96th Annual Soil Conference features speakers on weed control, insurance

Steve Chapman

David Cope, superintendent of the Southwest Research Center, delivers the opening remarks at the Soils and Crops Conference.

The Southwest Research Center presented the 96th Annual Lawrence County Soils and Crops Conference in their new education building on Thursday, Jan. 2. About 60 people attended the event that included a meal served by the Mt. Vernon Area Chamber of Commerce and steak prepared by Southwest Cattlemen group.
During the conference, three speakers each delivered a presentation on a agriculture-related topic. The first speaker, Dr. Kevin Bradley, spoke on how weeds growing in croplands and pastures are developing a resistance to herbicides and what can be done about them. The second speaker, Dr. Ray Massey, spoke about farm liability insurance and the need for farmers to speak with their insurance agents to understand what their coverage is. Finally, Jill Scheidt spoke about insects and diseases which plague corn and soybeans, as well as ways to handle them.
In his presentation, Bradley, a state weed science specialist and a professor of plant sciences with MU, Columbia, told the audience that pigweeds, specifically waterhemp and palmer, were spreading through the state, though not yet a significant problem in Lawrence County at this time. He cautioned farmers it could be spread onto their farms through contaminated hay, machinery used in other fields where pigweeds are present, migrating ducks and geese, and plants used for pollinator or CRP plantings.
To help fight invasive pigweeds, Bradley suggested farmers who are growing soybeans should treat their fields with pre-emergent, residual herbicides such as the Authority, Valor, and Prefix products when first planting.
 “If that is not a part of your program, it needs to be,” he said.
The pre-emergent herbicides should give farmers three to four weeks of control over weeds, Bradley said. After that, they should switch to a post-emergent herbicide.
Bradley also discussed two other methods for weed control. One, he said, is windrow burning, a method of weed control which he said is common in Australia. When farmers harvest wheat or other grain crops, and a combine has been used to mow down the fields, the stubble should be burned in windrows at a temperature of at least 500 degrees for about 13 in minutes. This, Bradley said, would destroy invasive plant seeds.
Massey, a state agriculture economics specialist and an extension professor, also at MU, Columbia, spoke about liability insurance. He said many farmers don’t realize their insurance may not cover something until they file a claim, and by then, it’s too late.
“This is where a lot of farmers seem to get irritated, because they think they’re covered when they’re not covered,” he said. “They never know they’re not covered until they file a claim.”
Certain activities, such as farmers markets, custom farm work or spraying chemicals are not covered under general liability insurance. He urged farmers to speak with their insurance agents and find out just what their insurance does cover.
“If you were to walk away from here today, and sometime in the next six months talk to your insurance agent and say, ‘I want to know whether or not I’m covered,’ I would consider this to have been a successful time,” he said.
Scheidt, an agronomy field specialist from Lamar, spoke about how diseases, fungi and insects can impact certain crops. With corn, she said farmers should consider applying a seed treatment before planting a crop, which can help with short, wet periods, and also plant their crops when the soil temperature is at least 50-degrees, so the seed can germinate and grow faster. She also encouraged farmers to monitor weather conditions, know the history of the field so they can know what diseases or fungi are most likely to be present.
Scheidt also said farmers should know the lifecycles and insects and fungi to more efficiently deal with them. For example, black cutworms are a threat to corn when it first germinates, but when stalks reach the five-leaf stage, they’re no longer a concern. Likewise, Japanese beetles are a threat to your crop while the corn silks are green, but when they’re brown, the beetles are no longer a problem.
After speaking about corn, Scheidt also spoke about the diseases and insects which can threaten soybeans. As with corn, Scheidt said it was important to know what diseases or insects are infecting the plants, to monitor the weather patterns and to know the insects’ life cycles, to help know what to do and when, if anything.
In a separate interview, David Cope, superintendent of the Southwest Research Center, said the conference was an opportunity for area farmers to gain information which can help them to bolster their yields at harvest.
“This event provides new information that producers can utilize in their operations to become more profitable, as well as showcase new research and trends in their industries they may need to be aware of as they move into the future,” he said.


Lawrence County Record

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Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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