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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension
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Is it to dry to plant a fall forage crop?

Posted by Russel Higgins -

Recent rains continue to be very isolated; it's frustrating to watch a baseball game in Chicago delayed because of heavy rains when those clouds simply passed over most of northern Illinois. While some farms have been the fortunate recipient of localized rains, other corn fields are well on their way to an early death. While riding my bike in the Grundy County evening there is a very distinct smell emanating from the corn fields that I can only describe as "ethanol plant" like. I'm sure it is related to the corn plants premature death. For those who cannot seem to buy a rain in 2012, they are likely within 3-4 weeks of harvest. For those individuals the question has been asked, "Is it too dry to plant a fall forage or cover crop"?

This topic was addressed in a recent article posted in the Nebraska CropWatch newsletter. Authors Charles Wortmann and Bruce Anderson shared the following information on fall planting on dry ground. "Sowing after a rainfall that does not adequately restore soil water will have a high risk of failed crop establishment". They further recommend getting at least 2" of rain within a week or having the precipitation wet the soil to a depth of 8 inches.

The article in its entirety can be accessed here.

http://cropwatch.unl.edu/croprss/-/journal_content/56/1841/4963826?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

For many of producers this growing season has been unprecedented, and some who are in dire need of extra forage may choose to seed regardless and hope for the best. For others it would be wise to wait for better germination conditions for our fall planted seed. Soil temperature and moisture conditions in Illinois can be accessed from the Illinois Climate Network, as part of the Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program (WARM).

http://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/soiltemp.asp



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