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CQ Perspectives Sep 2011

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A REMEDY By: Dwight Koops

Volume 21 • Issue 5 • September 2011

®

FOR TODAY'S NEEDED MOISTURE

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF CROP QU EST AG RONOMIC SERVICES, INC.

Regional Vice President Ulysses, Kan.

This summer has been one for the record books. Across a good portion of the High Plains, we have experienced drought and heat issues that rival those tough years in the 1930s, 1950s, and more recently, 1980. In my career as an agronomist, I have never witnessed irrigated corn – watered everyday – wither into a eld of dried up plants in just

over their allotment in any year – even under the most dire circumstances. The consequence can have long-lasting effects. For those wells that went over the allotment this year, a common practice will be to plant wheat behind corn. The wheat crop can be established this fall with 2012 water, and it is reasonable to assume that the producer can stay within the 2012

a matter of days! It was hard to watch. This situation was not necessarily due to drought conditions as it was excessive, relentless and brutal heat. At the same time though, it became quite obvious that irrigation well size did make a difference. The corn under larger capacity wells was able to withstand the heat stress better than under smaller wells – up to a point. Soil type was another factor. Sandy soils with low water holding capacity

allotment to nish out the wheat crop. Then a decision can be made later

 – combined combined with with smaller smaller well capacity capacity really suffered. suffered. Too many elds elds had

sorghum, sunowers and cotton.

to be salvaged as ensilage or baled feed. In Kansas, a drought disaster was declared in many counties clear back in April. In June and July, more counties were added to that declaration. This declaration gave the Division of Water Resources (DWR) the authority to offer additional pumping authority to producers for the remainder of this growing season. Essentially, producers could use 2012 water in 2011. Participants would agree to deduct the 2011 overage from what they are permitted to pump in 2012. The DWR recognized that if a step like this was not taken, all the water applied during the season would be a huge waste of a resource and investment.

If corn is the planned crop in 2012 without a full allotment, decisions need to be made concerning hybrid selection, populations, planting date, end use, etc. None of those decisions will be easy. What we do expect is that most likely any changes from normal rotations due to excessive water use in 2011 will affect the bottom line in a negative way in 2012. The DWR requires producers to le permits for this 2011 overage. Con -

So, those elds that had enough water capacity to raise a good crop, and

paperwork before the end of the year so you are not subject to any penalties under the current regulations. We can only hope that the drought pattern in which a good portion of the High Plains and Southern Plains have been experiencing will not carry into 2012. We in agriculture consider ourselves pretty resilient; but I think this year has tested our metal to the limits. Please do not hesitate to call on your agronomist to help you make those tough decisions about cropping plans for next year.

used an inordinate amount of water early in the season just to sustain the crop, came with a price. Many of these wells surpassed the allotment before the crop was nished.

Water allotments have become a focal point for most decisions related to crop production. They determine which crop is grown, rotations, hybrid maturities, populations, pesticide choices, nozzle packages, equipment upgrades, etc. So, it is understandable that producers are very reluctant to go

whether to go back to a normal rotation in 2013. On the positive side, crop rotation is benecial, and allows us to break weed, disease and insect cycles in a eld. But, diverting from a normal crop

mix can affect an operation’s revenue as well. Other crop choices will need to be considered. Some producers will opt for lower water use crops such as

tact your local Ground Water Management District for details on ling. The deadline is prior to year end. If you le, and then do not go over your 2011

allotment, there is no harm, no foul. In this case, you will still have your entire 2012 allotment. I encourage anyone in these situations to le the proper

Veteran Fertilizer Consultants Warn …

Take a Wait-and-See Attitude

    

Towards Your 2012 Fertilizer Purchases Just like it is critical to have all the resources offered by Crop Quest at your disposal to help plan your cropping season, it is equally important to have a service like NPK Fertilizer Advisory Services (NPKFAS) to keep track of your fertilizer pricing and purchasing options. NPKFAS is a consulting company focused primarily on advising fertilizer dealers and farmers on issues relating to the fertilizer industry. They publish an electronic Dave Asbridge fertilizer newsletter (NPKFAS.com) and do a lot of phone consulting and presentations to farmer, fertilizer buyer and fertilizer industry groups. Dave Asbridge , who has analyzed U.S. and world agriculture for over 30 years and partner Glen Buckley , formerly CF Industries’ Chief Economist for three decades, know fertilizer. They have spent a lot of time helping fertilizer buyers do a better job of knowing whether to make forward purchases and if so, when to carry them out. They also work to develop better ways to Glen Buckley forward purchase fertilizer products. In the fertilizer industry, no one moves without rst consulting with NPKFAS.

Forward Outlook 

Mission Statement Crop Quest is an employee-owned company dedicated to providing the highest quality agricultural services for each customer. The quest of our network of professionals is to practice integrity and innovation to ensure our services are economically and environmentally sound.

