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July 2010 Archive for Syngenta Field Report

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The Syngenta Field Report features information and experts from Syngenta sharing observations about issues growers are dealing with in the fields.

Residual v. glyphosate herbicides

Jul 30, 2010
Gordon Vail

This photo shows an early post-emergence residual herbicide on the left compared to waiting for a glyphosate application on the right.

Here’s a pre-emergence herbicide on the left compared to the field waiting for it’s first over-the-top glyphosate application on the right.

Both photos were taken by one of my colleagues in southern Illinois in June.  And although these plots will be followed through to yield, you can see the difference a residual makes.  What more can I say?

What’s the value of atrazine?

Jul 27, 2010
Chuck Foresman
As planters and sprayers rolled across the Corn Belt this season, we asked a few growers and retailers about the value atrazine brings to their operation. They found it easier to explain how not having atrazine would affect them.
Here are some of their thoughts:
  • Alternative herbicides to replace atrazine would increase weed control costs 2 to 3 times what growers currently spend.
  • One key benefit of atrazine is the synergy it creates with other herbicides – it helps them work more effectively. Without atrazine in the tank, higher rates of other herbicides would be needed to get the same results.
  • More weeds tend to escape non-atrazine programs, causing corn yield loss.
  • Additional passes may be required for effective weed control, which costs time and fuel, and adds to soil compaction.
  • Additional tillage may be required in some areas to manage weeds, causing more soil erosion and using more fuel.
  • Atrazine provides another mode of action to help fight weed resistance – especially resistance to glyphosate. And, with less residual weed control, we will likely see faster weed species shifts in fields.
  • With the loss of application flexibility that comes with atrazine, herbicide crop injury would become a bigger concern.
  • Without quality weed control, more production acres would be required to produce the corn needed to meet world demand. That could mean putting more marginal acres into production.
What value does atrazine bring to your operation? How would not having atrazine affect your farm?

Google it

Jul 23, 2010
Anthony Transou
Need to find next season’s college football schedule? Wondering what others think of the new tractor model you are considering for this fall? Need to convert acres to hectares? Want to see issues raised for the next farm bill? Or find out where you can get that part you need to get the old auger running?
The standard answer today is, “Google it.” 
Google and other search engines have made it easier than ever to find information and answers – even for the ag industry. Identify insects. Look up product labels. Check out results from different tillage systems. The possibilities are endless.
Do you know how Google and others find the information you are looking for? The programmers have a complex, ever-changing algorithm that “crawls” or searches websites and ranks the page so that when you type in your search, the pages that rank highest for that word or phrase show up first.
While nearly instant access to so much information is priceless, you do need to evaluate each source. Check out the site Google sent you to. Is it a university or company site? Or is it just a random blog post that happens to mention your key phrase? Online, it’s a good idea to verify information against a few sources that appear to be reliable as you make decisions. 

How often do you Google?

How much yield have you lost?

Jul 20, 2010
Gordon Vail
By now, row crops have been relying on their canopy to maintain weed control for the rest of the season. Ears are growing and pods are filling.
But as this Iowa State University article points out, weather conditions this spring and early summer weren’t ideal for timely weed control. Do you have any idea how much delays may have cost you in bushels per acre?
You can estimate yield losses using a very handy web-based model called WeedSOFT. The model is based on university research from across the Corn Belt. So, if you can estimate your weed population density and size at treatment, WeedSOFT can give you an idea of how much yield potential was lost due to competition.
Did you run into challenges getting your weeds under control this season? How much yield did you lose?

Rotting Roots

Jul 16, 2010

Palle Pedersen


Many early-season diseases that live in soil or on crop residue can attack whatever crop you plant in that field.  One common disease is Rhizoctonia root rot.  This fungus overwinters in soil, waiting to attack the next crop you plant.  From corn and soybeans to cereals and cotton – and even vegetables in your garden – most crops are vulnerable to Rhizoctonia.


The most common symptom is damping-off before or after seedlings emerge.  Other symptoms include wilting, brown or red-brown lesions on larger seedlings and young plant stems down to the soil line and on the tap root. Infected stems often break in the lesioned area. Roots may die from a firm, dry, brown or red-brown decay. Emerging roots and stems seem to literally rot away.

Good soil conditions that promote rapid seedling development prohibit Rhizoctonia growth, but since soil conditions aren’t easy to control, a systemic seed treatment fungicide helps protect corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and cotton.

