It’s unusual to get field work done in the middle of winter in Minnesota. January of 2019 was the exception for us. We are farming a field that has never been grid sampled for fertility. From our past experiences of using this practice since the mid 1980s, we know that grid sampling is the only way to know what is going on in the field on a smaller scale. The field is broken down into 440′ x 440′ grids that are each sampled independently. A map is then generated that shows what each grid needs for fertilizer. Some findings are interesting and show how past farming practices still are visible today.
A couple discoveries of note in this field: 1. The 160 acres was farmed by two different owners for many years. This shows up most dramatically in the pH and zinc levels. The south 80 has extremely low pH in a large number of the grids. The north 80 has extremely low zinc levels in a large number of the grids 2. You can use the Phosphorous levels as an indicator of where the farm site was located and where they hauled the manure. The P levels are much higher in these areas even decades later.
We visited with the coop about our spring fertilizer needs in early January and asked them if lime was ever applied in the winter. They said that usually it could be done in March if conditions allow. A day later they called to say that the applicator was able to do the lime right now if we had an area that they could access to pile the lime without getting stuck in snow drifts. We took the snow blower to the field and cleared a path. They hauled lime in on Saturday, January 11 and spread it on Monday.
I was informed on Monday, January 29, by the National Corn Growers Association, that I was the grand prize winner of the 2017 Fields-of-Corn photo contest. I had entered this contest quite a few years ago and haven’t thought too much about it again until this fall, after capturing a spectacular sunset during corn harvest. One of my greatest joys during the harvest season, is the never ending beauty, displayed by God, during the evening sunset. I never tire of viewing or snapping photos. The backdrops, provided during harvest, add to the canvas something that is only available during a short season of the year.
In the past, cell phone photos seemed to lack something but I have been very impressed with the iPhone 7 camera. It is so much better at picking up differences in lighting to capture the full beauty of what my eye catches.
As we work our way through harvest, one of the events we look forward to is harvesting our corn test plot. A lot of time and thought go into choosing hybrids for this plot. This plot is an extremely vital part of our operation’s decision making process for the next year’s corn varieties.
Because our operation focuses heavily on corn varieties that use hybrids with less insect traits than the companies are pushing, there is little plot data available to help us make decisions on these hybrids. This is a part of our broad plan to deal with corn insect resistance issues. Continue reading →
The weather has finally warmed to the point where some neighbors are planting corn. Soil has warmed nicely to over 50 degrees but there’s a lot of cold weather on the horizon. We’re holding off so we don’t risk stand and yield loss. It costs too much to put the seed in the ground. With all the warnings for the Universities and the seed companies about seed being hurt by cold soils/water we have chosen to ride out this next stretch of weather.
We spent today finalizing field cultivator maintenance, calibrating the planter liquid fertilizer system and sorting our seed corn by field and order of planting. We will ready the pull behind sprayer tomorrow as well as tweak to GPS autotrac settings.