Welcome to Summer, at least the calendar says it’s almost time for harvest. Our intent with this letter is to inform you of issues we see as pivotal to the success of your business. If we didn’t firmly believe this we wouldn’t spend the money to send it to you. Hopefully we spark enough interest to entice you to use one or more of our products and services. The letter is organized by heading, so if your interest is not alfalfa, just skip over that item and find one that does have interest to you.
There are several field days coming up in June and July. Some of these are sponsored by WSU Cooperative Extension and others by the private seed companies. There is a lot of great information to be had at these events. I will give you a sample of just a few things you can look forward to this year. Some will have application to your farm and some will not, but you will be the last to find out if you don’t go.
Connell is one of the earliest plot tours of the season. TSS sponsored the BBQ which was hosted by the Jim Moore family, and several speakers before the actual tour. At the meeting Arron Carter told us about several interesting varieties poised for release. WA8118 is interesting to me because it is a Hollis by Farnum cross. This is not particularly unique except for the fact that these crosses usually result in the resulting variety grading Hard Red Winter. This time it graded Hard Red Spring. When the samples were presented to the PNW Wheat Quality Council this year for the industry millers and bakers to evaluate, the Federal Grain Inspection Service graded all ten samples as Red Spring. It also has spring wheat quality. I hope the light went on in your head as fast as it did in mine. This means you can plant a winter wheat and deliver DNS at harvest! Cool! This variety does not come without some shortcomings. It appears to be very early heading. In drier years this could be an advantage but this year in Connell we experienced a frost on May 10th and the WA8118 got hit harder than the rest of the trial. However, when you consider this variety as a late seeding alternative for years when moisture is marginal or for use in direct seeding situations, it certainly makes sense to me. One huge advantage is if you have to reseed in the spring because of spotty stand or some winter impairment, you can use DNS.
Irrigated farmers take note! This variety WA8118 yielded 212 bu/acre in the Moses Lake trials last year and although it is a bit tall, no lodging occurred. How cool is that! The variety also has very good nitrogen use efficiency. By that I mean that it makes protein fairly easily given normal amounts of fertility at the normal timing. Another advantage is when you need to overseed in the spring; you can use DNS to do the job without the normal fear of contrasting classes. For those of you that have potatoes in your rotation, this is a great tool to consider. It is well adapted to later planting and that is what we are normally faced with especially with the russets.
Arron also previewed “Otto”, formally tested as WA8092. This variety is available as foundation seed this year. Otto will be a good fit in the dryland < 12” rainfall areas of the state because it also has the pch-1 foot rot gene found in Madsen. This should solve the issue of Eltan have a predisposition for tillers collapsing because of foot rot. This variety will carry a $.02 /pound royalty from the university.
One other candidate that bears mention for the dryland boys is WA8119. This is a Bauermeister sibling that consistently yields 15 to 20% higher than anything in the < 12” rainfall area. It has some issues with protein, but when you consider the trial is fertilized for the average yield of the trial and WA8119 is 8 bushels better than the closest competitor, it is no wonder why it comes up short on protein. So the take home message here is if you are on top of your fertilizer game, this will be a great alternative for the more progressive farmers.
Other highlights include WA8151 and 8152 both next generation Eltan types, one is a true semi-dwarf and the other is mid tall. WA 8161 is a SWS with excellent vigor and has a 10% better yield capacity than Diva and maintains Hessian Fly tolerance. This one is made to order for the Davenport, Reardan and Wilbur area.
Your Political Activity Counts Very Much
Another way to say this is “Your political inactivity may hurt your farming operation deeply sooner than you thought.” The absolute truth is the state legislature is incapable of balancing the state budget. The budget this year was about $31 Billion. The democratically controlled legislature wants the next biennium to have a budget in excess of $50 Billion. This year in the state legislature agriculture narrowly averted losing several of our tax exemptions. Included in the list were sales tax on seed, feed and fertilizer, sales tax exemption on repair parts, Business and Occupational Taxes, and the biggy, the tax exemption on off road diesel. My brother and I just figured out recently on our farm, which is relatively small, the monetary impact of these tax exemption loses would be $42,000. Already this year two teachers unions and 12 liberal state senators have sued in district court and won the challenge to the voter approved mandate stating that it should take a super majority, 66.667% of the legislature to raise taxes. They believe that a simple majority should be able to raise taxes, (remove exemptions) even though for several years in a row the voters have rejected the concept through the initiative process. This case is in front of the state supreme court only because Rob McKenna appealed the decision on our behalf. The wheat industry has a political action fund. It is called the Wheat Industry Council. Your tax deductible contributions can be sent to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers office in Ritzville. Or call Michelle Hennings at the WAWG office at 1-509-659-0610 and she will accommodate your contribution.
