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Whatís in a hailstorm?

[AUG. 27, 2001]  Whatís in a hailstorm? Plenty if it hits your growing plants, ruins your roof or devastates your crop fields. A large storm dropped hail in the northern portion of the county about a week ago. As for the farm side of things, here is some description of the kind of yield reduction that could be experienced.

In corn, there is of course the visible leaf loss. Leaf loss prevents the corn kernels from filling out completely. Fewer leaves make less food for the plant. Leaf loss estimates range from virtually nothing up to about 80 percent. The maturity of the corn grain also affects the potential loss. Corn that is closer to maturity will not lose as much yield as corn that is less mature. To give some rough estimates, corn that was in the late milk stage at the time of the storm and losing 80 percent of its leaf area will have yields reduced about 35 percent. Corn in the full dent stage and having the same leaf loss will lose about 17 percent of its yield.


There is also other corn damage from a hailstorm. Kernels can be knocked off ears, immature kernels can be damaged by a hailstone, and stalks can become bruised by hail and fall over in a windstorm.

In the case of soybeans, most plants were in the R5 stage of growth (meaning there were small seeds in the upper pods). Once again assuming the 80 percent defoliation, this would translate to a 43 percent yield loss. Other damage to soybean plants resulted from directly losing beans from the stems or pods being cut off, bruising to the stems of the plant, and in some cases having the entire plants cut off.



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Farmers and insurance adjusters now have the unenviable task of trying to reach an agreement on the amount of loss that has occurred. Adjusters come armed with charts and calculators to determine yield loss. Most of the information used to make calculations comes from university research, so it is accurate. Probably more of a guess is how much leaf loss occurred, how many beans or kernels were lost, and what portions of fields were affected at different levels.

Farmers should do their homework before adjusters arrive so they can show adjusters where they feel damage is the worst and the kind of damage that they are seeing. In the end, hopefully everyone can feel like they were treated fairly in the adjustment of losses.

[John Fulton]


Whatís making those holes?

By John Fulton

[AUG. 13, 2001]  The past two weeks have created holes everywhere. They exist in yards and tree leaves. Of course we have been "run over" by anthracnose creating holes in tree leaves for a few months, but these holes are caused by insects.

There are huge numbers of defoliators (things that eat leaves) working on just about every kind of tree leaf that is left on the tree at this time. Telltale signs that you might have this occurring would include tree nests, stripped leaves (often leaving the vein of the leaf) and the many droppings from what were once your leaves.


We have had large numbers of caterpillars throughout the spring and summer. Conditions must have been right. The ones eating tree leaves include walnut caterpillars, eastern tent caterpillars, tussock moth larvae and fall webworms. This is just to name the more prominent ones. In this grouping, the ones that are easy to single out are the fall webworms. They expand their nest and continue to feed inside the webbing. The others leave a nest or cocoon and feed on leaves individually or in groups. Most noticeable are the eastern tent caterpillars that tend to work on a branch at a time and do it as a group.

The question most often asked is, "Will they kill my trees?" and the answer is, "Probably not." If we think about it, these insects exist every year in wooded areas, and very few of the trees die. If youíve ever been to Wildlife Prairie Park during a bad year, you can really appreciate the numbers of the eastern tent caterpillars you can come in contact with in a short period of time. Yet, those trees do come back year after year.

If you canít stand the sight of the caterpillars, donít want to look at naked trees any earlier than you have to, or want to get even with the larvae of the Lepidoptera order, you can control them to a certain extent. Most insecticides will provide control of the larvae. Insecticides included would be Sevin, diazinon, Orthene, Dursban, and B.t. as an organic control. For fall webworm, you can also clip off the nest area and burn it.


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The other types of holes that I referred to are in the ground. Some are exit holes (such as for cicadas) while others are entrance holes (as in June bugs and cicada killer wasps). Recently, both groups have been active. The cicadas can be heard regularly now. The wasp is a very formidable-looking insect approaching two inches long, but it is a relatively timid wasp that is not easily provoked. You will have to weigh the benefits of the wasp against the risk of getting stung. The wasp is actually killing the cicada, burying it and then laying eggs in it. A drench of liquid diazinon in the hole area or a general grub treatment would control the wasp.


That brings me to grubs. June bug, Japanese beetle and green June bug numbers have been very high in some areas. First places to check for grubs would be along walks, driveways and patios, as well as under security lights. If youíve kept your yard lush with water, youíll probably get more than your share of grubs. The beetles lay their eggs in the best-looking grass. Green June bugs are a little different. They tend to lay their eggs in organic matter such as gardens and flower beds. The treatment is best done with granular products of diazinon or Grubex.

[John Fulton]


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Ag Announcements

Field day scheduled at county corn plot

[AUG. 20, 2001]  The Logan County Commercial Corn Plot Field Day is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the Fort farm two miles west of Beason on Route 10. The field day will start at 4 p.m. with inspection of 30 corn varieties.

At 4:30 p.m. Mark Fricke, FSA county director, will give a short presentation on government programs. A pork chop dinner will be served at 5 by the Beason Ag 4-H Club.

Reservations are due on or before Aug. 23 to Susan Hurley at the State Bank of Lincoln, 735-2326.

The commercial corn plot is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, State Bank of Lincoln, Fort Trust Farms and cooperating seed corn companies.

[John Fulton]

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