Tag Archives: crops

The Organic Trade Association this week announced the development of three online training courses to bolster its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program. The training courses are designed for organic businesses, accredited certifiers and organic inspectors, with one of the courses a pre-requisite for businesses pre-enrolled in the program.

The Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program was launched by the Organic Trade Association earlier this year, and almost four dozen organic businesses have joined. The new anti-fraud courses will analyze where opportunities for crime in the organic supply chain most commonly occur, and offers education on the Organic Fraud Prevention Plan and how to put it into real on-the-job practice.

A spokesperson for the Organic Trade Association says the effort “will strengthen our ability to protect against fraud and maintain the integrity of organic.” The three online courses will be available in late 2019 and early 2020. Enrollment and program information is available on the association’s website, OTA.com.

The Kansas State University recently released three new wheat varieties, which are available to Certified seed growers this fall and will be available to farmers in fall 2020.
The new releases include two hard red winter wheat varieties – KS Western Star and KS Dallas – and one hard white wheat, KS Silverado. They were all developed at the K-State Agricultural Research Center in Hays, Kan. The wheat breeding program at Kansas State University, with locations in Manhattan and Hays, receives funding from the Kansas Wheat Commission through the two-cent wheat checkoff.

Thanks to wheat breeding programs like the one at K-State, producers have ever-improving options of wheat varieties to plant. Whether it’s improved resistance or increased yields, wheat breeders are creating varieties that meet producers’ changing needs.

KS Western Star

KS Western Star was named after the Western Star Milling Company in Salina, Kan. It is adapted to central and western Kansas, eastern Colorado, northwest Oklahoma and southwest Nebraska.

KS Western Star is a medium maturity and medium tall statured variety. It had greater yields than any other hard red winter wheat varieties in the KIN tests in 2017 and 2018. On average over the two years, it yielded more than any common check varieties, including Joe. KS Western Star has resistances to stripe rust, leaf rust and soilborne mosaic virus. It has very good straw strength and grain shattering resistance along with good milling and baking qualities. KS Western Star has good pre-harvest sprouting resistance.

KS Western Star has very good drought tolerance and high yield potential. While it is susceptible to Hessian fly and wheat streak mosaic virus, it has wheat curl mite resistance and intermediate resistance to Triticum mosaic virus.

KS Dallas

KS Dallas was named after retired plant pathologist Dr. Dallas Seifers, who worked at the K-State Agricultural Research Center in Hays and helped to develop the WSM2 gene found in the varieties KS Dallas and Joe. It is adapted to the western half of Kansas, eastern Colorado, northwest Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and southwest Nebraska.

KS Dallas is a medium maturity and medium height variety. It performed well in western Kansas in 2017 and 2018. KS Dallas has a strong disease package with wheat streak mosaic virus resistance up to 70°F, which is three degrees higher than those resistant varieties with WSM2, such as Joe and Oakley CL. It has moderate resistance to stripe rust and good resistance to leaf rust and stem rust. It is susceptible to soilborne mosaic virus and moderately susceptible to Hessian fly. It has good shattering resistance and pre-harvest sprouting resistance. Its straw strength is about average, which is similar to T158.

KS Dallas has good milling and baking qualities. In general, it has good flour yield, high water absorption and good mixing tolerance.

KS Silverado

KS Silverado is a hard white wheat with medium-early maturity and medium-short height. It is adapted to central and western Kansas. It has very good pre-harvest sprouting resistance. Its shattering resistance is moderate, which is similar to Joe. Its straw strength is very good.

KS Silverado showed resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus in inoculated tests in the growth chamber at 64°F. It has moderate to intermediate resistance to stripe and stem rusts, and wheat blast. It is resistant to leaf rust, Hessian fly, and soilborne mosaic virus. It is moderately susceptible to Fusarium head blight, barley yellow dwarf virus and powdery mildew. Preliminary data showed that it has intermediate resistance to Triticum mosaic virus.

Whether you are looking for high grain yield, rust resistance, heat and drought tolerance, resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus or milling and baking quality, Kansas State University’s wheat breeding program has a variety for you. These three new varieties will be available to Kansas wheat farmers in fall 2020 through Kansas Wheat Alliance associates. Visit kswheatalliance.org for more information on these and other wheat variety options.

HAYSVILLE, Kan. — More than 60 law enforcement officials from across Kansas packed a small room at the John C. Pair Horticultural Center recently to prep themselves for questions they may soon be getting about industrial hemp in the state.

Kansas State University researchers are growing and testing their first crops of industrial hemp at research centers in Haysville, Olathe and Colby. As an industrial product, hemp can be grown for grain, fiber or CBD (cannabidiol) oil.

