Thursday, March 3, 2011

Crawdads and Cane

So I'm back in Michigan now, but my nice trip to Louisiana is still fresh in my mind. These first two pictures were taken yesterday morning south of Alexandria. Do you know what these are for? Here is one next to the highway. Here is one off the beaten path. But they are crawfish ponds. And the objects sticking out of the water are the tops of the traps. I do know that it is just getting into crawdad harvest season as we saw some boats in some ponds checking the traps. Did you also know that these "ponds" are actually also used for growing rice, although not in the same year. Crawfish farming can be pretty profitable and I have heard that theft of traps can be a problem. Police are often on the look out for any suspicious activity around them.
Spring tillage is getting going this time of year down there. Here is a field that will be planted soon to corn. First they bedded up the ground. Then they will knock of the tops and flatten and firm the beds, but maintain the furrows. In most places the furrows are for irrigation, but here in most years they are used for drainage as rainfall can be excessive this deep in the South. I know of several places that wish they had this problem. Now in some years furrow irrigation is applied, but not too often.

Below is a picture of some "off-bar" tillage in a field of stubble sugarcane. (See yesterday's installment for further explanation.) Most often dry fertilizer (ick!) is broadcast ahead of this operation. This tillage trip will incorporate the dry fertilizer, but more importantly, it will warm up the soil and promote growth of the stubble crop. You can see the disc blades cutting into the soil on either side of the row.
And here is the view from behind.

And here is what the bed looks like. It's kind of hard to see the sugarcane, but it's there and will start to grow faster now with the warm soil.
Now our plan is to use liquid feritlizer application knives to place Pro-Germinator, Sure-K and Micro 500 on either side of the row at the time of this off-bar application. In fact we have some research plots planned for this. If successful I can see the use of tanks or a cart to carry fertilizer during this application, thereby eliminating a trip through the field just for application of fertilizer, as in the case of the dry spread.

Now in about 3 weeks after this operation they will re-form the beds, and then in mid-April to mid-May, depending on how big the stalks are, they will run the dual fertilizer knives to apply solution nitrogen. And then stand back and watch it grow to ten feet or more before harvest next fall. It is interesting to come down here and learn about growing different crops and animals. And hopefully you enjoyed the trip too.