Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, garden, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, garden, Minnesota, nature, plant corn, Planting, rain, snow, snow in april, weather
Two days ago I dug up the garden and planted some potatoes, radishes, peas and carrots, as of noon today here is my garden. It’s under about 4 inches of snow. Yes, we need the water, but does it have to be snow?
Does this boot track help you to understand our snow?
We have had some really nice weather since the last snow, but not enough to get fields dry enough to plant corn. Last year was unusually warm and dry in the spring and I finished planting corn on April 30. This year has been unusually cool and snowy and I have not yet started planting.
It’s not panic time yet. We can plant the same varieties of corn for another 20 to 25 days, but every day we delay planting from the tenth of April on will result in less corn to be harvested. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep cleaning up the downed tree branches from the ice storm. Dry weather will come.
Filed under: cold, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, ice, melting snow, Minnesota, nature, Planting, pond, rain, signs of spring, snow, spring, trees, weather, winter
My wood pile has really taken a hit this winter as springtime temperatures seem to be on hold. When you wake every day to frozen ground it is hard to understand that we are nearing the end of April here in Southwestern Minnesota and could be planting corn, wheat or oats. There is none of that planted because it seems to be snowing every week.
A month ago I posted this picture of geese on a pond and it seemed as if we would be seeing open water and no snow in just days as temperatures were allowing the snow to melt away every day. The water lilies were putting forth some hopeful leaves and the marsh marigolds were turning green, sure signs of spring!
But what’s this? A forecast with 70′s in it? Could it be we only have one more night of freezing weather and then summer like temperatures will arrive? Hurray!
Yes, winter does end here in Minnesota, eventually. With warmer temperatures, a farmers heart will turn toward planting and tillage. We only have to wait a bit for the fields to dry and then we can begin. The calendar is not quite to the dates where we are concerned about planting being too late, so we will hold out hope for only a few more days of delay. Warmer weather is in sight!
Filed under: cold, Farm, Ice, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, weather | Tags: cold, farm, frost, frozen ground, ice, long term weather, Minnesota, Planting, rain, southwestern minnesota, spring, weather
The past months have been a challenge here in southwestern Minnesota. It seems that every bit of rain just skids by leaving us with little or no moisture. We have watched major storms move both north and south of us for almost a year now. The weatherman will say we have a 90% chance of rain, and we stay dry. I really am beginning to wonder if we will have enough water in the soil to do more than get our crops started. The next few days are giving me hope. It has been raining all morning and more is forecast for the next few days, a real spring soaker.
The yuck factor sets in as the temperatures drop and our soaking rain turns to ice again. I do not remember a year with so much ice in all of my 60 years here. We’ve had enough warm weather here to thaw the upper part of our soil, but I’m not sure if the frost is gone yet or not. A cold rain will not help to thaw our frozen ground. At least the forecast is for several days of moisture, then some warm weather, planting time is fast approaching and we need some warm.
Leo, our local weather prognosticator, has put out his long term weather for our area and it is cold and dry. Leo uses the first full days of spring to forecast the years weather. I have been amazed at how often he is right. His forecasts are a bit vague, but anytime you are forecasting for a full year in advance it is hard to be specific. I can only hope he is wrong about the dry part of the forecast.
No matter what the weather, we will do our best here to get a crop in the ground, after all, we have a world to feed.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, GMO, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, snow, Soybeans, spring, tillage, time, Trees, weather, winter | Tags: climate, Corn, farm, Minnesota, Planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather
Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist, reports that 55.82% of the country still in drought. “But we’ve knocked out the eastern Corn Belt.” While the country at large had some pretty good rains from November through January, we haven’t had much relief until this week in the Midwest, he says. Weather is personal, you may feel fine that your area is now out of the drought, or very concerned if you are still in a severe to extreme drought area like I am here in Southwestern Minnesota. The next few months are going to be critical for our area crops.
We’ve had very little snow in our area this winter, and what we have had has been a dry type of snow. Snow falling on frozen ground does little to recharge the subsoil moisture, and that is where we need water. Without gentle long term rains, we will have our crops come up and then die.
