12, 2003: Spring has finally arrived. What more needs
to be said? Like you, I’m as busy as can be. There just
aren’t enough hours in the day.
We did manage to get all our oats planted, all the hay is
seeded, and I’ll be planting my potatoes tomorrow. A
little late, I know, but the weather just hasn’t been
too cooperative. The gardens are starting to shape up, and
the greenhouses are filled with bedding plants ready to begin
making their way to the cold frames.
Last year we closed our greenhouses up tight for about 3
weeks to solarize them. The goal was to kill off any insects
and their eggs. It really seemed to help, because our pest
problems are minimal this year. This was a practice we had
gotten away from in the last few years because we were holding
plants in the buildings year round. I believe that was a mistake,
and we‘ll be heating it up again this summer.
We still moldboard plow most of our corn and soybean ground,
so we are busy getting that tillage done. Many of my neighbors
have been planting corn for several days now, and it’s
hard to sit back and wait to get started. But I’ve learned
from experience that if we plant too early we’ll have
to struggle to manage the weeds, especially if the soil remains
cool. It never seems to slow the weeds down, but the corn
just sits there.
I don’t have 100’s or 1000’s of acres to
plant, so waiting will only be hard on my nerves--not the
corn. Of course, I’ll be planting some of the corn as
no-till and for that I’ll need to wait even longer to
match the planting time with the maturity of my cover crops.
I have a 2-row Monosem air planter that I use for planting
pumpkins, sweet corn and green beans. This year, I’m
modifying the planter to work as a no-till planter and I’m
going to try to plant no-till corn into a stand of hairy vetch.
I’m adding a second tool bar, front coulters, front
residue managers and--with the help of our dealer--some custom
made rear residue managers. My goal is to move the heavy ground
cover just enough to get the seed in the ground then pull
it back over the planted row. This should leave the field
looking as if it wasn’t planted.
I’ll let you know how it works as soon as I try it
out. I’ll be using it in conjunction with the new cover
crop roller that I mentioned in an earlier article. If it
all works as planned (and it never does) I hope to set up
a 4-row unit for next year.
I’ve been talking to a lot of folks the past few weeks
who have been telling me how good the past year was for selling
organic grains and forages. I hope if you’re growing
these crops you’ve had the same experience. It sure
is a great time to be in organic.
We sold the last of our straw last week and we only have
about 800 bushels of corn left to deliver. This is good because
I only have 2 grain bins and I need to have them emptied,
cleaned and ready for summer small grain harvest. I’ll
have more room this year for hay and straw since we put up
a 50 ft. by 70ft. pole barn last winter. This building will
also house the combine and grain truck. I’m sure it
will be full before we know it and we’ll be wishing
it were larger.
We’re in the process of shutting down our long term
compost utilization project and we need to dismantle the lysimeters
that are installed below the plow layer throughout the field.
(Lysimeters collect ground water that leaches through the
soil so we can measure it's quality and content.) There are
around 50 of them, so we need to dig down with the backhoe
and locate them. Guess I better get out of the office and
out to the field or I’ll never get done.
Don’t forget to write back and let me know how things
are going on your farm. That’s how we all learn.
From one farm to another.