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For the '08 crop, prior planning can prevent poor performance

Agriculture.com Staff 03/17/2008 @ 1:23pm

Ready to hit the field to get the '08 crop season rolling? The snow's melting and the mercury's starting to rise, so it's almost time.

But, don't jump into the tractor without first brushing up on a few key considerations before the tires start rolling. Things like pest management can benefit greatly down the road if you think ahead a little bit, say Iowa State University (ISU) crop specialists.

First and foremost, how do you know whether or not Mother Nature's ready for you to start fieldwork? Winter may be coming to a close, but with the amount of snow that fell in parts of the Midwest -- some areas received double the average snowfall -- it's important to ready yourself for a wet planting season, say ISU agronomist Mahdi Al Kaisi and ag engineer Mark Hanna.

"The decision to conduct any field operation needs to be pursued carefully, given the potential for very wet conditions with the amount of snow we have had this winter," according to Al Kaisi and Hanna. "It's tempting to jump start the process and hit the field, but soil below the surface couple of inches in most cases is still holding significant amounts of moisture from winter snow. Living plant roots are not present to remove infiltrated water and soil moisture is at or near field capacity, making it too wet for suitable working soil conditions."

Ready to hit the field to get the '08 crop season rolling? The snow's melting and the mercury's starting to rise, so it's almost time.

Beyond the obvious potential of burying your equipment in the muck, the real harm in premature planting lies in the damage incurred to the land. Compaction and clodding can have long-lasting effects on the soil quality and, in turn, the potential of the crop therein.

Have you fought corn rootworms in the past? If you have, and you're putting Bt corn varieties to work to help the effort this year, it's never too early to start thinking about rootworm control and how Bt corn might change your crop management this year. Iowa State University entomologist Jon Tollefson says the generally required refuge acres make up the best way to keep up the efficacy of Bt corn's rootworm protection.

Chemical drift complaints are on the rise in major ag states. In Iowa, the last three years has seen the number of complaints triple.

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