3/16/2013 7:00 AM
By Carol Ann Gregg Western Pa. Correspondent
WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. — Pennsylvania fared much better that its Midwest colleagues when it came harvest last year.
Greg Roth, Penn State Extension educator, reviewed the 2012 growing season at a March 5 meeting to point out how Pennsylvania harvest responded to weather conditions.
He was one of a group of Penn State Extension educators who pooled their expertise for the daylong crop and pesticides seminar in West Middlesex.
Roth encouraged producers to apply the lessons from the 2012 growing season to this year’s production.
“Pennsylvania enjoyed good weather conditions and high market prices due to the drought condition in the Midwest,” Roth said, adding that western Pennsylvania seemed to have even better crops than the eastern part of the state.
The season had an unusual beginning with early dry weather as well as warm soils that encouraged farmers to plant early. Then, on April 23, there was snow, which caused some farmers to experience chilling injuries to the young corn plants.
Roth encouraged producers to monitor the weather and refrain from planting within a day or two of anticipated cold, wet weather.
Corn responded to the growing degree-days of May, and small grains did well. Roth recommended that farmers scout their fields for slugs. An infestation can reduce yields by 10 to 20 bushels an acre.
Armyworms were reported in some areas.
Roth said he observed situations where not enough potash was applied because of multiple crops being planted in the fields. He encouraged farmers to calculate removal rates from nutrient uptake in the crops that are planted so that they can ensure the crops get the nutrients they need.
Roth said wheat growers were encouraged to apply a late-season fungicide to control wheat scab.
Although Pennsylvania experienced dry conditions from June 15 to July 15, it was nothing like what the Midwest was experiencing. Growers who used drought-tolerate corn varieties saw good recovery.
In corn yield tests, it became apparent that kernel size mattered.
Roth put in a plug for interseeding. If farmers want to try interseeding, they can borrow the interseeder available in Clarion County, he said.
As producers look to the 2013 growing season, Roth said that management is critical, including the timeliness of planting and pest control, scouting; soil testing, and diversifying crops.
He recommended that producers and crop advisers subscribe to the Field Crop News that is available weekly on the Internet. To subscribe, visit http://extension.psu.edu/plants/crops/news and click on “subscribe.”
He also recommended “weather underground” for timely weather information. It can be found at http://www.wunderground.com.
The program was divided into multiple options for participants. Dwight Lingenfelter, Penn State Extension educator, talked about “what’s in your spray tank?”
No new pesticides have come on the market for about 15 years, Lingenfelter said.
“It costs about $200 million to develop a novel herbicide,” he said.
There are now generics available that are as reliable as the original branded products. Generics cannot be put on the market until the patent of the original product has expired.
He showed a comparison of some of the products available. A name brand is the original product. A private brand is the original product under a different name and often made in the same facilities as the name brand.
Generics have the same active ingredient as the name brand but the inactive ingredients can be different. Generics also may not have the customer service that is available from the name brand.
“Learn how to read the labels on the products you are purchasing,” he said. The generics create more competition, and Lingerfelter said customer service has improved for generic brands due to the pressures of the marketplace.
He brought several online tools to the attention of producers and advisers. The website of Crops Data Management Systems Inc. — www.cdms.net — provides data about agro-chemical manufacturers, crop input management and food companies.
Greenbook — www.greenbook.net — requires registration to use the free site. Users can find information about crop input products.
Agrian — www.agrian.com — provides information on a computer or by mobile device about more than 6,100 crop-protection and nutrient applications.
Lingenfelter also cited the agronomy site of Purdue University — state.ceris.purdue.edu — as having useful information for producers and advisers. This is the site of the National Pesticide Information Retrieval System, which contains information pertaining to pesticides either currently or previously licensed for distribution or sale in the United States.
Lingenfelter then talked about the problems hard water can cause. He recommended using ammonium sulfate to bind up the minerals in the hard water using the recommended rate on the label.
He also discussed the problems with using dirty water from ponds, streams and ditches, which can cause problems with plugged nozzles on the sprayer.
His recommendation was to not spray Roundup when temperatures are lower than 50 degree.