Crop strategies used for success on burned acres

Extension Corner

Recent winds coupled with fire-damaged crop land in some areas can pose a serious threat to future growing crops. Strategies when addressing this issue can ease further damage to both soils and crops grown.  

The first order of business is to address soil erosion potentials. Fire damage to a field removes most of the organic matter, leaving nearly bare ground. Light-colored, sandy-type soils are more prone to wind erosion than are darker-colored, heavier clay soils. Regardless of soil type, a cover crop may be an option to prevent future soil erosion.

Cool soils this time of year dictates that cool-season plants be employed. A number of options exist with oats, barley, rye and wheat all being excellent choices for cover this time of year. These plants are cool-season grasses that establish quickly and grow well in cool spring weather conditions.

One satisfactory option includes planting these crops using no-till strategies, meaning to drill 2 inches deep without tillage. If dry soil conditions exist, plant slightly deeper if moisture can be found, and increase the planting rate by about 15 percent. Keep in mind that although an excellent stand is not necessary, adequate plants need to be established to hold the field during future wind events later this season.  

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