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, farm animals, food, garden, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: alfalfa, Corn, drought, farm, Food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, tomatoes, weather
Our little corner of Minnesota got 1.1 inches of rain for the whole month when our crops are needing an inch a week. The National Weather Service has placed us in a Severe Drought, yet the crops look good. Tonight we are again getting a few drops of rain, just a teaser, how much more dry weather can we take.
We’ve been eating some very good sweet corn lately, well filled out ears, good depth. I will admit to setting the soaker hose in the patch one day, but one day only. We usually use sweet corn yield to show how the field corn is doing. The tomatoes are yielding well, and the peppers have good production on them as well. Is this really a significant drought? The answer is yet to be determined.
Despite the good looking crops in the field I expect there to be some yield loss. Our fields here will do better than some, but worse than others. After two good cuttings of alfalfa, the third cutting was hardly worth the effort to harvest it. That shows how the early rains helped early production, but have not been sufficient for the moisture needs of this last month. There will be less grain harvested than our country needs for exports, and some domestic users will have to find alternative feed stocks.
Those hurt most in the livestock sector will most likely be the cattle feeders who depend on the rains not for corn, but for forage crops like grass, alfalfa and clover. Some corn will be chopped to help extend the needs, but the best feed stocks may not be in the right place for the livestock that depends on it. Cattle will go to slaughter and beef prices, at least on the farm, will be cheaper before they go higher.
Those who need feed grains the most, poultry and pork producers, will be able to buy feed, but at a highly inflated price. Some chickens and turkeys will not be hatched until farmers can get a high enough price to pay for the higher priced feed. Grains are easier to transport, so they will still move from areas of relative abundance to areas of need if the price is right.
Yes, these little showers of rain are good, just not enough to give our usual amounts of production. Until the combines roll and we have some harvested acres we will just not know how good, or how bad.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans | Tags: farm, harvest, ice water, machines, Minnesota, repairs, sandwiches, Soybeans, tomatoes, wind
For my dad and I the 2011 soybean harvest is finished. I spent most of the last 5 days looking down the rows of soybeans. Dad spent the last few days driving and unloading trucks.
Actually I rarely looked this high, my eyes were usually down where the action was, down on the sickle making sure the beans were feeding into the machine properly. Then if something went wrong it had to be fixed.
Yeah, I did this a few times. Once in a while something would get into the sickle that could not be cut. Something would have to give, and it was usually the bolts that held a sickle section on the bar. Then it’s get out and replace it. Hammer out the old bolts, insert a new section, tighten the bolts, put away the tools and off we go again.
Keeping windows clean enough to see out of was a job. The dust from the plants stuck to everything. The windows got washed down at least twice a day. Dust covered everything unless the wind was blowing enough to move it off. Blowing dust at times can make it hard to see what you are doing, especially just before sundown. I’m glad I have A/C in the cab, but dust still got in somehow.
I didn’t stop for much once I got going. My lunch bag was there beside me. Every morning I put in two sandwiches, some small yellow tomatoes, two quarts of ice water and some fruit. There was already a can of peanuts in the cab. That kept me going until I decided to quit for the day.
For us, this years harvest was only average. The bean plants were dry so they threshed out well, and the soybeans themselves were a little on the dry side.
So tomorrow it’s clean up the combine and get ready for the corn harvest. Still plenty to do.
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!
Filed under: food, garden, harvest | Tags: farm, Food, garden, harvest, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes
With all of the field work to do you would think I would not have time to keep up a garden. Since I really like that fresh from the garden taste, I make time. This year with all of the rain it has been a real challenge to do any gardening. The weeds have tried to get ahead of me several times, and in some places they are winning. Despite all of that there have been some really great tastes coming out of the garden this week.
I finally gave up and plowed under the leaf lettuce. It was going to seed and the leaves are just not as tasty once they do.
My peas have been going gang busters. I have had more peas this year than I have had for many a year. Picking and shelling peas daily has taken some time, and gets forgotten once in a while, but come winter will be well appreciated.
I never did get my potatoes hilled up. The weeds are trying very hard to take over because of that, but the potatoes are really looking good. I have not yet sampled them, but I could take a few any time now. Two weeks ago we discovered some potatoes in the basement that had not been eaten, They had long sprouts sticking out of the bag. I dug a trench and spread them in. We now have some new potatoes coming up. We’ll see how they do.
I’ve trained my tomatoes up onto a fence for several years now and really like it. Some of the vines are over 5 feet long now and stretching above the fence. Although I have not yet harvested any, there are some that are starting to turn color. I have 5 different varieties climbing that fence so it will be interesting to see which ones are ready to pick first. Having the tomatoes off the ground makes them much easier to pick. Training the vines onto the fence can require almost daily attention when they grow as fast as they have this year. With new flowers all the way to the top we have the potential for a great crop.
The peppers have also been doing well. Last year was a real disaster with only a few medium sized peppers to harvest. Today I pick two huge bell peppers, and I have been picking banana peppers for over a week. There should be some red and yellow bells later on, but for now this is great.
