Weather Woes

My last update talked about the weather, and unfortunately, I must bring it up again. Parts of my territory have experienced devastating flooding, and others have been struck by other forms of severe weather. While the light at the end of the tunnel may not seem visible, eventually we’ll dry out, recover, and be ready to (hopefully) put a crop in the ground for 2019. If you’ve been affected by flooding, contact me and ask about our water testing options – we’re here to support our customers and provide resources to help you in this time of need.

Slow Start to #Plant2019

Across Missouri and the Southeast, planting has been a slow go. From my home state all the way to the Carolinas, rain has delayed progress at times, creating that ‘stop and go’ environment that we all dread.

Looking at specialty crops, in parts of Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina, produce beds are being prepped and planted; strawberries and blueberries, along with the tail end of the citrus crop, are being harvested as well. In Georgia, peaches and strawberries are ripening (farmer’s markets and ‘U-Pick’ stands are opening again), and in South Carolina peaches are blooming nicely. North Carolina is seeing beds being prepped and sprayed between weather events.

Switching over to field crops – many growers are trying to get fields worked, spraying and spreading fertilizer when weather allows. In some states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi, corn and soybean planting are nearing completion; I’d expect to see cotton, rice and peanuts being planted in the next few weeks, depending on the weather. In parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, rain events have slowed planting progress a bit, but still seeing some acres of rice and beans along with corn going in the ground.

SCN Testing

I’ve received several questions this spring about nematode testing, specifically soybean cyst nematode (SCN) analysis. SCN is considered the top yield-robbing disease in the U.S., and it seems that we’ve been hearing more about SCN resistant varieties (like the PI88788 source) becoming less effective.

There’s never really a bad time to take a sample for SCN analysis, but it may be easier to identify hot spots during the growing season – when plants are ready to reach maturity, we’ll typically see the highest populations. Those numbers will start to dwindle not long after harvest. For more information on our testing capabilities and how to take good SCN samples, check out our brochure on nematode analysis:

Tissue Testing

Another common conversation in my world revolves around plant tissue analysis. Whether it’s a plant tissue program offered through a fertilizer distributor or Midwest Labs’ own Shared Insights pilot program, we’re starting to take more interest in tissue testing on a regular basis and making inferences based upon those results. I’d argue that the most important step in this process, like soil analysis, is taking a proper tissue sample – without a good, representative sample, it’s difficult to get good, accurate data.

Do you need a refresher on how to collect and prep a plant tissue sample? Now is a great time to brush up on proper technique and train any summer help or temporary interns. I plan on sharing information about tissue sampling and testing during my client visits this spring – if you’d like to schedule a training session on best practices for tissue sampling, or would like more information, give me a call or send an email.

Best of luck out there!