April was extremely cold for much of the Midwest, which caused delays for many growers. However, soil temperatures rose above the May 10-year average for most Midwestern counties, with the exceptions of soggy NW Iowa and Southern Minnesota. As a result, most regions have been able to get most crops planted on schedule.
The focus for June is weed management as we cannot over stress the importance of aggressive weed practices. Based upon following the pre-planting recommendations, our fields should be in good shape with the seed the ground and a weed free start. But we must work to keep it that way!
At AgriSecure, we recommend a pass with your cultivator every 3 to 5 days until the crops canopy covers the rows which creates the best weed control method — shade. Every 3 to 5 days may seem like overkill, but with temperatures ranging between highs in the mid 80’s and lows in the 60’s we are gaining about 22 GDUs per day. Most grasses and broad leaves need approximately 100 GDUs to germinate, so disturbing the top inch of soil every 3 to 5 days is an effective method to keep weeds from getting a start. By working at a shallow depth, we are not disturbing the recently planted seed bed.
AgriSecure recommends using a tine weeder, rotary hoe, or field drag as the best options as each is effective and can be run at high rates of speed (10-12 mph). Gas flamers are also an option, but more caution is required on small crops, so please speak with your Account Executive prior to deploying this tool. Once the crop has emerged, continue making passes every 4 to 7 days with a tine harrow or rotary hoe; with the goal of getting at least 2 or 3 passes. Remember, we recommended higher seeding rates which enables the lose of a few plants during after emergence cultivation – the primary goal is to stay ahead of the weeds.
Switch to a crop cultivator once you can no longer continue with the tine weeder or rotary hoe. Make sure to have on wide sweeps. For example, a field planted with 30-inch rows should have at least 26-inch wide sweeps for most effective control. The first pass with the cultivator should be set several to several inches in depth as our goal is to loosen the soil for the second pass. The crop should be well established prior to second pass (e.g., corn should be nearing knee high). For the second pass, if you have ridging wings put them down. If you do not have ridging wings, we recommend shortening the top link on your tractor to give your cultivator a sharper angle of impact. In either case, the setting should maximize the amount of dirt thrown towards the plant rows to cover the bottom few inches of the plants. This will not hurt the crop; however it will bury any small weeds in the row which were not killed mechanically. At this point, the crop will be in great shape with clean center rows, plants with a solid dirt base, and small inter row weeds covered.
The first 30-40 days of the crop do require a great deal of care and effort; however, with an aggressive approach the fields should be weed free and looking great.
Domestic Supply vs. Demand Growth — How many farms across the US are certified organic? The answer is surprisingly low. The number of farms transitioning to organic is increasing every year, but demand continues to outpace supply. This leads to a very positive outlook on premium pricing for organic production. The latest published survey results from the USDA revealed the U.S. has 14,217 organic farms (see map).
In the Midwest the total number of organic farms, includes Iowa = 732, Illinois = 205, Minnesota = 545, Nebraska = 162, North Dakota = 114, and South Dakota = 86. Unfortunately, slow domestic growth has forced end-users to rely upon imports to fill the supply gap.
Price Outlook — Prices have experienced some recent upward movement due to spring conditions along with several rejections of organic imports (particularly organic feed grade corn). In next month’s newsletter, we hope to have additional insight on how the spring weather has impacted prices. Please see the graph below, provided by the USDA, which provides a view of the market movement of feed grade corn and soybeans since January.
(USDA National Organic & Feedstuffs Report, May 2018)
In the short-term, please contact your Account Manager if you have 2017 organic feed grade yellow corn open for sale as AgriSecure has recently been contacted by a group motivated to obtain some bushels.