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Serving: United States

Carson named to FSA committee

USDA ANNOUNCED the appointment of Robert A. Carson Jr., a farmer from Marks, Miss., to a position on the Farm Service Agency's state committee in Mississippi.

FSA state committees are responsible for the general direction and supervision of state FSA programs. The committee keeps farmers informed of agency program activities and resolves appeals and complaints. Members maintain cooperative relationships with the agribusiness community.

Carson is the owner and operator of Buckskin Planting Co. in Marks. Besides growing cotton on his 2,000-acre farm in Quitman County, he also produces corn, soybeans and grain sorghum.

Besides a number of positions with the Stoneville, Miss.-based Delta Council and the National Cotton Council of America, Carson most recently has served as president of Cotton Council International, the export promotion arm of the cotton industry.

New Massey 5400 tractors match power with comfort

Improved power and comfort boost productivity in the 60 to 90 horsepower 5400 Series tractors recently introduced by Massey Ferguson.

The Tier II Perkins 1104C series engines minimize emissions while maximizing fuel economy and power.

From the synchromesh transmission to the dual pump hydraulic system, the 5400s are engineered to use that power to its maximum efficiency, while the new cab design maximizes operator efficiency and comfort.

“The MF 5400 series offers operators in the 60 to 90 horsepower range a new level of productivity,” says Rene Boivin, general marketing manager, Massey Ferguson. “Engine, transmission, hydraulics and cab are all engineered to meet the highest expectations.”

The MF 5435 (60 PTO hp), 5445 (70 PTO hp), 5455 (80 PTO hp) and 5460 (90 PTO hp) are all powered by Perkins 1104C engines with Fastram combustion systems. The environmentally friendly Tier II engines reduce emissions and fuel use. The mechanical fuel injection further improves fuel economy, while the Fastram combustion system precisely controls combustion for lower noise levels and fuel consumption, while maintaining maximum power production.

Transmission controls

A gearbox lever on the right-hand console controls the synchromesh transmission with 16 forward and 16 reverse speeds, while the forward/reverse shuttle lever is mounted to the left of the steering wheel. Speedshift, standard on the MF 5400s, provides a needed powershift under load with the touch of a button on the gearbox lever. A power shuttle transmission and creeper and super-creeper speeds are also available as options.

The dual pump, open center hydraulic system supplies 15 gpm to remotes, reserving high pressure (1,900-psi) flows for steering remotes and 3-point hitch, with additional flow going to the PTO clutch, differential lock and transmission. MF 5400s come standard with two remotes with the option of two more.

With the addition of factory installed front-end hydraulics and optional front mounted 3-point hitch linkage, MF5400s readily accept front mount snow blowers, mowers and other implements. Their 5,500-pound (2500-kg) front lift capacity and 6,600-pound (2993-kg) rear lift capacity combined with Electronic Linkage Control (ELC) for accuracy and ease of operation make the MF 5400s ideal for multi-tasking.

“These tractors are engineered for versatility and hard work,” says Boivin. “The new cab is designed to complement that engineering with its superior visibility and clear sight lines, front and rear, as well as comfort and convenience.”

Large cab

The 61-square foot cab is larger than anything else in its class. Major tractor function controls, including gearbox shift lever, hand throttle, ELC, hydraulic remotes and PTO controls, are conveniently grouped on the right hand console. Instruments, gauges and warning lights are arranged on the dash for clear and immediate viewing. The optional extra wide air ride swivel seat with arm rests bring a new level of comfort to the long hours spent in a tractor, while the high capacity, high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems keep operators alert and productive.

For more information on Massey Ferguson, visit

Industry groups commend deferral of biotech wheat

Monsanto says it will defer development of its Roundup Ready trait in wheat until other biotechnology traits are in the marketplace. While expressing support for biotechnology applications in wheat, the three national wheat organizations commended Monsanto for its decision.

“We understand and respect Monsanto's decision to defer development,” said Alan Lee, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates. “While we believe that biotechnology has a definite place in the future of wheat production, the market is not yet ready for the introduction of this new technology. This deferral should reassure our customers that we're not rushing to market prematurely, and it gives us more time to do the advance work that will be necessary for the eventual commercialization of biotechnology.”

