As prices for corn and soybean climb, more and more Franklin County farmers are plowing up pasture and hay for row crops. Kentucky’s cattle numbers and alfalfa acreage are actually decreasing for the first time in a long time even though cattle remain high and should do so for the foreseeable future.
For those planning to raise grain again next year or for the first time, the following are some tips gleaned from the Early Bird Grain meeting last week in Fayette County.
Weeds are an issue in every farming or gardening situation. I’ve had farmers tell me that Roundup Ready corn and beans are the greatest thing ever and I’ve had others say that they can grow grain just as cheap and easy conventionally. I think it comes down to management types.
Either way, if you are spraying herbicides you need to be concerned about resistance. We have it in glyphosate and it will just get worse. One way to combat this is rotation. Rotate crops, rotate fields and if nothing else please rotate herbicide mode of action. Most are labeled now with a group number on the jug.
Dr. JD Green, UK Weeds Specialist, says that many producers who don’t get expected weed control can blame it on timing. The first 2-4 weeks after planting are critical and can have a big effect on yield.
Another caution he raises is compatibility issues with tank mixed herbicides and insecticides. Check the label to be sure you’re not compromising one or the other. Another word of caution is to pay special attention to the labels of all the new herbicides and various formulations as some have restrictive rotations that limit your future options.
For all the details ask for AGR-6 “2013 Weed Control Recommendations for Kentucky Grain Crops” or visit http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/agr/agr6/01.pdf.
New bugs arriving
Insects are a whole other new issue especially now that we have new invasive species to look forward to. Doug Johnson, UK Entomologist, warns both farmers and homeowners to prepare for invasions of the brown marmorated stink bug and the bean plataspid.
These insects will swarm in large numbers and may cause new headaches. For home owners they will behave like the Asian lady bug, for farmers they will affect quality and yield. Watch the paper and our newsletter for updates and control methods.
The other insect issue to be aware of is B.t. resistance. Part of the agreement to planting B.t. corn is to plant refuge crops to avoid resistance. It gets complicated because the corn borer and the corn rootworm require different configurations of refuge and when you’re dealing with both you must take that into account as well. Pay attention to the label and requirements for planting B.t. corn.
Chad Lee, UK Grain Specialist, provides the following advice for general production according to UK research trials.
Plant corn the first week in May. The best population seems to be in the 24,000-30,000 range. Deeper more fertile soils can handle higher plant populations. Ideal row width is 30” but 36” is okay in a good year.
Soil compaction is a major concern so if you made silage or mowed your crop this year because of drought, keep compaction in mind. The ideal time to add nitrogen is when the plant emerges.
For soybeans Dr. Lee also warns of potential compaction issues for no-till. Research shows that plant population does not have a big effect on breakeven analysis. Populations between 100,000 and 240,000 all do about the same.
He recommends foliar fungicides when disease pressure is high but says not to waste your time or money on foliar fertilizers. For both beans and corn be sure to check the UK Variety Trials for the best variety for your situation (http://www.uky.edu/Ag/GrainCrops/varietytesting.htm) and remember that every year you don’t rotate your crops you’ll lose about 10-15 percent in yield.