The 2017 growing season remains challenging. Continued excess moisture makes for constant changes and modifications to cropping plans. Wet soils provide for difficult decisions: prevented planting, what type or level of crop insurance do you have, will there be any special circumstance amendments in your region, stay in touch with your agents and the local USDA office to understand crop insurance provisions.
Having decided on a prevented planting option, there is still a need to monitor those acres. They will be an inviting environment for crop pests, providing cover for insects, especially those who will produce grubs for the following growing season. Tuff weeds like burcuccumber, nutsedge, field bindweed, Virginia creeper, Marestail, Palmer Amaranth, quackgrass, foxtails, and the list goes on. Allowing weeds to mature and produce seeds will add to the next crop challenge. Develop strategies to reduce these risks: a cover crop, burn down, and possibly some type of tillage. Review your crop insurance policy for future potential crop opportunities as well with planting and harvest dates.
Harvesting established forage crops provide an opportunity for additional cuttings but may also come with some penalties such as additional compaction, ruts, and crown damage. Evaluate and make notes of potential problem areas. There may be a need to adjust rotation schedules and tillage needs. What has been the strain on nutrient supply? The yields may not have the desired quality but the added quantity may have taxed nutrient supply available for the next growth cycle. Where will these nutrients come from? Can an application of animal waste be made before regrowth or will there be a need for other supplementation?
Livestock producers will need to access forage supplies. Making adjustments in feeding programs now will help soften the blow over the next feeding season. Alternative crops for those barren acres (acres not planted to new seeding or corn) include options such as sorghum sudan, annual forage ryegrass, forage soybeans, and, yes, corn can still produce a good amount of forage. When choosing an alternative consider potential yield, available acres, and whether it will provide a quantity that will have a positive impact on your feeding programs.
The wet conditions will also pose the potential for crop disease. Keep an eye on crops that may be impacted. Taking care of what is there is important this growing season. Along with diseases, monitor insect pressure and crop nutrient needs. Nitrogen (N) and Sulfur (S) may be in short supply following the extended wet period.
Work closely with your trusted advisors while navigating through this challenging season to understand your land base and the opportunities it may provide.