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Leasing New Ground? Great, But Beware Of Bad Fertility

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Every year, a certain amount of farm ground changes hands. Usually, that’s an exciting opportunity for the grower who picks up the additional acreage. But this year, leaser beware, advises Ken Ferrie.

“I have to say some of these fields coming in that we’re testing are rather trashed when it comes to soil pH and fertility levels,” says Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of Crop-Tech Consulting, Heyworth, Ill.

With today’s fertilizer prices, Ferrie is concerned about what you’ll have to invest to get those acres into productive condition for the 2022 season.

“I know if you let that farm go by somebody else is going to cash rent it and you're probably going to miss your opportunity,” he says. “But when you can't get a current soil test on a parcel that you're after, there's probably a pretty good reason for that. So, I would say enter those leases with caution.”

Better yet, put some conditions into your lease as far as what fertility parameters must be present before you are willing to part with your hard-earned dollars.

“That way you won’t end up with something like the test we looked at the other day, where the ground was 7 tons to 10 tons behind on lime and had single-digit phosphates. There’s no cheap way to fix something like that,” Ferrie says. “And we don't have enough horsepower in the ground to make it back in yield.”

Bottom line: while there is opportunity available to rent new ground this fall, don’t get caught blind in the process.

“You don’t want to pick up ground thinking that you gained something and then end up with a money losing ordeal,” Ferrie cautions.

Wet Beans? Here’s What To Do.

As harvest finishes up, farmers are still dealing with wet soybeans and need to look at their equilibrium moisture if you put them in the bin.

Whenever the humidity level is below 70%, you can address the moisture with air.

“Just turn the air on and you'll pull that moisture level down into that 13% range,” says Ferrie. “You only need to add heat – and a low amount of heat at that – when humidity is above 70%.

“So, in most cases that is going to be in the evenings through the night, that you're going to need to add some heat to it and then you'll be shutting it back off in the morning as humidity comes down,” he adds.

Stay on Top of Field Harvest Order.

Ferrie encourages scouts to keep a close eye on soybean quality. In many cases, pods are splitting open, exposing beans to weather conditions and pests. If that’s your situation, move those at-risk fields higher on your pecking list to harvest.

“We have to cut beans when they’ll cut, and when we can’t do that, then go back to corn,” Ferrie says. “Try not to lose any time at this point, so we can get harvest completed and dragged across the finish line.”

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