Harvest is underway and now what?

The soybean harvest is underway  in our neighborhood. We have had a wet fall so far, with 1/2 to an inch of rain weekly. That is is enough to keep the combines out of the field. Finally, yesterday, we had had a couple of dry days and some good sunshine, so the combines were out and back in the soybeans.

One of the things you notice, if you are paying attention while you drive through the countryside, is that the machinery does not fit on the roads any more. All my neighbors have trailers that carry the grain heads (for harvesting the soybeans) the long way, since they do not fit on the roads mounted on the combines. The corn heads, some of which are 12 row, do not fit easily on the roads either, but most of my neighbors use 6-row heads which just barely fit. I can guarantee you, though, if you meet a combine with a 6-row corn head on it, you will have to slow down and move over a bit to get by.

As soon as the combines move on to the next farm, some of my neighbors move in to the corn stubble with the chisel plow.  The arguments I hear for chiseling corn stubble are (1) that the soil warms a little faster in the spring, (2) the tillage incorporates the corn stubble into the soil and (3) the tillage helps to prepare the soil for pre-planting tillage the next spring. These are management strategies that have yielded good results for some of my neighbors. Other neighbors do not till in the fall). Research at Iowa State University, however, shows that fall tillage is not always a good idea.

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