Old cultivator put back to good use
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 05/14/2012 3:46 PM
KANAWHA, Iowa —About six years ago Bruce Smidt started cultivating his continuous corn acres.
"The corn was looking kind of sickly, and I went in the shed and got my cultivator," Smidt said. "There was quite a little volunteer corn out there, too, and it did a good job of taking that out. There's some lambsquarters that is hard to control, and it cleaned that up. I had some preplant out in the field, and it wasn't holding it quite right. With cultivating, I don't have to spray a broadleaf herbicide right away, and when I do spray, it makes the herbicide work a little better."
Smidt said that Roundup used to be his main herbicide, but it doesn't seem to work like it did when it first came out.
"You have to put more on per acre to do the same job," he said.
He doesn't cultivate ground that's in a corn-soybean rotation. If it gets too ridged up, the corn roots make the bean harvest dirty.
Some of his ground is in continuous corn, and some is in a corn-soybean rotation. He also contract finishes hogs for Christensen Farms on his farm west of Kanawha. The Smidts own their own pumping equipment, and son Jacob applies the manure.
Son Andrew helps on the farm in spring and fall. Son Micah works for the Iowa State University Farmer-Assisted Research and Management program at the Kanawha research farm and helps out, too.
In addition to the three boys, Smidt and his wife, Sandy, have a daughter, Meghan.
Smidt moldboard plows continuous corn to bury residue. He uses minimum till on his corn-soybean ground.
For weed management on continuous corn, he puts down a preplant application of Harness at a two-thirds rate. In mid-June when the broad leaves come back, he sprays Callisto and Roundup at full rate.
He puts down Treflan preplant and incorporates it on soybeans.
"That takes care of the stubborn weeds that are resistant to Roundup," Smidt said. "I get by spraying one pass of Roundup about the end of June."
For corn in the corn-soybean rotation, he applies a two-thirds rate of Harness preplant, and in mid-June sprays Roundup at full rate.
He cultivates his continuous corn prior to spraying when the corn is about a foot tall.
He has seen growing interest in cultivating.
"I had a farmer call me this winter, and he was looking for a cultivator," Smidt said. "With resistant weeds, farmers aren't ruling out cultivators. A few years ago cultivator was a bad word. When I was growing up we cultivated all summer. With Roundup and the other herbicides, it kind of made it obsolete."
Smidt bought some cultivator sweeps when he started cultivating again, and he got a quizzical look from the parts guy who came back with sweeps that were full of dust. He uses a 16-row John Deere cultivator.
"For me, the cultivator was in the shed," Smidt said. "It's not like I had to go out and buy it."