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, 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.
Filed under: family, Farm, Farm Bureau, Fishing, food, friends, summer, Trees, weather, wind | Tags: children, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, hot, machines, record heat, summer, trees, weather, wind
It has been a hot week and I will be glad to see it go. I seem to be having troubles for the last week or so, one after another.
Last Thursday I called the doctor that was to do my knee surgery to get details. They said, “Oh, No, you are not scheduled for a week.” I said “I have an appointment card that says surgery tomorrow.”, and “Next Friday will not work.” Some how we got the surgery done. The knee is feeling much better now, Thank you.
We go to the cabin so I can recuperate without having any extra duties, spend time with my leg up, take it easy. No water in the cabin! I have to crawl into the basement and prime the pump so we can have water to clean up and cool off.
It’s hot, record-breaking hot,but I cannot go into the water too cool off due to my surgery. Lucky for me the crappies are biting just off the dock. I can at least sit in the sun and fish, and sweat!
A storm comes through and takes down some trees and takes out the electricity. Spend some time helping with the clean up. No fans, no air moving, it’s hard to sleep. The only running water we have is when someone goes down to the lake to carry it back in buckets. With no fridge and food spoiling, we come home early. Oh yeah, the fridge died when the power went out.
We stop at my aunt and uncles on the trip home for a bit. The electricity goes out at their house!
A message comes up on my phone as we near home. One of the items we need to serve for Breakfast on the Farm is not available, could you call back, like, two days ago. With some scrambling, and help from others putting on the event, we are a go.
Today, Friday, I go to open my shop door and nothing happens, motor is out. Looks like I need to do some repair there, and there are no parts available until Monday.
There have been a number of little things that have gone wrong this week, and the record heat and humidity are not helping us get things done. I just want to crawl into bed and stay there. Then, however, I would not get to see my granddaughters,
I would not have the feeling of a job done well, I would not have people looking at me and saying, “Wow, how did you get all of that done.”
So, I guess I’ll just keep on going. We have a big event planned for tomorrow, and thanks to all of those who are helping me, we are going to have a good time. Come on over and help fill the tent. We’ll be waiting for you!
Here’s to keeping going when everything seems to be going wrong!
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, seasons, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather
So, for us the 2011 harvest is in the books, and it was a good one.
The crop year in our area of Minnesota started out bad with rains and flooded fields that kept us out of the fields for the usual April 22 start of planting date. We did get started on May 1, a date that is considered late, but not exceptionally so. Our corn was all planted by May 10 and we started planting soybeans almost a week later due to more rain. Our crops were all planted in the optimal time frame according to the U of MN. Many others in the region were not so lucky and continued to struggle to plant until the end of June.
The spring and early summer continued wet and cold. It was a challenge just to get the work done. When the change came it was dramatic. First came the heat, as steamy day after steamy day gave us tropical conditions. We even had days that were more hot and humid than those experienced in rain forests. Then the rains stopped.
They called it a flash drought. One day it was hot and humid, the next it was hot and dry, and it stayed that way. In a time period when our crops needed one inch of rain per week, we were getting none. If we did get rain it came in very small amounts. August rain fall totaled under one quarter of an inch, and September was less than half of an inch. The ground became hard and cracked. It was amazing that the crops looked so good.
When harvest came, it came with a rush. One day the crops were not ready, the next everything was ready. Usually we get to harvest our soybeans and then begin harvest on corn that is 20% to 25% moisture. This year not only the soybeans were harvested at under 15% moisture, most of the corn was also. We not only started harvest earlier than normal, we finished in record time.
Corn coming out of the field at those moisture levels is something I have never experienced before. Yes, I have put a lot of corn straight into the bin, but usually I do that at 18% to 20% moisture and air dry it. More likely, I would spend time and money drying the corn to get it to a salable moisture level. We prefer to harvest corn at about 25% moisture to reduce harvest losses. The higher harvested amount helps to cover the drying costs.
