No-till corn, part 2: Corn and Johnson grass … and hey, what about the price of soybeans?

Jeff,

Just read your 1/7/03 article (on organic no-till corn) and want to know more. I have a Johnson grass problem that I need help with. My plan is to harvest wheat next summer--I'm about to plant it now after beans--and then go after the J-grass in July & Aug ' 04 with a disc. I intend to plant a legume in Sept ' 04 of either vetch or Austrian Winter Peas which I understand fix even more N than vetch. I would then no-till corn into the cover as you did.

I have part of the farm in alfalfa now and expect the regular cutting to eradicate J-grass in that field. Any advice and yield results would be appreciated.

On another note, I can sell my beans for $10.50 at the farm. I could store them; however, can't get a read on future pricing. Given my small acreage of 21 and 400 - 600 bushel crop, don't think it is worth it unless the increase was $2 or more. The conventional market is up dramatically. Any idea what bodes for organic? Thanks for the reply.

Michael Moore


Good morning, Michael,

First I’ll talk about the soybeans, since that is easier. I can’t tell from the email where your farm is located but, here in the northeast the organic bean market is strong. Beans are currently in short supply which puts you in the driver’s seat for at least the next few weeks. I think the prices are better then the $10.50 you mentioned. The prices I’ve been hearing are more in the $11.75 to $13.00 per bushel for high quality feed grade beans. If I knew how long the price will hold or if it will go even higher I’d be a wealthy man. I think as long as conventional beans stay high, so will the organic sector. As the new harvest comes in, the market may experience a down turn reflecting the need for farmers without storage to move their product. In the past we’ve seen that trend with a bump up later in the year as those initial supplies are used up.

As for the organic no-till corn – welcome aboard. I’m fortunate not to have Johnson Grass in any of my fields. I don’t know how it will respond to the no-till. Do you have small patches that can be hand managed if it comes in or are your fields filled? You’re right about the Austrian Winter Pea, it just doesn’t grow well for me here in PA. We designed and built a front mounted roller to manage our cover crops in a no-till system. The greater the amount of biomass the greater the weed suppression is a good rule of thumb. You’ll want to make sure the legumes are in full bloom in order to get a good kill rate when you go in to plant your corn. (For photos of the no-till plots, and the roller, check out Laura Sayre’s new article.)

Jeff