Minnesota Farmer


New appreciation
October 23, 2016, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Corn, Farm, snow | Tags: , ,

So the other day when I said harvest was complete, it wasn’t quite accurate.  I still had some corn to hand pick.  Now that is done.

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You see, I left a little corn out at the hog barn site to use as a snow fence.  It’s not a lot of corn, an area of about 15 feet by 200 feet.  Still it had corn in it and rather than let it hang out there until spring I decided to hand pick it.

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For all of that, it is a bit of work.  I used muscles that I do not usually use.  It gives me new appreciation for those old timers who used to pick all of their corn my hand.  Mom was quick to point out that they usually were at it all winter.  Now I know that their corn was nothing like ours.  It did not have all of the genetics to stand tall and strong so I’m sure some of it was on the ground and some stalks were broken over.  My few rows will still be standing there after a winter of blowing snow.

So there it is, finally complete.  Let winter come, the snow fence of standing corn, minus the ears, will be there to keep most of the snow away from the barn.  Now I have to go take some aspirin.



Maturing or dying
September 8, 2016, 9:18 am
Filed under: Ag education, agriculture, Corn, Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, weather | Tags: , , ,

It’s been a wet year in our part of Minnesota.  We have never been short of moisture at any time this year, in fact most of the year we have been wet.  The rains come and do not turn off.  Getting field work done has been hard.  Now as the fall harvest is nearing, corn farmers are wondering is my corn maturing,img_0705

or dying?img_0706

Every year as harvest nears a host of rots and diseases move into our corn stalks to start the breakdown of dying corn plants.  Sometime they move in too soon and the corn dies before it matures.  Then you have a mess like in the second picture above.  Modern corn varieties are less susceptible to many of those diseases and rots, but when too much water kills off the corn before it matures, the rot takes over.

In about a month we will be into harvest.  If too much of our corn is down and rotting, we will have reduced yields and difficult harvest conditions.  Then we will know the answer to our question, is that corn crop maturing or dying?



Mostly knee high
June 20, 2015, 8:41 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , , ,

Knee high by the 4th of July used to be a target for corn growth.  If you made that mark you were on your way to a good harvest.  Back when that saying was minted they planted corn much later than we do now.  Twice in my life I’ve seen corn over my head and tassels forming.

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Corn in our area of southwestern Minnesota is now mostly knee high.  I say mostly because there are places where it is not.  It could be the tillage system, weed pressure, poor soil or cool temperatures that have kept if from growing as fast as the rest, but some areas just are not doing as well.

We plant our corn in two different systems.  Corn planted on soybean stubble is strip tilled, a process that leaves plenty of soybeans stubble on the ground to protect from wind and rain erosion.  Some of the fertilizer is placed in the tilled strips in the fall, the rest is applied after the corn comes up.  Corn planted after corn is more of the conventional style where more tillage is done in the fall.  This tillage allows us to mix in hog manure for fertilizer.  About half of our corn ground gets covered with that wonderful, inexpensive, organic fertilizer.

Our spring started out warm and dry, but just as we got done planting the weather changed.  It got cool and wet.  We’ve now worked our way out of the drought conditions we had.  Although we do not have water standing in the fields, and all our soybeans got planted, we have still been a bit wetter than we would like at this time of year.

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The soybeans are off to a good start.  Weed control is our main challenge right now in soybeans.  Because they do not shade the ground as fast as corn we have a longer window of concern for weed control.  Early weeds have been taken care of, but soon we’ll have to knock them back again to be sure they stay only a minor annoyance.

So, here we are, June is half over and things are looking good here on our farm.  We had more rain last night to keep those plants happy, now we need some heat.



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.