How can you make the most of what could be limited irrigation water? Thatâ€™s what some producers face this spring.
Cropping systems specialist Robert Klein of the University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte offers a few tips.
- If your center pivot has a restricted amount of water available to apply, try to get the crop up and growing on available soil moisture. The most critical time to irrigate is from silking to the blister stage. Not receiving enough water during that critical time has the greatest adverse impact on yield.
- If youâ€™re leery of whether youâ€™ll be irrigating much or not, you could try an experimental practice Klein has been researching called skip-row planting. If you skip every third row as you plant, and practice no-till with good weed control, your corn crop will root into the skipped rows as it readies itself for the reproductive and grain-fill phase. If you get rain or water enough to raise a good crop, the practice will probably cut 20% off what your maximum irrigated yields would be. But if moisture is short, you may have more crop to harvest than if you had planted solid rows.
- Furrow irrigators trying to make the most of limited water may want to firm the furrows before irrigating, water only every other row, and donâ€™t wait until the water runs through to the other end of the field before changing sets.