Taking Advantage of the Offseason

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7 Post-Harvest Tasks that Will Help You Next Year

Harvest is finally over and winter is coming soon, but there is still time to knock out a few tasks to be better prepared for spring planting.

1) Take soil samples

A solid nutrient-management plan begins with a soil test. After harvest is an ideal time to take soil samples since it allows for plenty of time to process the results and develop a nutrient-management plan before the next growing season. When soil sampling, be sure to:

  • Sample each field once every 2-4 years.
  • Follow a sampling pattern that covers the entire sampling area.
  • Sample at the same time of year (ideally, in the fall after harvest).

2) Update your nutrient-management plan

Your nutrient-management plan should be a long-term plan, but be sure to update it when you have your soil-test results. Now is the time to apply any fall fertilizer or lime as outlined by your plan.

52618-38_USB_PostHarvest_Checklist_Infographic_FNL3) Protect your soil

Look for ways to minimize soil loss when there is no crop growing in your fields. If you don’t already, consider planting a cover crop to reduce soil erosion and hang on to soil nutrients during the offseason.

4) Repair equipment

Harvest can be tough on your equipment. Now is the time to start making repairs so it’s ready to go when you’re ready to use it again. Be sure to clean your equipment before putting it back in the shed for the winter. It’s important for general upkeep and to prevent weed seeds from spreading between fields.

5) Evaluate field drainage

Take advantage of an empty field in the fall to improve field drainage. If necessary, add or replace broken drainage tile in problem spots and clear debris from ditches and waterways. Well drained fields dry out and warm up more quickly in the spring.

6) Record pest issues

You’re focused on dealing with pesky diseases, insects and weeds during the growing season. Now is the time to take notes on what pests you saw in which fields. Take notes that will help you in the future when selecting seed and seed treatments, pesticides and other pest-control measures, and making tillage decisions.

7) Select seed for next year

Harvest is over, and now it’s time to plan for next year. If you haven’t already, do your research and set up a meeting with your seed dealer(s) to place your seed orders. Not sure where to start? Here are some resources for choosing the best soybean varieties for your farm, advice for maximizing soybean yield potential, and selecting soybeans based on protein and oil grain quality.