Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Ice, rain, spring, Trees, wind, wood heat | Tags: broken trees, cold, farm, harvest, nature, rain, shelter belts, spring, trees, weather, wind, winter, wood, wood heat, wood pile
Those of you who follow this blog will remember my pictures of the broken trees in our yard, but they are only a few of our broken trees. Our farmstead shelter belts took a heavy toll in the ice storm also. So far we have focused on getting trees near the buildings cleaned up. Because conditions have been so wet we have had little choice. Now we need to tackle the field wind breaks.
Our farm has several fence lines planted to trees to help slow the wind that could blow our soil around. These trees on the edge of fields drop their branches into plantable ground in heavy winds or if there is too much ice. Sometimes the branches are quite large. Since our fields are just about dry enough to start planting, we are going to tackle some of those fence lines now.
The wood pile looks ready for winter now, and I still have a lot of cutting yet to do. Cold weather will return again.
Filed under: Corn, family, Farm, farm animals, food, garden, harvest, hunger, Minnesota, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, eat local, family, farm, Food, garden, harvest, history, machines, Minnesota, Soybeans
We live in an area that is not exactly food diverse, because of market availability we do not raise many crops here. Our area is mainly corn and soybeans and a bit of wheat and alfalfa for field crops. For livestock we mainly raise swine and beef with a few stray sheep, goat, milk and poultry producers in the area. Fruits and veggies are relegated to gardens with only a few making their way to a farmers market. Our problem here is not lack of produce for the local eaters, nor lack of soil or climate that can produce food for our locals, but a lack of customers. We produce more food here than can be eaten in the local area. The average farmer in the U.S. now produces enough food to feed 155 people. Because of our distance from markets where our produce can be consumed, we have a history of producing products that move on the hoof to market, beef and pork. Those who live closer to a population center can and do produce the perishables that are consumed fresh.
We are lucky to have harvest facilities for both pork and beef in our area. A little to the east there are processing plants for sweet corn and peas. Most of this production is shipped to the east coast. There are a few scattered vineyards for the production of locally consumed wine and craft breweries for beer. Some local gardeners set up stands to sell their excess produce in season. Beyond that, we also ship in most of the food eaten in our area. We have no local producers of bread, pasta or rice, and tropical fruits, chocolate and seafood are still craved here just as they are in the city.
As I said, our markets drive our production. The livestock of our area are our chief consumers of field crops. Until WWII the only way to get produce to market was to walk it there. There was no interstate transportation except the railroads and most production was consumed on the farm for the horses that worked the farm. Except for wheat, milk and eggs there was not a lot of produce that was sold to others. As more and more people moved to the cities the need for food to move from the farm to the city increased, thus was born modern agriculture. Now with only a few percent of the population left on the farm we have developed machinery and crops that feed those who do not work the land. Ninety-eight percent of the food produced in our country is produced by families who care for the land and animals that feed our world.
Although some in our world would like to eat local, it is just not practical when you live in the city for all to eat that way. There is not enough food produced within a few miles of our large cities to feed the city, you need the farmers and ranchers of middle America to produce enough to feed not only the cities of the U.S., but the world. So eat local if you want to. In the mean time I and others like me will be putting food on the table for the many who do not have access to, or the money to pay for, locally produced products.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, science, seasons, Soybeans, spring, weather | Tags: climate, Corn, drought, dry soil, farm, harvest, history, Minnesota, nature, Planting, rain, science, Soybeans, spring, weather
There has been a bit of talk lately of what this last years crop year was and what next years will be like. What is past is always a bit easier to know.
A month ago we started work on a new barn. Part of the process was to dig a rather large hole 4 feet deep. The clay under the top soil was dry. It made for some very easy digging. What does that have to do with next year and what does that say about this years crop.
