Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring planting gets closer...

The weather has started to change and signs of spring are near.  We have been busy completing spring projects and we even had a day of tillage on April 1st before storms brought 2.5" of much needed rainfall.  Surprisingly, the ground absorbed the heavy rains much quicker than we anticipated and the forecast looks promising for a window to plant a few acres of corn later in the week. We are staying with our winter plans for "x" number of corn and soybean acres. Although, this year we will again be planting some nonGMO/Hard Endosperm corn along with roughly 450 acres of nonGMO soybeans.  Stay tuned to our blog as I hope to update it more frequently now that we are busy once again.

If you are in the market for a used Kenworth semi, we are selling one of our trucks.  You can see it listed below along with a link to where it is listed with more details.

Working down corn stalks on a field that was tiled last fall - April 1st

Sewing grass on a waterway where we installed a new tile

Cutting brush back on tree lines

Trimming trees on the Arnold Home farm

Draining the backed up water off before we fixed the tile riser

New tile riser installed on the Arnold 100 after we fixed the broken clay tile

Loading the dry fertilizer cart on Huppe Trucking's semi headed to it's new home in Elsie, Michigan

2000 Kenworth T800 for sale - 639,000 miles

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday, March 22nd...

The winter continues to drag on.  With a few intermittent days of 60+ degrees we are beginning to work on spring jobs.  Planting equipment is being readied and spring projects such as tree trimming and the occasional dirt moving are now taking center stage.  Most all of our seed corn has been delivered and our shed and shop are starting to get full.  We remain very dry and for the moment we don't have any snow or snow piles remaining.  A few neighbors have talked about trying to apply some anhydrous ammonia next week and the local tilers are running hard installing spring tile projects since the frost is now out of the ground.  At the moment it appears the soil will be dry enough to plant as soon as we are bold enough to start, but the soil temperatures at 2" still remains in the lower 30's with the 10 day forecast calling for unseasonably cool/cold temperatures.  Will the markets react and continue to incentivize corn acres or will farmers get cold feet and switch to soybeans on the acres they can switch?  Only time will tell.  

Pictures from the past as well as a few pictures from our recent activity are posted below.

Spring 1980 - The Fleet

New 4840 brought home during the ice storm of 1978 - March 29th

Window sticker for our new 4630 tractor

Addition of a new tile riser and dry dam on the Arnold farm near Jacksonville

Using the brush mower to trim the trees and saplings back on the Arnold farm

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday, March 1st...

March 1st and still no signs of spring.  Our weather remains cold...unseasonably cold for this time of year.  Unless the weather changes drastically, it will be at least mid April before planters begin to roll in our area.  The forecast even includes a 5-10" snow for us this evening. So in anticipation of spring arriving I thought I would include a picture of spring field work from the early 90's.  

Also posted below is the original invoice for our John Deere 7700 combine from years ago. It's amazing what the price of a "modern day" combine was back then.  Today's cost of our combine is $350-400,000.  However, today's combine will harvest 6 to 10 times more acres per day.  Thank you to my father for finding this old invoice.

Bring on the warmer weather and spring!

Trading in the 1981 Versatile 835 for a 1987 Versatile 856.  These were great and very affordable forms of horsepower.  Our local dealer sold thousands of these 4 wheel drive tractors.

Working ground and incorporating herbicides on the University of Illinois farm - early 90's.

The 7700 traded in for a new 7720
The invoice below is the original for the 7700 - $43,988.05

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9th...

What a long winter it is becoming.  Rather than bore you with the usual activities of us hauling corn and moving snow, I thought I would include photos from years ago. Also, my father is a well-disciplined historian and he gave me some interesting factoids looking back on the "4" years.

10 yrs ago....2004

  • Corn price was $2.60 per bushel
  • Soybean price was $8.19 per bushel
  • Across our farm the corn yielded 205 bpa while soybeans were 61.5 bpa
20 yrs ago...1994
  • Corn price was $2.50 per bushel
  • Soybean price was $6.70 per bushel
  • Farm yield averages; corn 187 bpa & soybeans 55 bpa
  • Operating note interest rates were around 8-9%
30 yrs ago...1984
  • Corn price was $3.17 per bushel
  • Soybean price was $7.50 per bushel
  • Farm yield averages; corn 164 bpa & soybeans 46 bpa
  • We also had 22 acres of wheat that yielded 76 bpa on flat, black ground
  • In 1984 we had 10% of our corn base acres in set aside growing alfalfa
  • Operating note interest rates were around 12.5%
31 yrs ago...1983
  • very large and wide-spread drought in our area
  • corn yields were 111 bpa and soybeans only 37 bpa

The new 4320 tractor arrives on the farm.

