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Before You Put the Combine Away, a Thought for Next Year

TAGS: Soybeans
Before You Put the Combine Away, a Thought for Next Year
View of rear end of combine means more than time to say 'good-bye ' to harvest.

You will knock off the cobs and husks and probably blow off the combine before you put it away. But will you take advantage of lessons and reminders that are there for the taking before you put it to bed for the winter?

Even spread or not? Now is the time to determine if your combine is doing a good job of spreading residue evenly. Three months ago would have been better, but now is better than ignoring it altogether.

Take a closer look at the picture. If you're into no-till or even no-tilling soybeans into corn stubble, what question should this picture cause you to ask? Barry Fisher, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana, tells farmers any time he can get them to listen that no-till in 2015 started with the rear end of the combine in 2014. Did you spread out the residue evenly? Did you do whatever you had to do to get it so that there aren't heavier piles of residue in some places than others?

It's perhaps more important in soybean stubble fields than corn because you will likely plant those to corn, and plant them first. But it matters in corn fields too. Wherever there is more residue cover in one part of the field than another, those will be areas that are slower to dry out and warm up next spring.

Related: Measure Residue Cover To Protect The Soil

When experts talk about corn germination, they talk about minimum temperatures to germinate. If have lots of residue in one part of each planter pass and little residue in another, the temperature could easily vary enough to determine whether the corn seed can germinate or not, Fisher says. That can determine whether the stand emerges uniformly or not. If you get an uneven stand, you're already likely sacrificing yield before you even get a good start on the season.

Take a good look at your fields now if you haven't tilled and don't intend to. Did you do a good job of spreading residue? Check them again next spring at planting time. If you don't like what you find, maybe it's time to invest in a different method of spreading residue, or in adjusting the combine spreader so it does a more even job of spreading residue next fall for the 2106 no-till crop.

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