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Water, water everywhere...for a while

Agriculture.com Staff 05/18/2007 @ 12:39pm

Hello again from Sunrise Acres. I can't believe a month has passed since my last visit with you. The great thing about daylight savings time is...more time to work? Even though every year has the same amount of hours, we always notice the extra minutes of daylight added to each day as we inch towards summer.

Here on the farm our first harvest is about to begin. Our fields of alfalfa are in their third year and have really been growing these past weeks. Once the weather warmed up and the pesky frosts subsided, it has been amazing to see just how fast this crop put on foliage. With Carol finishing the second irrigation last weekend, it won't be long until it can be windrowed for harvest.

If you would like a prediction of our next sizable rainfall, just figure about three days after we get it cut! While I have seen a lot of hay being cut earlier, we decided to get as much in three cuttings as possible in case the predictions for a short irrigation season come true. Growers in this area can usually count on four cuttings if the weather and the water holds. We have already had inquiries from customers wanting to tie up some of our first cutting and hopefully prices will remain strong. With farm diesel at $2.75 a gallon, prices need to be real strong. Today's farmers have to be extremely efficient to survive.

Our corn crop looks great at this point. Two weeks after planting it was easy to row just by driving by. Carol is irrigating it for the first time this week. Unlike sweet corn seed that we used to irrigate before planting, our field corn was planted "dry" with sufficient moisture to get it started. Usually the ground is wet enough from winter moisture to sustain field corn quite a while without being irrigated.

This year has been dry plus the way we planted into existing grain stubble has brought about the need for a drink of water to keep the corn growing. Along with the corn has come a new flush of weeds which will be dealt with after irrigation. It will be interesting to have an application of Roundup sprayed over the top of the crop.

Carol has enjoyed being able to spray the weeds on the ends of the corn fields without worrying about killing the corn. Having personally dealt with weeds with an "organic" hoe, I admire the perseverance of crop scientists in advancing mankind's quest for increased crop production. After the corn is sprayed, fertilizer will be side-dressed, followed by a cultivation to re-establish corrugates for irrigation. With water and heat, corn will make tremendous growth in the next few weeks.

As for the new pasture, it too has been demanding more water. Our neighbors herd of cattle have been enjoying the new growth and have helped thin out some of the persistent weeds. We have used a spinner to knock down the thicker patches of foxtail and cheatgrass. Cattle will eat these weeds until they mature. Overall the grass is beginning to show signs of overcoming the weed pressure and becoming an established pasture. The sprinklers are doing a good job of overcoming the various slopes and soil types that made furrow irrigation so difficult on this farm.

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