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 →
May 26, 2016 was the day to keep all the building and automobile doors shut. I don’t remember a day that so many Cottonwood tree seeds fell that hard and fast. We had to use a leaf blower to chase drifts of them out of the machine shed before closing the door to prevent more from entering.
We spent part of a day last week hand weeding soybeans. It was quite the experience when we found beans up to our armpits. These are much harder to walk through but we managed. Eventually we were rained out with a, much welcomed, 2.5″+ rain over a couple of days. This will go a long ways in filling the pods and ears on this year’s crop. We are still finding soybean aphids in the field that we sprayed a few weeks ago. So farm the levels do not warrant a second round of insecticide.
Helicopter giving workers parts.
As we walked the field we also were entertained by the power company workers adding stabilizer bars to the new power lines on the north edge our our field. Workers dangled from the three levels of lines and attached equipment that was fed to them by helicopter. Suddenly we saw the helicopter pluck each worker off the line and fly away with them dangling on the long line. We didn’t know what brought on this sudden whisking away of the workers until the rain started to fall on us. They were keeping a better eye on the weather that I was, I guess.
We had our earliest start ever in a planting season. April 15, 2015 was the day it all began. Some tillage was done the day ahead so we could get off to a fast start in the morning. We spent until 2pm on April 15th troubleshooting GPS issues. So much for the jump start. Man can make all the plans he wants, but God is in control.
A few days of warmer and dryer than average weather gave us ideal planting conditions. Looking ahead though told us that our window of opportunity would quickly come to a close. The following week was going to be quite cold with many nights below freezing. Four days of planting and then a break. The next week saw a neighbor here and there putting some corn in the ground, but we did not want to take the chance.
Monday, April 27th we were off to the races again and completed corn planting on April 29th.
As planting nears, we need to be assured that our liquid handling systems are working well. It’s a tricky call as to when we can put water in these systems and not risk having them frozen and cracking components. Once testing is done the equipment is stored in a closed machine shed during freezing nights yet to come.
April 1 and 2 were the days we felt comfortable with this call. The planter handles liquid fertilizer, specifically Ammonium Thio Sulfate (ATS), that is banded as a narrow stream over the seed once the furrow is closed. The rain will then take the nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) down to the roots. We apply 8.3 gallons/acre to get a total of 24 #/Acre of S on the field. The N is just an added bonus to the S application and is subtracted from the total N we put on our fields so we don’t over apply our nitrogen. The fertilizer application is controlled by our John Deere GS3 monitor mounted in the cab. We also have a controller for insecticide application using the Smart Box system as well as a Precision Planting 20/20 monitor system tied to an iPad for precise monitoring of seed placement.
Our Top Air sprayer handles the bulk of our chemical applications for weed control. It needs to be in top notch condition for application of herbicides soon after planting. The soybean pre-emerge herbicide has a 3 day window to be applied so it won’t damage emerging seedlings.
Last week we experienced an extremely warm week for mid-March. We took advantage of it by taking the planter out of storage, power washing it and servicing it in the shop. We’re still waiting for non-critical parts that are back-ordered. We need to run water through the fertilizer system to test it out but basically we’re ready for planting.
On the way home from a parts run to Wabasso, we had the largest flock of geese that I’ve been this close to, fly right over our vehicle. I was amazed at the patterns inside the flock of vees inside vees. I pulled over as quickly as I could to snap a couple photos with my iPhone. I thought I’d share the photo with others.
After much of the snow melted away we were presented with a stark comparison of wind erosion on our Ridge Till field versus the neighbors well worked field. If you click on the photo to the left to enlarge, you will see almost black covered snow compared to our nearby ditch. The photo to the right is a shot down the field.