HARVEST EDITION • 2019
“I’m not going to recommend hybrids that I wouldn’t plant on my own ground.”
WALKING PLOTS WITH JAKE HANSEN
I followed Jake Hansen in a replicated Viking corn research plot in Grafton, Iowa on a sunny October afternoon.
our current Viking hybrids with possible new hybrids and industry checks from companies like DeKalb and Pioneer.
This was the twentieth location where Jake has walked corn and soybean plots in 2019. He’s put some miles on this year: from Champaign, Illinois, to Omaha to Fargo, to Madison, Wisconsin.
“I’m looking at the line-up that we’re offering for 2020 and experimentals that may be part of our line-up for 2021. Our trials help verify the claims made by the genetic providers. We need to see things for ourselves.”
“Here we’re looking at 40 different hybrids, everything from 95-day to 105-day hybrids. Each plot is 17.5 feet long with 4 rows per hybrid, with only the middle two rows being harvested. That gives shorter hybrids a fighting chance, so they don’t get shaded out,” he explained.
Jake has noted that 2019 seems to be the Year of the Long Ear.
As Product Manager and Agronomist, Jake compares
“Everything that traditionally has been a good flex ear has been flexing length more than girth. They’re not any more girthy or have more rows around, they just have longer ears.” In his plot checks, he rates a variety of features on each hybrid or soybean variety
by Chaunce Stanton Marketing Manager
and then adds his own overall opinion. “Today I’m looking at corn plant height, ear height, roots, stalk strength, and levels of greensnap. I compile my notes from each plot for a good overview of each hybrid from all the locations I saw this year. Then I connect my ratings with the yield data, to complete the picture.” Jake pointed out that being a farmer also informs his in-field observations. “I’m not going to recommend hybrids that I wouldn’t plant on my own ground. I need to know what I’m talking about when I work with other farmers, and this is the best way to do it.”
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2020?
VIKING CORN & SOYBEANS by Jake Hansen Product Manager & Agronomist
NEW VIKING SOYBEANS FOR 2020
Viking 52-96. This new 96-day hybrid is bringing a lot of good plant health to the 95-day slot in our lineup. 52-96 brings good stalk and root strength, as well as a natural ASR trait to battle anthracnose late season. I have been impressed with the overall health of this hybrid across locations from WI to SD. It shares some genetic background with our popular Viking 51-95, and we are confident farmers will be impressed with it.
Viking 1422N, 1700N, & 2100N. All three of these beans are clear hilum, higher protein (41-43%) soybeans that are intended for the mid-protein food-grade soybean market. Wide adaptation allows these varieties to be planted across WI, MN, and SD. These are medium height and medium-bushy beans with good ability to canopy in wide rows. All three of these beans, have looked very good this year with good standability and good tolerance to foliar diseases. At a 1.4, 1.7, and 2.1 RM, we have a good yielding food-grade bean to fit a lot of acres.
Viking 52-00. Another hybrid with relation to the Viking 5195, 52-00 is a new 100-day hybrid with a very strong western adaptation. With excellent drought tolerance and roots, this is a strong candidate to handle fields in western MN, SD and northern NE. I like the uniformity and stability of this hybrid to handle tough acres and still bring good yields in the fall.
Viking 1940KN. Another soybean in our lineup with the Peking mode of action against soybean cyst nematodes. At a 1.9 RM, these soybeans have a great fall appearance, good standability, and good branching. I have been impressed with the consistent look in southern MN and northern IA, these are ideal beans for those acres known to have heavy cyst pressure.
NEW VIKING CORN FOR 2020
Corn Test Weight
Lighter than Average? By Margaret Smith, PhD Forage Agronomist
2019 Growing Conditions & Test Weight Late planting and frost dates in the north likely had the greatest impact on corn test weights this year, but test weight is affected by a variety of factors. REASON #1: Delayed Planting Dates The 2019 crop year began with above-average earlyseason rainfall and delayed planting in many areas across the Upper Midwest (Table 1). Planting was delayed most severely in Wisconsin, with only 58 percent of the corn crop planted by June 2, compared with the long-term average of 91 percent. Though many of these acres were designated as ‘Prevented Planting’, much corn eventually was planted, just later than average. Table 1. Corn Acres Planted: 2019 Compared to 5-yr Avg for Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin Planted by May 5
Planted by June 2
Adapted from USDA NASS Crop Progress Reports, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin
REASON #2: Growing Degree Days Late planting for corn always reduces total Growing Degree Days (GDD) available for development before frost dates. Though July and August seemed cool, GDD accumulation from either May 1 or June 1 through our first frost dates (October 11-13) didn’t vary much from the long-term average (Table 2).
A warm September made up some of the earlier season lag in GDD accumulation. Later-season warm temperatures don’t completely make up the difference in corn development, though, as less sunlight is available in September to drive photosynthesis than earlier in the summer. Most farmers who planted late replaced their fullseason corn for shorter-maturity hybrids, but were those maturities ‘short’ enough? (Table 3) Though the severity of frost from October 11-13 varied across the Upper Midwest, some fields ended growth on those dates. These fields will have lighter test weights than those that matured before freezing. Table 3. Corn relative maturities and estimated Growing Degree Days (GDD) need to mature the crop. Corn Relative GDD needed to Maturity (days) reach Maturity 85
REASON #3: Corn Diseases Fields affected by disease likely will produce light test weights.
2019 HARVEST EDITION
Table 2. 2019 GDD Accumulation from May 1 and June 1 Through October 11 at Four Locations. Location Albert Lea, MN Morris, MN Wausau, WI Waterloo, IA
2019 GDD Accumulation (to Oct 11)
Difference from Avg.
Adapted from: https://mrcc.illinois.edu/U2U/gdd/
Example of stalk rot, October 17, 2019.
Despite excessive rain this year, corn had fairly low incidence of leaf diseases. We observed a fair
Some ear rots have taken hold late in the season. Further rain, high humidity and cool temperatures as corn stands in the field to dry will raise the risk of infection. Corn ears that exhibit damage from insect feeding or other injury are likely the first to be affected by ear rot, followed by those plants that are holding the ears more upright, with tighter husk covers, allowing moisture to sit in the ear longer.
REASON #4: Drying Corn As corn dries, it shrinks and packs better into a given volume, so test weight increases. Drier corn is also ‘slicker’ which improves packing. When corn matures before freezing and dries naturally in the field, test weight increases about 0.5 lbs per bushel per point of moisture removed. Increase in test weight with high temperature, mechanical drying is only about 0.25 lbs/ bushel per point of moisture removed. This relationship is most pronounced with grain that reaches physiological maturity (compared to grain damaged by frost) and contains moistures from 30 percent down to about 16 percent (Table 4). The more damaged kernels in grain, the less gain in test weight with drying. This relationship of increasing test weight with drying may vary with grain below 20 percent moisture. As corn dries nearer safe storage moistures, test weight may not change, or in some cases, may decrease slightly, because kernels can lose moisture without changing kernel shape. Table 4. Increase in test weight for mature corn harvested between 30% and 16% kernel moisture, dried to 15.5% moisture. Grain Moisture at Harvest Percent damaged grain
26% 24% 22% 20% 18% 16% Pounds/Bu 5.0
10% damaged 4.5 4.0 3.5 Adapted from Hall and Hill, 1974
Genetic variability among hybrids can affect grain test weight, but other factors contribute more to variability from growing season to growing season. Other factors influencing test weight include: 1. Grain Moisture One of the most important factors influencing test weight. Wetter kernels are more plump and don’t pack as well in a volume measure. The good news: corn test weight increases as grain dries. 2. Late Planting Delays the grain fill period into fall’s cooler temperatures and less solar radiation available to support grain fill. 3. Stress During Grain Fill Adverse environmental conditions can limit the photosynthetic capacity of plants. Stress factors include: - Drought - Excessive moisture, which limits oxygen available to roots - Cool temperatures and limited heat unit accumulation or limited sunlight - Late-season leaf diseases, especially gray leaf spot, anthracnose, & Northern corn leaf blight 4. Ear Rots Infestation of fungal pathogens diplodia, gibberella, etc. will result in lighter weight, diseased, and broken kernels. 5. Ear Freezing in Fall When temperatures reach freezing before corn reaches physiological maturity (black layer), plant development stops and prevents the final stages of grain fill. 6. Kernel Physical Characteristics Size and shape of corn kernels and slickness of the corn seed coat affect how well kernels pack into a volumetric measure. Article references are available online at: www.alseed.com/ corn-test-weight-lighter-than-average
This autumn’s late rain and cooler temperatures increase the potential for crown and stalk diseases to set in.
What Causes Light Test Weight in Corn?
2019 HARVEST EDITION
amount of corn rust, but not enough likely to cause any economic yield loss. We also observed a number of Northern Corn Leaf Blight infections, but at low levels. In late September, anthracnose in some fields started to cause some top die-back. This was most prevalent on corn-on-corn acres.
13 YEARS OF SILAGE-SPECIFIC CORN HYBRID TRIALS AT GREENWALD ELEVATOR
Before landing at Greenwald Elevator in Greenwald, Minnesota, John Dockendorf had worked first as a hand on dairy farms, and then he learned the connection between plant agronomy and animal nutrition when he managed a large dairy herd. For the past 13 years, he has helped run silage-specific field trials on everything from organic hybrids to VT2, 3000GT, SmartStax, and conventional hybrids.
By Chaunce Stanton Marketing Manager
For 2019, they planted 43 hybrids, ranging in maturity from 75-day to 110-day. Of those, 30 are new or just-released hybrids, and only 10 hybrids were in the plot last year.
Greenwald typically plants between 40 to 85 different hybrids each year, with most of the hybrids being experimentals. “We harvest when every plant in a maturity group is at half milkline (usually 65% to 68% moisture), so we’ll have as many as 19 individual harvest dates.”
“We also have a few of hybrids that have been in the plot for upwards of 10 years,” John pointed out.
2019 HARVEST EDITION
In total, they’ve trialed more than 250 experimental hybrids over the past 13 years. Before Greenwald decides to sell a hybrid, they want it to be in their top-five performers for five years running, and of those 250 hybrids, only six ever made it into Greenwald’s sales line-up. “It’s a matter of finding hybrids that do well for dual-purpose. We’ve found that, even though we have leafy-floury, BMR, and fastdrydown hybrids in our plots, the dual-purpose hybrids tend to be in the top five every year.” According to John, the plot is on very heavy soil, and in 2019 it got worked only once, on June 1, and was planted June 3. But even on September 23, the 107-day and 108-day was denting, and they had just harvested the 75-day through 91-day hybrids. John admitted that he’s not loyal to any one brand. For him, it’s about feedability.
GREENWALD ELEVATOR • JOHN DOCKENDORF, continued
“We’ve had good luck with Viking hybrids. Viking 4292 has stood out. Also, Viking 90-91 did very well,
concerned about when chopping silage for feed is plant moisture and how that relates to feedability. As a plant matures and dies, digestibility decreases dramatically. “The optimal plant moisture for most of the hybrids we look at is in the 67% - 69% range. After that, either the top of the plant starts dying or the cob starts hanging. Do we have enough upfront available starch? As we’re filling uprights or filling
When John and the Greenwald crew handharvest the plot, they’re looking for syrupiness in the stalk when they cut them.
bunkers, it’s important that dairy farmers remember that if they feed silage that’s 57% moisture, they’ll have good components, but they never have good milk production. The genetics of that plant determine if it’s going to dry down quickly or slowly.” Also critical is the amount of time farmers have to get their corn chopped in that optimal moisture range. “We’re trying to find hybrids that genetically match that harvest window so farmers
“Some of those stalks will feel and look like styrofoam and those don’t feed well. There’s just not enough hemicelluose structure. Some of that won’t show up on paper, because it would be lost in the difference between the ADF and NDF spread. We’ve found that the wider that spread between ADF and NDF, the more syrupiness we have inside the stalk, which adds up to tonnage, better silage packing, and a wider harvest window.” John suggested that the number one thing dairy farmers should be
can get out there and harvest for bags or bunkers at least 67% moisture. The upright silos, if it’s a 70-foot silo, you almost have to be at 61% or 62%, so looking at a hybrid with a soft starch in it will help feed out and increase milk production. Some of our hybrids have a threeday harvest window when it’s 80°F, and some of them have a two-week window, depending on breeding.”
For those reasons, John said he has been impressed with Viking hybrids.
and Viking 51-95 – even though it’s a shorter plant that doesn’t quite have the tonnage as some others – the feed value is really nice. The Organic Viking 0.98-91 is the best 91-day-and-under organic corn that I’ve ever seen. We just chopped it today. Excellent cob. The stalk strength is phenomenal. They staygreen looks really, really good on it. It just looks fantastic.”
2019 HARVEST EDITION
“We select hybrids that match kernel moisture with plant moisture. We look at digestibility of the plant, of the starch. We look for hybrids with genetics favoring staygreen, large root systems, flex ear trait, and soft starch that rapidly ferments so we can have early feed.”
Having a grandfather who farmed, Casey Staloch grew up doing farm work. A native of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota, Casey earned a degree in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota in 2002. Since then, he has farmed, worked on farms, worked for seed companies, been a dealer for Viking brand corn & soybeans, and is co-founder of AgriGuardian.
Meet the Dealer
Casey Staloch Albert Lea, MN
by Victoria Kemmits • Sales & Operations Specialist
The AgriGuardian delivery truck: a frequent visitor to the Albert Lea Seed loading dock.
Casey Staloch relies on objective facts to make decisions. He became a dealer for Albert Lea Seed after seeing Viking corn products win net-return trials while he was employed by a different agricultural company. He now sells and delivers Viking corn and soybeans in several states across the Midwest. His formal training might be in ag education, but teaching in a traditional classroom was not Casey’s niche. He had a knack for getting knowledge into farmer’s hands—and into their fields. He established AgriGuardian with his friend Dr. David Sasserville, a plant nutritionist, who had completed decades of study about what it takes to make plants healthy. Together they developed several biostimulants and micronutrient blends with key elements that are often lacking in mainstream fertilizer programs. When they started AgriGuardian fifteen years ago, there was nothing like it in the market.
2019 HARVEST EDITION
“Monsanto was at its peak in those days, and no one would believe that their tech, chemicals, and business model would be detrimental of our land, and society, and economy,” Casey recalled. “We didn’t have other shoulders to stand on when we created the business.” Starting a business is challenging, regardles of industry, and AgriGuardian faced plenty of obstacles. “Friends and family were always willing to help out, but getting financing was nearly impossible, so we ended up building almost everything on our own dime. No one was willing to invest in what was viewed as a high-risk venture.”
Fifteen years later, AgriGuardian now distributes through all 50 states and in 30 countries worldwide. The micronutrients that AgriGuardain produces contain the right elements formulated for a variety crops in foliar applications, but they have necessary chelates and enzymes that release nutrients in the soil for absorption by crops. For example, MicroMix Complete is a blend of sugar-based chelated micronutrients designed to overcome subtle micronutrient deficiencies.
saying, ‘feed yourself for the next nine months.’ But if you give your infant what he needs, in the amount he needs, when he needs it, that baby will flourish.” Casey also partners with Advanced Biological Marketing, serving as a research facility and distribution center. ABM specializes in bacterial and fungal inoculants that jumpstart healthy soil populations and increases nodulation in legume crops.
“Plants and soil don’t live on three foods, fed just once or twice a year,” Casey said, explaining the typical way farmers approach crop fertilization programs.
AgriGuardian is built almost entirely on word-of-mouth and a good reputation, with very little invested in advertising. Instead of banking on large marketing campaigns to counteract those of giant seed and chemical companies, Casey banks on farming itself.
“It’s like setting a giant pile of food in front of an infant and
“Farmers don’t need to know just the textbook specs on how a
Viking 57-01 (left) vs. Pioneer 0157 (right). According to Casey, the Viking 57-01 is a healthier, more robust hybrid – plus the fertility program had a big impact. Additionally the 0157 had a lot of insect damage deeper in the kernels.
fertilizer or inoculant works on their crops. They need to know how it works on their farms, Casey explained. “Seven years ago, I started my own farm. Lab research is great, but when it comes to farming it can only tell you so much.” He and his family use their 500 acres to field test their products to find better formulations and applications. “Once I fine-tune a product on my farm, I won’t just sit behind my desk and write up a sales pitch. I’ll go to their farm and show them the difference it will make. We invested everything we had into getting our product directly into farmers’ hands.” They keep a simple business model: it’s just Casey and his truck-driving right-hand-man, Kris, who run the day-to-day operations at their distribution warehouse. “I’m not going to have a big sales team chasing customers down. I’m a regular guy just like them, and that’s how I want to keep it.” Despite being in business over a decade, Casey’s company still faces challenges.
Casey laments the loss of private seed companies. As corporate biotech companies monopolize an area, they drain the resources from the rural economy and from family farms. “That’s why places like Albert Lea Seed are so important,” Casey said. “As a dealer for Viking corn and soybeans, I can save an average customer thousands of dollars per season on seed cost and tech fees, without sacrificing yield and performance. That’s money that can be reinvested back into their farm, or that can take a financial burden off of a family member working off-farm.” “When farmers are operating on a knife’s edge the way it is, and they want to see how we can help them make their margin just a little more comfortable, we have one chance to do it right. Because it’s not just about me selling them a product, it’s about the farmers banking their livelihood and success on us.”
Casey heading in to combine some Viking soybeans.
2019 HARVEST EDITION
“There is a pervasive mindset surrounding modern agriculture that ‘this is the way we have always done it, so we won’t do anything different’. But the fact is,
GMO crops didn’t take off until the 1990s. How did we survive before that? Trying to go up against that kind of attitude has made it ten times harder than it really needs to be.”
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2019 ANNUAL CONFERENCE IS THIS THE NEW NORMAL? ADAPTING THE FARM TO CHANGING REALITIES THURSDAY, NOV. 21
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FRIDAY, NOV. 22
ADAPTING ORGANIC FARM PRACTICES
SELECTING SEED FOR ADAPTATION ALBERT LEA SEED
SELECTING SEED FOR ADAPTATION ALBERT LEA SEED
WEATHER TRENDS & FARM IMPACTS DR. MARK SEELEY
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COVER CROPPING: HOW TO GET IT IN THE GROUND FARMER PANEL
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ORGANIC FARM SUCCESSION – TRANSITION TO THE NEXT GENERATION CARMEN FERNHOLTZ & MEGAN WALLENDAHL
REGENERATIVE AG IS ADAPTATION GRAHAM CHRISTIANSEN
CORN/SOYBEANS – MANAGING FERTILITY IN HIGH RAINFALL ENVIRONMENTS DR. MARK RUARK
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TAKING THE NEXT STEP: PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION OF ROTATIONAL CROPS PRACTICAL FARMERS OF IOWA
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