Back in May a Minnesota Public Radio reporter talked to me about the prospects for the future with an early planting and a future of a very large crop. You can read that story here <http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/05/24/corn-crop-outlook/> When he asked me what I thought of the USDA prediction of a large crop, I laughed and said they were guessing. A few months later he came back to talk to me and the talk was not about a record crop and depressed prices, but of a short crop and prices at historically high levels for months now. That story is here <http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/11/15/business/2012-minnesota-crop-report/>
So much changed just weeks after the May interview and so much can change now. Historically we have only a 5% chance of a drought this next year, yet the least expected option often happens. So how do we get from dust to a banner crop? Rain.
We will get rain. If it is enough is not in our hands. I was blessed to be raised in a part of the country that has small chance of a drought, but much has changed in my lifetime. Centuries of man’s wanton waste of the energy resources of our earth have tipped us into new territory. I hesitate to try to predict the unpredictable.
In the meantime I will plan and prepare. The soil is here, I will protect it. The rain will fall, I will use what is given to me. The sun will shine and plants will use it. God willing there will be a harvest again next year.
Filed under: Farm, harvest, repairs | Tags: farm, harvest, machines, repairs
A minor repair, another reason I have grease all over my hands.
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, frost, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather
The frost of last week Saturday changed the picture in our farm fields here in southwestern Minnesota. Soybeans that had some green or yellow leaves lost them all in a few days, so Monday we turned our attention to the soybean harvest.
The weather has not been good for an even drying of our fields so our soybeans had been looking a bit splotchy. Areas of dry soybeans were mixed in with beans that still had green leaves on them. The average of the fields was for low moisture soybeans, but averages are not what you are looking for in seed stock. To the seed buyer, looks as well as genetics are important, thus no soybeans that are destined for the seed market can be harvested until the whole field is mature, so we waited.
By Monday all of the soybeans looked ready so we made the switch. Yes, our soybeans were dry, most were about 10% moisture when we want to see a 15% moisture. The yield was very good for the small amount of rain we had, not excellent, but good enough. The dust was flying and we spent many hours a day getting our beans either in to town, or into the bin while we could. Now our bean harvest is over and we are back in corn.
It seems that news of the close to normal soybean harvest has reached the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where the prices are set for our crops. The soybean price has been tumbling. I did sell some of our soybeans, but ever the optimist, I have quite a few left to sell. Harvest is not the normal time to sell your crop. Everyone knows you have a crop to sell, and they all hope you will take less money for it eventually. We’ll see if we can get a price bump later.
This is so different than the doom and gloom that the drought brought on. It is a testament to the varieties of crops we buy now. I’m sure we would not have had as much to harvest with so little water only a few years ago. My combine monitor showed a high yield in the upper 60 bushels per acre several times, but the fields were only averaging from the upper 30′s to the lower 40′s. What a year!
So it is back to corn. What a difference a week can make. Moisture in the corn has dropped from 18% to 12%. I don’t mind the 18% moisture, I can get the water out of the corn by blowing air into the bin, but 12% is a bit low. It means we are selling less water within the corn kernels than we would like. Oh well, we’ll live with it. Now back to harvest.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather
There are many farmers in this area of Minnesota that have been going around and around, and I happen to be one of them. We’re going around areas that were replanted because of all of the rain this spring, and around areas that are just not ready to be harvested.
So far I’ve only been harvesting corn. That I have corn ready to harvest this early in the year is amazing. The heat of the summer advanced many varieties so that we could begin corn harvest before the soybeans were ready. Where the corn was able to get more water it is in better condition and is still green. The areas where there was a lack of water, the plants died before the rest of the field and we are harvesting those areas. This is not the way we want to do harvest, but it is the best way to get all of the corn.
I’ve been able to harvest the earlier maturing varieties and put them right into the bin with no drying, saving time and money. Also the condition of the corn is very good. Despite the dryness of the corn there is very little ear drop, allowing us to harvest all of the ears of corn. That is why we are harvesting now, to wait would mean ears on the ground.
So far the corn yield is good. Most varieties are averaging from 140 to 160 bushels per acre. Not what we expect in a year with better weather, but really good for the little rain we got.
