Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, spring, weather, wind | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, Planting, rain, snow, spring, weather, wind
Here it is the end of April and we have no corn in the ground. That is very unusual here in south western Minnesota. Other signs of spring are also delayed.
I just noticed today that the buds on our trees are only just forming. We should have the maples nearing full leaf, with the ash and oaks just behind. There has been not a dandelion bloom in sight, and even tulips are slow to show their merry blooms. It all leads me to assume that the ground is still very cold.
The north winds of the last few days have reduced the remnants of last winters snow drifts to very scattered sloppy piles. Where they exist there is wet, cold ground nearby. Today we finally have a warm south wind. Maybe we have turned a weather corner.
Tonight’s forecast is for rain, so no planting this weekend, but we can still hope. In the mean time, I’ll be looking to the trees and the flowers to see when it is time to get the corn planted. The calendar says go, but the weather says no.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Corn, Farm, food, harvest, hunger | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, Corn, ethanol, farm, Food, harvest, history
Food demand around the world is growing by 1.1 percent per year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fortunately, a Canadian study reveals that global grain production has increased by 1.5 percent per year over the past 20 years. With increasing resources now being directed to agricultural development in some of the world’s hungriest countries, especially in Africa, there is optimism that we will continue to grow the crops and increase production where the need is greatest.
Now producing and eating only grains is not going to get you a balanced diet, but it is a first step. It does tell you that there is indeed hope that we can continue to feed the worlds people. The increase of production over demand does tell you why we are using grains for ethanol production. We still have more of some grains than we need.
So despite all of the fear of the year folks out there, the worlds farmers are still doing their job of feeding the worlds population. Every year we produce more with less. The efficiency of farm folks should be an inspiration to all.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, Soybeans, spring | Tags: Corn, farm, Minnesota, Planting, Soybeans, spring, weather
It’s April 26, and I should be planting corn. No panic, yet!
Each years weather is so different. One year we have an early planting season, the next year could be late. When should we be planting corn and soybeans here in southwestern Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota says that we should be starting to plant corn here about April 23. The crop insurance folks will not insure a corn crop planted before April 15. These are just dates on a calendar. The real best starting date is when the field conditions, moisture and temperature, are right.
It is recommended that for the best yield, corn should be planted here before May 10. After that date, on average, you will start to lose some yield. We could continue to plant the same recommended varieties of corn here until May 20, after that you need earlier maturing varieties.
Soybeans need warmer weather to germinate so we plant them later here. Unlike corn, which needs a certain amount of heat to mature, soybeans are a day light sensitive crop. When the days get shorter, they set seeds. Thus soybeans are not as touchy about when they are planted. They do need a certain amount of time to get big enough to bear seed. The earlier you plant the better chance you have of getting a good crop. Soybeans are more likely to freeze in a late frost than corn, so some caution on early planting is advised..
So no panic about getting the crop in yet. We’ve been blessed the last few years with an early planting season. This one is late. We will get the crop planted. I always have.
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, snow, Soybeans, spring, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, history, Planting, rain, snow, weather
Today’s weather is snowy with cold rain, not exactly corn planting weather. Although the calendar says it is time to begin planting corn, area weather is not right. A trip around the area will show fields that are partly or completely under water, and even some deep snow in some not so sheltered areas. This is not the kind of weather we want this time of year.
One of the advantages of having lived in one area your whole life is you have a weather reference from the past. This is not the first time I have encountered wet conditions in the spring, and it may not be the last. That perspective of years makes me a little less anxious about the weather today. I know we will get the chance to plant eventually.
For most of my life we have been able to plant our entire crop in about a weeks time. We are not the only farmers who can get the job done so quickly, most northern area farmers know they must get the job done when they can. Bad weather can stop farm work so quickly.
So what do you do to preserve your sanity when the weather turns bad? Find another job that you can do is my answer. There is always something to do on the farm and it is time to do it. If the weather turns really bad it’s best to move indoors to a hobby. You’ve got to have something to take your mind off of the sound of falling rain.
