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Ruts in your field can be costly

Jeff Caldwell 11/28/2011 @ 1:33pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Got ruts?

Whether from a wet spring or soggy fall, if your fields are full of ruts, it could cost you either lost production or a chunk off your bottom line to smooth things out, according to a Pennsylvania State University Extension soil management specialist.

Smoothing out serious ruts in a field typically requires at least an extra pass of disk/chiseling, says Sjoerd Duiker. And, that will likely run around $15/acre, according to an Iowa State University Extension custom farm rate survey.

"So if 25% of a field were rutted and production in those areas reduced by 10%, that would mean a 2.5% yield loss," Duiker says. "At 200 bushels/acre and corn at $6.00/bushel, that would be $30 lost/acre. So perhaps $50 cost per acre for rutting is not unrealistic."

Research conducted by University of Minnesota specialists last fall and earlier this year show a consisten 17% yield drag in corn when ruts are left remaining in the field. "There was the same number of ears gathered (same population), but the differences in ear length, diameter and kernel fill were easy to see," says University of Minnesota Extension specialist Jodi DeJong-Hughes.

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