Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13th...

Where did the summer go?  It seemed like just yesterday we were finishing up planting and now we are quickly getting ready for school to start and the State Fair to wrap up. We continue to mow roadsides and work on summer projects. We are quickly turning our focus to getting the harvest and fall tillage equipment ready.  We are also embarking on a scale project at our grain drying facility which has yet to start...  The moderate summer temperatures have pushed back our initial harvest start date from September 2nd to at least the 15th.  Corn is not stressed at all and we are starting to see where we could harvest the single biggest corn crop we have ever experienced.  As far as the soybeans go we don't really have a grasp on how well or poor that crop could be.  Typically, the soybean crop is "made" in August and so far we have experienced cool temperatures with ample moisture.  Only time will tell if the soybeans like this weather.  As you can see from the pictures below I am starting to get the hang of flying our drone.  

Cleaning out the last of the grain bins.  This was the 2nd to last load.  Always fun to clean out bins in August...

Loading up scrap steel and iron to be taken to the salvage yard.  In this picture Bob is loading up an old grain bin fan that no longer works and had to be replaced.

A view of our main farmstead Southwest of Ashland

Aerial view of our 37 entry corn plot.

Looking down on our narrow row corn comparison; 30" rows on the left and 20" rows on the right.  39,000 plants per acre in the 20" rows vs. 36,000 ppa in the 30" rows.
Max & Owen helping pick sweetcorn

Replacing the 35 year old rotten boards on our machine shed.  Ron Brown and Phil Smith did a great job!

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28th...

The summer continues to fly by with the days counting down until harvest starts.  We have been busy scouting our fields for diseases and insects and in some cases as the picture below shows we have been spraying certain corn and soybean fields as needed.  Summer work continues with mowing roadsides and emptying the last of the grain from the bins. To date we have experienced unbelievably cool weather which is wonderful for the corn. This allows the corn to pack weight in the kernels giving the fields extra yield and heavier test weights.  Although the cool weather is great for people and the corn, it is delaying harvest by not allowing us to gain all the growing degree days we are accustomed to. Originally we had planned to begin harvest immediately following Labor Day; now it appears like it may be the middle of September before we ever start.  This enjoyable weather is also doing a wonderful job of masking how dry we are in our area. While we did catch a general rain last week, we are still somewhat dry.  

The jury is still out on our soybean crop. They are tall and lush, but we've seen tall beans yield poorly in the past too. Beans typically like warmer and drier weather and early on they had to withstand wet soil conditions. Despite all my comments about the weather, we currently have the highest yield potential of any corn crop we've ever raised. The traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have certainly figured that out too and have lowered both corn and bean prices significantly.  

Other projects around the farm have been hauling limestone and piling it in fields where we plan to spread it this fall. We used to be able to have lime hauled in after we harvested the fields, but due to new demand and lower margins in crushing rock into fine powder we are finding that it is very beneficial to stock-pile the lime in the summer months and have it ready for spreading come fall.  We've also been hauling rock for driveways and other projects as we start getting ready for harvest.  Today we winterized the sprayer and water trailer with hopes of getting them put away in the back of shed later this week.  

I'm still getting the hang of operating our drone so still not too many pictures from it yet.  I actually crashed it a couple weeks ago when it got too low to the soybeans.  Between flying it and figuring out how to operate the camera it's like learning to ride a bicycle all over again.  Until next time... 

Aerially applying fungicide and insecticide on our soybeans.

20" rows of tasseled corn going up the hill on the Elkhart farm.

Stock-piling limestone on our Williamsville farm.

Aerial shot from our drone where we removed a couple fingers of trees prior to planting.  No nitrogen was applied in these spots and you can certainly tell that by the yellow corn.  This is on our farm South of Nortonville.

Owen & Max's first Cardinals game of the year.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6th...

It has been many days since my last post.  Our crop continues to be on pace to have tremendous potential.  Most of our corn is pollinating right now in this cooler weather which is ideal.  Most of our soybeans look excellent; although our fields near Jacksonville and Greenfield have received significant rainfalls which slowed growth, made them grow uneven, and even turned them yellow in the lower spots.  They have made a good recovery, but the weather in August will make the real difference.  We have been busy spraying the last of the soybeans, mowing roadsides, and scouting corn for any leaf diseases.  As of today, the corn diseases are few and far between which is a good sign. The markets have figured out that we all planted a few more acres of soybeans and have taken that market lower.  As many in our occupation will attest to, marketing your crop is the single hardest aspect of our business.  

As you will see below in the pictures we have purchased a Crop Copter which is a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or drone.  Our plan is to scout our crops aerially as well as look for any wet spots we need to tile or weed escapes we need to go back and address.  It's like learning to fly a helicopter while sitting on the ground looking through goggles.  I haven't lost it yet, but I did almost crash it because it ran out of battery power.  I hope to take more videos and photos from the air for my next post.

Enjoy your summer!

Tassels on our Gooden field.  Notice the height difference between the two hybrids.

Spraying soybeans in Williamsville.

Rough day for the tractor mowing roadsides resulted in a flat tire.

A 1st Generation European Corn Borer that has drilled into one of our nonGMO corn stalks.

