It happens every spring. We open the machine shed door, after clearing any remaining snow and ice from in front of it, move any equipment blocking the planter and extract the sleeping planter from it’s nest. Once the planter is outside, it receives its spring wash down. The dust that has settled on it over the past 8 months is flushed away with the power washer and the planter is ushered into the heated shop for it’s pre-planting work over. Because it worked on the day we completed planting is no reason to assume it will make it through another planting season without some refurbishing and lubrication.
Washing the dust off.
Planting weather is fickle in Minnesota. It can lull you into believing that you have all the time in the world to get the crop in and then the updated forecast puts us under the gun to get as much in before the rains or cold snap hits. We don’t want a half ready planter to come between us and the impending deadline. Continue reading →
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.
During plating season we carry ATS liquid fertilizer on our tractor. The fertilizer is surface applied in a stream over the seed furrow behind the planter closing wheels. ATS is applies at a rate of 8 gpa so it is imperative that we carry enough to avoid stopping planting progress to refill tanks. We started our with 450 gallon tanks tucked between the tracks on our JD8310T tracked tractor. We were filling more often with fertilizer than we were with seed corn. We then added a cart mounted push tank to the front of our tractor to carry another 400 gallons of ATS. While not ideal, we already owned the cart and tank so no money was invested in the extra capacity.
Fast forward to 2015 when half way through the season our cart system failed beyond repair. It worked well while it lasted but now it was time to strategize for 2016 and beyond. Our research led us to adopting the idea of mounting outboard saddle tanks to carry another 400 gallons minimum. As we explored the idea, we decided that the ideal tank size would be 250 gallons on each size so we have room to easily carry 800 gallons on the tractor without having to fill each tank to capacity and risk overflowing fertilizer on the ground as well as on the steel with rusts easily when coated with fertilizer. Continue reading →