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: 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: 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: Corn, Farm, Soybeans, tillage, travel | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, machines, outdoors, Planting, pond, rain, Soybeans, travel, trees, Weed control, wildlife
Watch a farmer drive across country and you would think his head was on a swivel. Checking out first one side of the road and then the other can give you whiplash, but for me there is so much to see.
What do you see as you travel farm country? Those not involved in farming see very little, but farm folks see so much more, an example: It rained Sunday, I took a trip today and had to see how the area was doing. Because of all the rain I was checking out where water had eroded hillsides, where water was ponding or had ponded, where a deer had walked across wet ground, where geese were congregating in a ponded field and where the wind was starting to blow dust. I do that every mile when I travel, it is continuous. I also check out how tall the corn is, if the soybeans are coming up or not in planted fields and how the weed control is or is not doing. I also check out farming methods and how they are effecting water movement.
It’s a wonder I get to my destination all the things I find to look at on a trip down the road. The fact is that most farmers are the same. Driving to another state where farming practices are different can really get the head moving. We look for crops we do not plant, and different methods of planting those we do. We study irrigation and tillage methods, look for cattle (or bison) on the hillsides in ranch country and notice trees around building sites and rivers. We’ll look for wildlife and farm machines, tillage practices and building sites, there just is so much to study. Farmers look for so much when they travel.
The next time you travel through farm country, take a look at all there is to see. If you only see green fields you are not seeing, but only looking. Travel the country with a farmer if you really want to see the countryside.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Soybeans | Tags: Corn, ethanol, farm, marketing, Planting, selling corn, Soybeans
Here I am looking over the markets for the week, and it hits me, they really want my corn! How do you know? When end users are paying over Chicago Mercantile Exchange Futures Price, they need the corn NOW. I can get 16 cents over Chicago at the Co-op, which they will grind for livestock feed, and 25 cents over at the ethanol plant.
Looking back I find that the shift came about a month ago, that’s when our local co-op started paying Chicago price for corn. They were still paying 51 cents under Chicago for soybeans at that time. I had gotten so used to the Co-op paying 15 cents or more below Chicago that I had not even paid it any attention. This is big news. It means that someone needs corn now and is not getting it.
Are we running out of corn? Not likely, but it could be just a bit short, and farmers are planting, so their minds are elsewhere, thus some money must be paid to shake loose some corn. Now we will find out if there is corn to be purchased in the countryside. Me, I’ve rewarded the market for its higher price by selling some for June delivery, others could be also. I don’t have much left to sell, but this is too good of a price to miss.
Planting season is typically the last gasp of the market. Most likely prices will be down from here to harvest, unless we are really short of corn on the farm, then who knows. Still I’ll keep a sharp eye on the market. I still have a few bushels left to sell, just in case.