As farmers wrap up harvesting corn and soybeans across the Eastern Corn Belt, the work is just getting started on many farms, with fertilizer, herbicide and tillage applications planned in the waning weeks of productivity for 2011.
"As we finish harvesting soybeans, farmers have started putting on phosphorus and potassium, mostly during the past two weeks," said Harold Watters, an Ohio State University Extension educator with Extension's Agronomic Crops Team. "Custom applicators were ready to go into the field for a long time, and we are glad to finally see them moving."
Watters, a Certified Crop Adviser and coordinator of Extension's CCA-targeted education efforts, said despite the lateness of harvest and seemingly frequent precipitation, farmers have been remarkably productive this fall.
He noted that in addition to fertilizer applications to improve the fertility of the soil, timely herbicide application also is an important fall activity.
"As quickly as farmers finish harvesting corn, they're going to have sprayers in the field spraying purple nettle, marestail and chickweed to get those out of the way for next year's soybeans," Watters explained.
Most farmers he surveyed follow the basic fall strategy of spraying 2,4-D and glyphosate. He also noted some farmers also spray residual products, like DuPont's Canopy herbicide, for additional residual protection keeping marestail at bay until next spring.
In some instances, a farmer might also spray a burndown herbicide in fields intended for no-till corn next year, basically spraying soybean stubble after harvest. Watters said the important thing for farmers to remember is to follow basic recommendations backed by university research and advocated by Extension experts.
"I hope that farmers are taking a real hard look at our recommendations and not necessarily putting on excess fertilizer, especially phosphorus," he said. "It's too darn expensive to put on extra fertilizer, but even so, farmers really need to follow the Tri-State Fertility Guide."
Watters said that while fertility and weed management activities have been delayed due to the abnormal weather situations of last spring and this fall, other field improvements have fallen behind schedule as well.
"A lot of guys are talking about tiling," he explained. "They've been delayed, obviously, because of the late harvest and wetness, but there is some possibility of getting tile installed yet this year. Farmers need look at ways to improve their bottom line and increase their yield potential, and tiling fields is one way to do that."
When weather or other factors provide farmers with some downtime, Watters encouraged them to consider nominating their crop adviser for the annual Certified Crop Adviser of the Year Award. Information on the award and the nomination process is available at the Agronomic Crops Team website
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