“Technology has been a central part of U.S. wheat production for many years,” said Mark Gage, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. “Wheat production and the quality of our product have steadily improved because of technology adoption, and we view biotechnology as the next tool in the toolbox. Monsanto's deferral does not halt biotechnology development; Roundup Ready wheat is ‘on the shelf’, and there are other traits coming forward that will find their place in 21st century wheat production.”

“Monsanto has been very open with us in dialogue; they've asked frank questions and we've had many candid discussions,” said Bruce Hamnes, chairman of the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee. “This decision demonstrates that we're taking a very thoughtful approach to commercialization, and also illustrates that the pledges and milestones Monsanto set out were sincere.”

Carl Casale, executive vice president of Monsanto, said that the company will continue to monitor the wheat industry's desire for crop improvements, via breeding and biotechnology, to determine if and when it might be practical to move forward with a biotech wheat product.

“This decision allows us to defer commercial development of Roundup Ready wheat, in order to align with the potential commercialization of other biotechnology traits in wheat, estimated to be four to eight years in the future,” Casale said.

Rice group pleased with Cuban trip

Linda Zaunbrecher of Gueydan, La., is ready to go back to Cuba, but she said she hopes next time she goes as a tourist. Zaunbrecher was the only Louisiana representative on a recent five-day goodwill organized by the USA Rice Federation.

More rice sales to Cuba could benefit the industry, according to LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi, who said Cuba was the largest buyer of American rice when the U.S. trade embargo was imposed in the 1960s.

As for the April trip, Zaunbrecher, who is active with the Rice Federation and also represents the LSU AgCenter on the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, said luck more or less placed her there.

Originally, rice farmer Jackie Loewer of Branch, La., was scheduled to go, but when he couldn't make it, he recommended Zaunbrecher instead.

“I got in on it because it was planting time, and I was free to go,” said Zaunbrecher, whose husband Wayne is a rice farmer.

Cuba currently buys a limited amount of American rice from Riceland Foods, Zaunbrecher said, and agreements were signed during the trip that could lead to more rice sales. But mostly the meetings were a way for the Americans to meet officials with the Cuban trade ministry called ALIMPORT, she said.

“We were a goodwill group,” Zaunbrecher explained.

Salassi, the LSU AgCenter economist, points out there's no way of knowing if the demand would be the same as it was before the trade embargo of the 1960s, but he said Cuba “would be a good market for us because it's close.”

USA Rice Chairman Gary Sebree, a rice grower from Arkansas, said the trip strengthened the relationship with buyers and consumers of rice in Cuba.

“Cuba is estimated to import 550,000 tons of rice this year; however, only a fifth of that comes from the United States due to U.S.-imposed export restrictions,” Sebree said.

The USA Rice delegation was among an estimated 400 farmers and food traders in Havana to make trade contacts.

The group met with ALIMPORT, Cuba's food import agency, and pledges were signed to continue joint promotion efforts and to work to create a more open trade environment.

One of the highlights was hearing a speech by Cuban leader Fidel Castro, according to Zaunbrecher, who said she was only 20 feet from the 77-year-old dictator whose remarks were translated by an interpreter.

“He looked frail,” she said. But he gave a speech filled with statistics and details, she said, and he didn't appear to be reading from any notes.

“I was pretty much in awe, just being there for that to happen,” Zaunbrecher said.

Castro excused himself from a steak and lobster dinner that followed his speech, Zaunbrecher said. But before leaving he gave assurances that American companies would be treated fairly.

“He would point his finger and say, ‘You don't have to worry. You're going to get your money,’” Zaunbrecher said.

While full two-way trade between the United States and Cuba is prohibited, cash sales of U.S. agricultural goods are allowed.

Cuba has bought much of its rice from Vietnam, but the quality is inferior to American rice, Zaunbrecher said.

She said the USA Rice group toured a rice mill and farm. Some of the rice fields appeared to be stressed, she said, but the explanation was given that fertilizer wasn't obtained when it was needed.

“Wayne (her husband) would not have liked the size of the panicles,” Zaunbrecher said of the rice plants she saw.

