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col Black mold spores not a big problem

There is quite a bit of black mold spores on this year's leaves and stalks that is covering some combines, forage choppers and stalk choppers, says Lee Milligan, University of Wisconsin Extension agent.

The black mold spores are predominately from the Alternaria and Cladosporium species.

The general rule of thumb is that black mold spores don't affect cattle and pigs. Producers operating equipment without cabs should wear a dust mask designed to filter out mold spores, Milligan said. Another potential source of exposure to mold spores occurs during the harvest and use of corn stalks for bedding.

Low corn prices at start, end of harvest

Historically, lows in cash corn prices have occurred either at the beginning or the end of the marketing year, says Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

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Over the past 31 years, the marketing year low was established in September or October 14 times and in July or August 14 times. Low came in November, January and February one time each.

"We have come to expect that lows in the cash market come early in the marketing year in years of very large crops,'' Good said. "The harvest lows reflect low futures prices and a weak basis.''

Conservation tillage use increases

The 2004 National Crop Residue Management Survey confirms that 41 percent of all U.S. cropland is under a conservation tillage system.

No-till is used to the greatest extent, covering 62.4 million acres. The survey reports that no-till acres increased 7.1 million acres to 62.4 million, up from 55.2 million acres in 2002.

The survey, last completed in 2002 and coordinated by the Conservation Technology Information Center, is conducted in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Take steps to reduce heating costs

It won't be uncommon for farrowing, nursery and calf facility owners to pay at least $4 per nursery pig space or $40 per farrowing crate or $23 per dairy calf space for heat this winter with LP gas costing $1.10 or more, says Dan Meyer, Iowa State University Extension ag engineer.

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The first step in reducing fuel bills is insulating the building well. Ten inches of attic insulation and 1 inch of foam on the outside of uninsulated curtains, Meyer said.

The second step is to adjust exhaust fan rates on 50 percent to 60 percent relative humidity basis, which requires a good fan control. The third step is to install for producers who use LP gas in ventilated heated animal facilities is to consider installing an earth tube heat exchange system.

Past best guide to soybean influences

Many soybean producers are making their seed buying decisions now to take advantage of early-order discounts and to lock in orders of varieties that may be in limited supply, says Lizabeth Stahl, with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Characteristics to consider include maturity, yield, disease and pest resistance, iron chlorosis scores, height, loding and quality characteristics.

When determining a disease and pest resistance package for a field, the best guide for future needs is what has happened in the past. Most diseases just won't go away by the next time the field is rotated back to soybeans, she said.

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