Then And Now

 With much of the soil preparation done in the fall, Perry Galloway of Gregory, Arkansas
 begins planting around March 15 with corn leading the way.  
 Photo by John LaRose

Modern Methods Help Fine Tune Farming For Galloway

Perry Galloway, Gregory, Arkansas, is one of 15 corn producers, researchers and crop consultants making presentations at the 19th Annual National Conservation Systems, Southern Corn & Soybean Conference.

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

(Continued from last week)
   Planting begins early on the Perry Galloway farm in Gregory, Ark. He starts with corn around March 15,  while watching the weather real close. About 50 percent of soil preparation is done in the fall, although often that activity gets rained out. In the spring he uses a burn down program.
   “In a few cases, if it’s been prepared in the fall, we won’t have to do any additional tillage except the following burn down,” he said. “Most of the time we use variable tillage or shaping up the beds until we get ready to plant. Again, we are leaning towards minimum or some sort of conservation tillage. We use a disc very little. With 8,000 acres, I have one disc and we may disc 200 acres a year.”
   With corn planting starting early, his goal is to have it all planted by the middle of April. Then the focus is on sorghum.
   “We’ll try to get that in around the first of April, but we’ll start looking at it hard around the 5th, 10th of April. Soybeans will follow, if I can get them all planted by April 15, that’s great. All this is weather permitting.”
   Rice is an early crop, but he’s not a big rice farmer. “Unfortunately my rice gets stepchilded because we’re planting corn, milo, soybeans and we have to deal with our wheat, so my 500 acres or less of rice has to wait until somewhere between May 1 and May 15.”
   He has only four or five fields that will raise consistently good rice yields. However, every now and then those fields will be dry enough to plant soybeans, then inevitably they’ll get drowned out.
   Seeding rates on corn range from 32,000 up to 42,000. This year, rates were at 35,500 to 36,000, with a little acreage at 38,000.
   “I’ve planted them 42,500 in the past, and I didn’t see a lot of yield difference,” he said. He has record yields with 36,500 on corn.
   “We typically plant just one unit 140,000 on soybeans; we’ll bump it up to 150,000 or 160,000 in some cases, but 140,000 seems to work good for us,” Galloway said. “We’ll plant that much and get a stand of 130,000-135,000.
   “As we were managing for high yield on grain sorghum, we doubled the rate the university recommended, we planted 175,000 seeds and got a population of about 150,000. We put out close to 300 units of nitrogen, several shots of fungicide as well as insecticide for immediate worm control. Yield was close to 179 bushels dryland. This is on grain sorghum dry land.”
   For soybeans he will use Valor, preemergent. His soybean program is simple: Valor, with a lot of Dual or metolachor, followed by the PPO line of chemistry which is Reflex, Flexstar, Ultra Blazer, two of which are Syngenta products, one is a UPI product. Corn treatments include Halex GT, and some atrazine.
   The weed program has shifted over the years. At first it was johnson grass and cockleburs, but now he has control of both of them.
   “I’m really surprised if I see a cocklebur. If I see one a year it’s really surprising,” he said. “We’ve never had a tremendous problem with morning glories but what’s really been giving us fits, and we’ve lost the battle, is Palmer amaranth, Palmer pigweed. We just cannot control those anymore. So it looks like we’re going to be forced to go with a Liberty production system in our soybeans.”
   The Halex GT and atrazine seems to control those well enough in corn, and there are other products that will control them in corn.
   However in soybeans, we’re truly out of bullets except for the Liberty,” Galloway said. “For soybeans we will have to look at Enlist, 2,4-d, Dicamba or some production system, if they’re accepted over the next year or two.”
   Galloway owns most of the center pivots. A few of them do belong to the landowner, but in most cases they are his. Most farms he rents already had the wells, but sometimes he has to work through a deal on that.
   “In most cases, the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas is irrigated; if it’s productive land, it’s going to be irrigated one way or the other. I have 32 pivots and about 2,000 acres that are land formed and there’s a well close, so I’m about 90 percent irrigated; on the other 10 percent, I’d irrigate too if there was a simple way to do it.”
   Good water is plentiful here. Cache River is just a quarter mile away, White River is about two miles.
   “Our water table probably averages 12 feet to water, so we have about 1,500 to 2,000 gallon a minute wells. A well would cost me about $14,000 in this area. I don’t even know if they could get the volume in other parts of the state.  It may cost close to $100,000, especially around Stuttgart.”
   His farms are about 45 miles west of Crowley Ridge. In some areas they are having water problems there.
   “We’re really fortunate in this kind of a sand ridge between the two rivers that we have good water,” he affirmed. “We have good water in our area. We get our water and it just recharges over night, if not immediately.”
   Galloway has seven full-time farm employees plus himself and a secretary.
   “We have a farm manager type system,” he explained. “When I need something I go to one person, maybe two, and he’ll pass it down to whoever needs to know it. Yesterday I worked up a schedule of who’s responsible for what. My farm manager is going on vacation tomorrow and I want to know who is doing what so if I have a question or issue I can go straight to them with my concerns. I try not to be too critical, I try to compliment everyone on the job they do.”
   He has mostly all John Deere planters, tractors, sprayers, combines, and runs a 12-row Drago corn head. He raises corn on 38 inch rows, and runs three combines.
   “We run the 640 FD flex draper in soybeans, and that works well in wheat too. We harvest rice with two 30-foot draper heads.”
   His equipment basically consists of planters and harvesters. He also has a vertical tillage tool, and his deep tillage tools are from the same manufacturer.
   “Our most commonly used tools are deep tillage tools for compaction, vertical tillage tool, we have an Orthman bedder and a Brandt bedder roller that I modified, mainly to flatten our beds for a planting surface,” he explained.
   He does some precision ag variable rate seeding and fertilizer applications in a few fields. His methods seem to come and go.
   “We did some variable rate preplant fertilizer this year so we’ll see how that works out. Of course we use all our yield maps, overlayed with soil types, we try to do it all. I’m not saying we’re great at it.”
   He soil tests every year, often on 2.5 acres on a five-acre grid. “We do a lot of tissue testing. On our corn, we tissue test from the time it comes up to right at black layer; this is the first week we have not tissue tested corn since the middle of March. We try to keep our fertility in balance and the appropriate levels for the maturity,” he said.
   Galloway estimates the five-year rolling yield averages as follows: Wheat in the upper to mid 80s; corn in that 245 range; soybeans, whole farm irrigated/non-irrigated, probably around 55-60 bushels; rice is in the 190 to 200 bushel average range.
   “When we raised all hybrid rice, we were 200 to 210,” he noted. The soybean yield he quoted is full-season, double cropped, irrigated and non-irrigated.
   “My father was a farmer, but not the scale I am. It wasn’t his full occupation. We’re talking old school, say back in the 1970s when everybody did it the same way, with just a few tractors.”
   Galloway couldn’t speculate on how the land looked when his ancestors came and took over the land in the mid-1800s.
   “There was some clearing done over the years, but I really don’t know what it was like in the beginning. I don’t know if the Indians or previous farmers settled it. The sandy ridge was some of the first land that was farmed. For soybean production, in the 1970s when soybeans soared to $9-$10, they started clearing everything. The original sandy cotton ground is still in production; however, until we started irrigating it and managing our fertility it was very low production, ‘burning sand’ is what they called it.
   “Then we thought, ‘What if we put some water on it? What about a soil test? Maybe if we put some fertilizer on it that will help.’ That’s been the secret for raising the production on these sandy farms,” he asserted. ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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