June 20 - 27, 2007
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. I've been receiving a lot of questions in recent weeks about weeds in pastures. The questions always seems to be framed within the context of "what is this weed and why is it taking over my pasture?" Some of the ones recently have included Western Salsify, which to me looks like a giant dandelion from the yellow flower to the big puffball seed head; white pricklepoppy is a tall thistle looking plant with large white flowers and odd bluish green foliage. Both of these are blooming now, will bloom on through the summer and are very noticeable. Because of these showy flowers, they catch a landowner's attention. Then they start looking around and notice that where these plants are growing and blooming, there isn't much grass and we leap to the conclusion that these weeds are taking over the pasture and crowding out the grass. The problem is not what it seems! What you are viewing is the symptom of the problem, not the problem. Yes, some plants will move into pastures and crowd out grass. Musk thistle and sericea lespedeza are two that come to mind. But western salsify and white pricklepoppy are not that aggressive. They will take advantage of the opportunity to move into areas where soil is disturbed or there is little competition. The thin grass was caused, to be very blunt, by overgrazing of the pasture by the livestock. And this problem has been made much worse by the droughts of the past several years and the abundant rainfall since late last summer. Herbicides can help treat the symptoms, reducing grazing pressure in the pasture is the real answer! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Setting up for a lot of volunteer wheat
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. While most people are busy figuring out how to get wheat harvest started, I'm already starting to worry about the volunteer wheat problem we're probably going to see later this summer. Given the growing season we've had, we are going to have a lot of light test weight wheat that will never stay in the combine. But don't worry, those crazy little kernels will have no problem sprouting and growing in a few weeks. Barring a complete change of conditions so that we have no rain in July and August, which I shudder to even think about, we're going to have some wheat stubble fields that are a green mat by late August. Many producers feel that the only real threat from volunteer wheat is wheat streak mosaic, and everyone knows that this is a disease of western Kansas, not in our area. Well that's wrong on both counts. I see some wheat streak mosaic nearly every year in Geary county, and sometimes it can be fairly bad. Volunteer wheat after harvest provides refuge and harbor for not just wheat curl mites and wheat streak mosaic virus, but also for Hessian Fly, greenbug or aphid infestations barley yellow dwarf virus and take all disease. Some producers may like to leave the volunteer wheat so they can use it for grazing cattle in September and I can understand that, but don't do it. If you want September pasture, we have other ways to accomplish that. Burning stubble won't help control volunteer. You can only bury the seed and seedlings with tillage or control with herbicides. Roundup ready double crop beans are a good option, but maybe not this year. Remember, all green wheat plants need to be gone at least two weeks prior to planting this fall. This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Wheat Harvest Safety
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. There's no doubt that it is going to be a strange wheat harvest season that no one is going to be overly thrilled about. But that doesn't change the fact that it won't be any less dangerous, in fact in some ways it could be more dangerous. If the wet weather trend continues, then we're going to have soft spots in the fields that may cause equipment to get mired down and stuck. While the new generation tow ropes are a big improvement over the cables and log chains of yesteryear, they can also be far more dangerous if they slip or break. All that pent up energy when those synthetic fibers stretch out can turn a busted or slipping hook into a deadly projectile. Keep everyone clear of the area and use great caution use a slow and steady force - no jerking or fast moves. The roadways continue to be more and more dangerous as the traffic volume increases along with the population. The only thing you can assume about that traffic is that they have no idea that your harvest equipment can not maneuver like their automobile. They aren't mean or stupid, they just don't know. So you have to look out for yourself and them. And then with the heat of summer coming along, you always need to be on the lookout for fatigue and heat stress in yourself and anyone on your harvest crew. Take regular breaks, drink lots of fluids that are non-alcoholic and non caffeinated, and be sure that you and your entire harvest crew don't push yourself to long or too hard. It isn't going to be a great harvest, but we still need to get it in, both safely and efficiently. Take your time, and do it right so you'll be here next year! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
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