Scuffling – Kelsey Richardson
The weed management technique that my family has used before is scuffling corn. We have not used this method on our farm in Saskatchewan, but my dad used it growing up in Ontario and my family who is still farming in Ontario continues to use it.
My dad’s family used scuffling as a way to control weeds in corn when the crop was young. The main weeds that they were trying to control were wild oats and wild mustard. Dad would scuffle a corn crop twice but it could be done more than that if necessary. The first time they would go into a field was at the four to five leaf stage. During this first pass through the field they would pull the soil away from the corn rows. The second time they would scuffle a field was when the corn plants were knee high. This time they would throw the soil back against the corn stock which provided extra support for the corn. If weeds were especially problematic in a field then scuffling would also be done at the two leaf stage.
The equipment used for scuffling is basically two ground driven rototillers that you could adjust the angle on to control the direction the soil would be thrown. There were two rototillers that would fit in between each row. Some models replaced the rototillers with cultivator points, but dad’s family preferred the rototiller because you were able to throw the soil back against the crop.
My dad’s family had great success using scuffling for weed control in their corn crops. Scuffling also provided other benefits to the crop besides weed management. The first scuffling pass would break the crust on the soil which made it easier for the plant’s adventitious roots to anchor. The second pass which threw the soil back against the stock of the corn plant provided extra support as it continued to grow. Even with the success there were still some limitations to this method. Scuffling could not be done in wet conditions as the rototillers would fill up and pack with mud. Speed was another factor that could limit the success of scuffling. If scuffling was done too fast then the soil would be thrown too far. Another limitation is that you would lose some of the trash/residue from previous crops that were covering the soil which could lead to the soil drying out faster.
Scuffling is a weed control method that works well in not only corn but any other row crop such as soybeans. My dad has not used this method since he left Ontario as the crops we are growing in Saskatchewan are not grown as row crops. However, as more soybean and corn varieties are being pushed into western Canada they could very soon be added into our rotation and scuffling might be a weed management tool we use in the future.
Richardson, Jim. Interview. March 9, 2014.