Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21st...

Harvest continues to roll on at break-neck speed in our local area. Corn has rapidly dried down and we have been able to turn off the corn dryer and take the grain directly to the bins for storage. We began harvesting our soybeans last week and those are also drier than expected; despite still having yellow leaves on them. We have had a few rains in the last few weeks, but we were so dry beforehand that the rains usually only kept us out of the fields for a half day. On Saturday we harvested our plot. The high yield this year was 248 bpa. Last year the high yield was 281. And that is very typical of our field yield results from this year versus last; a decline of about 30-40 bushels per acre. We were too wet early on and then too hot with zero rainfall to finish our corn crop. The corn essentially "died" down rather than matured naturally on it's own. But, at this point it is what is and our job is to make sure we get it harvested before any wind storms.

Be safe out there and watch for harvest equipment on rural roads.

Dumping corn through our scale at our dryer site.

Hauling out dry corn to our satellite bins.

Max and Owen cleaning the corn kernels off the scale.

Harvesting corn outside Ashland.

We were using a wagon to directly fill some bins on another farm and the bin got full before the wagon was empty so we had to dumb it at our dryer site before the rains arrived.

Each of our 43 plot entries was weighed and ran through this wagon.

Day two of soybean harvest.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Game on.....

Harvest is officially underway at Johnson Family Farms. We tried a little corn Monday, August 31st and it was still 29-30% moisture which is a little high for us. So we harvested a couple semi loads, calibrated the yield monitor and waited for the week of hot weather to dry the corn. Tuesday was spent touring the Farm Progress Show in nearby Decatur, Illinois. Thursday we decided to try our corn near Jacksonville and take advantage of the half-priced grain drying the nearby Bartlett Rail Shuttle was offering. The corn had dried and was anywhere from 18.5-25%. Yields are extremely variable with yields anywhere from 100-270 bushels per acre a common sight on the yield monitor and often in the same pass. Elevation, tile, nitrogen management, and fungicide appear to be paying large dividends. A few neighbors have also started harvest, but many are saying they will begin the Tuesday after Labor Day. The hot and humid week of recent weather has dropped the corn moisture by at least five points. It appears we are trending towards a fall similar to 2007 where corn went from 30% moisture to 18% virtually in one week. The stalks are not very good and our plan is to keep one machine on corn in the foreseeable future and start another combine on soybeans when those are ready in the coming weeks.

The kids are back in school so please be on the lookout for those yellow buses as well as farm machinery on the roads this fall. Give everyone a little patience and enjoy what will soon be crisp fall days filled with football.

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.