Best laid plans….. This was the year for us to try something new in our corn fields. We have been experiencing root and stalk issues the past few years and feel that the cultivator is the culprit. Our plan was to do different trials consisting of 1) no cultivation 2) early cultivation but not ridging and 3) early cultivation followed by ridging. We managed to get the first cultivation in in a timely manner while the plants were still small. We left the cut away discs down to be as aggressive as possible with our weed control. On our ridging pass, the plan was to raise the cut aways and just use the sweep with ridging wings. This plan was thwarted by the onslaught of rains that followed. By the time things let up, the corn was tasseling. So much for trial 3.
Spraying soybeans 2017.
Following last summer’s devastating hail event on our Morgan field we were advised to plant Liberty Link soybeans this year to give us later season options for weed control. Driving by the field one week prior to planting made our stomachs turn. The weeds had grown very quickly this spring and were threatening to make planting difficult. We sprayed a burn down herbicide on the field and, after working it with our vertical till machine a week later, the planting went quite smooth.
Spraying Liberty Link Soybeans
A pre-emerge herbicide was applied after planting and again about a month later. Two weeks after that, we had a lot of grass laughing at us as it continued to emerge and flourish. An application of Liberty was applied and now we are preparing to cultivate the field on Monday, July 17. A lot of extra effort and money has been spent on this field due to last June’s hail. We expect our efforts to pay off by keeping the weeds from seeding. This should make the future years of weed control a little more normal.
Old dirt removed from around the concrete.
Steers explore the manure pile.
A long overdue task was completed at the end of June. The cattle yard base has eroded over the years and becomes a mucky mess of foot deep manure that the steers must muck through to get to the cattle shed as well as stepping off the south side of the concrete pad next to the barn.
Last summer we started the task of locating some high quality clay to rejuvenate the yard but fell short of finding any. This spring we watched as a neighboring farm site was torn down and clay piles appeared on the horizon. We approached the party responsible for the clay and were granted access to it. Our window of opportunity came at the end of June as rains subsided and the yard dried up enough to work with the dirt.
A job well done!
The first thing that had to be done was remove the poor quality dirt. A mountain of dirt/manure was created. This will be hauled to the field in fall once the crops are harvested. We then borrowed a dump truck from a neighbor to haul in the clay. The clay was packed layer by layer throughout the cattle yard to give the steers a firm foundation.
All in all, a lot of time was spend on this project but it the results are well worth it. Happy steers make great steaks! Continue reading
First pass ridging – 2017
The pace of corn growth accelerates as we approach the middle of June. It’s more of a sprint than a race to complete the task of building ridges in our corn. We started on June 17 with a quick test run to make sure that the cultivator was set up properly.
Ridging wing – rear view.
On June 20 we hit ground running. Two cultivators ridging corn. There was some slow going, at around 3 mph, in corn that wasn’t quite big enough to handle the amount of dirt that flows from the ridging wings. The larger corn let us easily travel at 6 mph. That speed covers a respectable amount of acres in a day.
Close encounter with rain.
The rain caught us.
On the last day of ridging we were pushing hard to beat the rain. I kept one eye on the radar on my iPhone as showers skirted around us on the north and south. The tip of the south rain was within striking distance but managed to slip by at around 8 am. Pushing hard, we finished the field as the rain closed in at 9:20 am. The windshield wipers were running on the trip home but another year of ridging was behind us. Oh, the satisfaction.
Rain on the windshield while traveling home.
A rain break from field work allowed us to put the finishing touches on a new fly control system for the cattle. This year we decided to utilize a liquid wicking system instead of a dust control system. Permethrin is blended with oil at a 1% dilution and poured into a tray. The hanging ropes are saturated and the cattle walk through thus putting the fly control mix on their hides.
Cattle are not the bravest animals in God’s creation. After a short time of avoiding the ropes, they became used to them and eventually realized the benefiting result of less flies biting. Now we will see them playing with the hanging ropes and even lounging right under them.
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.