ReachOut: The Pre-Harvest Check-Up

ReachOut: The Pre-Harvest Check-Up from United Farmers Cooperative on Vimeo.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

Sure as I am sitting here ready to go to some meetings this week, some of you got some rain over the weekend, which is good.  That leaves you time this week to go do a final checkup of your fields to see how things have gone this year and make some notes to help answer some questions you may have during harvest.  Even if you are paying a crop consultant (one of ours or someone else) good money to look after your crop all summer I want you to make at least this one trip with them.

If you are a faithful reader; which friends I know you are, this is a follow up to a pass I wanted you to make earlier this year to see how you did planting by evaluating your stand and performance of your planter.  So this is the first checklist item I want you to take a strong look at and here is how to do it.  First I want you to count off 100 plants, and as you are doing that or on your way back from 100 to 1, I want you to count the runt plants with runt ears.

When you find those, I want you to take a good hard look at the ground and notice what you see. Is that plant a double or is it spaced correctly but too small?  If the answer is the latter, we had a planting depth issue and that plant came up later than the others and essentially was a weed all year.  The same is the case for if it is planted too close to the plant next to it.  If we are looking at yield data, there is some special analysis we can do to evaluate yield by planter speed.

The second thing I want you to look at is your weed control.  What weeds are out in the field today? When did they come up? Are they a product of a hail situation and there really wasn’t much we could do in the first place?  The reason I want you to see this is really about reinforcing the idea of overlapping residual herbicides in post and to start a discussion about how to better fine tune your herbicide program for next year.

The third thing I want you to pay attention to is any troubles with nutrient deficiencies and where they might be and start to think how they may have been caused.  With all the rain early on, I am certain we had some leaching in some places if the Nitrogen was not protected.  We need to think about what we did from an application standpoint and rethink our Nitrogen program for the future by maybe switching to a split application to better utilize timing as a form of protection.

The last thing I want you to do is properly schedule your last irrigation.  Yes, even with the recent rain events we may have to be ready to irrigate one last time to maximize kernel weight – which is the difference between 220 and 240 bushel corn in most cases.  I want you to recognize what growth stage your corn is in and then realize even after full dent we will use about 4 inches of water to finish things off.  I know it would be easy to hang the irrigation up and quit for the season, but that one last pass will always pay when done right.Header1

I know there is a lot to do before harvest, but this is one thing that will pay off in spades when planning for next year.  So go and walk your fields before harvest, take good notes, talk with your trusted advisor and let’s improve your operation no matter how little it needs it.  After all, a good walk never hurt anyone.