Larry began crop rotation a couple of years before he began his no-till operation. He began with a milo-wheat rotation, and then he progressed into soybeans. He then added corn. He worked the corn into the rotation of summer crops, in lieu of milo or soybeans.
He's experienced problems with successful soybeans, even though he plants them early. He's had good crops but when looking at a six- to seven-year average, he said he's not happy. Larry tried several ways to deal with these issues, including cutting back on his soybean acreage and changing the planting dates. He said he'll see how it works out.
This past summer didn't matter, he said. You could plant anything; everything works during a summer like this. He plants corn in cooler temperatures, around March 15. It develops by June, but if July is hot, the weather robs him of some yield. Hot weather can cause problems for soybeans as well. He rotates the wheat behind the soybeans. He plants wheat every fall, but his wheat is in a 3- to 4-year rotation.
There are always variables that play a role in decisions; variables such as weather or market conditions may result in wheat rotating every other year. Variables aside, Larry said rotating his crops has helped produce good wheat yields.
He produced continuous wheat for 22 to 23 years before switching to crop rotation. He experienced difficulty in producing good wheat; difficulties ranged from problems with disease to weather. "Something every year kept me from producing a profitable yield of wheat," he said.
He tried everything to raise good wheat, but after switching, the yield is better and he doesn't have to do as much. He added it appears he has fewer disease problems now. He believes rotation spreads the economic risk as well; you don't have all your eggs in one basket. As organic matter has increased in the soil, it lends itself to producing good wheat.
He's had success following corn with wheat. He has also had success with wheat planted behind milo, but not always. At times, milo stalks can develop a toxicity that adversely affects wheat at an early stage. But it's not there every year. He came behind milo with wheat last fall, and it was some of the best wheat that he ever had. He hasn't had that problem with corn stalks.
Larry is one of 23 wheat producers who are allowing the AWPM for Wheat research team to monitor insect pests and beneficials on his farms. Larry noted, "Weather related stresses, things like that can amplify an insect problem." With healthier crops in his no-till crop rotation, Larry believes he has been able to prevent insects from building up to damaging levels.