Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, nitrogen, planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, tillage, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, watching the rain, weather
I’ve spent a lot of time this year watching the rain. It is all the better today since I finally got my fields planted. In my area of southwestern Minnesota corn and soybeans are the main crops.
We did get the corn planted some time ago. The timing was a little later than we would like, but corn was planted early enough that we can hope for a good yield. The fields all got planted in one hectic 4 day period that included 100 degree heat the last day. Then it rained for days on end.
Fields dried enough so we could plant one field of soybeans. We started working the next field to be planted and then it rained for several days.
The last two days of planting were just like the last planting session, long and hectic. The forecast is for rain, so you know there is an end date. The fields are mostly ready, but have a few wet spots in them, so planting is not all perfect. It’s a choice of waiting long enough to get into the fields, but not too long so that you cannot get the job done.
So now we need some heat and sunshine. Spring so far has been a bit cold. The corn is all up and has a good start. We’ll be watching for weed growth and planning the last application of nitrogen.
We have planting season machinery to put away, and summer season machines to get ready. We have some corn left in the bins to haul into town once the clutch gets fixed on the grain truck. There will be plenty to do on the farm.
I know I am lucky. There are those not that far away that have had so much rain that getting anything planted has been a challenge. Huge late snow falls were followed by large rain storms. Some of them have not even started to plant. I’ve heard that it is raining for some of them again.
After last years drought, it is amazing to see this much rain. The day could come when we are glad we had so much spring rain. 2012 was a year with a wet May before the rains stopped and the heat dried us out. 2011 also had a wet start that changed into a dry summer when the rains stopped in late June. What will 2013 bring?
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Ice, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: broken trees, cold, Corn, corn crop, corn price, cutting wood, farm, Minnesota, Planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, trees, weather
First it was the winter that would not leave. Snow into early May is just not good for spring planting. Ice storms have meant that I have spent more time cutting wood and cleaning up broken trees this spring than I have planting. I think we had a total of 5 days so far that were fit to plant corn. Happily we used those days well and most farmers in our area got their corn in the ground. Local estimates are that over 80% of the corn got planted in the few good planting days we had here in southwestern Minnesota.
Now when you look down the rows of our corn fields we are starting to see little spears of green. We have the start of a good corn crop.
For the last several days it has been rainy and cold. I’ve been out cleaning up ice damaged trees that fell into the fields I want to plant soybeans in. Still the wet ground means that I cannot get going on soybean planting, and I awake to more rain this morning.
We have taken advantage of some of this down time to haul some of last years corn crop in to the ethanol plant. The prices were set months ago in some cases, or just last week in the case of one contract. Happily the corn price is still way above the average, although it is lower than a few months ago. I still marvel at the thought that I was able to sell so much of last years crop at over $7 per bushel. It is a price that will not last.
The weather forecast says we will get one sunny day tomorrow, and a rain free but cloudy day friday. There is hope for a little bit of soybean planting before the rains come back. I’d best get everything ready for another push.
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: 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, farm animals, food, Ice, Minnesota, rain, school, snow, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, farm, fluffy snow, Food, Minnesota, nature, rain, snow, spring, travel, trees, weather
Wow, talk about some weather. We’ve been almost two years without a major storm in our area of Minnesota and now we get it all at once.
Monday we got a bit of rain, it was looking like our usual tenth of and inch and done storm.
Tuesday things started to ramp up with nearly an inch of rain, still not very interesting since it was only rain with a bit of thunder.
Wednesday things turned serious. Icy rain had fallen throughout the night. Area schools were called off because the road crews were having trouble keeping the ice and snow off of the road. Traffic was nearly at a standstill. Almost an inch of ice on trees was bringing down branches and power lines. Some areas have lost power but we were still in business. The days rainfall total was again nearly an inch.
Thursday dawned with nine inches of soft, fluffy snow on the ground. Most area schools were off for the day. It continued to snow for most of the day, but the temperatures stayed just above freezing so we also had quite a bit of melting going on. Tree branches that had held out for the ice were now breaking with the added weight of snow. Our area lost power about 11 a.m. Standby generators for the hog barns went into action.
We went into town to see if someone would feed us. All stores were dark and many were closed. Subway was feeding people until they ran out of bread. Runnings had employees with flash lights helping you find the things you needed. Hy-Vee was in full operation since they had enough backup power to run the registers and some lights. Food in need of being kept cold was being moved to refrigerated trucks. Power came back on for us about 3:30 p.m. but many are still in the dark.Today is friday and this April Fools joke still continues. School is finally in session, but area roads are not in good condition. We still have snow falling. Because the ground had started to thaw we have mud under our snow, if you break through the crust there is no traction, so it is easy to get your vehicle stuck. Much of the ice is now off of the trees, but the damage will take a long time to clean up. When the snow and rain have all been added up we are nearly a 3 inches of precipitation. If we can get it to stay this will start to get us on the way to a good crop.
Tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and I would like to get started on branch pickup. By Sunday we are expecting more rain and temperatures are supposed to get more normal. That just might melt this latest snow fall. Spring may be here, but first we need to get rid of some snow.
It’s been wild, but we continue on.
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: cold, Ice, Minnesota, seasons, snow, spring, weather, Wildlife | Tags: geese, melting snow, Minnesota, nature, pond, snow, spring, waterlilies, weather, weight restrictions
Our part of Minnesota does not have as much snow as the folks further north, but the weather is still cold. Most days are still topping out below freezing and we are approaching the time of year they should be in the 50′s. Despite the cold, spring is coming.Melting snow.Geese looking for open water.New leaves on the waterlilies.Weight restrictions on roads. Yes, spring is coming and the posting of weight restrictions on roads is a sure sign that it is coming.
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.