What is in this article?:
• Scott Matthews is a no-till rice and soybean producer who has been struggling to keep his cultivator out of the field as of late.
• Fall rains have disrupted the system because rutting during harvest has required significant tillage to smooth the ground back out.
• But when no-till is accompanied by favorable weather, Matthews says the system works perfectly.
SCOTT MATTHEWS had a run of 10 years of perfect no-till weather, but the last three have challenged the system.
Scouts for winter vegetation
About a week after soybean stubble is burned, Matthews scouts for winter vegetation. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but the winter grass has already started growing by the time the leaves fall off the beans. I’m very aggressive with burndown. If my fields are getting green in November, they will get sprayed.”
Matthews applies Roundup for that burndown, but will use Valor “if the conditions are right. I’ve had very good luck with Roundup that time of year. If you get it out and on, you’re not worried about how long it’s going to take to kill.” At that time, Matthews will put in any ditching the field may require.
In the spring, he’ll take another look at weeds and when temperatures are right, he’ll apply Roundup PowerMax.
His optimum planting window for rice is March 26 through April 5. He runs a John Deere 1590 John Deere no-till drill, equipped with Starfire GPS to allow around-the- clock planting. He plants both hybrid and conventional rice.
After planting, Matthews will apply Command and another shot of Roundup, build the levees and put in spills. “We try to do that in a real timely manner.”
A pre-flood nitrogen application of 250 pounds to 260 pounds goes out by airplane. Agrotain goes on just about every acre, according to Matthews. “Some of my fields are so big it may take me 7 to 10 days to flood them. Agrotain does a very good job.”
At mid-season, he’ll put a reduced amount of nitrogen on hybrids, 50 pounds to 60 pounds, and 100 pounds to 125 pounds on conventional rice.
Matthews is very aggressive on stink bug management, knowing that the insects can have a huge impact on quality. Matthews may apply a fungicide for smut on rice, but not on hybrids.
When rice heads start to turn over, “we’ll look at the DD-50s and determine a draining date. “We will re-run our PTO ditches with a high crop tractor, pull our spills and get ready for harvest,” which begins when rice is under 21 percent moisture.
As rice fields are draining, Matthews is already thinking about planting soybeans into rice stubble the following spring. (While he burns soybeans stubble, he prefers to let rice stubble stand).
“When we cut rice, we like to get the levees torn down within 48 hours. We want to be proactive in getting our fields ready to no-till. We turned the dike plow around backwards, run it down and back, and then we run a 9.5-foot disk, which fits inside the levee.
“Mother Nature will take care of the rest. If in the spring I’m not happy with it, I can take a box scraper and bust the tops off them little bit.”