Did You Know… Planting for Success

— Written By and last updated by Pam Brylowe

I have a long way to go and a limited time to get there. This is how farmers around Jones County and eastern North Carolina feel these days. A wet fall caused many area farmers to not tend their harvests as planned. Wet fields prevented some farmers from planting their winter wheat. Preparing for this summer’s crops takes a lot of work and forethought. Farmers should already have their soil sampling done. Current turn around for soil samples at the NCDA soil lab in Raleigh is five weeks. Decisions must be made about what crop to plant and what applications they need to make to their fields to properly prepare the soil.

Once they have determined soil characteristics for each field, they will be able to decide what crops and which varieties will be best for them to plant. There are literally hundreds of varieties for farmers to choose from, each one having unique characteristics making it a good or bad choice depending on the soil characteristics of the fields where it will be planted. The farmers must then place their seed orders for the varieties they chose.

If we continue having excess precipitation this year, area farmers may also have to deal with trying to get into wet fields in order to prepare them for planting. The rain and snowmelt has caused the fields to be saturated. The many ruts left in the fields from harvesting last year’s crop need to be leveled so that the upcoming crop can be planted and tended without problems. The fields in Jones County have yet to dry out enough for the farmers to get back in the fields to fix the ruts left behind and it could be quite a while before they dry out enough.

Farmers are also busy fixing equipment. Tractors like cars need general maintenance to keep them running at their best. This saves the farmer valuable time later when they need to be in the field planting, fertilizing, spraying, etc. A crop season also takes a toll on disks, plows, planters, sprayers, harvesters and trucks. All these are being looked over, checked out, fixed or up graded during this “slow” period.

Farmers also have meetings to attend. Many meetings are planned for winter months – during the farmers “down” time. There are meetings for farmers to learn about and discuss the newest technologies with the agri-businesses, and meetings held by Cooperative Extension where they can learn about the latest research developments that have been made across a broad spectrum of crops.

Farmers must soon begin to prepare their fields for planting. Jones County farmers use a wide array of agricultural practices for field preparation that range from no-till to conventional tillage. Farmers are seeing more of a need for pre-emergence and pre-plant incorporated herbicides. These herbicides are put out before planting to help eliminate weed competition with the crop. Some of these must be put out weeks ahead of planting the crop meaning the farmers are preparing to apply these products in the upcoming weeks. Lime also needs to be put out soon to correct any pH problems with the soil. Putting out lime well ahead of the crop gives the lime time to react and raise the pH before planting. Some farmers will also be putting out slow release organic fertilizer in the form of turkey litter to feed their crops throughout the growing season.

After all of the pre-planting details and duties have been taken care of it will be time for the farmers to begin planting. Corn is the first field crop planted in the spring in Jones County. Corn will begin to be planted around the end of March if the fields are dry enough. Some growers will apply a starter fertilizer for the corn creating another element that must be prepared before planting can start. Planting corn will take some time depending on whether the equipment is functioning correctly and other variables. Farmers will then transition into planting cotton, soybeans, and maybe some peanuts. The whole time farmers must be prepared to take preventative and curative measures for insect, disease and weed pest in all their crops.

In the world of sports we know it is not the will to win that determines the winner, but it is the will to prepare that dictates the victor. The same is true in business and in farming. It is the preparation that determines the success of an individual. Farmers in Jones County are now busy planning and preparing for this coming growing season. This is their business, how they earn their living and they are planning to make it as successful as possible.

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

This article will be published in the Jones Post newspaper on February 28, 2013 and was written by Jacob Morgan, Agriculture Agent