Spring: Time to Get Back to the Basics

In a little more than 30 days, the Minnesota Twins will open in the 2013 season in the new, outdoor Target Stadium – yet another sign of spring! The Twins, like farmers, are hopeful for a better season than last year. They’re practicing fundamentals like batting and pitching, although basic baseball mechanics have been instilled in each since their parents could get a ball cap to stay on their head and a glove on their hand!

Baseball is similar to farming in many respects. Each hopeful spring planting season starts by polishing the basics, which have lain idle for a few months. Basic farming fundamentals and traditional practices and merge with exciting advances like new seed and equipment technologies.

As we prepare for the spring alfalfa planting season, let’s review of some basics to set up new seeding for success:

  1. SOIL READINESS
    1. Soil pH plays critical role nutrient availability. Refer to figure 2 in this link and look how yield increases as pH is closer to the 7.0 level: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/wfc/proceedings2002/yield_stand.htm
    2. Fertility: Be aware of key soil nutrients that are limited, and plan when to apply supplemental fertility. Remember that potash (K) is a strong salt and could potentially damage germ. Play it safe and apply K after the stand is established, which helps reduce the potential of fertilizer burn on new seed.
  2. SEED BED
    1. A firm seedbed, before and after seeding, allows for consistent seed depth and good soil-to-seed contact.
  3. SEEDING EQUIPMENT:
    1. Make sure air pressure is equal in both tires. It’s a small detail but can affect seeding depth.
    2. Calibrate your seeding equipment with the seed you’ll be using. Newly designed seed treatments tend to be smoother and can change flow rate.
    3. Make a test run to check everything working appropriately.
  4. SEED, SEED TREATMENT & SEEDING RATE
    1. Use the newest and best genetics plus seed treatments.
    2. Fast emergence is key, and new seed treatments help increase speed of emergence.
    3. Try increasing seeding rates on your acres. With the rise in hay prices, those added plants add tonnage. This on-farm experiment provides meaningful results and empowers decision making for the future.
  5. WEED CONTROL
    1. Eliminate yield robbing weeds. Roundup Ready® alfalfa is great option, especially if you have had history of serious weed management problem.

When you leave the field, it’s important to have confidence that you’ve done the absolute best possible job. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you prepare with confidence this spring! Feel free to contact me at coreyc@lathamseeds.com with any questions.