Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mid August...

Summer is flying by. The boys summer baseball season is over and school will be starting soon. We are putting the wraps on summer projects and moving on to getting things prepared for harvest. Originally we would begin harvest Tuesday after Labor Day, but due to the cooler temperatures we may begin a week later. Our area continues to remain extremely dry. Our latest yield estimates indicate we will be 25-30% under last year's corn yields. As far as the soybeans we really have no clue on yield projections on those yet. They look like 70 bushel soybeans, but given the dry weather they may not be as good as they look. 

Stock-piling finely ground limestone to apply to a few of our farms this fall. We do this to adjust the soil pH down. 

You're not seeing things, that's white corn we are growing this year. It will be harvested and put on a train bound for Mexico to be made into tortilla chips and taco shells.

A plant from our soybean planting population trial. This came from the 85,000 plants per acre area. Due to the spring rains, it was thinned down to 50,000. Look how it has branched out to compensate for the extra sunlight it has.

Raul Santos speaking to our Farmer to Farmer Peer Group we are a member of. Raul is a farmer from Mato Grasso, Brazil. He operates Lagon Dourada Farms. They primarily raise cattle, but are starting to grow soybeans. It was interesting listening him discuss the challenges they encounter raising the 5,400 acres of soybeans they grew this past year. 

This summer we are monitoring adult corn rootworm beetles in soybean fields. By knowing the populations we can make better corn seed decisions this winter. This yellow card is sticky and traps anything that lands on it. We switch these cards out weekly and keep a tally on what we catch. We will do this through mid September to ensure that the beetles aren't laying eggs in our soybean fields. If they lay eggs in our soybean fields, the odds are high that we will have corn rootworm larvae in the soil next spring. Those chew on our corn roots and cause yield damage.

Cleaning out the last of our grain bins.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mid July...

The summer is flying by. We have been busy hauling off the last of our corn and soybeans from our grain bins as well as spraying our growing corn and soybean crops with the last round of herbicides and fungicides. Our focus is starting to shift towards getting ready for harvest with projects such as another new grain bin and grain dryer modifications happening quickly. Summer baseball season is also behind us, but the sweet corn is just now coming on. While we started the planting season with plenty of moisture, we are now in search of multiple good rains. Our area keeps missing the soaking rains, but despite our dryness our crops look good for the time being.

This year we tried applying some of our corn fungicide with a helicopter versus an airplane. The helicopter allows us to get into tighter spaces and more odd shaped fields.



Mowing roadsides ahead of the 4th of July.

A thin stand of soybeans on our farm in Greenfield. It rained 3" after we planted the field the first time and then another 1.3" after we replanted the spots above. What a year to get a crop established in Greene County.

Our Grower to Grower Agronomy Group discussing crop conditions in June in one of our corn fields.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Planting wraps up...

We finished corn planting on Thursday, April 20th.  We immediately started planting soybeans and were rained out on Wednesday April 26th.  Since that time we have received anywhere from 5-9" of rainfall.  We actually feel fortunate with those amounts as some in extreme Southern & Eastern Illinois have received upwards of 11-13".  Our Williamsville farm missed a lot of the heaviest rains, and we were able to get back in the fields on Mother's Day.  We planted the 415 acre Williamsville farm on Monday and Tuesday morning took off on the 4.5 hour drive to Greenfield with a pit stop back at our shop to change out the soybean seed from a 3.4 maturity to a 3.9 maturity.  While the 20" row planter moved from North to South the Kinze split-row planter worked around Ashland and Pleasant Plains and finished up the remaining soybeans.  We had two fields of cereal rye planted last fall as a cover crop that we terminated ahead of the big rains.  Unfortunately, those wilted and created a mat of residue which prolonged the fields from drying out and thus we had to be patient to plant them back to soybeans.  Due to all the rainfall, we do have some areas in local fields that have ponded water in them to the point where it killed the seedlings that had emerged.  We replanted those areas on Thursday, May 18th with our four row planter.  We use this smaller planter and tractor so we reduce the amount of "good" corn we drive over and tear up while replanting these spots.  As luck would have it the evening we replanted those spots it rained another 1.3" and then again the next evening with another 1.0".  Apparently someone has made Mother Nature mad.  Either that or we are severely paying for the 70 degree weather we experienced in February. We shall see what we get to replant the next time it dries out.  Until then we will start spraying post-emergence herbicides on corn and begin mowing roadsides making them look good ahead of the upcoming Sangamon County Fair in mid June.

A view out out the back of the planter tractor as we planted soybeans on our Williamsville farm this past week.

A corn plant the morning after a severe wind storm went through the area. The winds picked up the drying soils and blew them for miles.  When the wind blows soil like this it is almost like sand-blasting corn.  This is not ideal for corn trying to recuperate from multiple inches of rainfall. 

Planting soybeans in Greenfield on the Emerald Acres field.

After nine inches of rainfall on our Greenfield farms, this what the soil looked like after it had dried.  We worked the soil on this farm right ahead of the heavy rains. The soil cracked after it dried out exactly where the rear blades of our Salford tillage tool ran.

Replanting corn in holes that were drowned out from all the recent rains.


