I’m sitting in the office on April 14, 2018 looking at through snow covered windows at a persistent blizzard. Biggest storm of the winter for us! It started yesterday with a wintry mix of rain/ice pellets/snow pellets/snow. Through the night it became all snow. We had a lull this morning to get the steer chores done and now we wait out the storm.
I figure that this is as good of time as any to get caught up on some of our winter happenings. Winter was going so well until we hit March and April. These scenes have been all too common since.
We spent some time, in early March in the shop getting some small projects out of the way. Lawn mowers were gone through and a portable auger was refurbished with all new bearings.
On March 20 we did catch a nice break, where the yard wasn’t too soft, and pulled the planter out of the shed to get it ready for the 2018 planting season. After power washing the dust off of it, we moved it into the comfortable environment of the shop.
We did take some time to attend the 2018 Soybean Symposium at the U of M Landscape Arboretum. There were great topics and plenty of discussion that revolve around soybean quality and trade.
It is frustrating to find that major seed companies don’t have a level of quality control that matches their seed prices. With the impending wet and cold planting season that was forecast this spring, we had our equipment ready to get a jump start planting corn if that window of opportunity presented itself. April 18 – April 24 was our window and it quickly closed again until May 5. Two of the five varieties we planted failed at their first task of creating a good stand (high percentage) that emerges evenly. Gold Country 104-37 had very uneven emergence and a thin stand. Dekalb 52-85 had even emergence but, once again, a thin stand. Why don’t these companies publish a cold germ test on their seed tags? Warm germ is quite deceiving.
In this photos, taken from the top of our grain leg, you can see the difference in stand. The one on the left is obviously thinner than the one on the right. Both are Dekalb varieties.
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 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 →