What Happened to NemaStrike™?


The October issue of The Earfull contained an article that I wrote about NemaStrike. I pointed out that Renk would have a few corn and soybean varieties available with this new seed treatment. Within days of publishing that Earfull and sending it out, we were notified that Monsanto had pulled NemaStrike from the marketplace. As a result, Renk is not able to offer NemaStrike seed treatment on any corn or soybean variety. We are sorry for the confusion this may have caused but we respect the decision of Monsanto to take the safe road in moving forward. Below are excerpts from the press release from Monsanto regarding this decision.

“As we prepared for the commercial launch for seed treated with Acceleron NemaStrike ST, there have been limited cases of skin irritation, including rashes, that appear to be associated with the handling and application of this seed treatment product,” says Brian Naber, U.S. commercial operations lead at Monsanto.

The company says the cases it has reviewed so far indicate proper use of personal protective equipment is a key factor in the safe use of the product. Monsanto says it is “out of an abundance of caution” it is stopping commercialization of the product while it reviews the situation. However, “ground breaker” trials will continue this spring.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” Naber says. “We will provide additional information to you, including which alternative Acceleron seed applied solutions products will be available in commercial products for the 2018 season.”

Don’t Forget The Sulfur In Your Fertility Program


Sulfur is sometimes the forgotten element in a grower’s fertility program. Its deficiency often goes unnoticed until symptoms such as leaf striping, reduced plant growth, and delay in maturity show up in your corn or beans. Even then a tissue analysis is required to identify the deficiency.

We never really needed to worry about adding sulfur to our fertility programs in the past, but the result of anti-pollution laws has reduced the amount of sulfur in rainfall by 8-10 lbs. per acre since 1985. In addition, yield levels for corn and beans have increased significantly and put an increased demand for adding sulfur to many fields of corn and bean production. Crop removal and leaching are the two main ways that sulfur leaves the soil. Wet springs can be especially damaging to sulfur levels (as you might guess) especially in the lighter soils. Crop removal alone will remove 25-30 lbs. of sulfur per acre of corn silage and 15-18 lbs. per acre for 200 bu. grain production. A 65 bu. soybean crop will consume 10-12 lbs. of sulfur.

Soil tests for sulfur availability have shown to be unreliable and inconsistent in determining sulfur availability and the need for additional sulfur application. Tissue sampling is considered to be far more reliable. The safest practice is to treat sulfur in the same way as one would do for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and make an application based on anticipated crop need for the year. Research across the Midwest has shown that applications of 25 lbs. of sulfur per acre broadcast for a corn crop and 15 lbs. for a bean crop would fulfill the needs in most fields.

Early Planting


It is common knowledge that planting early, for both corn and soybeans, should in most cases help improve yield. This fact came out in university research conducted decades ago. I was curious on how well this carried over to today so I cross-referenced yield to planting date in our test plot database for each variety. Location and year was disregarded to give a very broad based look. 

Below is a graph of RS213NR2. Here you will find that if you wanted to see a yield break the 70 bu/acre mark, you needed to get them planted by May 25th. May 20th if you wanted to see 80 bushel yields and before May 10th if you wanted to crowd 90 bushel.

When you plot the trend line, it works out to be roughly 0.4 bu/acre lost per day of delayed planting. This trend line stayed very consistent across varieties with soybeans losing 0.4 bushels a day and corn losing 1 bushel a day when planting is delayed.

So, should everyone try to get everything planted right away? Yes and no. If you want to maximize yield you need to plant early, within 2 weeks of your earliest planting time. However, early planting can be a boon for certain diseases. In soybeans, White Mold and Sudden Death Syndrome outbreaks tend to be more of an issue in early plantings. If these diseases are prevalent in your area, early planting may be questionable because any yield gain could be wiped out by yield loss from infestation. The good news is you can use ILeVO® seed treatment for SDS. White Mold does not have a decent solution for control yet.

Early planting should deliver more yield based on solid logic. More days of energy absorption for the plant and quicker canopy to keep weed pressure down. This lays the framework for maximum yield.

