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.
It took until May 16 to get rolling in soybeans. A couple of weeks later than ideal but there are places south and east of us that are continuing to struggle with water issues preventing them from planting corn. This year is a little different than what we’ve done for seedbed preparation prior to soybean planting. Most of our planting is still on ridges but we do have one field that is following corn that wasn’t ridged in 2017. To prepare that seedbed we did a fall pass and a spring pass with our Excelerator vertical till machine. The results were beyond expectations! We couldn’t have asked for a better seedbed.
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.
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 →
I’m always amazed at how short the window is for building ridges in our corn. We had an area between two groves that grows fast because of the heat trapped there. We decided we better get that ridged before it was too tall. As long as we were at it we tried the shorter corn in the field and were pleased with how well the soil flowed through the cultivator. This is the most mellow soil we’ve cultivated in many years. We pushed hard and got through 75% of our corn acres and then got rained out on a Friday evening. It was Wednesday the next week before we got back in the corn. The corn had grown from 12-18″ to nearly 3′ tall in this amount of time. The soil was still on the wet side but the corn was visibly taller each day, so time was not on our side. We did get finished with the ridges as the rain held off. One more rain and some fields or areas of fields would have been too tall.