ISSUE #384

384 - = Open Communications

8-8-2000 instantly puts far more information at our shareholders fingertips than ever before. The American Crystal website was initiated in its expanded format only one year ago. A vast array of data and information is now available to shareholders and others. Check it out to see what features are most useful to you.

A brief description of each website feature will help users decide what to take a further look at. The “initial” agronomy features have been in place for 6 months to one year. The “new” features have been added to the site in the last 30 to 90 days. Shareholders need a password to access some of the proprietary information.

If you haven’t already, contact your local ag office coordinator to obtain your password.

Agronomy “Initial” Features

  1. Ag Issues Section – A listing of events or issues of national and international concern to the sugar industry.

  2. Ask Agronomist – A site providing anyone opportunity to ask questions on Agronomy issues related to American Crystal and receive a prompt answer to that question.

  3. Variety Selector – Its intended to assist shareholders in selecting appropriate seed varieties for their farm by identifying varieties with characteristics intended to increase crop yield and/or quality for the shareholder.

  4. Ag Notes – A newsletter providing “advice for superior results” to American Crystal shareholders and Allied Industry reps. It’s published 15 to 20 times annually.

  5. Temperature – These are monthly updated charts showing historical temperature norms and current year data comparisons.

  6. Beet Seed – This calculator assists growers in determining beet seed requirements for a field they plant. A feature to calculate cases of seed required for each field will be added to this calculator.

  7. Classified Ads – This feature has been in place since May. Shareholders can list equipment or other items to sell, rent or buy on this site. Only American Crystal shareholders can place ads here; however, the general public can view what is listed.

  8. Shareholder Information – This section provides information on grower practice records, stock ownership information, individual field records, and shareholder financial statements, harvest records and “special weather” information to shareholders.

  9. Links – This section allows shareholders to rapidly access other web sites of useful information. Examples are grain market exchanges, weather information, research data, publications, and commercial sites.

What’s “New” in Agronomy

“Blue Book” – Reports by agriculturist area, factory area, and for the whole Company.

  1. Seed variety
  2. Yield and quality by nitrate grade
  3. Yield and quality by preceding crop
  4. Yield and quality by seed spacing
  5. Yield and quality by soil K range
  6. Yield and quality by soil phosphorous range
  7. Yield and quality for soil-tested fields (0’ - 2’)
  8. Yield and quality for soil-tested fields (0’ - 4’) Some various reports and charts of yield and quality by planting date.

NPK/Fertilizer Calculator - This spreadsheet program allows you to:

  1. Determine fertilizer needs for each field based on soil test data.
  2. Compare cost of fertilizers product choices.
  3. Improve chances for high quality high yielding crops.

Pest Alert – Gives shareholders access to timely pest management information to make cost effective control decisions. Available information includes:

  1. Daily root maggot population data.
  2. Daily Cercospora leafspot advisory information.
  3. Pest and disease maps will be available later in August.

Beet Seed – Variety trial and variety description information has been available for one year. Beet seed production information has been added in the last month.

What’s “New” in Shareholder Information

Weather Information

The Precipitation Information Includes: 

  • Estimated precipitation for the last hour
  • Estimated precipitation for the last 24 hours
  • Estimated precipitation since May 1

Growing Degree Information Includes:

  • Growing degree days for yesterday
  • Growing degree days since April 15
  • Growing degree days since May 1
  • Growing degree days since May 15

Leaf Stages Information Includes:

  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets planted April 15
  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets emerged April 15
  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets planted May 1
  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets emerged May 1
  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets planted May 15
  • Expected leaf stage for sugarbeets emerged May 15

Five Day Forecast:

  • These forecast are currently disabled
  • They will be active at the beginning of harvest

Cercospora Infection Values include:

  • Map of the daily infection value (last 24 hours) for a chosen date.

Weather Links Include:

  • Links to radar images
  • Links to satellite images

The precipitation, the growing degree-days and the leaf stages will run through October 31. After October 31 they will be disabled until the beginning of April, 2001.

The Cercospora infection values will run through September 17. After September 17 they will be disabled until the beginning of the Cercospora season, June 2001. The weather links will remain active all year.

General Satellite Imagery:

Three band satellite images are available for viewing on this site.

The site contains two areas: the map window on the left and the user interface on the right.

The Map Window

The map window gives the user the ability to zoom in and out and pan (moving from side to side or up and down) as well as the ability to draw a box or pick a point for zooming. The eight large arrows and eight small arrows around the edge of the map are for panning the map area. The zoom in buttons, the circles with a plus, and the zoom out buttons, the circles with a minus, allows the user to zoom in and out at different levels. The recenter button allows the user to place a cross hair at the area on which to center the image (click on a spot on the image and then click on the recenter button). A box can also be drawn by simply clicking on the image, holding the left mouse button down and drawing a rectangle to create an area of interest and then pressing the desired zoom button.

The User Interface

To the right of the map window are 3 areas for zooming, querying and selecting.

The first area, or step 1, is the quick zoom feature. It includes a county, city, township or section zoom. For the county quick zoom, enter a county name (capitalize the name), for example, Clay, then press the zoom button next to the county name box. The page will refresh and the map will show the area of the county. The city zoom works like the county zoom, but with a name of a city. For the township and section quick zooms enter the appropriate legal description of the township or section of interest and press the zoom next to the land description chosen. For the township zoom, the numbers must be entered in the form 144-50. For the section zoom the numbers must be entered in the form 144-50-36.