4630 outfitted for fall tillage

March 1976 - our 4630 tractor with mounted tanks so we could apply herbicides while we ran the field cultivator in the spring.

January 1977 - snow drift taller than the pickup.  This drift was out in the middle of the prairie...

Playing in the snow this past weekend. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday, January 21st...

Not a lot of new news to report.  Snow removal, cleaning up fall machinery, paperwork and the occasional hauling of grain has been the excitement of our work since the 1st of the year; mostly the paperwork and meetings have consumed our time.  The weather has been fickle with one day being warm, the next day being snowy and the following day sub-zero.  During the last stretch of sub-zero weather we discovered that mice had chewed through all the insulation between the outer wall of our shop and the bathroom. This made for frozen pipes. Recently, David has renovated the bathroom and added better insulation, new inner walls and a fresh coat of paint.  

We have finalized our 2014 crop plans and will stick with those plans unless the markets indicate to us to plant more corn or more soybean acres.  At the moment our crop rotation keeps us in same mix of corn to soybeans as we had last year.  One new crop we will be trying this year is nonGMO soybeans.  We have not grown nonGMO soybeans since the release of the RoundUp Ready trait technology.  We are targeting some of our lowest weed pressure fields with a goal of keeping those fields spotless.  There is a nice premium for these nonGMO beans, but with a premium come challenges of making sure both the planters and combines are cleaned out before entering these fields to ensure purity.  

Stay warm!

February 1914 - my Great Grandfather, William R. Walbaum on the far left leaning against the snow drift.  This was snow removal back then.  The picture was taken about a mile from the original homestead.  Neighbors helping each other out.

Since I am currently trying to sell our moldboard plows, I thought it was funny to include a picture of when we utilized these tillage tools.  This was our primary tillage program back in the 80's.  Uncle Bob operating the tractor on the Gooden field.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's from all of us at Johnson Family Farms! Thank you to everyone who had a hand in our successful business this past year. We wish you and your family a safe and prosperous 2014!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14th...

Since we wrapped up our harvest on November 16th we have been applying anhydrous ammonia and finishing up our tillage operations.  We were able to wrap up the tillage weeks ago but the ammonia applications drug along due to the ground freezing. Fortunately, the weather warmed up enough on Sunday, December 1st to allow us to resume our ammonia applications.  After 3.5 days we finished and then the cold weather returned.  Since that time we have been busy cleaning fall machinery, hauling soybeans, attending meetings and working on year end books.  2013 was a very good year for our business.  However, margins for the 2014 crop look to be extremely narrow at this point causing us to reevaluate input decisions, cropping rotations, and machinery purchases into the new year.  

As you can see below most of the recent field activities have focused around installing new tile to a couple fields.  We are targeting areas that were excessively wet this spring.  
After starting the planting season an entire month behind and harvest also starting almost an entire month late, we feel very blessed to have all our tillage and fertilizer applications completed as well as the tile we wanted installed.  Thank you to all who helped us this fall!

Installing new tile lines on our Grand Prairie farm

Adding tile to a few wet spots on our farm between Ashland and Prentice

Snow beginning to fall as they were installing the last of the new tile lines

Loading soybeans on the semi in the snow

Recently we installed a ProTrakker hitch with assistance from Stevens Implement.  This hitch is tied in with John Deere's iGuide system which connects the GPS receiver on the tractor to the GPS receiver on our 20" strip-till bar.  The ProTrakker hitch has a sensor on it as well as hydraulic cylinders which can move 36" from side to side.  This allows us to have a 30' strip-till bar match up with our 60' planter without having wide or narrow rows.  We ran it on the last 400 acres of our anhydrous ammonia and it worked great.

Max & Owen with their first snowman of the year