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.
Soybean harvest weather started out so well. But then the BIG rain hit. Waiting for the soils to dry out allowed us to do some, much needed, tree trimming that we had been trying to get at all summer. For the most part, the soils handled the rain event well. Fields dried out and firmed up in about 10 days. We didn’t have to go around any standing water or mud. The money spent on drainage tile pays off in many ways.
A neighboring field after 5″ + of rain.
Neighboring field with ducks at sunset.
Burning tree branches after a couple days of trimming.
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.
One final blow by mother nature a week and a half ago was hopefully the last big snow of the winter. We did have our snow blower off of the tractor and were forced to re-attach it. These snow photos were taken earlier in the winter but it’s fun to see the steers not really care what’s going on with the weather.
We did find out though that they don’t much care for hail. The stood outside during round 1 but when round 2 showed up, they headed for the shelter as fast as a steer can run! Continue reading →
Visiting the Morgan field in September didn’t revive any hope of harvesting a respectable crop after the spring hail damage. Once again, the bowls had a fair amount of water in them. Weed control was acceptable. Applying extra weed control herbicides and having migrants hand weed was definitely the right choice. The second photo here is the neighbor who chose to do nothing and eventually ran a stalk chopper through the field to take out the few corn plants he had left. He seems to have forgotten that weed control is ultimately most important.
August 11 brought yet another round of heavy rains. I woke up to thunder and pulled up the radar on my phone. Here’s a screen shot of what I saw. I took a trip to our Morgan field that received hail in June as well as one other large rain event. Our low areas were once again filled to the rim with water! Crazy summer!
It’s been a month since one of our corn fields was decimated by hail. We chose to let it grow out and harvest what’s left. What is there is coming back nicely but, as you can see in these pictures, the east-west headlands have very few plants left. Our weed control will be running out soon as well. As time goes forward, we will need another round of weed control. This can be either a herbicide broadcast or hand weeding.
July 18 Update – Another round of heavy rain has filled up the low areas once again.
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 →