Filed under: Corn, garden, harvest, Minnesota | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, Food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, sweet corn
Now that corn tassels are out and the silks are fully expressed, farmers start to wonder what kind of a crop they will be having. A first hint is usually the sweet corn harvest. Since sweet corn is harvested in the “milk” stage, it is harvested early in the life of a corn plant. Sweet corn also seems to move quickly from pollination to harvest in a few short days. This is not always an accurate test, but it gives us a hint. My mother harvested her first sweet corn today, so we got a peek at the future.
The ears seem to be well formed with a minimum of missing kernels that can appear when hot dry weather accompanies pollination. One of the ears did have about an inch and a half of un-pollinated cob at the end which I snapped off. The other had less than half of an inch. A little cob that is showing is not bad. It is when there are large areas of cob showing that we worry.
For this area of Southwestern Minnesota I would say we had a very good early pollination. We will have to see what shows up when the later ears are harvested.
Filed under: food, garden, harvest | Tags: farm, Food, garden, harvest, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes
With all of the field work to do you would think I would not have time to keep up a garden. Since I really like that fresh from the garden taste, I make time. This year with all of the rain it has been a real challenge to do any gardening. The weeds have tried to get ahead of me several times, and in some places they are winning. Despite all of that there have been some really great tastes coming out of the garden this week.
I finally gave up and plowed under the leaf lettuce. It was going to seed and the leaves are just not as tasty once they do.
My peas have been going gang busters. I have had more peas this year than I have had for many a year. Picking and shelling peas daily has taken some time, and gets forgotten once in a while, but come winter will be well appreciated.
I never did get my potatoes hilled up. The weeds are trying very hard to take over because of that, but the potatoes are really looking good. I have not yet sampled them, but I could take a few any time now. Two weeks ago we discovered some potatoes in the basement that had not been eaten, They had long sprouts sticking out of the bag. I dug a trench and spread them in. We now have some new potatoes coming up. We’ll see how they do.
I’ve trained my tomatoes up onto a fence for several years now and really like it. Some of the vines are over 5 feet long now and stretching above the fence. Although I have not yet harvested any, there are some that are starting to turn color. I have 5 different varieties climbing that fence so it will be interesting to see which ones are ready to pick first. Having the tomatoes off the ground makes them much easier to pick. Training the vines onto the fence can require almost daily attention when they grow as fast as they have this year. With new flowers all the way to the top we have the potential for a great crop.
The peppers have also been doing well. Last year was a real disaster with only a few medium sized peppers to harvest. Today I pick two huge bell peppers, and I have been picking banana peppers for over a week. There should be some red and yellow bells later on, but for now this is great.
There have been a few berries in the raspberry patch. This year the weeds got through the mulch and took over. I’m going to have to destroy the whole patch to get ahead of the weeds. The quack grass is incredible and really hard to control without hurting the raspberries.
The sweet corn is starting to produce ears. I expect to be eating my own sweet corn next week.
That’s the garden report for now. I predict some real good eating ahead, and enough to give produce away.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, rain, time, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, hot, pollen, rain, silk, weather, wind
Zea Maize, corn, is an interesting plant. It has a split flower on one plant. Most plants have the flower parts in close to each other so that insects and animals can assist them in pollination, but corn is wind pollinated so separating the male and female parts of the flower works if you want to be sure to get pollen transferred between plants.
The tassel, the male part of the flower, is on the top of the plant where the wind can carry pollen grains off. The pollen can travel a long ways if the conditions are right.
The silk, the female part of the flower, comes out of a node about half way down the plant. Right after it emerges the silk is usually green, as time goes on it turns brown, almost black. If the conditions are right, it’s not too hot, or too cold, the pollen will fall onto the silk and produce a kernel of corn. The kernel of corn will develop on the cob. If there has been enough pollen transfer you will have a full beautiful ear of corn.
Until recently the challenge here was that the weather had been too wet. Much of our corn had not matured to the point that the silk and tassel had developed. Some corn fields still contain areas that have not matured enough to produce seed.
You can see an area in this picture that was so wet the corn plants died, with areas of varied growth around it. The further you get from the wet spot the better the corn looks.
For us the rain stopped two weeks ago. Since then we have had hot and humid conditions. The corn seemed to shoot up, growing taller each day. Then just as the tassels emerged, and we were wondering if the weather would ever break, the weather got perfect for pollen transfer. The problem is that not all of the corn is ready for this perfect weather.
Crop scientists are telling us that if the corn has not pollenated by now, it will be too late. Weather could still work to produce a few kernels, but there just is not enough time for the grain to mature. It is now a waiting game. Will the corn have enough time to mature. Will there be enough water in the ground to produce a good crop. Will it rain on time.