Crop Quest Agronomic Services, Inc. Main Ofce: Phone 620.225.2233 Fax 620.225.3199 Internet: www.cropquest.com cqof[email protected]

Crop Quest Board of Directors          

President: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director:

Ron O’Hanlon Jim Gleason Dwight Koops Cort Minor Chris McInteer Rob Benyshek

“Employee-Owned “Employee-Owned & Customer Driven”  ®

PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID DODGE CITY KS PERMIT NO. 433

“We have really good corn prices and the price relationship between corn and soybeans still favors corn,” Asbridge outlines. “We’re expecting an increase in corn acreage in 2012 – probably not as big a jump as it was this year, but it will certainly increase by at least a million acres. We had a near record consumption of fertilizer last fall, but it all fell apart this spring due to the bad weather. However, if the weather cooperates, we’re anticipating another very good fall application season. This is a major reason why fertilizer prices have remained so high. Fertilizer prices are expected to remain strong going into the fall. ” Buckley adds, “You have to look at each of the various nutrients to get an overall feel for the market. As everyone knows, we had a disastrous spring regarding pre-plant application of fertilizers. However, we saw one of the best side-dress fertilizer seasons on record this year. This pretty well cleared out any inventory from the nitrogen side of the business – particularly products like urea and UAN.”

Buckley says all this assures that we’re heading into this fall season with very little inventory and that almost everyone in the supply chain will need to restock. That means farmers are going to be looking at strong prices. “We do expect prices to moderate later this fall,” suggests Buckley. “However, we anticipate prices that will be $100 to $200 above what farmers paid last year.”

 Ammonia  Amm onia The fertilizer experts predict that ammonia is going to be very tight. This scenario, however, can change based on the soybean harvest season. “Since most of the soybean ground is going into corn next year and our bean crop is really late this year, we’re going to have a short window of ammonia application. If we have good weather, we’ll have strong demand for ammonia and prices will remain high,” assures Asbridge. “If we wind up with a very short application season and ammonia doesn’t get out this fall, then you can expect lower pricing in the spring. But going into this fall, ammonia prices will remain high.”

Urea The experts outline that world demand really dictates the price of urea and this year, that demand is at record levels. “Current inventories are critically low and that means a lot of imported urea needs to be brought in. When you factor in the weakness of the U.S. dollar vs. other currencies, it will take a higher bid to get our needed inventory and the farmer will have to pick up that difference in price,” Buckley notes. “The urea market is tight. While we anticipate that prices may be backing off as we near the fall, they are expected to be at least $150 above what farmers paid last year.”

Phosphate Asbridge adds that the phosphate market has some carryover from the spring, but lower production and strong U.S. exports to India and Latin America have tightened supplies. “There is no reason for sellers to drop prices in the near-term, but supplies should improve and prices could moderate later in the fall,” he notes. “Overall, farmers can expect to pay about $150-200 per ton more for phosphates this fall than last fall.” Continued on Page 2

Veteran Fertilzer Consultants ... Continued from Page 1

Potash Buckley says that potash retail prices –which have been gradually trending upward – appear to have hit a plateau. “We expect prices to hold at close to current levels through the end of the calendar year. Although potash produc-

Although NPK Fertilizer Advisory Service’s recommendation is simple, it has been based on market facts and their 30+ years of experience:

ers continue to point out that inventory is down signicantly from the last

two years, it is still close to the long-term average. We don’t see supply as a problem.” And what about the High Plains winter crops? “Regarding winter wheat,” adds Asbridge, “given the weather situation, there’s not going to be a fall fertilizer season on pre-plant winter wheat.  Everyone is probably going to wait for the spring because of the lack of moisture. If farmers get a good crop and the weather looks cooperative, I think you’ll see a lot of topdressing in the spring.”

 1. If your cropping system/management allows, don’t apply fall fertilizers. Wait for the spring when prices will probably stabilize at a lower cost for most fertilizers. 2. If you are going to apply this fall, hold off as long as possible before locking in prices. Prices right now are close to, if not at their highest point of the year.

