McPherson, Kan.

I was at an insurance meeting this past week and asked my neighbor if he had his game plan ready for when it dried out. He told me he had two plans — one if it dried out in March, and one if it dried out in June. I almost crapped my pants, I hadn’t considered the scenario of being out of the field until June.

We have adjusted out game plan going into spring from what I have previously mentioned. I would prefer to be no-till or strip-till but this year a good portion of our acreage just isn’t going to allow for that.

In a previous report, I mentioned that I had bought a chisel, and that will still be used on our major ruts. On fields with tracks that need addressed but aren’t necessarily ruts, the plan will be to use our NH3 applicator with no-till shanks and mole knifes to apply nitrogen and follow that with a Case 330 turbo to do a little leveling. I’m not a big fan of vertical tillage at this point, and vertical tillage purists wouldn’t call the Case tool vertical tillage anyway since it has angled gangs and a slight concave to its blades. But in terms of getting a field into decent planting condition in the timeliest way possible, we felt like the Case 330 was the best fit and, more importantly, at the best price point.

I attended a Kansas Corn preplant school and, as usual, they provided excellent information. I had a couple key takeaways. The first and most relevant for this year was the research KSU has done on late planting and how planting later in Kansas isn’t necessarily yield limiting on fields with a yield expectation below 140, which is all our dryland acres. The research was using longer season hybrids and planting later was pushing back the flowering date to catch some more seasonal rains. I am a fan of early corn to beat the heat, but this year I might be switching out some 100-day corn for some 108 or 110 if we are still planting dryland corn mid-May.

The other major takeaway was on the use of soil moisture sensors. They had a grower panel that was using Phytech sensors, which are a combination of soil probes and a sensor that clamped to a corn stalk to measure plant stress. The panel members were all impressed with the performance of the Phytech product, but the price point was out of reach for me to work on my operation. This summer, I plan to put out an Aqua Spy sensor that goes 40 inches deep to see how the water is moving throughout the soil as we irrigate. Time will tell what the ROI of a soil sensor will be on our farm, but I think it is tech that should at least be experimented with.

Cash basis: wheat -.36, corn -.35, soybeans -1.17, milo -.62. — Adam Baldwin