Some farmers in this area have started soybean harvest. Soybeans are daylight sensitive and start to mature at the same time every year. Again, farmers are harvesting the areas that are ready and leaving the rest. It will mean going back later in the year to complete harvest, but for now it is what we must do.
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, harvest, Soybeans, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, Soybeans, weather, wind
The conditions of our crops and the weather have me wondering, what should I do?
The last two days have been windy and hot. Todays high temperature was 93 degrees, 20 degrees hotter than normal. The high temps and the strong winds are really drying down our corn and soybeans. Tomorrow the temperatures will be more normal and there is a chance of rain. Both our corn and soybeans are in that in between stage.
Corn is easier to handle. We are used to drying down wet corn in this area, but it is September, and this is very early to be harvesting corn. If I wait a few days I do not have to use the dryer, I can just put it into the bin. The problem is that as the corn gets dryer it is more likely to fall off of the stalk, thus there will be less to harvest.
Some of our corn is dry, under 20% moisture, and could be harvested. The problem is that many of our corn stalks are still green with a grain moisture of over 20%. You can even find spots where the corn is very green with grain moisture of over 30%. With a grain moisture of under 20 % I can put it in the bin, turn on the fan and it will keep for the winter. At 20% moisture it might not keep for the winter, it is the corn that is over 20% moisture that must be dried down. What to do?
I decided to try harvesting some corn. I took about 28 acres out of a field that was contracted for fall delivery to the cooperative in town. As I got further into the field the corn got wetter, so I stopped. I’ll have to give another field a try.
So far the corn is yielding about 75% of last year. It sure would have been nice to get another rain or two in the last few months, it would really have boosted the yield. I’m just thankful to be harvesting a crop, some are not so lucky this year.
Soybeans may be a bit easier to decide on. Usually we harvest our soybeans first, since they are usually ready for harvest in late September or early October. Corn is rarely ready for harvest before soybeans. This year is different.
We have areas in our soybean fields where the ground was sandy and had little water where the beans are ready for harvest now. Just a few feet away from those dry spots are green soybeans that will not be ready for harvest for 3 or 4 weeks. The dry spots are too small to go into and take out the beans so we will have to wait for the rest of the field to get ready.
The high winds have been blowing anything loose around. Corn leaves from our fields are heading down wind. Branches and leaves are blowing off of trees. It has been a crazy day.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, Minnesota, Soybeans
Many folks have been talking about our harvest here in southwestern Minnesota getting going early, but the time is not yet. Yes, a few combines have taken a bite out of corn fields in our area, but no one is going full speed ahead. I’m seeing fields opened up and a few of the earlier varieties taken out, but no full fields yet. As for soybeans, they are still a few weeks from harvest.
Those who have ventured out into the field are reporting corn yields of from 90 to 190 bushels per acre. Soil type is key to yield here. The sandy spots just could not hold enough moisture to keep the corn growing all year. Also in evidence are areas that were replanted and then drowned out again. Wet areas this spring will also have a lower yield.
I heard of one farmer who tried a little corn harvesting, put his combine back in the shed and went fishing for a week. Not a bad plan. As for us, I expect to try a field or two later next week. My dad is off to DC to talk ethanol, and I have a Church Council retreat this coming weekend. Not as exciting as going fishing, but it will keep us from getting too excited about harvest.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, rain, seasons, Soybeans, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, peppers, plants, pumpkins, rain, Soybeans, summer, tomatoes, weather
It’s August 24 and harvest is approaching faster than we would like. I’ve been at several farmer seed dealer meetings lately and all are saying we’ll be harvesting our corn before soybeans this year. So, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the field here in Southwestern Minnesota.
Many corn fields began the turn from green to tan this week. There are still green leaves on most of the corn which is good for the health of the plant, but the husks on the ear are drying and loosening up. This is needed for drying of the kernels of corn and is good to see.
If you take a corn stalk and cut it vertically you can see that the stalk is starting to shut down. There are definite signs that the stalk is taking stored energy from the stalk and putting it in the ear in a last attempt to get the maximum amount of weight in each kernel.