Areas of some fields are already showing that they need water. The heat took a lot out of the plants, and if the ground did not hold water the plant is having trouble finding it. Most of the fields are doing well. In October we will find out what kind of a crop this years weather has given us.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, hunger, Uncategorized | Tags: ag education, animal care, farm, farm animals, Food, food safety, hunger
It is the job of everyone involved in agriculture to speak up for agriculture, you do it by your words and actions everyday. Are you saying good things about the industry that puts food on the tables of the world?
Today more and more people do not even know someone involved in agriculture, much less have a relative back on the farm. They do not know where their food comes from, or how it gets to their table. There is a disconnect between meal and raw product.
Without agriculture there is no food, and yet many who depend on us are harboring misconceptions about the most important industry on earth. Here’s some help for you.
When someone comes to you concerned about corporations in agriculture you can tell them that 98% of farms in the U.S. are family farms. Some of these may be corporations or partnerships, but they are still owned and worked by families.
When some one comes to you all upset about what agriculture is doing to the water supply, remind them that families on the farm drink that water too and would do nothing to intentionally harm it. Farmers, through modern conservation and tillage practices are reducing the loss of soil and thereby protecting our lakes and rivers.
If someone comes to you with concerns about how animals are handled on farms, tell them that farmers have ZERO tolerance for willful acts of neglect or cruelty. We believe that animal care decisions should be made by the farmer or rancher and his veterinarian. An animal that is uncomfortable does not produce the most possible food. We need healthy, comfortable animals on our farms and ranches to feed the world.
Our worlds population is expanding. We will need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed the 2.4 billion more people that will inhabit our world. Somehow we must do this with the same, or even less land than we are now using. Today 1 in 6 Americans do not have access to enough food. That number is higher in many other countries. How can we feed more people tomorrow if there are people hungry today?
We need you to join us in speaking up for agriculture. Without you our numbers are diminished, our voice is muted. Please help us when we ask you to speak up for the industry that feeds the world. Volunteer to sit in the fair booth. Speak up when you hear someone who tells the wrong story of agriculture. We need your voice. We need your help. Speak up today.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, hot, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer, tassel, tassels, weather
Corn has begun to tassel here in southwestern Minnesota and it is telling us a story.
The tassels are telling a tale of the difficult time the corn plants have had this year. There is not a field out there that is tasseled from end to end. Only the best ground has tasseled. Any place that was a little wet has some time to go yet. Those places that were very wet will need a lot of time. Those fields planted late are also behind schedule.
Now we have heat. The hot humid weather has slowed the corn growth. With evening temperatures of 80 or more the corn cannot regenerate. The plants are struggling just to keep alive, we need some cooler nights for them to successfully silk out and start producing kernels. How much this heat will affect the yield is yet to be determined.
Markets are depending on an early harvest. Most farmers have swept their bins clean and they will not have any corn for sale until the new crop is in and that will be later than usual, just when the markets needed an early harvest. Because of that I do not expect the corn price to go down anytime soon.
Soybeans also are variable. Some farmers in the area replanted wet spots three times, only to see the water come up again and drowned out the beans. There are beans that are already reaching 30 inches in height, but many beans that are only a few inches high. Harvest, when it comes, will find a lot of variation in the soybean yield.
Some of my neighbors have begun small grain harvest. They are taking advantage of the rain free weather to get the oats out. The high humidity will most likely slow drying, but the crop is there to harvest.
Road ditches and grass fields are being cut and baled. We had some hay down before the last rainy period. A week of rain turned the grass to a rotten mess.
With so much rain here in southern Minnesota it is hard to believe that parts of the corn belt are dry. As close as south eastern Iowa corn fields are short of moisture. Parts of Kansas are plowing up their corn due to lack of moisture. Texas and Oklahoma haven’t seen a rain in months. In a year when we need every possible bushel to refill the bins to meet corn demand, there are lots of problems in the corn belt.
The corn tassels are telling their story, and I’m not sure we like it, but it is the story we must live with.
Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm, food | Tags: big oil, Corn, corn flakes, ethanol, Food, food prices, oil
There were a couple of interesting items in todays news about ethanol.
(FABRI) With the loss of the 45-cent-a-gallon excise tax credit, FAPRI says output would fall, rebound after a year and then grow more slowly in the future. The ethanol market is highly sensitive to prices, and high oil prices have ethanol sales running far above the federal mandate for use of biofuels.
The last sentence is the most interesting to me. High oil prices have increased ethanol use. That means that oil companies are not as afraid of ethanol as they claim. They will use ethanol when ever they can make a buck from its use. It all comes down to making the most dollars for big oil.
Then there was this.