She said the old architecture in parts of Havana reminded her of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but many of the buildings need maintenance. “What I could do with a pressure washer there,” she said.

She said American vehicles from the 1950s fill the streets, and photos of old movie stars who frequented Cuba before Castro took power lined their hotel walls.

“It was like being in another time,” she said. “Some of us dated ourselves by being able to recognize the year of some of the cars.”

Zaunbrecher recalled that Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959 when she was a student at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). Several of her friends were dating Cuban students who returned to their homeland, she said. “Younger people have studied this in history, but I lived it.”

While the USA Rice delegation was in Cuba, the U.S. House of Representatives Cuba Working Group also was in Cuba, Zaunbrecher said. Many of the congressmen on the panel want to lift the general ban on travel to the island nation by Americans.

Zaunbrecher and her USA Rice colleagues were allowed to travel to Cuba by the U.S. government because they were on a trade-related visit. By law, American tourists are barred from legally going to Cuba.

Bruce Schultz writes for the LSU AgCenter.

It's not the rice pudding, it's the $8 experience

What do these have in common: a $4.50 cup of cappuccino in one of Starbucks' warm-and-cozy stores and an $8 bowl of rice pudding at Rice to Riches, a far-out, space ship-design New York eatery, where diners are surrounded by flat screen TVs extolling the virtues of the gooey dish (“21 delicious flavors: Chocolate Carnivore, Cinnamon Sling, Caramel Yogurt Crackdown,” etc.)?

Both, says Andrew Zolli, take a product and surround it with a compellingly-designed environment to create “an experience.” Rather than a simple cup of Joe or a hunk of sweetened rice, they encase their products in an image that attracts customers willing to pay a premium price.

Zolli, a futurist for Z+ Partners, a Brooklyn, N.Y., firm that consults with companies to understand and shape their future and develop forward-looking brands and businesses, says we're moving rapidly into the “experience economy.”

“Design is becoming increasingly important, as companies seek ways to encourage people to spend more,” he said at a recent conference for editors of Primedia Business Magazines and Media (which include the Farm Presses) at St. Petersburg, Fla. “Increasingly, companies are moving away from a service economy toward one characterized by creativity.”

Another major shift, Zolli says, is away from the “green” movement of the '60s and '70s and the ecological sustainability movement of the '80s and '90s to “evocation — ecological thinking combined with innovation, using nature as a source of business competitiveness and as a source of technology.”

Example: The lotus plant, which grows up through mud and muck, yet keeps a clean leaf surface in order to most effectively collect the sun's rays. Science has analyzed this very specific biological mechanism and a commercial company has transferred it to a house paint, Lotusan, that repels dirt and stains. The same principle is being used in easy-to-clean floor surfaces

And, Zolli says, in Zimbabwe there is an extraordinary building, the country's largest commercial/shopping complex, that uses dramatically less energy by copying the principle indigenous termites use to keep their mounds at a constant temperature 24/7.

“These are just two of many ways research and business will combine green thinking with green science.”

The biotechnology that has revolutionized much of agriculture will, over the next 50 years, be “as important as information technology has been over the past 50 years,” Zolli says. He refers to it as “hacking the genome.”

There'll be more “pharming,” growing crops for medical purposes. “We'll see plants growing cancer cures tailored to the individual, based on his/her genetic code, as well as solutions to malnutrition and other health problems.”

Longer life spans are also in the cards. “Scientists have recently been able to get a microscopic nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to live the human equivalent of 540 years. That is astounding.” Pharmaceutical companies “are betting heavily” on life-extending research, Zolli says, which will increasingly raise the questions: How much longer do we want to live? And at what cost? “We're reshaping what it means to be a human being,” he says.

'04 Election proving difficult to call

The American people have not decided to “fire” George W. Bush, but a lot could happen between now and November to undermine his presidency and prevent him from serving a second term, a political analyst says.

“About half of Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president,” says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report. “And close to that, about 2 percentage points below that, disapprove. It's almost evenly divided between those who approve and disapprove.

“Traditionally, when you have these kinds of numbers on the president's job approval, the president's re-election is in doubt,” Rothenberg told members of Delta 1000 and the Delta Council's board of directors at its annual meeting at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.