Hauling rock from the quarry in Hillview back to the farm for our new grain bin soon to to be built.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Planting season...


We started planting corn on April 12th and by the 20th we were finished with only a day or two out on account of rains.The weather turned colder on the weekend of the 22nd, but we started one of the soybean planters and as of today we are about 65% complete with our bean planting. The majority of our corn has emerged or is very close to breaking the soil line. Temperatures eclipsed 80 degrees during most of our planting season which really helped to get the seeds started off on the right foot. The forecast for us this weekend is for another 3-4" of rain in addition to the inch of rain we received Thursday night. Only time will tell what our crops will look like after this weekend. Be safe everyone. 

Our early corn has emerged nicely.

Our row clutches working perfectly at planting speeds up to 10 mph.

Corn seedling pushing through a slight crust.

Drone picture of Bob planting no-till soybeans on the Yatesville farm outside Prentice.

Prairieland FS getting the nonGMO soybean pre-emerge herbicides on right ahead of an on coming rain.

It's not all roses as we do have break downs which require repairs outside our expertise.

Getting the corn planted in a hurry with the high-speed planter.

Planting soybeans into our rye cover crop.

A little closer aerial view of planting no-till soybeans on some hills outside Ashland.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring is here....

Planting season is nearly upon us. In fact, there are a few acres to our South that have already been planted. We have been busy getting equipment ready to go as well as taking delivery of more of our spring inputs such as seed corn, seed beans, insecticide, herbicides, and some additives for our starter fertilizer. Recently we have been on a rain delay due to much needed rains. We have been severely dry since the later half of last fall and those conditions continued through winter. The three inches of rain in the last week have given us a better outlook for the 2017 crop. Now if we could just get the commodity prices to cooperate a little better... The kids have wrapped up their basketball seasons and are now on to baseball. You can tell spring is here as the yard mowing season has also commenced. Hopefully the next time I post I will have pictures of our planting operations. Be safe this spring!

Working on the planter inside our shop. With today's machinery, we've quickly out-grown our shop built in 1979.

The guys from Yetter Manufacturing helping convert our Track-till system from pneumatic to hydraulic.



Burning an old hog building one our farm outside Ashland. It had not been used for many, many years and was literally in the middle of a field so it was time to go.

Working ground down ahead of the rains. When we work ground and it gets a rain on it, we usually won't re-work it before the planter arrives. We call this a "stale" seedbed. This typically works good to seal in the moisture for the corn seedling.

Loading hay headed for the relief efforts for the Oklahoma & Kansas wildfire victims.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mild winter...

Winter continues to fly by. It seems as though we were just celebrating Christmas and now we find ourselves on the 1st of February. In a mere 60-70 days we may be planting corn. The weather continues to be mild for us with less than three inches of total snow fall all winter. Today we took advantage of the close to 50 degree temperatures and did a little tree trimming on one of our farms outside Pleasant Plains. There is no frost and we are dry enough that the excavator left very little tracks in the ground except where he turned. 

We continue to deliver grain for our bins on farm as well as take delivery of the seed we will be planting this Spring. The occasional meeting as well as kids basketball games occupy the remainder of our time.

Trimming trees along a property line with an excavator. This machine makes quick work of over-hanging limbs and under brush.




Cleaning out a small bin of corn into the semi.

Running the sweep cleaning soybeans out of a small grain bin.

A full barge of soybeans headed to New Orleans is pulled out and an empty barge below is re-positioned under the spout along the Illinois River in Beardstown.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Here's to 2017...!

Time has really flown since my last blog post. Once harvest was over we immediately moved to our fall anhydrous ammonia applications as the great fall weather continued and we were blessed to get all the acres on we planned to apply. We even had two warm and sunny days to wash up the equipment and get things put away for winter. Since then we have been busy catching up in the office, attending a few meetings and working on year end financials. In the last couple weeks we have begun moving some of our on-farm stored grain to the Illinois River terminals. We have also started taking a little of our 2017 seed corn. 

Looking back on 2016, it was a year of extremes. Planting season started off timely, May was a little wetter and then June was flat out hot and extremely dry. So much so we thought we were in the midst of another drought. Of course that was when the corn marketed rallied and looking out our back door all we could see were corn plants rolled up so tight from heat and drought stress that they looked like fields of pineapples. Who would have thought the July rains would actually produce after a month of missing them in June. And then those July rains kept coming luckily. August was warm and brought our crop to maturity faster than we would have liked which catapulted harvest activities around Labor Day. We started harvesting around 22-26% moisture and within two weeks our entire corn crop had virtually dried in the field and was testing 18% or below. As we look towards 2017 we hope the market presents a couple good and consistent marketing opportunities on corn. As far as the soybeans go, we may just be looking at our 2017 opportunity as I type this... We remain dry which benefited us this fall, but there is growing concern locally that we may be setting up for another 2012. The drought index map has us in a "moderate drought." Maybe that will change over the course of the next three months...which way I do not know.

Thank you for following us along our journey again this year. Happy New Year to you and your family!

Brent Johnson

Hauling corn from one of grain bins to the terminals along the Illinois River in nearby Beardstown.

2017 Seed corn delivery from Wyffels Hybrids.