Friday, May 14, 2010

Cole Crops and Calibration

Yesterday I talked about the effects of Monday's frost on the corn crop at the NCRS and surrounding area. But not all crops were affected by the frost. For example, Dr. Brian Levene, the Specialty Crops Research Manager, had planted a large number of cole crops on April 28 for a fertility trial. Cole crops are members of the mustard family and include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are cool season crops. As seen by the picture of a broccoli plant, it was not affected. Dr. Brian said that we were close to the edge with the 7-hour frost duration and a temperature dip to 26 degrees. The Concord Grape in the next picture was not as lucky. The leaves on one stem were frosted, yet on the other stem they survived. New leaves will regrow with no lasting consequences, since the stem itself was not affected. The winter wheat was not affected. Our wheat is at Feekes Growth stage 7. So there is still plenty of growth to come. Wheat is quite tolerant of cold temps until just before head emergence. This should be in late May and a frost is unlikely then, although it has happened in Michigan.

Another thing we did today was calibrate our drill for different soybean populations. Recommendations for seeding rates have changed in recent times, where lower populations are are now preferred. Although some still like to plant higher populations. We are planning a test with different populations for 7.5, 15 and 30 inch rows, plus impose several different fertilizer treatments. The drill will plant the 7.5 and 15 inch rows, and the planter will do the 30 inch rows. It is not an easy task to get desired populations, especially with different seed sizes. We are planning just one variety though. So we attached bags to 3 of the row tubes, and drove 125 feet and weighed the output. If you do this, you will need a scale capeable of reading low numbers, in the hundredths of pounds for accuracy, and digital readout is preferred. The settings didn't exactly give a linear response, so you can't just double the setting to get double the output. But after many back and forth measurements, suitable settings for the desired populations were determined. In the picture, Doug Summer and Phil Dush remove the collection bags from the drill for Stephanie to weigh. I took pictures and provided lively banter.
I think we are all glad this week is over. In the last 7 days we have had nearly 3 inches of rain, two nights of frost, and much below normal daytime temperatures. We planted a few soybean tests on Monday, but have watched the rain nearly all week. Next week is supposed to be warmer, and our crops need that.