I started the month of February with a trip to Atlanta for the MapShots conference. Timing couldn’t have been better. The conference dates were sandwiched between the two Atlanta snow events that shut down the city.
Otto Farms has been using MapShots software for many years to do field mapping as well as data collection and analysis. MapShots has spent the past 3+ years transitioning to a new cloud based platform with many new features for our farming operation. We will be able to access most of our data from any computer connected to the interned including iPads in the field. This is very exciting for us! I have been looking forward to this happening for a few years already. MapShots has done a fantastic job of modularizing the software so customers can purchase what they need for their operation. I’m really looking forward to transitioning to the new software through the summer and using it exclusively in 2015.
When you grow seed beans for seed companies, you have little choice of when they decide to pick them up from the farm. The morning of December 7th started out a -11F and warmed all the way up to a high of zero. Bundling up and sitting in an idling pickup occasionally to stay warm is how we handle this situation. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the coffee.
This blog has been rather quiet through the winter. You would think that there’s lots of time to post once in a while but it just seems to fall to the bottom of my list.
Winter started with a bang. All was going well but we still had one more job to do, pull soil samples in the corn ground to test for soybean cyst nematodes. Sounds simple enough but not when you have an impending snow breathing down your neck. November 5, 2013 was the beginning of the end of our nice fall weather. Samples were pulled on three fields and as snow began to fall we scrambled to get the most critical areas sampled of the last field.
By the time the fourth and final sample was pulled, we already had 1″ of snow on the ground and it was coming down heavy and wet. One of the soil probes gave up working in these conditions. We woke up the next morning to this. Fall was officially over.
The 2013 harvest began this week. Not as unusual as it used to be, we started harvest with corn instead of soybeans. The corn stalks are quite weak this year from drought stress driving us to fire up the corn dryer and get moving taking the weakest corn first. Not all corn is created equal and some is falling before we can harvest it.
We tried harvesting the variety that was the worst but the kernels would not come off the cob so it waits longer and falls more.
We prefer to dry corn rather than let it naturally dry in the field. This saves us from phantom losses as well as over dry kernels shelling off in the corn head and dropping in the field.
The combine is out of the shed, the heads are ready, the grain system is ready and very soon the crops will be ready to harvest. A few neighbors have started to take out both corn and soybeans. At last check our corn was too wet and beans are a few days away as well.
The time has come to do our post-emerge application of Roundup on our soybeans. This spring we used a pre-emerge herbicide on our our fields. The soybean fields looked so clean we delayed longer than usual with our post emerge application. When we started spraying we realized the mistake we had made. The remaining weeds were 1 foot or taller. Too large for Roundup to do significant damage to. Many will burn down and then come back. Scouting the field one week later we already saw signs of new growth on waterhemp that looked dead from a distance. We also found 1 1/2 foot tall waterhemp than had little or no damage to the plant from our Roundup application of 38oz/acre.
On two fields we chose to take more drastic measure and hired migrant workers to hoe out our resistant weeds. They showed up two weeks after spraying and spent a few days walking the fields.
We also dug our old bean rider out of the shed and did some field border spraying from that.
Not to leave any weed patches untouched, we finally brought out our own hoes and went after some stray weeds with them.
Building ridges in corn always seems to have a narrow window of opportunity. We had a couple false starts where we were burying too much corn. Waited 3 or 4 days and suddenly we were ridging like mad July 1 -3. A few areas in the field were already on the verge of being too large as my rock box occasionally snapped off a stalk because it is the lowest point on my tractor. That will be remedied before next year’s ridges are built.
One week later, the corn was significantly taller. No way we could have made it through it then. One mistimed rainfall and we may have missed our opportunity.
As I drove through the yard the morning of July 5 I took a deep breath and enjoyed the aroma of fresh cut hay. The round bales were lined up in the yard and ready to be tucked away in the shed. It’s one of those rare times when you remember back to your youth when putting up hay meant a whole different thing. A lot of man and kid power was needed to fill the hay loft with hundreds of small square bales. Thanks to modern technology we now handle hay by machine instead of by hand.
The corn is growing quickly in Southwest MN. With the recent rains, we are finally feeling like our drought is subsiding, at least for the moment. This crop has a long way to go but it is doing well. We drove to Spirit Lake, IA the June 22 weekend. Throughout most of the trip, from Sanborn, MN south there was ponding and crops being lost to excess water. These areas had rains earlier that we missed and received as much or more rain that the 4″ we were blessed with in the past week. We did receive some hail with one rain event but crop damage was minimal for us while others to the south east had nearly total losses in a small area.
We came close to cutting our ditch hay but held off. It’s a good thing that we did. There’s a lot of cut hay going to waste as rains continued and didn’t allow timely baling.
The next push for use is building ridges in our corn. Every year it seems we have a narrow window of opportunity between corn being too small and too big. Our B & H brand ridging cultivators are serviced and ready to hit the field. We cultivated some headlands already and found our that the GPS guidance on our 8295RT tractor was not serving us well. Today we upgraded to a newer GPS globe and are pleased with the stability of the tracking.