Once you have reached the area of interest by using the zoom or pan tools on the map window, or by the quick zoom features in step 1, press the query button in step 2 to find out what images are available. In the select scene drop-down box, all the images that are available will appear. To view an image, click the desired date from the drop-down box and then click on the redraw button to the right of the select scene drop-down box. The web page will refresh and will display the image chosen.

In step 3 you can turn features on and off by clicking the boxes next to the feature name. The next time the page refreshes, the layer will be either on or off as selected.

The 1999 scenes on this site are Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 images. The Landsat 5 scenes are 3 band, 10 meter resolution images. They are false color with the computer red gun displaying the near infrared band, the green gun showing the green band and the blue gun showing the red band. This color scheme shows vigorous vegetation in shades of orange to red and less vigorous vegetation to open soil in shades of blue to black. The Landsat 7 scenes are 3 band, 10 meter resolution images. The three band images have been merged with the 10 meter panchromatic or grey scale image to produce the 3 band, color image. The panchromatic images affects the color scheme so in those images the vigorous vegetation shows as shades of flesh color to pinks and the less vigorous vegetation shows as blue, grey to black. The colors of the Landsat 5 images are more saturated (bright red, blues, oranges), whereas the colors of the merged Landsat 7 images are more pastel (pinks, greys, flesh, light yellow). In the Landsat 5 images sugarbeet fields usually show as orange to red. In the Landsat 7 images sugarbeet fields are usually the flesh colored or light yellow areas.

These images can serve you by giving you the ability to see an overview of your area at different times of the growing season. They can assist you in detecting growth patterns and drainage problem areas, and in developing management zones for your fields. Please contact your agriculturist for help using this site and in interpreting the images.

Field Satellite Imagery

  • Three band satellite images in your field boundaries are available for viewing on this site.
  • Classified near infrared images in your field boundaries are available for your analysis.

The Map Window

The map window shows the selected imagery and the field boundary.

The User Interface

To the right of the map window are four areas for selecting and extracting.

The first area, or Step 1, is the select year button. Press the drop down box arrow to see what years are available and click on the year you want. You must choose a year.

The second area, or Step 2, is the select field button. Press the drop down box arrow to see what fields are available. Click on the field you want. You must choose a field. After you select the year and the field, the page refreshes and will now show a number of scenes or images available.

The third area, or Step 3, is the select scene button. Select the image you want by clicking on it. You must select an image. After you select the image, the page refreshes and will now show the boundary of the field selected and the image selected.

If you have an old copy of the AgriImagis viewer delete it from your system. Then press the Download Viewer link. The computer will ask you if you want to open the file in its current location or save it to disk. It is recommended that you choose saving to disk so that you can analyze fields that you have saved to disk when you are not connected to the Internet.

The fourth area, or Step 4, is the extract button. Once Step 3 is complete, press the extract button to extract a resampled to 5 meter resolution image. The computer will ask if you want to open the file in its current location or save it to disk. If you choose saving it to disk, make sure you name it so that you can remember what you extracted.

The Viewer

If you have downloaded the viewer, the image will be extracted and you will be asked with what you want to open the image. Choose AIView by highlighting that choice. The viewer will then open in a window. Moving the cursor anywhere on the AgriImagis banner and clicking on it will open the window with the field boundary and the image chosen.

The first thing to do is to click on the second button from the right on the toolbar, the button with a dark square and a dashed line around it. This tool will select the whole image. When you click on that button the tool to its right will light up with different colored squares. This is the analyze tool. You will also note that the image will have some small boxes around it with a slanted, dashed line.

The second step is to click on the analyze tool. When you click on the analyze tool the image will change from colored to a grey scale. That grey scale image is the single, near infrared band of the colored image. Now you are ready to do the analysis.

The third step is to choose analysis type from the drop down box under the tool bar. You have three choices: low definition, medium definition, and high definition. Choose one of these types by highlighting it and clicking on it. When you make your choice the image turns from a grey scale to a false color scheme that indicates low relative vigor to high relative vigor. This legend is at the bottom of the window.

The next part of the analysis is picking the analysis level. You can change the level of analysis by moving the sliding bar arrow that is to the right of the analysis type drop down box. You can move the arrow either by clicking to its right or left or clicking on it, holding the left mouse button down and dragging it to the right or left.

Other tools are used to work with the images:

  1. The looking glass with a plus will zoom in.
  2. The looking glass with the minus will zoom out.
  3. The button with a small rectangle in the corner will zoom into the image so the screen is as full of the image as it can get without cutting anything off.
  4. The button with a dashed line in it allows you to select only part of the image for analysis. Click on that button so that it is highlighted. Then move the cursor to the image. The cursor will turn into a cross. To select part of the image move the cursor to the selected spot. Hold down the left mouse button to create a rectangle. Then click on the analyze tool and repeat the steps above by choosing the analysis type and analysis level. If you print an analysis with a selected part of the image only the selected, analyzed part will be printed.

Experiment with the analysis type and level. Remember the colors show levels of plant vigor from low to high and from a pretty general analysis of the field to a very detailed look depending on your choices. These images can help you in a crystal clear manner to detect growth patterns, drainage problem areas, other problem areas, very good high vigor areas, etc. They can help you develop management zones for your fields.

USDA Announces PIK Program

On August 1, 2000, USDA announced its intention to implement a PIK program for the domestic sugarbeet industry. The key benefit to the industry is expected to be a significant reduction in supply of sugar for the U.S. market.

American Crystal spokesman will present details of the PIK program to shareholders through a series of mid-August meetings. Meeting times and places will be announced in the near future. Please plan to attend a meeting in your area to learn more about the benefits this program offers and how to participate.