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My New Year's resolutions for you

By David G. Hallauer
Meadowlark District Extension Agent, crops and soils/horticulture

Happy New Year. With the hustle and bustle at the end of the year, it really kind of snuck up on me this year. Nonetheless, there is still time to make (and break) a few New Year's Resolutions. Here are some suggestions, though I hope you'll make and keep them.

I resolve to start monitoring my soil test history. You may have to start by pulling soil samples in some cases, but once you get a few testing rotations in, you'll be able to see fertility level changes based upon management. If you've soil tested via a District Office during the last two years, we probably have your test results available for comparison purposes.

I resolve to get to know my soil profile better. How lame is that? I would contend that what you don't see below ground has as much or more effect on your crop than that above ground. Some fields experienced some compaction this fall when we had to harvest wet and could be a problems. You may also have residual nitrate that could help cut your nitrogen application rates. Both of these things take a little work, but can reap some real reward, too.

I resolve to do my homework when it comes to disease control. There is lots of information on the merits of fungicide use in field crops. Find out what it says and then dig deeper to find out why. In years past, a number of corn acres were sprayed with a fungicide. Some needed it, some was past the point of effectiveness, and some leaf spots were diseases that really never reached the level where control was needed. Its almost impossible to predict when a disease may set it, but in some cases, we can predict problem spots. A wheat fungicide strip trial in Saline County this summer for example, showed that not spraying Jagalene and Overley cost 10-15 bushels per acre. But for what diseases, and at what growth stage. Resolve to understand a disease control program and how it works.

And last but not least, I resolve to enjoy the little things that make agriculture one of the best 'jobs' out there: green fields, freshly mown hay, straight rows, and grain rolling in to the bin. Make no mistake, you're a business manager, but that doesn't mean the details have to cloud the sunsets. Happy New Year!

Spring really will be here before you know it

It's true. Just like the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas goes by in a flash, so too will the time from now until spring planting. That means you need to get busy.

Sharpen pruning shears now, because it won't be long before you'll need them. Might not be a bad idea to brush up on proper pruning techniques, too.

If you have fruit trees, do you have a disease/insect control program in place? Product application timing on fruit trees is critical. Have a plan in place before it's time to spray.

If you didn't take care of the tiller before you put it away, do it now. Nothing is worse than working half of a nice Saturday to use your tiller--to not have it start.

Get ready--the birds will be singing before we know it.

1 Star WK\6-B

Date: 1/30/09


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