June 17, 2016 will stand out in my mind for many years to come. I have never witnessed such devastation of crops over such a large area. We were told that the hail track was 5 miles wide and 35 miles long. The center of the storm received wind-driven pea sized hail for 35 straight minutes. One of our corn fields is located about 1 mile west of the center of the hail track. We had just spent the first 2/3 of the day building ridges in this field readying it for next year’s bean planting.
My stomach churned then next morning as I drove to survey the damage. The last three miles made me tense up even more. I was seeing badly damaged corn and it was still getting worse as I continued east.
Thoughts were going through my mind like “How bad could it be?”; “Surely it would get better after a couple more miles. Hail isn’t usually that wide”. As I crossed the last intersection, 1/2 mile from the field, I gave up hope. I surveyed the extensive damage and huge ponds of water that first made it look like a complete loss. East-west rows were almost completely wiped out while north-south rows shielded each other from the almost straight north wind-driven hail giving them a higher survival rate. Continue reading →
In early June we spend time scouting fields for issues we may need to deal with such as weed control, plant health and field conditions.
In this field we have identified areas of concern where the corn plant stand was thin due to wet soil conditions during and after planting. Not all seeds emerged thus lowering the potential yield from these areas of the field. We took some photos as one tool to later remedy the problem. Combining this knowledge with past observations and the upcoming harvest data will allow us to formulate a tiling plan that will help avert this situation in the future.
Taking time to identify areas of thin stands due to poor drainage is important when deciding where to best invest money in field drainage tile.
Planting the plot. Ranger follows to help change varieties on the other end.
Not everyone likes having their picture taken.
Every year, Otto Farms puts in a test plot for corn varieties. Our limit is 24 and we made it to 21 this year. That’s a lot of seed boxes to empty and refill every 500 feet of planting! We plant 3 varieties on each pass. 4 rows/variety. We couldn’t have picked a better day. Beautiful weather with light winds and short sleeve temperatures.
Below is the lineup of varieties that made it into our plot this year. These are varieties we are planting in our field as well as varieties we would consider planting in future years. Most of the varieties are double stacks meaning that they are roundup and corn borer resistant. We have a couple that add in root worm resistance as well. When the double stack varieties are planted in the field we add an insecticide in the seed furrow to control corn root worm as well as other in-ground insects. Continue reading →
Planting as well as applying fertilizer and insecticide.
After the slow/cold start to April, we were pleasantly surprised but the fast warmup of both the air and the soil.
An array of monitors.
April 15, 2016 was our official start date this year for planting corn and by April 23 (due to a rain delay) we had all our corn in except 80 acres. We thought we’d squeeze it the last field before the weather turned against us but to no avail. Now we wait through a week of forecast rains.
Soils were fit for planting and had plenty of moisture available for good germination. We still need to get our pre-emerge herbicide on the fields but that time will come soon enough.
The current rain delay allows us to catch up on other things that get ignored when planting is the priority.
Daniel Kaiser and Fabian Fernandez University of Minnesota Soil Fertility Specialists
Over the winter we have done intensive data compilation and analysis and have a few updates to the corn guidelines publication. The primary update is on nitrogen application rates for corn following corn and corn following soybean. The updated publication is not finished yet, so this article will serve as the current rate guidelines starting spring of 2016.