Despite that historical background, says Rothenberg, an analyst for CNN who frequently appears on other network news shows, the majority of Americans have not indicated they are ready to change presidents.

“You have not decided, or rather the country has not decided, to fire George W. Bush,” he said. “Maybe you think he should be fired, maybe you think he should be rehired or maybe some combination, I don't know. But you have not yet decided to rehire him or to fire him.”

Rothenberg said that if the president's job approval ratings get up into the 50s so that 55 to 58 percent of the people approve of the job he's doing, “he will be in great shape. If only 25 percent of Americans approve, he will be in terrible shape. But he's somewhere in the middle.”

The national polls aren't making the job of handicapping the presidential race any easier, says Rothenberg, who was making his third straight appearance at the Delta agricultural and industrial development organization's annual gathering.

“About half the recent polls say Sen. John Kerry (the apparent Democratic nominee) is ahead, about half say Bush is ahead and a couple say they're in a dead heat,” he noted. “So we have a nation that is evenly divided, according to the polls.”

Speaking a few days after the release of photographs of Iraqi prisoners being abused in U.S. prisons, Rothenberg said it's difficult to gauge how much, if any, impact that and adverse economic developments are having on the presidential campaign.

“In spite of all the bad news for Bush, half of the country supports him and half the country opposes him,” he said. “And opinion is solidifying. It's pretty strong. Now you can decide whether you're in one camp or the other, but there are only about 10 percent of Americans who have not yet decided who they're going to vote for.”

Those who are still on the fence will base their decisions on a variety of factors, including personality, whether they're comfortable with the president or not comfortable with the president, whether they can connect with Sen. Kerry and his style and with where they stand on taxes, abortion, trade and other issues.

One of the indications of how difficult this race will be to predict comes from an NBC poll that compared how voters felt about a number of issues at the beginning of March versus how they felt about them in early May.

The poll indicated that, as a whole, the electorate was more pessimistic about the direction of the country at the beginning of May than in early March. They also were less approving of President Bush's handling of such issues as the war in Iraq and the economy.

But when voters were asked whether they favored Bush or Kerry again in May, there was no movement.

“How can it be that people could be so much less approving of the president's handling of issues between March and May and yet with Bush versus Kerry, no change?” he asked. “I think it's that either you like the president or you don't.

“You either decide that he's done a good job; he's a decent man; that you like his values; and you connect with him or you don't. You don't think he's smart enough; you don't think he's honest enough with the American public; you think he's made big mistakes; or you think he's not a politician; he's a straight talker; maybe he's not Albert Einstein; but he's got good instincts.”

Rothenberg said the “horrendous” pictures of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad will provide an interesting test of the president's popularity over the next few weeks.

News reports the day Rothenberg spoke on May 7 said the International Red Cross had spoken to officials at high levels of the U.S. government about the abuse some time ago, but that the White House did nothing.

“This is the kind of unexpected event that could change things,” he said. “I'm not saying it will. It may end up harming him — that's one side. Critics will ask, ‘Why didn't the president respond when the Red Cross warned him about the mistreatment?’ Supporters will say, ‘There is a war going on — the president had other things to do.’

“I don't know what conclusions you all are going to come to about that. But it seems to me that this is an important issue. As new events develop, it could have an impact on the race or it could turn out to have no impact. It's those kinds of unexpected developments that political watchers will be following to try to figure out this election.”


Massey introduces 6400 Series tractors

The new 6400 Series tractors from Massey Ferguson introduce a level of power, control and comfort not available in competitive tractors in the 95 to 155 horsepower range. The new Perkins and SISU engines, Dyna-Shuttle transmission and multiple hydraulic power options combine with a new, more spacious cab to get more work out of available hours with less operator fatigue.

Engine design on the 6400 Series starts with a single-piece cast iron block that allows for a narrow frame, tight turning radius and superior visibility. The wastegate turbocharged and air-to-air charge cooled engines meet EPA specifications for Tier II compliance and operate more quietly. The MF 6465 (95 hp), 6475 (105 hp) and 6480 (115 hp) are powered by Perkins 1106 engines with proven Perkins Fastram combustion systems.

