Production Blog
Pam Smith DTN\Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

Friday 04/24/15

Watching Wheat
Some much-needed rainfall revived some wheat in the Great Plains this past week, but growers are still waiting to see how spring frosts, winter damage, weed pressure and weather will affect the crop in the coming months.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 4:30PM CDT 04/24/15 by Emily Unglesbee | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Thursday 04/16/15

My Own Personal Bee-Gate
Waving the flag for bees happens in the most unlikely places.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 2:38PM CDT 04/16/15 by Pam Smith | Post a Comment
Comments (2)
Pam, Forbes carried a very informative report on neonics. The tone of the report was that when politics trumps science we all loose. The EU has banned neonics due to public pressure but allows farmers to substitute organophosphates which are many times more deadly to bees. The report goes on to site mites as the major cause of CCD and also questions the practice of sending 2/3 of our honeybee colonies to California for almond blossoms in Feb. before the colonies have a chance to come out of hibernation and reproduce with healthy new bees. Also reported is the census of increasing bee colony populations that doesn't correlate with the introduction and use of neonics. Apparently the EPA noticed these things and decided in February to not ban neonics. EPA also concluded that there is no evidence of neonics on soybean seed adding to the farmers' bottom line.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 6:59AM CDT 04/22/15
Curt that's a good synopsis of what I understand too. The value of nenonic seed treatments on soybeans depends on where you live to a certain extent. Southern growers have higher pest pressures. I will say that I've seen dramatic in-field examples of how helpful they can be with managing bean leaf beetle in the Midwest. Still, that's not an every year pest in my neck of the woods. One thing that does concern me are hints of nenonic in water. Bees drink more water than might be realized. Have you seen much written about that? One thing that makes writing about bees difficult and sometimes confusing is the pollinator services is quite different business from keeping bees that are not moved. They have challenges unique to that industry for sure.
Posted by Pamela Smith at 8:13AM CDT 04/22/15

Friday 04/10/15

Spring Weed Race
Keep it clean this spring to prevent yield losses.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 6:35PM CDT 04/10/15 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Friday 04/03/15

Untangle Traits
Sort through the alphabet soup of traits on those seed tags. Knowing what's in the bag helps juggle traits and avoid market access issues.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 11:34AM CDT 04/03/15 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Monday 03/23/15

Last Call on EPA Rules
The EPA extended the public comment period on its proposed rules for Bt-corn users and here's why all farmers -- not just those with rootworm problems -- should take the time to read them and comment.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 2:17PM CDT 03/23/15 by Emily Unglesbee | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday 03/17/15

Avoid Dust-Off to Protect Bees
Are you "bee-ing" a farm-friendly neighbor? There are things to do to help your beekeeping community this spring.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 12:30PM CDT 03/17/15 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Monday 02/23/15

Planting is a Precise Art
Use this series of articles to germinate some new ideas to make planting more efficient.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 12:43PM CST 02/23/15 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday 02/11/15

