Summer in the Soil
In most years, depending on the farm, the planting season is about a month long. By June, most of the crops are already in the soil, and many ask themselves, what next?
It’s not quite all rest and relaxation over the next five months, there are still a number of things that can and should be done in the interim to help ensure your crop turns out the way you expect.
Crops need food!
Plants need all kinds of natural resources to thrive. Soil, Air, Sunlight, Water and nutrients are the biggest factors in determining a crops output.
Nutrients for plants typically come in the form of fertilizer. Typically Nitrogen is the key ingredient here, and putting it on just as the crop starts to poke through the earth is a good method and strategy. Putting the Nitrogen on too early may lead to unnecessary waste, either through washout from heavy rains or to the atmosphere. It may not hurt to put a little fertilizer out before the crops are planted, but the excess use of materials can get costly.
An important part of crop management is weed control. Many people have moved to a custom application based on the local conditions, and the crops being planted. Summer is the time of keeping these weeds under control through careful management.
If you run large sprayer equipment, it’s a good idea to check on your field regularly for path conditions. Are there wet spots where your equipment could get stuck, or cause large, deep ruts that you will have to fix later? If so, it may be best to wait a few days to apply as needed.
Walking the field to check for these conditions also help you keep a careful eye on particular weed issues that may pop up. They may call for different weed killer makeups and if caught before they overtake a field, can be managed appropriately with minimal damage to crops.
It’s important to keep in mind the effect that weeds in neighboring or bordering fields may have as well. Leaving a gap between plantings and neighboring fields helps create a barrier that makes management easier if there is not an actual fence or border. This way, brush weeds and can be killed, leaving just grass to act as a buffer along open ditches. Don’t forget lawns and driving paths as well. Weeds tend to pop up quickly in these areas.
Once the plant-centric tasks are completed, moving on to some of the other things that need doing is a necessity. Mowing roadsides may sound simple, but it’s needed a handful of times during the year to keep the grass from getting too high. Not only does it look nice, but it also helps keep a clear view of any obstructions like telephone boxes, ditches, and any other potential hazards for cars, or farm equipment
Equipment used to harvest last season, as well as equipment used to plant this season may need some attention. Tune the engines, fix tires, check conditions of hitches, and other moving parts. Getting some of this maintenance in can help reduce the number of failures and breakdowns during planting or harvesting the next time.
Family and Fun
While there is still so much to be done on a farm to keep it in working order, summers do offer a little bit of free time for the good things in life. Whether is a summer family getaway, or just some peaceful time at home, it’s important to remember to enjoy the flexibility that farming can offer you in the summer. While the weather dictates planting and harvesting, the summer months offer a bit of leisure time. If livestock is your thing, this may be reduced a bit, as animals need daily care in most cases.