Cultivation – Later Passes – Organic Weed Control

When we cultivate, we’re usually just scouting
and seeing what’s coming, trying to keep the weeds, you know, so they don’t really get
established. While earlier cultivation passes require more
care and attention to detail, later cultivation passes require keeping a close eye on fields
to know when it’s time to get back out there. As crops and weeds get bigger, they grow faster
and and weeds can quickly grow beyond what is manageable with a cultivator. If you’re starting to see it get taller or
growing you’re probably too late. I like to see them when they’re just emerging,
maybe one or two leaves out. I watch the weeds, it depends on the weather
too, you know, if I cultivate say a week after the corn emerges or the soybean emerges it
could be four days after my first cultivating I could be back out there cultivating again
depending on weed pressure. If you have a lot of weed pressure you need
to stay on top of it. The number of cultivator passes varies a lot
and depends on weather, weed conditions, crop growth, and more. We try and do it in two passes, if the year
is more difficult for weeds we’ll go out and do a third pass if when we scout we’re seeing lots of pressure still. I hope to cultivate three times, last year
it was only once, especially on the corn because it was just too wet. But if the plants can get to a point where
they’re gonna compete well and a third cultivation really won’t do any good, we won’t do a third
pass. I try and do it in two if I can. You’ve gotta get that last cultivation in
before it canopies and gets closed up and that could be the third cultivation total
because you started right after the crop came out of the ground and then one in between
then. If you got a variety that stands more straight,
straight up, you might have to have that fourth pass at the end depending on weather conditions. As it gets later in the year, farmers are
generally moving from going slow and being careful around the plant to trying to speed
up and throw as much soil as possible. That first cultivation, you know, you’re going
very slow trying to row just a little bit of loose dirt over to those small weeds. At second cultivation you may have some three-four-five inch tall weeds at that point, then you can get really aggressive moving
a lot of soil and trying to bury those weeds in that next to the row. Once the plant gets up and it’s out of the
ground well then you can speed up a little and you can go a little deeper. Speed is what throws that dirt and if you
get behind, throwing that dirt is sometimes what can make it look better. And then second pass where we’re generally
going pretty quickly and we’re just trying to cut where we can cut and throw a good amount
of dirt where we can’t get to with the mechanical cultivator. An then once its really established and up,
maybe your last cultivation, you can probably actually get it up out of the ground but you
can go a lot faster then because you really wanna move the dirt, because the only way
you can get it with that cultivator then is to get that dirt thrown into the row to get
those weeds that are growing in the row because your cultivator won’t get into the row it
will only be between the rows. Eric likes a Buffalo Cultivator on later passes
because it enables him to throw lots of soil. Second or third cultivation or always use
a Buffalo basically or a single sweep just because at that point your weeds are big,
that big sweep, it’s easy to set deep enough, they have enough weight to get deep, to get
underneath and cut out the roots or move 3 4 inches of soil around the base of that
plant and bury the weeds right next to the row.

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