A couple of things to mention today, mostly related to the hot, dry weather, covering both crops and livestock.
We've got a couple of pasture walks scheduled over the next month that will provide beef producers information on dealing with some of the stresses caused by heat and dryness.
We'll hold the first walk on Monday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Mark and Matt Hill farm, east of Mount Sterling. The Hills run a cow/calf operation on rotational pasture ground. The 170 acres of pasture are ideally suited for beef cattle as they are too erosive to row crop. They have utilized improved grass varieties and traditionally frost seed clover into their pastures to improve nutritional quality, reduce fescue toxicity, improve animal gains and provide nitrogen fertilizer.
We want to discuss various strategies to reduce stresses on both cattle and on pastures. Items of discussion will include stretching out pastures, strategies to avoid feeding of hay, extending your grazing season, stockpiling for winter grazing, pinkeye, grazing of standing corn and benefits of early weaning to cows and calves.
The farm is located about 3.5 miles east of Mount Sterling on U.S. 24. Turn north on the first road east of the Adams Electric substation (1185), and travel approximately 1.5 miles to road 1155. Turn right (north) and follow it to the farm.
We've scheduled another walk on Sept. 7 at Gary Farlow's farm near Fowler.
The 2011 wheat yields have been posted on the variety testing web site, vt.cropsci.illinois.edu/corn.html. They are listed by individual location or by regions. If you don't have access to a computer, please contact our office, and we'll provide them for you.
Lastly, with the continued hot and dry weather it wouldn't surprise anyone if spider mites became an issue in the soybean crop. We've not experienced this pest for some time, but they very much favor the current hot and dry environment we've experienced of late.
These pests can multiply very rapidly in hot and dry conditions. They damage plants by injecting their mouthparts and feeding on plant cells. High mite populations on already moisture stressed soybean plants further damages them. Initial feeding will turn the plant tissue a mottled or stippled color. Heavier feeding will often turn the plant leaf a bronze color.
Examine field edges for the mites, which feed on the underside of leaves. Usually webbing can be found, but the mites may be more difficult to detect due to their very small size. Placing a white paper under the leaf, then tapping the leaf onto the paper can dislodge mites. After a few seconds the mites will begin to move and can be more easily viewed on the white paper. There isn't a good threshold to determine when treatment should occur, but usually if detected early enough, they'll be in field borders and not throughout the field.