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Planning 2010’s growing season

By Staff | Apr 16, 2010

ROCK RAPIDS – Protecting crops with insurance, preparing for a challenging growing year and tips for drying what is harvested were topics covered March 19 at a crop clinic in Rock Rapids.

Ron Hook, Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist, opened the event speaking on risk management for 2010. Hook compared crop insurance with two government programs – Supplemental URE and ACRE. In tying these programs together he suggested making sure one is not relying on one program.

Because neither government program is a good replacement for crop insurance, Hook recommends producers have separate crop coverage.

“Make crop insurance decisions based on the risk management needs of your farm,” Hook said. “Relying on the ACRE and SURE programs is a poor risk management decision.”

Soil nutrients

ISU Field Agronomist Joel DeJong spoke on the importance of soil testing. He suggested farmers check out ISU booklet “General Guide to Crop Nutrients.”

After reading through this information, DeJong said, farmers should “do the math.” He suggested farmers contact a local agronomist, have soil tested in order to know what they are putting on your fields and why.

“Doing this can increase your yields and may save you money in fertilization costs,” DeJong said.

DeJong also talked about how climate changes have helped yields in northwest Iowa, resulting in an average 10 percent more rain than previous years.

Looking at yield records, he pointed out that even after snowy winters, northwest Iowa generally has good crops even with low spring temperatures.

Challenges this year will likely include a slow start to spring planting, he said, complicated by a narrow window of opportunity for planting.

“Our soils here are easier to work with than some areas of the state,” DeJong said, “but there could be some compaction problems.”

Skyrocket yields

Dr. Roger Elmore, ISU Extension agronomist, discusses the dramatic changes Iowa will be seeing in corn yields in coming years with many reaching the 300 bushel per acre mark.

He credited genetics, crop management methods and environment as working together to bring those high yields.

“As far as genetics go,” Elmore said, “many of the new hybrids allow farmers to get crops in earlier than ever before.

“Companies are now breeding for more plants per acre. That, combined with the new hybrids and their higher yields, can greatly increase production.”

Proper management is still key, he said. Soil fertility, soil high in organic matter and well drained, tillage, pest management, planting dates, row spacing and crop rotation all play a role in higher yields.

“Farmers should also be aware of their seed costs per acre,” Elmore said. “Remember, that corn-on-corn will reduce yields.”

Planting adjustments should be made to a consistent depth and one should also keep in mind the need for good planting conditions.

“Scout those fields,” Elmore urged. “We must focus on small things. Every one of your plants need to look like every other plant.”

Grain storage

Kris Kohl, ISU Extension ag engineer, spoke on grain storage and drying during a challenging year.

For soybeans, Kohl reminded attendees that when using heated air, soybeans, being an oil seed, should be dried at 20 degrees maximum. This will double the drying rate, he explained, “but at 100 degrees soybeans start to smell like roasted nuts and present a fire risk.”

For corn when drying in the spring, grain should be cooled below 30 degrees. If moisture on top is above 18 percent get it dry immediately.

If moisture on top is below 17 percent start air movement by April 1. Corn should be dry by May 1. He suggested removing fines to help the corn to dry better and, when drying at high temps, it must be stirred when over four feet deep.

Kohl reminded farmers to check stored grain weekly, and remember to warm loads before selling so as not to get a false high reading.

Contact Robyn Kruger by e-mail at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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