Summer 'dull-drums': Cover crop planning and hauling corn

Manure hauling, cover crops next on our farm's agenda

Not for a shortage of things to do, but the last couple of weeks have generally lacked for excitement.

After a brutal two weeks of irrigation start up, irritators (no typo there) ran better the last week or 10 days. Each storm that rolled through this week seemed to have a different coverage map. It all seemed to even out with 1.25 to 1.5 inches this week. We hope to catch another 1 or 2 inches between now and Labor Day, then we should be able to call it done.

Related: Cover cropper Dave Brandt's ways to cut crop costs

We began hauling chicken litter three weeks ago. Today, after clearing two buildings of nearly 3,000 tons, we will be done. For now.

We are storing most of the product in the storage buildings that were built last year. As crops are harvested we will begin applying manure. It takes quite a bit extra work, but we feel the manure is more stable in the soil and provides many of the micronutrients that you can't afford to mix in to commercial fertilizers.

Cover crops trial
After four or five years on the sideline, I have decided to give cover crops another go on a trial basis. This time I have specified no rye grass. My experience with rye was not good. It's never easy to kill, even if you follow the tips to get a good kill.

I have also seen insect pressure from late-killed cover crops. The cover crop mix I decided on is oats, radish, and clover. The oats and radish will winter kill. It will take a simple 2,4-D, dicamba, or Sharpen product to kill the clover in the spring.

The fibrous root system of the oat will help aerate and provide channels through the soil profile. The radishes will fight compaction and leave cavities to absorb moisture. The clover will sequester nitrogen and hold it for next year's crop. With prospects for more rain this weekend, I hope the airplane will be able to get the fields seeded yet this week.

Related: 10 Tips for First-Time Cover Crop Success

The agenda for the rest of this week and next week is to haul corn. Strong basis levels enticed some sales from us a few weeks ago. Some corn is going to ethanol plants, while a shortage of non-GMO corn has us hauling to a feed mill.

The opinions of Kyle Stackhouse are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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