Indiana is wet and getting wetter by the day it seems. In its weekly progress update, USDA says there is no place in the state where topsoil moisture is less than adequate, and two-thirds is in the surplus category. That was even before this wet week started.
What it means is that farmers are overly anxious to get in their fields, because it is now May and most haven’t been there yet.
“There’s been not only very little planting, but very little field activity period,” says Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen. “So, tillage, fertilizer applications, herbicide applications, there’s very little that has gone on in Indiana this spring.”
He says those who use conventional tillage and haven’t done that field work should consider reducing the number of tillage trips, “and perhaps even doing without tillage, but if you’ve been conventional till for years, this is not the situation nor the time to learn how to no till crops. There’s obviously risk involved in going no till if you have not been doing it in the past.”
“If they’ve been typically pre-plant nitrogen applications, then this is certainly a year to consider side dress applications and preserve that time now for getting fields planted rather than putting fertilizer on. Also weed control, we certainly prefer to plant crops into fields where weed control has already been started, and we really prefer to do that instead of planting first and hoping you can come in and take care of the weeds.”
Patience can be hard to come by right now, but Nielsen says use whatever you have left to start field work and planting only when the soils are fit. That will help avoid the season-long issues related to soil compaction.
“It certainly behooves us to try to avoid creating compaction when we can, and that is clearly a big challenge in this kind of spring where we are all chomping at the bit to get out in the field, and when we’re on ground that’s not quite fit, it’s really not obvious at the time that we’re creating soil compaction.”
Hear all of Nielsen’s observations in the HAT interview:Bob-Nielsen-5-1-2019