Most agricultural economists are predicting low crop prices for 2018 and production expenses are projected according to OSU Ext. to be flat or somewhat lower. That is no surprise to most farmers who have seen crop prices continue to decline the past few years.
This is a good time for producers to compare your projected expenses and income for 2018 with the OSU crop production budgets for corn, soybeans and wheat to see how you compare.
Most of the OSU Ext. budgets show “red” when comparing total costs with projected income for corn, soybeans and wheat. However each producer is different with respect to cost of production for corn, soybeans and wheat. In addition the marketing skills of individual producers may increase or decrease income depending on the success of the marketing plan.
I urge producers to take a look at the OSU Extension Crop Production Budgets and plug in your cost and income figures to see where you may stand with potential profits in 2018.Note the budgets are shown in three different production levels. Visit www.farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-management-tools/farm-budgets.
Be sure to click on the “Enable Editing” tab at the top of each budget to plug in your actual costs of production or income. The only thing you have to lose is a little time and you might see places in your operation where you are doing better than others or you may see some of your costs are higher than normal.
Time is short to get a few things done around your home so let’s get started.
If you have a vegetable or flower garden do not forget to cleanup those dead plants including tomatoes and either till them into the soil or as I do mulch them with my mower. This will help prevent insects and diseases from overwintering and being a source of problems next year.
Do not compost these materials as the insects and diseases often survive the process. If you have strawberries or other perennial plants ( roses etc.) needing winter protection wait till we have a hard freeze to mulch with straw or if other landscape plants mulch with 3-4 inches of loose material like peat moss as opposed to using leaves which can pack too tightly if wet which can lead to disease problems including mold. This mulching can help minimize the damage to plant roots by freezing and thawing by keeping the soil temperature more uniform.
October and November is a great time to make that last fertilization of your lawn. This is the most important fertilizer application of the year as the nutrients go mostly to development of the root system.
Note that many fertilizer brands for this purpose do not contain phosphorus (the middle number in the analysis ex. 32-0-10) due to the problem of this element getting into streams and lakes and causing algae problems. The fertilizer can be applied any time when the ground is not frozen or about to freeze which could result in runoff. Also try to avoid application of fertilizers prior to a heavy rain.
Sadly many box stores and other garden centers literally close down their sales of important lawn care products like weed control products and fertilizers just when you need them the most so you may have to look hard to find them.
Finally try mulching your leaves as opposed to raking and bagging if possible. It will help your soil and grass by adding organic matter to the soil.
Weed control time
If you have a problem with perennial weeds in your lawn, pasture or fields the fall is a good time to control them with a herbicide (weed killer). The weeds are in the part of their life cycle when they are storing carbohydrates in their roots so material applied to the leaves of the plant will be translocated downward to the roots. Spraying for broadleaf weeds is best done when air temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s and the weeds are actively growing.
A fall application also works better in helping minimize spray drift problems in non-target shrubs and trees as these plants are in the process of losing leaves. Common weeds this strategy works well for includes Dandelion, Plantain, Wild Violet, Indian Mock Strawberry, Wild Carrot, Canada Thistle, White Clover, and Ground Ivy.
Since the air temperatures are cooler in the fall weeds will not metabolize or translocate the material as quickly as when air temperatures are warmer. You may not think the spray material is working but if you return in a few days or next spring the weeds will be gone.
Remember to apply the weed control products on sunny days when no rainfall is expected for 24 hours so the material will be absorbed into the leaves and not washed off. This is true for products containing 2-4-D, MCPP, and other products like triclopyr. The window of opportunity for fall application usually persists through November and the first week of December depending on the weather. Applying weed control products this time of year also gives you the opportunity to control winter annual broadleaf weeds like Common Chickweed, Henbit and Shepard’s Purse. We normally do not apply weed killers to annual weeds like Spurge, Purslane, Oxalis, Lambsquarters, or Mallow unless the weeds are so thick as to inhibit reseeding an area. These weeds will be killed with the first hard frost.
This is an ideal time to control problem perennial weeds in pastures as well. This could include Dandelion, Curly Dock, Canada Thistle, Bull Thistle, Poison Hemlock (biennial), Ironweed, Poison Ivy, and Poke Weed among others.
Farmers with problems of Marestail (Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq.) in soybeans need to strongly consider fall applications of 2-4-D with glyphosate or dicamba. This weed according to Mark Loux Weed Specialist with OSU Ext. is the most problematic weed across the Midwest in soybeans surpassing the invasive weed Palmer Amaranth. Marestail is both a summer and winter annual making it hard to control.
Always follow label restrictions when applying pesticides.
You may be wondering what weeds you have to control. Here are some books and internet sources which might help you identify the ones you have. One book I use is “Weeds of the Northeast”. It contains good pictures and descriptions. A good website is www.courses.missouristate.edu/pbtrewatha/Midwest_Weeds.htm. Another one is www.u.osu.edu/osuweeds.
Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.