Minnesota Farmer


A little sun, a little rain
May 14, 2015, 8:07 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, Soybeans, spring, weather | Tags: , , , , ,

After a below normal moisture winter and early spring, the rains have begun to come.  We’ve had a little sun, a little rain, and not much for heat.  Still corn is beginning to emerge and soybeans to sprout.  Every time we get a dry period I see more and more fields that have been planted.  We are by no means done with planting here in Southwestern Minnesota, but we are getting closer.

The lack of heat is causing some distress for the corn plants that have emerged.  Long periods of cloudy wet weather leave young corn plants looking a bit yellow.  Then we get a dry, warmer day or two and the corn plants get a chance to green up as they draw nutrients out of the soil.

Topsoil moisture conditions have improved greatly.  Now they are almost a bit too wet when you dig down a few inches.  Still the subsoil areas are dry and that keeps the water on the top moving down.  I’ve even seen some recovery of small ponds and creeks as the rains continue.  That is really good news.

I’m just about done with planting soybeans.  I’ve been waiting for a tile repair crew to come into the last area I have to plant.  That crew showed up yesterday, and today it rains.  So now I wait for a bit more dry and some heat.  Once the soil conditions are right I only need part of a day to finish planting.  We’ll get the planting done when the weather allows.



Worries
May 9, 2015, 10:04 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, new beginnings, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , ,

Raising a crop or livestock is a bit like raising children, only it happens more often.

Spring is here and most of the planting is done, now comes the worry.  Will the crop come up?  Did I plant it too deep or too shallow?  Was there enough water, or too much?  When will it come up?  Is the weather too cold or too hot?

We’re not quite done with planting, only about 40 acres of soybeans left to plant, but the worry over the corn has been going since it went into the ground.  Today I saw the first few spikes of corn peaking through.  I’ll not say that ended the worry, but it was a relief to see.  Some of the worry is gone.

Over the last few days we had just over an inch of rain with more forecast for Sunday and the days to follow.  I still consider it early for soybeans, so there is not much worry there, yet.  But having rain on that dry ground does help me sleep at night.  Now a new set of worries comes into play.  Oh well, nothing to do but wait until they happen, then I can do my best to fix them.

For now, I wait, and try not to worry.



Rain, Glorious rain

We’ve been in a bit of a dry spell here in Southwestern Minnesota.  Our winters snowfall was well below normal and spring rains have been few and far between.  This dry spell has allowed us to make record planting progress on our corn and soybeans despite cooler temperatures.

Frankly, I have been more than a little concerned about the dry.  Rivers, creeks and lakes are at low levels.  Field tile have had some water in them, but not much.  Any stirring of the soil surface has created lots of dust.  There is some moisture in the soil, but is it enough to keep the crops going?  We needed rain!

Today’s weather has helped that immensely.  In the last 24 hours we have now had about nine-tenths of an inch of rain.  Mostly it came down slowly, just drizzling out of the sky.  There were a few episodes where the sky cut loose, but not many.  This is just what we needed.  Crops will now be off to a good start.  When will it rain next?



Plant in dust

After two consecutive years of planting in muddy conditions this year was so different, and so easy.  I do not ever remember planting going start to finish so fast.  Soil conditions were perfect, the weather was warm and the wind was even bearable.

The old adage is “Plant in dust, your bins will bust.  Plant in mud, your crops a dud.”  This year was definitely a year for planting in dust.  We had little to no moisture in the top inch or two of soil and precious little under that. Every time you work soil you dry it out so I did as little soil moving as possible.  Still I worry that some of my seed may be in dry ground.

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Now we wait.  When will we be able to see rows of corn popping through?

This springs temperatures stayed cold for a bit too long, but when they broke we went right to hot and windy, but little rain.  I am resisting going right to soybean planting for now, but if it is dry again next week, I’ll plant soybeans also.  In the mean time I watch for rain clouds and read weather reports.  We need some rain.



Tree line trim
April 26, 2015, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Farm, harvest, Trees, wood heat | Tags: , , ,

We have several places on our farms where we have lines of trees to slow wind movement across the fields.  As those trees get older, branches will lean or fall into the field.  Usually I just go out and take out the branches that reach the farthest into a field.  This year I decided to do something a bit more drastic on our oldest tree line.

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Branches can reach out into the field a long ways.  This means they are sometimes brushing onto harvesting and planting equipment.  The plantable area gets pushed away from the trees and the area between becomes a weed nursery.

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I’ve been cutting the branches that lean into the field and harvesting the largest parts for winter’s fuel.  The smaller branches are pushed into a pile and burned.

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When it’s done you have a clean area right up to the trees that can be cared for more easily.  The trees are also less likely to break in a wind or ice storm.

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There is also more wood for the wood pile.



Still a chill

It’s April 23, the day the University of Minnesota says those of us who farm in Southwestern Minnesota should start planting corn, but there is still a chill in the earth and I will wait.

The last few mornings have found ice in the cats water dish.  Frost on roofs and grass has been obvious.  Stick a thermometer into the earth and it will show temperatures still in the 30’s.  This is not where I want my seed to be.

I have not as yet seen one dandelion bloom.  Crocus, tulip and other early bloomers are not yet budding.  Only my pear tree shows blooms, the apples do not, and few trees even show the smallest of leaves.  The trees tell me it is cold out there.

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

There were a few days over a week ago when we had some warm weather, then the insects were out, but most days are bug free.  Because there are no bugs there are no barn swallows.  Barn swallows swooping around eating insects are a sure sign that the ground is finally warm enough to plant.  Yep, all signs say it is still cold in that dirt.

So when will I start planting?  I’m not sure yet, but come Monday I’ll check and see how things are going.  Frost is finally out of the forecast, but temperatures are not all that warm yet.  Also rain is in the forecast for the next few days, that will also slow us down.  If we get into May and have not yet started planting then the calendar starts to come into play.  We need to get that corn planted by May 10.



Dry start?
April 19, 2015, 7:15 am
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain | Tags: , , ,

It’s looking as if there will be a dry start to this planting season.  We went through winter with little snow and have had insufficient rain to really make a difference yet this spring.  We do have enough water to get crops started but how long that will last depends on future rain events.  Our area of southwestern Minnesota is on the edge of the driest ground getting just a bit below normal rainfall for this month.

So far ground temperatures have yet to reach optimal planting temperatures.  Tile repair crews and builders are still reporting frozen ground less than two feet down.  Some farmers have started to plant due to the great top soil conditions.  Although there is risk in early planting they are willing to take that risk.  So far I am waiting.  The forecast for two days of frost this week will influence my decision to wait.
So when will I start planting corn?  I’d expect a starting date later this week if all holds as forecast.  I still have plenty of projects to keep me going as I prepare for planting season, so I’m not sitting idle.  Stay tuned for the beginning of my planting season.



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