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# Volume 2, Number 12 - December 1996

## Buy Fertilizer Now or Wait till Spring?

### Fall applied fertilizer can save you money. How?

• In the fall, dealers offer volume discounts for large acreage. One quote was 24¢-24¢-13¢ for nitrogen-phosphate-potash (N-P-K). Another quote was 22¢-22¢-12.5¢ for N-P-K.
• The price of nitrogen is usually 6% higher in the spring than in the fall.
• If nitrogen is applied in the form of ammonia, worked into the soil, and weather conditions are favorable (soil temperature is less than 50 degrees at four inches deep), very little nitrogen loss will occur before spring planting.
• Anhydrous ammonia and diammonium phosphate (DAP) are well suited for fall application. DAP has an N-P-K analysis of 18-46-0. For smaller acreage, the price for DAP was 29¢ and 22¢ for N + P. This would make the price of DAP run \$15.34/100 pounds.
• If nitrogen is surface applied, losses can vary widely, but a rule of thumb is that a 15% loss would occur.

Example 1: Let's suppose you wanted to apply 40-60-80 analysis and use DAP. If you were a volume purchaser with costs of 22¢ N, 22¢ P, and 12.5¢ K, the costs would be:

23.4 pounds N @ 22¢ =
60.0 pounds P @ 22¢ =
80.0 pounds K @ 12.5¢ =
+ 16.6 pounds N @ 29¢ =
Total cost of 40-60-80 =
\$  5.15 (DAP)
\$ 13.20
\$ 10.00
\$  4.81 (other N sources)
\$ 33.16/acre

Example 2: Let's suppose you wanted the same 40-60-80 analysis but didn't use DAP.

40.0 pounds N @ 29¢ =
60.0 pounds P @ 22¢ =
+ 80.0 pounds K @ 12.5¢ =
Total cost of 40-60-80 without using DAP =
\$ 11.60
\$ 13.20
\$ 10.00
\$ 34.80/acre

This is \$1.64/acre higher than with DAP.

This is the reason your fertilizer dealer is urging you to buy 18-46-0 -- it saves you money. There should be no loss of fall applied P and K if there is no soil erosion. Also, if the 18-46-0 is incorporated, the N losses should be negligible. Soil temperatures between application and corn planting will most affect nitrogen stability.

Author: Marion Gentry, Agronomy Specialist

## Turkey Litter on No-till Corn

When nitrogen prices increase farmers look for ways to cut their fertilizer bill. One option may be to use poultry litter to replace some of their commercial nitrogen fertilizer.

Two years of data from a field study at Versailles show no significant difference in no-till corn yield when commercial fertilizer was compared to the same amount of nitrogen, with half of the nitrogen from commercial fertilizer and half from turkey litter. See chart at right.

This study was conducted at the Mel Gerber farm at Versailles. The focus of the study was to replace one half of the commercial nitrogen with poultry litter and maintain yields. Plots were placed on fields which have been in a soybean/corn rotation for more than ten years. The soil was a silt loam with a 3 to 5 percent slope. Soil test ratings were high with a cation exchange capacity of 14.

Plot design was a six-pair trial with 12 rows in each pair. In each pair, six rows received 60 pounds/acre of nitrogen injected by the row at planting and 60 pounds/acre of nitrogen from poultry litter after planting. The other six rows received a commercial fertilizer application of 120-40-20, injected by the row at planting. Pioneer 3395IR corn was planted May 15 at a seeding rate of 26,400. The plots were spread with a 15-foot special built easy flow applicator to confine litter to the 6 plot rows. This study will continue in 1997.

Author: Wendell Roberts, Agronomy Specialist

## Late Harvest Creates Storage Challenges

Late harvest can cause some challenges for drying and storing grain. Natural air can be used to dry the grain in a bin, but if temperatures are below freezing, care must be taken to not freeze the grain. When grain is warmed in the spring, condensation can occur and freeze, blocking air flow through the grain.

When harvesting grain in the late fall, take care to dry the grain to safe storage levels. Level the grain in the bin to assure even air flow throughout the grain. Some heat may need to be added if the weather is cold. Adjust the grain depth for moisture content of the grain to ensure that the grain is dried before mold growth starts.

Check grain regularly throughout the storage period.