Combines Provide Unique View of the Operation

E

Even though Mother Nature has not been kind to the High Plains row crop producer this year, don’t let down your guard at harvest. An essential key to growing a successful crop is paying attention during harvest, in order to see where you can avoid production issues for next year. That advice from Vaughn Cook , Production Manager of the 7,800-acre Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm & Ranch Enterprise in Towaoc, CO, is backed by years of experience and a constant commitment to improve. Cook, who oversees 109 center pivot systems gravity-charged from canals bringing water from the McPhee Reservoir 41 miles away, says while you can’t do anything about this year's production at harvest, you can obtain some data and management information that can make you a better crop next season. “The number one item that stands out – especially in irrigated corn – is blocked or malfunctioning irrigation nozzles. Another clear picture can be seen with fertilizer issues, hybrid variations, sprayer malfunctions, weed control, insect management and drainage,” says Cook. “If you’ve been across the elds for many years, these anomalies really stand out. The key, though, is

to make note of them. Don’t just drive over them.” Bruce Seiler , Seiler Farms in Sedgwick, KS, oversees 3,000 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans and wheat and another 500 acres of alfalfa. He says, “After years of farming a particular piece of ground, you get a feel for the variations of the soil for that eld. When harvesting, we are able to

compare our yield map data with our expectations and make plans for the following crop year. And with the extreme dry conditions we faced in 2011, we expect the variations of the various soil types to be more obvious at harvest time. We will be especially vigilant in comparing these items at harvest this year so we can add that to our data package for next year's planting season.” Cook likes to take pictures with his cell phone or jot the zone coordinates down in a notebook to compare with his yield monitor data later. “This is an excellent intelligence gathering opportunity. Don’t just ride the combine, make it a learning and data gathering opportunity that you can take advantage of to improve next years crop.” Cook likes to invite his irrigation managers to ride the combine with him in specic problem elds. “This is an opportunity for the irrigation people to see where they have issues,” says Cook. “They only see the elds from

eye-level whereas in the combine they can see huge areas. Likewise, I invite them to ride with me when I’m in an especially nice eld so they can see

how well their work has paid off.”  Thes e efforts at harvest have prompted Cook to have irrigation managers

Vigilance during the irrigation season has also paid off for Seiler. “We noticed at harvest several seasons back that inconsistency with yields were directly related to nozzle spacing being too wide and causing an inconsistent spray pattern,” Seiler notes. “We have lowered the height of our spray nozzles to 7-feet to minimize evaporation. We now constantly monitor the nozzles for rotation and other issues during the irrigating season.” Seiler adds that from the combine he can see rsthand how their plans are

working and how far new technology tools are improving overall production. “Using yield monitors and grid mapping has helped us tremendously to improve overall soil fertility and make elds more uniform.

"We now plant 30-inch corn one year, and the next year we plant 7.5-inch twin-row soybeans that straddle last year's corn rows,” he explains. “The roots of the new plants follow the old root system from the previous crop allowing them to develop a faster and larger root system. We also use GPS for strip tilling, planting, and spraying. We are correcting soil fertility issues by creating a prescription for our P and K for each eld using grid-mapping

data. This is our sixth year for gathering information with our yield maps.” Another benet Seiler points to from his position on the combine is see ing how their soil management is working out. “During a wet spring, the low areas of the eld may have a poorer population. We have equipped our

scraper with a laser to improve these drainage issues. With strip-till planting and min-till approach, we have minimized our exposure to erosion. We try to control compaction by maintaining the same trafc

lanes using our GPS. In a wet year, when we might have compaction from the grain cart, we inter-row rip after harvest.”  Both Seiler and Cook utilize zone mapping to lay these over their yield maps to give them a real-time look. “Yield monitor data is used hand-in-hand with our Crop Quest Zone Mapping software to see how our management efforts are paying off,” says Cook. “Crop Quest’s John Hecht sits down with all the data and we can see clearly where our management improvements are paying off or if we need to adjust them. It’s good to have someone like John here to help us interpret and analyze all the data.”  In conclusio n Cook adds, “The combine provides a unique view of the farm. Take a note pad or camera-ready cell phone with you. Make plenty of notes and/or take lots of photos of areas you know are issues. And

A CRITICAL RESOURCE By early September, most of us will know what the potential losses are due to the extreme heat and drought conditions throughout much of the High Plains and Southern Plains areas. Mother Nature has shown us once again how critical water is to our survival. We sometimes get complacent during good times and forget about conserving water using every means possible. It takes years like this year to By: Ron O’Hanlon awaken us once again. President In a recent online Kansas State ExtenMember,NationalAlliance sion Agronomy eUpdate newsletter, the writer ofIndependent Crop summarized a research article on the “Effect Consultants, CPCC-I Certied of Stubble Height in a No-Till Wheat-Corn/Grain Sorghum-Fallow Rotation,” by Lucas Haag and Alan Schlegel. It may have been timelier if this article had been written when wheat harvesters could have adjusted their cutting height, but the importance of conserving moisture is essential to recognize. For this study, the crops were planted into wheat stubble of three heights from tallest to shortest: stripped, optimal and short. It was discovered that there were many hidden effects of wheat stubble height on the following rotations of dryland corn or grain sorghum crop. The majority of these effects had a direct inuence on soil moisture, such as, evaporation

suppression, capture of snowfall during winter, protection from soil erosion and suppression of weed growth. Wind velocity, surface radiation

As a conclusion to this study, the researchers found that increasing stubble height improved subsequent corn grain yield and WUE (water use efciency).

