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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Monthly Archives: May 2010

This week I have had several calls on when to spray for the Pecan Nut Casebearer. Extension Entomologist Allen Knutson notes that the Pecan Nut Casebearer is one of the most important nut-infesting insect pests of pecans. Casebearer larvae tunnel into nutlets shortly after pollination, often destroying all nutlets in a cluster.

The most effective and reliable control method is a well-timed insecticide application(s) made in spring to kill hatching larvae before they tunnel into the nutlets. However, insecticides should be applied only if infestations and nut load justify treatment.

The adult Casebearer is a gray to almost black moth about 1/3 inch long. A ridge of dark scales followed by a band of lighter color runs across the fore-wings. Moths are active only at night, when they mate and lay eggs on pecan nuts. Each female lays 50 to 150 eggs during
her 5- to 8-day life.

Eggs are oval, flat and tiny, just large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. When first laid, eggs are greenish-white or white. Tiny red spots soon appear on the egg, giving it a pink color before hatch. Casebearer larvae are olive-gray to jade green and grow to about 1/2 inch long.

First-generation Casebearer eggs are typically deposited on pecan nutlets soon after pollination. Eggs hatch in four to five days. Young larvae crawl to nearby buds to begin feeding, leaving empty white egg shells on the nut. The tiny larva feeds for a day or two on a secondary bud at the base of a com pound leaf before it enters the pecan nut. Larvae generally tunnel in at the base of the nutlet. Silk and black frass (excrement) are often visible outside infested nuts.

Casebearer larvae feed for about 4 to 5 weeks, depending on the temperature. Full-grown larvae then enter the pupal stage inside the nut. The moth emerges nine  to 14 days later.

The Pecan Nut Casebearer completes two to four generations a year. In this area, overwintering larvae develop into moths that emerge in late May and lay eggs on pecan nutlets soon after pollination. These eggs result in first-generation larvae, which feed on nutlets and generally cause the most damage. Once inside, larvae are protected from insecticide treatments.

Second-generation larvae attack the nuts in midsummer about six weeks after first-generation larvae enter the nut. Third-generation eggs are deposited on nuts from late July to early September. These larvae feed only in the shucks if the pecan shells have hardened.

Many third or fourth-generation larvae do not feed, but crawl to the base of a dormant bud where they build a tough, silken cocoon (hibernaculum) in which to spend the winter. In spring, these immature larvae leave their cocoons and feed by tunneling into shoots. Full-grown larvae pupate in shoot tunnels or in bark crevices. Moths from these overwintering larvae lay first-generation eggs on nutlets.

Homeowners with pecans and producers should be examining nutlets carefully right now for Casebearer eggs. Most Casebearer eggs are found at the tip of the nutlet, either on the top (stigma) or hidden just under the tiny leaves (sepals) at the tip of the nutlet. You need a good hand lens to identify Casebearer eggs and determine their development (hatched, white or pink). Also, look for bud feeding just below the nut cluster to detect the presence of newly hatched larvae.

The anticipated date for a management decision on whether or not treatment for Pecan Nut Casebearer is needed is May 31. Examine 10 nut clusters per tree. A cluster is considered infested if it has a Casebearer egg or nut entry. If you find two or more infested clusters before 310 nut clusters are sampled, the Casebearer population is large enough to damage more than five percent of the harvest. Apply an insecticide within the next few days.

If you find fewer than two infested clusters, sample again two to three days later. If you find two or more infested clusters before 310 clusters are examined, apply an insecticide treatment without delay.

If no treatment is indicated, sample again two days later. A third sample is especially important if cold, rainy nights have occurred, which can delay egg-laying. If you find fewer than three infested clusters, treatment is not warranted. Infestations of three or more infested clusters at this time indicate some damage may occur. Consider the effect of rainy weather on egg-laying and crop load in making treatment decisions at this time.

Nut clusters with eggs can be tagged with a piece of ribbon and checked each day to determine when hatch occurs. Apply the insecticide one to two days after the first eggs hatch, or as soon as nut entry by larvae is first observed. Delaying treatment maximizes the insecticide’s residual activity. However, consider the time required to treat the orchard and possible delays caused by weather, so that the insecticide can be applied before many larvae tunnel into nutlets.

Be careful when applying insecticide sprays in backyard and urban areas, because spray may drift onto nearby gardens, pets and living areas. In home landscapes, use only products containing spinosad, carbaryl, malathion or Bacillus thuringiensis and that are labeled for pecans.

