these herbicides should no longer be used.  

The herbicides, Affinity BroadSpec, Harmony Extra, Harmony, Express, and Huskie, are not as restrictive as many of the plant growth regulator herbicides. These herbicides can be applied to wheat until just before the flag-leaf is visible (Feeke's stage 7.9). All of these herbicides also have better control of common chickweed than many of the growth regulator herbicides. Peak another herbicide is also an option for common chickweed control, however longer rotation restrictions (22-months) to many crops including soybean often restrict the use of this herbicide.

Best Practices For Spraying: Get The Most Out Of Your Sprayer
Are you confident you know the best ways to prepare your sprayer for the season ahead? Are you sure you know the best practices for minimizing herbicide spray drift? Read through these best practices to make sure you are on the right track.

Buctril, Stinger, Starane, and Widematch (Stinger + Starane) are other herbicides that will control broadleaf weeds in winter wheat. These herbicides have the longest application window. They can all be applied to winter wheat up to the boot stage (Feeke's stage 9). However, many of these herbicides have fairly narrow spectrums of weed control. Buctril provides better control of summer annual weeds and is not very effective against winter annuals. Starane has a very narrow weed control spectrum, but is excellent in controlling hemp dogbane. Stinger, on the other hand, provides excellent Canada thistle control.

Warmer - hotter - summer weather ahead for Northeast

Warmer - hotter - summer weather ahead for Northeast

Yesterday, AccuWeather released its predictions for this summer, noting that warmth and dryness will build in the West, worsening California's historical drought. Meanwhile, the South and Gulf Coast will have an abundance of moisture – and bugs (mosquitoes).

In the nation's midsection, severe weather is forecast to continue into summer, with the overall tornado count increasing from last year. In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, above-normal temperatures will mark a noticeable difference from last year's cooler-than-average summer.

Warmer – hotter – summer weather ahead for Northeast

Warmth from central Canada and the northern Plains will flow into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, bringing above-normal temperatures and drier conditions. Expect more 90-degree-plus days.

"I'm not expecting extreme heat," says Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's long-range forecaster. "But periods of warmer-than-normal temperatures will come and go during summer."

That could be good corn growing weather assuming crops have plenty of moisture. For much of the summer, the central and southern mid-Atlantic will come alive with showers and thunderstorms, adds Pastelok.

Corn pricing weather ahead?
The northern and central Plains and much of the Midwest will face drier and warmer conditions this summer compared to last summer, notes Pastelok. "Drier-than-normal conditions in the winter and for the most part this spring will lead to a drier soil and hotter temperatures. This can put stress on crops for this region."

Southeastern Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma may have a shot at dodging this extreme heat with more possibilities for rain. He foresees spotty June thunderstorms, some severe, breaking out in this tornado-prone region.


Mid-summer will feel hot across the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. "They will be dry, and the heat will just build as we go into the summer months, especially June and July," he adds.

Week-to-week soil moisture trend
The ebb and flow of surface and subsurface soil moisture makes or breaks crop production and pasture quality. What really matters in the week-to-week trend. Here's a quick peek at what USDA's National Ag Statistics Service reporters in the Northeast were seeing last week and this week for a combination of surface and subsurface moisture:

Last week: 43% to 53% adequate; 34% to 39% surplus
This week: 44% to 52% adequate; 35% to 41% surplus

Last week: 70% to 79% adequate; 34% to 39% surplus
This week: 80% to 88% adequate; 8% to 15% surplus

New England
Last week: 52% to 55% adequate; 45% surplus
This week: 46% to 48% adequate; 53% to 54% surplus

* New Jersey
Last week: 85% to 86% adequate; 10% to 13% surplus
This week: 84% to 87% adequate; 10% to 11% surplus

New York
Last week: 34% to 43% adequate; 57% to 63% surplus
This week:  42% to 45% adequate; 55% to 56% surplus

Last week: 75% to 85% adequate; 8% to 18% surplus
This week: 80% to 81% adequate; 9% to 15% surplus
Bottom line: No significant soil moisture shift yet.