Plant Stress

Jul 13, 2010

Eric Tedford

Stress seems to be a way of life anymore, and we find ways to combat the stress with exercise, hobbies and yoga, for example. Plants undergo stress and it hurts them just as it does us, and as we know from our own experience, one stress usually leads to another. 

One stress that has been a problem the last few years is rain.  Last year, heavy rainfall delayed planting, maturity and harvest for farmers across the Midwest. Some Midwest states have recently experienced too much rain and are having issues with planting or replanting.

Reports from the University of Missouri say the wet weather may help fuel the development of Septoria brown spot and frogeye leaf spot in soybean. You can be proactive and help prevent yield loss by applying a preventive strobilurin fungicide, when conditions are conducive to disease. Strobilurin fungicides have proven disease prevention and may offer plant physiological benefits throughout the season.

If a season isn’t too wet, then it might be too dry.  In 2009, the combination of drought and a deep freeze was responsible for close to 50 percent crop loss in some areas of the Southwest.  You can help ease your plants’ stress by helping them preserve water and use it more efficiently.  Remember that fungicide you applied to protect your corn against disease?  Check to see if it increases water use efficiency, because if it’s a strobilurin, it does. 

This year your plants could be put under any number of stressors which could lead to more stress in your life!  Since your plant can’t do yoga, applying a strobilurin fungicide can be an important step in reducing potential stresses in 2010. 

Has weather been a stress in your area?

Grasshoppers: Could They Ruin Crops Once Again?

Jul 09, 2010
Caydee Savinelli

On July 26, 1931, a swarm of grasshoppers attacked crops throughout the Heartland, devastating millions of acres in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. reports the swarm blocked out the sun, cornstalks were eaten and fields were left completely bare. This was long before most of us where born, but could we see a repeat this summer?
Media reports for the last few weeks tell us to be prepared for an invasion of these pests. Researchers who study grasshoppers say this could be the largest population they’ve seen in 30 years. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection service says there could be severe grasshopper outbreaks in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology has a website dedicated solely to grasshoppers, including what to look for, hazard maps and how to treat them.
Researchers believe the past year’s grass will be the first place grasshoppers establish themselves, so it’s important for growers with cattle to be on the lookout for populations and treat them early. These grasshoppers could also attack wheat, barley, canola, corn, soybean, alfalfa and sunflower, so growers need to monitor their crops and be prepared to spray those populations. 

Have you seen grasshoppers in your area?

Resistance management recommendations promote change

Jul 06, 2010
Chuck Foresman

As glyphosate-resistant weeds spread, retailers and dealers have been making sound agronomic recommendations to manage the problem. And growers are listening.
A Syngenta survey found that 55 percent of retailers in the Midwest recommend a pre-emergence residual herbicide in soybeans, while another 17 percent recommend tank mixing. And a few university experts even developed a “Top Ten” list of reasons to diversify weed management. Those messages have gained traction, and we are starting to see change.
Although crop acres treated with glyphosate continue to increase, the acres receiving glyphosate-only applications are decreasing. A University of Illinois survey at a series of events, found that only 28 percent of the growers surveyed said they used a glyphosate-only program in their soybeans, evidence that they are listening to recommendations, changing their practices and learning to fight glyphosate weed resistance.

For customized weed control plans, expert advice and research, visit

The power of “agvocates” on social networks

Jul 02, 2010
Anthony Transou
If you have a Facebook page, you probably have a variety of Facebook friends, and your “friend count” is probably higher than the number of people you talk to each day. Or maybe you’re LinkedIn. Or tweeting. Or lurking on blogs like this one. 
Chances are, you are interacting online with people outside of the ag industry, especially when you consider your Facebook friends.   With ag under pressure from a variety of sources, many in the industry have decided to use the voice of social networks to be active advocates of agriculture, or “agvocates,” like @kansfarmer and @THEFARMGUY.
You don’t have to tweet to be heard, but are you taking advantage of the opportunities you have to tell your story? 
Start simply. You can post bits and pieces of your story on your Facebook status to help non-ag friends understand what you do. You can forward links to your favorite blogs. You can connect them to other “agvocates” via social networks or encourage them to follow your favorites on Twitter.
You have a voice. What other ideas do you have to become an advocate for your industry?
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