Ag Connection

Your link to the Universities for ag extension and research information

Volume 4, Number 3 
March 1998


This Month in Ag Connection
Corn Flea Beetles in 1998
MU Survey Posts Cash Rental Rates for Farmland
"Worst Weed" Waterhemp Needs One-Two to K.O.
Deer Population Calls for Creative Control Methods
Is Your Pickup a Passenger Automobile?
Employee or Independent Contractor?
Don't Gamble on "Racehorse" Soybean Varieties
New and Revised Publications Available on the Internet or through Local Extension Centers

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Corn Flea Beetles in 1998

Most insect pest outbreaks are not predictable. The timing of black cutworm and European corn borer infestations can be predicted, but not their population or potential for damage. The corn flea beetle is one pest where the relative numbers and potential damage can be predicted.

The corn flea beetle overwinters as an adult in grassy areas. High flea beetle numbers and damage occur during a cool, wet spring after a warm winter. When winter temperatures are low, poor survival results and few early season problems occur. A warm winter allows good flea beetle survival and a cool, wet spring slows corn growth during the two to three leaf stage. Corn flea beetles then have a chance to feed on the young field corn leaves for a long time.

Typical damage causes silvering and even death of the leaves. The economic threshold for flea beetles attacking seedling corn is 5 or more per plant with significant feeding when the plants are under stress. Steward’s wilt, a bacterial disease of corn may also be transmitted by the flea beetle feeding.

Flea beetle predictions are made by adding the average daily temperatures for December, January and February. If the sum of these average monthly temperatures totals less than 90 F, then it is likely few flea beetles have survived. A total between 90 F and 100 F suggests flea beetle damage is possible. When the sum of these monthly temperatures is above 100 F, flea beetle survival will be good and damage is likely. So far this winter, projections indicate that in central Missouri, this sum will be greater than 100 F. This is more than 10 F warmer than last year.

Flea beetle numbers will likely be high during the time field corn is emerging. The important temperatures missing from this prediction are those during and just after emergence. If it is cool enough to slow or stop early growth, scout corn for flea beetle damage immediately.

Author: Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist

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MU Survey Posts Cash Rental Rates for Farmland

Farm operators and landowners provided information on rates received or paid for cash rent in the state of Missouri in the spring of 1997. You can obtain this information through a new MU Guide G427 — "1997 Cash Rental Rates in Missouri".

The guide covers the cash rental contract, advantages and concerns for both the landowner and tenant. A table shows annual cash rent paid per acre for irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans and cotton. Also included are rates for dryland wheat, milo, alfalfa and other hay, pasture and grazing land.

For all these crops, the survey was structured to answer the following questions. "At what price did you rent the land? What was the current estimated price for the land? And what is the average yield in bushels for the land?" The survey responses were categorized into "most common, average, range, and number reporting." Another table details average rent based on yield for dryland corn, soybeans and wheat.

Authors: John Flaim, Information Specialist, Source: Ron Plain, MU Livestock Marketing Specialist


For more information on weed control research in Missouri, check out the MU Weed Science Homepage.

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"Worst Weed" Waterhemp Needs One—Two to K.O.

Waterhemp is the worst weed of Missouri soybeans and often needs a one-two punch of pre- and post-emergence herbicides to control. Even if you are planting Roundup-resistant beans, there may be advantages to using a pre-emergence herbicide before applying Roundup. Otherwise be prepared to make two post-emergence applications of Roundup. The soil-applied herbicides keep early weed flushes in check and provide residual herbicide to help control later weed emergence.

In conventional soybeans, use pre-emergence herbicides such as Dual, Frontier, Lasso Microtech, Sencor, Treflan, Prowl, Authority Broadleaf/Canopy XL, and Canopy. This choice is complicated by the increasing resistance of the weed to

ALS herbicides. Rotate between ALS inhibitors such as Pursuit or Classic and other herbicides with different mechanisms of action such as Blazer, Cobra and Reflex.

