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5 Tips To Better Corn Production and Knowledge

Ryan
Weeks, Juniata, Nebraska, who’s featured in our December Corn High Yield Team
story (page 56) uses several other tools to keep on top of his corn production
program. They include:

 


Rotating Herbicide Modes of
Action

Herbicide-resistant
marestail and kochia has surfaced in Weeks’ area, so he rotates herbicide modes
of action to forestall herbicide resistance. “Roundup was over used by
farmers,” notes Weeks. “It was also used at below-label rates, which contributed
to resistance.”

A
burndown of 2,4-D laced with glyphosae is applied for corn in the fall or early
spring. Weeks has rotated preplant herbicides on corn with different modes of
action. Preemergence chemicals he’s used include Lexar and Surestart in 2012.

 


Watering Wisely

This
year’s drought put irrigation to the test, as Weeks’s corn consumed much more
water 2012 compared to 2011. Last year,  Weeks just ran center pivots an average of 144 hours each. In
2012, average annual use tallied 1,200 hours.

During
drought, Weeks uses a mix of center pivot and gravity irrigation. “Gravity
irrigation uses more water,” he notes. But some of our ground would not fit a
pivot.”

While
the 2012 water needs were high, one plus for irrigation in southeastern Nebraska
are lower power rates. Wells with access to electricity often have the less
expensive power option.

“Nebraska
has public-owned power, so electricity is cheap,” he says.

Other
wells that are not accessible to power are powered by either diesel or natural
gas. This year, natural gas cost was one-fourth that of diesel. In other years,
diesel may be less expensive, he notes

 


Planting Cover Crops

Weeks
tried something different this fall to spur organic matter levels on those
soils. He planted 600 acres of hairy vetch, ryegrass and radishes. They air
seeded the mix in standing corn on a share of acres, while he drilled the
remaining 180 acres after harvest.

 “At first, it seems odd to spend $30 per
acre for seed,” he says. He notes one neighbor good-naturedly asked him what in
the world he was doing irrigating a harvested corn field. (The water was to
help germinate the cover crop.)

Still,
Weeks is optimistic the end will justify the means “These are salty, hardpan
soils,” says Weeks. “We are trying to improve water infiltration and reduce salt
levels.”

 


Using Field Mapping

Field
mapping gives Weeks insight on how to better his production program. One way he
taps his
Case IH Advanced Farming System is to go back after
harvest and assess corn stands. One indicator, for example, of a poor stand
could be planting speed. He can later assess if planting speed deviated from
his preferred 5.5 miles per hour.

“If the planter was going 6 or 6.5 miles per hour, that’s
likely the reason the stand was poor,” he says. “That’s something we can fix
for the next year.”

 


Using Social Media

Weeks
garners much farming information via social media. Weeks uses Twitter to obtain
news feeds. His i-Pad is mounted in his tractor or combine, depending on the
season. He can follow markets and news all day.

“I’ve
developed a neat network of farmers and traders,” he says. I was able to gauge
the size of the crop this year by friends out East who were talking about how
bad their crop was this year.”

He also uses
Facebook to tell the public what the farm is doing and also to promote
agriculture. “Agriculture is under attack
from lots of different groups, so we put our story out to tell people what we
are doing on our farm. We are happy to answer questions on Twitter (Ryan
Weeks@HuskerFarm) and Facebook (Facebook.com/weeksfarms). Weeks also writes a
blog at  www.cornhuskerfarmer.wordpress.com

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