What's the best way to plant large acreage

sumac(SE MI)July 1, 2010

Till or no till method? Interested to see how many of you deal with the weeds in a large plot.

Seems the farmers around here till in the fall and then spray and plant in the spring.

TIA for all your input.


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It totally depends on what you're growing. If it's kudzu, place one seed in the middle of your acreage and stand back! Seriously, what crop are we talking about here?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 11:24AM
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Also, how large is a "large plot"?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:24AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Tilling or not tilling isn't so much planting as soil management and weed control. At some point you need to do something to kill off whatever is growing there now, tilling is typically an effective means of accomplishing that, but so is repeated low mowing for some plants.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:06PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I agree with rockguy, we need a little more info to be of much help. What is your location? what are you wanting to use the land for? what do you want to grow? will you be keeping livestock also and can that be part of the mix of solutions? Are you strictly organic? or "sustainable" or any other goals or constraints?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 12:51AM
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What's the best way to plant large acreage?

I would use a tractor if you are planting corn.

On my organic garden I use no till. Many benefits.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 11:20PM
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sumac(SE MI)

Hi! Thanks for the input so far. I am in SE Michigan and we usually grow about an acre or two of corn (repeated plantings for a longer harvest) and a couple of acres of pumpkins.
Then we have about 100' X 100' area for our seasonal mixed crop of summer veggies.
Used to have chickens but no livestock. Do miss the manure for the compost.
Brenden hit on the main goal here is weed control and soil management.
Gardendawgie I would be interested in hearing of your no till methods.
Thanks again for all the input.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:39AM
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LOL. 2-3 acres is not what I was thinking when you said "large acreage".

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 10:16AM
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Rockguy- Large acreage is subjective. If you're comparing it to a small lot in town, 2-3 acres is huge. Other people think 20 acres is large. We have a hundred acres, which is crazy/large to me (growing up on military bases) but most farmers in the area can't make a profit with anything less than 3,000 acres...so again, all subjective.

Sumac- I would love to see pictures of your corn and pumpkins. I have hesitated to plant corn here, because I don't want to bring deer into the garden (so far they're not too interested). What have you done for weed control (especially around the pumpkins) in the past?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 12:13PM
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LL if you must correct me, use correct terminology. "Large" acreage is relative. "Subjective" means something else.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 3:41PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

Well, I would recomend mulched beds method. You will need a cart like a garden way cart or something like a small quad with a little trailer to haul mulch into the rows and to haul harvest out.
Mulch beds that are a good working size. They should not be any wider that you can reach the middle comfortably without stretching or straining. This lets you work the whole bed from both sides. Leave a path that is big enough for your cart. Don't over size the beds or under-size the walking paths.
Next you may want some sort of mower, larger than a lawn mower, to knock down and shred corn stalks.
Your mulched rows become permanent as do your walkways.
Mulch your beds with at least 6 inches of mulch. the first year, a foot thick is better, and adding 6 inches per year after that. You can get material from a tree trimming company that has a chipper machine, they are usually delighted to drop it off for free, saving them the dump fee and the land fill. A light scattering of mulch on the walkways is ok too, as it can help when the walks are muddy, but it can also keep the walks from drying out, so don't let a lot get on the walks.
When you want to plant, just pull back a little mulch, just like you pull back a little soil to plant, leave the mulch pulled back after planting the seed, so the new plant can make it up through.
You should have very few weeds come up through the mulch as it will act as a barrier to most weeds. If you have a few weeds come up through the mulch, just hoe them or better yet, fork a little more mulch over it and the weed becomes mulch too.
When you are done, use a mower to shred and scatter the stalks or vines, they become mulch for the next crop. I then do a little top dressing with more mulch.
Mulching is labor intensive, but you save on weeding and the mulch is your fertilizer, so you don't need to spend money or time on other fertilizers.
If you do choose to use a small tractor to mow, a hammer mower on a little "yuppie" tractor works very well. There are also some large job walk behind mowers that are great for that size job. a machine mower is not the only way to work the material. You can use a good old fashion scythe, keep it sharp (hone it about every 15 or 20 minutes) and it's amazing what an old fashion tool like that can do. You can work an acre easy in 4 hours.
For the walk rows, foot traffic keeps a lot down, and a hula hoe makes quick work of the rest.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 6:43PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Both relative and subjective work. Subjective indicating that the "largeness" of the acreage is a matter that is subject to the object being studied, the object being the person.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:24PM
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OK, when I said "LOL 2-3 acres is not what ...." I was laughing at myself. I had read large acreage and was daydreaming about a big spread out in Montana or some place. The post brought me back to reality, so...laughing at myself, not anyone else. Of course, everything is relative....LOL!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 4:21PM
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