Thursday, August 14, 2014

Carolina Sun - Catch It While You Can

So it had been wet in North Carolina when I was down there last week.  On Wednesday Ashley and I attended the 44th Annual Blackland Farm Managers Tour held at the Tidewater Research Station of NC State in Plymouth, NC.  Recall that the Blackland is the farming area around there that was cleared pine forest land that I showed yesterday.  Anyway, I like farm tours where I can be a visitor rather than a host, so I was looking forward to it.  But wouldn't you know, it had rained so much of late that we were unable to go into the field to see the plots.  This is always a fear of tour hosts.  But they were prepared with backup presentations in the buildings and tents. I was impressed with their preparedness. 
One of the presentations was by Dr. Ron Heiniger who is a well known NC State agronomist.  He talked about things like planter population, light, water management, seed treatments and other effects on corn yield.  
 But one thing he showed was really interesting, or so I thought.  We have all heard about the importance of uniform corn seedling emergence.  Well he went out and marked corn spikes that emerged on the first day, and then those that emerged one and two days later.  Well he went out recently and collected ears from corn plants that emerged first and later.  There was a big difference as the later emerging ears were always much smaller.  I may try something like that at the NCRS comparing fertilizers.
Glyphosate (Roundup) weed resistance is a big topic, especially in the South where there seem to be more weeds.  Palmer Amaranth is a tough one for Roundup resistance, and they were encouraging growers to use a soil applied herbicide.  Here is a slide that was shown where a soil application of Valor gave pigweed control, which means don't chance resistant weed escapes with a post-only program.
 And here was one of my favorite presentations: lunch.  Fresh watermelons for appetizers.
No one left before lunch.  This field day had the best food of any I have ever attended, including at the NCRS.  
There was chicken (!), trout (!!) and shrimp (!!!).  Plus potatoes and more watermelon. Can you believe it?  Sign me up for next year already.
After that we went back to Pantego to see our other plots with Impact Agronomy, a contract researcher and crop consulting service.  In addition to the corn at Dark Water shown earlier, they had a soybean experiment on their own nearby farm.  These were in 36" and had planter applied and foliar applications.  Looked good, but it was so muddy we couldn't go in and count pods.  Not that I would have done that anyway.  I'm just sayin'.

 The farm dog followed us all the way out there and brought his muddy tennis ball for someone to throw so he could fetch.  Aww, look at him.  How can Ashley just walk by and not give it a toss?  On a different note, see that brown corn in the background?  Diseased?  Drought?  No, it was an early hybrid that they hoped could be harvested early and then plant some double crop soybeans.  But not this year. It has rained so much that they couldn't get it harvested.  So it will be interesting to see how much it eventually yields, compared to full season hybrids.
 Later we went to another farm to see our cotton experiment.  That's Allen from Impact on the left.  The sun had come out and this place was drier.  The cotton looks good.  They have a 2-row cotton picker for yield, and we will also get fiber quality ratings.  Lot's of bolls.  I'm not good at predicting cotton yields, and there were still some flowers present anyway.  I would like to come back later after defoliation to check boll counts of different treatments.  We'll see.
Then we made the long drive down to Clemson, SC.  I mean you can only play the billboard alphabet game so many times.  That night we met up with AgroLiquid chemist Chris.  He actually got his Ph.D. at Clemson, and was there to finish some business of some sort.  (I think he had left a Bunsen burner on or something.)  Anyway, Clemson has a good turf program, and Chris had been working on a new turf formulation and had contacted a Clemson turf scientist to conduct some tests on Zoysia grass.  Here we were last Thursday with Chris, Ashley, Dr. Haibo Liu and two of his graduate students.  He is a nice guy with lot's of experience.
And here are the plots.  They are short, and fertilizers are applied every other week during the summer with a backpack sprayer.  In the test there are the two existing GreenLawn fertilizers, a standard commercial comparison product, no fertilizer and then the experimental.  It was impressive, as the test formulation was clearly the darkest green in each of the four replications.  It's the second, third, first and fourth plot from the left in each row as you go back.  All treatments had the same rate of applied N. The test fertilizer impressed Dr. Liu.  Does anyone have an idea of what we can do with a good turf product?  Not one of Liquid's markets of experience.  But that may change someday.
 Here are a bunch of flowers planted in the turf research area right on campus.  I had never been to Clemson before.  Nice place. We drove past Death Valley, if you know what that is.
 Later in the afternoon we had driven down to the big town of Elko, SC.  I'll bet you didn't know that that's where R&B singer James Brown lived his early life, in poverty there.  Called the Hardest working man in show business, and there is a movie coming out soon about him.  Like most big stars, much talent, but many troubles.  That's why I stay in agriculture, but often wonder where my singing could have taken me.  But back to matters at hand, we have another contract research test of foliar fertilizer applications on cotton and soybeans.  Here Chris and Ashley inspect for pods, or something.
 The researcher said that soybeans are not grown much around there due to deer damage.  Imagine not being able to grow a crop due to deer feeding.  I mean it's a problem in many areas, but I guess I hadn't thought of it keeping you from planting.  Sounds like they need wolves or something.  But for the test, I noticed a ribbon around the plots.  Well it seems they soak that in a deer repellent, and have it at nose level.  For deer that is.  And supposedly they smell it and run away.  The product is called Plot Saver. I looked at a jug, and the active ingredients are: putrescent whole egg solids (?), rosemary oil and mint oil.  Now I had never heard of putrescent whole egg solids, and hope I never hear of it again.  The stuff smells like camphor or something.  Don't know where the eggs come in.  But I guess it works as there was no deer damage that I could see.  Maybe we should try that on some of the NCRS.
 Later that afternoon I caught a plane from Columbia to Atlanta and then back to MI.  I have always said that I like being places, but don't like travel part so much.  Atlanta airport is sure busy.  Where could all these people be going?  
Well that was last week.  Still have to tell you about where I was this week.  It was still out East.  And it did involve airports.