Last fall we did some digging in the fields. This digging left me concerned for the 2013 crop. There is so little water in the top 4 feet of the soil profile that I wonder how roots will get down to the little bit that is below 4 feet. Compound that with the needed tillage to get our crops started, tillage that will dry out those top few inches, and we could be in real trouble.
Our area of Minnesota usually needs drainage tile to dry it out so that we can actually get tillage done. Depending if your soil is more clay, sand or rock, you will have more or less water in it. Organic matter, sometimes called loam, from old roots and buried plant stalks also plays a part in the water holding ability of soil. Our soil varies from heavy and wet clay loam to almost pure sand. Sandy ground takes near continuous rain since water runs right through it, while clay soils tend to hold water tighter. In our area even the clay soils are dry.
Even deep rooted perennial crops like alfalfa and our younger trees are showing the stress. Our late season alfalfa last year was a disaster, and I have several evergreen trees that are dropping their needles. These are not good signs for an available water source.
The only bright spot in the planting season is the advent of more drought resistant varieties. Choice of drought tolerant varieties of field crops along with genetic modifications that help to control root pruning insects and encourage root growth may just give our corn and soybeans a chance to get down to that deep water. This is going to be a real test. I know that we now plant corn and soybean varieties that are so much better than when I started farming, but I still worry.
So now we wait and see. A third year of dry weather would be very unusual, but the whole climate seems to be changing. We have been moving away from long gentle rains to rapid downpours. Rapid rains do not stay on the land, long gentle ones do. If these dry conditions persist we may have to rethink the crops we grow in this area. Time will tell.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, planting, rain, Soybeans, weather, Wildlife, wind | Tags: Corn, coyote, farm, ground squirrels, mice, Minnesota, nature, rain, red fox, Soybeans, weather, wind
Between the rain and the wind it has been hard to get any field work done. This is prime season for taking care of weeds and last minute fertilizing in corn and soon will be in soybeans here in Minnesota. After 12 inches of rain in May, we were left with soggy fields and not many days left to get field work done. A few more rain showers here in June and then some very windy days have further delayed weed control.
Most weed control chemicals used in our area need to be sprayed on in a water mix. I usually put on about 12 gallons of water per acre to spread the herbicide. In windy conditions, winds over 15 mph, it is hard to put the herbicide mixture where you want it. So, windy days mean no weed control. We have been able to spread some fertilizer and haul last years corn crop into town, that along with planting the last of the soybeans have kept us very busy.
In the process of making those trips across the field you get to assess the soil conditions and weed pressure, you also get to check out what wildlife is out in the field. Usually I will be seeing mice and ground squirrels along with the birds that are looking for a free meal of a disturbed insect or worm, sometimes a hawk will swoop in for a meal. Holes dug into the field that are bigger than that needed for a mouse are sometimes found on hilltops that are not too rocky. I always wonder what is digging and living in those holes. Last week I got to see one of the residents as she peeked out to watch me.
The red fox is a bit rare in our area. There are always a few around, but the coyotes will track them down and kill them. Fewer fox, mean more coyotes, more fox, mean fewer coyotes. The problem is that they both are depending on those mice and ground squirrels as their main menu item. Yes, they will take a rabbit or a pheasant if given the chance, and a coyote will take a deer if there is an injured one around, and a sure sign you have coyotes in the area is if your cats are all missing. Fox and coyotes are in direct competition.
I’ve seen fox on my farm every few years. I know they must be around, but usually they are secretive creatures who are seldom seen. Usually if you are to see them it is when they have pups to feed and are spending extra hours out hunting. I consider them a welcome guest on my farm. Anything that eats mice and ground squirrels is my friend.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, pond, rain, seasons, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, Minnesota, Planting, pond, rain, southwestern minnesota, Soybeans, weather
Here in Southwestern Minnesota, May 2012 will go down in the books as the wettest May in recorded history. On our farm we had 12 inches during the month with a mostly dry 10 day period in the middle that allowed some field work. Basically the month was a washout.
It truly is amazing how the weather has turned. In early April I was contemplating what we would do if the drought continued. We had gone since the middle of July 2011 with next to no precipitation, now river levels are at near flood stage and fields are filled with ponding water. In mid-April I had been asked if I expected there to be water this year for the crop, my response was that Minnesota always seemed to make up for dry periods with wet ones, man was I right.
