Spring Planting Held up by Rain
One of a series following a growing year on an area farm. Farmer Brendyn George farms about 2,000 acres in southern Wood County and northern Hancock County. TMACOG is documenting a growing year to share information about how farmers make decisions that affect water quality and their livelihood.
In an average year, Brendyn George would pull up his water stopper boards in early April. These water control structures allow water to drain out of his fields’ tiles and into nearby ditches and creeks. When fields are dry enough to bring in farm equipment, usually in late April, he can plant. He holds the water in during the winter to prevent loss of nutrients. Water and sediment that flow out of the field tile can carry phosphorus and other nutrients which are known to contribute to algae blooms.
This year the rain kept coming and the weather was unusually cold. George would like to plant with drier fields – about three days after the water stops running out of the tiles. This year, the water is still moving through the tiles but it’s May 10 and he can’t wait any longer. He’s a couple weeks behind schedule, like all his neighbors.
Corn can tolerate somewhat wet fields and cool temperatures so George has planted more corn than soybeans this year. If the rains don’t stop and the fields don’t dry up, he will not plant all the corn that he had planned to. He’s considering reviewing his crop insurance policy to get some of his investment back. He’s never claimed insurance before in a lifetime of farming. But maybe he can get seed in if the rain stops.
Once his plants are established, George will drop down the water control boards to block the drainage tiles and hold water back in the fields. He wants his plants to keep their feet wet during the dry part of summer and he wants any fertilizer in the field to have more time in contact with growing plants. Phosphorus that is taken up by plants will not be wasted in the nearby waterways and won’t add to algae growth.
Next up, bringing in the winter wheat, which should be ready right around the Fourth of July.
Farmers in Wood and Ottawa County are eligible for GLRI grants to reduce the cost of water control structures, cover crops with variable rate fertilizer application, and blind inlets. For more information contact these Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Wood Soil and Water Conservation District
Contact: Beth Landers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Phone: (419) 354-5517
Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District
Contact: Mike Libben (email@example.com)
Jared Rader, farming partner with Brendyn George, reloading the planter. They are planting corn with some herbicide. This year they did not add any fertilizer at planting because the expected rain would wash it straight away. George will watch his fields in June and July to see if they need any fertilizer or herbicide.
Herbicides at planting: 4.5 lbs. mixed herbicides with 10 gal. water/acre.
Side-dress fertilizer when corn is about 12-18” tall: 170 lbs. of nitrogen per acre.
Brendyn George looking into the water control structures to
see if the water has stopped flowing out of the field. Looking
down about five feet, water is still moving in mid-May.