Fallow Fields in Colorado Allow Growers to ‘Harvest’ Moisture
Stay connected with what’s going on in the field during #plant16 through this series of brief interviews with Crop Science sales reps in various regions. Keep checking back for more!
2016 Planting Season Update: Q&A with Bret Koops, Technical Sales Consultant at Crop Science, a Division of Bayer.
Customer Business Advisor (CBA) working with sales reps in Colorado, western Kansas, and western Nebraska
Key Crops in Territory:
Bret Koops stands in front of a recently planted sugarbeet field on the Front Range of Colorado with Mount Meeker and Longs Peak far in the background.
You are a Customer Business Advisor (CBA) with Bayer? What does a CBA do?
“My geography has recently been expanded to cover basically all of Colorado, about the western fourth of Kansas, and western Nebraska to work with the four or five sales reps in those areas. A CBA works with the centers of influence like crop consultants and large growers and supports Bayer Sales reps. Crop consultants are a pretty big presence, especially in Kansas, and a good number in Colorado and in western Nebraska. They’re the on-the-farm advisors for these growers so they have a lot of say-so in the product mix for crop production inputs.”
Tell us about the crops in your area.
“The largest acre crop is winter wheat. But it’s a very low input acre because of our low rainfall, low net revenue acre. There’s quite a bit of diversity in Colorado, including sorghum, alfalfa, sugarbeets, and potatoes. And actually, probably the second largest acre we have is we ‘harvest’ moisture in the form of fallow fields. We grow maybe two crops in three years on dryland, because we’ve got ground that we have to leave idle so we can build enough soil profile moisture to attempt to grow a crop.”
Do fallow fields involve any inputs?
“That’s probably our biggest emerging opportunity is this fallow acre because of weed resistance. We’ve been actively promoting fallow treatments with some of our residual herbicides that kill kochia. We’re kind of ‘resistant-kochia central’. We’ve got some of the first glyphosate-resistant kochia identified back in 2008 or 2009 in western Kansas. We’ve got kochia that are resistant to up to four herbicide modes of action, and since they’ve become glyphosate-resistant in large areas and spreading, that is definitely one of our largest emerging opportunities that we’ve been working on pretty hard since 2011. Multiple applications of glyphosate mixes are no longer effective, and end up being expensive, so we started using pre-emerge residual herbicides applied from fall to early spring.
What’s happening in your area now?
“It’s warm enough that there’s sugarbeet and potato planting underway. The corn planting will be shortly behind that. I think people are holding off until later April to plant corn in general. We’re wrapping up herbicide sprays for weeds in our winter wheat. Wheat gets planted in the fall in September to October, so right now they’re finishing up any top dressings (fertilizers) and any weed sprayings. Right now, we’re kind of on a big alert for stripe rust. It can be a pretty big deal in wheat; it can spread rapidly and take a lot of yield rapidly.”
What’s the weather been like?
“I would say it was a moderate winter, nothing excessively cold. It was kind of mild as far as snowfall, at least along the Front Range in northeast Colorado where a lot of our cropping is done. Until about March 24; we got a really big snow event finally, about 20 inches here in the Denver area. It was a pretty good snowfall into a pretty decent-sized area into northeast Colorado. The weather we fight out on the eastern plains is always dry and windy. We get anywhere from 10 to 16 inches of annual rainfall. One of our biggest challenges is always drought or not getting enough annual precipitation, whether that comes in the form of snow or rain. That’s why managing cropping with fallow fields, keeping weeds from taking the moisture, saving residue, so we can store more moisture in the soil profile is very important for these dryland producers that grow a crop of wheat or grow a crop of dryland corn. It’s always a huge challenge to get enough moisture. The Board of Trade always says, ‘rain makes grain.’ That’s so true, at least in the western part of the Wheatland District anyway. We need the rain. Every inch is worth significant bushels per acre.”
What’s on growers’ minds in your area?
“The big one is the low commodity prices and how high a yield we have to hit to break even on a crop budget. That’s definitely on their minds. There’s been a lot of indecisiveness, a lot of decisions put off, a lot of shopping around for products and solutions for how they’re going to manage their crop, whether it’s their weed control or their fertility program, etc. The other thing that’s on a lot of farmers’ minds is how they will control kochia. I like that Bayer has a good portfolio of products for our geography that control kochia. We have some of the best tools available for kochia control in corn and in fallow.”
Follow the planting season conversion using #plant16 on Twitter, and be sure to mention @Bayer4CropsUS!
What are growers doing in other areas of the U.S. for planting season? Find out:
North Dakota: Q&A with Mike Hillstrom
Pacific Northwest: Q&A with Paul Pargeter
South Dakota: Q&A with Ronald Anderson
Southwest Minnesota: Q&A with Torrey Sharkey
Texas: Q&A with Rick Hernandez
Central Florida: Q&A with Roy Morris
New England: Q&A with Steve Cumming
Pennsylvania: Q&A with Kent Taylor