NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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April 19, 2010 Ag Column



Well spring has sprung and so have the combines and tractors.  Yes, I said combines and tractors.  We still have corn standing around the county and harvest has begun, on these remaining acres and I also say my first tractor stirring up some dust on Saturday.  I have talked to many that have said they were going to start in the field today particularly in the eastern and northeastern part of the county.  Even though the potholes have grown in size from last year those areas did not receive the moisture the rest of the county received this past winter and fall.  The water is way down in the Edmore coulee and most other coulee areas in the upper county area.

So what are your plans for this spring season?  More wheat, less wheat, more corn, less corn, maybe more canola or maybe more edibles seems to be the choices going around.  Markets seem to be responding, a little, from spring planting season pressure.  Every crop is trying to tie up some acres while others are trying to compete for acres.  Soybeans seem a very likely crop, for most all county producers.  If you remember last winter I wrote an article about Potassium and how soybeans are very high users of potassium.  If you were to look at crops like corn and wheat in comparison of soybeans you would soon realize for additional potassium.  If you remember the article I talked about corn and wheat requiring mid teen to mid twenties for potassium while soybeans require around 50-60 pounds of potassium.  The higher use of soybeans and pintos, along with any other legume, will deplete the available potassium, in the soil structure.  Last winter there was a lot of talk about high levels of potassium in our soil but how much of that potassium is actually available to our growing plants?  Well, if we take a look at potassium we soon find that potassium is not all freely available to the plant.  About 90 percent of the soil potassium is tied up within the soil particle and another 5 percent is actually being moved out of the soil particle to become available, at a later time, leaving only 5 percent that is immediately available to the plant.  So, if we take a look at our soil tests and see a high number we had better reconsider our nutrient recommendation for this growing season.  I am not a soil scientist however I have read many different articles pertaining to this matter and fine the same information in each.  We also find the same thing happening with Phosphorus only in a little different levels.  If you have been using a high rotation of legumes you might want to consider the above mentioned strategies. 

The last comment for today is corn and the economic impact of incorporating a pre-emergent herbicide.  Research has found an 8-12 bushel return for a pre-emergent herbicide incorporation.  Research has found that even little weeds consume a high level of Nitrogen and everyone knows what that means.  We have all been blessed with the herbicides available and those that we have been using but a sound herbicide rotation should also be considered.  Weeds are becoming more sensitive to the same old application.  I am not suggesting you immediately change your corn strategies but the yield difference is worth considering.

Bare soil temperatures as of 4/19/2010 (10:45), at the Crary NDawn station is 45 degrees and turf soil is 40 degrees.  I would guess by the end of the week we would see soil temperatures that are very conducive to good seed germination.


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