Minnesota Farmer


Shades of Green

I’ve been working the fields steadily since they got dry enough.  There really is nothing like looking out on the green of a growing field.  The thing is that a farmer sees a lot more in the green field than you would expect.  Those shades of green have a story to tell.

Having grown up on the farm I just took all of that green for granted.  When my city born and raised wife confessed to not being able to tell the difference between a corn field and a soybean field I was bewildered.  How could you not see the difference.  A farmer will look across his fields and see much more than just a green field, the shades of green tell him a story.

100_2188This picture does not do justice to the differences that a lifetime of growing corn can teach.  I look at this field and I know that some of the corn plants look like this100_2191green and healthy plant, and others will look like this100_2186not so healthy corn plant.  See that bit of red on the bottom of the plant and the yellow green of the leaves?  They tell me that this plant is struggling.

There are many reasons for a corn plant to struggle this year.  The heavy rains of last month have left much of our soil waterlogged.  This keeps the roots from growing down to reach the nutrients it needs in the soil.  The roots can also be inhibited by compaction in heavy soils.  The corn could look like this because of too much sand, which dries the soil out too fast, or too much dead plant material left over from last years crop, which uses up the nitrogen needed for healthy growth.  There could be too many weeds growing close to the plant stealing the water and nutrients the corn plant needs.  I’ll have to do a bit of detective work to find out what the problem is, and what I must do to fix it.

I have started to see a bit of grey green in the field which is indicative of stress from not enough water on the sandy soils.  There are also places where the green is not corn green, but weed green, which means I need to get out there and kill some weeds.

Yes, there are many shades of green in my corn field, and I am always looking to see how the field is growing.  The shades of green are telling me a story and I am eager to read it.

Michael

 

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