NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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February 28, 2011 Agriculture Column


Even though the air temperature is below normal the weekend weather was not bad.  This is true for those of us not calving, but for those producers they would rather see temperatures in the thirty’s.  This will help reduce the amount of calves born and getting their ears, tails or even their hocks frozen.  With cattle prices, like they are, we certainly need to keep these calves in tip top shape.  These prices are very good as I can remember selling a load of very good steers in Rugby back in 1985 for a whopping $290 gross per head.  I topped the sale that day and looked around the state and no one had a load of 790 pound steers bring nowhere that much.  I remember being the most happiest guy in the world and when I got to the school that night for a Christmas concert, Deb about fell off her chair when I TOLD her of the outcome.

I know of some producers calving as I write and others won’t start until the middle to the end of April, each producer has their own set of needs and facilities.  When I was ranching I liked to calf in January and February to get calving done for the spring farming season and it also allowed us to get calves ready for the spring slush and scour season.  They seemed to withstand that sickness much better.  But, calving this early did put a stress on other activities like taking a vacation or providing really good calving facilities, which we had.

There has been much talk about protein premiums in Spring Wheat this past couple of years, especially with Faller.  I am not limiting this comment to just Faller as there are other high yielding varieties that have lower protein as well but Faller is the most commonly grown wheat.  Many meetings have suggested a post-anthesis application of liquid nitrogen to increase protein.  Carrington Research Center has research data, which indicates this will add a half of a percent in protein and possibly a full point depending on variables.  This winter I have attended many meetings with the topic of spring wheat protein premiums and discounts.  The big question is how can we overcome this challenge???  The first and most obvious is plant a variety that has data representing a higher protein level.  Another option is add additional nitrogen to help the plant adjust the kernel protein level.  Remember, adding protein still will not make a variety like Faller be a high protein variety but will definitely change the protein level.  The agronomist from Crookston Extension, Dr. Jochum Wiersma, had completed research with four different varieties to include: Sampson, Vantage, Glenn and Faller to determine if a plateau could be reached in nitrogen placement.  He found that approximately 150 pounds of Nitrogen topped out Sampson, Vantage and Glenn for both yield and protein but the arrow kept heading up for Faller.  This means more nitrogen meant more yield and higher protein.  The question becomes how much nitrogen can we afford and will it always work AND how will the plant take a larger amount of Nitrogen.


            Mar. 2-3                      Eastern  Crop Scout School, Fargo

            Mar. 8                          Pesticide training, Hampden, 6 P.M.

            April 5                          Pesticide training, Devils Lake, 6 P.M.


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