“We are on the research side, but these people are on the enforcement side,” said Jason Griffin, director of the John C. Pair Horticulture Center. “They’re going to encounter this crop in their daily business, and we want to make sure that they are armed with as much information as possible.”

In April 2018, the Kansas Department of Agriculture approved the production of hemp through the Alternative Crop Research Act, and officials from that agency have been conducting education on hemp since that time.

“We’ve physically reached out to 1,400 individuals already,” said Braden Hoch, an industrial hemp specialist with KDA. “With this being a new crop in Kansas, there is a lot of education and outreach needed from all sides.”

Hoch noted that law enforcement will be tasked with knowing the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana – which is not a legal product in Kansas. The recent workshop also helped to educate law enforcement officials on related products, such as CBD, which Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer essentially legalized in 2018 by exempting it from the definition of marijuana.

New rules and regulations will require those who work with hemp to be licensed in order to transport the product.

“This educational event is going to be a building block for those in law enforcement to understand the legitimacy of this crop in Kansas, once we develop some information about how it grows and making it into an industrial hemp product,” Hoch said.

“It’s helping them to answer the question, ‘what should I be looking for to ensure that someone is conducting activities that they’re legally allowed to conduct?’”

K-State’s Griffin led tours of the university’s Haysville research plots and high tunnels to show law enforcement officials what an industrial hemp farm looks like, including comparing differences between a grain plot and a CBD plot. “We had a lot of great questions back and forth,” he said.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has established the Industrial Hemp Research Program website to help provide clarity on new rules and regulations in the state.

LINCOLN – Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman thanked US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the Risk Management Agency for the determination of an insurable event for those affected by the collapse of an irrigation tunnel near Fort Laramie. The tunnel collapsed July 17 cutting off irrigation to more than 100,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska and Wyoming at a crucial time during the growing season.

“The canal collapse has been a devastating event for our farm families in the Panhandle,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Thank you to Secretary Perdue and USDA for working to make this an insurable events. This will help impacted farm families as they work to get back on their feet.”

“Farmers have already faced many hardships this past year,” said Director Wellman. “Hopefully this decision takes some stress off the farmers. Secretary Perdue knows that it’s not just the farmers who lose in situations like this, but the loss of crops ripples through local economies, too. Secretary Perdue’s announcement on this situation creates a positive impact on those affected and on our communities, as well.”

Crews are still working to clear debris and make repairs to restore water to the irrigation tunnel canal.

China has officially announced it will impose an extra five percent tariff on U.S. soybeans starting on September 1. They’ll also add another 10 percent in duties on other major U.S. crops grown by many American soybean farmers.

The latest details come after China vowed last week that it will retaliate if the U.S. goes through with its original plan to increase tariffs on Chinese goods on September 1. ASA President Davie Stephens says, “ASA has strongly requested an end to the tariffs on U.S. beans for more than a year. This escalation will affect us not because of the increased tariff on our sales, which have been at a virtual standstill for months, but through time.” He says the longevity of the situation means worsening circumstances for soy growers who still have unsold product from this past season and new crops in the ground this season.

Stephens adds that “prospects are narrowing even more now for sales to China, a market that soy growers have valued, nurtured, and respected for many years.” ASA is asking both parties to step up and stop the tariffs and find a resolution that doesn’t target soy growers trapped in the middle. Real people, including Chinese citizens and the American public, along with our soybean growers, are the ones actually feeling the effects of the trade war.

Many producers like to estimate the yield potential of their soybeans well before reaching the end of the season. In contrast with corn, soybeans can easily compensate for abiotic (e.g., temperature, water) or biotic stresses (e.g., insects, diseases). The final number of pods is not determined near the end of the season (beginning of seed filling, R5 stage). For comparison, in corn, the final kernel number is attained during the 2-week period after flowering. Thus, when estimating soybean yield potential, we have to keep in mind that the estimate could change depending on the growth stage at the time the estimate is made and weather conditions. For example, wet periods toward the end of the reproductive period can extend the seed-set period, promoting greater pod production and retention, with larger seed size and heavier seed weight.

From a physiological perspective, the main yield driving forces are: 1) plants per acre, 2) pods per area, 3) seeds per pod, and 4) seed size. Estimating final yield in soybean before harvest can be a very tedious task, but a simplified method can be used for just a basic yield estimate.

When can I start making soybean yield estimates?

There is not a precise time, but as the crop approaches the end of the season (R6, full seed or R7, beginning of maturity) the yield estimate will be more accurate. Still, you can start making soybean yield estimates as soon as the end of the R4 stage, full pod (pods are ¾-inch long on one of the top four nodes), or at the onset of the R5 stage, beginning seed (seeds are 1/8-inch long on one of the top four nodes). Keep in mind that yield prediction is less precise at those early stages.