Will We Swallow GE Potatoes?
Acres of genetically engineered crops continue to grow, but so do consumer concerns. Farmers need a voice in the discussion.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 1:25PM CST 02/11/15 by Pam Smith | Post a Comment
Comments (13)
Pam: I am involved in both grain and beef operations. I have put much thought into the issue of GMOs, and I must say, that I remain skeptical of their future. I have seen many food developments over the years and have always been skeptical of so-called "scientific foods." I have successfully predicted the mediocre acceptance, or actual demise, of so many scientific foods over the years. As a young college student, I took an early stand against cyclamates. They are now gone. I have been skeptical of aspartame, and that sweetener has stagnated if not bombed in the marketplace. When the much-touted Olestra came out, I predicted it would be a huge market failure...and it is. Most recently, I predicted the demise of rBGH, and most of the dairy suppliers in my area have abandoned the hormone supplement. Pam, I see the same fate for GMOs. Most of my partner farmers do not use GMOs...and my farmers are outstanding, well-informed, and highly educated professionals. I predict by the end of the decade, GMOs will be on the way out of our food supplies. When consumers become informed, the will vote with their dollars and avoid GMO foods.
Posted by tom vogel at 9:12PM CST 02/12/15
I agree whole heartedly with you Pam - farmers need to educate themselves so they can help educate the public. Several are already doing this with on- line social networks. I've prided myself in knowing a lot about GMOs but just learned this past week that Bt only works on alkaline guts, not the acid guts of mammals and humans. With the folly of vaccine paranoia, we now have an open door to doubt the anti-science community. Add to that the governments change of position on cholesterol and acceptance of eggs as a dietary benefit. Most consumers don't want/don't understand scientific lingo. We have to approach the GMO concern from another angle. The fact that millions of wildlife and livestock flourish on GMOs gives pause to consider. National Geographic has accepted GMOs as a necessity to deal with endless pests and pesticides. Nat Geo believes GMOs will help feed mega-billions of people in the future. Then there's the anti-corp crowd that can be silenced with the the Golden Rice story. Golden Rice was developed with a beta-carotene gene from corn by non-corporate interests. Radical anti-science groups destroyed and propagandized against Golden Rice even though it would have prevented blindness in millions of children. I ask anti-GMO people if they want to be a part of that?! Then there's the fact that over 1,000 plant and genetic scientists have given GMOs a clean bill of health. Ask the anti-GMO person if they believe 1,000 scientists claiming man-made global warming. The list of support goes on and on, but the challenge is to deal with people who are susceptable to paranoia in the first place.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:35AM CST 02/13/15
BTW Tom, don't I recall that you were switching over to padding your pockets with organic produce dollars? People like to point at corporations benefiting from GMO dollars but ignore that the organic industry is 62 billion dollars strong. Kudos to those of you who figured out how to sell yourselves as holy-than-thou but at the same time make it difficult for the 46+ million people who already need food aid to afford what you grow!!
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:40AM CST 02/13/15
Curt: I am not certified organic and don't intend to be such. However, my partner farmers and I attempt to avoid the GMOs. A lot of my thinking has developed over the years as I have learned to listen to the wisdom of my Amish farmer friends. I may be proven wrong, and I do recognize that food volumes must increase, but I am not convinced GMOs are the way to go. Ultimately it will be consumers who make these decisions, just as they have with rBGH...which they obviously don't like.
Posted by tom vogel at 7:57AM CST 02/13/15
Boy o boy, Tom. Wisdom from those who do not accept many modern practices, but hide behind the barn to talk on their cell-phone. I thought I had heard all.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 7:48PM CST 02/13/15
It gets better Bonnie, The Atlantic published an article (against GMOs) that an Amish boy discovered that good soil fertility leads to good plant health and that in turn reduces/eliminates the need for genetic engineering. Kudos to the Atlantic for realizing that the public is stupid about agronomy and scare tactics work.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:01AM CST 02/14/15
The Atlantic article appeared on Facebook. I responded to it with some common sense and a friend of the person who posted it responded back with a graph showing that increased Roundup use matches the linear uptrend with the increase of world wide disease. I'm not real good at cut and paste or I would have attached the graph showing how well the increase in organic sales matches with autism!!
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:12AM CST 02/14/15
I think that in regard to GMO food, Americans are taking a page from the European anti-GMO playbook (or the whole playbook for that matter). What most advocates of "safe science" and GE traits in food plants and animals is that they ignore the science that exists alongside the GMO- antiGMO debate. The science of psychology. While psychology uses statical methods itself, the irony is that the fear and skepticsim in the human brain and mind doesn't use the "second standard deviation." Put together with the trend that more and more consumers are perceiving that they are always "being sold something" and more general mistrust (the government records our phone calls) it should not be hard to see that advertising and "education" are becoming a tough sell.
Posted by Lonnie Leake at 1:51PM CST 02/14/15
I think what is really missing is balance. Why is it that one is right and the other wrong. Usually when I see comments about GMO's all I see is bickering. Its to bad. I'm pretty sure not every new biotech food is safe. And I'm pretty sure the GMO's are not going anywhere they are here to stay. Intention is every thing. If we make food to help people in third world countries be able to access nutrients that's good intentions I think. If we make GMO's so we can spray carcinogens on them so we can control weeds and insects. Poison is poison I don't care what anyone says. I am a farmer and some times I burn off in the spring with round up, then herbicide, fungicide and desiccate with round up again. That's lots of carcinogens on one crop. So I hope the consumer educates them selves and starts to pay attention to what how and why the crop is being modified. Because intention is everything in my opinion.
Posted by MICHAEL BOISSONNEAULT at 11:17PM CST 02/18/15
All this is food for thought. Thank's Pam and Commenters
Posted by Raymond Haas at 11:13AM CST 02/19/15
Some of the issues get cloudy, such as genetic engineering of traits native to the plant, such as it appears is the case with potatoes versus transgenetics using non-native genetics. The disconnect that I see is that many people opposed to GMO are passionate advocates for the science behind anthropogenic global warming. But then farmers want to appeal to science to defend GMOs yet reject the science for global warming! :). Me, I'm skeptical of the science claims for both!
Posted by LeeFarms at 12:09PM CST 02/19/15
I'm enjoying this dialogue--keep it coming. We now have apples to throw into the GE discussion. I had a fascinating discussion with the Arctic apple folks this week. Stay tuned.
Posted by Pamela Smith at 7:58AM CST 02/20/15
"You are what you eat!" is the old saying. I personally choose to avoid any genetically modified foods and crops. Everything was created perfect and we have destroyed it. I don't know if GE crops have caused the increase in cancer but I can guarantee that there will never be a cure! There is too much money made off of it. As for GE crops, they won't go away either until there is proof they are harmful. Two decades or 20 years is not long enough to prove safety. It will take generations! I am glad that there are two sides to all this debating. Someday one side will find out which side failed, They will be the ones still living! Monsanto and the others own the ag communities and the farmers HAVE to do what they say to plant their crops. But really its all about money. My advise is do your own homework, form your own opinion, and keep an open mind. This is part of the free world. I'm glad that not all people think like I do. However, while some farmers are getting $3.50 for a bushel of corn there are others receiving $11.00 a bushel for corn. One last comment to fuel your fire!! Why are we trying to feed the world cheep food? It should be that we are trying to provide the healthiest food at a reasonable price, and if we are trying to feed the world, then why do we care about ethanol? It appears to me that we are trying to starve the world so we can put their food in our gas tanks.
Posted by edward bowman at 7:09AM CDT 03/24/15