Corn is a plant that needs a certain amount of heat, once it has had that heat, it shuts down. In warm years like we have this year you then get an early harvest. Two years ago we had a cold year, and corn harvest was late.
If you break an ear of corn you will see that the kernels are deep an healthy. Most ears have 18 rows of kernels but there are a few 16 and 20 row cobs out there. Most corn has not yet reached “black layer,” a point where the kernel shuts off the connection to the cob, but is still in the “dough” stage, where the inside of a kernel is moist but not watery. These deep kernels suggest a good test weight which puts more corn in the bin or silo and means more feed value in each kernel.
We will see a bit of a yield reduction here, but how much is hard to tell. Timing of rain showers and hot dry winds, how much water the corn was able to access out of the soil and farming practices of many types will all have an effect on the final outcome.
Some soybean fields have just started to get a bit of yellow in them. Soybeans are photo sensitive plants and will grow until the day length tells them that fall is coming. We rarely see harvest here before the first week in October. When leaves start to turn on a soybean plant you usually have about 4 weeks before harvest, depending on how wet or dry the weather is. You can see that the beans on the right will be ready before the beans on the left. (p.s. this is not my field!)
Our soybeans have a long way to go before the crop is set. Most pods are still a bit flat and some rain may still help fill out the pods on the greenest plants. There is nothing new here, this is where we expect our soybeans to be at this time of year. Soybeans are always hard to guess on yield until you get to harvest. I’d say yield will be down, but not much.
Our tomato plants are just starting to ramp up production. We’ve had a few tomatoes in the past weeks, but the plants are loaded with green fruit. Soon we’ll be looking for volunteers to take some tomatoes off of our hands.
We’ve also dug the first potatoes and carrots and the late radishes are done. Some trees are starting to drop their leaves and plant growth is slowing. Fall is coming and cooler temperatures are here, what a wonderful time of year.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, food, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, corn soybeans, farm, Food, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer, weather
We had another tenth of an inch of rain in the gauge this morning, the forecast is for cooler than normal temperatures for a few days and fall is approaching, what does all of this mean for area crops?
Our area of Minnesota was blessed with early rains, and then next to nothing for most of the summer. We did get a few spotty showers like this mornings tenth of an inch, but it was never enough to help much. Somehow, in spite of the hot temperatures, blast furnace winds, and lack of rain, we have a decent crop out in the field. Yes, yields will be lower than we would like, but prices are much higher than we could have hoped for.
As of now, I would say that the corn harvest yields are set. With corn denting, there will not be much more weight set in each kernel of corn. Soybeans are a different matter. They are still blooming and setting pods. Rain and cooler weather are just what they want to salvage something out of this summer. I still do not expect anything like a normal yield out of the soybeans, but prospects are improving.
The rains are also helping those who have animals on pasture. Many grasses in our area are cool season grasses and will benefit from rain and cooler temperatures. Likewise alfalfa fields will get a bit of a boost, but alfalfa needs deep water so I do not see much of a boost there.
Prospects are still good. Our area will harvest a crop. With the demand for food and feed grains higher than expected prices will remain high for a while. A better than average harvest of wheat, barley and rice could temper demand for corn. Likewise, better harvests in the southern hemisphere would lower corn and soybean prices here. Will prices go higher? Maybe, but the best cure for high prices is always high prices. We will see increased production of all food stuffs around the world with these higher prices, and we need it.
Those farmers who have not yet priced this years crop have an opportunity to lock in some nice prices for their production. The higher prices will also help those who take out revenue insurance on their crops to lock in higher prices for next years crops. Livestock producers do not have the same options, but they did have the opportunity to lock in a much lower price for their feed needs earlier this year, and may again if southern hemisphere crops look good.
Prices on the farm are in transition. For too many years prices have remained low as farmers were able to produce much more than the consumer demanded. We have had the fat years, now it looks like we will have some lean years. Consumers have become used to buying cheap grains, it looks as if that may be at an end for now.