Sunday, September 19, 2010

2010 Corn Finished, Started Beans

Corn harvest went so fast it still seems like we should be starting. Corn yields were a bit disappointing-about 30 bushel per acre below last year. So I was kind of ready to get that behind us and start beans.

We have only been going in beans for 2 days-but so far the yields look fantastic! Undoubtedly the best we have ever had.
Julie got these pics from top of the grain bin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Harvest well under way, is it only Sept 10?

I can't believe it is only Sept 10. We are about 70% complete with harvest-with a little cooperation from the weather we will be done early next week. I check last years records-last year we took our first load of corn in on Sept 30! By that time this year we will be done with corn and probably well into beans-if not completed. I have been talking with several neighbors who farm much more than I do that are also about 1/2 done.

Yields have been disappointing, but not a disaster. Overall average is about 155, about 30-40 bushels per acre what we were expecting.

Getting started earlier has really been nice. We have been able to slow down a bit-get some visitors out for combine rides, and actually get some sleep during harvest. No breakdowns of anything so far. Hopefully this string of blessings will continue as we finish corn and move into beans next week.

Making this a doubly good week prices are the highest they have been all year, that is very unusual for prices to peak during harvest. I am usually guilty of waiting too long to sell much of my crop, but it looks like my procrastination may pay off this year.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 Harvest Started-Grain In Bin

We have completed about 15 acres of early corn. The yeilds were pretty disappointing, under 150 bushel per acre on ground I thought would go over 200. I was warned not to plant that early of corn here-but it was nice to get new combine and bin all tested out early, take my time, and not be doing little fixes when we need to be going full steam.

I will try to post some more harvest pics and videos in the next couple weeks.

Although the yeilds have been disappoining (hopefully only the early stuff) this has already been a special harvest. I have stepped up about 2 decades with the new combine and it is a real joy to run!! So quiet and comfortable-going to make the long days a LOT easiers.

We finished the grain bin construction last week and were able to put a couple loads into the bin and take them back out. This might not seem like a big deal to most people but it was really a big deal to me. First I realized how much easier it is going to make harvest on our farm. Had a couple glitches-broke shear pins, couple small spills and such-as we learned how fast it will take grain in-and some minor adjustment on unloading equipment-but all in all it went well-and we will really be ready to roll in a couple weeks.

Second, as I dumped that first load in I heard the sound of the grain hitting the walls from the spreader-and the sound of the auger banging away and realized I had not put grain into a bin since my grandfather retired from farming in 1978-when I was 12 years old. As I stood there watching the grain flow out of the truck I felt like I haven't felt since the first day I started farming 7 years ago. Really a special moment-felt very much like a kid again.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the business part of farming and numbers, or get so hurried during planting and harvest to get things done I miss the best part. Yesterday was a BIG reminder of why I started farming. My main goal this fall is to slow down 20% and enjoy it 100% more!

Oh yea-I learned 2 more lessons. 1) I need to get a dust mast. 2) Do NOT crawl up on a bin in sunny 90 degree weather wearing shorts!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Time Flies This Time of Year

I can't believe how long it has been since I last blogged anything-the last few weeks have been really crazy. We took advantage of summer and spent about 3 weekends out of town, then when I got back it was panic time as this is going to be the earliers harvest in my liftime. We are planning on starting early corn next Thursday-August 26. Usual time around here is Mid-September, earliest I can recall is around the 10th. At least the air conditioners in tractor and combine are up to snuff.

Besides vacations I have spent ever possible moment in the shed working on the combine. As usual the little things turned into a few bigger ones, or many little ones. The grain bin was completed a month ago but getting electrical work completed was a hassle, we are going to be right at the wire on getting it ready and inspected so we can use it for later corn.

The corn looks spectacular, and the beans not too bad-so hopefully a good harvest with an early start will go smooth and I will have more time to post some harvest pictures soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So much more to farming than farming

I think a lot of people have the idea that farming just involves planting the crop, harvesting it, and sitting in the coffee shop, while that sounds pretty good I found myself realizing how much time I spend on the farm doing other things besides farming.

In reality I would say that it is a safe bet that for every 1 hour I spend in the tractor or combine seat I spend two hours either working on equipment, running for parts, chemicals, etc. And for every I spend running equipment I am sure that I spent 3 hours paying bills, financial planning, crop planning, seed and chemical research-and on and on.

This past weekend was 4th of July-so I decided to use the long weekend to catch up on farm work-both inside and out. I decided to keep track of hours. In the last week I spent 36 hours on the farm, that included 3 hours paperwork, 3 hours of marketing research and corn sales, 4 hours running for parts and supplies, 4 hours mowing ditches and field edges, 2 hours touchup spraying with ATV, and 20 hours in the shop working on planter and combine and rebuilding a lift pump for spray tractor. 36 hours and the only REAL fun butt in tractor seat part was mowing...and calling mowing fun is a bit of a stretch.
Not that I don't enjoy working in the shop, the worst day working in shop is better than the best day in the office.....although I may have changed that story while working in the hopper of combine last night in top of shed with no air movement, 90% humdity, and about 90 degrees. And I do enjoy marketing research and paperword...well that is a necessary evil.
I do enjoy almost all aspects of farming-but there sure are times where planting, harvesting, and drinking coffee sounds pretty good.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tassles on Corn on June 25

Are you kidding me? June 25 and we have tassles on Corn? I know that is common south of here but never in my lifetime have I seen tassles on June 25 here except on sweetcorn! I need to get busy working on the combine, at this rate we are going to be needing it by Labor Day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grain Bin Completed

Not much to say, getting bin completed was the biggest thing this week. I have some crop progress pics I will post this weekend-so much rain here don't expect to do any spraying before mid next week-but probably better off waiting a little longer anyway.

