CW2009-10-09 Notes from the Combine
October 12, 2009
Harvest is like the final exam for your farming practices for this year, an opportunity to assess your work and make adjustments where needed. This fall when you step into the combine, be sure to take a notebook (paper or computer) to record what you see during harvest and the locations of any problems. Memories can fade, but come winter you’ll appreciate having a more precise record so you can tackle these issues.
Possible areas to note include:
Weed Pressure. Note the kind of weeds and their density and location. When working on your herbicide plans for next year, use this information to consider changes in cultivating, herbicide chemistry used, and changes in timing of application.
Varieties. Record significant differences among crop varieties. What variety dried down best? Which variety was slow to dry down? What was the condition of the stand? Note changes in yield — especially if you have monitoring equipment available in the combine. Some excellent yielding varieties aren’t of much value if they are lying down at harvest. Noting this information at least daily will be a help when making variety selections for next year.
Erosion Concerns. Note where ditches have washed into fields and other abnormalities so you can repair these when you’re in the area with the blade or box scraper.
General Observations. Sometimes changes in yield or plant condition are related to soil type or soil fertility. If there is a particularly good or poor spot in a field and the change can’t be explained by soil type, consider taking soil samples. This can help you determine if there is a problem that can be corrected. If you have an unexplained yield drop in a localized area of a soybean field, consider taking a Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) soil sample. The SCN sample bags are available from Extension offices across the state and the tests are free.
Your main focus at harvest is getting the crop out of the field, which can make it hard to remember some of these details after harvest or over the winter if you don’t write them down. With larger farming operations, remembering specific details about each field can be difficult; however, if you can note this data at least daily, it can be of real value as you work toward planning for the 2010 year.