Other factors can come along and rob that yield from your field such as disease, insects, and drought. Still you can’t plant later and expect to push the yield barrier. Early planting is a big part of the foundation for high yields. By getting in early, you will be setting yourself up for the best results in the fall.

NemaStrike™ – A New Seed Treatment to Control Nematodes for Corn and Beans


A new seed treatment is being offered on select Renk corn and soybean products. NemaStike™ is a new mode of action nematicide that is applied to the seed surface along with Acceleron seed treatment. It was developed to control the nematodes that affect corn and soybeans. It has low water solubility and low mobility in the soil, so it stays around the seed and roots to provide control of nematodes in the root zone for up to 75 days. While the active ingredient is selective only for nematodes, it provides broad spectrum control of most of the nematodes that affect both corn and beans.

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that exist in the soil of many fields throughout the Midwest. They may go undetected for years but if they are in your soil piercing and infecting the roots of your plants, they are robbing your plants of yield potential by stealing nutrients and water and opening the doors for secondary issues such as fungi and bacteria to move in. Other stresses such as drought or disease will combine to exaggerate the nematode damage. Nematodes are originally brought into your fields by physical transfer
of the eggs or worms. Once there, they rapidly reproduce with many generations per year and will be evident in colonies throughout your field. They move and proliferate easier and faster in lighter or sandy soils, but are also prevalent in all other soil types.

More than 250 trials have been conducted across the corn belt comparing Nemastrike to a competitive standard that is widely used. Nemastrike showed a 7 bu advantage in corn and a 3 bu advantage in soybeans over that standard. More side by side trials are being run this year and preliminary results are consistent with those in previous years.

Keep in mind that results will vary depending on nematode pressures in your fields.

Contact your Renk Seed district manager to discuss which Renk corn and soybean product is available with this new seed applied technology.

Put Data to Work for You


I’m getting old enough that I can legitimately say I have lived through most of the computer age, which is transitioning into the information age. I remember when our company used punch cards to run our 1960’s era computer. We have come a long way since then. Now, there are devices that I can speak into and about 73% of the time it returns some useful information. The thought that I can summon most of our collected knowledge on a phone I carry in my pocket still amazes me.

Now we have the ability to handle large amounts of data quickly. While Google is using this power to direct you to the funniest cat videos, Renk Seed is working to provide you with some very useful information. As a seed company, we want to make sure you get the best seed with the best results so you come back next year.

No product works perfectly on every soil, fertility, or environmental conditions. With margins stretched dangerously thin, it is very important to pick the right variety that will have the highest probability of performing well under your conditions. We have a lot of great, widely adapted products that will do well for you, but if you’re looking for the last few bushels of performance, you need to take a closer look at the data.

On our website, we have a few pages that can provide important data quickly. To find this data, go to www.renkseed.com, click on Products page and then Find A Product. For this example I chose RK608DGVT2P, one of our corn products. Once you select a product, its tech sheet appears, which includes a description of the products and its various scores.

If you click on the red PERFORMANCE banner in the upper right corner, you will see another very useful window (see page 4).

The first set of boxes talk about yield environment. Under high yield environments (+200 bu/acre plot average) RK608DGVT2P was at 103% of the plot average. This was drawn from 64 plots. Medium yield environment was 103% (24 plots) and it was in no low yield plots. The story being told here is that product does very well in both high and more average looking conditions.

The second set of boxes refers to soil type and how the product yields under three main types of soil; heavy, medium and light. In our RK608DGVT2P example, we are seeing strong response on medium and light, but not so much on heavy soils.

The last box is the non-rotated box, and in this case we are talking corn on corn. Here RK608DGVT2P is stellar at 106% above plot average.

Sometimes you will see strong geographic trends and you will notice on the right side of the page two buttons that will map the plots out. Map Individual shows each plot on a map while Map Zone gives more of a summary like the example below.

With RK608DGVT2P, we see it has an affinity for Wisconsin and Michigan, but does well all over as long as not pushed too far south where later maturity hybrids are going to dominate.