Lots more pictures of Bin construction here:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Environmental Benefits of GMO Crops

I have probably written too much about my frustration due to misinformation about GMO crops. Rather than continue to argue about the false misconceptions of the harm I think it is time that maybe we shift gears and discuss the hard and fast benefits of GMO crops, specifically as their benefits pertain to the environment-which seems to be the main argument for trying to ban them.

1. Decreased use of insecticides - Before GMO crops used to spray a lot of nasty insecticides to deal with insects in our crop. I have been farming 7 years, basically since the time when stacked corn traits took off. In those 7 years I have never sprayed a single ounce of insecticide. We still have to use a granular insecticide on 20% of our corn that is required by regulation to not use BT corn-to control corn rootworms-this is called “refuge” corn. Should they allow refuge to be replaced with corn using another mode of action we would not even need to do that.

2. Making no-till feasible – No till has allowed me to GREATLY reduce soil erosion on our farm. Along with the reduced erosion we have reduced runoff of nitrogen and other fertilizer. We also use significantly less fuel and require less equipment and horsepower because we are often making only 4 trips across the field (spray, plant, spray, harvest) a year instead of 7 (2 spring tillage, spray, plant, spray, harvest, fall tillage) or more. Before GMO crops the chemicals really weren’t there to be able to maintain yields, and those that were much more potent and much much less environmentally friendly that glyphosate that we use now.

3. Increased yield – Taking away GMO technology would dramatically reduce yields. If you doubt this compare yields on the refuge corn to conventional. Every year we lose more and more farmground in this country to urban sprawl. Yet overall yields keep getting larger and larger, in my short career we have set national yield records in 4 of the last 7 years. Should we fail to do that prices will rise, and rise dramatically as we saw in 2008. When that happens more of the marginal land becomes profitable to farm and comes out of wildlife areas and returns to production.

4. Less fertilizer – Like oil, fertilizer is a non-renewable resource. We have a responsibility to use it as wisely as possible. We are growing about 30% more grain per pound of fertilizer than we were 15 years ago-the majority of this increase is directly attributable to GMO improvements.

I could list the other benefits of GMO crops but will save those for another slow week post. This next week will be busy with grain bin construction and a return to second round of spraying. Will get some more pics of soon, also past due to post some crop progress pictures.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Starting Grain Bin Construction

Construction has finally started on our first grain bin. Concrete is poured-roof and sidewall construction will probably start in about two weeks.

Get the true story out about farming

Those reading this blog in the past know how frustrated I get with the misinformation about farming that is so prevalent today. Finally I am seeing more and more ag related sites trying to get the truth out. Found a couple good ones this week:


Illinois Farm Bureau Blog

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spray spray spray your fields, watch out for that stream

Let me describe last week in bullet points:

-Haul Water
-Stop Spraying
-Fix Rear Flat Tire
-Haul Water
-Stop Spraying
-Wait to see if popup showers pass
-Start spraying
-Stop Spraying
-Replace flow control valve
-Haul Water
-Stop Spraying
-Wait for rain again
-Start Spraying
-Stop Spraying
-Replace lift pump gasket on tractor
-Start Spraying
-Stop Spraying
-Replace complete GPS system

Worked my butt off last week, but too much of it was diagnosing problems, running for parts, repairing flats, etc. etc. I guess that is the hazzard of farming with old equipment. Between all the breakdowns, popup showers, road time moving equipment, etc. I felt like I jammed 20 hours of work into 60 hours. I figure by doing my own spraying I am saving about $3,200-$4,000 this year. Problem is so far I am at $2,000 in repairs and 2 days of frustration, starting to question that decision to do all my own.

Seriously when it is going well I have enjoyed it, finished last Fri and it is cool to see all the green invaders turning brown and the crops really looking green and nice. I got done early enough to get the 4 wheeler out and hit the extra thick areas and touch up around the waterways and even spray a couple yards for friends and neighbors. On Sat got the roads mowed, so I am saying with crops all up, 1st spray pass done, and roads mowed that draws an official end to spring and summer has begun!

Spouse is not too happy about a couple spots in the yard. Being in a hurry I didn't think that walking across some spilled roundup on the trailer and then treking across the yard into the shed would leave some nice little indisputable evidence in the shape of my foot in the grass. I have promised to load the sprayer in the field next year instead of the drive.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hard to find time to blog

Rain has been plentiful, so no excuse there-but I have had a hard time getting in front of computer. Looks like we are going to get a good spraying window this weekend and early next week so I figure I should blog something before that starts.