The Washington Assoc. of Wheat Growers is working hard on our behalf. I continue to be blown away by the apathetic response of growers who operate million dollar operations and do not belong to their industry association. It is inexcusable. The growers who donate their time and effort on your behalf to lobby for both state and national legislation and regulatory reform deserve your support. They are well informed and get it! They are taking time away from their families and operations to improve our industry, aka your business. I can’t adequately express my concern for our future if those of you who are uninvolved don’t at least contribute something to the effort. Please tell me if your CSP check, your Crop Insurance claim check, your Crop Revenue Coverage check, your Equip cost share and your CRP check doesn’t cash at the local bank! If you are of the opinion that this type of activity doesn’t pay your bills, you are very sadly mistaken. Call the WAWG office today and pay your dues, and think about a political action committee contribution, because the unions and our liberal neighbors that don’t own their own businesses are playing this game for keeps.
Apparently 98% of the offers that were made to the USDA were accepted in Washington State. After you have been notified of your bid acceptance the process works like this. You will be contacted by a representative of the NRCS for a field evaluation if you currently have land in the program. They will make an assessment whether your current grass is a qualified stand, according to what your bid document. If your grass is good enough you probably will not have to reseed new grass. If your existing grass needs some enhancement then we are available to help you. Several things distinguish our company from all the others. We will not just sell you the cheapest grass on the list. We will do needs assessment for you! This involves talking through the entire process. How you are going to prepare your seedbed. Which herbicides are you planning on using? What is your soil type? What type of drill use plan on using? Both Craig and I have our own CRP contracts and have been in the CRP business for years. Our goal is to create a plan for you that results in the least risk and creates the greatest opportunity for a successful stand of grass, the first time. Does that mean we will have the cheapest grass bid, probably not! Does that mean we have a very high success ratio? Yes it does! Our focus will be the basics, creating the proper seedbed and the timing of the planting. We will focus on the optimum seeds per square foot to enhance to odds of a good planting population. We also have considerable experience in recommending the appropriate herbicides to control weeds the pose a threat to seedling vigor. We have a calibration system that is accurate to within one tenth of a pound per acre. The short message is we have a great deal of experience, great product and great service so give us a try.
Alfalfa Seed and Fertility
We continue to have very good feedback on Trifecta and Trifecta 2 alfalfa. They are both very fast recovery varieties. The difference is they both offer a slightly wider harvest window in that their axillary bud development does not occur until 3 to 4 days after most other varieties have begun to regenerate. This is advantageous for getting the crop off. But when the two begin to regrow, the growth takes place very quickly. Within 21 days after harvest it is not uncommon to see 3 to 4 inches in growth over and above competitor’s varieties. Trifecta and Trifecta 2 have relatively thick stems and therefore stand well. WSU’s data at the Othello site shows that Trifecta 2 has 27% better persistence than their trial mean. I have yet to encounter a variety that will beat these two in overall yield. We also carry Grandstand Alfalfa. It is a variety from Forage Genetics, licensed to CPS. It is a great alfalfa also, and is finer stemmed. This variety may have an edge on quality but will also collapse more readily because of this trait. We also carry DeKalb 50-18. It is a proven performer in the southern basin that has the edge on quality. Our Round –Up ready offering is PGI 447RR. We like it because it matches the Columbia Basin growing environment better than the other ones we have seen. It just will not quit yielding, I believe because with one herbicide (Round-Up) application you completely eliminate the competition and the variety can express it full yield potential.
We are always trying to improve our customer’s crop performance. One product we found that does a very good job of making our alfalfa better in a micro-nutrient foliar product called Ample ZSB. It is a true foliar legally labeled for application by ground, air or chemigation. I am traditionally skeptical of foliars. So after witnessing the improvements on alfalfa myself I can no longer deny the results. We have seen from between 400 #’s per acre to 1200#’s per acre per cutting difference. Granted the 1200# improvement was on hay that was obviously significantly deficient in nutrients, but even on hay that has been given good fertility between cuttings we are seeing cost effective results. The one thing most growers are overlooking is the micro-nutrients. Most growers have adequate N, P, and K but each ton of hay removed also takes significant amounts of Zinc, Boron, Manganese, Sulfur, and Copper from the soil. We normally recommend an application of ½ gallon by ground or ¾ gallon by air before first and after second cutting. If you want us to conduct a tissue analysis to help determine the deficiency, just call Craig at 1-509-528-4851. If you want a list of growers as reference call Dana at 1-509-546-1300.
