Be a rainbow

Be a rainbow

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Double Dip

When you're standing at the ice cream counter, choosing a double dip multiplies your tasty options. Double-cropping isn't nearly as tasty as a double dip of ice cream, but it does increase your opportunities.

Double-cropping is raising two crops on the same acreage. Yesterday, Randy planted milo on 40 acres of ground where we had just harvested wheat last Friday.  On Monday, he planted 56 acres of sudan grass on wheat stubble at another location.
Just like that double dip of ice cream, there are some things to consider. The double dip ice cream cone may not be the right choice for your waistline. Double-cropping is a gamble, too, especially if this summer is as dry as last year.

We bought a no-till planter a couple of years ago, so the guys just worked the wheat stubble once. They needed to disc the field because there were some weeds coming up. But leaving the majority of the residue will help the ground retain moisture and will reduce wind erosion. 
If it doesn't rain, the milo likely won't have enough moisture to produce grain. So the expenses for seed, fertilizer and herbicide won't be recovered with a crop.
You've heard the saying, "Location, location, location!" It applies to double-cropping, too. Even if the milo doesn't produce grain, Randy hopes it will grow enough to be able to use it for cattle grazing this fall. The milo field is just east of our house and the corrals we use for cattle, so it would be easy to use for grazing. He hopes to bale the sudan grass later this summer (if we get enough rain for it to come up). That location is close to another spot we use for cattle, making it more convenient and efficient to move bales.

At both locations where he double-cropped, it's time for the ground to be taken out of wheat production and to go to sorghum. We practice crop rotation on our farm, which essentially means that we produce one crop for several years - for example, wheat - then we alternate with a different crop - like milo. That helps to fight some of the weeds - like cheat and rye - that infiltrate the wheat crop after repeatedly going back to the same crop.
Randy added 15 pounds of nitrogen per acre of fertilizer as he planted the milo. He also had the Kanza Co-op spray herbicide and an additional 10 pounds of nitrogen/acre. Yes, I asked why, too. The planter only has the capacity to put down 15 pounds of nitrogen. Additionally, that fertilizer goes down right by the seed. The fertilizer spread by the co-op is a more general application, which will help establish the roots, too.

Will double-cropping double our harvest pleasure? Time will tell.

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