A Crop Copter drone which we recently purchased to aerially scout our fields.

View of the drone in the air looking down on Dad and I.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday, June 9th...

Planting season is now behind us and the crops are growing quickly.  Planting season through mid May was very dry in our area.  However, in the last two weeks we received a much needed 3-4" of rain.  Along with the recent rains, above normal temperatures have jump-started the crops.  Our corn is now waist high and the early planted soybeans are soon to close to the row.  All the corn has been sprayed and we have begun the final application of herbicides on the soybean acres.  While we greatly appreciate the recent rains, the saturated soils have made it challenging to make the final spray pass.  Spring equipment is being washed and put away and the first round of mowing roadsides has begun.  Summer is moving along quickly as our County Fair begins next week.  

We've been blessed with very good crops so far, now we just have to figure out how to market what we don't already have sold...

20" nonGMO soybeans will soon be closing the row at Ashland.

A field of waist high 20" corn planted at 45,000 plants per acre.
It looks like a jungle out there.

Helping this field of soybeans break through the crust by running the rotary hoe across it.

Filling the planter with soybeans at our Greenfield farm 

Fishing in Canada 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Week ending Sunday, May 18th...

Since my last post we have been busying planting soybeans. In just five days we planted 90% of our soybeans across three counties. This was the first year we were able to run both planters at the same time since we already had the corn planted.  We began by planting the nonGMO soybeans with the 20" planter and the GMO beans with the 15" planter. In a couple days we had the nonGMO soybeans planted and switched back to our usual RoundUp Ready soybeans. The first planted soybeans can easily be rowed from the highway and the most recently planted are just now pushing out of the ground. We lack planting our acreage in Greenfield which we chose not to plant ahead of the 3-4" rain forecast. Turns out they had significantly more rain down there and it looks like a good decision not to have those planted. We did have a field of corn on lighter soils that struggled to emerge and took a combination of good rains, sunshine, and heat units to get it out of the ground. It isn't a perfect stand, but with it being May 18th and having a flex-ear hybrid we are going to leave it and see what happens - it should turn out fine for that particular environment. On a more positive note, all our other corn fields had excellent emergence with very low seedling mortality rates and extremely even stands. Stands like this give us the potential to have tremendous yields if Mother Nature cooperates. Recently the nighttime temperatures have dropped into the high 30's and many are concerned the lower lying areas of corn and bean fields could have experienced frost and killed some of the plants. We are going out tomorrow morning to access the damage, if any. We like to give the corn and beans a day or two of sunshine and warmer weather before making a decision to start over or leave it. While we planted our soybeans we also started spraying corn with our post emerge herbicide pass. Finishing our corn spraying will be a priority this week while we wait on the ground to dry in Greenfield to finish planting.  

Our corn planted on April 10th is now V4 and growing quickly.  The recent cool temperatures have slowed it down, but in two weeks it will be closing the rows.

A grounds eye view of the 20" planter

Planting on our County Line Farm near Nortonville

Planting the last of the corn on the Arnold farm near Jacksonville.

Newly planted corn where trees stood just a month ago.  We cleared two small groves of trees on our County Line Farm near Nortonville this spring which allow us to farm straight through versus snaking around the timber.

David unloading soybean seed

Monday, April 28, 2014

Corn planting season...

Corn planting began for us on April 10th and by the 26th we had all our corn planted. The ground worked up as nice as it ever has providing for a very good seed bed; almost like a garden.  After three days of planting we were knocked out of the fields by cold rains which eventually switched over to snow showers.  Having 600 acres of corn planted as you watch it snow outside can be nerve racking.  But the weather quickly warmed again and temperatures and the humidity elevated quickly.  We left our plantings in Logan and Morgan counties towards the end and finished up with them this past Saturday.  It was getting very dry in our immediate area and many local farmers had already switched over to planting their 2014 soybean crop.  Luckily, rains fell over this past weekend and again this afternoon to give the corn seedlings a much needed drink.  In fact, the corn we planted the first three days of the season is already emerged and looks quite good despite the stretch of colder weather.  We feel very fortunate to have our corn planted in this window compared to other farmers we hear about in Northern Illinois who may have just gotten started.  Last year we finished planting our corn on June 8th due to the extremely wet planting season.  This year we struggled to find wet soils; even in the low lying areas that are typically wet.  The corn planting season wasn't without struggles; from broken tillage equipment, to a $350 cable that tells the tractor the planter is behind it, to a bad fuse that shut off the bulk seed handling system.  But everything was repairable and we were able to finish in good time.  Recent rain falls have totaled between 1.1 and 2.0" so the next time we are able to get in the fields we will begin planting our soybean crop. 

Thank you to all our employees and suppliers who put in long hours to make corn planting go so smoothly.

We can cover a lot of acres in a day with the 60' planter

Bob planting his first field of corn - 2014

The boys out for a weekend tractor ride with Dad.
They like to push any and all buttons.

Corn planted in 20" rows following a fall pass with a 20" strip-tillage bar and anhydrous ammonia.  Looks good!

Broken wing weld on our field cultivator.  Things like this just happen during the spring.

Owen and Max dressed up for Easter church service

Our first corn planted on April 10th has emerged

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