Daniel and Emily Sheetz

Small Grains Information 2023: A Yr in Assessment


By Solveig Orngard

All through 2023, farmers shared their distinctive and modern farm practices with others in our Small Grains Information e mail e-newsletter. Study how they seed, domesticate, harvest and graze small grains on their farms.

February 2023: J.L. Meagher

DSC 5325J.L. Meagher farms close to Elbow Lake, Minnesota, the place he raises beef cattle, horses, grows perennial pastures, hay, corn and soybeans. This yr J.L. will graze his animals on 24 acres of crimson clover, orchard grass, alfalfa and wheat and an extra 20 acres of pasture grasses and crimson clover.

Frost-seeding crimson clover: J.L. frost-seeds his clover with a 3-point broadcast seeder pulled by his tractor. “If the bottom is frozen I’ll go over it with the drag, however after 3-4 days you’ll root up potential seedlings. I normally simply go away it and hope for the perfect.”

Grazing crimson clover: The crimson clover is often under-seeded in pasture or hay at 3 to 4 lb/acre which is his most popular charge to stability the crimson clover with grasses. “When grazing early within the spring I don’t put animals out when it’s moist, and I ensure they’ve had some feed of their abdomen to forestall bloating.” Along with grazing clover, J.L. can cut back nitrogen software to those fields; the crimson clover gives some nitrogen for the grasses within the pasture.Cattle123Cattle123

March 2023: Doug Linker

Doug LinkerDoug LinkerLanark, Illinois farmer Doug Linker grows corn, soybeans and wheat. For the final 4 years, Doug has frost-seeded crimson clover into winter wheat as a result of, with good spring institution, it’ll construct soil well being, repair nitrogen, and supply erosion management and forage till it’s terminated the following spring earlier than corn.

Spring seeding: In spring of 2022, Doug rented a Valmar air seeder from his native NRCS workplace to frost-seed. He seeded 10-12 lbs/ac of crimson clover on 171 acres into winter wheat. When planting, Doug is often in search of a slight frost crust on the bottom, that it’s dry sufficient to get within the discipline and that there’s a forecast of freezethaw temperatures or snow.

Terminating crimson clover forward of corn: “Now we have corn following wheat, so we terminate the crimson clover cowl crop 10 days to 2 weeks previous to corn planting, which regularly falls between April 10 and 15,” says Doug. Doug grazes cattle on his clover through the fall, so by spring the clover could solely be 3-4 inches tall.Doug Linker's cattleDoug Linker's cattle


April 2023: Kellie and A.J. Blair

ellie and A.J. Blairellie and A.J. BlairKellie and A.J. Blair farm close to Dayton, Iowa, with their two kids. They began elevating food-grade oats just a few years in the past however heard conflicting opinions on the need of nitrogen fertilizer for reaching check weight and maximizing the revenue of food-grade oats.

They determined to conduct a PFI Cooperators’ trial to judge what nitrogen charge would result in most revenue on their farm. In each years of the trial, the Blairs drilled oats into soybean stubble and utilized a mix of AMS and urea roughly two weeks after planting.

Of their 2020 trial, they in contrast zero and 50 kilos of nitrogen fertilizer per acre. They discovered that the fertilizer remedy had considerably larger oat yields, and even with the added expense of fertilizer, had larger profitability.

Kellie and A.J. Blair's food-grade oatsKellie and A.J. Blair's food-grade oatsThe next yr, the Blairs needed to hone their N charge additional for food-grade oats, so that they performed one other trial to check charges of 25, 50 and 75 lb N/ac, anticipating that the 50 lb N/ac remedy would have probably the most important yield and profitability. They discovered that the 25 lb N/acre remedy yielded equally to the opposite remedies, which means the revenue margin was larger with the decrease value of inputs.

For extra particulars about their manufacturing and trial, watch their digital discipline day recording on rising high-quality food-grade oats.

