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Wet soils, delayed planting may mean changes in tillage, herbicide applicationWet soils, delayed planting may mean changes in tillage, herbicide application

Karen McMahon

May 3, 2011

2 Min Read

A drive through south-central Minnesota and northeast Iowa on Tuesday found farmers hitting the fields with tillage equipment. We spotted multiple tractors with tracks in several fields as the race was on to cover as many acres as possible. After all, less that 5% of Minnesota’s corn crop was planted. A year ago, 85% of the crop was in the ground.

The late fieldwork and planting will mean a change in tillage and production plans for some farmers. Purdue Extension agronomist Tony Vyn issued recommendations for handling some of the changes. Here are the highlights:

  • Exercise caution, control weeds, and enhance seedbed quality where possible. The worst possible combination would be doing secondary tillage when the soil is wet, and having that followed by hot and dry conditions during early development of corn seedlings.

  • Limit soil damage and the creation of any root-restricting soil layers during either the tillage or the corn-planting operations. Potential corn yields in 2011 can be compromised more by poor soil structure following poor tillage choices from now on than they have been by the planting delays thus far.

  • Herbicide sprayers should still precede tillage and planting in fields that will not receive full tillage this spring.

  • No-till corn planting remains a viable option. The probability of successful yields with no-till does not decline with later planting dates; if anything, the yield potential of no-till corn increases, compared with corn yields likely to be achieved after more intensive tillage operations.

  • Vertical tillage systems may speed surface soil drying. Typically, shallow and high-speed vertical tillage operations may help to speed up the rate of surface soil drying when there is nonuniform residue cover or rain-matted residue cover.

  • Spring strip-tillage operations should be shallow. If farmers can wait until soil conditions are fit down to a 4- or 5-inch depth and have the equipment options to do shallow strip-till in spring, the practice can produce corn yield advantages.

Read the complete list at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2011/issue4/index.html#tillage


About the Author(s)

Karen McMahon

Karen McMahon has been a well-respected and award-winning agricultural journalist for more than three decades. In 2000, she served as president of the American Agricultural Editors' Association (AAEA), a group of more than 400 professional farm writers. She also is active in the Agricultural Media Summit (AMS) and served as chairman in 2001 and chair of the sponsorship committee for several years. She has attained the top Master Writer Award level from AAEA and won various writing awards from the Am. Society of Business Publication Editors and Minnesota Monthly Publications Association.

Karen joined Farm Industry News as senior editor in 1998 and was named editor two years later. Prior to that, she was managing editor for five years of another Penton publication, National Hog Farmer. She grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm near LeMars, IA, and earned her degree in journalism from South Dakota State University. Since then, Karen has worked in agricultural communications.

Her experience on magazines and organizations includes work on Hog Farm Management, the National Pork Producers Council, and Hogs Today/Farm Journal.

Karen may be reached at 9520851-4680

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