There have been a few berries in the raspberry patch. This year the weeds got through the mulch and took over. I’m going to have to destroy the whole patch to get ahead of the weeds. The quack grass is incredible and really hard to control without hurting the raspberries.
The sweet corn is starting to produce ears. I expect to be eating my own sweet corn next week.
That’s the garden report for now. I predict some real good eating ahead, and enough to give produce away.
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, garden, Minnesota, planting, rain, spring | Tags: carrots, cold, Corn, farm, Food, garden, leaf lettuce, Minnesota, peppers, Planting, potatoes, radishes, rain, spinach, spring, tomatoes
My veggie garden has been a bit slow getting started this year. With all of the rain and cold it’s been hard to get anything planted. Then there is field work and the preparations for the wedding and time for a veggie garden can be at a premium.
I always plant carrots, radishes, spinach and leaf lettuce early. I plant the carrots and radishes in the same row. The radishes are up early and fast so you can harvest them first, and thin the carrots at the same time. When the radishes are done the slower growing carrots are well set. So far the radishes are nearing harvest, the spinach and lettuce are small but looking good and the carrots are just peeking out.
Potatoes were planted late this year. Some are up and well started while others are just peeking their first leaves out.
I would have liked to have my sweet corn planted now but things have been a bit wet. If I can get a few more dry days I’m going to try to get it in the ground.
I picked up my tomato and pepper plants today and decided to plant them. The ground was very wet. Working the ground this wet can make for some badly compacted soil in clay based ground like mine. I’m hoping I got good enough soil contact to my plants without compressing the soil too hard for the roots. No need to water them.
I had a few spots in the lawn where I needed to plant some grass. Trying to get any soil to cover even these small seeds was tough. Some areas were so wet and hard all I could hope to accomplish was poke wholes in the ground. I’m hoping the forecast rains will get them started.
There is a lot of time left in the garden for this year. Maybe with some dryer weather I can get a few more things planted. Either way, gardening, like my field work, is turning out to be very interesting this year.
Filed under: family, Farm, food, garden, house, Minnesota, planting, rain, weather | Tags: children, farm, Food, garden, Minnesota, peppers, Planting, rain, repairs, tomatoes, weather, Weed control
So it’s not been rain free around here, but it’s not been the best weather either. A few little spits of rain just to keep things messy. That does not mean that progress has stopped.
Beth has been home getting some last minute details done before the wedding. Stuff like hair style, dinner plans and how much alcohol I be buying. Those details include yard work. Our dogwood hedge took a real beating the last two winters and had a lot of broken branches and dead wood in it. That and a few other tree branches that had to go meant we had trailer loads of branches to haul out of the yard. The trees and bushes look a lot better now.
I think we are mowing the grass every three days now, or whenever it’s not raining. The dandelions need to be mowed more often. Now that we can get closer to some trees and bushes, we have more grass to mow. Parts of the lawn have water sitting on them, but the grass has to be kept down. We’re working towards a perfect lawn here, which is something we’ll never obtain, but are working towards.
My repairs on the house meant I had to paint. I’ve never gotten comfortable with a paint brush. I know it’s not a perfect job, but it will do for now. Paint brushes and ladders are now put away. I hope I don’t discover any more rotting house parts any time soon.
I did take a little time to do some plumbing repair. Why do these things always break when you are busy.
The garden had not yet become a mess but was threatening to become one. I got the tiller going only to have a bearing go out on a belt tightener. Another trip into town for repair parts. Now if things dry out a bit I hope to get the sweet corn planted. I need to get some tomatoes and pepper plants also.
Had three loads of road gravel delivered this week. It’s crushed quartzite, red rock, from the quarry nearby. It makes a real good, hard road bed. Had to do a little leveling and spreading to get it all to where I wanted it. Now we’ll drive on it this summer and by winter it should be well set in place.
The block for the landscaping was delivered this week. I found out Masters Stone did not have removal of some old landscape materials in the bid. That meant removing, and finding a place to put, all of the old blocks that were already there. Some of the blocks were glued together and had to be broken apart, others were mostly buried in the ground and needed to be dug out. It was a bit more work for me, but what else was I going to do anyway?
There have been door squeeks to oil and stuff to put away, meals to eat and a bit of sleep. When the wedding is over then I can sleep.
Filed under: church, food, garden, harvest, Kwazamohkuhle, repairs, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, Corn, ELCA, ELCSA, Food, friends, harvest, South Africa, tomatoes
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. Today we start our work at the Kwazamokuhle center.
Up with the sun, what else is new. I get some journal time in as I wait for breakfast. I’m used to doing breakfast alone, so I go bother the cooks for some hot water for tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, and the juice is not yet on the table, so it will have to be tea.
Breakfast is tea, coffee, Milo (the South African version of hot chocolate), scrambled eggs, bread, oatmeal and corn flakes. What a spread.