Is plant variability within the field an issue in soybeans?

Variability between plants relative to the final number of pods and seed size needs to be considered when trying to get an estimation of soybean yields. In addition, variability between areas within the same field needs also to be properly accounted for (e.g. low vs. high areas in the field). Make yield estimations in different areas of the field, at least 6 to 12 different areas. It is important to properly recognize and identify the variation within the field, and then take enough samples from the different areas to fairly represent the entire field. Within each sample section, take consecutive plants within the row to have a good representation.

Conventional approach to estimating soybean yields

In the conventional approach, soybean yield estimates are based on the following components:

  • Total number of pods per acre [number of plants per acre x pods per plant] (1)
  • Total number of seeds per pod (2)
  • Number of seeds per pound (3)
  • Total pounds per bushel, or test weight, which for soybeans is 60 lbs/bu (4)

 

The final equation for the estimation of the potential soybean yield is:

[(1) x (2) / (3)] / (4) = Soybean yield in bushels/acre

Simplified approach to estimating soybean yields

The main difference between the “conventional” and “simplified” approaches is that the conventional approach uses the total number of plants per acre in its calculation; while in the simplified approach, a constant row length is utilized to represent 1/10,000th area of an acre (Figure 1).

For the simplified approach, sample 21 inches of row length in a single row if the soybean plants are spaced in 30-inch rows; in 2 rows if the row spacing is 15 inches; and in 4 rows if the row spacing is 7.5 inches.

Figure 1. In the “simplified” approach to estimating yields, sample 21 inches of row length to equal 1/10,000th of an acre. The number of rows to sample will depend on the row spacing. With 30-inch row spacing, sample one row. With 15-inch row spacing, sample two rows. With 7.5-inch row spacing, sample four rows. Photo by Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.

 

Repeat this procedure in different sections of the field to properly account for the natural field variability.

What are the driving forces of soybean yield?

1) Total number of pods per acre:

Count the total number of pods (Figure 2) within this constant row length. After counting all the plants within the 21-inch row sections that represent 1/10,000th of an acre, estimate a final pod number per acre. Use a similar procedure in different areas of the field to get a good overall estimate at the field scale. One good criterion is only to consider pod sizes that are larger than ¾ or 1 inch long. Smaller pods can be aborted from this time on in the growing season until harvest.

Figure 2. Total number of pods per plant (only consider the pod sizes larger than ¾ or 1 inch). Photo by Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.

 

 

2) Total number of seeds per pod:

Soybean plants will have, on average, 2.5 seeds per pod (ranging from 1 to 4 seeds per pod), primarily regulated by the interaction between the environment and the genotypes (Figure 3). Under severe drought and heat stress, a pessimistic approach would be to consider an average of 1-1.5 seeds per pod. This value is just an approximation of the final number of seeds per pod, and can change from the time of estimation until the end of the growing season.

Figure 3. The number of seeds per pod will vary somewhat, depending on the growing environment and genotype. Photo by Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.

3) Seed size:

Seed size can range from 2,500 (normal to large seed weight) to 3,500 (small seed size) seeds per pound. This season, conditions are mostly favorable in Kansas for promoting large seed sizes. In more stressful years, such as 2012 and 2011, seed size is normally smaller, meaning a larger number for the seeds per pound (e.g. 3,500 seeds per pound). In the simplified estimation approach published by Dr. Casteel, you do not need to actually measure the number of seeds per pound in order to estimate yields, as is done in the conventional approach. Instead, a seed size conversion factor is used. If the conditions are favorable and large seed size is expected, the conversion is 15 units; while if abiotic or biotic stresses are present during the seed-filling period, a seed size factor of 21 units is used. Further details related to the seed size factor can be found in the link to the Purdue University extension article listed at the end of this article.

 

Example of the simplified approach for estimating soybean yields:

Say that we have 120,000 plants/acre in a 30-inch row. Then, we should have around 12 plants in 21 inches of row. In those 12 plants, we have measured on average 22 pods per plant, with a total number of 264 pods (22 x 12).

If we assume a “normal” growing season condition, then the final seeds per pod will be around 2.5, and for the seed size factor, we can assume large seeds, and will use a conversion factor of 15 units.

