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Volume 10, Number 12 - December 2004

This Month in Ag Connection

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To Bt Or Not To Bt, That Is The Question

While more Bt hybrids are available each year, yield is typically the biggest factor in determining which hybrids to grow. Other considerations would be cost associated with the seed or the traditional chemical program. In general, Bt hybrids for European corn borer (ECB) yield well, usually at or above average. The new corn rootworm (CRW) Bt technology is relatively new and to make it pay you need a very specific situation where there is continuous corn or there have been significant problems with corn rootworm in the past.

In the first year of testing, the Bt CRW event in general yielded average to below average in university trials across the Midwest. Farmers should choose hybrids with above average yields. A hybrid can only yield as well as its parents genetics. For farmers with high-rootworm pressure, a CRW Bt may be a good buy.

In 2003, Iowa trials YieldGard CRW Bt hybrid averaged a 34 bu/acre advantage over the untreated check crop with similar genetics. In a high-rootworm pressure, high-heat, low-moisture stress situation the difference was even greater at 44 bu/acre. However, in a field trial where there was only low to moderate-rootworm pressure, the YieldGard CRW hybrid showed no statistical difference from the check hybrid.

In order to avoid spending extra money on non-existent problems on your corn field, you need to study your fields. You can make a decision to use Bt corn for rootworm control based on the counts of adult rootworms from the previous year. During mid-July to late August, growers should count the number of rootworm beetles per plant in corn and compare these to threshold numbers. The threshold for rootworm beetles is one beetle per plant in the previous season. You can also trap the rootworms in the spring to check for threshold levels. This threshold is .6 beetles per plant in continuous corn with a 30,000 plant population. It varies by population. If the field is below threshold, then no insecticidal treatments, soil insecticides or CRW Bts are required. If the field is above threshold, the grower can determine what is best to use based on the beetle or worm counts. If a field is way above threshold, the best approach is to use a soil applied insecticide or a Bt rootworm hybrid. For light-to- moderate-rootworm pressure, the higher rate seed treatment would probably be sufficient. In three decades of three independently conducted studies in corn in three different states - Iowa, Illinois and Indiana - 50 percent of the fields did not show enough rootworm pressure to cause enough economic damage to offset the cost of control. In 2003, Missouri trials showed the average yield of Bt-CRW hybrids was 2.1 bu/acre higher than the average of the trial.

We will likely see improvement in the yields of hybrids with the rootworm Bt. Numerous trials indicate that the CRW trait provides excellent protection against corn rootworm feeding. That protection, paired with the right genetics for a farmer's growing conditions, should ultimately translate into higher yield. The key is to evaluate your particular situation and be aware of what is available that will work in your situation.

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

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Available Bt Traits

This is a list of genetically modified traits available for corn and the insects that they control or suppress.

Herculex I (All Hercules hybrids are Liberty Link)
Controls - European corn borer (ECB), Southwestern corn borer (SWB), Fall armyworm (FAW), Western bean cutworm (WBC), Black cutworm (BCW)
Suppresses - Corn earworm (CEW)

YieldGard Corn Borer
Controls - ECB, SCB, Southern cornstalk borer (SSB)
Suppresses - CEW, FAW, Common stalk borer (CSB)

YieldGard Corn Borer with Roundup Ready
- same as YieldGard but with the Roundup Ready trait

YieldGard Corn Borer with Liberty Link
Controls - ECB, SWB, SSB, CEW
Suppresses - FAW, CSB

YieldGard rootworm
Controls - Western corn rootworm (WCR), Northern corn rootworm(NCR), Mexican corn rootworm (MCR)

YieldGard Rootworm with Roundup Ready -
Controls -- same as YieldGard rootworm but with the Roundup Ready trait

YieldGard Plus - this is the combination of corn borer and rootworm Bt
Controls - ECB, SWB, SSB, WCR, NCR, MCR
Suppresses - CEW, FAW, CSB

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

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Are You Providing Adequate Nutrition With Your Winter Hay Feeding Program?

The first step to determine if supplementation is necessary is a hay analysis. They cost between $15 and $20, yet they could make a dramatic impact on your winter supplement costs and animal performance. Contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center to obtain a hay probe to sample your hay and information on where to send samples. Once the quality of the hay is known, your local University of Missouri Extension Livestock Specialist can help you develop a sound ration for your cattle program.

Trials in Missouri and around the nation have demonstrated what animal scientists call associative effects. These associative effects are defined as animal performance which is either better or worse than predicted by the performance modeling equations used in the animal production industry.

Starch and fiber are digested by different bacteria in the rumen. Feeding high levels of starch alters the rumen environment in favor of the starch digesting bacteria. This increases the number of starch digesters and reduces the number of fiber digesting bacteria - decreasing the efficiency of forage digestion.

Energy supplements can be divided into two basic types - those that supply energy from starch and those that supply energy from neutral detergent fiber (NDF). Protein supplements can be broken down into two basic types as well - those which are degraded in the rumen (rumen degradable protein - RDP) and those which are digested in the small and large intestines (rumen by-pass protein - RBP).

