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

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