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Planting

Seed selection is only the beginning to a plentiful forage harvest; check out additional articles on soil testing, root development and timing to help you succeed.

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The 2019 growing season will be remembered as one of the most challenging on record. It was cold, wet and frustrating. But while farmers and consultants were thinking about what was going on above ground, I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in what must be going on below the soil surface.

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Crop managers and livestock managers with crops have been planning all winter for planting to arrive. Now it is time to be a doer (plant, spray, etc.). Right? Well, yes and no.

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Gary Bates, forage specialist at University of Tennessee, said, “If there’s a planting mistake to make, I’ve made it.” At the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Convention, Bates shared the top mistakes made in establishing alfalfa using a no-till system and how to overcome them.

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Today cover crops are more widely accepted and planted on more acres than they were just a few years ago. I think most of that is producer comfort with planting and managing cover crops.

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It has always been said corn is king and alfalfa is queen. But what do we do when the king is dead and the queen is gone? Forage shortages and piles of nasty feed are a reality this year across the Midwest and the East, not to mention possible winter-killed alfalfa.

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Crop scouting can catch issues before they impact your yield, but are you maximizing the benefits?

Scouting crops is as simple as looking for what is “not normal.” If found, then try to figure out the why, says Brian Lang, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension.

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