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Doug Niemeir

Farm News - USDA/Farm Service Agency

Editor's Note: Doug Niemeir is the County Executive Director for the USDA/Farm Service Agency. Doug may be reached by emailing him at Douglas.Niemeir@ks.usda.gov.

Taking care of business

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For those who are fans of college basketball, the two weeks of the NCAA tournament that just recently concluded was an interesting time.

Some of the television networks have finally figured out (after all these years) that if they cooperate, they can provide coverage for all the tournament games from start to finish. That was great. What a treat. Right, basketball fans?

The tourney final this year was a matchup between the winningest college basketball program of all time -- the Kentucky Wildcats -- with the second winningest program of all time -- the Kansas Jayhawks. As a longtime Jayhawks fan (do you remember the '57 championship triple overtime game, too?), I was interested in watching each step in their run to the title game.

The Jayhawks did not win their tournament games by large margins. In fact, their "MO" was rather to get behind in the first half, then make a comeback by playing tenacious defense, take a lead in the final few minutes and end the game a few points ahead on the scoreboard. This worked in all but the final game when the comeback fell a bit short -- not a bad run though. Their "strategy," planned or improvised, boiled down to the urgent need to "take care of business" in the second half of those games in order to pull them out.

Likewise, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants are also in a position to appropriately "take care of business" to maintain their CRP fields -- perhaps already delayed for an extra year or two -- resembling the Jayhawks' penchant for needing to make up for earlier missed opportunities.

Spring is the best time to burn native grass for best results in managing the grass stand. Prescribed burns are scheduled maintenance practices in most CRP contracts. Participants should check their conservation plan as a reminder as to when maintenance activities need completed

Burning helps to control weeds, tree sprouts and red cedars as well as cleaning up a field for possible later chemical treatment or additional planting that might be scheduled.

Most burning should be completed by now (or very soon), so the next step for CRP maintenance is to apply a chemical treatment if needed. Sericea lespedeza and most tree sprouts can be controlled by using Remedy or Pasturegard during the month of June for a broadcast or spot spray treatment.

Last year we also noticed that a timely treatment with one of these products did a decent job on blackberries that had sprouted following a successful burn.

Note: With the mild late winter and warm early spring, chemical applications could probably be done somewhat earlier than the norm this year. Check with your chemical supplier or extension agronomist about the best timing for 2012.

Treatment of another noxious weed -- johnsongrass -- takes a slightly different tactic. This particular plant is best treated using Plateau or Outrider herbicides when the plants are from 18 to 24 inches tall, before heading.

Both of these products can be broadcast sprayed on native grass, killing the johnsongrass while not damaging your native stand. When johnsongrass plants get to this stage depends on the weather conditions for the season -- likely early summer this year.

There are also a number of new or enhanced grass and forbs plantings that need to be completed this year following the general sign up periods.

Several program participants have purchased seed and have recently been renting the grass drills available through the Bourbon County Conservation District to get this job completed. All those needing to complete this task, however, have not yet done so.

The end of the planting period for native grass, as well as the enhancement forbs seedings, is May 15. If you have a CRP contract and may need to complete some maintenance or new seeding, be aware that the time for planning and completing these processes is upon us.

For questions about your fields and what you may need to be working on, contact the FSA office where your farm records are administered. In Bourbon County, call (620) 223-1880, then dial "2" for FSA, or stop by 1515 S. Judson in Fort Scott for assistance.