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Low soil moisture a concern for next crop year

Experts speak at ag seminar Monday

November 27, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

This year's drought conditions could affect two crop years, if soil moisture levels don't pick up before 2013 planting, an expert said Monday at a seminar hosted by the Marshall County Farm Bureau and the local extension office.

Mark Licht, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension, said soil moisture levels are now at 20 to 30 percent when they typically at 60 to 70 percent this time of the year.

"I'm concerned and largely because we had essentially zero (moisture) at harvest," Licht said. "It's much more challenging."

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Mark Licht, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension, talks during an ag seminar Monday sponsored by the Marshall County Farm Bureau at the local extension office.

Licht detailed several ways producers can deal with low soil moisture, including selecting a corn hybrid which might be more drought-resistant.

"I would look at what hybrids we have out there," he said.

Some are holding out hope for snow melt to make up some of the difference, but Licht said it would still not make up all the ground lost from this dry year.

"Expect dry conditions, because we can't recharge everything," Licht said.

Licht also said growers might want to look at increasing planting depth for corn in a dry year. He said a normal year it's advised to have 1.5 to 2 inches of planting depths while in a dry year he recommends 2 to 2.5 inches of planting depth on corn.

Also speaking at the seminar was Dana Holland, district conservationist of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Holland spoke about the uncertain future of conservation and its funding due to the still-unpassed Farm Bill.

"I hope we do conservation, not because of the government, but because it's the right thing to do," Holland said.

He said with Congress and the Farm Bill you never know what they are going to do, with much of the uncertainty being unprecedented.

"I've never seen anything like this," Holland said.



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