It’s fall now—Labor Day is long gone! The patchwork quilt of the Northern Plains is changing from the vibrant greens and golds of summer to the earthy tones of rust and browns of fall. School bus traffic makes my morning commute to the field a little busier; all the scouts have returned to school, and football season is here at last.

As I write this, I’ve just started soil sampling for next year’s crop; combines and tillage equipment are moving up and down the fields; chemical burndowns are being sprayed; and cover crops are being planted. Soon, we will be fall fertilizing for the 2017 crop, and then putting machinery away and planning for the year ahead.

We are trying to get a head start on resistant weeds with burndowns and more tillage in those areas where we have common ragweed, waterhemp and kochia. Tillage and fall chemical burndowns are going to be two of our best ways to fight these monster weeds. In the areas that we got the pre-emergent chemicals on, we controlled these weeds very well until the last month or so. Some soybean fields and cornfields are getting a few of these weeds in the headlands now. Some of my growers who were not able to apply the pre-emergence herbicide are now seeing the reason why they should have taken the time to put it on. These small problem areas in the fields will be big areas next year; the seeds are being transferred by combines throughout the field. 

All the rain this past summer has resulted in plenty of variability in all my fields. Results from the soil testing lab are coming in much as I expected. Where water sat on the fields for part of the season, there is very little nitrogen left, and the phosphorus and potassium have gone up or remain the same as in last year’s test. The transition areas are coming in all over the board. Some of these areas have high tests for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, and some have a very low test. I have done about 100 fields of variable-rate this fall and the ground-truthing, double-checking the satellite image or other maps, has been right on. These maps must be ground-truthed before the field can be tested and fertilized. I have had to make adjustments to a few of my fields this year. Every time I have I say to myself, “Thank God, I make the effort of checking every field.”

 

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This article appeared in the October issue of Ag Pro magazine

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