Filed under: cars, Corn, farm animals, fish, food, Politics, Soybeans | Tags: car, cars, China, Corn, economics, farm, Food, gas, gas prices, politics, Soybeans
Well, perhaps not so new.
As prices for everything seem to be going up we hear many questions of why. Why must I pay more each day at the pump? Why is food getting more expensive? Why are commodities (corn, soybeans, cotton, gold, silver) nearing record high levels? The answer for all of them seems to be an old country that has become the new 500 pound gorilla in the room, China.
For many years, China has been a country with lots of poor people. They seemed to be barely getting by, producing just enough, growing just enough to keep themselves fed. Then they decided to join the world economy and put those people to work producing export goods.
Now flush with cash from nations around the world, China is buying. Their people want to join the rest of the developed world now, and they are not willing to wait. They have money from new jobs and they are spending it. Cars and better food are top on their list.
China is rapidly catching up with the U.S. in the number of cars on the road. Those cars need fuel and China is buying gasoline to fuel those cars. The extra demand means that we in the U.S. are having to pay more to get some of the excess exported by other countries.
The Chinese are eating better lately. They want more than just more rice in the bowl. They want protein, and they are buying up pork, poultry and fish to eat. To feed those animals they are buying corn and soybeans from around the world. They are also buying massive amounts of a co-product of the ethanol industry, Distillers Dried Grains with Solids (DDGS) as a source of protein and fat for their livestock. This added world demand is causing food prices to rise. It has also pushed commodity prices to higher levels.
China has now become the second largest economy in the world. It has quite a ways to go to catch the U.S., but it is growing rapidly. For many years we purchased consumer goods that could be made inexpensively in China, and China took our money. Now China is buying goods from around the world to keep their people happy. What China wants, China gets.
The added demand on the world economy means we’ll have to pay more for what we want in the future. Get used to it.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, Corn, ethanol, Farm, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, car, cars, Corn, ethanol, farm, NASCAR
I am constantly amazed at the number of negative comments I see about using ethanol as a fuel source. After all it is not only better for your lungs, it helps keep American Dollars here in America. Today I came across some information that answers the question of where those negative comments come from.
The dollar means everything in America, and no one seems to have more dollars to spend than our government. To help our politicians decide how to spend those dollars groups send lobbyists to Washington D.C. Of the 187 lobbying groups that comment on ethanol legislation, only 16 were pro ethanol. The largest lobbying group commenting on ethanol legislation is the oil companies who spent 170 million dollars to influence legislation last year. Only 4 million dollars were spent by pro ethanol groups.
Big oil was not the only one who was bashing ethanol in the last years. Grocery stores and food processors were also trying to cover their increasing costs by blaming ethanol. They also spent a healthy sum in D.C.
Now the NASCAR racing group has decided to weigh in on the side of ethanol. This year all cars at NASCAR will sport a green ring around their fuel port promoting ethanol and the 15% ethanol blend that is being used in all cars. These are some of the best engines and best drivers in the world, and having them on your side will help ethanol’s image a lot. Every time they wave the green flag you will see a pro ethanol message. They are starting with E15, but expect to increase that blend level, after all, ethanol was the fuel that started many of those good old boys driving fast cars in the prohibition era.
So why ethanol?
- Ethanol blended gasoline is better for your lungs. Most major cities would be under smog alerts for much of the year without the help of ethanol.
- Ethanol produces jobs here in the U.S. There have been no new oil refineries built in the U.S. for many years, but ethanol is now being produced from our fields to replace 12% of our gasoline. The refineries to produce it are in the middle of the country, far away from hurricanes and tsunamis.
- Ethanol reduces the price of fueling your car. Just compare the cost of diesel fuel with gas. They used to track within a few cents of each other. Now a price advantage of 30 to 50 cents in not uncommon.
- No military are needed to protect our ethanol shipments from other countries. The military spends billions every year in some of the most troubled areas of the world to protect our oil interests.
- Ethanol spills will never foul our beaches. In fact ethanol readily breaks down if spilled, and it doesn’t have to go near the beach.
