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Farmers getting ready for spring growing season

 

With the weather getting warmer and the days growing longer, folks are beginning to see Bladen’s farmers taking to their tractors and preparing their fields for spring planting.  Bruce McLean Jr., Field Crop and Commercial Horticulture (Fruits and Vegetables), with Bladen County Cooperative Extension said some farmers in our county are in the process of ripping the ground in preparation for spring planting rather than tilling the land.

McLean said that ripping differs slightly from tilling in that ripping is usually done to break up water repellant soil layers. He explained that where Bladen County received a lot of rain in the fall, it can cause the different layers of the soil to compact or become firm. By ripping the soil, it opens the soil up and allows the rainfall to infiltrate the different layers. Once this process is completed, they will begin tilling the field.

McLean said once farmers have tilled their fields they will then start adding nutrients such as lime and fertilizer, depending on the type of crop they are planting. He said the goal of adding nutrients and fertilizer to the soil is to make sure the PH balance of the soil is correct for your chosen crop.

He said typically, corn is the first crop Bladen’s farmers will plant in the early spring.  Other crops that are planted in the late April to May time frame include peanuts, tobacco, cotton and soy beans.

McLean said that Bladen’s strawberry crop is looking good as well. He said the strawberries were actually planted last fall and the recent warm weather is causing the berries to begin ripening early. McLean said because of the berries already hanging on the vines, farmers had to take preventive measures and implement their frost protection plans for the bushes during last weekend’s freezing temperatures.

McLean reported blueberry farmers on the north side of the Cape Fear River were also busy applying frost protection measures to their fields last weekend. He said the blueberry crop faired well in the freezing temperatures.

He said residents can expect to begin to see more fertilizer trucks visiting Bladen County’s fields in the coming weeks as spring planting gets under way.

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