In 1999, Moore, University of Florida, proposed a system that helps categorize forage quality and determine which supplements may work best . He used the Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN):Crude Protein (CP) ratio to determine supplement types. Forages with TDN:CP ratios less than (<)7 are relatively high in quality - such as grass and legume hays cut in a vegetative state, silage and vegetative pastures. Forages with a TDN:CP ratio greater than (>) 7 are relatively low in quality with less than 9 percent CP. Associative affects are typically seen when supplementing these forages.

Starch based energy supplements such as corn, grain sorghum or wheat have a TDN:CP ration > 9. These supplements typically have a negative associative effect on animal performance when fed to ruminants on forages with TDN:CP ratios >7. Research has shown that growing steers and mature cows performance is lower than predicted by .25 to .35 lb/day. If starch-based supplements will be used with forages having a TDN:CP ratio >7, adjust performance goals up .25 to .35 lb/day (i.e. if desired rate of gain is 1.75 lb/day, balance the diet for 2 lb/day). The negative associative effects of starch-based supplements are minimal when fed at less than 0.5 percent of body weight.

NDF supplements such as soyhulls, corn glutten feed, distillers grains and wheat mids have a TDN:CP ratio around 7. The bacteria that digest the fiber in forages also digest the NDF supplements. These supplements do not alter the rumen environment and favor the fiber digesting bacteria. These supplements work well with most forages and are the supplement of choice when both additional energy and protein are required.

Animal performance on forages with a TDN:CP ratio >7 typically demonstrate a positive associative effect to a RDP protein source such as soybean meal and corn gluten feed. The RDP improves the efficiency of the fiber digesting bacteria. In a Missouri trial, feeding supplemental RDP at the rate of .05 to .2 percent body weight improves weight gains in growing cattle and mature cows by .25-.33 lbs/day. To supply this level of RDP with:

Supplement guideline sheets which help with supplement selection by forage type can be found at:

(Author: Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist)

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Tax Tidbits: Farm Leases - Time To Review: Part Two

Farmland rental arrangements are either fixed-cash rent, flexible-cash rent, or some variation of a crop-share lease. Crop production, expense sharing, and risk tolerance are important factors to consider in selecting the most appropriate leasing arrangement. Additionally, there are substantial tax differences associated with the various types of leases which should also be factored into the decision of which type of lease is best for you.

Following are some of the income tax and social security issues that vary depending on the type of rental arrangement. Landlords will serve themselves well by gaining an understanding of these differences.

  1. Will the rental income be subject to self-employment tax and impact your social security retirement and disabilities benefits?
  2. Are Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments subject to self-employment tax?
  3. Will the landowner qualify for deduction of soil and water conservation expenses or will the cost have to be added to the cost basis of the land?
  4. Will the landowner qualify for the income exclusion provisions relative to various government cost sharing payments?
  5. Will the landowner qualify for the Code Section 179 deduction that provides for the current year expensing of certain capital expenditures?
  6. Will the charitable donation of commodities trigger the recognition of income?

The answer to each of these questions depends on whether the rental arrangement is a cash lease, landlord non-material participating share lease, or a landlord material participating share lease.

Additionally, although not of immediate consequence, the rental arrangement selected can have substantial tax implications in the settlement of the landowner's estate. For example, rental arrangements can have an impact on whether or not an estate is able to utilize:

  1. the "special-use valuation" provision for real property devoted to farming or other business use; or
  2. the 14-year installment payment option for qualified federal estate taxes. Additionally, the type of rental arrangement determines whether the lease income or farm production accrued or on hand at the date of death is considered "income in respect of decedent". Income in respect of decedent does not receive a step-up in basis and thus results in the item being subject to income tax by the estate or heirs who receive the income or inventory.

As with most choices in life, there are pros and cons to each type of lease. Further, the type of lease that is most appropriate for you at one point in your life will not necessarily remain appropriate throughout your lifetime. Additionally, what is best for your friend at the coffee shop or bridge club may not necessarily be best for you!

(Author: Parman Green, Ag. Business Management Specialist)

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Outlook and Policy Seminars

January 11, 2005
10:00 a.m.
Cooper County Fairgrounds
Boonville, MO
Contact: Todd Lorenz

January 13, 2005
6:30 p.m.
Audrain 4-H Center
Mexico, MO
Dinner Meeting
Contact: Mary Sobba

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Welcome New Staff Member

Gene Schmitz is the new Livestock Specialist for University of Missouri Extension located in Warsaw, MO. His programming responsibilities include Benton, Pettis, Cooper, Morgan and Moniteau counties.

He began his Extension career in Reynolds County in 1992 and transferred to Mercer County in 1995. In the spring of 2003, he moved to Northeast Colorado and worked as a Livestock Agent.

His background is in the area of beef cattle nutrition and management with a special emphasis on pasture and forage management. He has worked extensively with rotational grazing systems.

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Soybean Rust

Soybean rust has been detected for the first time in the continental United States in two test plots at Louisiana State. The pathogen is believed to have been carried to the continent during the recent hurricane season. Missouri soybean producers will need to be prepared to do a better job of scouting in 2005. MU extension will enhance its educational programs to educate producers on management strategies including scouting techniques, types of fungicides available and application techniques in the event we experience this disease in the future.

Look for programming information in the near future.

(Author: Todd Lorenz, Horticulture/Agronomy Specialist)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.