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Smoke and dust signal spring's approach

Agriculture.com Staff 02/05/2016 @ 4:19pm

Warm temperatures and dry weather have brought farmers out of their shops and into the field. Like small boys in a big sandbox, the annual ritual of burning off the old residues and turning over the fresh soil begins again.

While the Treasure Valley moves rapidly from potatoes to pavement, many of the old traditions remain. March is a chance to clean off the old mantel of dead weeds, mark out straighter rows and plant a new crop of hope. Every farmer -- whether full- or part-time, large or small -- has faith that this year will be better than the last.

Here at Sunrise Acres, Carol has been busy preparing the hay fields for the new year. Several passes with a spring tooth harrow have removed a large part of the annual weeds such as mustard and cheat grass. There seems to be a larger-than-normal flush of weeds in the hay, which could be a precursor of a very weedy first cutting this year.

Next week, she will make one more pass with a "ground hog," a machine with a combination of spring teeth and packers, to finish off the last weeds clinging to the soil. Then a corrugator will reestablish the furrows for the irrigation water to follow. While the gophers have been brought under temporary control, they will undoubtedly sneak back in under the cover of the growing alfalfa.

If the weather remains favorable, the rapidly growing crop should shade out new weeds. The last of our last year's hay crop now has dwindled to a small pile which our local horse hay buyers will soon use up. With the high prices of other feed crops, hay may remain a bright spot for another year. Unless of course you're buying, not selling!

With the warmer weather, weeds along the non-crop areas are making rapid growth. Carol spent most of a day spraying Round-Up on ditch banks and our large yard area. When I farmed full-time, missing this early spraying meant having to look at large ugly weeds for the rest of the year. We are trying another granular weed control to suppress the large amount of jointgrass and volunteer elms in non-crop areas. I'll let you know how that turns out.

In our new pasture that was planted last fall, mustard and numerous other nasty weeds are threatening to overgrow the new grass. After the grass is better established, a broadleaf weed killer will be sprayed to control these pests along with dose of fertilizer to give the grass a boost. Unless we get a good spell of precipitation in the next week or two, the new pasture will need water as soon as it is available from the Wilder Irrigation system.

Our future corn ground is still setting undisturbed awaiting its turn to be prepared for planting. The plan is to simply plant on the old wheat beds with a minimum of soil disturbance. With diesel prices on the rise again, less trips across the field will mean a better chance at a profit. Carol will probably be planting corn by the time next month's diary rolls around.

Last weekend we held our "Farmer's Yard Sale." I advertised a large list of our unused equipment including numerous antique tractors that I collected over the years. We had a fairly good turnout and moved these future restoration projects into new hands. It was interesting to hear others recollections of similar tractors in their families pasts.

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