Ag Radio programs for October 26 - November 1, 2007
What About Letting That Volunteer Wheat Go
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. With the delay that the October rains have given us, there are a lot of wheat stubble fields that are turning into a sold mat of green and most of that is volunteer wheat. So it isn't surprising that some of the producers have called me asking what is wrong with just letting that volunteer wheat grow and harvesting it as a crop next spring. Well, there's plenty wrong with it. First and foremost, when producers have tried this in the past, yields have usually been 50%, or less, of traditionally planted wheat. There are a lot of reasons for this and let's examine a few of them. Planting rate, or rather population density, is usually neither consistent or ideal. If you walk across some of these fields of volunteer, you can see this pretty easily. Directly behind where the combine passed, you often have an incredibly dense stand of wheat. As you move away from this area the stand thins out, often to an almost too thin population and then starts to go back to being too thick. The thin areas will be subject to weed invasion, and there are already a lot of weeds out there. The thick areas are so thick that the competition ends up killing off many of the plants and the tillers become few and the heads become small. Planting depth is often variable leaving some seedlingss too shallowly rooted and they won't ever develop a good plant. Ultimately, even though it is getting late into the wheat planting window, you're better off to spray it out or tear it up and got a decent and proper stand of wheat established that will give you the best opportunity for maximizing wheat yields! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Nitrates and Prussic Acid
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 getting a lot of forage sorghum and even some volunteer corn samples brought in for analysis for nitrates or prussic acid. And with us now having a few scattered frosts, we start to run some real risks for prussic acid in sorghum, until we get a good hard killing freeze that'll stop those sorghum plants from sending up tillers that will be high in prussic acid and high in nitrate. If you had cattle on sorghum stalks, be on the lookout for those tender young shoots coming out. If you see them, you'd better get the cattle out of the field until we've had a hard freeze. Those young shoots are going to be loaded with prussic acid and they will kill cattle. Nitrates are actually the good news so far this year. Sure, we are seeing some nitrates in the samples being tested, but preliminary results show that these are easily manageable levels, which should not be confused with NO RISK levels. Even moderate nitrate levels can cause problems if cattle go into a field hungry and really load up on the feed. We've been testing some of this volunteer corn and it looks like even after being frosted, it could be a fairly good feed. Just remember that when you are turning cattle out into any crop stover forage in the fall, a little planning can go a long ways in preventing a train wreck. Make sure that cattle have plenty of access to high quality, low nitrate water. Always send cattle out into the forage with a full stomach, never an empty stomach. Cattle can fairly quickly build up tolerance to higher nitrate forages, but if they load up on an empty stomach, look out. Plan ahead, watch the cattle closely after you turn them into the stubble, and always be alert! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Sweet Sorghum for Ethanol Production
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. If you have been following all the hub-bub over ethanol, you probably are aware that Brazil has a real advantage in ethanol production because the driving force, or rather the driving feedstock for their ethanol production is sugarcane. Sugarcane, because it has a high level sugars which are directly fermentable, can produce ethanol much cheaper than we can with any grain, because the starches in the grains have to be converted to sugars which can then be fermented into alcohol. Well, folks are finally waking up to the fact that one of my favorite crops, sorghum, has some potential here. Have we forgotten about sweet sorghums? We used to use sweet sorghums in the sorghum breeding program when I was in college, and in the fall of a year it was always a popular place to hang out, because you could cut off a sweet sorghum stalk and chew on it... and it really is sweet! Now, sugarcane still has an advantage over sweet sorghum on two fronts. First of all it has higher sugar content. Raw sugar is measured and reported as Brix readings. Mature sugarcane often has Brix readings in the mid 20%, 23 to 25 is common. This past summer, 280 sweet sorghum lines were planted at the Ashland Bottoms Agronomy Farm near Manhattan. The average Brix reading was 14, but the range was 4 to 21.7. So we can start to approach sugarcane on sweetness. Sugarcane also tends to generate more tonnage per acre, but it also has a longer season, often taking 11 to 13 months from planting to harvest. So, as we move further into this whole bio-fuels arena, don't be surprised if you start hearing more about sweet sorghums! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
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