The waterway and roadside grass has really taken off the last two weeks-the neverending mowing saga will start this weekend.

All the corn has has first pass of spray, 2nd shot we will probably wait another week or two-to get closer to canopy.

My no-till bean fields are flat out embarrasing-Wife is beginning to wonder if I am raising wild yellow mustard this year instead of beans. The dry days have been so cold and cloudy I didn't want to spray, and every other day it has been wet.

One lesson I learned this year is fall spraying 100% works-you can see to the foot where I did a little roundup last fall just before first frost-with Roundup being so cheap will be hitting every acre this fall if possible.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finished Planting-2010-I hope.

Farming is a lot of things but it sure isn’t repetitive. We really caught some good breaks this spring and finished up planting beans on Mothers day. Last year I am pretty sure we were into the first week of June, and were still trying to plant corn on Mothers day. We have had a lot of cold rain since then-which won't help the stand much-but at least it is in the ground.

Julie didn't get the best Mothers day dinner (Jimmy Johns sandwiches on the seed trailer in the field)-but I really appreciated the visit, breaks up a long day. I owe her one to make up for it.

I know there is a benefit to spreading out your planting dates, but I was so gun-shy after the last two years that when a decent window opened up I just could not stop. Started planting on Thursday morning and finished Sunday afternoon. One day I planted about 130-140 acres, I really felt like the old marathon days at the end of that 18 hour day. Thank goodness for GPS, first time I ever planted after dark.

Something else new was Mothers day was the first time I ever planted beans with the heat on in the tractor all day.

I thought I had enough beans to finish and ran out with about 15 acres left, thinking a shot in the dark I called my seed dealer at 9:00am on Sunday morning-sure enough they were there! Talk about good service, they were able to come through and get me the seed so I could finish!!! When I went down to pick it up there was a line of other doing the same thing.

I talked to a couple seed dealers and they said during that 4 day window they had about 70% of the beans go out of the warehouse….so I guess I wasn’t experiencing anything that wasn’t being dealt with by many others.

There were some really cool moments too-I saw a hawk grab a sparrow out the air and fly off with him, and saw two coyotes chase a really large deer over ½ mile. I didn’t think coyotes would go after a full grown deer but I can now say definitively they will.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What makes farming fun

Every year I say "I have never seen anything like this before." Now I have only been farming about 6 years so that isn't much of a statement. But it is interesting to talk with my neighbors-some who have been farming 40 or 50 years and they are saying the same thing.

We went from too wet to too dry overnight this year. I planted corn a week ago last Sunday that was really too wet, had to clean mud off the planter. We finished the following Thursday-and a week later that seed is still laying in the ground in dry dirt not even sprouted.

I guess this will be a good test of wether it is more important to plant early or wait for good conditions.

No use worrying about it since whats done is done, time to move on, corn is in gods hands now. So yesterday we switched the planter over to prepare to plant beans. There has been a fair amount of rain in the last 36 hours so I would say we are looking at late next week at best.

The opportunity to never stop learning is really cool. Some people think it would be boring driving the tractor back and forth across the field all day, but with so much to plan and think about boredom and farming just don't go together for me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Corn is Planted!!

We finished planting corn about 8:30 last Friday night-April 16. Exactly 126 days after we finished harvest-a new record by over 30 days. I hope to never break that record again.

After corn planting Julie and the kids and I planted 150 Christmas trees. 25 of each of Canaan firs, Frasier Firs, Red Pines, Blue Spruce, Scotch Pines, Norway Spruce. In 4-5 years we hope to have enough trees to give away to family and fiends who want to come cut their own tree.

Corn planted 8 days ago is up, also amazing for this time of year. Today we are switching the planter over to beans, but it is so dry I doubt we will try to plant anything before we get some rain-there is a good chance for rain later in the week so maybe we can hit it early next week.

Bean planting is going to rough on my 43 year old body this year-350 bags of seed moved at least 2 times by hand-no doubt I am going to feel it. I know now I am still feeling the beating from all the tree planting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Planting Time Again!

It has been a long time since my last post, but last year was so exhausting I just didn't have the gumption to write about it anymore. The last couple weeks of good weather have really got my energy levels jumping and I am getting excited about farming again.

Some big changes coming this year, we bought a much newer combine and are construction our first grain bin. Future blog posts on those will be coming. Other than that the only thing that has happened this year has been bookwork and rebuilding lower units on planter to get ready for this spring.

Finally started planting corn this past Saturday, which was a full two weeks earlier than last years start. It was a little wetter than we would have liked but I was able to get all the refuge corn planted, and can now take all that nasty insecticide stuff off the planter.

Sunday I went out and tested the sprayer and sprayed the waterways that had some giant ragweed problems the last couple years-hopefully a shot of banvel will take them out.

The weather for the next week looks FANTASTIC so I am taking the next couple days off work, and with any luck will finish up this weekend-well before the time we started last year.

We are about 75% beans this year so hopefully this great weather holds into bean planting season-which should start the last week of April.