Calcium Products - Items filtered by date: March 2013
Calcium Product 98G


Calcium Products - Items filtered by date: March 2013

Drought Updates

drought monitor

With the seemingly endless supply of moisture falling in Iowa over the last three weeks, it’s hard to believe the drought of 2012 could still be in effect. Rivers are fuller than they’ve been in at least two years and waterlogged soil is everywhere. So, why hasn’t this recent rash of rain brought the drought discussion to an end?

While the problem isn’t solved completely, the rains have eased the situation substantially. Our state climatologist, Harry Hillaker, noted the heaviest days of rain resulted in the wettest week of weather in terms of average statewide precipitation since June 2010.

When the extremely wet weather started in late March/early April, frozen soils in the northern part of the state were not able to take in all of the moisture—although soils have thawed and were able to start taking in rain last week—and as a result, most ran off into the rivers, causing flash flooding in some locations. Further south, where the soil had thawed, more moisture was taken in; however, with such large amounts coming at once, the soil could only hold so much before runoff occurred, much like a saturated sponge.

Regardless, a wide-ranging ‘one category’ improvement was implemented for most of our state, and the northeast part of the state received a ‘two category’ improvement. As a reminder, the drought categories range from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (drought – exceptional). The eastern third of Iowa is no longer in any drought category. Most of the middle third of the state is now classified as D0 or D1, with most of the western third as D1 or D2, with a very small area in the northwest part of the state at D3.

While the situation has improved since last fall and winter, we still need more rain before we are completely out of the woods. Hopefully it will come as less frequent, less total rainfall events that will allow the soil to properly absorb and maintain a moisture status that will benefit all of Iowa’s growers.

  • Published in Calcium

Interaction of zinc and calcium

Zinc is an extremely important micronutrient that has many roles in plant health and deficiencies are widespread, even if unknown to the grower. Recommendations for zinc levels in soils are dependent on crop, soil type, pH and other nutrient status and can range depending on which institution is offering the recommendation. Generally speaking, below 1ppm on your soil test indicates that you should apply some type of zinc fertilizer. However, growers should pay attention to their soil tests and site-specific factors, because while 1ppm of zinc in one soil type may be sufficient, 4ppm in another soil with zinc antagonists may be a better target.

Deficiency symptoms are generally seen in new growth, early in the life cycle of the plant and result in stunted growth, shortened, sometimes split internodes and discoloration of new leaves—the color of which can vary depending on plant species. Internally, zinc deficiency can result in reduced water uptake, phytohormone (hormones that regulate plant growth) activity and uptake of other nutrients. In corn, zinc deficiency results in a broad band of bleached tissue on either side of the midrib, beginning at the base of the leaf and generally staying in the lower half of the leaf. Severe zinc deficiency may result in new leaves that are nearly white, a phenomenon called 'white bud.'

Zinc availability is very sensitive to pH, and is therefore reduced by over-liming or by other agents causing high pH. However, rates and acidifying forms of N commonly used in agriculture generally alter the pH enough in the rhizosphere to enhance zinc uptake. Zinc is also well known to interact with P; where zinc is deficient, P uptake is increased in certain plants and vice versa. Zinc deficiency is also more common on cool and wet soils with low organic matter.

Specifically, we are interested in the interaction of zinc and calcium, a topic on which there exists little information. Feedback from growers indicates that when zinc levels are not sufficient, they don't see a good response from our products containing calcium. Why this happens, we are not exactly sure, however, we theorize that perhaps the limiting factor is zinc, rather than the calcium, which results in no visible effects from the application. One thing we do know is that alkaline earth cations, specifically calcium, can inhibit zinc uptake. This may have something to do with the fact that a large amount of basic cations in soil generally result in higher pH values, which is known to inhibit zinc uptake. One way to combat this problem is to apply some slightly acidifying N fertilizer that will cause a temporary shift in pH—favorable to zinc uptake—in the rhizosphere to combat the inhibitory effects from calcium. The take-home message is that if calcium-based products are needed in your system, it is prudent to pay attention to your zinc levels and adjust with a zinc fertilizer, or another method to ensure your plants are getting the requisite amount of zinc.



Soy or Corn?

What will farmers plant in 2013? This is the question many are asking as thoughts turn to planting intentions for next year. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension farm management specialist, doesn't believe Iowa and the Corn Belt will likely plant as many acres of corn in 2013 as in 2012. Referring to what he alls the drought hangover, he says, "Drought gts in people's minds and lingers for years." Johnson adds, "Many farmers want to get their crop rotations back in balance after planting corn in corn in recent years." He also recognizes that "with relatively tight year-ending stocks likely for both corn and soybeans by August 2013, any problems in global productions, such as any South American weather issues, could push farmers to plant one crop over another by spring.


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  • Published in Calcium

More sulfur updates...

While reading the 2012 Annual Farm Progress Reports from Iowa State University's Northern Research Farm in Kanawha, IA, we discovered another trial investigating sulfur fertilization via gypsum on corn. The impetus for the study was the same as the Iowa Soybean Association's; sulfur deficiencies are becoming widespread in both corn and alfalfa in Iowa and many other midwestern states. The experiment was performed by Dr. John Sawyer and David Rueber of Iowa State University.