Equation for a “Favorable” Season:

264 pods x 2.5 seeds per pod / 15 = 44 bushels per acre

For a “droughty” (late reproductive, from R2 to R6 stages) growing season, the final seed number and size will be dramatically affected. Thus, even if the pod number is the same as in a normal season, the yield calculation could be:

Equation for a “Drought” or Short Seed Filling Season:

264 pods x 1.5 seeds per pod / 21 = 19 bushels per acre

Basically, this “simplified approach” relates the total number of pods in a “known” unit area (easily extrapolated to the acre unit), and is affected by the total number of seeds in the pod. This is adjusted by the estimated seed weight, which is affected by two main components: duration of seed fill and rate of dry mass allocation to the seeds.

Farmers are seeing payments from the first round of the latest trade aid in the mailbox. Farm Service Agency director Richard Fordyce says the first payments are being mailed out now, and farmers are reporting receiving the checks.

Round one of the three potential payments is 50 percent of the overall amount farmers may receive. USDA expects up to $14.5 billion of payments will be sent to farmers, pending on the trade negotiation progress. Another 25 percent of the total would go out later this fall, if the Department of Agriculture deems the payments necessary. The final round, if needed, is planned for some time around January.

The payments are meant to offset the losses stemmed from the Trump trade agenda and trade war with China. Payments range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on location. Payments are also available for dairy and hog producers, under certain reporting parameters.

This is the second time the Trump administration has used the Market Facilitation Program since the trade war with China began.

Del Monte Foods Inc. announced plans to cut 363 jobs from its plant in Sleepy Eye, Minn., according to documents filed with Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

In all, 69 full-time and 294 seasonal workers will be let go as the company closes its plant at 100 Ninth Ave. SW. Employee layoffs and closure of the plant are expected to begin on or around October 2019 through June 2020.

A Del Monte Foods representative could not be reached for comment. In a statement to the Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch, the company said it would also close a facility in Mendota, Ill., and sell plants in Cambria, Wis., and Crystal City, Texas, after the end of the packing season. Production will be primarily shifted to other plants in the United States.

Joselito Campos Jr., CEO of Del Monte Pacific Limited, the Singapore-based parent of Del Monte Foods, called the decision to close the plants “difficult” but necessary. “Our asset-light strategy will lead to more efficient and lower cost operations,” he said.

The Sleepy Eye plant was established in 1930 and produces the largest case quantities of peas and corn for the company, according to Del Monte’s website. More than 300 different growers supply product to the facility.

It’s likely a big blow to Sleepy Eye’s employment base; the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 estimate puts the city’s population around 3,300.

A drone soared over a blazing hot cornfield in northeastern Colorado on a recent morning, snapping images with an infrared camera to help researchers decide how much water they would give the crops the next day.

After a brief, snaking flight above the field, the drone landed and the researchers removed a handful of memory cards. Back at their computers, they analyzed the images for signs the corn was stressed from a lack of water.

This U.S. Department of Agriculture station outside Greeley and other sites across the Southwest are experimenting with drones, specialized cameras and other technology to squeeze the most out of every drop of water in the Colorado River — a vital but beleaguered waterway that serves an estimated 40 million people.

Remote sensors measure soil moisture and relay the readings by Wi-Fi. Cellphone apps collect data from agricultural weather stations and calculate how much water different crops are consuming. Researchers deliberately cut back on water for some crops, trying to get the best harvest with the least amount of moisture — a practice called deficit irrigation.

In the future, tiny needles attached to plants could directly measure how much water they contain and signal irrigation systems to automatically switch on or off.

“It’s like almost every month somebody’s coming up with something here and there,” said Don Ackley, water management supervisor for the Coachella Valley Water District in Southern California. “You almost can’t keep up with it.”

Researchers and farmers are running similar experiments in arid regions around the world. The need is especially pressing in seven U.S. states that rely on the Colorado River: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The river has plenty of water this summer after an unusually snowy winter in the mountains of the U.S. West. But climatologists warn the river’s long-term outlook is uncertain at best and dire at worst, and competition for water will only intensify as the population grows and the climate changes.

The World Resources Institute says the seven Colorado River states have some of the highest levels of water stress in the nation, based on the percentage of available supplies they use in a year. New Mexico was the only state in the nation under extremely high water stress.

The federal government will release a closely watched projection Thursday on whether the Colorado River system has enough water to meet all the demands of downstream states in future years.

The river supplies more than 7,000 square miles (18,000 square kilometers) of farmland and supports a $5 billion-a-year agricultural industry, including a significant share of the nation’s winter vegetables, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages most of the big dams and reservoirs in the Western states.

The Pacific Institute, an environmental group, says the river also irrigates about 700 square miles (1,820 square kilometers) in Mexico.

Agriculture uses 57% to 70% of the system’s water in the U.S., researchers say. The problem facing policymakers is how to divert some of that to meet the needs of growing cities without drying up farms, ranches and the environment.