Wintmalt is a KWS Lockow variety from Germany. Not only do these guys build great cars, they know how to build winter barley. We have tested this variety in the malt house with great results. Our contract is for 1000 irrigated acres. We also need 200 acres of organic malt production. Wintmalt is a two row barley that seems to have the winter hardiness issue pretty much figured out. We put 180 acres of production just east of Ritzville this fall and the field is looking great. Last year our seed field was grown under wheel lines by Steve and Janet Smillie on Cedar Road. It was a 60 acre field and yielded 4.47 tons per acre. Steve put Wintmalt back on the same field this year and the production actually looks better than last year. The coolest part of this barley is its maturity. We will harvest the winter barley on July 5th or 6th, well before any irrigated wheat is ready to cut. This should set you up for a good shot at a second crop, alfalfa would be early enough to get a cutting from, and buckwheat is a no brainer. This barley for irrigated clients will only use about 130 units of N and you are done irrigating by June 10th most years.
Dr. Stefan Bruns from KWS Lochow visited the field again this past week and was very impressed. We have made arrangements to license a winter feed barley also. We have been testing two varieties in the Davenport and Wilbur areas for winter hardiness and yield. I think we have hit pay dirt. It will be interesting to see the yield data from the trials. I can honestly say that we will have a 5 ton winter fed barley to offer soon. The rotational benefits for dry land farmers are well researched. It is a great interruption in the disease cycle, takes less moisture and fertility and spreads your harvest. Now that we have adequate CRC insurance the deal just gets sweeter.
In the Seed Row Fertility
Last year we got set up to put phosphorus in the seed row along with your wheat seed. It worked well. The results have been interesting. We saw much greater primary and secondary root development compared to untreated. The significance of this event is greater availability of other nutrients because of the root mass is so much more developed earlier in the growth of the plant. Can we predict increased winter hardiness; the research shows a definite improvement. Can I see it? Not this last year because of the mild winter. Apparently others are seeing the improvement because our list of people that both want to continue and new customers is growing. Our next project is introducing a chelated micro-nutrient addition to the 11-52 so we can provide you with the option of including your micros along with the phosphorus. Oh! You say you don’t think you need micro-nutrients! How many times have you even tested for them? Where do you think the micros come from that are consumed by every bushel of wheat and ton of straw you produce, thin air? If you are NOT considering a micro-nutrient package in your farming plan, that’s okay! Just plan on less yield. A balanced approach to nutrition is much better than only applying straight N. We have several ways to get the micros to the plant, in the row, on the seed, in the herbicide, over the top with the fungicide if necessary. The plant will cannibalize yield in the absence of nutrition. Most fertilizer companies won’t tell you this because they get paid to sell you product, not necessarily grow you the best crop. Don’t believe me; call Don Jamieson at AgriManagement in Yakima for a completely unbiased opinion. We did! He runs the best soil nutrition service in the state today and he has nothing to sell but his expertise. I have never seen anyone so thorough in their assessment of soil fertility issues. You can reach him at 1-509-453-4851. Remember – feed the soil and let the soil feed the crop!
Crusader Diploid Italian Rye Grass
Every once in a while we bump into a product that truly amazes us, and that is difficult because it takes a lot to impress me. Crusader is a product of New Zealand. It is a forage grass that unlike most other forage grasses actually grows well in the heat. Being a true diploid, it does not head out the first year but instead will over winter and produce a nice forage cutting the second year. Due to its quick regrowth, very early development in spring and prolonged growing season in the fall, this variety usually has greater overall productivity than other cool season grasses. It can be drilled into existing stands to boost yields. When planted in the spring, Crusader will not go to seed in the first season. This results in high quality forage production without the low quality stems and seed heads during the first year. Recently, Crusader has been recognized as the perfect rotation crop for plow down or emergency feed. Crops that follow Italian Ryegrass also show higher yields compared to other green manure crops. Crusader is ideal for grazing and silage/balage operations. It does not want to dry down for well for hay because of its amazing density.
Aaron Esser gave an update on his research at the grower meeting last week in Kahlotus. He is always a joy to listen too. The take home message this year was his research is now three years old and he is confident that wireworms are increasing in frequency and severity. In areas with more than 4 critters per trap he is recommending rates of Gaucho and Cruiser that approach the top of the label. He has documented very significant yield responses from these higher rates of insecticide. His trials are repeatable and scientifically valid. He is not using one site year’s data, this project is being funded in part by the Washington Grain Commission and Dr. Keith Pike is collaborating on the project.
Craig and I wish to thank you for your continued support of our business and wish you a safe and prosperous harvest.
PS – If anyone is looking for a John Deere 9630 tractor with 4000 hours on it please call Dana Herron at the Tri State Seed Co office number - 1-509-234-2500.