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Late harvest forces area producers to prioritize

By Staff | Nov 13, 2008

DOUGHERTY MAULSBY

Farm News staff writer

Far from ideal weather conditions this fall have created a time crunch that’s worrying more Iowa farmers.

“We’re running out of good days to get the work done,” said Mark Licht, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, based in Carroll. “A lot of people want to be done by Thanksgiving, but that’s probably not going to happen.”

In this situation, Licht said, farmers must prioritize their work and evaluate alternatives, such as determining whether nitrogen must be applied this fall or whether the application can wait until spring.

“In addition, you need to consider risk management issues in light of very small margins,” he said, who offered these suggestions:

? Start with soil sampling. By determining what nutrients are already available in your fields, you may be able to trim your fertilizer bill. “Even though a soil sample adds one more thing to your to-do list, spending a few dollars on a soil sample could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run,” Licht said.

? Control compaction. Even though you are working hard to complete harvest as soon as possible, be mindful of soil compaction issues. “Compaction is definitely happening this fall from combines, grain carts and liquid manure applicators,” said Licht, who noted that this hidden “yield robber” can trim production by 10 to 15 bushels per acre. To minimize compaction, try to match up wheel tracks and control traffic patterns in the field.

? Maintain grain quality. High moisture levels in corn this fall have created more management challenges for growers using on-farm storage. Licht noted that the University of Minnesota has compiled a number of helpful articles related to grain drying, handling and storage. For more information, visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/topics.html?topic=4&subtopic=44.



Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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