New 6.6 ETA SISU engines power the MF 6480 (125 hp), 6490 (140 hp) and 6495 (155 hp), for torque increases of up to 20 percent.

The Dyna-Shuttle transmission with its 4-speed autoshift in each of 8 gears gives operators 15 forward speeds in the working range, 46 percent more working speeds than the closest competitor. The Eco gearbox and EEM translate engine power into road speed more efficiently and quietly, reaching 25 mph at only 1,800 rpm, reducing fuel use and extending engine life.

Speed matching automatically selects the right Dyna-Shuttle ratio according to forward speed when changing gears or range. Efficiencies don't stop there.

MF 6400 hydraulics can be custom designed to take advantage of a rear axle lifting capacity that is the highest in the industry. Three system options combined with options for front-end hydraulic remote valves and the Remote Valve Management System (RMS) make it possible to fit a hydraulic system to operating needs.

The open center hydraulic system supplies 15 gpm at remotes. The Twin Flow system option with its two gear pumps delivers a high flow of 26 gpm and a load sensing operating mode for optimum control and performance. A closed center pressure and flow compensated system offers a maximum flow of 29 gpm, supplying high-pressure oil for steering, remotes and 3-point hitch.

A low-pressure divider valve supplies the PTO clutch, PFA, differential lock and transmission. If there is no demand for high-pressure oil, the system automatically goes to a low-pressure standby mode.

Even the spacious 61 square foot cab exceeds expectations. At 71 decibels, it is the quietest cab in the industry. All major tractor and implement controls are on the right-hand console, while the front console and dash gauges and indicator lights give clear and immediate information on tractor performance and operations.

The exterior lighting touchpad and schematic shows at a glance what lights are on and adjusts lighting patterns at a touch. A systems monitor indicates engaged systems and maintenance needs on a tractor schematic.

Enhanced airflow and ventilation passages provide optimum cooling and heating while the HVAC system automatically recalls selected temperature settings at startup. Even the cab air filter with its outside access hatch is designed for easy maintenance while keeping dust out of the cab.

Long hours in the cab seem shorter thanks to the fully adjustable air-ride swivel seat.

Select the wider deluxe seat option with heated back and automatic weight adjustment.

“These tractors are designed to work hard and smart,” says Rene Boivin, general marketing manager, Massey Ferguson. “An important part of working smart is reducing operator fatigue whenever possible. These cabs do just that, from their smoother ride and improved airflow to convenient control placement. From engine to cab, they get more out of every day.”

For more information on Massey Ferguson, visit

Replanting reduced: Seed treatments give soybeans edge

The risk associated with early soybean planting is not nearly as great as many of you may believe. I admit we need more work in the area of soybeans' ability to withstand cool temperatures, seedling survival after exposure to cold temperatures, cold tolerance among varieties, seed coatings, etc. However, history has proven the risk is much greater with later plantings.

Emergence this spring was not as fast as some would have liked. This was due to a combination of cool temperatures and lack of moisture in many areas. Ironically, the planting dates (mid-March) that have been questioned the most experienced the fastest emergence.

Where planting was delayed due to concerns about future weather or dry soil conditions, planting did not resume until mid- to late April. Mid-April is by no means late, but it is probably surprising to many that the earliest dates had the least trouble emerging.

Some feel that delayed emergence makes young seedlings more susceptible to seedling disease. This could happen, but where a good broad spectrum seed treatment is used in conjunction with high-quality seed, we have not observed this to be true.

However, we have observed pre-emergence herbicides delay emergence. This occurs during a big rain at cracking causing slow growth of seedlings, which may set the plant up for pythium.

Avoid this by applying pre-emergence materials early enough to get a rain prior to emergence, essentially eliminating any injury problems.

Since we started using a broad spectrum seed treatment centered around a pythium material, replanting has been reduced significantly. Seed treatments are nothing more than insurance, but they make a big difference when needed.

Are seed treatments needed in all cases? No, but they are too inexpensive to play a guessing game as to when you should or should not use them.

Many of our early plantings were so early that we could have planted without a seed treatment.

