NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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September 30, 2013 Agriculture Column


What a beautiful weekend and so full of activities, unfortunately not much in the direction of harvest.  Except for those either wanting or feeling like they had better start harvest and drying their crop harvest has been at a stand still.  Even though we have had some nice afternoon temperatures the day length and fast cooling evening temperatures and the cooler mornings do not allow for much dry down.  We have been blessed with one good fall event, for corn growers, and that is no killing frost yet.  The weatherman is talking about a pretty cool night coming up the middle to the end of the week so we will have to wait and see.  All of our corn had dented but getting to black layer takes an additional two to three weeks depending on weather conditions.

Last Friday I attended a cover crop tour held at the Walsh County Extension office.  The tour was very interesting as the first sight we visited was the location of the Walsh County variety trial site.  They had an area that was becoming very salty and also had a very large area of Canada thistle being a problem for them.  Brad Brummond (Walsh County Extension agent) thought they would try a cover crop on the particular piece of ground to demonstrate if cover crops could actually enhance soil health in that particular area.  He, along with the NRCS from Walsh County, planted beardless barley and Canola on this ground (approximately 5 acres) on August 2 and was fortunate to have a rain about two days later.  It is amazing the cover that got established and even more impressive is how the cover crop choked out the Canada thistle.  This is the second year of cover on this ground and it was great to see how the soil health has improved over the area that did not get cover by the quality of soil that was dug from each site.  The one area that still needs improvement was an area that did have heavy compaction.  The cover crop grew but was not the quality of the rest of the area.  We also visited a rancher that planted a cover crop on his winter feed lot.  This rancher ran a disk over it twice, harrowed it twice, planted the cover and then finished with two more operations of harrowing.  It was growing very nicely and will provide an additional fall grazing area for his cow herd.  If you ever might have an interest in seeing these two sites call and I will try to coordinate a trip over to Park River for you to see the results that I have just talked about.

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