Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, spring, weather, weather sayings, weather wisdom | Tags: barn swallows, cold, cold germ., Corn, corn seeds, farm, germination percentage, Minnesota, nature, Planting, plants, rain, snow, soil temperature, spring, trees, weather, weather sayings
The weather here in southwestern Minnesota has been cold and miserable for the most part. It is raining again today, but I feel much better now that I finally got started with the planting.
This has got to be the latest start to corn planting in all of my 60 years. Snow and cold have left the perennial plants slow to get growing, and new seeding just will not start when the thermometer stays so low. Yes, we have had some really nice days, but all too often they are followed by more cold. So despite all the signs to the contrary, I started planting corn yesterday, and today it rains.
There are certain signs I have been taught in my farming career, passed down from generation to generation. They were all perfectly good back in my grandfather’s day, but are they any good today. Maybe, maybe not.
- “Don’t start to plant corn until the barn swallows return.” The return of the barn swallows tells you something about average soil and air temperatures. The insect activity that is needed to support barn swallows is roughly equivalent to the ground and air temperature needed to get corn seeds germinating. Newer corn varieties have a better germination percentage in colder soils (Cold Germ.) and can take cooler temperatures up to a point. We still need warm air to keep the corn plant growing.
- “Oak leaves, or green ash leaves, should be as big as a squirrels ear.” The growth of tree leaves may say a bit more about air temperatures than insect activity does, it is also more cumulative. Either way you still need a certain amount of warm air and warm soil to get these later leafing trees going. I’ve never stopped a squirrel to see how big their ears are, and I have wondered if it makes a difference what type of squirrel you have. Still, a good set of leaves on latter leafing trees does signify warm weather is here.
- “To see if the soil is warm enough to plant you need to go out and set your bare butt in the dirt.” I’ve never tried this one so I don’t know if it will work. I’ve always suspected that this was said for the humor of it, not the facts derived of the statement.
Well this year I did not wait for any of these signs. The calendar was screaming we need to start planting, so I did. Since University data say the best average time to plant here in our area is between April 23 and May 10, I knew I had to get started. Now, because of the rain, I am waiting again. Michael
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, garden, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, spring, weather, weather sayings | Tags: cold, Corn, corn planter, farm, garden, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, snow, spring, weather, weather signs
The weather has been wild here in southwestern Minnesota so far this year, and it seems as if no one has a true handle on what will happen to our weather. Back in January our local onion prognosticator told us we would be having really dry weather all year and predicted a dry April. Even his Ember Day predictions did not see this snowy weather coming. Little did he know that we would have one of the snowiest Aprils I’ve seen.
May didn’t start out much better. I did get a few things planted in the garden, and a few area farmers got some oats and corn in the ground, but the May Day snow storm covered the area. We did not get as much snow as some east of us got, but it was more than enough. Weather signs have not been helping out this year. One weather saying is coming true however “All signs fail in drought and flood.”
No, that is not my planter and tractor, mine sat in the shed until last Tuesday, but it was in the yard for the last snowstorm.
So, what to do? We are well past the date of April 23 when area farmers like to get started planting corn here in southwestern Minnesota. Do we push the weather and start planting as soon as we can get equipment into the field? Here’s a planting saying for you, “Plant in mud your crops a dud, plant in dust your bins will bust.”
Modern planting machinery needs dry ground to get the seed planted properly. Mud is not your friend when planting corn. There are a lot of parts that need to work right when you plant with a modern corn planter, and they all work best when the topsoil is a bit on the dry side.
To make the best seedbed for a corn seed you start by opening a seed trench. That means either knives or disk openers, neither of which likes mud. Wet soil will smear on the sides of the trench and, when the soil dries, it will become hard, making it tough for the seed to get going.
Seed is dropped into the newly opened trench between gauge wheels that keep the trench at the proper depth. The gauge wheels also help to start pushing dirt over the seed. To operate smoothly the soil needs to be dry so it will not stick to the gauge wheels and change the planting depth.
Then come packer wheels that firm the soil over the seed. Mud can actually cause these wheels to toss the seed out of the trench. Also trying to pack in mud will make the soil hard.
So, we must have some dryer ground to plant into. The forecast is not for much drying weather later this week, but it should come. Even though he soil was dry at the end of 2012, this snow has really made it a muddy start of the 2013 planting season.