I am not willing to take this chance, but I want you to understand that some stands have been achieved prior to any potential activity from seedling disease because it was too cool and free moisture was not available during emergence. I point this out to make you aware that nothing is absolute and exceptions exist in almost every scenario.

I am not suggesting you eliminate a pythium-based program — I just want you to understand why we utilize seed treatments. If you are having consistent stand problems, use of the proper seed treatment can help.

Many believe “once stressed, always stressed.” This all depends on what caused the stress. Just because a seedling takes two to three weeks to emerge does not mean it was stressed.

Slow emergence in April cannot be compared to delayed emergence in June. High temperatures are what cause problems on later plantings; this is not a problem on early plantings.

Planting seed that are of marginal quality is a problem you will live with all season long.

For this reason, it is important to know the quality of your planting seed. Plant high-quality seed first and plant marginal-quality seed under more optimal conditions.

Another question that has surfaced is “if seedlings are slow to emerge, they are predisposed to other diseases.”

As a whole, most of the late-season foliar diseases that we used to caution you about are no longer a problem in the early planting arena. I have read that SDS has been a factor in the Midwest, but that is there, not here.

I will bet you that if they have more SDS on early plantings it is due to excellent yield potential on early plantings versus later plantings.

SDS is a Midwest problem primarily. Sure we see it here, but only when we have an excellent yield potential due to good growing conditions.

Unless it is an extremely susceptible variety, SDS is an excellent indicator of good yields. If it is observed at a higher incidence in the Midwest, I bet the pattern is probably the same. Based on our observations, slow emergence on early plantings will not contribute to a higher degree of SDS. If it happens, it is due to higher yield potential.

Many have expressed concern about possible cold weather damage, but as of late April we had not experienced any temperatures that caused any alarm.

Planting early is risky, as is planting late, but in a dryland setting you can better maintain your yields early versus late.

You should be aware that all planting systems carry a certain degree of risk: seedling disease, cutworms, hail, flooding, drought, saturated soil conditions just to mention a few. We may at some point push planting dates too far, but it will be no riskier than anything else we do. We may have a field that might experience freeze damage (not frost), but it will not affect the entire crop, due to variability in planting dates.

Those of you who have been utilizing this system for several years probably have a better grasp of this scenario. If you do have problems in the future it will be nothing more than a replant situation (in some fields, not all), and this is a practice we are used to doing more often on later plantings than early.

As you continue to fine-tune this system on your farm, keep one point in mind. If you have to err, err early not late.

Alan Blaine is the Mississippi Extension soybean specialist. e-mail:

Some corn slowed by heavy rains

The big rains that began during the last week of April have yet to depart the Delta. “We were well ahead of schedule with planting,” says Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension corn/wheat specialist. “We had warm weather and got a good start. Then it cooled off a little and the rains arrived.”

Kelly suspects that north of I-40 is where most of the rain has fallen. “There's a lot of corn in the northern half of the state that has just been sitting a while. It's small and needs warm, dry weather.” South of I-40, things are often markedly different.

“There's a big disparity within the state. From Ashley County to Lafayette and Miller counties, the corn looks really nice. I was around Texarkana last week and there was some early-planted corn there almost head-high. They've had warmer temperatures and smaller rains — enough to get the crop up nicely, but not flood anything.”

Tennessee producers are “pretty much” done with corn planting, says Angela Thompson, corn and soybean specialist. “We've had trouble in some areas that have gotten steady rain for a while. Last week, we had some producers looking to replant because of stand loss and some pythium showing up. Where atrazine was used, they'll replant corn. Otherwise, they'll replant with soybeans.”

Thompson hopes to have reached the end of the spring rainy period. “We need this week (the week of May 17) to dry out. We've got producers who've been trying to plant soybeans for the last two weeks.

“But wet fields have kept them from doing that.

“Last week, we had a total of around 4 inches of rain in some areas, which isn't a huge total. What has happened, though, is the rain has been fairly constant — showers regularly that doesn't allow the soils to dry out.”

Erick Larson says few Mississippi producers are complaining about too much rain. The state Extension corn/wheat specialist says “most of our crop needed a rain. We'd even started some irrigation the week before the rains came so the moisture was well-timed.

