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View from the Cab: Frozen thoughts

By: Kent Casson

We saw our share of challenges in agriculture during the past couple of years and with each season’s characteristics, we learn a few things.

You can’t always apply what you learn one year to the next due to a different set of circumstances occurring.

“Don’t make any massive management changes based off of one year’s situation,” Marion Shier, an agronomist with United Soils, told me last week.

Going back to the drought of 2012, we recall the significant weather impacts. Ag bounced back in 2013 and we did pretty well.

“If we had made major changes from 2012 to 2013 we may not have done as well as we did,” added Shier.

This is just one example of how one year may or may not have an impact on the next. One thing Shier is almost certain about at this point is that he does not expect to have excessive moisture early in the growing season since we are technically in a drought situation.

“I don’t expect massive flooding unless we have humongous rain events.”

Farmers must remember the weather changes rapidly here in Illinois and anything is possible.

I decided to give Shier a call the other morning since the extreme cold got me wondering about field conditions. The longtime farmers have always said it is good to get a deep freeze in the ground to kill all of the critters in the soil. It actually takes several days of freezing temperatures well below the soil to do the ground any good.

“For a lot of the insects we are concerned about, the soil has to be about 20 degrees at four to five inches for about 10 days,” Shier explained.

Some of the old timers used to say the number of times the temperatures dip below zero indicates the number of days that will surpass 100 degrees in the summer. Although we can’t completely trust this observation, it is rather interesting.


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