Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9th...

The summer is quickly coming to a close and soon the school buses will be out and about. This summer has flown by and within the next four weeks we will begin harvesting our crops. June was one of the wettest on record, while July was hot and dry. This was almost the perfect recipe to challenge our corn crop. As you can see from the pictures we took with our drone below, we have numerous drowned out and stunted spots spread across most of our farms; with exception of the pattern-tiled farms which have shown great resilience against all the rain. The soybeans have weathered all the moisture quite well and are actually in need of a good soaking August rain. Rains in August almost always ensure a decent soybean crop. We have been busy cleaning out the last of the grain bins, mowing waterways and roadsides, attending meetings, and taking family vacations. We have started to get out the harvest equipment and will focus on ensuring things are ready go once our first planted corn gets to 28% moisture. 

After decades, it was time to clean out the ditch on our University of Illinois farm.

Good looking soybeans on our Williamsville farm. Just recently sprayed with fungicide.

Aerial shot of one of our fields outside Ashland. As you can see from the photo, there are numerous drowned out spots from all the June rains.

We are the field in the lower right-hand corner.
This is what the neighborhood looks like Northwest of Elkhart.

We have numerous holes in fields that look like this...

Owen & Max touring Chicago on summer vacation

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11th...

Rain, Rain, and more rain has been the story since my last post. We are beyond saturated. Between rain showers we have been mowing roadsides and trying to get the last of the beans sprayed to keep the weeds back. Due to all the wet conditions and occasional humidity, we are noticing grey leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight infecting the corn. Once we see this at a certain threshold, we call in the aerial applicator (spray plane) and have them start applying fungicide. We are towards the end of that process and should have most of the remaining fields sprayed by the middle of the upcoming week; barring rain outs. Next, we will begin checking soybean fields to see if we need to be spraying fungicide on them. Soon we will begin getting the harvest equipment ready. We've also been making a few small updates to our corn drying facility. 

The boys have now had more rain outs in their baseball leagues than games played and the season finale tournament was finally called off because of games not being able to be played and backing up everyone else in the league's schedules. What a mess! We are hoping that Mother Nature decides to dry us out sometime soon because our corn won't be much to brag about if it keeps raining and no one knows yet on the soybean yield potential. Just glad we didn't take the tracks off the combine from last year...

Summer is flying by! Be safe.

Mowing the road banks on the North end of the Williamsville farm

Some road bank mowing had to be done between rains and with standing water in the ditch. Not something we like to do, but sometimes necessary.

Spraying our corn with fungicide using the airplane - Leahy field outside Ashland

Hard to scout corn in the mud...

He's supposed to be cleaning his boots off...

Hauling some of the last corn out of the bins

Boys messing around

Max playing t-ball

Aerial shot of the Mears Land Trust; the yellow spots are short corn where clay was brought up during the tiling.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18th...

I am pleased to report that we are finally done planting our 2015 crop. We had one last field at Nortonville that kept receiving rain after rain. It seemed as though it would never dry out, but finally on June 6th & 7th we "created" an opportunity and got it planted just ahead of a two inch rain. Luckily the ground stayed wet for the next 10 days and the soybeans emerged. Lately, the State of Illinois has received more than its fair share of rainfall. Luckily, until today we managed to escape the majority of that. Today another quick two inches fell and pretty much soaked everything and created lakes, ponds and rivers all over our area. Despite recent rainfall, both our corn and soybean crops look very good. In fact our earliest planted corn will begin showing tassels next week and should pollinate right ahead of the 4th of July holiday. While the majority of our corn will pollinate in first two weeks of July. We continue to stay busy mowing roadsides, putting away spring machinery and getting other odd jobs checked off our list. When we are not busy at the farm the kids baseball and t-ball games keep us entertained.

Planting the last field of soybeans South of Nortonville

Top-dressing Urea nitrogen fertilizer on our corn in Greenfield.

Replacing the fill auger on the dryer with a new grain pump

Sweet corn starting to tassel

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9th...

Since my last post we have completed all our corn planting and are down to the final 250 acres of soybeans to be planted. Up until this weekend, our area was extremely dry and very behind our annual rainfall. Luckily, we have received 1.5" of rain so far with more likely this evening. All our corn has emerged. We decided to plant the last 30% of our corn acres after the week of cool weather which appears to be a good decision; that corn came out of the ground in just six days thanks to 85 degree temperatures. 

We continue to haul corn from our bins to get them cleaned out for this year's crops and mowing roadsides and spraying corn with post-emergent herbicides will be next on the docket. Summertime also brings with it the hustle and bustle of tee-ball and coach pitch baseball for this household. 

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mom's out there!

Tom waving to the camera on the drone after checking the seed level on the planter in Greenfield.
Bob reloading the Kinze planter with soybeans.
Planting corn on the Mears Land Trust.
Spreading fertilizer and grass seed for new Conservation Reserve Program acres in Nortonville.
Lightly harrowing in the newly planted grass seed on the CRP acres.
We are trying a Track-Till system on our planter this year where we poke 9" holes in the ground behind where our tractor and planter tires run. We hope to alleviate some compaction from all the weight we carry which causes yield damage.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19th...

Corn planting has begun. We started on Wednesday evening, April 7th. Storms were looming but it was time to ensure the planters would be ready the next time the fields dried out. We successfully planted 20 acres and were quickly chased out of the fields by extreme lightning and a down pour. Three days later the fields were dry enough to resume planting and we were able to plant for a complete week non-stop. While we welcomed the dry planting period we were actually getting unusually dry for this time of year. At one point last week we were forecasted to have a 70% chance of rain; to which we missed. As luck would have it, the rains did finally arrive this morning and we are in the minority of farmers in Illinois that are glad to see it. Many local neighbors are starting to wrap up corn planting and a few have even already begun planting soybeans. We have 30% of our corn to plant which will not take long once field work resumes.

Corn seedling one week after planting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21st...

You would think I would have plenty to write about since it's been a month since my last post, but winter continues to keep us inside for the most part. The shop has been busy with spring projects such as readying the tillage equipment as well as working on the planters. Most of our seed corn has been delivered, but we don't anticipate needing the rest of it since it's still so cold. On Thursday of this week we missed a rain and were able to start some spring field work by applying anhydrous ammonia on a farm we have East of Ashland that is very well tiled. We covered 170 acres before a late afternoon rain arrived and dumped a quarter to a half inch of unwanted rain. Despite the rain, activities continued with a friend showing up and knocking down an old corn crib on one of our farms and then proceeding to bury it. We have plenty of anhydrous to get applied, but spring will get here when it wants. Some are even predicting snow in April around here....

Our first fieldwork of 2015.  We had a small window to apply
anhydrous ammonia on a very well tiled farm.

Burying a old barn.

Ron doing some welding and fabrication on the arm mower
we use to trim trees during the winter months.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mid February update...

Winter continues to hang around with the tease of warmer weather followed by extreme cold weather. Planting season is two months away, but it's hard to believe given all this cold weather. Most of our time as of late has been consumed by hauling corn out of our grain bins and finalizing our 2015-2018 Farm Program decisions. This has included going to numerous meetings and visiting with landlords regarding their questions and concerns.

Since content is a little low during these winter months, I've included pictures of my Grandfather's (Raymond Mears) planter from the mid 70's. He was an innovator with a homemade rig where he tilled, sprayed and planted all in one pass; quite different than how we operate today. We now drive down to Greenfield and farm the same field you see in the pictures. Grandma used to comment about how what used to take Grandpa weeks to plant now takes us one to two days...

Be well and stay warm!