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The latest from Sunrise Acres

Agriculture.com Staff 04/07/2008 @ 1:48pm

Farming is in full swing again in the Treasure Valley. Potato, onion and sugar beet planters are working long hours to get the crop in the ground. As temperatures warm, soon the fertile fields will begin to turn from brown to green. With crops in the ground, water will soon follow.

Hello again from Sunrise Acres. The cold temperatures have made it seem as though winter doesn’t want to give up. Usually by now we have had a warm spell or two. This year the changes have been more gradual. It seems in the past that as irrigation season approached the weather would get hotter and hotter. Then as soon as water hit the fields, here would come the cold, wet weather. Maybe I just worry about it less now that our livelihood is less dependent on crop income.

On the farm, Carol has harrowed the pasture and given it a well groomed appearance. Now any new gopher mounds will be very obvious, giving us a chance to catch the nice little furry @#^(%#$ pests. With the high price of fertilizer only the organic materials left behind by the cows will be used this year.

We are still contemplating whether to lease the pasture for grazing or cut it for hay. If it is pastured the cattle help push down the gopher runs and discourage new ones. The downside is that cows are very destructive on irrigation equipment. As soon as the water is shut off, they head for the risers to rub against and butt them. This causes damage to sprinkler heads and pipe.

If the grass is left to grow for hay, the gophers spread quickly and the mounds make it difficult to do a good job of cutting or windrowing. Hopefully we can come up with a way to graze it in strips to keep the livestock away from the sprinklers. It will soon be time to start up the drain ditch pump and give the grass a drink. With morning temperatures in the low 20s, this doesn't sound like fun right now.

Last years corn stubble has been disked and Carol will begin plowing it under next week. With farm diesel nearing $4 a gallon, this process will cost substantially more than in the past. Those of you with large operations must dread seeing the fuel truck pull into your driveway. After plowing has been completed the ground will be worked back down with a "brillion."

This implement has a roller in the front and rear with teeth mounted between. The rollers crush the clods and pack the soil to save moisture. The teeth help lift out the tire tracks and fill in holes. Usually two trips with this implement is enough to leave the ground in condition to plant. Our target date for corn planting will be May 10 this year. The soils should be warm enough to allow the seeds to germinate rapidly so the plants will "pop" out of the ground and not rot below.

Our hay fields haven't done much since last month. The cold weather has not been conducive to early growth. The grass is turning brown, a good sign that the chemical applied is working. This will be the fourth year of production and with the thinning stand, weeds will continue to get worse without some control. Unless we change our plans these hay fields will be plowed out this fall.

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