Join Emily as she checks in with Jeff, Nevin and Bob on what’s happened with their projects over the course of July.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
00:21 Emily: Hi everyone, and welcome to Farm Sci-Ed, the show where we go into the science and education behind farming. I’m Emily Stine and today we’ll be talking to Jeff, Nevin and Bob to find out what’s been going on over the month of July. So sit back, relax, and let’s go see what they’ve been up to.
0:41 So Jeff, how has your relay study been going?
Jeff: A couple big things going on in July in the relay study. One is we harvested the wheat. And so we brought a plot combine in, and the other big item is that western bean cutworms are flying and so those numbers are ramping up now. We’re still right around 25% emergence based on our predictive model and uh presently we’re catching hundreds every night. So we’ve got quite a collection – a couple thousand – more than a couple thousand western bean cutworms in a cage, laying eggs that we’ll use for various things within the relay study.
E: Have you run into any specific complications this month?
J: So the wheat harvesting relay this year is a bit challenging. Partly because in our research program, we share a lot of equipment, particularly expensive equipment like plot combines. And so you kind of get the equipment when you get it and this year we got the equipment a little later than we would have liked to, which meant that the dry beans were a little further along in maturity than they would normally be. What that means, is the the plants were bushier, a little bit bigger and they were starting to bud, so the flowers were just starting to form.
And so normally, last year, for example, we were able to get the combine a little bit earlier prior to – prior to budding and before the beans really had a chance to um to bush out that much. So what that meant was a couple challenges. One major challenge was because of the uh increased kind of growth, morphology, structure of the dry bean plants, they were more prone to getting run over by the combine. They get caught by the wheel and and you can knock a row down here or there. Fortunately we have really large plots, um but one thing we did do, um not only because of that sort of – what you could call “combine blight,” uh but also because they – as I mentioned – were starting to bud, some of them may have been starting to flower. That’s a fairly sensitive time for a dry bean plant. It’s more susceptible to injury at that time, mainly because those flowers can drop off. If you lose a flower, then obviously you lose a pod. You lose pods, you lose str – lose beans and so you lose yield.
So what we what we decided to do is we ran the plot combine through all the plots, regardless of whether or not the plot had wheat in it or not, just to make sure that all the treatments were treated the same – had the same potential for combine blight, if you will. So that was one challenge. We were successful in harvesting wheat off the top of the beans, the bean canopy was starting to get kind of close to the top of the wheat and there were a couple plants here and there that we clipped, and in fact there were quite a few growers and agriculturalists on Twitter that were pretty interested in us evaluating the clipped rows from the unclipped rows; partly because there’s some interest in the dry bean community and other growers, other crops as well that have similar growth habits, to try to understand what that clipping does to yield. There’s a bit of a debate on whether or not if you clip a dry bean at a certain time of the year if that promotes more branching, which promotes more flowering, so on and so forth, so we’ll probably take a few additional notes to try to account for some of that.
The other challenge was because the beans were already flower flowering, and we had to wait for the wheat to be harvested out of the relay plot. Before we could spray our first post – our post herbicide application, we were not able to apply uh herbicide in the relay plots, because the dry beans had begun to flower by the time we got the wheat removed from those plots. So so those plots will be uh not be receiving a post herbicide application. Benefit is, um in in treatments or in plots that are the relay plots where they have this cereal in it – like I, I think mentioned before – is there’s pretty good weed suppression in those plots as opposed to the conventional beans which had no residue at all – had a lot more potential for for weed development. So so we think that’ll that’ll work out okay, um but might require a little bit of hand pulling here and there.
E: Gotcha, well I hope you get some good data out of it anyway.
5:37 And Nevin, what about you? What’s been going on for you in the month of July?
Nevin: Well, July has has sort of been a continuation of June. June got very hot very early. I wouldn’t say extraordinarily hot, but it usually doesn’t get as hot as it does that early. So we were hitting triple digit temperatures uh earlier than we usually do, and July has sort of been a big continuation of that. So it’s been a very hot year and in June uh when we were planting our dry edible beans, we had a number of herbicide failures. Mostly we first noticed with our pre-plant burn downs.
So we have a few trials that are going into a cover crop or no-till and the products we use to kill that cover crop or the weeds that are present in those no-till studies, they just weren’t working. And um that’s a common experience among a lot of the people in the area. I’ve got some – I’ve been talking to my stakeholders that work at different uh agricultural service companies, different co-ops, and they’ve been having a lot of reports of herbicide failures. So that happened in June, but what we’re seeing though, is that that those failures this year um has has extended into our our soil applied herbicides, which are really critical for dry edible bean control and um we just have not been getting very good control.