Tuesday 01/13/15

New Year, New Weeds
Two new weeds, burcucumber and toothed spurge, are causing problems for many Missouri farmers (and at least one Missouri gardener).[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 10:19AM CST 01/13/15 by Emily Unglesbee | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday 12/30/14

Year for Record Books
Good yields dominated the landscape with a few slaps from Mother Nature. The challenge for 2015 will be balancing inputs in a weaker market.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 3:21PM CST 12/30/14 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday 12/10/14

Need To Bee Accurate
A news story had the wires buzzing Tuesday afternoon after a report that EPA was set to restrict the use of neonicotinoids, but it turned out to be incorrect.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 3:45PM CST 12/10/14 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday 12/03/14

Monsanto Wants to be Part of the Conversation
The Monsanto Company has launched a new consumer-focused campaign in an effort to improve its image with consumers.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 4:38PM CST 12/03/14 by Pam Smith | Post a Comment
Comments (5)
I'm not particularly in love with Monsanto but this Monsanto hate thing has gone too far! While my wife and I were biking in Colorado this summer, a retired couple and their son stopped to rest and talk with us. Upon learning that we farmed the son immediately asked if we did business with Monsanto. When my wife replied "yes" the guy groaned, shook his head in disgust and rode off. I guess its gotten to the point we farmers have to hide what we do for a living.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 8:17AM CST 12/05/14
Curt--I've had the same experience in all kinds of scenarios. Yet, when I ask the same individuals about other companies that participate in genetic engineering, for example, they seem shocked. Why is it so easy to be negative and against? Thanks for the feedback.
Posted by Pamela Smith at 10:23AM CST 12/06/14
The debate mentioned above can be watched at:
Posted by Pamela Smith at 5:32AM CST 12/10/14
Part of their image problem stems from the fact that the Big M wants to own so much of the future profits of anyone connected to them.
Posted by Vince Moye at 6:43AM CST 12/10/14
Guess what Monsanto no matter what lies you try to portray to the consumer will only expose how power hungry and money hungry your corporation really is. Why don't you explain the enormous amount of tech fees that are l involved with your products that are paid for by the producer and the consumer. Also your involvement in destroying rain forests all over the world for more "safe food production" is out of control, will there ever be enough? So setting up shops in South America, Russia, Ukraine etc. will only result in overproduction and cheap commodity prices for the producers with the USDA on top of markets with "REPORTS" that only benefit corporations and not consumers. Be honest for a change the lies are getting old.
Posted by DAVID/KEVIN GRUENHAGEN at 9:05AM CST 01/28/15

