I am interested in getting more information from you on variety
trials for corn and soybeans. I am in western Pennsylvania in Butler
County, and since I don't grow a lot corn or beans (about seven
acres of each; my rotation is C, SB, O, W, H, H, on 44 tillable
acres) I don't get to do many variety trials. I have been certified
organic for three years. My yields and weed control in corn are
acceptable (average 100-120 bu/ac with NC+ hybrids), but I am still
not satisfied with my soybean weed control and yield (this year
about 30 bu/ac with NC+ feed-grade variety).
I have Hazelton soils and plant on 38-inch rows. I start my weed
control with two to three passes with a rotary hoe and then two
to three passes with the cultivator (beans take more passes than
corn). I am thinking about going to 30-inch rows. I cultivate with
a Farmall M with a four-row mounted cultivator with 15.5 inch tires.
I'm not sure if I can get it narrowed in enough for 30-inch rows.
Also, do you think the 15.5 tire width would be a problem cultivating
beans in the narrow rows? My soil nutrient levels are coming up;
my deficiencies are in Ca and K.
I really enjoy reading your articles and think New Farm is the
best organic site on the web. I hope to some day make it out to
The Rodale Institute and check out the farm. I farmed conventionally
for almost 20 years and have been organic for about eight years
and I love it. I learn something new every day, and farming is a
lot more fun and rewarding now. Keep up the good work and thanks
in advance for your response.
Thanks for the email and the interest in our work here at The Rodale
Institute as well as New Farm. I'll have Rita Seidel (the research
scientist working on this project) send you the results of her work.
It sounds like your experiences track my own as well as most organic
grain growers when it comes to managing weeds. Corn is a lot easier
than soybeans. I'm going to see if Dave Wilson (our research scientist
working on weed management in soybeans) can send you his data on
time of planting and weed management. We've seen a lot fewer weeds
under the same management when we delay planting of the soybeans.
As far as going to 30-inch rows, I would suggest doing it if your
equipment will allow you to. It does improve weed management and
increases the yield potential of both corn and beans. I don't think
you'll have any problems with 15.5 tires; ours are 18.4 x 34s, and
we're on 30-inch rows. (You could experience problems if you are
on really steep hillsides and the tires tend to slide down against
Again, thanks for reading New Farm, and we hope we can continue
to bring you information that is useful to your operation.
Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.