Innovation

Ground Work 2021: New York State Crops Emerging Well

Despite our late start to planting, we were able to get all our soybeans planted by June 4, a week after we finished planting corn. The cover crops were terminated with herbicide shortly after planting. So far, we are very happy with crop emergence and the stands we are seeing.

The moisture we have in our soils that delayed planting, combined with very high temperatures, above 32°C, or 90°F, in early June, caused the soybeans to emerge quickly, and they look good.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, we are also pleased with how the strip-till machine we built has impacted early season corn growth. We strip-tilled about 80% of our 607 hectares, or 1,500 acres, of corn. The machine placed fertilizer right where the corn could easily reach it as it germinated and emerged. We now have corn that is 20 to 25 cm, or 8 to 10 inches, tall, and that is nearly twice as tall as corn planted about the same time without being strip-tilled. We have been side-dressing the fields that weren’t strip-tilled with additional nitrogen. We will continue to monitor the crop and consider how strip-tillage influences it throughout the growing season. So far it is looking like a sound investment in sustainability. If these signs turn into results at the end of the year, we will consider how we can improve our machine next year.

Our wheat also looks very good. The grain heads have emerged and are filling out. The first weekend of June, my son Rodman applied fungicide to protect grain quality from head scab. The bit of rain that we received the second week of June will help the heads fill out well. The wheat will likely be ready to harvest around the second week of July.

The next step in caring for our crops will be in-season weed control. The burndown herbicide for cover crops also helped control early season weeds. Rodman sprays our herbicides, and he is scouting and monitoring the fields to see what weeds emerge as the season progresses. We didn’t include residual herbicides with the initial burndown, so we expect that all our soybean and corn fields will need weed control. However, we will decide what herbicides to use based on the weed problems that show up over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I continue hauling corn to the local feed mill, caring for cattle, and participating in industry meetings. It’s a really good feeling to have all the crops planted and growing well, allowing me to focus on overarching soybean industry issues in both New York State and the U.S. I am attending meetings in-person at both the state and national levels that support efforts to help all soybean farmers provide reliable, sustainable, high-quality soybeans and soy products to customers around the world.

Ralph Lott

Ralph Lott II grows soybeans and corn, along with a cow operation for freezer trade and restaurants, on his farm in Seneca Falls, New York. He and his wife Shirley farm with their two sons, who are equal partners in Rodman Lott & Son Farms LLC. He believes the U.S. soybean industry should focus on maintaining export market share and developing soybean customers’ wants and needs. He also believes that worldwide demand from animal agriculture has a positive outlook for the industry.