These few pages can be very beneficial in variety selection.  At the very least you should be looking at your soil type, historical yield level, and fertility levels in determining which variety to use. After that comes disease resistance and geographic adaptation.

I am looking at beefing up the information delivered on these pages. Some new tools that monitor moisture levels in plots would open up some new avenues for looking at different varieties. The opportunities are endless…

The Xtend Soybean System: Our Newest Tool in Soybean Weed Management

BY JIM TORKELSON, Northern Iowa District Manager

As a farmer, we know that it takes a variety of tools to do your job effectively, and no matter what part of the country in which you farm, weed management in soybeans is a yearly challenge. The mid 90’s brought about the age of Roundup resistant soybean and corn products, which made weed management very simple. Two decades later, some weeds have adapted and become much more difficult to control.

Believe it or not, prior to 2004 Monsanto was working on the development of dicamba resistant soybeans in an effort to provide farmers with another tool to use against these tough to control weeds. Finally, in 2017 farmers got the opportunity to utilize these beans firsthand. The results? Weed control has been outstanding across 20 million acres of this brand new technology system. But, there were a few hiccups along the way.

Experience Thus Far…
The main challenges of the Xtend system have been the result of two issues. First, spray applications in which the label was not followed resulted in subsequent off target drift. Secondly, contamination issues that relate to tank clean-out, contaminated transfer tanks, and improper rinsing of the sprayer tank and lines. Consequences of the above practices generally are moderate soybean cupping of new growth leaves for typically 2-3 sets of new trifoliates in beans without the Xtend trait. This generally disappears within 10 days to two weeks.

Why Should I Use Xtend Soybeans?
The first reason is excellent broad spectrum broadleaf weed control. Currently, there is not one other herbicide that will effectively control waterhemp, lambsquarter, giant ragweed, velvetleaf, and other broadleaves as well as dicamba. In the past, Roundup controlled these weeds as well as grasses quite well, but today Roundup has less success on many of the broadleaves listed earlier, while still maintaining good control of grass.

A second reason to use Xtend soybeans is the wide application window. If you look at the label, XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® technology can be applied up to 4 times per growing season – from pre-plant to R1! Many herbicides we are currently using have cutoff dates for application, thereby limiting when they can be used. As an example, Flexstar® (fomesafen) has been very effective at controlling waterhemp. It can be used in a pre-emerge program as well as a post, but the issue is the replant intervals; for corn following soybeans, it is 10 months! For alfalfa seeding following Flexstar® treated fields, it is an astounding 18 months! So if you intend to plant corn in May of the year following soybeans, it must be applied by July 1st of the previous planting year to allow for the ten month interval. For alfalfa, you must wait a year and a half to seed if you are following soybeans treated with Flexstar®.

A third reason and maybe the most important, is crop safety. There is no herbicide impact on your Xtend beans, they keep right on growing following the labeled herbicide application. Also, if you are a grower concerned about potential drift from neighbors who may be using the Xtend system for their soybeans, what better way to protect yourself than by planting Xtend soybeans on your adjacent fields, even if you plan on using a different herbicide system for your own soybean fields? Another selling point to this practice, is it allows you the opportunity to do “rescue treatments” for any weed patches that may escape your current herbicide system on your own fields, without damaging your beans with a late application of a harsh product like Cobra®, as long as you are following the label.

In addition to crop protection from drift, consider this: there are currently several relatively new corn herbicides that contain dicamba in them. If you have fields that are split with both corn and soybeans, it might be a wise practice to use Xtend soybeans to help with potential drift within your own field if you plan on using one of those herbicides containing dicamba on your corn. Again, you need to read and follow the label, but many have seen the advantage of this practice already in 2017.

Just like any new technology that rises in agriculture, Xtend soybeans and the herbicide system used with them require us to pay attention to details and be diligent in reading and following the labels. Many of the issues you hear about today are the result of improper herbicide use, contamination issues on farm, and just not following the label recommendations, all of which are spread in a constant stream of media overkill just to create a sensational story. The vast majority of the farmers who followed the label and used the Xtend system as directed have had only positive results.