Wednesday 11/26/14

Dow's Gutsy Decision
Dow's decision to launch Enlist offers some hand-selected growers a chance to test drive new technology.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 2:49PM CST 11/26/14 by Pam Smith | Post a Comment
Comments (2)
Any idea what the actual loss per bu. per year would be to corn growers in the Syngenta law suit? I think we all got shot in the foot over that issue! Plus it just gave the Chinese cheaper corn! They are shrewd!
Posted by Roger Cooper at 8:45AM CST 12/02/14
Roger--thanks for the question. NGFA says its 11 cents per bushel â?“ thatâ?™s what most of the lawsuits are based on.
Posted by Pamela Smith at 12:06AM CST 12/05/14

Friday 11/21/14

Bringing Down the Bee Barrier
The tiny bee may not seem like a big deal, but the future of seed treatments are on the line.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 3:29PM CST 11/21/14 by Pam Smith | Post a Comment
Comments (3)
Pam. I interseeded a pasture mix[ mostly red clover] into a two acre patch of grass on the heritage farmstead where I recently relocated. We let this grow without mowing. We had a huge array of pollinators and other beneficial insects. It was a joy to watch the transformation from this over groomed patch of grass which I have now seen depreciate a couple of generations of expensive lawn mowers into a small sea of multi-species activity. It is amazing how quickly this transformation occurred. Amazing also was the reaction of my farming peers. Every comment from" surely you are going to bale that" to "I'll bet your father is disappointed with the way you are caring for that". Luckily the latter statement was nowhere near the truth. After many years of mowing he for sure gets my approach. There are many areas that could be reverted to flowering species very quickly with absolutely no harm to the land or the cash crops growing there. It is just a matter of cosmetics. The only way this will happen is if there is a clear financial incentive to do so. The comment heard often is "if you are going to pay $1x,000 dollars for this ground you want someone to mow around it. Many producers spend many dollars to appease this attitude. The responsibility lies with those who own the land.
Posted by Unknown at 9:54AM CST 11/22/14
"It was a joy to watch the transformationâ?¦." What a wonderful image that is. Thanks for your comment, for reading and for taking a step to do something remarkable.
Posted by Pamela Smith at 4:52PM CST 11/22/14
A lot of good points, Pamela. Not only some farmers are arrogant though. Included should be the general public, especially shore land owners and occupants. Some cities are so blasted with chemicals, one has difficulty breathing. It is amazing, Unknown, what nature can do if helped out a bit.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 6:17AM CST 11/25/14

Tuesday 10/07/14

Let's Tend Those Traits
Trait acceptance continues to be a problem as China keeps the doors locked on certain genetically engineered traits.[Read Full Blog Post]
Posted at 3:50PM CDT 10/07/14 by Pam Smith | 0 Comments | Post a Comment
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Recent Blog Posts
  • Watching Wheat
  • My Own Personal Bee-Gate
  • Spring Weed Race
  • Untangle Traits
  • Last Call on EPA Rules
  • Avoid Dust-Off to Protect Bees
  • Planting is a Precise Art
  • Will We Swallow GE Potatoes?
  • New Year, New Weeds
  • Year for Record Books
  • Need To Bee Accurate
  • Monsanto Wants to be Part of the Conversation
  • Dow's Gutsy Decision
  • Bringing Down the Bee Barrier
  • Let's Tend Those Traits
  • Corn Is Still Wet, But Clock Ticks
  • Get In the Mode
  • Filling Out a Big Crop
  • The Trouble With Time
  • Yield Countdown