(Bloomberg) — General Mills Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ken Powell said U.S. ethanol fuel subsidies were causing higher food prices, in turn increasing inflation.
Obviously Mr. Powell has not checked recently to see just how much corn is in the products he sells. The answer is not much. Yes, the largest corn user is now the ethanol industry, and yes, corn is a major agricultural commodity, but higher corn prices will only change the price of that box of Corn Flakes a fraction of a cent. Even at todays higher corn prices, there is still only about 7 cents worth of corn in that box.
The rising corn prices have affected not the price of products in the store, but the bottom line of the livestock farmer. With rising corn prices the profit moves from the livestock farmer to the crop farmer (sometimes these are the same person). Livestock producers have seen their profit decrease lately. You can expect that meat prices will go up when livestock producers start to cut back on flocks and herds. For now the livestock man is getting squeezed as Mr. Powell and his pals use rising corn prices as a cover to add more money to their own pockets. Nice try.
It’s all relative, relative humidity that is.
Southern Minnesota is in the grip of heat and humidity. Not only are daytime highs exceeding 95 degrees, and nighttime lows just barely going less than 80 degrees, but the humidity is tropical. We’re talking relative humidity of 90% or more in the morning and over 50% in the heat of the day. Dew points are holding 75 to 80 degrees. With all of this water in the air it is impossible to sweat. The air is so thick that local weather folks have been checking on the humidity in other parts of the world and finding that we have humidity ratings just like the Amazon Jungle. Our humidity is tropical here in the middle of the continent and a long ways from tropical rain forests.
No need to go to the tropics to enjoy a tropical atmosphere. Any Minnesota lakeshore will do just fine. I’ll be seeing you at the beach!
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, summer, Uncategorized, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, hot, Minnesota, summer, weather, wind
How hot is it?
This is an unusually hot week. Temperatures have been in the upper 80′s to upper 90′s for several days now and will continue that way for over a week. There is so much water in the air that sweating does no good. Sweat just runs off. There is barely a breath of wind, so there is nothing to carry sweat away. The “feels like” index is over 100 and will continue that way. This is some tough weather on people and livestock.
There have been reports of people without AC passing out and getting sick. This weather is not something to fool around with. If you do not have AC find a library or other public building to hang out in. Visit the grocers freezer section. Go to the mall. Drink lots of water, not soda, and if you get really hot, pour some of that water over your head. Spend the day in the pool or lake.
People have been saying this weather is good for the corn, well not really. Corn needs some time to cool off too. For corn it’s kind of like breathing. Breathe in all day in the sunshine, but the heat at night does not allow the corn to exhale. Corn needs the night to get around 70 or so, so that it can exhale.
Our corn fields are starting to tassel. This is the time that the corn crop is made. Days in the 80′s, nights in the 60′s, plenty of moisture, that’s what corn needs now. We shall see how all of this heat and humidity work out when we harvest. This is prime time for corn.
Filed under: Farm, food, hunger, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Asia, cheese, farm, Food, hunger, politics
News from Bloomberg Press -- "Asia’s growing appetite for pizza and cheeseburgers means the U.S. is exporting the most cheese ever, boosting costs for Kraft Foods Inc. Wholesale cheddar cheese prices have rallied 49 percent this year as the U.S. shipped more than twice as much to Asia in the first four months of 2011 as a year earlier." The growing prosperity of Asia is drawing processed foods, especially proteins, out of U.S. markets. I expect food prices to increase as world wide demand increases. The rest of the world wants to eat like we do, and as they are increasingly competing with the developed countries for protein, you can expect world food prices to increase.
Filed under: cats, dogs, Farm, farm animals | Tags: cats, children, dogs, farm
For non farmers pets are a member of the family. Some consider them children and treat them as such. Farmers have an interesting relationship with their farm animals. Consider….
Farm cats can be a real comfort when you have a chance to sit down and they snuggle up to you. They are wonderful with children, with life lessons at so many stages of their life. Cats keep vermin on the move. But to me a cat can never be a dear friend. You can say you own a cat, but they really own you and stay at their pleasure. I’ve never known a cat that was truly domesticated. They stay for the easy food, but when other urges lead them to wonder, they seldom come back. Cats on our farm are transients, coming into our lives for a while, then leaving before they can make too big of a space.
Dogs on the other hand are more than a friend. Dogs live to please. Dogs are helpful. Dogs will fill your heart and stay their whole extended life. I have enjoyed the company of many dogs when I lived at my parents home, but none where I live now. You see, I think dogs belong out doors, and we live too close to a major highway. Dogs need the space and freedom to run and I never have seen a dog in a kennel or at the end of a chain that I did not feel sorry for.
I’ve buried more than my share of cats and kittens, but only one dog. I’d like to keep it that way.