And that’s, that’s a good thing actually for research. It’s not a good thing for farmers but uh we’ve got a few studies where we’re comparing uh group 15 herbicides so we’ve got Outlook, Dual, um Warrant, some of those products are labeled and dried, some aren’t. So we’re trying to see if there might be some possibility to expand the options available in dry edible beans. And we’re starting to see some separation, those products now in a normal year we wouldn’t see that separation. Everything would work pretty well but I think this year with just that – the higher temperatures um and also the increased irrigation that we need to put on to keep up with those higher temperatures, we’re starting to see faster degradation of the soil applied herbicides and we’re getting a little bit more separation in our weed control results between treatments and that’s good. You want these years, so that in normal year maybe there wouldn’t be a big difference but these extraordinary years or sometimes when you learn something.
E: Now if I’m correct, July is the month you do most of your data collection, right?
N: Data collection is pretty much what we’re doing in July. At this point, especially right now, it’s a bit later in July. We we have in the first couple weeks of July, we have sometimes – some later post-emergent herbicide applications in dry edible bean, but then we’re basically done with imposing treatments for the year. So what we’re doing now is maintaining plots by scouting for diseases and insects, sort of those lesser pests and try and keep up with the irrigation. That’s basically what July is.
But on top of that, we have data collection and right now what we’re doing is: depending on the trial we’re going out every week, every two weeks and we’re taking assessments. So visual assessments, we’re looking at the plots and just kind of making a note saying this this controlled um let’s say 70 percent of the weeds compared to the non-treated check where we didn’t do anything while this other treatment uh we’re looking at 80% control. And to kind of bolster those those ratings which are done visually, we’re also going in and taking some physical data uh and that’s mostly right now in the form of weed counts. We’ll do some more other stuff later on.
So we’re putting out specific quadrats – there’s, there’s my here’s my quadrat right there – and uh those are are laid out in the field and more or less a random method within each plot so that we’re not biased by where we’re putting it in in the plot. And then what we do is we we just count every couple weeks how many weeds are in that plot. And that gives us an idea of if there’s a difference in species response to certain herbicide treatments or if we’re seeing different types of herbicides come up at different times of year. so we can kind of track emergence throughout the year and uh we’ll be doing more measurements later on as we get closer. But that that’s been mostly what we’ve been doing.
We also have to in in certain studies we have a – what we call a hand weeded check, so in order to assure that we have a plot that has zero weeds in it. And we need the zero weeds so we know what the yield potential is of the dry edible bean crop and or other crops in absence of weed competition. We have to maintain those plots weed free and sometimes the best way of doing that is just going out there with a hoe and so we spend a lot of time this time of year going out, usually in the morning before it gets too hot, and we’re with a hoe and bent over just pulling weeds. And that’s a lot of what weed science is.
E: Hope all that went smoothly for you.
10:34 And Bob, how’s your cercospora and sugar beet study going?
Bob: Well, they’re doing fine. From a standpoint of a pathologist, it’s kind of disappointing. There’s not a lot of disease out there. We did inoculate a couple weeks ago, and the Spore-nado thing that we’ve been using, which which measures active movement of spores if they’re present, has not – uh has been zero. We’ve done this now for the three weeks, and uh there’s been no um cercospora found on the on the little discs that we see. It’s been – it’s certainly been hot and it might have been a little bit too hot, but it’s been high moisture in terms of the humidity – it’s been brutal. And it’s certainly been hot enough for that, but it’s not there. There’s apparently not any spores flying around. So we went out, and looked at that again – I mean I looked at it every week.
If we go back to the disease triangle, what we’re doing with the spore-nado is that we’re measuring to see if the pathogen is present and with the alert system we were seeing if the environment was conducive, and it’s just been off the charts from from the different sites that we have. But the fact that we’re not identifying any spores takes away that leg of the – uh of the triangle. So that the pathogen is not present so we’re just not getting any disease currently, even though we’ve tried to do everything: create a more humid microclimate, and sprinkler – overhead irrigation, it’s just not there.
And I don’t – I can’t understand why, but for some reason, they – we haven’t had a lot of evidence that the inoculation did anything. I’ve seen weekly reports of of the different sites, and they’ve really been high, which would suggest that the conditions were conducive for for disease to occur. But I have not heard of any severe outbreaks, so I – I don’t know if if that’s the case or not. But it’s that’s – that’s what we have.
E: Fingers crossed you get the results you need.
12:39 Well, folks there you have it. We talked to Jeff, Nevin, and Bob, and checked in on all of their projects and what’s been happening over the month of July. Unfortunately they’ve all run into a couple of hiccups, but for the most part things seem to be doing okay. Join us next time as we continue going deeper in their projects to find out more specifics about how and why they do the research they do. Until next time, don’t forget to like this video, leave a comment below, and subscribe to our channel for more updates. Visit our website at farmsci-ed.com for transcripts of all the episodes. Follow us on twitter @TheFarmSciEd for more updates and reminders about what we have going on. See you next time!