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Grain production calendars have been developed to help producers prioritize and schedule work events on the farm. However, weather events and equipment breakdowns rarely follow an organized schedule. This calendar should be treated as a starting point and as a tool to help prioritize some of the practices involved in grain production.
January-February: The weather is ideal for being in a warm shop, prepping planters and sprayers for the spring and cleaning out combines from the fall harvest. The only type of field work that should be done this time of the year is phosphorus and potassium applications, if the soil will support equipment. This is a good time to analyze and summarize costs and returns, present and future.
March: Final calibration of the planter and sprayer (prior to spraying) can be done. Complete your business analysis. Attend integrated pest management training.
April: Although full-season soybean planting should not begin until at next month, this is the time to scout for existing weeds. Assess the weed pressure and determine if herbicides will be needed at planting.
May: Full-season soybean planting should begin by mid May. Burn down or till weeds prior to planting. Soybean should not be planted into green weeds. Pre-emergence herbicides should be applied immediately after planting and before the crop emerges. Stand counts should be conducted to determine the quality of the stand. Start the grain marketing process, if not started already.
June: If a soil residual herbicide was not used earlier, then summer annual weeds will likely be competing with soybean within four weeks after soybean emergence. Scout for weeds and insects and make necessary management decisions based on observations. Scout for insects. Evaluate the grain marketing process and then make adjustments as needed. Check grain storage facilities and clean empty bins. Double crop soybeans should be planted in late June following wheat harvest.
July: Full-season soybean should be flowering in July and starting pod set. Scout crop conditions. Scout for late-emerging weeds. Begin scouting for soybean rust, if weather forecasts and soybean rust tracking indicate rust is in Kentucky. Prepare harvesters and repair planters and sprayers. This is actually one of the best times to evaluate planters and sprayers since new parts can be ordered without rush shipments and weather conditions are favorable. Continue the grain marketing process. By the end of the month, start evaluating grain storage versus market delivery options.
August: Scout crop conditions, including seed fill. Scout weed escapes and spot spray, if necessary. Keep a record for the following season. Prepare for grain harvest. Complete any grain storage preparations. Continue to assess grain storage versus delivery market options.
September-October: Continue scouting for diseases, especially soybean rust. Grain harvest could begin in September, depending on maturity of the varieties. If necessary, dry grain to about 15 percent moisture for safe storage.
November-December: Harvest should be nearly complete. Following harvest, start taking soil samples. Lime applications, if needed, could begin as soon as soil sample results are received. Fall lime applications are recommended to allow the lime to neutralize the acidity in the soil and provide a benefit to the crops in the next growing season. Assess fields for compaction and make decisions to alleviate compaction layers, if possible. Continue marketing of grain. Clean out harvesters and start repairs. Check grain storage to ensure that grain is dry and in good condition. Begin evaluating what inputs are needed for the next growing season and take advantage of early purchase discounts. Make chemical inventory to determine products on hand and needs for the coming season.