Harrows, many questions - The Combine Forum

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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
jvw
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Harrows, many questions

Looking into making a giant leap backwards in technology, but need more info. Considering transitioning to Organic Production. Currently no till except for hay sod, deep ruts or sometimes, manure incorporation. I quit using harrows except in rare cases even before switching to no till.

But, under the organic scenario, I'd need to relearn what previous generations knew about weed control and making weeds germinate with harrows.

I assume that a vibrating tine harrow is best for pulling a weed out and shaking the dirt off? Will diamond harrows serve the same purpose, does a heavy harrow have the same action, or too stiff for that purpose?

As for post emergence harrowing, I use a concord drill with no harrows, closers or rotary harrows which leaves very deep furrows( and I prefer it that way for many reasons), my thought is that I could harrow across those furrows quite aggressively, and not physically damage the emerged crop down in the furrow, other than burying some plants. Following that logic, it seems that a rigid harrow (Diamond) would be better yet, since the teeth can't get into the furrow as easily as a tine or flexible harrow, seem reasonable?

Do not own a heavy harrow, and have never seen much use for one, I currently seed into extremely thick, often poorly spread residue and haven't found the need. But, how unaggressive can they be set? Could they do weeding, or would they just level out the furrow and completely bury the crop?

We used to use chain harrows on pastures and hayfields, but I never could figure out the purpose, and they plug on everything, however new ones have much longer teeth and more clearance. I know very little about the Phoenix rotary harrows or Mcfarlanes, and other types. Any other viable options?

Our soil is grey wooded. A polite word for clay that compacts very easily, then works up into concrete blocks the size of basketballs. Tine harrows and concrete lumps don't play nicely together, lumps win everytime, diamond harrows and concrete lumps get along better. That said, I have gained a lot of Fibre since, and with organic would be adding a lot with plowdowns, and plan to still find a way to keep some no till in the rotation so the compaction and lumps should be less of an issue.

And the last question, do the autofold harrows really autofold and unfold as promised? Do some brands work better than others for that, any to avoid, built too light etc? I have a 120' Flexicoil sprayer with autofold, and with everything set right, it autofolds perfectly, but sometimes tramples a half mile of crop before it decides to unfold. Has there ever been a mounted diamond harrow bar? chains wearing, and harrows tangling up don't excite me at all.

There is a whole other conversation to be had about the sustainability of going from no till back to intensive tillage, all because the misinformed organic consumer believes it is more "sustainable" and "green", but I'll save that for it's own thread.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:07 PM
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I used to harrow behind a concord and what worked best was a rotary harrow, still have it and its for sale.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by makar View Post
I used to harrow behind a concord and what worked best was a rotary harrow, still have it and its for sale.
I assume what it worked best at was levelling the ground? That wouldn't be my purpose at all, I want to maintain the ridges, but disrupt the weeds growing on them.
Do the rotary harrows do much damage to the weeds?

Ironically, I previously had a thread on here looking for what type of harrows to mount to the concord for levelling the seedbed, before discovering the advantages of seeding deep without having the seed actually being buried deep.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:13 PM
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I think with the tech we have today with rtk guidance, the solution of inter row hoeing is realizable. Ran across this video the other day. Narrows do damage crops, and we have grey wooded too, it can get too hard to flip weeds.

Pretty easy to replace that summer student with a sensor lol

There are lots of videos on robotic weeders etc not only for organic.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:18 PM
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Again, some very cool designs out there. If in organic removing most of your weed problem takes away a lot of loss.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:21 PM
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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From the first video " however wet springs make timely springtime harrowing nearly impossible" Which is basically always the case here.

I should add that this Concord has 10" spacing with 4.5" spread, so there isn't a lot of real estate between rows for inter row tillage(or weeds), and if anything, I would want to increase that seedbed utilization. But if interrow tillage proves to be the answer, then perhaps a different opener or seeding tool is the answer.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 02:13 AM
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We have harrowed many times our crop that is coming has or is emerging with a system 62 flexicoil tine harrow with hold down springs. They work good. The best job will be to run a rodweeder with harrows on the back over your cereal crop before the sprouts poke through the ground. We use to seed with a concord with sweeps that had a victory powered rod on the back before the tires. It provided good weed kill.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 10:38 AM
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Harrows are tricky. Timing is critical. We learned almost 20 years ago to stop post emergence harrowing. It seems if you get a good kill before planting that is the best. If you do that then the crop has the advantage over weeds and even if the crop can beat the weeds out by a few days the crop will usually stay ahead and the weeds stay mostly insignificant (except wild oats can take over at any stage - Later planting in fertile soil is about the only thing that works for them). A light harrow seems to work best and when weeds are just emerged and you have seeded heavy. If you are a few days late all you do is weaken the crops ability to compete. It will set all plants back. Do some tests. Throw down some metal squares and do counts ahead and behind. You will see the impact on both.

Stay on top of when things emerge. Never underestimate the ability of a crop seeded heavy. If the weeds are real bad or they are ahead of the crop, the best bet is to start over and reseed or you will be sick all year.

I hate harrows and they are a desperate measure only. I have a neighbor who like SouthernSK used to rod weed before emergence and even sometimes after emergence and I was always amazed how his crop exploded out of the ground right after. I was never brave enough to try that.

In 20 years we have only reseeded maybe 300 acres in that time. Now we just try to get the best kill we can and seed as heavy and as shallow as we can with a narrow space and walk away. Not much do do after that. Worrying will just drive you nuts. Good luck to you. Transition can be a nerve wracking time but once you figure it out you will never look back.....
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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SouthernSK, for what reason did you do post emergence harrowing? Do you have organic production, or for crops with limited weed control options?

I'm told that a rod weeder won't work in our grey wooded soils, but I'm not sure why. I do remember that dad tried mounting a live rod on the back of a cultivator once, and then took it off right away, never to try again, never knew why though. For quackgrass, they would seem to be a good tool, wouldn't they? Never considered using one after seeding though, is it able to run shallower than the seeds, or do they allow it to stir the sprouted seeds up too?

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