“Overall, we're in very good shape with relatively few problems this spring. We got the crop planted in a very timely fashion with very few stand problems. Insects haven't been much of a bother. Our corn is anywhere from a foot tall to 5 feet.”

The biggest problems Mississippi has seen so far involve early-season fertility deficiencies. Those pop up every year, though, says Larson. “If that's the only problem, we'll take it.”

Mississippi's wheat, “for the most part” looks good. “We haven't had the same amount of disease development as Arkansas has had.

“It'll be very interesting to see what the glyphosate drift we had back in March affects our overall yield potential. A lot of people will be watching to see that. Fields are yellowing up nicely.

“We're probably 10 days away from first harvest beginning.”

Back in Arkansas, the wheat crop needs some sunshine and warmth. Kelley says during the last 10 days many fields are beginning to yellow.

“There are quite a few fields below I-40 that, if given a week of sunshine, would be ready for harvest.”

The week of May 10, several Tennessee fields were visited by an insect normally not encountered much: billbugs.

“They look sort of like a large weevil and showed up in our corn,” says Thompson. “They will puncture the stem of young corn plants and that, in turn, will cause the plant tops to die. Last week, a field in Gibson County was being considered for treatment.”

Thompson says there isn't an established threshold for billbugs. “If 3 to 5 percent of plants in a field are showing billbug damage, we consider treatment.”

Thompson says she's also hearing of sugarcane beetle showing up. “We began seeing plant damage and finding live beetles in fields last week.

“They aren't really heavy in fields we've checked so I'm not sure they'll be as severe as last year. But we're watching them closely.”


Fendt introduces specialty crops tractor

With wheel widths as narrow as 44 inches (39 inches available by special order), versatility is the hallmark of the Fendt 200 Series tractors just introduced to North America by AGCO Corporation.

The powerful, new generation Fendt 200 Series is specifically designed for labor intensive orchard, vineyard, hop and other high value crops. Front, mid and rear-mount options, flexible hydraulic outlet positioning and an award winning 3-point hitch system make multi-tasking with advanced implements easy.

Growers can match their particular needs to one of four models in the 60 to 90 engine horsepower range, choosing from very narrow to wide configurations, 2 or 4-wheel drive and cab or ROPS designs.

New Tier II, high capacity, Deutz 914 air-cooled, in-line diesel engines produce 15 percent more torque while using 5 percent less fuel. Buyers can choose from the 198 cubic inch (3.2 L) 3-cylinder in the Fendt 206 (50 PTO hp) and 207 (60 PTO hp) tractors or the 262 cubic inch (4.3 L) 4-cylinder in the FENDT 208 (70 PTO hp) and 209 (80 PTO hp) tractors.

Transmission options include the standard 19F/6R synchromesh, 19F/19R shuttle and the 19F/6R synchromesh with an additional 9F/3R creeper gears offering speeds as low as 0.18 mph on the 200V models. The Fendt 208P and 209P tractors feature two additional speeds and a top speed of up to 25 mph (40 kph).

The Fendt 200 Series also features an all new 19.5 gpm hydraulics system including engineering-award-winning 3-point hitch technology. Shock load stabilizing reduces equipment wear and tear by using hydraulics to actively control rear implement bounce and keep front wheels on the ground.

The right-hand console hosts the hydraulic center with electro hydraulic control of up to six spool valves, the Electronic Powerlift Control (EPC) and the swinging, rear, 3-point hitch controls. A single lever operates any two hydraulic valves, essential for proportional control such as lifting and leveling a bucket loader. Also located on the console are controls for the front and rear PTO, 3-point hitch and four-wheel drive activation. Three circuits, the EPC and the swinging rear 3-point hitch can all be operated independently and simultaneously, each under constant oil flow for up to four multi-tasking operations.

One side can even be higher or lower than the other. It is awesome for doing blade or tillage work on hillsides. If the tool swings down hill, you can adjust it mechanically or with the push of a button.”

The Fendt 200 Series features an air-conditioned cab with a roof window for improved overhead visibility.

For more information on Fendt tractors for North America, visit