This installment of “5 Agriculture stories to read” offers some help when deciding whether or not to spray fungicide. It also talks about research using an old maize gene (from oregano) to help new corn hybrids defend against pests. The USDA announced an ag investment fund for pensions and large investors, and an Extension expert offers tips for marketing corn at low prices. Finally, watch a parody about weed resistance; I think most farmers can relate!
1. Fungicide decisions. When determining whether or not to spray fungicide on Northern corn leaf blight (or other diseases) this summer, take the following into consideration: weather forecast, disease information, susceptibility. Scout at-risk fields, properly identify them, and spray. Also, take resistance into consideration.
Research done by several pathologists across the Midwest suggests that ROI is more likely when conditions are favorable for disease. Resistance to strobilurin fungicides has been reported in the fungi that cause frogeye leaf spot, and Cercospora leaf blight in several states. Although no resistance has been reported in Iowa or in corn pathogens across the Midwest, we continue to monitor fields.
2. Old defense for new corn. While new hybrids are more productive, researchers say they’ve lost the ability to produce certain defense chemicals. So, Swiss scientists are exploring ways to help 21st century corn hybrids using old genetics.
The scientists used genetic transformation to investigate if restoring E-β-caryophyllene, a chemical produced by traditional corn ancestors, emission would protect maize plants against corn rootworms. After introducing a gene from oregano, the transformed maize plants released E- β-caryophyllene constantly. As a result, these plants attracted more nematodes and suffered less damage from an infestation of Western Corn Rootworms.
3. Agriculture investment fund. Pension funds and large investors can now invest in agricultural projects. The White House Rural Council has started a $10 billion investment fund, offering investors the opportunity to put money into bundled projects.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, large pools of pension money have flowed directly into farmland and agricultural investments. Some Wall Street investors are trying their hand at creating different ways to tap demand from both large pensions funds and individual investors.
4. Corn marketing strategy. Matt Roberts, associate professor at Ohio State University, says corn producers are going to have to be very tactical, as he doesn’t see the high corn prices coming back any time soon. Growers should focus on HTAs and maximize on-farm storage, he says.
“Pick off those little rallies when you can; sell up. I wouldn’t get too aggressive, but don’t expect prices above $4.25 before September,” he says.
5. Weed resistance parody. We know weed resistance is no laughing matter. And maybe a great parody will help get the message across? Bill Long, an agronomic consultant in South Australia, used a parody on YouTube to lament the growing problem of resistant wild radish in his area. I’m sure many farmers can relate to the resistance issues, whether it’s wild radish, giant ragweed or pigweed. Check him out!
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