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Published December 25, 2009, 04:33 AM

WCROC Organic Crops

The 3-year conversion of 165 acres to organic certification that began in 20008 will be completed after the 2010 harvest.

By: George Nelson, Morris Sun Tribune

The 3-year conversion of 165 acres to organic certification that began in 20008 will be completed after the 2010 harvest.

In 2010 we will have 71 acres certified organic for the organic dairy herds use because these acres were in alfalfa in 2007 and received no prohibited use substances that year, thus are a year ahead of the rest of the acreage.

In 2010 we will have 44 acres of organic corn (silage corn) and 27 acres of organic alfalfa (17 acres of the alfalfa will be new seeding).

The remaining 94 transitional acres will consist of 23 acres of corn, 17 acres of alfalfa, and 54 acres of soybeans. The soybeans will be seeded in rows and most assuredly will be weedy. They will fit in nicely with our 100 year anniversary as a reminder of weed control challenges prior to the advent of herbicides. Weed management is really our only serious challenge to organic production, aside from the substantial record keeping requirements. With our copious amount of manure crop nutrition is not an issue. Organic corn hybrids are bred the same as conventional corn hybrids except no GMO's are inserted, and are just as productive.

Our approach to controlling weeds is to perform clean tillage in the fall, field cultivate semi-early in the spring and then wait for warm soil conditions and field cultivate a second time and seed immediately, and then rotary hoe and row cultivate. Additional tillage costs (tractor hours and fuel) probably offset herbicide savings. Tonnage yields of silage corn grown organically have been the same as conventionally grown silage corn. Grain yields of corn grown organically (actually harvested and as assessed

prior to silage harvest) were also the same as for conventionally grown

corn in 2009.

New seeding organic alfalfa in 2009 was not harvested due to lack of rain and weed pressure. The use of a herbicide would have helped alfalfa establishment in 2009.

Buffer zones will be seeded in all pasture-crop field interfaces this 2010

spring, so by August 2010 fence-line mowing for buffer zone purposes will

no longer be required.

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