Breakfast at 7:00, chapel at 8:00, then we get a tour of the place.
The chapel is a round cinder block building with a grass roof and lots of windows. With us plus the staff in it, it was quite cozy. The staff enjoyed having us there. Some other visitors would go to chapel on their own, but we charged right in, tried to follow along in Zulu, and experienced the local way of doing things.
The high tunnel greenhouse is a special project of Paul and Barb’s. It was supposed to be put up last time they were here but did not arrive on time. An inspection of the high tunnel showed that some things had not been done right. Paul would spend as much of his time as possible getting it ready while we were there.
A tour of the sewing area got Ted interested in the gear for clergy.
Producing communion wafers for area churches is one way that the center helps pay it’s way. We took what they had on hand home for our congregations. Price, R50 for 500 wafers, about $6.90 a box.
The beadwork caught the eye of the ladies.
The large supply of basket work caught everyones eye. They even had a basket work baptismal font.
After tea we dug a few potatoes and helped put up a trampoline. Selling garden produce is one way the center helps to pay the salaries of local preachers.
Our lunch was rice, potatoes, a chicken stew which we used like a gravy, lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad, squash cubes, tea and coffee.
When you are halfway around the globe, and out in a remote area, the last thing you expect is to see someone you know. The only other American in the guest house was a classmate of Amanda’s. Josh was spending the year working at the Kwazamokuhle center and in the schools nearby. He is part of a program of Lutheran Youth in World Mission. Of course they had to have a picture of the Gustavus college alumni.
Ted and Marcia were also Gusties. Josh had the GAC flag in his stuff.
The day was turning out to be a hot, humid one but we still had lots to do.
At 4:00 we went to the official welcome service. We sang our song, and got to try lots of Zulu music.
We went outside for the Zulu singing greeting.
After the welcome we went to visit the Kwazamokuhle School for the disabled where we would be doing a bible school program on Saturday.
We also got to meet our helpers for the program. It was really great to have some Zulu speakers there to help out.
Dinner was rice, potatoes, mutton stew, bread, a lettuce, tomato, carrot and cucumber salad, tea and coffee.
We spent the evening tending to our sunburns, talking about the day and getting ready for tomorrow. After popcorn and devotions we went off to fight mosquitos and the hot humid night to try and get some sleep. Tomorrow the real work would begin.
I hope you will continue to follow our South African journey as we get to know the wonderful people of the Ondini circuit of the ELCSA.
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, school, seasons, Soybeans, summer, time, weather, Wildlife, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, Food, garden, harvest, hot, Minnesota, peppers, Soybeans, tomatoes, trees, weather, wind
The calendar has switched over to September and summer is still supposed to hold here in Minnesota for a few more weeks but there are signs of fall all over the place.
The hot still days we had early last week were replaced by hot breezy days and now cool breezy days. The high temperatures of over 80 degrees are to be replaced by highs in the low to mid 70′s. We are not done with hot weather, but a few early morning temperatures of 50 are forecast for the weekend.
As the weather changes, the winds blow first one way, and then the other. Last weeks blast from the south has been replaced by a northwest wind ushering in the cool. As the wind shakes the trees, black walnuts and branches fall from my trees. The squirrels are busy gathering in the harvest for the cold of winter and monarch butterflies are hovering in sheltered areas waiting for the right winds to take them to a warmer climate.
My potato vines are mostly dead and I have dug about half of them. I have white, red and purple potatoes this year. There is no more sweet corn to be harvested, but the raspberries are again producing fruit. Our pepper plants and tomato vines are at their peak and will soon start to die back as the weather cools. I dug a few carrots today. The pumpkins and gourds are growing rapidly as if they too know that the cold is coming.
Out in the field the soybeans are just starting to show some yellow. Harvest may begin as early as the last week of September for some, but most will wait for October. The fields of corn are showing some drying husks in the sandy areas. Our corn has already reached the maturity level we were forced to harvest it at last year.
The first high school football game is this weekend, and girls volley ball has already held two games. Many of our area kids are finishing their second week of school and those who have not yet started will be off to school after Labor Day.
All of this says that fall is coming. Goodbye shorts and sandals, it’s time to start bundling up for the wonderful temperatures, sights and sounds of fall in the theater of seasons that is Minnesota.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, food, food safety, garden, harvest, Minnesota, organic | Tags: farm, Food, food safety, garden, harvest, tomatoes
Some of the math used by those in support of the local food movement has been very creative. Some are trying to make it a sin to buy food that is not farmed right next door. While I support anyone who has their own garden or loves the food from their farmers market or CSA I do not think that should extend to bashing anyone who eats products grown in other parts of the country. Here in Minnesota we can get some wonderful fruits and veggies in the warm part of the year, but in winter fresh is not possible. It is because you cannot get the taste of a late summer BLT, with its fresh tomatoes, at any other time that make it so wonderful. To understand why food from American farms makes sense no mater where it comes from I invite you to read this article from the NY Times. For a writer from the coast, this one has it all together.