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What This Fall Means to Spring

November 13, 2009
By: Charlene Finck, Farm Journal Editor


Charlene Finck

On the way into town this morning, my youngest, Elizabeth, proclaimed that the ruts cut in a newly harvested field we were driving by would be great in a game of hide-and-seek. I promised her that was about all they're good for! I'd just been looking at those same ruts, hoping the weather holds out for some aggressive fall tillage.

In central Missouri, we went from praying for a late frost to praying for an early hard freeze in about seven days. We weren't alone. An early frost and weeks of dreary, rainy weather slammed much of the heartland. In the midst of those soggy days, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie called to say he was giving his guys the green light to tear up their fields to get the crop out. Harvest was running terribly late, and there was too much at risk to not mud out the crop.

The end of the 2009 harvest spells the beginning of the 2010 crop. Field fixes top the to-do list, whether they get done this fall or next spring. In many cases, that will involve tillage that goes beyond business as usual. No matter what,
Ferrie reminds us, the seedbed has to be as sacred as possible when the planter rolls—especially for corn.

Accomplishing that might mean sneaking in this winter to do tillage, switching your crop rotation or tweaking your nitrogen plan to compensate for the carbon penalty you'll pay with extra residue piled on fields in the spring.

To help you get your crop off to a high-yield start in 2010, we're hosting a Winter Semester of the Farm Journal Corn College and a Planter Clinic. You can learn more at the Corn College blog at


Charlene Finck, Editor,

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Mid-November 2009
RELATED TOPICS: Editor's Notebook, Family

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