So how did this years harvest turn out. On a field by field average, we had soybean yields of between 28 and 40 bushels per acre, nothing spectacular, but yields I have come to expect for our fields. Corn was a bit better with yields of 145 to 183 bushels per acre. I know that the lower yields were on fields that had sandy areas and ponding water, both things that will hinder good yields. The early wet and late dry really cut yields in some areas. Our best fields had no areas of either sand, or areas where water stayed for any period of time.
So what was my impression of the crop yields this year. I found the soybeans yields to be disappointing. It is obvious that the weather did reduce our soybean harvest. Harvest losses from harvesting the crop at too low of a moisture level will indeed be part of the problem, but not all of it.
Corn yields went from expected to very good. I was not surprised to get corn yields in the 145 to 160 area, but to have two fields that topped 180 bushels per acre was totally unexpected. Add to that the bonus of not having to dry the grain to store it and I am very happy with those two fields. I would estimate our harvest losses at about 5 bushels per acre, an amount that is not welcome, but well within expectations when you harvest corn that dry.
So we have finished harvest in a very challenging year. With all of the weather extremes it is a wonder we got any crop harvested at all. I can remember years in the past where we did not face as many challenges, and had much worse yields. It is indeed a testament to the newer varieties and farming methods that we did get so much.
So now we start work on the next years crop. There is one thing that is for sure of future crop years, none of them will be exactly like this year.
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, spring, summer, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, spring, summer, weather, wind
It’s harvest time here in southwestern Minnesota and all farmers are busy. We’ve had no rain to speak of in over two months. The wind blows everything around. I’m not getting enough sleep. Hmmm….. must be why I missed a few days of postings.
So this is what I’ve been looking at for the last several days, except for when I switch off with dad to unload a few loads, or stop for a meal, or to get a few hours of sleep, if it’s daylight we’re harvesting.
So sometimes we dump into the grain cart when is not moving, and sometimes we dump into it when we are both moving. It’s a way to get a lot done if you have enough people. Since there are only two of us, we don’t dump on the go that often. The grain cart does make a good way to keep one truck on the road. The combine dumps into the grain cart when it gets full, and when the truck gets back you refill the truck. It helps keep everyone busy.
So when both the combine and grain cart are dumping into the truck at the same time, you can really fill it up fast.
So when I’m not looking where I’m going, I will glance at the monitor to see how much crop I’m harvesting and what the moisture level of that crop is. Now this is OLD tech, it must be almost 10 years old by now, I cannot even imagine what the new machines do. Still it’s pretty cool to this old guy to be able to get an idea of how much you are harvesting before you haul it into town.
It’s really interesting to see the areas where the corn didn’t grow so well, the weeds just take over. Is shows how critical early weed control is. Once the crop is up and shading the ground the weeds don’t get growing. Let a little sunshine in, and instant weed patch.
Sometimes the wind knocks down the corn before we get to it. In a year like this, when the corn dried out so quickly, it can happen much more than we would like. If you can get the snouts of the combine under it, maybe you can get it into the combine. Many times though, the ear will drop off, or the stalk will break off, and you get nothing. It’s a long slow process in down corn.
So this years planting started out late, we had a lot of rain for the first months of the growing season, and it was cold. Then in a flash, it all changed to dry and hot. Amazingly the plants still held on and managed to produce an average, to better than average crop. Not only did a late, cold, planting season turn to hot and dry, all that heat made our harvest season early for us. We are harvesting a dry crop and putting it right into the bin, which is very rare in my lifetime. What a year.
So, if you don’t hear from me for a while, I’m finishing harvest.
Filed under: birds, garden, Minnesota, pond, rain, water garden, Wildlife | Tags: birds, deer, farm, frogs, Minnesota, rain, screen porch, summer, weather, wildlife
Our pond is under siege by an invasion of frogs. It’s not unusual to see three or four, but this afternoon we had 11 that I could count and there had to be more hiding in the plants at ponds edge. That tells me I did something right.
Here’s some more.
There are six frogs hiding in the picture above.