Might 2023: Margaret Smith and Doug Alert

Margaret Smith and Doug AlertMargaret Smith and Doug AlertClover performs a key function in Doug Alert and Margaret Smith’s natural corn-soybean-small grain rotation. The Hampton, IA farmers frost-seed crimson clover into winter grain crops and, for spring small grains, drill clover with the small grain. They have a tendency to make use of crimson clover due to its reliability however have been testing candy clover as nicely.

Organically terminating clover: Figuring out when and tips on how to terminate their clover has been a decades-long technique of experimentation, and Doug reviews an evolution from fall plowing, to spring plowing adopted by cultipacking, to disking (fall, then once more within the spring), and for the previous three years, rotovating. Doug rotovates 3” deep, which accomplishes one-pass termination and leaves a mulch of plant materials on the soil floor. It’s a sluggish operation however contemplating the time it takes to do a number of passes utilizing completely different instruments, clover termination is in the end faster.

Weighty choices: To keep away from infestation from seed corn maggots, cutworms and armyworms, Margaret and Doug have discovered that the perfect window to terminate clover is three weeks previous to corn planting. However, Margaret says, “Might is a interval of speedy legume progress and N fixation so we’re at all times giving up some nitrogen-fixation after we terminate three weeks early.”Margaret Smith and Doug Alert at field dayMargaret Smith and Doug Alert at field day


June 2023: Ross and Cassie Kurash

Ross and Cassie Kurash familyRoss and Cassie Kurash familyRoss Kurash, a fifth era farmer, farms in northeast Iowa together with his spouse Cassie Kurash and their two children. Ross emphasizes the significance of together with numerous crop rotations, year-round cowl, no-till and animal integration for constructing water-retentive and nutrient-dense soil.

Preserve it lined: Ross rotationally grazes 25 beef cows, 15 yearling calves and 15 finishers on his farm. He seeds forage crops twice in the summertime: as soon as in early June after cows have grazed the fallseeded rye and once more following rye harvest in late July. The June-seeded combine consists of oats, buckwheat, cowpeas, Sunn hemp, Japanese millet, sorghum-sudangrass, rapeseed and sunflower. His later summer time combine comprises an much more numerous array which incorporates chickling and customary vetch, berseem clover, lentil and Daikon radish along with oats, buckwheat, cowpeas and Sunn hemp. For each mixes, Ross no-till drills about 45 kilos per acre at 7.5-inch spacings.Ross and Cassie Kurash cattleRoss and Cassie Kurash cattle

Glad cows, wholesome soil: Final yr, Ross was in a position to strip graze 40,000 kilos of cattle on his 15 acres of summer time cowl and 30 acres of corn residue for the month of December with out supplementing with any extra feed. Between the fixed cowl, variety of crops and addition of manure, his most up-to-date microscopic soil evaluation discovered useful life and micro-organisms not usually present in agricultural fields.

July 2023: Neil Peterson

Neil Peterson at 2023 field dayNeil Peterson at 2023 field dayNeil Peterson farms close to Fonda, Iowa, tending corn, soybeans, oats, hay and row crop floor transformed to pasture for his 50 beef cattle. As a participant in PFI’s cooperators’ program, he’s trialing 4 oat varieties- Saddle, Reins, South Dakota Buffalo and Minnesota Pearl- throughout 20 acres.

Neil Peterson's oat variety trialNeil Peterson's oat variety trialExploring oat varieties: In early April, Neil no-till drilled oats into soybean stubble with 7.5 inches of spacing at a charge of 110 kilos per acre. Counting on cattle manure unfold final fall for fertility, he selected to restrict using artificial inputs for his oats this yr in hopes of discovering the range that performs finest with out artificial inputs. On Neil’s farm, the Reins and Saddle varieties matured first. SD Buffalo and MN Pearl varieties matured later and have been the tallest.

Harvest time: Regardless of slight variations in peak and maturity, Neil determined to reap all his oats on the identical time, in late July, utilizing a swather to dry the oat grain and straw out earlier than combining. This yr, his oat yield was roughly 126 bushels per acre, which was larger than anticipated contemplating ongoing dry situations and a particular enchancment from final yr. He plans to promote a few of the grain as livestock feed and preserve the remainder for private on-farm use as cowl crop seed and cattle feed.

