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Rick Snell Ag Roundup
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We may still have a field or two of grain sorghum to harvest in Barton County, where the crop was planted late and the grain moisture has not dropped sufficiently. However, harvest flew by this year for most crop producers and with the open fall weather; we were finished much earlier than normal. You now have some time to give your fields some much-needed (TLC) tender loving care.
This is one of the earliest harvests on record in central Kansas because of the heat in late summer and dry weather of early fall. Ironically, last year was one of the later ones.
I have wanted to write this column for several weeks and just haven’t put it together until now, plus I had other topics I needed to hit. Hopefully, many of you have already done some of the following chores since we are getting late in the year now.
This is probably one of the first opportunities that farmers have had in several years to address compaction. I would encourage farmers to fully analyze their fields and use any needed deep tillage implements to fix compaction. Learn more about restructuring your soil and fixing ruts in your fields.
Another thing to look at is replenishing nutrients. Healthy crops protect the soil better. So, to reach that healthy level, get caught up on lime applications. We used to not worry about lime in the Golden Belt area because the soil tends to be alkaline or calcareous. However, over time and with nitrogen applications, the pH has dropped to become acidic in some fields. So, study up on lime quality and cost.
In addition, if you have a lot of acres to cover with nitrogen applications, you may need to consider getting some on this fall. The spring can be a narrow window for some farmers, especially as we have tended in recent years to get more rain in the spring
Thus a lot of farmers opt to spread anhydrous ammonia in the fall. If you’re going to apply nitrogen in the fall, we stress anhydrous ammonia over area. Fall application is the least desirable, but it’s a necessary evil for many.
To make sure your N is available in the spring, you must wait to apply once soil temperature has reached 50 degrees F. Otherwise, the anhydrous ammonia will convert to the nitrate form, which causes the N to become mobilized. That is not a problem now since our average soil temperature is near 40 degrees. So, we are fine until soil freeze-up.
Another key factor with fall application is using an N stabilizer. That stabilizer only works for a short time, but if you wait until the soil is 50 degrees and you use a stabilizer, and then your microbial activity is minimum. It buys you the needed time.
Now is also a good time to take soil samples. Most of the laboratories are not quite as busy as in the spring. We can handle your tests at the extension office or you can go elsewhere, but get it done.
A lot of time, with high fertilizer prices, farmers will cut back. So, there could be some potential deficiencies. By finding out your exact nutrient levels, you won’t waste money on fertilizer you don’t need.
Last, but not least, I hope you took notes from the combine and with field mapping that is easy these days. Make a note of weed problems where you didn’t get control. Then plan strategies for next year.
Last week I shared some beef management tips for cow-calf producers. I had a few more I didn’t quite have room for.
* Purebred breeders should send performance data to the national breed association office. 
* Consult with your veterinarian in regard to pre- and postpartum vaccination schedules.
* Check mineral feeders and mineral programs.
* Check cow rations to make sure they are adequate in nutrition
* Plan to attend educational and industry meetings.
Weaned calf management:
* Use computer software or other source to formulate rations for backgrounding cattle.
* Develop replacement heifers properly.  Weigh them now to calculate necessary average daily gain to achieve target breeding weights. Smaller framed heifers usually need to gain 1 to 1.5 lb/day, 1.5 to 1.75 lb/day on larger-framed heifers.
* Steer calves to go to grass the following summer should be gaining .5 to 1.75 lb/day.
*  Steer calves to be finished by following spring or early summer should be grown to maximize rate of gain (>2.5 lb/day, depending on breed).
* Bull calves to be fed out and sold in the spring as yearlings should average about 3.5 lb/day. Bulls will not get as fat as steers at the same level of performance. 
The AmericInn Hotel in Russell will be the site for a beef cattle meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 15. “Genetic Selection of Beef Cattle in a DNA World - Are You Ready?” will be the theme. Registration is $50 if received by Dec. 8. Online registration is available at
A number of top notch speakers are on the program. We have brochures at our office.
Rick Snell is the Barton County Extension Agricultural Agent for K-State Research & Extension. He can be reached at 620-793-1910 or The Barton County Extension Office is located at 1800 12th Street in Great Bend.