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.
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.
Early in spring, pre-emerge herbicide was applied to our corn fields. This picture shows how necessary that is. These 12 rows are in a location that we cannot get to with our field sprayer and no herbicide was applied early. You can see the weed pressure that exists in this part of the field. Those weeds will quickly rob the corn of it’s full yield potential.
Post emerge spraying will clean up weeds that come through the early application. Later we will cultivate these fields and build ridges in the corn that will serve as the seedbed for next year’s soybeans.
Our soybeans are planted on ridges formed with a row crop cultivator in corn the previous year. The seedbed is not worked until the planter passes through the field planting soybeans. In the first image, you can see the corn stalk still firmly in the center of the ridge. Our planter is set off about 3 inches from the center of the ridge and places the soybeans beside the old corn row. This has proven to provide a much better seedbed than trying to plant down the center of the ridge, as we did for many years. The RTK GPS guidance makes this possible.
This year proved to be more challenging due to the extremely dry conditions. With 1 1/2 inches of dry dirt on the surface, we had to sweep away a significant amount of dirt with our Dawn brand row cleaners. This worked well to get us down to moisture but proved tricky when soil types varied from a clay loam to more peat like soils. The whole planter unit just sank through the ridge and caused way too much soil to move. We ended up using a field roller on a number of acres to press down the exposed corn root balls that could have caused problems at harvest.