The weather has been dry lately with not even a dust settler for this month. This morning we had a thunderstorm roll through and it didn’t even leave a tenth of an inch.
Our ponds also has drawn deer for a drink. I’ve not seen them at the pond, but have found them leaving when I step out in the morning. With the only open water source in some distance we are drawing quite a few birds also. It sure can make dinner in the screen porch an interesting time.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, potatoes, rain, Soybeans, summer, weather
I was out in my garden digging potatoes today and found the ground to be dry and hard six inches down. We’ve had no measurable rain for over a month after a spring and early summer when the rain would not quit. The weather sure is variable here.
Earlier this year when the wetter weather stayed north of us and allowed us to get our crop in on time I was blessing the rainfall path. Now the rains continue to move down the Minnesota river valley, and we get nothing. This could be interesting for crop development.
Corn kernels are set, we had good pollination weather and moisture when we needed it, but the depth of the kernels is set by how much water the plant can get now. On the sandier soils some of our corn has already shut down. What is on the ear is all that we will get. Those corn kernels will be small and light in weight.
The soybean plants may not set any more pods without rain. The plants will try to produce the best seeds it can with what it has now. Any moisture in the near future will help the soybeans set new pods. I’ve seen an early September rain cause a new set of pods after dry weather.
From too much rain to too little in one year. This sure has been an interesting year.
Filed under: Minnesota, School bus, seasons, summer, time, travel | Tags: attitude, children, friends, school, school bus, summer, vacation
The summer is drawing to a close and many kids are back in school. My daughter has been teaching at her school for most of the month. School started here this week. I hear the lament “Where has the summer gone?” I’m here to tell you that summer is still here and will be until September 23.
School for many signals the end of summer. The end of vacation and a slower pace we all look forward too, at least if there are school age children or teachers in the house. I think we are giving our children a false message when we lament the end of summer. We make it seem as if school was not a good thing.
A friend of mine was lamenting that he had to cover the spot of one of our youth who got a job and then quit after one day. The fact is that school, like work demands our time and attention. Quiting is not an option if you plan to make something of yourself. There are too many “summer people” in this world, and not enough fall, winter and spring people.
When I pick up the younger children in my school bus I see the excitement in their eyes. They are getting to be with friends and learn new things. The world is exciting, new and full of adventure. We need to somehow keep that new and exciting feeling in our lives. We need a school time attitude, not a vacation attitude.
When you travel to other countries you see how easy we have it here. We in America seem to live in a summertime attitude. We vacation and play so much, we have so much, even our poor people have so much more than the poor in other countries.
If we want our country to remain great we need to get back into that start of school time attitude where we are always busy and always learning. We need an attitude of the start, not of the end. The next time I hear the lament that the summer is over, I’m likely to reply that is a good thing. America and her people need to end their summertime attitude. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. This is the end of summer, it’s an exciting time.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, summer | Tags: Corn, farm, Food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, peppers, potatoes, summer, sweet corn, tomatoes
I do love the late summer season here in Minnesota. The garden fresh fruits and veggies are a wonderful addition to the table.
Right now our main harvest is sweet corn. We just finished preparing some for the freezer so we can be eating corn into the winter. Have you heard of the microwave option for cooking sweet corn? Two ears of sweet corn in a paper towel will cook in two minutes in the microwave. Just right for one person, or two lighter eaters. Add about a minute per ear as you add corn, sometime it takes more time with more ears.
Some of my potato vines have died so I dug those yesterday. I got a few reds, some whites, and even a purple potato from my digging. There are a lot more to dig, but having a few on hand to eat now is really nice.
The peppers have been producing too. Mostly we have picked banana peppers, but the green and yellow bells are producing a few also. Banana peppers add a bit of extra zing to so many foods this time of year.
My favorite is tomato season. We have only had a few big tomatoes, but the little pear shaped yellow tomatoes are a delight to pop into your mouth. I have one big yellow tomato that nearly ready. BLT season is almost upon us.
I love my hamburgers with a slab of tomato and a slab of onion just as thick as the meat. Now that is a burger!