Before purchasing and applying any insecticide, always read the label to determine if the product is labeled for use on the target plant or site. Follow mixing instructions and safety precautions on the label.

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Grass-fed beef may not have as many healthful traits as some perceive, according to results from a recent Texas AgriLife Research study. Dr. Stephen Smith, an AgriLife Research meat scientist, and a team of researchers have found that contrary to popular perception, ground beef from pasture-fed cattle had no beneficial effects on plasma lipid. However, high monounsaturated fat ground beef from grain-fed cattle increased HDL cholesterol, increased LDL particle diameters, and decreased insulin, suggesting that ground beef produced by intensive production practices provides “a healthful, high-quality source of protein.” “We wanted to see from this study if product from pasture-fed and corn-fed cattle had different effects on LDL or HDL cholesterol,” Smith said. “We looked at the scientific literature and could not find any justifications for the statement that pasture-fed beef is better for you. All we found were rat studies in which they were fed omega-3 fatty acids, so we wanted to know if this applied to beef from grass-fed cattle.” The study, funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, used Angus cattle raised at the McGregor AgriLife Research Center. One group of cattle was fed a pasture diet with supplement hay. The steers were kept on pasture until 20 months of age. A second group of Angus steers was fed the same way a feedlot operator would and kept on a corn-based diet until 16 months of age, then reaching USDA Choice status. A third group of Angus steers were fed the corn-based diet the longest, until reaching USDA Prime. The fat in cattle that are high in marbling is low in saturated and trans-fats, and higher in monounsaturated fats. Beef cuts from the plate and flank taken from all three grades were made into a ground beef product, containing 24 percent fat. Next, a group of 27 men completed a three-way crossover study. Each group rotated, consuming five 114-gram ground beef patties per week for six weeks from each of the three sets of cattle used in the study. “There really were no negative effects of feeding ground beef from the pasture-fed cattle,” Smith said. “We did see many positive effects in men that consumed ground beef from corn-fed cattle. The ground beef from the USDA Prime cattle increased HDL cholesterol and LDL particle diameter. Both effects are protective against cardiovascular disease. The Prime ground beef also decreased insulin, so it may have some protective effect against type II diabetes.” Smith said the study results surprised many. “As we talked to some user groups and told them that we had found pasture-fed beef is higher in saturated trans-fat, they were shocked.” Smith presented the findings to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association last year and is now sharing among consumers and producers. He recently gave a presentation at the Texas Human Nutrition Conference in College Station. Smith said he did receive some initial negative feedback from ranchers in the grass-fed beef business, but he isn’t telling them that what they are doing is wrong. “I know that cattle are adapted to growing on high-roughage, pasture diets, but my focus is the beef product,” he said. “A lot of producers are receptive. What I’m trying to show them is that the longer cattle are fed a corn or grain-based diet, the healthier the product will be.” “I realize cost is involved – feeding corn is expensive. But, if you want a healthier product, you need more marbling. Time on feed is a big factor.” The study team included Dr. Rosemary Walzem, AgriLife Research poultry scientist, and Dr. Stephen Crouse, researcher from Texas A&M University’s health and kinesiology department.

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The USDA reports cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.5 million head on May 1, down 3.4 percent from a year ago, according to USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report.

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.63 million, 1.8 percent above 2009. Net placements were 1.54 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 365,000, while those 600-699 pounds totaled 300,000, cattle 700-799 pounds totaled 469,000, and those placed at 800 pounds and greater totaled 495,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.85 million, 1 percent below 2009.

Other disappearance totaled 89,000 during April, up 29 percent from a year ago.

Rita Jane Gabbett from MeatingPlace reports that overall, the numbers came in within analysts’ expectations and in a note to investors, JP Morgan analyst Ken Goldman called the report “neutral” for packers.

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A recent study shows that USDA’s market development partnership with industry has had a significant positive impact on U.S. agricultural exports and increased returns to our farmers and ranchers by effectively and efficiently leveraging resources from the private and public sectors,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. He noted that each $1 billion in exports supports 8,000-9,000 jobs in the United States.

The study concluded that increased investment in market development resulted in the following:

  • For every additional $1 that government and industry spent on market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35
  • Without such increased investment since 2002, U.S. agricultural exports would have been $6.1 billion lower in 2009
  • Related export gains upped the average annual level of U.S. farm cash receipts by $4.4 billion and net cash farm income by $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, U.S. domestic support payments were reduced by roughly $54 million annually due to higher prices from increased demand abroad.