I did replant some of my corn where water had killed off the young plants, and those areas are now under water again. Corn that is now standing is getting too tall for me to go in and inter-seed, and the areas are not big enough for me to go in and work them and plant again. I am just going to have to take what is left. I was lucky, I only reseeded 2% of my corn, and expect no more of the crop lost now.
I’ve not had a chance to assess the loss of soybeans. I know we did lose some to erosion, but I had no standing water to kill off large areas. I expect only a thinning of the stand which soybeans can cover up better than corn does. My largest soybean field has yet to be planted since the seed is not yet on my farm. These are beans that are destined for seed production and are still in transit from fields in the southern hemisphere. I’ll need some dry conditions so I can plant those when they come.
I have about an acre of alfalfa that I cut yesterday before the rain. The plants had passed 1/4 bloom and were ready to be harvested. I’m hoping for some dry weather now so the alfalfa can dry and I can bale it up. The ground was wet when I cut it and that will not help it dry any, but a little sun and some wind will do wonders.
Temperatures have switched to the 60′s now with mornings in the upper 40′s. This is too cool for much plant growth, but warmer weather will come, I’m just not sure when. In the mean time we prepare for the rush of work that will come when fields dry out. No man controls the weather, we just live with the hand it deals us.
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, tillage, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, corn plants, drowned out corn, farm, land roller, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, rotary hoe, Soybeans, weather, wind, wind erosion
I spent part of the day scouting fields for weeds and wet spots. We lost some corn when the rains of two weeks ago drowned it out. The areas are not big, but they will need to be replanted, but not today. Today’s winds of over 40 miles per hour are just not making life easy for us, and since I do not have any large fields left to plant, I’ll tend to other things.
You can see that this low area has no corn growing in it. Corn plants that spend too much time under water die. These plants didn’t have a chance since they had not yet emerged and died before they broke the surface. I’ll be out adding seed to areas like this soon. We did not lose much to the water, but we do like to see something growing in all areas of our fields.
The winds today have brought to light another problem, blowing soil. They are creating some real problems in some areas. The heavy rain of two weeks ago packed some fields so that grains of dust can start to move. Areas in the field that are still uneven don’t allow the wind to move soil. Soil without protective cover and that are smooth can blow.
These poor corn plants don’t have a chance. With temperatures of over 80 degrees and 40 mile per hour winds kicking up soil, they are really having a hard time.
This farmer has used a rotary hoe to break up the soil surface in strips in his field. The whole field does not have to be hoed, just enough to keep the soil in place.
The rotary hoe can break up surface crusting that will allow soil to blow. It has the advantage that it is quick and low horsepower. It makes the soil just rough enough to keep the wind from getting a grip.
This is the way I want to see a field after planting soybeans. Dirt clumps, root balls and some of last years corn stalks are there to keep the soil from blowing or washing away. I have seen fields like this take large amounts of rain and not move any soil. Unfortunately some of my neighbors like to see a field like this.
This is a field after it has been rolled. Some farmers are using large land rollers to smooth the soil surface after planting. It is a practice that I do not agree with.
Why do they use them? The rational is that they make harvest easier by packing down clumps of dirt and root balls, and bury rocks to make harvest easier. To me it is a waste of time. University tests have shown no benefit to the grower in harvested yield to pay for the purchase or rent of these pieces of equipment. If you have rocks in the field, they should be picked up. A smooth soil surface opens the field up to wind and water erosion. The soil erosion that occurs has a definite downside that I do not want to chance for a possible ease of harvest. The argument of ease of harvest is mostly a subjective one. Since I do not consider that I have any harvest problems that can be solved with a roller, I see no need to use one.
Land rollers do have a purpose in some crops. Using them with some small seeded, shallowly planted, crops like alfalfa or sugar beets, helps promote emergence. Manufacturers of these machines found a new purpose that they could promote to sell some new iron. I’m just not one of those who will throw away my money on some new fad that I do not need.
We’re due for a few more windy days here in Southwestern Minnesota and even a chance of rain. A bit of rain would be welcome. Meanwhile, there is still work to be done.