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.
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.
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.
Building ridges in corn always seems to have a narrow window of opportunity. We had a couple false starts where we were burying too much corn. Waited 3 or 4 days and suddenly we were ridging like mad July 1 -3. A few areas in the field were already on the verge of being too large as my rock box occasionally snapped off a stalk because it is the lowest point on my tractor. That will be remedied before next year’s ridges are built.
One week later, the corn was significantly taller. No way we could have made it through it then. One mistimed rainfall and we may have missed our opportunity.
The corn is growing quickly in Southwest MN. With the recent rains, we are finally feeling like our drought is subsiding, at least for the moment. This crop has a long way to go but it is doing well. We drove to Spirit Lake, IA the June 22 weekend. Throughout most of the trip, from Sanborn, MN south there was ponding and crops being lost to excess water. These areas had rains earlier that we missed and received as much or more rain that the 4″ we were blessed with in the past week. We did receive some hail with one rain event but crop damage was minimal for us while others to the south east had nearly total losses in a small area.
We came close to cutting our ditch hay but held off. It’s a good thing that we did. There’s a lot of cut hay going to waste as rains continued and didn’t allow timely baling.
The next push for use is building ridges in our corn. Every year it seems we have a narrow window of opportunity between corn being too small and too big. Our B & H brand ridging cultivators are serviced and ready to hit the field. We cultivated some headlands already and found our that the GPS guidance on our 8295RT tractor was not serving us well. Today we upgraded to a newer GPS globe and are pleased with the stability of the tracking.