There is a bit of time yet, so I’ll not try to plant yet. University data says that we have until the 25th of May before we need to switch varieties, and even after that there are shorter season seeds if we can get them. This is going to be the latest starting date for me in all of my years farming. For now we wait for dry weather. Spring will come, I have to believe that.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, tillage, weather, weather sayings, weather wisdom, wind | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, dust storms, farm, Minnesota, plant soybeans, Planting, rain, soil moisture levels, Soybeans, spring, weather, wind
There is an old quote that if you “Plant in dust your bins will bust, plant in mud the crops a dud.” This year will see both extremes.
When we started planting this year we were in the hold of a drought that had dropped soil moisture levels dangerously low. Lakes and streams were running at low levels and many tile lines had been reduced to a trickle if they were running at all. Then it rained. The Des Moines River came up 5 feet in a day and has held that level for a week now. Many fields have standing water and mud is now a problem. Working a whole field is not always possible. The rain also polished the soil surface so that dust storms are possible causing farmers to do extra work to head off young plants being cut up by blowing sand. From one problem to another.
Those farmers who live in Southwestern Minnesota now fit into two categories, those with corn yet to plant, and those who don’t. Those with corn left to plant may be willing to cut a few corners to get their corn planted. Those without, who have started to plant soybeans, have a few more options. The weather report may be the key.
There is not a drop of rain in the 10 day forecast. Because of that I am willing to wait to get going on soybean planting. I have been out in the next field I wish to plant and it is a bit muddy in some spots. By monday it should be fine. My granddaughters are here for a visit, so I think I’ll visit. There are a few other jobs to do, monday will be soon enough.
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, spring, weather, weather sayings, weather wisdom | Tags: cold, cold tolerance, Corn, farm, machines, Minnesota, Planting, seed corn, spring, weather
April 11, the day crop insurance will cover some of your expense if your crop is damaged by the weather in our area. Should I start planting corn.
It was a chilly 16 degrees as the sun came up this morning. I’ve had wood in the boiler for the last several days to help keep the house warm. There was ice on the pond this morning. Some farmers in Southwestern Minnesota will start planting corn today, but I will not be one of them.
I have my seed in the shed and the planter is ready to go, but I just cannot bring myself to start planting this early. Despite the warm days we have had lately the signs are just not right. Not having several thousand acres to plant may be part of it, but I know I can get the corn planted in 7 days if I need to, so I’m not in a rush yet.
Even with the cold tolerance of the modern day varieties as compared to the old varieties, I cannot see putting the seed at risk. I know you should store seed in a cool dry place, and our soil is cool and dry now, but putting it out for the rodents and insects to feast on just does not seem right.
I’m still a bit old school. My farming grandfathers told me a number of ways to tell if the ground was warm enough. We have no barn swallows here, which means the insects that hatch as the soil warms are not out. The oak and ash tree do not even have a hint of leaf on them, much less the squirrels ear sized leaves they should have to indicate proper soil temperature. Last but not least, I have not dropped my pants to see how comfortable the soil is on a bare bottom, never tried it, but have talked about it. Things just do not feel right to me yet.
I did see a planting crew heading to the field about 8:30 this morning so I know there will be corn going in the ground today. I have been hearing rumors of corn planted and already up just across the border in Iowa. It will be interesting to see how many do get the planters going.
Some of my neighbors have not been careful enough lately when they travel the roads with seed corn on trucks and trailers. I have seen evidence of bags of seed that fell off and split open on the road. At about $300 per bag, this is a real tragedy. Just a little care could prevent such a loss. This is not a time for hurry, but a time to make sure everything is done right the first time.
So don’t look for me planting corn today, and with the forecast for rain showers for the next few days, I don’t expect to start this week. If I get going by the 23rd and done by the 30th I’ll be happy. We’ll see.
Filed under: rain, weather, weather sayings, weather wisdom | Tags: rain, weather
When I left the house this morning just before sunrise I looked up to see the moon. My first thought was, “Huh, a dry moon.” A dry moon is a crescent moon with its points up so that the water cannot run out.
Where I heard that one I don’t know. I do know that since the moon went dry we have had not a drop of rain. It’s just another old farmers saying that seems to hold.
Filed under: Farm, harvest, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, snow, time, weather, weather sayings, weather wisdom, winter
I was reminded to day of another old farmers saying, rain falls 90 days after fog. We’ve had several days of fog now and the timing of it promotes a bit of concern. Ninety days from now we should be planting corn.
With all of the snow on the ground we are already assured wet ground in the spring. Now if you add rain for a week just as we should be planting we will have problems. The only good thing about this is that it would be the start of planting. However if the wet would continue planting will be delayed.
For those with corn still in the field a late spring could be a real challenge. They must finish harvest and then start planting.
All of this is speculation. In 90 days we could see a dramatically different scenario. We shall see what happens.