Compaction after a wet fall
As you head into the fields this spring, take a moment to remember what it took to get your crop out last fall. Extremely wet weather led to combines rolling through muddy conditions, and the wet extremes were followed by unusually heavy snowfall. This activity should alert you that compaction will undoubtedly be a challenge this spring.
Dealing with soil compaction
Many farmers will be tempted to try some extra tillage this spring to see if that will help break up the soil, but that is exactly what you should NOT do. Only time and the natural freezing/thawing cycle will break up compaction that is deep in the soil. Because of the heavy snow cover this past winter, most soils did not get that real hard freeze necessary to break up that deep compaction layer. In a recent article posted in the Extension News, ISU Extension Agronomist John Holmes summed it all up when he said, “Put simply, the more wheels and machinery that move over wet soil, the more compaction will take place.”
Therefore, be patient this spring. Wait until soil conditions are fit before doing tillage or fieldwork of any kind because it will pay you dividends next harvest! For fields that will be planted to soybeans, you may want to consider using a fungicide seed treatment. Cool, wet soils are noted to harbor diseases that can cause damping off. You should also choose soybean varieties and corn hybrids that have excellent disease ratings for your fields.
Your Latham® seed specialist can help you select seed products that are right for you. For more information on locating a Latham® dealer near you, call 1.877.GO.LATHAM (465.2842).