Along the Fencerow

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRADLEY GOERING
Clark Woodworth began his farming career in New York, growing some traditional agriculture crops and some nontraditional crops such as tomatoes. When Woodworth and his wife settled in Kansas near Sterling, they made the switch to no-till farming practices for conservation reasons.

About 10 years ago, Woodworth tried no-till short-season corn early with the idea that it would finish before the rains stopped and the heat settled in the area.

“It didn’t go too well,” he said, then added: “Now I am having success planting 105-day corn planted in early to mid-April in my sandy soils after the previous year’s wheat crop.”

It can be attributed to better genetics in the corn, he said.

Woodworth said his biggest challenge is crabgrass, which he may spray up to four times during the summer after wheat harvest. This method has proven successful for him since he does not spray any herbicides on his corn because he cleaned up his weed problem from the previous year.

After corn, Woodworth plants sunflowers. Sunflowers have become a staple in his crop rotation and have made money for him in the past. Last year was a challenge due to the dreaded head moth.

“2001 was the worst year in the history of my experience planting sunflowers,” Woodworth told a group of farmers recently.

His planting arrangement has him chasing the corn with his planter to get the sunflowers in the ground. After sunflowers, he will double-crop wheat. He sees 10 to 15 percent higher wheat yields using this rotation.

Both Woodworth and Ron Jacques are starting to rethink managing their no-till systems. Using a sub-soiler with a parabolic shank to break up a developing hard-pan layer, and allowing moisture and a path for root growth to penetrate is becoming an important thought process.

Other crops Woodworth would like to add to his crop rotation include canola and possibly proso millet. Canola doesn’t have a good track record in our area because winter varieties will not stand up to winters we can achieve. Millet would be an excellent option if livestock can be thrown into the mix.

Clark seems to do well with sorghum, but it is not his favorite in his current cropping systems. He is a meticulous record keeper, and the bottom line doesn’t show as much profit for him as do the other crops at this point in time.

Bradley Goering can be reached by e-mail at bgoering@thecsb.com, or by telephone at 620-327-4941.

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