Showing posts from May, 2021

Seeding Cover Crops after Wheat

Wheat will be maturing early due to 90OF temperatures. Wheat grows best under cooler temperatures (less than 800F) and moist soil conditions. Wheat stands look great, but starts to die with hot dry temperatures, resulting in lower wheat yields. Wheat harvest may start in 4-5 weeks, so start ordering cover crop seed now. A long growing season after wheat allows for many cover crops options. Warm season cover crops grow in the summer but die with the first frost while cool season species generally survive the winter. Major categories include legumes, grasses, brassicas, and other broadleaves. Each cover crop has certain benefits and disadvantages. Cover crops benefits include adding carbon, improving water infiltration and soil structure, tying up soluble nutrients, and are good weed fighters.  Legumes and clovers are high nitrogen fixers before corn and are slightly more expensive. Warm season legumes include cowpeas and Austrian winter peas while cool season legumes include true winter

Crimping Cover Crops

Cover crops outcompete many troublesome weeds but cover crop needs to be terminated. Most farmers kill cover crop with herbicides but crimper crop rollers can terminate naturally. Selecting the right cover crop to crimp and timing are critical for getting good crimping results. The most common grass crops that are crimped are cereal rye, oats, triticale, and wheat. Avoid trying to crimp soft flexible plants like annual ryegrass because they do not have enough lignin in the stems to cause the plant to crimp properly. For legumes, hairy vetch, winter peas, cowpeas, Balansa and crimson clovers have been successfully terminated by crimping. The best time to crimp grass cover crops are when the seed heads are emerging and for legumes when they are blooming. The crimper crop roller mechanically rolls down plants and “crimps” or kinks the stem so that water and nutrients can not move up the xylem or sugars down the phloem. Crimper blades are blunt and spaced about 7 inches apart at a 15-degre

Carbon Markets are Promoting Healthy Soils

No-till farming started in the 1960’s and gained steam in the 1970’s (fuel crisis) and the 1980’s (agricultural financial crisis). Glyphosate (Roundup ®) and genetically modified organisms (GMO) innovations also increased no-till farming. But true long-term no-till farming on every acre every year occurs on less than 4-5% of Ohio farms, with most farmers doing some tillage. Farmers are decreasing their tillage intensity and are now considering ways to capture soil carbon for payment which may require they move to towards regenerative practices like no-till and cover crops. Tillage breaks up soil aggregates and loses carbon dioxide to the atmosphere within 5-10 minutes; while long-term no-till with cover crops starts the slow process of recovering lost carbon. Adding soil carbon is all about roots exudates (active carbon) and root turnover (building humus from microbes). Crop rotation, moisture, climate, and soil characteristics all influence how quickly soil carbon stabilizes. Farm man

Maximizing Crop Yields

High grain prices for grain crops make any planting mistakes extremely costly. Most corn yield is determined within the first several weeks. Soybeans are a little more forgiving but any type of environmental (weather) or biological (weeds, disease, insects) stress can impact yields. Healthy plants tolerate stress better than plants that are nutrient deficient. For corn, the best time to plant traditionally has been May 1-through May 10th according to Ohio State University Research. Weather delays often make it hard to get all acres planted at this time. Current varieties have a tremendous ability to compensate and still get good yields, but getting that plant off to a good start is critical. Regarding soil health, soil microbes process the majority of the nutrients a plant absorbs. Cold or wet conditions slow microbial growth and hurt plant growth. Feeding the microbes may be more important than feeding the plant directly! On no-till corn with a cover crop, 50-75# of actual nitrogen (N