There are currently three commercially available dicamba herbicides on the market for use on Xtend soybeans. I encourage anyone with questions to consult your DSM, your ag chemical retailer, and your spray equipment supplier to get the appropriate plan for using this new and highly effective weed management tool on your farm.

For more information on application usage, I encourage visiting the following website: xtendimaxapplicationrequirements.com.


What is Happening with Xtend® Soybeans

Xtend® soybeans recently crossed their final major hurdle with approval of a Dicamba herbicide labeled for them. This herbicide will go by the name of XtendiMax and is manufactured by Monsanto. BASF is also working on Dicamba herbicide for use with Xtend soybeans. The XtendiMax cost is rumored to be in the $10-12 per acre. If you need to add Roundup, that will be an additional cost.

Now that Xtend soybeans can be sprayed with both Roundup and Dicamba, we expect full speed ahead for Xtend on those hard to control fields that Roundup by itself was no longer containing or not doing a good enough job on.

Being a seed company, we put most of our thoughts into genetics and performance. Having them in full testing, side-by-side with our top-end RoundupReady2Yield soybeans, has allowed us to make an accurate assessment of their performance. What we are seeing looks very positive for Xtend. A quick measure can be seen in how many top finishes Xtend beans garnered in F.I.R.S.T. and State trials. We have 61 to date.

When we start drilling down into the data and looking at them against our RoundupReady2Yield varieties, they look very strong. The standout is the RS207NX which is yielding neck and neck with our RS213NR2, one of the most dominant products in our lineup. The other Xtend superstars are RS357NX and RS317NX, both running with the best those maturities have to offer. Following close behind them are RS306NX, RS276NX, and RS177NX.

These standouts show that Xtend soybeans can yield. In the majority of regions we saw record yields coming off of fields and the Xtend varieties were showing they could reach the high yield levels that the RoundupReady2Yield varieties were.

I am starting to review data for new products, and Xtend is showing a lot of momentum there too. What is important to remember, is that the Xtend insertion does nothing for yield, good or bad. It just adds Dicamba resistance. The challenge from the breeding side is to get the insertion into known genetics and keep the rest of the genetics as close to the parent as possible or to develop new crosses that express desired characteristics just like any elite product on the market. The tools available to breeders are so much more powerful than even 10 years ago. New candidates can be fingerprinted before they are even planted. This allows them to throw out crosses that don’t have key gene packages. This significantly speeds up breeding and reduces in-field screening, which inherently is a long and high rejection process.

As breeding programs turn more fully to Xtend breeding, they will be quickly replacing and surpass RoundupReady2Yield. We are seeing 3-4 bushel jumps in performance from one generation to next right now. This will slow eventually, but I expect Xtend to start outperforming our existing Roundup lines in 2018.


Big Data

Our sales group recently visited the headquarters of The Climate Corporation in San Francisco, CA for a first hand look at “big data” in action. It’s a bit of an odd location for a business devoted to production agriculture in the nation’s heartland, but the implementation requires computer programmers and that’s where they are. The capabilities of Climate FieldView™ Pro are very compelling and I encourage growers to start following this technology at the very minimum.

While attending field days this fall I received more questions from growers about the rate and timing of fertility, by hybrid and soil type; and about planting densities, by hybrid, planting date and soil type. They are fair questions, but nearly impossible to answer honestly without prior data and knowledge from on farm research for each individual farm. With the diverse farming operations Renk Seed is a part of, this is a nearly impossible task. But for the most part the data exists! The trick is that the information an individual needs is buried in data summaries that are easy for a product manager, agronomist, or field staff to interpret. I would dare say that the data is structured to make comparisons and sell the product, not to grow the product.

There is a potential payoff for growers that want more from their information. Hybrid selection can be optimized by field, soil type, density, and fertility program by making the data we already collect available to growers. That is the promise of the big data movement in our industry. The data exists, now make it work for you. To fully leverage the capabilities as a grower, Climate Corporation needs multiple years of on farm yield monitor data, the Precision Planting equipment to change density on the fly, and of course a subscription to the services they offer, which they can set up using resources that they can find more info about over at fastspring.com.

