Mark Pettijohn’s Double Crop

(Mark Pettijohn) I’m Mark Pettijohn. I’m standing in a 180-acre cornfield. It’s a double crop cornfield, planted June 28th of this year. I’m actually standing right on a line, and hopefully, hopefully, it’s obvious, it goes about like this. On this side of the line we have interseeded a three-way legume cover crop, which has mung beans, cowpeas, and non-GMO soybeans. And on this side we don’t. Actually there is three thirds to this field — one third has a cover crop every year. So this is this year’s cover crop. It’s kind of difficult to schedule a cover crop when we had the 83-bushel wheat in this field, and then we wanted to double crop corn. It’s not really an ideal or even smart practice, perhaps, even though there are legumes helping the corn grow — provide nitrogen perhaps. What we’re doing is an annual cover crop and looking at long-term, and trying to quantify a long-term tangible benefits such as a change in organic matter, or a change in a water penetration, or nitrogen levels, obviously. So on the middle third of the field there is a product called Accomplish, which accomplishes the same thing in the soil that the cover crops perhaps do. In other words it creates changes, microorganisms and helps kind a regenerate the soil, perhaps. And then the far third has neither. So it’s kind of the control area. So there is 60 acres of each. And we harvest, this corn will be harvested around Thanksgiving. It was planted June 28th, and the cover the same day, day before. And the idea is to study long-term. We fully expect that this side with the cover crop to probably take a yield drag this year, because of the challenge of the weeds and so much cover being in here, and a lack of rainfall. We just had three inches of rain, four days ago. The field was probably gonna die in a week. It was horrible. Dustin is actually fertilizing it as we speak. He is back by the river. He is applying 75 units of nitrogen to the entire field. The only variable ever, from year-to-year, is the fact that this third has the cover. So this cover cost about $36 per acre to put in, so expensive seed. But this side was treated with pre-emergents called Prequel and Atrazine. And also last night got treated with more Atrazine, Status and Roundup quite a bit. So the costs are probably the same, the yield is up in the air, really, at this point in the season and, um. So this side will be weed free, and probably do better, let’s face it, in this instance. And this side is quite weedy. But we learned in the last 24 hours that the weeds look like they’re losing the battle to the cover crop.

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