• Record the grain temperature at least every two weeks.
• Use a probe with a thermometer to check temperatures below the surface.
• Check the surface of the grain in the bin for crusting, wet, sticky or frozen grain.
• Observe the roof for evidence of present or past condensation.
• Poke a rod through the grain to detect any hard, compacted or moist masses of grain.
• Run the fan and smell the exhaust air for must odors.
• Cover the fan intake when you are not aerating grain to block the air draft that is drawn through the grain. This will also prevent rodent and pet access to the grain.

Author: Don Day, Information Technology/Agricultural Engineering Specialist

## Catastrophic Crop Insurance Coverage

Producers' insurance policies for the 1996 crop year will be automatically rolled over to 1997. Producers who elect not to insure the crop for 1997 must cancel the policy with their insurance agent or FSA Office, in writing, on or before the crop's cancellation date.

Producers who do not cancel their policy by the applicable crop's cancellation date will be considered to have insurance and must pay the administrative fee by the final acreage reporting date for the crop.

Producers who cancel their insurance policy on a crop of economic significance by the applicable cancellation date must sign FSA-570 to earn:

• Benefits under AMTA (current farm program)
• Loans, including loans from Farm Credit
• Benefits under CRP

If FSA-570 is not executed, the producer must return any benefits already received and will remain ineligible for future benefits until a signed FSA-570 is on file.

Notes:

1. Regulation changes are not effective for crops seeded in the fall of 1996.
2. Signing FSA-570 does not negate the producer's requirement to either pay the administrative fee or timely cancel the policy. Failure to pay the administrative fee on policies not timely canceled will result in a breach of contract and the producer will be ineligible for all applicable USDA benefits even if an FSA-570 is on file.
3. For programs having a final payment date, FSA-570 must be signed by that date.

Author: Ray Massey, Crops Economist

## USDA on the Web

The complete version of USDA news releases and media advisories are available on the Internet. Access the USDA Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.usda.gov.

This study was sponsored by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, in cooperation with University Extension and the University of Missouri.

Many seed companies will be introducing Roundup Ready varieties in 1997. Soybean producers are showing a great deal of interest in this concept. A major reason is the lack of apparent crop damage caused by the Roundup Ready (RR) weed control program. Also, the costs of weed control programs with RR beans have the potential to be markedly lower than competitive programs.

The University of Missouri Hundley-Whaley Research Farm at Albany, in cooperation with the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, conducted a research project in 1996 to try to answer some of these producer questions. This study consisted of twelve treatments. Weed control was not an issue in the study. Broadstrike + Dual was applied pre-emergence to all plots in an attempt to get good weed control. Plots were also hand weeded for escape weeds. This study was designed as a randomized compete block with 6 replications. Plots were planted in mid-June.

Does Roundup Application Frequency Influence RR Soybean Crop Yield? In this test, Roundup application frequency had no effect on transformed soybean crop yield. We applied as many as three applications of Roundup to the RR beans and found no adverse effect upon soybean height, number of nodes or crop yield.

Does Rate of Roundup Used Influence Transformed Soybean Crop Yield? The rate of Roundup used in this study had no adverse influence on RR soybean crop yields. We made mid-post applications of 0, 2, 3 and 4 pints per acre of Roundup and there were no statistical yield differences. Actual yields varied from 46 to 49 bushels/acre.

Is RR Soybean Yield Influenced by Roundup Applications Made at Various Stages of Soybean Growth? Not in this study. One and one-half pints of Roundup were applied early post, mid-post, late-post and very late-post without differences in soybean physical appearance or yield differences. Neither RR bean yield nor physical appearance was adversely influenced by Roundup applications made at various stages of soybean growth.

Do Roundup Ready Varieties Have the Genetic Ability to Yield as Well as the Top Non-transformed Varieties? This year there was a statistically significant difference in soybean seed yield between the transformed and non-transformed variety in the test. Untreated Pioneer 9362 yielded 52.8 bushels/acre. Untreated Pioneer 9363RR yielded 46.6 bushels/acre. Since the LSD was 4.6 bushels/acre, the data indicates a statistically higher yield for the non-transformed soybean variety.

In summary, the data generated by this study raise the question of whether there is a "yield drag" with Roundup Ready soybeans. In this work, there was some indication that this was the case, but one year's data should not be used to make long term decisions. It does raise a flag that warrants further work in the selection of transformed verses non-transformed crop varieties. It should also provide producers a reason to be cautious about large scale adoption of this weed control system without some personal experience with it in their own operation.