Four rates of sulfur (5, 10, 20, 40 lbs/A) were applied to two different soils—one with low organic matter and a slope, and one with higher OM and less slope—as was a non-treated control (no sulfur) to compare differences throughout 2011 and 2012. These rates were applied to corn in 2011 and soybeans in 2012. The 2011 plots were planted to corn after soybean in 2011 and planted to corn again in 2012 to test residual effects of sulfur application. In 2012, additional plots were planted to soybean from corn the previous year.

In June 2011, corn leaf greenness was visibly different among plots that had sulfur applied vs. those that did not, as well as having taller plants. By late June, there was still a height difference but the color differences were diminished. Despite visual differences, there was no difference in yield between the treated and non-treated pltos.

This is where it gets interesting...

In 2012, the plots that had received sulfur in 2011 showed no visible differences from those that did not, unlike the differences in 2011. However, when harvest time came, there was an increase in corn yield for sulfur treated plots as a whole when averaged and compared against the non-treated control plots. So, there's something happening with the sulfur in the soil from year to year that isn't being accounted for that has increased corn yield as a residual effect. This is similar to what we saw with the Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network trials over the last few years; residual activity from sulfur application making a yield difference a year after we thought it would.

Soybeans did not show any statistically different response to the sulfur application in 2012.

This study will continue in 2013 and we are excited to see the results.


Growing golf – hope springs eternal

Depending on whom you ask, the official arrival of spring begins either on March 1 (meteorological spring), March 21 (astronomical spring) or Monday to kick off the start of Masters week (golfers’ spring).

There is no tradition like the Masters Golf Tournament and if you are in the golf business you know what I mean. The membership at Augusta National Golf Club hosts the greatest event in all of sport, in my humble opinion. They do some unique things such as referring to ticket holders as “patrons,” price the concessions so inexpensive that the first time you visit The Masters as a patron you have to ask are you sure the price is right? A classic Coke cost $1.50 and a pimento cheese or ham sandwich costs only $1.50. Parking is FREE, and the grounds are manicured to perfection, leaving no stone unturned, no blade of grass out of place. It is a very spiritual place.

During yesterday’s Chairman’s Press Conference, Billy Payne, Masters Chairman, was asked about a rule in golf. He simply deferred answering the question by stating Augusta National is just a golf club that happens to host a well-known tournament, it wouldn’t be prudent to make golf policy decisions. In their own way, in an unassuming way, Augusta National and their leadership knows they are more than “just a golf club hosting a well-known tournament.” They are the most powerful golf body in the world. What Augusta National does, it is likely others will follow.

One of the tenets of the PGA of America is to grow the game of golf. As a PGA member for over 10 years I can tell you growing the game is the future of golf. While we, as PGA professionals, have always had strong initiatives to grow the game, the PGA of America, in my opinion, has fallen short.

What Payne announced Monday and re-iterated yesterday in his Chairman’s press conference was that if Augusta National wants to grow the game of golf and do it in an exciting way, they can do it. It was announced in partnership with the USGA and the PGA of America, Augusta National created a competition for junior golfers to introduce and inspire a new generation of golfers. The competition is the National Championship of the Drive, Pitch and Putt competition with the finals at Augusta National Golf Club on the Sunday before tournament week.

There have been a lot of growing the game initiatives, and they have been pretty successful, but if I know Augusta National like I think I do, this new competition is going to inspire, introduce and invigorate a new generation of golfers. Well done, Chairman Payne, well done!


World Cup on artificial turf?

In a press release from the World Cup last week, artificial turf took the spotlight away from natural grass in a sport that has been pro-natural grass made up of players that strongly prefer a natural surface an artificial one.

Although second generation artificial fields have distinct advantages over their ‘astro’ predecessors, many soccer players feel the ball doesn’t roll and bounce as they’ve come to expect it to on natural grass, which changes the game in a negative way. Also, there is a lot of sliding in soccer games and artificial fields don’t ‘give’ as much in that regard, which can be annoying to players trying to maintain a consistent style of play.

Abby Wambach, whose name is likely familiar and strongly associated with soccer in most of our minds, stepped into the spotlight to give her opinions on why she thinks playing the 2015 World Cup on artificial turf would be detrimental to the game. It’s worth a read.


Want to avoid nutrient runoff?

Some interesting results have been compiled at the GCSAA TV website discussing an ongoing research project at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Brian Horgan at UMN has been involved in some great environmental concern-based research, and this study is one  I’ve heard about a few times and even had the pleasure of seeing the plots one time while visiting UMN.

The main take-home message from this research is that yes, excessive P inputs in your turf do lead to higher rates of runoff, however, properly fertilized turf will actually prevent erosion and nutrient runoff from the surface of your turf.  And unfertilized turf is actually more susceptible to nutrient runoff.  I’ll let Brian do the talking:


Interactive Turfgrass Morphology Tool

For those who don’t know what morphology means, it is essentially the different parts of the turfgrass plant and those parts are how we distinguish one grass species from another. Parts like the inflorescence (flower head), leaf blade, root, collar, crown, sheath, auricle, vernation (veins in the leaf) usually have some sort of identifying characteristic that tells us, say, annual ryegrass from tall fescue—long, clasping auricles on the annual ryegrass, or a wider leaf blade on the tall fescue. As I was surfing this morning, I found a cool website with a neat tool for learning more about turfgrass morphology that was put together by Drs. David Gardner and Karl Danneberger, both from Ohio State University. There are other nice parts of the website, I would recommend spending time there brushing up before the season starts again. And, of course, if you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact me.
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