10-crop tango

Agriculture.com Staff 11/04/2008 @ 12:19pm

Growing as many as 10 crops each year creates a complex rotation, but Troy Coons figures the extra effort pays off.

"Our yields are above average," says the Donnybrook, North Dakota, farmer, "and as seed growers, it's important to grow high-quality crops in continuously weed-free fields. Our rotation has helped us do that and given us financial diversity besides."

Coons' crop lineup includes:

  1. Three durum wheat seed varieties
  2. Three malting barley seed varieties
  3. Forage barley for seed
  4. Green peas
  5. Yellow peas
  6. Forage peas for seed
  7. Canola
  8. Millet for forage seed
  9. Flax, both brown and golden
  10. Garbanzo beans

"When producers look beyond price in choosing a crop rotation that's ideal for the farm, [there are] long-term benefits like improved soil productivity and better weed, disease, and insect management," says Greg Endres, area Extension agronomist at the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center.

Other benefits exist. "The cropping sequence in a diverse system automatically lets you rotate the mode of action of differing herbicides' chemistries," says Kent McKay, Extension agronomy specialist at the North Dakota State University North Central Research Extension Center at Minot. "This becomes increasingly important as more weeds begin to show tolerance to certain herbicides."

Growing as many as 10 crops each year creates a complex rotation, but Troy Coons figures the extra effort pays off.

Coons annually alternates between a grass and broadleaf in each field. He decides what to plant based on a field's cropping history, soil type, topography, and marketing opportunities for each crop.

Even rotations that contain just three or four crops are better than a simplified flip-flopping of only two crops.

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