For many farmers, harvest marks the end of the growing season. They’re excited to find out how seed, inputs and management decisions paid off. Once the equipment is tuned up and the crops are mature, growers are ready to get in the fields and don’t stop until the job is done.  

Harvest is also a critical time to start thinking about the growing season to come. While getting crops out in a safe and timely manner is the priority, there are some things Ohio farmers should do during the fall to set themselves up for planting success next year. Here are three tips to consider from local experts.


Weed Scouting

Starting with a clean, weed-free field is ideal for the next growing season. Look for weedy areas that may not have been controlled well from the combine cab. This helps identify areas for more intensive weed management in the future. It’s also the perfect time to spot any new infestations of waterhemp or Palmer amaranth.

“If new infestations are found, farmers need to decide whether they should harvest the crops in those areas or leave them in the field. Driving the combine through them will contaminate them and increase the rate of spread to other fields where the combine is used,” explained Mark Loux, OSU professor of weed science.


Putting Data To Work

It can be entertaining to keep a close eye on the yield monitor while driving through the fields. Just remember, it’s also collecting data growers should use to influence future management decisions.

Making sure the yield monitor is calibrated to collect the best data before getting in the field is key. Afterward, layering the results with soil fertility maps and field imagery from the growing season can paint a complete picture of crop performance by zone.

“Put that data to work and identify zones that could use more management,” said Chasitie Euler, Pioneer territory manager. “In areas with high yields, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to get even more out of those acres?’ For low-yielding zones, find ways to push performance higher.”


Soil Sampling

After harvest is a great time to take soil samples to monitor fertility and diseases. According to Dr. Laura Lindsey, assistant professor at OSU, soils that are low in necessary nutrients can cost farmers yields.

“Over a three-year period, we collected soil samples from 199 soybean fields in Ohio. On average, grain yield was seven bushels per acre lower in areas where P was deficient and four bushels per acre lower in areas where K was lacking compared with where they were adequate,” explained Dr. Lindsey. Read the study.

Farmers have about 50 opportunities throughout their lives to grow and harvest healthy, high-yielding crops. Harvest provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate results and make improvements for the future. Trying these three tips could lead to a more effective growing season.


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