10 Tips Part 3

10 Tips Part 3


I hope all of you are planning to attend the Panhandle No-till Partnership's winter conference this coming week. The conference will be held February 26 & 27, 2014 at the Gering Civic Center in Gering, Nebraska. Each day, registration begins at 8:00 a.m. I'll look forward to seeing you, but please register in advance if at all possible, especially if you are planning to eat lunch with the group.

I've been discussing 10 tips for successful no-till crop production and thus far I have covered choosing a good crop rotation, winter wheat as the most important crop for supplying a consistent amount of residues to make the rest of the crop rotation function, and utilizing a stripper head to manage this amount of residues.

I think another important production tip for our area is to add field peas to the crop rotation prior to the winter wheat. Field peas have proven to be the best crop prior to winter wheat seeding in our diverse cropping rotation.

Field peas are the ideal spring legume to add increased diversity to the crop rotation. The addition of field peas to the rotation helps break up persistent weed and disease cycles. Field peas also add to the diversity of our herbicide program for the crops we grow.

The spring planted field peas need moisture during the same time as winter wheat to reach maximum grain yield. The months of April, May, and June are critical for winter wheat and field pea crop production when it comes to moisture. Both these crops require good precipitation during the same time period that we typically receive good moisture in our area for maximum grain production.

The field peas also give us a fallow period prior to winter wheat seeding. Field peas have pretty much completed their growth cycle in early July which gives us a 2-3 month fallow period prior to winter wheat seeding. This allows us to build some moisture for the winter wheat and also allows us to plant during the optimal time period for winter wheat seeding, which improves wheat yields in a continuous no-till production system.

I also think field peas will prove to be a very profitable crop for producers in our area. Stateline Producers are processing our field peas for the human consumption market. Field peas are an important source of protein in the human marketplace which creates a good cash market for this crop. I would encourage everyone who produces winter wheat on their farm to take a look at using field peas as a replacement for long term fallow in their cropping rotation.

Field peas may also be a good crop choice for producers who have limited irrigation. The field peas shouldn't need a lot of supplemental irrigation to produce profitable yields. We'll learn more about field pea production under irrigation this growing season as several producers will be growing field peas where they have limited water to irrigate their fields.

Another important tip in no-till crop production is that utilizing a diverse crop rotation really does help with breaking up persistent weed cycles. We usually don't have much of a weed problem following winter wheat harvest. I think the lack of weeds in our winter wheat stubble is because of diverse crop rotation. We also have taller stubble with the stripper head we use for winter wheat harvest which helps shade the soil and reduce weed seed germination.

I'll write next week about other important tips we have found useful in improving our no-till crop production system. I hope to see you at this year's PNTP winter conference this coming week.