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2012 in review

One could almost call the 2012 production year a swing of extremes. From excess rainfall early in the season to nothing in the second half, each provided its own challenges. As the saying goes, we are only six weeks away from a drought.

Spring seeding

We did get seeding a bit earlier than last year. The first field we seeded was a soybean field of TH 33003R2Y on May 18.

TH 33003R2Y is a new variety from Thunder Seeds that has early maturity and good daylight sensitivity. Top that off with some excellent yield potential, it looked like it had some promise.

We seeded the next field to TH 32004R2Y. It is a bit later with better lodging resistance. Both tied in the MCVET trials last year for the highest yields.

Then rains delayed seeding for a couple days, before we started seeding TH 29002, our work horse around the farm. Between rains, we seeded soybeans between May 22 and June 2, on both cereal and soybean stubble.

Field selection kept changing with the downpours. Fields that were scheduled to canola got changed to soybeans or cover crop.

Canola was seeded May 25 and 26, the last couple of days we would want to seed canola. Most of the acres went into L120, an early InVigor canola. Our strip trial included L150, L130 and L120 seeded on cover crop ground that we seeded late in 2011 due to flooding.

Before we got the corn planters out in our customer fields, we seeded a small field of Azuki beans and MZ 1272R grain corn on May 18 and 19 respectively. Azuki beans are widely used in the Far East, and I was asked if I would be interested in trialing them for local adaptation.

The grain corn is seed that I’ve wanted to plant for the last three years. Finally, we were able to seed it on time. We got our silage corn trial seeded June 2 but instead of seeding 40 acres, I only seeded six, due to too much rain.

Nutrients and herbicides

By this time our fridge forage winter triticale was too high to get 28-0-0 dribbled on. I grabbed some tissue samples to check nutrient concentrations. Nitrogen levels in the plants were okay but the calcium, magnesium and boron levels were slightly low.

Once again, by this time the plants were almost ready to flower, and fields were saturated, so adding nutrients were not advisable. We did get herbicide and an application of copper on the triticale in between rains. Tissue tests from the canola and soybeans showed adequate levels of all nutrients.

Soybeans and canola got the first herbicide application on in time.

Haying went arelatively smoothly, once we replaced the guards on our hay head.

Then the last significant rain fell on July 18.

Our plan was to seed our unseeded acres down to a cover crop using crown millet and tillage radish. It would be cut for green feed, with two of the fields to be seeded down to fridge forage winter triticale this fall, another to soybeans in 2013, and the field where the corn trial was, to a grazing cocktail trial. We covered most of the acres between July 8 and 14.

Harvesting started the third week of August when we dove into the fridge. This year’s harvest was a big improvement over 2011. We only got stuck twice!

Yields were below average but moisture content was good. Ergot levels were relatively low, as was the clean out. Once the canola was harvested we get seeding fridge winter triticale into the canola and green feed stubble. The seed germinated more quickly in the millet stubble than the canola.

Canola was uneventful. Our yields were below our long term average, and far below the last two years.

Our InVigor trial results showed L130 at the top at 33.7 bushels per acre, L120 second at 31.1 (108 per cent of L120), and L150 third with 28.3 (91 per cent of L120).

The L150 was a bigger plant and most likely ran out of water. It lodged worse than the others. In years with less spring moisture it should be all right. We like the maturity of the L120 and will continue on with it. The best canola field was where we used a cover crop last year of oat, sunflowers, tillage radish and natto soybeans on a field we could not get on until mid-July due to flooding. The cover crop was seeded the end of July.

Our greenfeed cover crop of crown millet and tillage radish was cut the end of August. From our feed samples, the tillage radish, even at one pound per acre, added a full per cent more protein in the bales. The leaves dried well in the swath. We did not receive rain on the swaths — I’m not sure how they would cure under more adverse conditions. It was amazing how much regrowth we saw in the radishes after haying.

Soybeans averaged 28 bushels per acre. Podding height was good, except in the spots with excess spring moisture after seeding. Our trial plots showed TH 29002 was still the top yielder at 32.5 bushels per acre. TH 33003R2Y was second at 31.5 and Pekko was third at 30.5. The TH 29002 was about seven days earlier than TH 33003R2Y, and 14 days ahead of Pekko. The sample of Pekko was fairly high green, where the other two were less than five per cent green.

Overall, we had about 150 per cent of normal rainfall through the year. Most of it fell through May, June and early July, then we got very little.

Next year, we’ll continue with fridge forage winter triticale, soybeans, grazing corn, reduce our canola acres again, replacing them with more cover crops. The plan is to do some work with MykePro, a mychorizial product, continue our trials with Azuki beans, and continue trialing soybean and corn varieties for the area.

Here’s to the start of 2013. †

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