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>>GRANT: Here we are, kind of mid to late planting season – depending on where you are in latitude north to south – and I’m still getting a lot of questions about how to terminate the existing crop.

>>GRANT: Maybe you had a, you know, a patch of clover and cereal grains last fall, and you’re thinking about, “Boy, I need to terminate that so it doesn’t make a bunch of seeds and I can plant my next crop.”

>>GRANT: And backing up one step on that, people ask me, “Why do you terminate that? Why don’t you let that crop make all those seeds, so you don’t have to plant again this fall?”

>>GRANT: We’ll start there, and that’s a fair question. But if you think about, you know, one seed of a turnip can make way more than a hundred new seeds, or a wheat can make 60, 80 kernels of wheat and, you know, go on down the line.

>>GRANT: And they’re gonna mature about now or a little later, depending on where you are north and south – fall right down there. Where you planted maybe one or two seeds, now you’ve got dozens. A lot of those are viable and gonna germinate, and it’s obviously way too thick.

>>GRANT: We plant a set amount per acre and get a desired crop, or farmers plant a bushel or two of wheat per acre to try to harvest 40 to 80 bushels of wheat.

>>GRANT: We can’t increase the amount of seed we plant by 40 or 80 times or 100 times and expect it to be a good crop. There’d be too much competition. So, leaving a standing crop and allowing those seeds to mature, thinking it’s gonna produce a really good crop for the future, rarely works out.

>>GRANT: Hence, we need to terminate the crop, and the two most common techniques these days to terminate a crop is using the sprayer or a crimper.

>>GRANT: There’s probably more people these days tuned in to using a sprayer. They put an herbicide in there, drive across a field, and that herbicide terminates the crop. That’s a proven efficient technique. There’s all kinds of different herbicides for different weeds or different crops, some are grass specific. Maybe they only take a grass out of the area. Those are usually applied after the new crop, like a legume, has been planted.

>>GRANT: The most common herbicide, of course, is glyphosate or Roundup. Glyphosate’s the active ingredient in Roundup, and it’s known as a broad-spectrum killer. It’s designed to kill everything. Now some weeds these days have been – they’re parents or the former seed producers – have been treated with glyphosate so much, they’re resistant, and glyphosate doesn’t terminate them. So, we’re running into some issues with using sprayers.

>>GRANT: A bit newer concept or technique to many people is using a crimper. I’ve got a Goliath 8-foot crimper. You notice, it kind of looks like a roller with fins on it at a certain angle.

>>GRANT: Now this is basically designed to replicate buffalo, elk, you know, cattle more recently – a big group of big animals and their feet just trampling everything down – and that terminates that standing crop and leaves a really good mulch that serves as slow-release fertilizer for the oncoming crop.

>>GRANT: Deer have really small hooves, and they eat the best and move on. They don’t eat everything to the ground, so they’re not gonna terminate the crop unless it’s a brand-new crop you just planted like soybeans, and they wipe ‘em out before they get going. Deer are not gonna terminate the crops in our food plots.

>>GRANT: And that’s where the crimper comes in. I can let the crop I planted last fall get to about this stage – a little bit earlier. And I want it when the seeds are mature enough that when I squeeze the seeds, water comes out. That’s called the dough stage. And at the dough stage if I roll over or drive over that with the crimper and those fins are breaking the stem about every eight inches, that terminates the crop and does not allow those seeds to mature.

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>>GRANT: So, it’s called crimping. Again, it’s crimping the stem. It’s not cutting. A really common question is, “Hey, I don’t have a crimper.” And I understand that. “Can’t I use my bush hog or my rotary mower?” And the answer is, usually not.

>>GRANT: I’m standing in the yard here at our equipment place, and we mow it. It doesn’t kill it. You know, this isn’t a fancy yard. There’s clovers and grasses and annual weeds and perennial weeds in here, and they come back. Now mowing will terminate some weeds and some grasses, but not many. So, mowing isn’t a good alternative to terminate a crop.

>>GRANT: In addition, most mowers I’ve used leave strips or clumps. And those clumps would be so thick that the new crop can’t come through there or even a new drill can’t penetrate all that to plant the seeds and get them at the right depth in the soil. So, mowing is not a good replacement for spraying or crimping in most situations.

>>GRANT: If you’re like us and you plant crops in the fall to attract deer and get some nutrition over the winter, and then crops this time of year to feed deer – to supplement their food source through the summer – then you want to terminate that crop you planted in the fall during planting season the following spring.

>>GRANT: For years now I’ve been primarily using the crimper because I like not using herbicide unless I have to, and I really like planting green – planting through that standing crop – and then using the crimper to terminate it and lay it down as a thick mulch. That is the best way to make rapid gains in soil health.

>>GRANT: Of course, if you spray, that bares everything, and the sun’s heat can get to the soil; allow it to warm up a lot – and there’s a lot of negative consequences. We’ve shared a table in the past about how when the soil temperature gets higher, a much higher percentage of the moisture can evaporate, and that terminates many beneficial organisms in the soil.

>>GRANT: But when you use a crimper, you lay a thick mulch mat down, and you can feel the difference below that mulch. It keeps it cooler. It preserves much more soil moisture, and in a drought year, that pays huge dividends.

>>GRANT: I get a lot of questions saying, “Hey, Grant, man I don’t have a crimper. Can’t I just use my flat roller or my cultipacker?” And my answer is always the same. “I don’t think so.” Every now and then that will work if you catch the crop out there – and it needs to be a monoculture, where everything’s ripening at just the same time – and you roll over it or press it down at the very late portions of the milk stage or the dough stage, when those seeds are almost ripe. You may get pretty good termination.

>>GRANT: A crimper is designed to break the stems. That’s why the fins are on here. And it’s gonna break it about every eight inches and do a much better job of terminating everything out there over a much wider window during early dough stage, mid-dough stage, and late dough stage, or during about a three-week window over most species.

>>GRANT: A really good example is our yards. If we drive over this with our tires or we took a roller over this, it wouldn’t terminate it. People roll golf courses or yards all the time to kind of flatten it out, knowing that it won’t terminate anything. Pretty much true in your food plots. A roller is not a substitute for a crimper.

>>GRANT: High-quality crimpers are designed to have a very specific angle of the fins that do a great job of terminating the crop and making sure there’s a fin always touching the ground. If you’ve got a gap too far or the wrong angle, there will be a flat spot, and that crimper will start bouncing off the ground, which makes a very tough tractor ride and leaving portions of the plot that are not terminated. It’s jumping over portions of the vegetation.

>>GRANT: So, get a good-quality crimper, if you want to use this system. It is a very important tool to make rapid improvements to soil health.

>>GRANT: Understanding more about plant growth cycles is a great way and a fun way to learn about Creation. But more importantly, I hope you take time everyday to be quiet and listen to the Creator and His will for your life.

>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.