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.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Harvest 2016 is a wrap!!!

I am very pleased to report that we finished harvest on Sunday, October 30th; ahead of Halloween and ahead of the time change is a wonderful feeling. Our corn ended up yielding about 20 bushels more than our initial yield estimates which for the extremely hot and dry June our crop went through was nothing short of a miracle. The soybeans were good and will ultimately end up raising our five year average. We are waiting for the final loads of lime to be hauled and then we will begin tilling our final 410 acres of corn stalks. We have shifted our focus now to some tillage, cleaning up harvest equipment, getting anhydrous ammonia equipment ready to go, and catching up on office work and yield reports for landlords and family. 

Our harvested lasted 50 days with very few days off on account of rain. We would like to thank the following companies for providing us great service again this fall.

  • Beard Implement
  • Sloan Implement @ Petersburg
  • Automated Ag
  • Edge Electric
  • Lipcaman - Precision Planting 
  • Bartlett Grain @ Jacksonville
  • Sunrise FS - Grain & Trucking Division as well as Energy Division
  • Prairieland FS @ Prentice and the roving lime crew
  • The Scoular Company
  • CHS @ Lowder
  • Cargill @ Florence
  • HOG, Inc.
  • RCM Farmers Cooperative
  • Prentice Farmers Elevator
  • CIT Group @ Pleasant Plains
And we would also like to thank our employees who worked countless hours day in and day out to get this crop harvested.

Unloading on the go - these photos were as we were harvesting the final 20 acres of our last corn field.

Filling the bin with soybeans - the last truck full of harvest 2016.

Filling another semi at sunset - Williamsville corn.

Ronnie Brown chisel plowing some corn stalks.

A cold sunrise on one of our last days harvesting at Williamsville.

Spreading gypsum on our farm by Strawns Crossing. We are applying it on a few fields this year to help with soil structure and add sulfur for next year's crop.

This is what the gypsum looks like on the ground after it is spread.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Harvest update...

We are getting close to the last 15% of our harvest. We have 100 acres of corn remaining around home and then everything locally and South will be harvested. Our next move will be to the North Farms where we have one soybean field and one corn field; but they are really large fields. Corn yields have been pleasantly surprising, while soybean yields have been good but disappointing compared to the yields we first heard during the first three weeks of harvest. Our tillage is caught up as well as the fertilizer and lime applications. It really has been an exceptionally great fall regarding the weather. We couldn't have ordered better conditions. Unfortunately we've had a few breakdowns which have slowed our progress, but it does give everyone a little time off to spend with family and catch up on office work. Currently we are down for a couple days due to the vertical auger in the combine stripping the splines out causing the combine to not be able to unload at all. That is a two day minimum repair job 'at the dealer' so we are catching up on various other jobs.

Harvesting soybeans on our University of Illinois Farm outside New Berlin.  Bean harvest is almost completed with a mere 160 acre field remaining.

Dumping in the old elevator at Prentice Farmers Elevator. Barely wide enough to get a semi through it.

Blocking traffic so we didn't have to take the 40' soybean head off the combine. We were only moving a mile and traffic was light so it worked well.

Some of the corn we harvested on our Greenfield farms was delivered to Cargill at Florence which is situated right along the Illinois River. Our corn was dry enough to be dumped into the elevator and put directly on a barge which will eventually make its way down the Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Harvest rolls on...

What a great harvest!  Mother Nature has provided us all but two days of great weather this fall. We are down to our last 700 acres of corn and yields have been better than expected. We have not cut an acre of soybeans yet, but plan to this week as we have quite a few acres ready. While we have been busy harvesting, lime and fertilizer has been applied to our corn stalks. Soon thereafter the chisel plow turns the soil over and returns the dirt to it's winter black color. We ran the continuous flow corn dryer for the first two and half weeks of harvest and as we experienced more 90 degree days the corn moisture dropped rapidly. Now corn is dry enough to be put directly in the bin and not need artificial drying. Today was only our second rain day since we began back on Labor Day. We spent the day moving equipment and performing routine maintenance so the machines are ready when it dries out.

Beautiful yellow corn being loaded into a semi.

The grain cart dumping on the semi which is sitting over the auger as we top off the bin on the University of Illinois farm.