Showing posts from May, 2024

Cover Crop Issues

  A week of good weather has helped most farmers get crops planted. However, there are issues dealing with fast-growing cover crops (e.g., cereal rye). Due to a warm winter and spring, most crops, including wheat, are 2-3 weeks ahead in maturity. Fall-planted crops are all headed out and getting tall. How viable is the seed, and how do you manage those situations? On seed viability, cereal rye seed is viable 30 days after heading and flowering. Some cereal rye has been headed out for 2 weeks, so it’s time to get it terminated. Some rye is 4 to 6 feet tall, so shading is becoming another issue to consider. Balansa clover seed can remain viable in the soil for 3 years and reseed itself. Balansa and Crimson clover seed is viable 30 days after blooming. Hairy vetch seed can remain viable for 5 years in the soil (hard seed) and starts to mature around July 10, which may be July 1st this year. For all cover crops, terminating cover crops once they are 10-20% blooming reduces the chance of re

Wet Weather Issues

  Farmers are starting to make progress on planting, but it's quite variable. Warmer temperatures and humid conditions are expected. Both the winter wheat and weeds are growing quickly. Not only weeds, but also many insects and diseases are becoming a problem this year. Wet soils tend to compact and create poor soil structure, which is a major problem if soil dries off. Farmers have a lot of things to worry about when it stays wet and it's time to get crops planted. On fast-growing weeds, corn has more restrictions for post applications of herbicides. Higher rates of herbicides will be needed along with post-emergent herbicides to control the weeds. Higher rates of Glyphosate (Roundup), Liberty Link corn, and Extend corn can help control most weeds but it is more difficult when weeds get big. The weeds are much easier to terminate when they are small. On insects, watch for wireworms and seed corn maggot. Seed corn maggots are often a problem early with the larva feeding on the

Cereal Rye and Slugs

It’s a typical Ohio spring. Sporadic rains, followed by a few days of sunshine, then more drizzle. Farmers are trying to get crops planted, but progress varies. Under these conditions, cereal rye is growing fast which can help dry out soils but tends to shade newly planted crops. Second, with a warm winter and fairly warm spring with rain, slugs and voles (field mice) are flourishing. Weeds are also growing because it is too wet to spray all the fields. Here are some tips to deal with these problems.  Cover crops, especially cereal rye, outcompete many troublesome weeds but the cover crop needs to be terminated. Most farmers will kill the cover crop with herbicides but crimper crop rollers can terminate naturally and if the crop is tall, get it on the ground. Once it is on the ground, it will hold moisture and keep soil temperatures cooler going into summer. Cereal rye is a natural fit for soybeans but is more difficult to manage with corn. Soybeans thrive on the nutrient

Reducing Phosphorus Runoff

Rain is again slowing down spring planting. April and May showers are saturating fields causing nutrient runoff and soil organic matter (SOM) losses. While most scientists say phosphorus (P) is the main culprit, harmful algae blooms (HAB) or cyanobacteria need a variety of nutrients. If rains continue into summer combined with warm weather and not much wind, HAB can multiply quite rapidly. Farmers have planted cover crops and applied a variety of best management practices to reduce HAB in Lake Erie, will it be enough?  Where is the P coming from, what is the source? Human wastes account for roughly 16%, livestock manure 17%, and the biggest source is still from agriculture, from the soil. Considering the large acreage (4.2 million acres in the Maumee River basin) it takes only a small amount of P loss to cause HAB in Lake Erie. Farmers generally apply about 35-40# of P on corn and maintain about 95% of what is applied. HAB need only 1/10 as much P as corn (1# P = 500# of HAB), so now f