Author: Don Null, Agronomy Specialist, Northwest Missouri

## Soybean Planting Dates and Seeding Rates

This study was sponsored by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, in cooperation with University Extension and the University of Missouri.

This study was carried out on two locations in Audrain County in 1996 -- the MSEA Research Plot located two miles northwest of Centralia on the Wayne Benoit farm and on the Edgar Orth farm located seven miles northeast of Centralia. The objective was to plant soybeans on April 15, May 1, May 15, June 1, and June 15 at three different rates: 150,000, 200,000, and 250,000 seeds/acre. Because of wet weather the first three weeks of May, the May 1 seeding date was not planted.

Also, a fungicide seed treatment of Rival + Apron was compared to no fungicide treatment at the MSEA site. Asgrow 3001 Roundup Ready soybeans were planted at a cost of \$21.00 for 50 pounds. The only herbicide used was Roundup Ultra. A burndown application of 1.5 pints/acre was applied to the whole plot for prior to the April 10-11 planting. A second 1.5 pints/acre went on when weed growth was 4-8 inches high, and a final 1.5 pints/acre went on approximately one month after the June 21 planting was made. The Roundup cost was approximately \$5.00/pint, and \$22.50/acre.

Fungicide Treatment - The Rival + Apron fungicide treatment increased yield an average of 3.12 bushels/acre. The first planting, on April 10, and the last planting, June 21, received the biggest increase from fungicides (2.09 bushels and 9.85 bushels, respectively). The seed treatment cost was \$3.00/bushel and did not pay economic benefits at the May 22 and the June 5 planting dates.

Planting Date - Combining the results from the MSEA and Orth plots, the May 22 planting date produced the highest yield at 58.6 bushels/acre, followed by April 10-11 at 56.5, the June 5 and 8 dates at 54.0, and the June 21 date with the lowest yield at 41.2 bushels/acre.

Seeding Rates - The 200,000 seeds/acre seeding rate topped yields at 53.8 bushels/acre average, followed by the 250,000 rate at 53.2 bushels/acre and the 150,000 rate at 50.8 bushels/acre. Plant stands at harvest were 93.1 percent, 83.7 percent, and 68.7 percent of the seeding rate for the 150,000, 200,000, and 250,000 seeds/acre seeding rates, respectively.

In summary, there is probably not as much need for fungicide seed treatment for mid-May plantings if the soil temperature is 55°F at three inches soil depth because you have reached optimum planting time. If soils are cold or wet at April planting dates, fungicide seed treatments could pay. Planting at 200,000 seeds/acre was the optimum seeding rate because the extra seed cost in this case was \$6.17 and the extra return was more than \$22.00/acre (3 bushels x \$7.33/bushel). In this study, the highest yields were received on the May 22 planting date followed by April 11-12 and June 5-8, respectively.

Author: Marion Gentry, Agronomy Specialist and Mary Sobba, Farm Management Specialist

## IRS and Marketing

Recent questions about deferred payments for commodities have been raised as a result of an IRS memo regarding a farmer who sold potatoes and deferred part of the income. This has raised questions about other commodities and the practice of deferring receipt of payment which also defers tax liability.

Apparently the problem results from deferring only part of the proceeds and the question of constructive receipt. If a producer delivers a commodity and defers payment, but can demand payment at any time, then they have constructive receipt which would incur tax liability in the current year. However, a valid deferred payment contract doesn't provide constructive receipt and there isn't a current year tax liability.

It is important that deferred pricing or delayed pricing contracts be worded correctly and that actual receipts of payments are in fact deferred if you are using a delayed pricing contract.

It appears that the IRS may also be arguing that installments are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. Confusing, isn't it? You better contact your tax professional on this one!

The question of how to handle other marketing and hedging strategies has been cleared up some in recent years, but it can still be confusing at times. I have always contended that the IRS really doesn't understand farm marketing and risk management. They accept some very risky practices as hedges while rejecting other risk reducing strategies as risky speculation. But they make the rules and we have to abide by them.

The tax consequences of any marketing strategy need to be understood. Sales decisions shouldn't be made based on taxes, but tax consequences may call for a different marketing strategy.

Author: Melvin Brees, Farm Management Specialist

## Corn Crop Performance Trials Available

The 1996 MU Corn Crop performance trials are available on the Ag Economics Bulletin Board. They can be accessed by modem on the bulletin board at 573-882-8289 or you can access it through the World Wide Web at: http://www.ext.missouri.edu/agebb/cropperf/corn/index.htm

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.