Oats on Neil Peterson's farmOats on Neil Peterson's farm

August 2023: Ross McCaw

Thumbnail IMG 1363 (2)Thumbnail IMG 1363 (2)As fall approaches, many farmers put together to plant their overwintering small grains. Ross McCaw, who farms corn, soybeans, and cereal rye close to Marengo, IA is gearing as much as plant his cereal rye the third week of September.

Drilling early: When planting a rye grain crop, Ross seeds the rye instantly after harvesting his early-maturity soybeans. He’ll plant Aroostook rye which he prefers for its speedy maturity and tall peak. The rye will likely be drilled in 10-inch rows utilizing a 40-foot 1990 John Deere CCS drill. On his 2023 rye, he unfold rooster manure as fertilizer for the primary time and plans to proceed this course of after experiencing constructive outcomes.Thumbnail Screenshot 2023 08 14 at 12.25.04 PM (2)Thumbnail Screenshot 2023 08 14 at 12.25.04 PM (2)

Practices to extend tillering: Subsequent spring, Ross plans to plant 1.8 maturity group soybeans so he can harvest earlier after which promptly drill cereal rye. The sooner planting date ought to allow extra tillering earlier than the rye goes dormant, growing yield within the subsequent harvest. Ross additionally hopes to achieve extra tillering by making use of nitrogen this fall moderately than within the spring. An added perk of making use of nitrogen within the fall is that the rye crops will likely be smaller and extra supple and fewer more likely to be broken by the applying gear.

September 2023: Daniel and Emily Sheetz

Daniel and Emily SheetzDaniel and Emily SheetzDaniel and Emily Sheetz have been farming organically close to Toledo, Iowa, for about 15 years and lately determined to develop winter wheat after attempting out food-grade oats and gentle crimson spring wheat which yielded poorly. With the next value, Daniel discovered that winter wheat brings in double the revenue of oats, even with comparable yields.

Selection issues: Regardless of initially being hesitant to attempt rising winter wheat in Iowa because of humidity and illness considerations, Daniel has discovered a range – Wesley Onerous Purple Winter Wheat – appropriate for his or her farm. “Final fall, I most likely solely had an inch or two of progress on the wheat, however there was sufficient progress to get by way of the winter, and it took off within the spring significantly better than my oats did.”

Planning for weed management: Instantly after soybean harvest in mid-October, Daniel will plant the following winter wheat crop in 7.5-in. spacings at a charge of 2-2.5 bu/ac. He plans to make use of an Einbach 12-row Aerostar tine weeder within the spring to take away weed competitors from the primary half-inch of soil for the younger tillering wheat crop. That may cut back the necessity for tillage previous to seeding a canopy crop following wheat harvest.

Daniel and Emily SheetzDaniel and Emily Sheetz

October 2023: Clay, Logan and Frank Govier

Clay and Logan GovierClay and Logan GovierOn their farm close to Damaged Bow, Nebraska, brothers Clay and Logan Govier and their father, Frank, have been busy harvesting soybeans and corn and drilling in cereal rye on mornings when it’s too moist to reap. Although a lot of that rye is canopy crop, roughly 15 p.c will likely be harvested for grain subsequent yr and offered both as cowl crop seed or to Sideshow Distillery in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Saving on gear: As a result of arid situations in central Nebraska, the Goviers, like different farmers within the space, use pivot irrigation. This gives a novel alternative to fertilize with out making an additional move utilizing different gear. When the prospect of freezing temperatures has handed in spring, they are going to apply a mix of nitrogen, sulfur, boron, and humic acid to their rye by way of the pivot system.

Lowering inputs: The Goviers’ foray into rising cereal rye as a canopy crop and grain resulted from working to search out methods to cut back bought inputs sooner or later. They’ve already discovered that yellow discipline peas are fairly efficient at fixing nitrogen.

“We’ve grown 50 or 60 bushels of rye after peas with zero fertilizer. I can seed it the second half of August and get a whole lot of tillering within the fall,” says Clay.

Clay Govier young small grains (2)Clay Govier young small grains (2)



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