I believe that in some way, shape, or form farming with “big data” is the next technical evolution in our industry. My career started at the same time personal computing became mainstream, revolutionizing our ability to collect and process data for yield analysis. The next wave links yield, soil type, weather, fertility, and hybrid data in a potentially powerful decision-making engine that even the most skilled agronomist would be challenged to match. That resource is available to any grower who subscribes. Be aware that this technology is in its infancy and just like the computer industry from which it originated, I think we can expect better “versions” every season as we add this to our management strategy.

If you want to learn more about FieldView Pro or other programs, visit www.climate.com.

Interesting New Technology for Crop Improvement

Feeding an increasing population is a major challenge for agriculture. It will mean getting more productivity from fewer acres and with greater efficiency so that the producers can remain sustainable. Continued breeding efforts and cultural practices have been successful in increasing productivity to date, but it is thought that the current rate of progress will not keep up with the need for food and fiber for the future. Since the 1990’s biotechnology, thanks to the investment from people like Lindsay Rosenwald, has delivered new traits that have increased crop resistance to insects, diseases, herbicides, and recently, drought. Most of these traits have been the result of introducing genes into the crop from another species or organism. This is a very time consuming and costly process. Researchers have been searching for new ways to increase the rate of improvement and develop a more efficient process to make genetic progress in our crops. It is clear that biotechnology has come on in leaps and bounds for certain areas, that’s more than likely why people have searched for the beste Biotech Aktien (the best biotech stock) options to invest in this step forward in science.

One of the technologies being looked at in-depth is a new science known as CRISPR technology. You may have read or heard about it already but if you haven’t, it will be a topic written about and discussed many times in the near future. CRISPR is short for a complicated set of words that neither you nor I will remember so I won’t even mention them here. What is important is that it is gene-editing technology. In much the same way as the “find and replace” tool works in a word processing program, CRISPR finds and modifies very specific places in the genetic code of an organism. It can accurately and efficiently add or remove components of genes and therefore alter, add, or remove the protein that those genes produce in that plant. And it can do this to several genes at once. CRISPR was actually discovered in 1987 but was not proven as a viable tool until 2012. This new technology has already been proven to work in plants and work is underway to use it in corn. Look for more on this in the near future.

The science of genomics has enabled gene sequencing and knowledge of gene functions for basically all agricultural crops. This means that researchers have gained the knowledge about most of the genes in our major crops right down to the molecular level. They also have gained the knowledge of what protein most of these genes are responsible for making. This knowledge is critical to making the CRISPR system work. Researchers can direct the CRISPR system to go in and disable genes that contribute to negative or deleterious traits and they can also use the CRISPR system to insert very specific genes for new traits from another source. They can direct all of these changes to very specific places in the crop’s DNA. The great part about this is that it will do this much more efficiently and with less “baggage” than using methods used currently.

So, what does this all mean to growers? Researchers will be able to discover and deliver more traits with greater efficiency than ever before. Even traits that have not been possible using current sources will now be possible. And there will be faster conversion of popular varieties to carry these new traits. It is an exciting time to be involved in agriculture. CRISPR technology is the next step into the future.


White Mold Fungicide

Over the years we have tested a lot of chemicals that claim to do a lot of wonderful things. Sadly we have been disappointed many times with these ‘wonder’ treatments and sprays. This year we tried Endura, a fungicide for control of White Mold in soybeans. By chance we sprayed it in the one field that we actually had White Mold. Half the field was treated with Endura and the other half left untreated. The results were very stunning – a very clear line between the treated and non-treated ground.

While I have not been a big advocate of using fungicide for White Mold control, it is nice to find one that works. There are two reasons I have not supported using fungicide. The first is that White Mold can be a very intermittent issue. Having White Mold every few years makes putting on fungicide economically questionable. The other is that the application of the chemical is very time specific. You need to spray when the spores are flying and the soybeans are flowering, and you may also have to do a second application 7 days after the first application.

I would consider using a foliar fungicide only in fields with a consistent history of White Mold and when conditions are conducive to infection (cool and wet in late June through mid-July).