The increased grain yields were a result of the increase in kernels per ear and ear population. See the chart below: Corn Grain Yield And Yield Components As Affected By Stubble Height: Tribune, 2007-2010 Stubble Grain Plant Ear Residue Residue: Yield Height Yield Population Population (lb/acre) Ratio (bu/a)

St ri pp ed 9 2. 0a Hig h 8 9. 9a L ow

80 .3 b

Kernel Ears/  WUE Weight Kernels/  Ear Plant (lb/in)

(oz/1,000)

1 5, 50 0 15 ,4 00

1 5, 70 0 1 5, 40 0

6 17 5 6 42 1

1 .2 2 1 .3 5

1 0. 42 1 0. 54

5 21 5 04

1 .0 1 1 .0 0

3 61 3 50

15 ,5 00

1 5, 10 0

5 55 0

1. 30

1 0. 33

4 67

0 .9 8

30 5

The effect of stubble height on grain sorghum yields was less apparent and will require further study, which was in direct contrast to other studies. See chart: Grain Sorghum Grain Yield And Yield Components As Affected By Stubble Height: Tribune, 2007-2010 Stubble Grain Plant Head Residue Residue: Yield Height Yield Population Population (lb/acre) (bu/a) Ratio

S tr ip ped 1 01 .9

interception, and surface temperature all uctuate in various heights of stubble. These components are signicant when it comes to conserving

soil moisture. Many advantages may be found with the effect of stubble height. Long term benets of soil moisture conservation and water efciency can be obtained in nding the ideal height of stubble. With more surface residue the soil qual ity increases; one reason being the stubble enhances the efciency of holding

water. With continuous no-till, an increase in size and number of pores in the soil prole can be found, allowing for more moisture to be absorbed. This

will also lead to less water run-off or pooling that can result in evaporation. These advantages, what seemed to be minor in prior years, have become more

Kernel Heads/  WUE Weight Kernels/  Head Plant (lb/in)

(oz/1,000)

1 8, 30 0

50 ,0 00

5 968

1 .0 8

0 .8 8

2 10 9

2. 87

4 19

Hi gh

1 07 .4

1 8, 90 0

51 ,9 00

6 389

1 .0 8

0 .9 2

2 06 9

2. 84

4 32

L ow

1 02 .9

1 9, 20 0

50 ,2 00

5 978

1 .0 9

0 .9 1

2 07 3

2. 69

4 13

For more information, and further details of the study, see Southwest Research-Extension Center Field Day 2011, K-State publication SRP 1052: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/srp1052.pdf I could go on with more information about conserving soil moisture for the subsequent crop, but hopefully this past summer will help all of us make the necessary changes in our operations to survive the harsh conditions of the High Plains. Visit with your Crop Quest agronomist about soil moisture conservation ideas.

signicant than ever in today’s climate and have been shown in this study.

5

Skeete Armstrong- Agronomist

FIVE NEW PERSPECTIVES

John Gibson- Precision Ag Specialist

Education: B.S. in Agribusiness, West Texas A&M University Hometown: Grady, NM Based From: Northwest KS Main Focus: Corn, Milo, Wheat, & Sunowers Interests & Activities: Fishing, Reading & Spending Time With Family and Friends.

Skeete Armstrong

John

Education: B.S. in Ag Systems Management & M.S. in Ag Systems Management, Texas A&M University Hometown: Tulia, TX Based From: Dodge City, KS Main Focus: Learning new ways to adapt technology to help in ag management decisions & applications Interests & Activities: Watching College & NFL Football, Hunting & Training/Playing With My Two Dogs. Gibson

Tracy Herrmann- Recruiting/ 

Elliott Rounds- Agronomist

Matt Tuxhorn- General Ledger Accountant

Communication Coordinator Education: B.S. in Human Resource Management, Kansas State University Hometown: Ford, KS Based From: Dodge City, KS Main Focus: Getting Acquainted With Staff & Bringing New Ideas to Further Develop Recruiting & On-Boarding Procedures

Education: B.S. in Plant and Soil Science, Oklahoma State University & M.S. in Plant Physiology, Texas A&M University Hometown: Banner, OK Based From: Ulysses, KS Main Focus: Corn, Milo, Hay & Sunowers Interests & Activities: Woodworking, Gardening, Deer Hunting & Target

Education: B.A. in Accounting, Fort Hays State University Hometown: Dodge City, KS Based From: Dodge City, KS Main Focus: Keeping Up With the Ever Evolving Accounting & ESOP Regulations Interests & Activities: Golf, Softball, Hunting, Fishing, Shooting, Helping on the Farm &

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