Farm Talk

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May 22, 2012

Specialists discuss spring crops at SEARC field day in Parsons

Parsons, Kansas — Just like the farming community it serves, the Southeast Agricultural Research Center (SEARC) will be cutting wheat a little early this year.

But while farmers will be looking for big yields, the scientists will harvest a bumper crop of information.

At the recent SEARC Crops Field Day near Parsons, Kan., area growers viewed 19 hard red winter varieties and six soft wheats. According to SEARC Research Assistant Kelly Kusel, the varieties are well ahead of schedule, heading from April 4-16.

Kansas State University wheat breeder Allan Fritz and seed company representatives provided information on various varieties.

Fritz said he’s expecting good yields and suggested that growers evaluate varieties based on traits that can be easily managed, in addition to yield. Rust, for instance, can be controlled with a fungicide treatment while barley yellow dwarf is difficult to impact with an insecticide. That means growers need to look for some level of barley yellow dwarf resistance in the varieties they choose, he said.

For southeast Kansas, Fritz advised that important traits include scab resistance and the ability to grow well in wet soils. K-State has 30 experimental lines growing at SEARC that will be evaluated based on southeast Kansas conditions.

K-State Area Extension Agronomist Doug Shoup said producers have some alternatives to consider if they’re battling glyphosate resistant waterhemp. Successful herbicide control of resistant pigweed, or other members of the amaranth clan, is highly dependent on application before the target weeds are too tall — for most chemicals, under 8 inches.

Post treatment options for corn, besides glyphosate, include Impact or Armezon — which have the same active ingredient — Callisto, Laudis, Status and Liberty on Liberty Link corn. The herbicides, Shoup pointed out, have different growth stage restrictions and pre-harvest interval requirements so producers should read and follow label directions.

On soybeans, growers still have preplant options as well as post-emerge. A long list of products include 2,4-D, Clarity, Banvel, Liberty and Gramoxone — all preplant or preemerge treatments. Cobra, Blazer, and Flexstar are post treatments but control is limited to very small pigweed plants.

Dual II Mag, Outlook and Warrant can be used as a postemergence partner to extend residual control prior to certain soybean growth stages, Shoup said.

For doublecrop beans, he noted that tillage or burning wheat residue can control emerged waterhemp in wheat stubble. For herbicide applications, Shoup suggested using higher rates, adding that waterhemp clipped off by the combine header may be tougher to control.

Glyphosate and 2,4-D can be used as a harvest aid prior to planting but the agronomist cautioned that coverage could be a problem.

Dan Sweeney, SEARC soil and water management agronomist, summarized a portion of the 30 years of tillage research conducted at the facility.

Comparing no-till with systems that included either reduced or conventional tillage, Sweeney said that in clay upland soils, crops grown under some tillage had an advantage. For all comparisons, tilled systems produced higher yields 40 percent of the time with no significant difference 60 percent of the time.

Corn and milo benefitted the most from some tillage with less of an advantage for wheat and soybeans.

Sweeney cautioned that his summary looked only at agronomic factors, not economic ones.

DeAnn Presley, K-State soil management specialist, discussed vertical tillage. Increasingly popular with growers, vertical tillage is a high-speed (8-10 mph) operation that cuts residue and works only the soil surface, leaving most of the residue on top.

Facilitating the breakdown of residue is a primary motivation for using vertical tillage, as well as drying the surface for timely planting. Depending on the configuration of gangs and type of disks used, vertical tillage implements have some degree of lateral action that levels the surface.

Presley discussed a study in northeast Kansas in which long-term no-till was compared with no-till with one vertical tillage operation. There was little difference in soil density, she said. The vertical tillage ground had slightly weakened soil structure and water infiltration was somewhat reduced. There was, however, no difference in yields.

A 2010 study in Wilson County compared vertical tillage with a strip-till system and found that stand and yields were very similar. Vertical tillage does offer an opportunity to reduce surface compaction as well as incorporating lime or fertilizer.

“Vertical tillage allows for the benefits of high residue while providing some of the benefits of tillage,” Presley said.

She suggested that producers interested in vertical tillage should try an implement, brush away the residue, and check for seedbed uniformity.

David Frey of the Kansas Wheat Commission told producer that there is a critical need to boost wheat research. State and federal funding for that effort has dropped significantly and, despite a dramatic drop in both Kansas and U.S. wheat acres, global demand for wheat is increasing.

Wheat breeding in Kansas is largely funded by public dollars and the drop in available funds means there is more pressure to identify other sources.

“We need to step up in the wheat industry in Kansas,” he said. “We need to reach out to industry — all segments — to invest in our future through the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation.”

Frey referred to the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center under construction on the K-State campus. The goal of the facility, he said, is, “new varieties quicker.”

The $8.3 million, 35,000 square foot building will house offices, laboratories and greenhouses and is expected to be completed in December of this year.

For more information on the project, go to: www.kansaswheatresearch.org.

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