The researchers’ goal is understanding crops, soil and weather so completely that farmers know exactly when and how much to irrigate.

“We call it precision agriculture, precision irrigation,” said Huihui Zhang, a Department of Agriculture engineer who conducts experiments at the Greeley research farm. “Right amount at the right time at the right location.”

The Palo Verde Irrigation District in Southern California is trying deficit irrigation on alfalfa, the most widely grown crop in the Colorado River Basin.

Alfalfa, which is harvested as hay to feed horses and cattle, can be cut and baled several times a year in some climates. The Palo Verde district is experimenting with reduced water for the midsummer crop, which requires more irrigation but produces lower yields.

Sensors placed over the test plots indirectly measure how much water the plants are using, and the harvested crop is weighed to determine the yield.

“The question then becomes, what’s the economic value of the lost crop versus the economic value of the saved water?” said Bart Fisher, a third-generation farmer and a member of the irrigation district board.

Blaine Carian, who grows grapes, lemons and dates in Coachella, California, already uses deficit irrigation. He said withholding water at key times improves the flavor of his grapes by speeding up the production of sugar.

He also uses on-farm weather stations and soil moisture monitors, keeping track of the data on his cellphone. His drip and micro-spray irrigation systems deliver water directly to the base of a plant or its roots instead of saturating an entire field.

For Carian and many other farmers, the appeal of technology is as much about economics as saving water.

“The conservation’s just a byproduct. We’re getting better crops, and we are, in general, saving money,” he said.

But researchers say water-saving technology could determine whether some farms can stay in business at all, especially in Arizona, which faces cuts in its portion of Colorado River water under a drought contingency plan the seven states hammered out this year.

Drone-mounted cameras and yield monitors — which measure the density of crops like corn and wheat as they pass through harvesting equipment — can show a farmer which land is productive and which is not, said Ed Martin, a professor and extension specialist at the University of Arizona.

“If we’re going to take stuff out of production because we don’t have enough water, I think these technologies could help identify which ones you should be taking out,” Martin said.

Each technology has benefits and limits, said Kendall DeJonge, another Agriculture Department engineer who does research at the Greeley farm.

Soil moisture monitors measure a single point, but a farm has a range of conditions and soil types. Infrared images can spot thirsty crops, but only after they need water. Agricultural weather stations provide a wealth of data on the recent past, but they can’t predict the future.

“All of these things are tools in the toolbox,” DeJonge said. “None of them are a silver bullet.”

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Kansas State University is partnering with the Kansas Water Office and farmers across a swath of western Kansas to host eight Water Technology Field Days in August and September. The events are designed to show agricultural producers and others how the newest crop irrigation research and technology is being applied in real-life situations on private farms.

The dates, locations and times are:

  • Aug. 8 – Tribune – Homeland Farm – 5 p.m.
  • Aug. 9 – Hesston – Jacob, Weber and R&E Goering farms – 10:30 a.m.
  • Aug. 20 – Scott City – Circle C and Long farms – 10:30 a.m.
  • Aug. 23 – Larned – WaterPACK & ILS Farm – 10:30 a.m.
  • Sept. 4 – Goodland – NW Kansas Tech College Farms – 9:30 a.m. (multiple events)
  • Sept. 5 – Garden City – The GCC-Roth Family, T&O and Harshberger farms – 10:30 a.m.
  • Sept. 5 – Liberal – Hatcher Land & Cattle Farm – 5 p.m.
  • Sept. 10 – Troy – Loess Hills Water Quality Farm – 9 a.m.

The KWO provides financial assistance to K-State’s efforts to give technical support for some of the technology demonstration farms.

“K-State Research and Extension is committed to developing and promoting new irrigation technologies that will be environmentally and economically efficient while conserving and protecting limited water resources,” said Ernie Minton, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. “The K-State Research and Extension services conducted at these Water Technology Farms significantly advances the knowledge of the most efficient water management technology and practices.”

Some of the technologies that these Water Technology Farms have are replicated in small plots at the Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City.

“We are excited to work with the producers on these farms because we could validate the results in our research plots to the production scale and conditions of actual farms,” said Jonathan Aguilar, K-State associate professor and water resource engineer located in Garden City.

He leads the monitoring activities of six water technology farms within the Ogallala Aquifer region.

“We hope farmers can see better options in managing their water as their peers test new – and even not so new – irrigation technologies,” he said.

More information on other collaborators and details on the field days is available online or by contacting Armando Zarco, KWO water resource planner, at 620-765-7485.

A pair of K-State Research and Extension western stations that are conducting irrigation research are also hosting field days this month: