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A grower-to-grower Arysta LifeScience publication for farm management professionals

Farmers’ Roundtable: #agsocialmedia Marketing wheat in a new playing field How high can wheat yields go?

WHAt tO PLANt iN 2013? Farmers consider a matrix of factors and questions when deciding what to plant this coming spring.


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14 COVER STORY

What to plant in 2013?

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How high can wheat yields go?

Marketing wheat in a new playing field

Experts share tips to hit yields of 150 bushels per acre and higher.

Canadian farmers mark the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s nearly 70-year monopoly – what does this mean for U.S. growers?

Deciding what to plant this spring includes weighing factors from crop insurance prices for wheat, to weather here and abroad, to the lure of expanding corn and soybean acreages.

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New life for recycled containers

One-two punch from Pre-Pare®

What happens to empty plastic chemical containers once they leave your farm?

Growers in north-central Montana go after cheatgrass, and knock out wild oats too.


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From the editor: Marilyn Cummins, editor, Newground® magazine Making connections. The theme runs through many of our stories in this issue as we start the new year. Wheat growers in Canada now have the freedom to connect with the buyer of their choice in a new playing field following last fall’s “Marketing Freedom Day,” including through new contracts offered by the Canadian Wheat Board, if they wish. Two globe-trotting crop consultants talk about helping growers connect a lot of little things

to add up to a big thing – average wheat yields above 100 bushels an acre on the Prairies and the Great Plains. Analysts on both sides of the border help us connect the dots in the matrix of factors influencing wheat markets and planting decisions this year. Three farmers answer our roundtable questions with details about how they use their blogs and social media platforms to connect with other farmers, their customers and the general public. One of them, Emily Zweber, says the way farmers approach social media has evolved in recent years away from

“pushing” a particular message over and over to “having that human-to-human connection.” There are several ways to connect with us: Read this issue and past issues of Newground online at www.newgroundmagazine.com and access exclusive Web Extra content there that extends the information from this issue. “Like” us on Facebook (Arysta LifeScience United States). Send us your ideas or questions in an email to editor@arysta.com, or write to us at the address listed below. Let’s stay connected.

Readers are invited to reproduce the contents of this publication with an acknowledgement to read: Originally published in Newground by Arysta LifeScience, Cary, NC. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. Please send us questions or comments on anything you’ve read in Newground. We’d love to receive them. If you have a story idea, we’d like to receive that, too. You can email us at: editor@arysta.com. Fax (403) 930-4901

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Farmers’ Roundtable: #agsocialmedia

Wild oat worries gone

Farmers use social media tools to make connections near and far, without leaving the farm.

U.S. and Canadian growers are happy with the performance of Everest® 2.0 against tough infestations.

Send a letter to: Newground PO Box 2170 Cary, NC 27512-2170 Executive Advisors Craig Brekkas Brent Byers Linda Frerichs Hugh MacGillivray Royce Schulte Editor Marilyn Cummins Researchers and Writers Marilyn Cummins John Dietz Trena Fox Art Direction and Design Tracy Irving

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Putting crop diversity to work on weeds

How to get the most out of your Everest® 2.0 application

Using long rotations with diverse crops is important to control weeds in no-till fields.

Everest 2.0 is relentless on weeds and safe on wheat, with wide flexibility in application conditions and tank-mix partners.

Editorial Assistance and Production Shannon Anderson Laramy Gibson Lindsay Kennedy Melissa Kolody Mark Near

Always read and follow label directions. AUDIT, EVEREST, the EVEREST logo, Newground, the Newground logo, PRE-PARE, the PRE-PARE logo, RAZE, the RAZE logo, SUPREMACY and the SUPREMACY logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. The Flush after flush slogan is a trademark of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Affinity, Affinity BroadSpec and Express are registered trademarks of DuPont Crop Protection. WideMatch is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Maverick, Roundup and RT 3 are registered trademarks of Monsanto Company. Axial is a registered trademark of Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC. Colt is a registered trademark of Loveland Products, Inc. Arysta LifeScience and the Arysta LifeScience logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. ©2013 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. ESTU-188 Printed in USA

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How high can wheat yields go? Think 150-bushel wheat is impossible? You haven’t heard from these two consultants who have seen yields go that high, and higher. Average wheat yields exceeding 100 bushels an acre are possible on the Prairies and Northern Great Plains, according to two consultants who are helping clients reach for the high ring. And that’s without using technology beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. Phil Needham (www.needhamag.com) grew up on a family farm in one of the major wheat production areas of England, where farms often achieve 200-bushel wheat yields with as little as 20 to 22 inches of annual rainfall. Today he works in several countries, including the U.S. and Canada, primarily as a wheat production advisor. He lives in Calhoun, KY. Needham says: “A lot of little things can add up to a big difference. For the sake of a good article, we can narrow it down to just a few things, but over the past 20 years, we’ve done maybe 105 things to get where we are today.” When he relocated to Kentucky in the late 1980s, typical wheat yields were around 30 to 35 bushels an acre. In the past five years, the state average is now in the 65- to 75-bushel range.

Phil Needham

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“We’ve got producers in Kentucky that I’ve worked with who are getting 90 to 100 bushels per acre on a good wheat year across the whole farm,” he says. “Miles Farm Supply brought me to this country. I headed a division called Miles Opti-Crop. We contributed to more than doubling the Kentucky state yield, and then took the principles of intensive wheat management that we developed in Kentucky across the country, from Texas to the Canadian Prairies. “After Agrium purchased Miles Farm Supply about three years ago, most of the Opti-Crop people became independent. I work all over today; in fact I had 10 grower meetings in December in Western Canada,” Needham says. Ontario-born Steve Larocque, a generation younger than Needham, is an independent advisor at Three Hills, Alberta (www.beyondagronomy.com), and partner in a small family farm using the latest technology. As a Canadian Nuffield scholar in 2007, Larocque studied firsthand the secrets of Guinness World Record holders for wheat in New Zealand. He’s also studied production in England.

Steve Larocque in New Zealand.


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Among his own clients in the past five years, he’s seen the CDC Go variety of hard red spring wheat average 120 bushels per acre, and AC Harvest fields reach 110 bushels per acre in 2008 and 2010. “Yes, I believe 130 and even 150 is possible – and that might be conservative. That’s what gets me out of bed. I know there are so many aspects of wheat,” Larocque says. What’s possible on the highest end? The Guinness World Record for highest wheat yield is 15.636 tonnes/hectare (232.64 bushels/acre), harvested from 21.9 acres by a New Zealand grower in March 2010. Wheat’s physiological yield potential in a perfect environment with unlimited nutrients, according to Larocque, is in the range of 75 tonnes per hectare (1,100 bushels/acre). He can do the math to prove his claim, but that’s not the point. He knows there’s room to improve, no matter how high the yield achieved. For this Newground article, Larocque and Needham focused on two key yield factors for wheat – population potential and temperature sensitivity.

�� Population potential Wheat can emerge too thick, or too thin, for maximum potential in a given field. The ideal population isn’t obvious, but it can be learned by careful observation over time. Larocque wants 30 to 35 seedlings per square foot across the field (about 325 per square yard) – although he has a little flexibility for soil quality. Thicker won’t help because the tillers will die off. Thinner, in most cases, is below capacity. Needham counts wheat heads just before harvest. At that time, he wants 500 to 600 heads per square yard, or about 60 per square foot. Count, make a seeding rate adjustment for the next season and plan to count again, they say. Allow for mortality as high as 20 percent if you happen to seed wheat-on-wheat into heavy clay. And once you determine the optimum plant population for a specific field, be prepared to make some adjustments on seeding day, depending on seed size, soil moisture, fertility and planting dates. To simplify the math, Larocque had a smartphone application to calculate the seeding rate developed for his clients and website, www.beyondagronomy.com. It is available as an iPhone/iPad app in the iTunes App Store and an Android app in Google Play; search for “Seed Calculator” by Beyond Agronomy. Along with targeting the ideal population with seeding rate, they suggest: • Try two or three varieties in the same field to determine which performs best in your field and management systems. There can be big differences. • Look for large, plump kernels to plant. Large seeds usually are more vigorous, and worth a bit more from the

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supplier. The seed dealer may be willing to separate them with a gravity table. • Use fungicide seed treatments, and be sure they are uniformly applied to the seed so they have the best chance of emerging on the same date. • Use a good seeding system with independent depth control to achieve a uniform seeding depth. • Use the narrowest row spacing that’s practical. For people achieving 200-bushel/acre wheat yields and more in western Europe, standard row separation is only 4 to 5 inches. • Apply base nitrogen at seeding followed by in-crop nitrogen to bridge the gap between initial yield expectation and the yield potential determined later in the growing season.

�� Soil temperature and yield Understanding that wheat is very temperature-sensitive also can lead to ways to capture more yield potential. For instance, a crop may take five or six days to emerge, due to soil temperature variations under uneven trash cover. Uneven emergence is a huge factor in final yields, according to both agronomists. “We need residue management systems that can chop and spread in tough conditions, not just under ideal conditions,” Larocque says. Needham suggests that many growers can improve soil temperature uniformity by cutting back combine header sizes to match crop residue spread. A well-matched header and residue spreader can eliminate or reduce fall harrowing operations, lead to more uniform emergence, more timely in-crop operations and as a result, better yields. As much as possible, wheat needs cool growing conditions to achieve maximum yield. Winter wheat needs to be planted ahead of Sept. 15; spring wheat needs to be in the seedbed by late April, if possible. By late May, seedling wheat is stressed to the max as it converts into reproductive growth. From boot stage to flowering is the most critical time for yield. Temperature drives the rate of the processes during this period, and anything warmer than 18º C (64º F) pushes the plants to cut back the processes that produce kernels. Population and temperature could be chapters in a book on the issues and management practices that can lead to higher wheat yields. Larocque and Needham offer much more advice in person, through newsletters or blogs, and their websites. “Most guys, if they’ve got weaknesses, could increase their yields if they just did some of those very basic things a little bit better,” says Needham. And as Larocque says, there’s always room to improve. ❦

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Marketing wheat in a new playing field

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Canadian Prairie farmers took their first step onto the new playing field for marketing wheat in Western Canada on Marketing Freedom Day last fall. Along with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, 800 of those farmers walked into a real field near Kindersley, Saskatchewan, on Aug. 1, 2012, to mark the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s nearly 70-year monopoly on marketing their wheat. “This was not in Kindersley. It was out on a guy’s farm. It was muddy. We ran out of nametags. We ran out of some food at the end. And you had to register for it, you couldn’t just show up,” says Kevin Bender, president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Brad Vannan, president and chief operating officer of ICE Futures Canada, Winnipeg, says grain companies have entered the field with their own ideas for contracts to buy the now-open commodity. Each has slightly different options, so the farmer has many choices to consider as opposed to the old, single-desk CWB system. And the change has come at a tumultuous time, he notes.

Photo courtesy of the Office of David Anderson.

“These were people who wanted to come out for that celebration,” says Bender, who farms 4,500 acres near Sylvan Lake, Alberta, with his father and brother. “The excitement was just unbelievable.”

Today, the new playing field for Prairie wheat has the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) in level competition with international grain companies, commodity brokers and processors in Canada and the United States, and gives U.S. growers, traders and analysts a more transparent view of Canadian wheat prices than they have had before.

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says. And, if a grower delivers something different in grade than contracted, there’s flexibility to change the grade on the CWB contract. For the first time, as well, the CWB is competing for canola contracts. Flaten says the CWB decided to offer pool contracts for canola and did some cash trading of canola in the fall, as a starting point. “We will consider doing other crops and trading crops from origins other than Canada,” Flaten says. “That may be a little bit down the road. We’re trying to get our core business up and running here first.”

From left center, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, along with other officials, at Marketing Freedom Day. Photo courtesy of the Government of Canada.

“We’ve got the Wheat Board trying to find itself in a new environment; we’ve got a 50-year drought in the U.S. and a severe drought in Russia; we’ve got new marketing options in Canada; and three of the five major wheat handlers in the world are going through some major changes.”

�� Pool contracts and more from CWB For its part, the CWB is now competing as a newborn marketing agency, with a five-year life plan to make it ‘alone’ or shut down altogether. As of Oct.1, 2012, CWB again offered pool contracts, but on a very different basis, and not only for wheat. “We spent a lot of time talking with farmers, leading up to Aug. 1, to find what would be valuable to their businesses,” says Gord Flaten, CWB vice president, grain procurement. “One of the main responses was that farmers would still see value in price pooling, so pool contracts are a major component of our offerings.” The new CWB contracts for wheat, durum wheat and barley are both familiar and different. Price pooling is the familiar side. A grower can just sign one contract at the beginning of the marketing season to sell his crop to the pool. It’s simple, effective and provides a good average return. Flexibility for growers in delivery and grading is the new aspect of CWB contracts. “If you sign a primary pool contract, you have the flexibility to deliver that wheat anywhere you want. We have agreements with all the grain handling companies in Western Canada, and signing a contract with CWB does not commit a farmer to deliver to any one of them,” Flaten says. After signing with the CWB for the pooled price, the grower is free to shop for the best deal on freight and handling. The new pool contracts also offer grade flexibility. The CWB has more reference grades than most cash contracts, Flaten

So in the future, CWB buyers could be shopping for sunflowers in South Dakota. They also could be shopping for rail cars and grain handling facilities.

�� Futures contracts adjust Along with major grain companies, the traders using ICE Futures Canada also are adjusting to the new playing field. “We’ve provided new futures and options contracts for milling wheat, durum wheat and barley that were designed specifically for managing price risk in Western Canadian crops,” says Vannan of ICE Futures. In a similar way to canola contracts, these new ICE futures contracts for wheat and barley provide the ability to hedge or transfer risk, as well as the benefit of better market transparency. Canadian farmers can access the benefits of these new futures contracts directly with their own broker at a futures commission merchant, or indirectly by contracting through grain companies, flour mills or feedlots that use these new futures contracts to set their cash contract prices.

�� Impact on U.S. growers? From the vantage point of Mike Krueger’s office in Fargo, N.D., the president of the grain marketing advisory service The Money Farm, says there were predictions of a lot of cross-border trade after the change. “I don’t think we’re going experience big truck lines of Canadian farmers. If anything, I think it will be more helpful to American farmers because, in the case of export barley, spring wheat and durum, it was difficult before to know where the CWB was selling or doing export business. Now there will be prices around every day, more open and transparent, and I think that eventually helps things.” Jon Driedger, senior market analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions in Winnipeg, Manitoba, agrees from his perspective north of the border. “The increased price transparency is a good thing, for everyone involved, from the grower all the way up and down the supply chain. I think more transparency is better for a well-functioning market, and I think that’s definitely one of the benefits for everybody.” ❦

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FARMERS’ ROUNDTABLE

#agsocialmedia �� Farmers connect with each other, customers and people worldwide, without leaving the farm. �� Newground: How do you use social media? CHAMBERS: Essentially, my primary platform is my blog, TractorView, which has morphed into a lot of things. It has my opinions and views as a farmer and also a businessman over the years; a platform for me to continue to run my real estate business and have people understand how I operate two businesses at the same time from the cab of my tractor. From there it has grown into a following of both real estate and farming people. Then I also incorporate my Twitter feed and YouTube videos into it. I can gather information directly from farmers about what’s going on in other regions in North America and get a ground-level feel on a platform like Twitter. I think it’s a great place to share ideas. Demographically, there are fewer and fewer farmers all the time, so it’s important that we have places like local coffee shops on a more national or international scale.

LUKENS: I’m a much older-than-average blogger. The blog is an educational tool for people interested in how a farm works – “Farm news from our family fields.” I write the blog, and post the blog, and am responsible for the content of the blog because I’m here, and I’m a farmer. One or the other of my daughters will put it out on Facebook every day. And if there’s any Twitter conversation, it’s my oldest daughter who will do that. ZWEBER: In addition to the dairy, we also have a direct meat market business, where customers come out and buy custom packages from us, as well as whole chickens, eggs, ground beef and that sort of thing. We started using social media on our farm back in early 2009, starting with a website and then our blog. Shortly after that, we got involved in Twitter, which my husband handles. We have a Facebook page and YouTube videos, and we’ve posted on Pinterest. We’ve used all sorts of

Gary Chambers owns and operates a 2,300-acre grain farm in central Alberta. He also owns and operates a real estate business in nearby Drumheller. His blog is www.TractorView.com; his Twitter handle is @tractorview. He is on Facebook and YouTube as TractorView, and pins photographs to pinterest.com/garychambers. Jane Lukens and her husband, “Farmer Fred” Lukens, operate a fifth-generation family farm at Aneta in Griggs County in east-central North Dakota, where they grow corn, soybeans, pinto beans, canola, barley and wheat. Their educational and photo-filled blog is www.GriggsDakota.com; they are GriggsDakota on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Emily Zweber and her husband, Tim, farm in partnership with his parents on their fourth-generation organic dairy farm in Elko, Minn., where they also produce beef, pork, chicken and eggs they market directly to customers. You’ll find them online at ZweberFarms.com, Tim on Twitter as @ZweberFarms and on Facebook as ZweberFarms. Tim is secretary of the AgChat Foundation (www.agchat.org). Newground talked with these farmer-bloggers in October 2012.

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 Web extra:  This is an extended version of the #agsocialmedia article that appeared in print in the Spring 2013 issue of Newground magazine. There are more questions and answers here, links to blogs and websites, and helpful information at the end about how AgChat can help you tell your farm and ranch story through social media.

http://tractorview.com/

http://www.griggsdakota.com/

http://zweberfarms.com/

different platforms to talk about what we do as farmers and to connect our customers to what agriculture is, and to food issues, and to what we do day-to-day on our farms to develop wholesome foods.

quite a bit of following on Pinterest.com, which is a photosharing website. Again, a few of my pictures are around the farm. I’m an avid John Deere guy, so I have a lot of John Deere photos there, just for interest more than anything.

�� Newground: When did your blog begin?

LUKENS: I have been posting five days a week for the past couple years. When I first started, I did less posting. I post stories and photos from the past along with the day-to-day activities of a working farm. Anecdotes, wit, instructions and recipes sprinkle through the updates from “Farmer Fred” and our GriggsDakota work days.

CHAMBERS: I think the blog is five or six years old now. I’ve used social media in a lot of capacities for at least that long. When social media exploded more, I was into it quite heavily. I just started talking about product issues on my farm, the machinery I use, the technology I use, whether it be the iPad or the iPhone, different things like that that farmers seem to be interested in. I posted two videos about what I was testing out in my implements to hold an iPad. It grew from little things like that. LUKENS: I started in August 2009. My youngest daughter was attending college, and she needed a summer project for a credit, so she started a blog in May 2009. I took over in August, intending to just finish up the season because we had people following it and checking in on us. So I finished the season and kept going, and I’m still doing it. ZWEBER: We made our first website for our business in 2009. The goal was to get people there, to learn about the farm and attract customers. With that, we had the idea of starting a blog. It was a very primitive blog when we started, just a few recipes introducing our customers to cuts they might not be familiar with. We sell whole chickens; we don’t sell onepound chicken breasts. So we were trying to teach them to cook with these new cuts. �� Newground: How frequently do you post? CHAMBERS: It depends on the season. In the middle of winter it gets a little quiet because I’m not as active on the farm, but I’m posting probably a couple articles a month and spinning out of that. I use Twitter a lot for communication and for chatting with other farmers. On Facebook, I have a fan page called TractorView that ties into it. Even now, I get

ZWEBER: I try to post three times a week. I post a recipe on Mondays. Wednesday I post something about our farm, what’s happening, like when we’re doing harvesting or planting. On Friday, I try to do a post either about our family or about an educational resource. I used to work for an agricultural foundation. There are a lot of great resources out there for teachers to integrate agriculture into the classroom. I talk about how to use those, and try to relate it back to our farm, and bring a real-life spin to it. �� Newground: How many followers do you have? CHAMBERS: On Twitter, I think there are a couple thousand people on there. I run Google Analytics on the back end, and it actually gets a lot of traffic. There are quite a few unique visitors per month. Some of the videos on YouTube are up over 1,000 views. I’m not one to use a scheduled, regimented social media plan. I do it more at my leisure, and I guess you could call it more of a social experiment than anything. That’s how it started. I’ve just enjoyed it, and enjoyed meeting good people. ZWEBER: I don’t know how many actual followers we have. According to the analytics, we have a couple thousand people that follow us. That can change from day to day. I’d say a couple thousand is about average. They’re all over the world, but mainly concentrated in the Midwest. That’s probably because that’s our focus for our customers.

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�� Newground: Do you take the same approach now as when you began? If not, how has it evolved, and why? CHAMBERS: I don’t take the same approach. I think it’s constantly evolving. When I started TractorView, the goal was to teach my real-estate clients how I could serve their real estate while still sitting in the seeder or the combine for a couple months of the year. The goal at that time was to do videos to explain the technology, to explain GPS, to explain the blogosphere, to explain the tools I was using to run my real estate business while driving a tractor. Over time it became a mixture of followers. There were some farms, and some real estate, who were generally interested, too. Now, most of my articles I write tend to be directed toward farmers and helping farmers get engaged on social media. Initially, they weren’t. Initially, I was writing to my real estate clients; now I’m writing for my farm audience, for people who are on the farm, helping them find tools to maybe separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media, through my own trial-and-error experience. I’ll try an app, and say what worked and what didn’t; what tools I use and what ones don’t work. That way, anyone just getting into social media or just getting into writing a blog on their farm, can go to my site and use it as a reference. LUKENS: The approach is the same as when we started. There’s a kind of universal nature to farming. Everybody eats. Everybody wears clothes. The raw materials often come from farms. The purpose is for people to get some insight into daily farm life, into what a farm is. Show them that there are real people out here and that we really are working and that we really are trying to do a good job, and we really do want to feed the world. ZWEBER: Shortly after we started, there were several agricultural issues in the media that took center stage, like animal abuse videos that were taken undercover. For me personally, that’s where we realized the impact we could have with our blog, really connecting with not only our customers but anybody in the world about what we do on our farm, and connecting our real face as farmers to the food that we are selling. A lot of it now is just describing what we’re doing on the farm; how we raise our kids (people are really interested in that). People are very disconnected from where their food comes from, but there’s also a huge movement to return to knowing about that. People are very curious, and social media is a great platform for us to reach out. �� Newground: What are the biggest challenges? CHAMBERS: Sometimes content. Sometimes, my interests change. Like everyone, I’ve got a family and I have two jobs. As my interests change, my blog will change. I’m one of those people who has to be passionate about what I’m writing. Some of my content is about cycling because I’m an avid cyclist. Some of it is about fitness because I have a physical education degree. That’s why TractorView is sort of a versatile platform for me. Really, in my opinion, blogs are all about people and the human interest angle. It may not 8

appeal to all farmers if I start changing my methods, talking about tips like how to stay fit in rural areas or on the farm, or how to get good workouts while using a tractor around the farm. But I try to keep it grass roots, with who I am.

LUKENS: I think being correct, being concise, in just a limited amount of time. I post often, so keeping the content fresh and original. I use a lot of pictures, so getting the right photo and then finding the right words to put underneath it to make it meaningful is a big challenge. ZWEBER: Time, obviously. Finding the time. I’m a mother; I work on the farm; I also work off the farm. I try to find the time, and I try to keep things relevant and fresh. I’m constantly trying to figure out the things that seem ordinary to me on the farm that may not seem ordinary to our readers. Trying to keep that open mind so when I’m on the farm, I look at things and think how they might be interesting to someone seeing them for the first time. Then taking that to our blog. I’ve learned that the basic thing is that I don’t have to work so hard to find a topic. It’s really the basic things we’ve learned that most people are curious about. Usually it takes about an hour to do a blog post, between editing photos, uploading and that sort of thing. We’re on rural DSL, so our Internet connection is slower, and uploading photos takes a little longer. �� Newground: Have you met other social media writers and users, in person or online? CHAMBERS: Not so much on the agricultural side, although I’ve done some speaking engagements to farm groups. I’ve been really lucky in the real estate industry in that in real life I have met some of the amazing people that are in the social media world. Probably a lot of people who have influenced the direction of my business there have also influenced the direction of my social media. I’ve met some just amazing minds in my travel and in the conferences. LUKENS: Well, my daughter has a blog, and she is interested in that. I’m not Martha Stewart, so I don’t have a magazine or an empire to build. It’s not that I don’t enjoy people, but I don’t spend a lot of time on that part of it. ZWEBER: Yes, lots. When we first started doing social media, my husband’s father was -- and still is to this day -- amazed at how we formed relationships with people online by conversations we had. We always joke about our “imaginary friends.” A lot of the folks we do meet, whether they’re farmers or customers to our farm, really have become our friends in real life. That’s what social media is about. It’s about being social, just connecting in a different way. It’s no different than connecting with someone in your neighborhood or meeting them at church or some community function. It’s just through a different platform. �� Newground: What is your impression of the impact of social media for individual farmers? CHAMBERS: I get asked a lot, what platform should we be using, where should we be, what areas? It really comes


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down to what kind of conversations you want to have. In my opinion, if you’re just looking for information and connecting on an agricultural level to see what’s going on in the world, Twitter is one of the big platforms for farmers, because you don’t have to be friends to actually meet people. Once farmers get used to using proper hashtags and following threads of conversations -- though things like #AgChat or #harvest2012 or #harvest -- you start to be able to narrow down those keywords in your searches on Twitter, and you can see a lot of conversations going on around agriculture. Facebook is still good, but it’s still your local area. With the low percentage of population made up of farmers, and the fact that family farms are a somewhat disappearing (geographically we’re spread out a lot across the nation), wider platforms like Twitter tend to be better.

LUKENS: I think we do have an impact. People can find us. By looking on the Internet, people can have a fairly accurate perspective of what is going on out here without ever coming to North Dakota. They can see what’s here. ZWEBER: Two ways. For the farmers involved in social media, it’s giving them a different view of how food is viewed. For our customers, and just the population in general, especially when it comes to controversial issues, something that we think is kind of benign or a non-issue might be a huge issue to consumers. It’s really seeing that quickly even misconceptions can be spread through Facebook or Twitter. So, it’s really eye-opening when you have your first “ah-hah” moments in social media. As you see what your customers are saying, that might bring about some positive changes on your farm. Because really, we are producing farm customers from consumers in general, and if we’re not providing the products they want, we have to make some changes. It’s really a quick way to figure out the trends. �� Newground: Are we still in the morning of social media for agriculture, or noontime, or is the sunset coming? CHAMBERS: I think it’s actually still growing when it comes to agriculture. I’ve been on both sides of it, with real estate people and on the farm. There’s a thirst from the general public to understand where their food is coming from. I think social media is providing that window into production that people need. A lot of the young generation doesn’t understand where the food is coming from, and a lot of general people, who’ve never been to a farm, who don’t understand the production practices. Many of them are very interested in the technology that’s going on with farming, that it’s not just a bunch of farmers out in the fields, that there’s a very high-tech side to farming that they never realized. I also think the social media have leveled the playing field for farmers, whether it is grain farmers or people working with livestock. It’s helping people understand that it’s not all feedlots and massive slaughterhouses. There’s a lot of care and attention to animal rights by farmers taking care of their livestock. You know how much sweat and tears they put into it. The general

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public tends to get disassociated from that, so I think there’s a lot of growth in it for people.

LUKENS: I’d say it is just past dawn. I think there are going to be many, many changes. I am not going to predict the future, but as the generations move forward, I think there will be more people used to dealing in that social media world. They’ll expect instant answers and instant information. Social media will play a big part in that. ZWEBER: I think social media will be here for a long time and have a great influence on our culture and our thoughts about agriculture and food in general. There has been talk about whether social media have reached a saturation point. How many more platforms can there really be out there? There are literally thousands of them. The big ones right now are Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube, Pinterest. I think they will be around a very long time, because people love connecting with other people. The whole social part of it is very appealing. For us as farmers, it’s such a great, easy way to connect to people around the world from our farm, literally from our tractor if we have a smartphone. �� Newground: How do you see it changing going forward? CHAMBERS: I think you will start to see that people have a message and a story behind them. The actual end-product users may gravitate toward those people. You can see it right now, when you look at origin labels you’re seeing pop up all over the place. At a microbrewery, they’re actually saying where they’re getting their barley and hops. They’re saying this is produced locally. On the bread bag, it’s saying where the flour is coming from. Companies are actually trying to connect the customer to the production line, because then people trust the product. I think you’ll continue to see that. There’s a story to be told behind the food production. Manufacturers are going to go and look for those stories, and want to be a part of those. ZWEBER: Yes, the way that farmers are approaching social media is changing. In the beginning, in the infancy of things like AgChat Foundation and a lot of farmers being online, it was all about messaging. Push your message, push your message. Talk about your industry. Now that’s really turned. It’s more about having that human-to-human connection, building a community and then being available. � Newground: What do you think is the best way for a farmer to get started in social media? CHAMBERS: Go out there and try to pick one network. Try to understand language of it, and go from there. That’s the best way to get some form of connection. If you network, you try some keywords and start with a broad platform like Twitter, then work from there. Contribute a little bit. Interact with the ones who are out there. Go to some of the proven farm Tweeters that are out there, and get into a conversation. You can generally contribute back and forth.

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LUKENS: It will depend on the farmer and the needs. For me, I would say, start by observing and then decide how it can help you. Buy an iPad with phone capabilities and learn to use it. It will really be a wonderful tool in a short while. Just dive into it. Type what you’re interested in into Google. For instance, if you know the name of a blog you can usually type it into a Google search and it will just come up. I often notice that, if I’m going to do a blog post on a particular subject, I want to know if anyone else has done a post on that subject. I can type in my subject and see what comes up, and blogs are included in that list. If you’re on Twitter, you can just put your question out there and someone will respond. Or, put your answer out there if you have an opinion on a question. Add it to the conversation. ZWEBER: Go to AgChat.org. Actually, I think we’re the only non-profit agriculture group that is just talking and training in the tools of social media. Australia has started AgChatOz, based off ours. We’re talking with a group in the United Kingdom that wants to use our model. �� NeWGROUND: Tell us more about AgChat and what it offers to farmers. ZWEBER: AgChat Foundation was started back in 2010 by a handful of farmers who got together. They realized the power of social media and really wanted to engage more farmers and ranchers to use those platforms to tell their stories. The foundation started as a 501c3, which is a nonprofit organization. The mission is to empower farmers and ranchers to represent their communities using social media platforms. What that means is that AgChat is about teaching farmers and ranchers to use the tools of those platforms – whether it’s about starting a fan page on Facebook, or how to write a blog, or the lingo in Twitter, which can be very confusing when you first start. It’s not about advocacy. Commodity groups and agricultural organizations do a great job with messaging. AgChat is really about the tools; it’s about how to use tools strategically to tell the farm and ranch stories of our farm families. AgChat has a blog where there are lots of helpful tools. You can follow AgChat on Facebook and Twitter, connecting with other farmers and ranchers. There’s a national conference every year in the United States. This year they’re going to be starting three regional conferences in addition to the national conference. We’ve been contemplating one in Canada. We don’t know if that will happen in the 2012-2013 year, but it most definitely will happen. ❦

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Wild oat worries gone

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U.S. and Canadian growers happy with performance of Everest 2.0 against tough infestations.

Kurt Hagel had sprayed the field for years – it had been in the family farm he and his father operate together near Beiseker, Alberta, for more than 40 years. But three years ago, Hagel took over the field – with a known history of bad wild oats – as his own. He sprayed Axial® to tackle the wild oats in-season on his wheat, but he had a little problem. “Now it’s mine, so I’ve got to impress Dad and the neighbors and do a good job, right?” he says of the infamous field, laughing. “But my first year, I end up with two-foot strips full of wild oats heading out, the length of the field, for about five strips. I had bought a new sprayer, and I just didn’t have my GPS set right on the field, and I didn’t get it set for the first bit. It was horrible.” The next year, he seeded canola on the field, and sprayed twice for wild oats, and had fairly good control. This year, going back into hard red spring wheat, he was worried, because “I know there are a million seeds out there.”

�� Results and redemption Hagel talked over the situation with his new crop consultant, Daryl Chubb of Beyond Agronomy, and they came up with a strategy to control the wild oats the best they could. “We didn’t know if we had a resistance issue, but we suspect resistance (Group 1),” Chubb says. “A Group 2 product had not been part of his rotation, so we first used Pre-Pare® Herbicide pre-seed and then Everest 2.0 in-crop.” This was the first season new-generation Everest 2.0 was available for use in Canada.

Kurt Hagel and his children, Hannah and Holden.

“With our conditions this spring, our wild oat populations were very high,” Chubb says. In addition, the cold and dry environmental conditions appeared to slow the activity of the Group 2 products, he says, but they did what they were supposed to do. “The wild oats were small, green and looked healthy even a week or two after application. But at the end of the day, anyone that used the product was happy with the results. “I expected to see a lot of escapes – but I never did – during the course of the growing season.”

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Dense wild oat infestation in Hagel’s wheat field before treatment.


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Hagel agrees. “I saw not one wild oat above the crop” except where he may have missed a small spot with the sprayer, like near a power pole. “There were still wild oats growing, but they were so sick and growing along the ground and they never headed out, so I was very impressed with that performance, for sure.” Because of the heavy seed bank and infestation, Hagel says he could actually see that the wheat was shorter in the two-foot strips where the wild oats were initially growing, “but Everest 2.0 controlled the wild oats in tough conditions and extreme populations, so I was very happy.” Chubb was grateful for the wide application window for Everest 2.0. “We were able to spray earlier, while the oats were small and before the rains set in,” he says. “Our populations were too heavy to sit there and wait for another herbicide, such as a Group 1 herbicide. We could rely on the soil activity of Everest 2.0 to control both small and emerging wild oats.”

“Everest 2.0 controlled the wild oats in tough conditions and extreme populations, so I was very happy.” – Kurt Hagel In terms of Hagel’s dad and the neighbors, “I’m getting a little redemption now with no wild oats in 2012. It was a good year.” And while that was his only field treated with Everest 2.0 last season, “This year, I’m going to be using it as much as I can.”

�� Two years of good results for North Dakota grower Lawson Jones and his brother Lee produce a wide range of crops on their fields around Webster in eastern North Dakota – durum and spring wheat, pinto beans, black beans, canola, and more now than ever, corn and soybeans. “We have some land on the other side of Devil’s Lake, and our one wheat field is the only one over there,” he says. “The rest of the country is corn and beans these days.” His brother is pretty sold on corn and soybeans, and Jones says especially if corn and bean prices remain high, it will cut into the wheat acres.

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But he won’t be walking away from growing quality durum to deliver to the Viterra-owned Dakota Growers Pasta Company plant in Carrington, south of Devil’s Lake. He also grows a couple of new varieties of durum for seed for Viterra. “We’re able to capture a little premium, if we are lucky with the quality” of the durum sold for pasta, Jones says. To protect that investment from yield-robbing wild oats, he has used Everest 2.0 the past two seasons. He tells this story about one particular field the first year: “We have some land we had recently purchased that has moderate wild oat pressure. We direct-seeded durum following a pass with a Salford vertical tillage tool, and there were wild oats that survived the seeding preparation field operations. “We then spot-sprayed the field with Roundup® the evening before the wheat emerged. It got dark on us, so I know we didn’t control all the emerged wild oats; we missed some with the glyphosate.” Jones then used Everest 2.0 as part of his in-crop herbicide application. “The field was clean of wild oats at harvest, which was great, because I know there were wild oats present, and ones that were fairly large at the time of spraying with Everest 2.0. We also did not have a problem with areas that we know contain resistant wild oats, so our first year with Everest 2.0 worked very well.”

�� Year two with Everest 2.0 This year was a different weather year, with much hotter temperatures. Jones sprayed Everest 2.0 in a tank-mix with Colt® (generic WideMatch®), Affinity® and Express® on his durum wheat, going after wild oats and pigeon grass with the Everest 2.0. He had hoped to use Affinity® BroadSpec, but had to use Affinity because the retailer was running short this year. “We had a couple of fields that had been historically bad for wild oat infestation. I was pretty worried about them, because you had to look hard to see the drill rows in places. “Everest 2.0 held them. They all disappeared come harvest,” Jones says. “I kept watching, thinking I’m going to have a problem. But like I say, they just disappeared.” ❦

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New life for recycled containers

You diligently triple rinse or pressure rinse your empty plastic chemical containers. You remove the paper booklet and the cap. You collect all of your empty containers and drop them off at your local retailer or designated collection site, or have them waiting on your farm to be picked up for recycling. So what happens next? In the United States, the Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) hires contractors to pick up and grind the containers at no cost to growers. Similarly, the CleanFARMS program in Canada manages numerous sites in each Canadian province where growers can drop off containers to be processed. The contractors use large, portable machines to chip the plastic containers into pieces from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch in size, often processing thousands of containers per hour. Once chipped, the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic is washed to remove any remaining bits of paper and adhesive. Then the clean, chipped plastic is sold to a recycling company to be turned into new products, but not just any new product.

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Because the plastic once held a pesticide product, all end uses must be approved by the ACRC in the U.S. or CleanFARMS in Canada. “Minimal human contact is a key factor that is considered when determining potential end-use. Although the chipped and washed plastic is deemed to be 99.9999-percent free of all contamination, the industry does not want to take any chances or worry about public perception,� says Bill Spencer from Arysta LifeScience, who currently serves as the executive board chair of the ACRC, which celebrated 20 years of recycling in 2012.


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Remember: Triple rinse or pressure rinse all pesticide containers, remove the paper booklet and the caplet and collect only containers approved for recycling. If one of these steps is ignored, recycling cannot happen. �� The gift that keeps on giving In both countries, there is a list of eight or nine approved end uses, including new pesticide containers, truck subfloor components, speed bumps and parking lot stops. Currently, the most prevalent end use for plastic from recycled containers in both countries is agricultural drainage tile. “It is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Barry Friesen, general manager of CleanFARMS Canada. “Most drainage tile in Canada is made from recycled HDPE resin. The farmer was able to use the chemical from inside the container to increase his bottom line. He recycled the container and may just be using it again when he installs drainage tile in a field to further increase his bottom line.” Ron Perkins, executive director of the ACRC, agrees. “There is a high demand for agricultural field drainage tile,” he says. “That is where our contractors sell the majority of the chipped HDPE plastic, because it offers the best return.” Agricultural pesticide containers are a very small percentage of the total recycled HDPE plastic that is used by the field drainage tile industry. “Eight million pounds of plastic is recycled every year by the U.S. agricultural industry, but the drainage tile industry uses hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic a year,” Perkins adds. “The additional plastic (used for tile) is either virgin plastic or recycled HDPE plastic from other packaging sources.”

�� Early innovators The North American agricultural industry is a leader in plastic recycling. Since 1989 in Canada, and 1992 in the United States, key players in the crop protection business have been working closely with agricultural producers, retailers, aviators, custom sprayers, municipalities, provinces and states to voluntarily collect and recycle empty pesticide containers, at no charge to producers or other end users. The value of recycled HDPE plastic has been increasing moderately over the last several years, but is not yet high enough to fully support the cost of recycling containers. Therefore, the crop protection chemical manufacturers who are ACRC or CleanFARMS members pay an annual fee – based on the amount of plastic they used the previous year – to help offset the cost of recycling and fund the programs of these two non-profit organizations. To date only one province (Manitoba) and one state (California) have passed laws that make recycling HDPE a legal requirement.

“The Canadian crop protection industry has been running a very successful voluntary program that has a 66-percent capture rate,” says Friesen. “But things are changing. Government is focusing on the packaging industry, so in a few years, recycling HDPE will be mandatory in all provinces.”

�� Reducing plastic use up front “Many of our members are developing products that are more concentrated or are in granular form, which decreases the amount of packaging required. Mini-bulks and other refillable containers are also becoming more prevalent,” Perkins of ACRC says. In addition to running pesticide container recycling programs, both the ACRC and CleanFARMS think globally. “We meet with our counterparts from all over the world every two years to discuss advancements with end uses and health, safety and environmental issues,” Friesen says. Currently the ACRC is re-testing the chemistries that are found in empty pesticide containers to update their risk-assessment procedures and revisit their approved end-use products. In Canada, the program has evolved to include an empty pesticide bag collection program in Eastern Canada and a nationwide disposal program for obsolete and unwanted pesticide products. “We are also working on developing programs to safely dispose of and recycle other farm waste, such as bale twine, net wrap and used grain storage bags,” says Friesen.

�� The hero – you The role of the farmer is arguably the most important in recycling containers and keeping them out of landfills or from being burned by taking them to designated retail locations or cooperating municipal sites. “Farmers are the heroes when they choose to participate,” Friesen says. “HDPE is a petroleum product which is a finite resource. This is a world-leading program that benefits farmers and their resources.” • For more information about CleanFARMS, go to www.cleanfarms.ca. • For more information about ACRC, go to www.acrecycle.org. ❦

Photos clockwise from top left: Rinsing containers, rinsed containers awaiting collection, CleanFARMS collection in Saskatchewan, portable chipping machine, chipped material, end-use drain tile product. Photos courtesy of Ag Container Recycling Council and CleanFARMS.

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WHAT TO PLANT iN 2013? �� Matrix of factors, question marks to consider. When Mike krueger looks ahead to this year from his Fargo, N.D., office, he sees a big matrix of factors influencing what will go in the ground this spring. “Up here, I think there’s no question that farmers want to plant more corn and more soybeans in the Northern Plains,” says the president of grain marketing advisory service The Money Farm. “We had a lot of people with 200-bushel corn in North Dakota, and 40- to 50-bushel soybeans. With those kinds of yields and prices, it’s difficult for any other crop to compete.” But of course there’s more to the matrix than that, for both U.S. and Canadian growers going into 2013. Here’s more of what Krueger and Canadian senior market analyst Jon Driedger of FarmLink Marketing Solutions in Winnipeg, Manitoba, see as factors influencing planting decisions this spring.

guarantee was high at $8.78, he says, which encouraged more winter wheat plantings of hard red winter wheat and soft red winter wheat. “I think it would have encouraged more winter wheat plantings across the Northern Plains, but we were so terribly dry until mid-October that I think it just got too late. So they’ll plant spring wheat instead of as much winter wheat as they might have.” He says the assumption is the price levels for spring wheat will still be fairly high come February. The second factor for Krueger is price, which is related to the crop insurance level and more. “We’re going to enter the 2013 Northern Hemisphere growing season with exceptionally tight feed-grain stocks and soybean and oilseed supplies, and with moderately tight wheat supplies. So, weather is going to be every bit as important this year as it was last year.”

�� Insurance price level “I think one of the key ingredients on the U.S. side of the border is going to be the Federal Crop Insurance initial price levels, which are established during the month of February,” Krueger says. The winter wheat price

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Mike Krueger

Jon Driedger

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Based on reports of record oilseed crops being planted in South America, he says, “if the weather’s perfect in South America, and if they have a big crop, and soybean prices decline significantly, that may indicate a shift of acreage away from soybeans, canola, sunflowers and maybe to wheat, barley, oats or corn. That’s the first big weather market that will affect what U.S. farmers plant.”

�� Lure of corn, soybeans Regionally, U.S. weather smiled on the corn and soybean crops in the Northern Plains in 2012, producing “probably a better corn crop here than anyplace in the country,” Krueger says. “I suspect that means farmers are going to continue their expansion of corn acres. Soybean yields were also very good up here, better than expected in most cases, and I assume that we’ll keep soybean acres stable up here, maybe expand them. “And to do that, it means that some of your more traditional Northern Plains crops – spring wheat, barley – those crops are going to have to see steady or reduced acres in 2013.” When it comes to winter wheat, Krueger expects total acres to increase somewhat over last year, but not as much as had been expected. Southern Plains growers in areas not too hard-hit by drought will have been encouraged by the crop insurance price. Soft red winter wheat farmers were able to do field work earlier than maybe ever before due to the early corn and soybean harvest, increasing wheat acres in those areas, but dry conditions in the Dakotas and eastern Montana likely kept growers from seeding as much winter wheat as they would have liked. “I do think it means, that depending on where these price relationships are, we will probably see overall smaller acres of spring wheat, both in the Northern Plains of the U.S. and across Canada.”

�� Rotations and profitability in Canada In Canada, Driedger of FarmLink Solutions says he sees rotation considerations and profitability driving the bulk of acreage allocations. “We’ve been in a position where a lot of the crops are showing at least some reasonable prospects for profitability going forward. Of course it’s not always the case, but I think, generally speaking, what that does is it helps keep growers reasonably honest to their rotations, for the most part. “I think first and foremost, even where the economics aren’t equal, I think there is a fairly strong commitment to keeping rotations at least somewhat in line,” he says. “That’s not to say that growers won’t push it. Certainly for example, something like canola over the last number of years has definitely seen growers in some areas push that rotation

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awfully hard, because it has consistently been one of the top couple of crops for return prospects. “Certainly canola in 2012 was hands-down a disappointing crop across the Prairies from a yield perspective,” Driedger says. “I expect we’ll see some pullback in acres, but it probably won’t be that dramatic. The market needs those acres in production, so the price signal will probably be there to make sure that a lot of canola acres go in.” He says growers can start from what their rotation should look like, but it does come down to profitability. And that varies, not just by region, but really by individual farms. “So, our advisors out in the field will sit down and walk through a detailed farm budget for various cropping options with our clients, and from there we have our price forecasts or our expectations as to what would be a reasonable cash price to budget, and work back from that,” explains Driedger.

�� The bottom line “There are always a lot of moving parts, and some of them are sort of nuances that are around the market. They may not have that big an impact on their own, but when a few factors combine,” Driedger says, the picture becomes clearer as information about world crops and supplies becomes available. “A lot of the really big market drivers for the crop that’s going to be planted in April and May, are the condition of the U.S. winter wheat crop” and what happens in the Black Sea region and the former Soviet Union countries, he says. “The FSU had a big, big shortfall in wheat production this last year, so if you assume some return to kind of normal growing conditions, that is a big chunk of wheat that was absent from the market this year that comes back next year. But it’s a big question mark. “The wheat market overall is certainly a little bit tighter than it was the year before, so if you have a big crop, or reasonably good weather through these areas, then that helps solve a lot of problems, but if you end up having a couple of hiccups in a couple of important areas, then you’ll pretty quickly start building a sense of urgency once again,” Driedger concludes. For Krueger, “The net result is that I think that all wheat supplies in this country aren’t going to expand much in the 2013-2014 marketing year, and that the wheat price forecast should stay pretty good.” That being said, he notes that the whole U.S. and most of Western Canada were still extraordinarily dry in the fall, and that could factor into this year, too. “If we have good spring rains, then things are great. But the markets are going to be sensitive to that, and I think producers will be, too. And if we’re still dry in March and April, that might impact cropping decisions as well.” ❦

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One-two punch from Pre-Pare

�� Growers go after cheatgrass, and knock out wild oats too.

Brothers Gary and Greg Baltrusch operate the Baltrusch Land and Cattle Company in north-central Montana. They have open, rolling, big-sky, short-grass landscape with low rainfall and large sweeping fields. They farm a traditional crop-fallow rotation with spring and winter wheat. Weather permitting, they plan to seed about 7,500 acres of wheat each year. All their production is in a no-till, chemfallow operation, designed to conserve critical moisture and soil. Without tillage, and seeding only small grains, the brothers rely heavily on crop protection products to control and suppress weed competition. We talked more with Gary about that for this Newground article. “Most of the time, on all my chemfallow acres, I use RT 3®, and occasionally tank mix with 2,4-D or dicamba products to enhance weed control,” Baltrusch says. “A lot depends on what the moisture is for our application decisions.” Traditional weeds they battle include kochia, mustard, buckwheat and wild oats. On the top of that list, there’s

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a ubiquitous yield-robber lurking in every field – cheatgrass (also known as downy brome). “Cheatgrass is kind of what we wait for in the fall, hoping for enough moisture to get it sprouted. It’s a miserable weed. It robs moisture, critical nitrogen, and if it gets a good chance to establish, you have a mess.” He hasn’t always won that battle, especially in his winter wheat. Sometimes conditions are not favorable during seeding, and in northern Montana he has to be mindful of seeding dates. The cheatgrass often comes up after it’s too late to seed winter wheat. In years past, “I have had a field or two get away from me. I had to come back with Maverick® (herbicide) in the spring,” he says. Above: Wheat harvest at Baltrusch Land and Cattle Company.


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“When you are covering a lot of acres, wild oats and cheatgrass can easily get away from you and go to seed before conditions in the spring allow you to get into the field.” – Gary Baltrusch �� Peace of mind with Pre-Pare

�� That’s Montana

Frustrated with cheatgrass and looking for a burndown solution that was longer lasting and safe on the crop, Baltrusch tried the Arysta LifeScience product Pre-Pare Burndown Herbicide to fight cheatgrass as he prepared to seed winter wheat in 2008. He put it in the tank with his RT 3 (glyphosate).

By June 2012, most Montana farms and ranches, including the Baltrusch’s, were back in drought conditions. In September, the Baltrusch brothers seeded winter wheat into dust without any pre-spray, because nothing was growing in the fields at all.

The convenient tank-mix killed every weed in sight ahead of planting, and after the crop was up, the fields stayed clean, he says. The patches of cheatgrass didn’t return, and to his surprise, the wild oats were seriously suppressed. “I found out it was taking care of the oats and mustards, too,” he says. “That’s why I kept using it – it eliminated a lot of work and worry. I didn’t have oats in the following crop, or if I did, they were few. You could tell the Pre-Pare was suppressing them.” In the years since, Baltrusch makes it a standard practice to apply the mix of Pre-Pare and glyphosate before seeding all his wheat acres, both spring and winter wheat, wherever cheatgrass and wild oats are likely to be an issue.

“We didn’t have anything for moisture until mid-October,” Baltrusch reported. “We had good spring rains, then nothing. But that’s Montana for you. We had as good a winter wheat crop as I’ve ever cut, but the heat got the spring wheat, and it was average at best.

“I found out it (Pre-Pare) was taking care of the oats and mustards, too. That’s why I kept using it – it eliminated a lot of work and worry.” – Gary Baltrusch

Using Pre-Pare has made his operation more efficient, he says.

“We’re out of drought now (in November), and next spring when things come up, I’ll probably have cheatgrass and wild oats,” he says.

“It gives you peace of mind that you’re not going to have a cheatgrass mess. When you are covering a lot of acres, wild oats and cheatgrass can easily get away from you and go to seed before conditions in the spring allow you to get into the field.”

“If I had the moisture and things were growing in the fall, I’d definitely have put Pre-Pare down before I seeded the winter wheat. Come spring, I’ll definitely be putting Pre-Pare down to protect all my wheat. At least when I’ve been using Pre-Pare, I haven’t had any wrecks.” ❦

�� Skipping Pre-Pare turned wild oats loose Baltrusch made an exception to his plan in Spring 2012, which he regrets a bit. Early growing conditions were quite good. He decided there was enough moisture to support back-to-back spring wheat, and enough control of cheatgrass and wild oats from 2011, that he could cancel the Pre-Pare portion of his weed control for Spring 2012. The moisture was there for the new spring wheat, but there was nothing to stop the remaining cheatgrass and wild oats from making the most of it, too. “I was able to kill everything (at burndown) with just the RT 3, but ended up having to spray at least a quarter of those acres for wild oats.” Baltrusch says, “Looking back, it was okay to do back-to-back spring wheat, but I should have kept using Pre-Pare with the RT 3. Everything was up and growing, and it would have got everything.”

Gary Baltrusch

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Putting crop diversity to work on weeds Weeds are opportunists, ready to move in when farmers open the door – but they also can be shut out in the cold indefinitely with the right practices, says Randy Anderson, USDA Agricultural Research Service weeds ecologist, Brookings, S.D. Much depends on crop diversity and tillage choices, says Anderson, who is marking his 30th year as an observer and researcher of the weed spectrum and farming practices on the Great Plains. “The weed spectrum hasn’t changed all that much, but some of the problems are a little more difficult,” he says. “When I started, one of the worst weeds we encountered was downy brome, and it’s still here.” There were predictions that a lot more grasses would be troublesome as the region went into no-till, and that broadleaf weeds would fade away. Neither happened. There were expectations that weeds would explode on no-till fields, due to limitations of crop protection chemistry and limited crop rotations. That started to happen, but it’s been shut down for the most part. “We figured out how to handle it. No-till and crop diversity really support each other very well,” Anderson says. “Where we really have trouble yet is with short rotations, and where you have continuous corn or continuous wheat.” In that kind of open-door situation, some prolific and tough grassy weeds see a great invitation, as do resistant forms of some hard-to-kill weeds. “Continuous wheat favors downy brome a lot,” he says. “For farmers using long rotations with four different annual crops, downy brome is not a problem at all. But, if they grow winter wheat two years out of three, then they have a problem.” When some South Dakota no-till farmers grow winter wheat twice, followed by two alternative crops, “it’s a sequence designed to favor downy brome,” Anderson says. “The downy brome can expand during the two no-till winter wheat crops. Over time, the population gets quite a bit higher. But, they can have a greater window to control downy brome if they change one winter wheat to a spring crop like barley or oats.” When rotations are shortened, it can reduce the impact of two key management tools for optimum weed control: diversity in planting dates, and maximization of opportunities for natural processes to degrade weed seeds.

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Photo courtesy of Morris Industries Ltd.

Weeds, including perennial grasses like smooth brome or foxtail barley, make the most of any regularly repeating ‘open window.’ So, if a winter wheat harvest in mid-summer is followed on a routine basis by a winter wheat planting six to eight weeks later, it cuts down on the time for weed-seed loss to occur, thereby increasing the density of weed seed infesting the second wheat crop and subsequent crops. “That’s where the use of a longer-lasting burndown product, such as Pre-Pare Burndown Herbicide, can be instrumental in reducing early-season grassy weed pressure and maximizing yields of winter and spring wheat,” says Royce Schulte, Arysta LifeScience U.S. Herbicide Product Manager.

�� Well-managed, varied rotations allow herbicide diversity Research with many rotations over many years now clearly shows that diversity in crops is best with different crop types and different planting dates. Two cool-season crops, such as winter wheat and barley, followed by two warm-season crops – such as corn and proso millet – has been an ideal rotation for weed control on most no-till farms on the semi-arid Great Plains, Anderson says. (Eastern South Dakota is in the humid part of the Great Plains, and barley and proso millet are not grown in this area.) Diversified crop rotations allow growers to diversify their herbicides and herbicide mode of action and their crop canopy closure dates. Weeds that can’t establish after they emerge gradually are removed from the seed pool in the soil. The increasing occurrence in the past two to three years of glyphosate-resistant kochia, which can get especially out-of-hand on fallow ground, is another example of what can happen when producers move away from crop diversity, according to Anderson. “What I’m trying to get across is that crop diversity is very favorable for addressing these issues. When you have a tendency to use narrow crop rotations, you actually provide an environment for weeds to become much worse.” ❦


Even the toughest weeds don’t stand a chance against new cross-spectrum RAZE®. With multiple modes of action, it takes down the most resistant grass and broadleaf weeds in wheat, including green foxtail, wild oats and kochia, and keeps them down. RAZE destroys weeds but is gentle on wheat, with built-in safener technology. And it’s easy to use, with a wide application window and tank-mix flexibility. The future of weed control is here. And its name is RAZE. ®

W W W. R A Z E H E R B I C I D E . C O M

Always read and follow label directions. RAZE and the RAZE logo are trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Arysta LifeScience and the Arysta LifeScience logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. ©2013 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. RAZ-001


N E W G R O U N D

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF yOUR EvEREST 2.0 APPLiCATiON We at Arysta LifeScience understand that with tight schedules during application season, applying a herbicide exactly to its specifications every time is not always possible. The good news is that not only is Everest 2.0 Herbicide relentless on weeds and safe on wheat, but it also is flexible enough to be applied under a wide variety of conditions with a wide variety of tank-mix partners. Here are five key points to getting the most out of your Everest 2.0 application: 1. Apply early – make use of the Flush after flush™ control of Everest 2.0 and remove weed competition before it impacts your yield. 2. Tank-mix Everest 2.0 with herbicides containing tribenuron. Tribenuron is found in many products – Supremacy®, Audit®, Affinity BroadSpec – and has additive activity with Everest 2.0 on tough-to-control grasses, including yellow foxtail, foxtail barley and Persian darnel. Everest 2.0 is also compatible with the most popular broadleaf herbicides on the market to allow you to mix and match based on your broadleaf pressure and resistant weeds. Everest 2.0 can be mixed with fungicides without the risk of crop leaf burn that can come from EC-formulated herbicides. 3. Everest 2.0 has two main use rates – 0.75 fl oz/A and 1 fl oz/A. For early application to moderate wild oat pressure, 0.75 fl oz/A is ideal. As weeds get larger and more dense, a higher herbicide rate is required for proper coverage and soil activity. This is especially true in soils with higher organic matter and lower pH that lower the soil activity of Everest 2.0. 4. Use adjuvants. With the superior crop safety of Everest 2.0, it is safe to add additional adjuvants to the tank when mixing with most EC broadleaf products. Use either a basic blend or non-ionic surfactant plus a nitrogen source. This additional adjuvant helps on tough-to-control grassy weeds without the risk of crop injury. Make sure to check the labels of the broadleaf or fungicide products in the tank-mix to determine if they restrict the use of adjuvants.

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Everest 2.0 tank-mixed with Supremacy kept this plot clean – note the heavy Canada thistle and wild oat infestation on the left and in back of the treated area in foreground.

5. Follow these mixing and cleanout best practices: MIXING • Shake the Everest 2.0 container well before pouring. • Everest 2.0 is a water-soluble herbicide and should be entered into the spray tank with continuous agitation prior to oils, ECs or adjuvants. Spray Everest 2.0 within 24 hours of mixing. CLEANOUT • Everest 2.0 is water soluble, so a typical tank cleaner that slightly elevates the pH works well (household ammonia at a 1-percent solution). Triple rinse and flush the system as per the Everest 2.0 label. ❦


Always read and follow label directions. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if this product is registered for sale or use in your state. SUPREMACY and the SUPREMACY logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Arysta LifeScience and the Arysta LifeScience logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. Š2013 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. SUP-004


Make your first move PRE-PARE® Adding PRE-PARE® to your glyphosate burndown gives you residual control of the weeds that can pop up after the glyphosate stops working. Weeds like wild oats, green foxtail and aggressive broadleaves that can all rob valuable nutrients and moisture from young wheat. Young wheat gets the head start it needs. You get the happy ending you deserve. For the whole story, visit www.preparefortheseason.com.

For a longer lasting burndown

Always read and follow label directions. PRE-PARE and the PRE-PARE logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Arysta LifeScience and the Arysta LifeScience logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. ©2013 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. PREU-132


USA Winter Newground Magazine 2013