- Ethanol production has raised the price of corn on the farm. This means that fewer dollars are needed to support crop production when price levels are below cost of production.
To me it’s obvious, Ethanol is the better fuel choice. Now it’s up to you to decide, who are you going to believe, big oil, or your farmer neighbor.
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, snow, Trees, winter, wood heat | Tags: cutting wood, farm, Minnesota, trees, wood heat
For me, the time between the snow melting out of the grove and planting season is for cutting wood. We always seem to have dead or broken trees that need to be cleaned up. There are also some branches that are hanging over or near buildings, or out into the field. Well it’s that season, and I’m at it.
We still have some snow in the grove, but so far I’ve been able to work in areas that are not too wet. We cut an elm that somehow survived Dutch Elm Disease and are working on splitting and stacking that today. The size of the trunk has put my body to the test. I’m feeling old and sore.
So far I’ve only really looked at the trees at my dads place. Mine got trimmed out last fall. I also know I have a few trees I can take at my uncles place, so I will have plenty of wood. I’m going to try to get at least half of next winters wood stacked before planting. I should be able to finish the rest during the summer.
I have about a months worth of wood that I cut late last fall and early winter to start next heating season. It’s best if wood has at least 6 months to dry. Even dead wood on a tree can contain some moisture, so it needs to be cut to stove length and split. My stove will take up to a 4 foot log, but most larger logs need to be under 26 inches to go through the splitter.
I know I’ll be sore from lugging logs and chain saws for a few days, but I best keep at it. In Minnesota, winter is either here, or just a few months in the future.
Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm, food, hunger, Minnesota | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, Corn, ethanol, farm, Food, history, hunger, Minnesota
There has been a bit of rumbling the last few years about how ethanol production has caused corn, and thus food prices, to go up, and “greedy” farmers are at fault. Then today I read this in the Washington Post;
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last month that broke down where each dollar spent on groceries goes. Farmers received an average of 11.6 cents per dollar in 2008, the latest year data was available. That was down from 13 ½ cents 10 years ago and from 14 ½ cents in 1993, the USDA report showed.
The rest of the money goes to processing, packaging, transportation, retail trade and food service, which includes any place that prepares meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption including deli counters and in-store salad bars. The share going to each category has declined some, except for food service which now gets 33.7 cents of every dollar spent, the USDA reported.
“While the commodity and food prices have been going up, the share going back to the farmer has been going down,” said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.
As our food prices go up, the farmer gets paid a smaller and smaller percentage of that food dollar. So if corn prices are at near record levels, why are farmers not getting a record percentage of our food dollar. The fact is that despite the assertion that everything we eat has corn in it, which is not true, corn is really cheap in a historical perspective.
Back when I started farming, you could buy a cup of coffee or a candy bar for five cents. Corn prices then were at about a dollar and corn farmers in my area produced about 100 bushels per acre. Today that same cup of coffee or candy bar will cost you about a dollar, and corn is priced at under five dollars for a yearly average and area corn farmers are producing over 180 bushels per acre. That means your cup of coffee or candy bar have gone up 20 times while the corn price has gone up five times. If corn prices had held pace with coffee and candy we’d have $20 corn now. We’d also have a lot more families still on the farm.
Thankfully we don’t have $20 corn now. If we did we would not be able to afford the steak, pork chops and chicken nuggets we all love. We’d be eating cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes and beets, bread prices would also be out of sight. Using corn to produce ethanol for fuel would be out of the question, and we would be spending closer to half of our income for food instead of less than 10%. Just think of all the things you would have to go without, and all of the jobs making those things that would be lost.
It is so easy to see prices going up and get scared that we will not be able to afford our food tomorrow, but we still live in the country that spends the smallest amount of our paycheck on food. The rest of the world would like to join us, and as they get better jobs they are starting to compete for the fine food we take for granted. We’ve had life too good for too long, if we are going to keep the good life, we need to get out there and earn it again. You can’t make the price of food go down by complaining about it with your mouth full.