Waterhemp gets the "worst weed in soybean" award because in some areas it has developed herbicide resistance, is widespread and has multiple flushes throughout the growing season. Waterhemp infests all major crop production areas of Missouri north of I-70 and is spreading east, north and west. Most recently, it has been found in parts of Illinois and Indiana.

Erratic emergence patterns of waterhemp frustrate growers. Waterhemp can be a problem in the spring, but it can often pop up again in July after the sprayer has been put away. That's argument for pre- and post-emergence treatments.

To manage waterhemp's multiple flushes, we have conducted studies of crop row width at the MU Agronomy Research Center in Columbia, and at the Greenley Research Center near Novelty, Mo. We found that the early flush at crop emergence competed with the crop throughout the season and caused the greatest yield loss, regardless of row spacing. Yield loss was 3 to 14 percent.

Narrow-row spacing did help later in the season. Drilled soybeans are much more competitive against waterhemp than 30-inch-row beans.

Author:  Joe Marks, Extension & Agricultural Information, Source: Reid Smeda, Assistant Professor, MU Agronomy


Is Your Pickup a Passenger Automobile?

If it is, the vehicle is subject to the "listed" property documentation rules and the amount of depreciation (including Section 179 deduction) may be limited. For passenger automobiles placed in service during 1997, the following are the annual maximum depreciation deductions.

1997 $3,160
1998 $5,000
1999 $3,050
2000 & later $1,775

A passenger automobile is defined as follows:

  1. any four wheeled vehicle, and
  2. made primarily for use on public roads and highways, and
  3. has a 6,000 pound unloaded gross vehicle weight.

Author:  Parman R. Green, Farm Business Management Specialist

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Web Sites with IRA Information:

Retirement planning and investing are increasingly capturing the "interest" of Americans. As never before, people are investing for the future. The "Roth IRA" is a new investment vehicle, authorized by the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act, that is creating substantial debate in the investment and tax planning circles. While the Roth IRA offers some very attractive features, it will not be the best investment vehicle for everyone in every situation.

Some of the most obvious features of the Roth IRA are:

  1. If held for five years or more, all the distributions will be tax-free;
  2. No income tax deductions are allowed for contributions;
  3. Contributions, based on earned income, can be made after age 70 ; and
  4. There are no requirements for distribution at any certain age.

The Roth IRA appears to be an excellent vehicle for accumulating retirement funds. The longer the time period held, the better. In fact, Roth IRAs would be an excellent asset to be "passed on" to the surviving spouse and/or other heirs. This is due in part because Roth IRAs will not be considered income to the decedent, as are most IRA and pension accounts, and due to the extended time of potential earnings without any federal income tax liability.

How can the government afford to allow these Roth funds to accumulate and be withdrawn tax-free? With a regular IRA, the taxpayer gets a current year tax deduction when funds are contributed (costing the government tax dollars); while with the Roth IRA, the taxpayer gets no tax deduction for contributions (making the government tax dollars). If the same interest rate factor and tax rates are held constant in the comparison between the regular IRA and the Roth IRA, they come out about equal. However, in real life the holding periods, interest rates, tax rates, etc. will not be constant.

There are several computer programs available to assist you and your financial team in evaluating this new investment vehicle. The Roth IRA appears to be too good a deal to ignore. Kick the tires and take it for a spin on one of the computer programs to see what you think!

Author:  Parman R. Green, Farm Business Management Specialist

New and Revised Publications Available on the Internet or through Local Extension Centers

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)G0404 — Farm Land Values

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)G0427 — 1997 Cash Rental Rates in Missouri

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)G1555 — Reducing Pond Seepage

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)G1916 — Pesticide Application Safety

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)G4852 — Cleaning Field Sprayers to Avoid Crop Injury

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)M0165 — Missouri System of Crop Production ($50)

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)MP575 — Weed Control Guide for Missouri Field Crops, 1998 ($ 7.50)

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)MP685 — Controlling Deer Damage in Missouri ($2.50)

diamond_.gif (84 bytes)RP602 — Bt Corn and European Corn Borer ($3.50)

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Deer Population Calls for Creative Control Methods

Hunters took about 200,000 of Missouri's white-tail deer in the recent hunting season. Nevertheless, there are plenty left out there to cause problems for farmers, gardeners and suburbanites.