Through the MAP and FMD programs, USDA provides resources to U.S. non-profit agricultural trade organizations, state regional trade groups, state agencies and cooperatives, in support of participants’ overseas strategic objectives. Program activities include: market research; educational and promotional activities; in-country representation and trade servicing; and efforts to counter access issues.

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As authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, producers on eligible farms may elect to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program. ACRE is designed to provide revenue support to farmers as an alternative to the price support that farmers are used to receiving from commodity programs. Through the ACRE program, a state payment will be made when state revenue is less than the state guarantee. The sign up deadline is June 1.

How does a farmer decide whether or not to enroll in the ACRE program? To assist Wichita County and other Texas producers with this question a decision aid is available at

Before receiving a payment, a farm must meet a farm revenue benchmark. If this benchmark is met, a farm’s ACRE payments will be adjusted based on the ratio of the farm’s five-year history of yields to the state’s five-year history of yields.

For producers currently enrolled in the ACRE program desiring an estimate of payments their farm will receive for its 2009 crop, an ACRE payment estimator tool is available at

For more information in Wichita County contact Dr. Stan Bevers at 940.552.9941 ext. 231.

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The 2010/11 outlook for U.S. wheat is for larger supplies as higher beginning stocks more than offset lower production. Beginning stocks are up 45 percent from 2009/10 and the highest in a decade more than offsetting a forecast 8 percent reduction in this year’s crop. Total production is projected at 2,043 million bushels, down 173 million from last year. The survey-based forecast of winter wheat production is down 4 percent, but higher yields in Oklahoma, Texas, and a number of the soft red winter wheat states partly offset an 8 percent decline in expected winter wheat harvested area. Spring wheat production is also expected lower as a return to trend yields from last year’s record levels lowers production prospects. Durum and other spring wheat production is projected at 585 million bushels, down 16 percent from 2009/10, based on 10-year harvested-to-planted ratios and state yield trends for 1985-2008. U.S. wheat supplies for 2010/11 are projected at 3,103 million bushels, up 4 percent from the current year and the largest since 2000/01.

Total U.S. wheat use for 2010/11 is projected up 3 percent with higher expected domestic use and exports. Food use is projected at 940 million bushels, up 20 million bushels from 2009/10 as flour extraction rates are expected to return to historical averages from their high levels during the past 2 years. Feed and residual use is projected at 190 million bushels, up 10 million bushels from the 2009/10 projection as the larger carryin, particularly for soft red winter wheat, raises feed use prospects. Exports are projected at 900 million bushels, up 35 million bushels from the current year as large, early season supplies and lower prices improve U.S. competitiveness. Despite higher expected use, U.S. ending stocks are projected at nearly 1 billion bushels and the highest since 1987/88. The season-average farm price for all wheat is projected at $4.10 to $5.10 per bushel, compared with the 2009/10 projection of $4.90 per bushel.

Global wheat supplies for 2010/11 are projected 2 percent higher with larger year-to-year beginning stocks more than offsetting lower expected production. Global 2010/11 wheat production is projected at 672.2 million tons, down 1 percent from 2009/10 and the third largest production on record if realized. Larger projected production in EU-27, South America, and the Middle East is more than offset by expected declines in FSU-12, North Africa, South Asia, China, Canada, and Australia.

Global wheat trade is expected to rise slightly for 2010/11 with world exports up 2 percent from 2009/10 at 129.2 million tons. Higher year-to-year exports for Argentina and EU-27 more than offset lower exports for Ukraine, Australia, and Canada. Export prospects for Russia are unchanged for 2010/11 as larger Middle East crops and rising domestic wheat feeding limit export expansion for Russian wheat. Global wheat consumption is projected up 2 percent for 2010/11 with larger global supplies supporting growth in demand. World wheat feeding is projected 3 percent higher with much of the year-to-year increase from rising feeding in FSU-12. Global stocks are projected at 198.1 million tons, up 4.7 million from 2009/10; however, China stocks are projected up 8.3 million tons leaving stocks in the rest of the world down from the current year projection.

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The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture reports USDA’s “Know Your Farmer” campaign, designed to educate the public about where their food comes from, has drawn the ire of U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), for its heavy focus on “hobbyist and organic producers,” rather than major conventional farmers. It seems to me that these senators are dividing producers at a time when we all need to speak with one voice.

Organic producers have found a niche that the public is willing to pay a premium for- good for them. I see McCain’s lips moving but I wonde3r if the words are coming from the big chemical companies. I wonder if the Senators would be better off objecting to “seed police” who are changing the age-old system in agriculture of saving seed to plant in the upcoming year. But that would be biting the hand that feeds them!!

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