We have had an extremely busy week since my last update. Last Monday afternoon we were able to resume our field operations and worked continued an entire week through Monday evening, May 20th. I am happy to report that we covered a lot of our corn acres and are now down to the final 20% to be planted. We even got a few acres of soybeans planted on our North farms while we waited on farms further South to dry out. It was the fastest we have ever planted the bulk of our corn crop. Many late nights and early mornings were put in by all the owner's and employees and for that we are extremely grateful. The warm temperatures have given our newly planted corn a jump-start and within six days of planting the corn was emerging from the soil. The same was true for the soybeans we planted. Rains Monday evening totaling 1.5" will keep us out of the fields for a little while. The forecast looks wet for the next 7-10 days which may push us back into June. Our area continues to be one of the wettest in Central Illinois, but many farmers have made significant progress in the past week. While we don't have all our corn planted yet, we are very thankful for what we were able to get in the ground last week.
Planting no-till corn at the Lehmann Farm
Dad adding extra bags of seed to finish out the Martin farm
Soybeans emerging six days after planting on the Elkhart farm
Another wet week. Just as we were almost dry enough a forecasted half inch to an inch rain dumped another two inches on us around the Ashland area. Our south farms received about the same while our North farms only had an even inch. We are beyond wet and saturated. Our first planted corn is emerging and looks good. When the next planting window presents itself we plan to plant both corn and soybeans at the same time.
Even though we would like to be in the fields planting, the rain delay has given us ample opportunity to hunt the local timbers and woods for morel mushrooms. Owen even made his first trip to the woods to look for mushrooms. He found an entire 1.5 pounds - not bad for his first time out.
We remain positive that we can still achieve high corn yields if we get the crop planted soon. Another week of zero planting progress will dash those hopes, but we will see what Mother Nature has in store for us.
Owen found his first morel mushrooms
Our corn planted May 1st has emerged
Plenty of rain
Excessive rainfall still leaving the field; 18 hours later
I am proud to finally post that we began our 2013 corn planting season last Tuesday. The warm temperatures and high winds dried the soils out enough to allow us to start planting on a few fields that we had worked back in early April. Normally, we can plant quite a few acres in day but we had three separate issues that held us back as we planted on Tuesday through Thursday. These ranged from seed bridging in the planter tubes, to a bad auto-steer sensor, and finally the new skinny tires. The skinny tires were intended to split the planter rows, but as it turned out our ground is so soft the tires sunk into the soil almost an entire foot deep and created a mess for the planter rows that followed behind them. So after one round, we unhooked the planter and headed back to the shop to put on the original tires that came with the tractor. These bigger tires worked much better. All together we managed to plant 15% of our intended corn acres; mostly at night after we fixed the problems...
The rains set in Thursday evening and have dumped another 2.0-2.8" of rain on our farming area. At this point I am not sure if we will get back in the fields this week as the forecast is calling for another shower on Thursday. However, we are happy to have some corn seed in the ground as some of our friends around the state have not had that opportunity. And although we had to work through them, we are glad and hopeful that we have worked the kinks out of our planting operations.
The first box of seed being loaded into the planter
60 feet at a time
David leveling ground ahead of the planter
Loading the planter with more seed and starter fertilizer in the dark
Still no corn planted. And the temperatures and rainfall continue to delay our planting progress. The 10 acres of "practice" corn we planted on April 5th has now emerged, although it is extremely yellow and the stand is sporadic. We have caught up on most jobs and are now working on jobs we would normally work on during the summer.
The forecast doesn't look promising and we are planning our next move to get corn in the ground quickly when the weather finally allows. The prevent planting date for our area is June 5th which is still a month away, but we will need some very warm temperatures for extended periods of time to get our corn planted before the deadline.
Our "practice" corn has emerged - although it's very yellow.
Picking up the old fence we tore out on our Greenfield farm. Thanks to our neighbors Mark Twitchell and JL Ford for the use of the skid steer.
Elizabeth & Owen after they ran the Christie Clinic Illinois Kids Marathon.
Rainy, wet and cold can easily describe how the last two weeks have been. There has been zero additional corn planted in our area and 100% of our corn remains in the bag waiting to be planted. Last week we received 3" of rain, but we feel fortunate as areas to our West and North had upwards of 6-8" of rain. We even had a light snow shower on Saturday morning just to remind us that Mother Nature isn't yet ready for spring. The forecast is calling for a 70% chance of another 1-1.5" of rain on Tuesday which should solidify no corn planting at all in the month of April.
Meanwhile we continue to work on projects like switching out the tires on the planter tractor and retrofitting one of our semis with a wet-kit. We have also gotten the combine out and are working on taking our add-on equipment off it and getting it ready to head back over to Cross Brothers in Mount Pulaski where they will clean it up and deliver it to the next owner. Hopefully, this week the weather will be a little warmer and we can start to find morel mushrooms in the woods - those are a spring delicacy...
Adding ultra narrow tires to the planter tractor to ensure they will roll between the 20" rows
Splitting one of the fuel tanks on the semi so we can add a wet kit
The boys and I at Memorial Stadium for the Illini Football Team's Open House
Planting season is upon us - finally. Towards the end of the week the weather turned warmer and dried a few fields out enough to allow us to work with the field cultivator. On Friday we were able to get the new planter in the field and work the bugs out. Thank you to Brad Bishop and Matt Aper from Cross Bros. for coming over and helping us. We did not plant much though because the forecast is calling for significant rain totals and colder temperatures in the coming week. Very little field work was completed in our area this past week as the ground in most places is still damp to wet 2-4" underneath the dry surface. Saturday's 30-40 mph winds helped dry a lot of those fields however. I imagine that if Sunday's rain does not amount to much, we will see a few neighbors begin planting their 2013 corn crop.
This past week David also got the seed trailer put together and when the weather straightens out we are ready to begin planting in earnest. We also worked on a few last minute spring jobs such as changing filters on the fuel tank pumps and trimming some trees that have over-grown into the field edges.
The new planter finally makes it to the field
Making the final pass before the planter - the tile is working great
Spreading urea and ESN for our National Corn Growers yield contest entry
The boys in their Easter clothes - ties are a very rare occurrence with these two...
12-18 inches of snow a week ago and now 60 degrees on Easter. Isn't the weather in Central Illinois interesting? Mostly a week of watching the snow melt and working inside on the spring equipment. A few more trees were cut and burned along with lots of winter fun sledding in the snow. On Friday the weather was much warmer which allowed us to deliver some seed corn to customers who are thinking planting season may soon be approaching.
The forecast is calling for high's in the upper 50's and lower 60's towards the weekend which I believe will cause some field cultivators to hit the fields this week. If the forecasts don't change, I think we will see a few try planting some corn the week of April 8th...