Deer are beautiful and fascinating creatures that provide many aesthetic and recreational benefits, but under certain circumstances they can have a negative impact. Damage from deer-automobile collisions is one example. Deer also damage field crops, forages, vegetable gardens, landscape, even Christmas trees.

Hunting is the most practical way to manage deer populations. Other methods such as repellents, fencing and vegetation management may be necessary. Missouri's deer population has increased over the past several years to an estimated 800,000 because of good habitat and the establishment of favorable harvesting regulations.

The best way to control deer damage is through an integrated or combined management approach. Certain repellents are labeled to help reduce deer damage but typically are best suited for protecting orchards, gardens and ornamental plants. Be sure to read the labels. Even non-commercial repellants like bags of human hair, bar soap and tankage have been shown effective under certain circumstances. Tankage, a slaughterhouse byproduct which is cooked, foul-smelling meat scraps, is traditionally used in orchards.

Gas exploders set to detonate at regular intervals are effective for only one to two weeks. They need to be moved every few days and their firing sequence staggered, since deer become accustomed to a regular pattern of noise or activity.

Different types of fences can be used to protect from deer damage. An eight-foot fence is needed to exclude deer, but this is costly. Several electric fence configurations can be effective in reducing deer damage to tolerable levels.

A novel approach is a peanut butter fence, an electric fence with one strip of wire about 30 inches above the ground. Aluminum foil flags are hung on the wire and baited with peanut butter and vegetable oil to attract the deer by smell. The deer receive an electrical shock when they touch or sniff a flag. This design works best when deer pressure is fairly low.

For homeowners, it is helpful to know what plants deer usually do not like to eat. You can check with your local University Outreach and Extension Center for tips on plants deer like and don't like. A new MU publication "Controlling Deer Damage in Missouri", MP 685, is available on the Internet or from your local extension center.

Before implementing a deer damage control program, make sure the benefits of the program outweigh the costs.

Author:  Robert E. Thomas, Information Specialist, Source: Robert Pierce, Extension Assistant, Natural Resource Management

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Employee or Independent Contractor?

Is the person I employ an employee or an independent contractor? The following is a brief Internal Revenue Service definition of an employee:

  • The employer’s obligation for payment of FICA, withholding and FUTA taxes is dependent on the existence of an employee/employer relationship. This obligation does not exist with regard to independent contractors.
  • Federal IRS Guidelines established common law employee by Private Letter Rulings and Court Cases.
  • Under the common law test, a worker is an employee if the person for whom he works has the right to direct and control him in the way he works, both as to the final results and, the details of when, where, and how the work is to be done. The employer need not actually exercise control. It is sufficient that he has the right to do so.
  • The IRS Audit Manual provides twenty criteria factors by which service employees are to determine whether a provider of services is an employee or an independent contractor. The 1997 Farmers Tax Guide, chapter 16 provides more information on employment taxes.

Author:  Bill Buehler, Farm Management Specialist


MU Soybean Crop Performance Testing

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Don’t Gamble on 'Racehorse' Soybean Varieties

Soybean varieties that win contests might not be big winners for farmers looking to increase their yields.

Results from testing 51 soybean varieties indicate startling differences in consistency. Many that yielded more than 10 percent above average at one site yielded as much as 20 percent below average at another.

With the 'racehorse' varieties, you get your maximum yield gain only in an optimum environment. The Missouri environment is so variable that it's hard to count on a situation that will give you the best yield for these contest-winning varieties.

Contest-winning beans are often grown in irrigated fields with excellent soils — conditions not always available to Missouri producers. Only a small proportion of soybeans in the state are under irrigation.

Look for the varieties that are consistently above average. They'll give you a gain you can count on because it's achievable over a range of environments.

One year's data from a single location isn't very useful. The specific set of conditions one environment represents may never be repeated. Data from several locations and preferably more than one year are required to make useful comparisons.

Author:  Harry Minor, State Extension Agronomy Specialist

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University Outreach and ExtensionAg Connection - March 1998 -- Revised: September 30, 2002