Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mid December...

Now that the tillage and fertilizer activities have concluded, you would think life around the farm would be a little slower. But in reality we have been very busy. Our main activity has been hauling corn to both the Illinois River terminals located in Beardstown as well as the rail terminal in Waverly. Annually we sell a large amount of corn in the month of December. We do this to help cash flow, but most importantly we move grain during December because rarely is the Illinois River froze. As we get into January and February the river can sometimes freeze and carry large chunks of ice down from the north. This creates havoc for the barge freight and often even though you can deliver it to the terminal, they have no way to move it down the river because barges can not be moved.

We have also been busy cleaning up the remainder of fall machinery and catching up on year end book work. December also seems to be the "meeting" season as we have been attending numerous marketing seminars and also the pre end of the year appointments with the accountants. Earlier in the week we attended 1st Farm Credit Service's annual Outlook seminar in Peoria and listen to both Dr. David Kohl from Virginia Tech and Dr. Steve Johnson from Iowa State. Their presentations were very thought provoking, but unfortunately both centered around the financial ciaos in Europe and other events throughout the world that are currently affecting our commodity market. We also learned about new crop insurance changes as well as a few new crop insurance products for 2012.

No snow has been seen in our area yet, but they are forecasting an inch for this evening. The soils are still dry in our immediate area with no tiles running. We would welcome rain to help recharge the soils as we go into winter. By "re-charging" the soils with water during the late fall and winter months it helps to ensure a good start to the next year's growing season.

Loading corn into the semi from the grain bin on the Lathom farm

Filling in a ditch on the Atwood farm
It will soon have a tile installed where the original ditch was located

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Update...

There has been a flurry of activity around the farm since my last post. Precision Drainage has wrapped up our tile project and has moved on to their next assignment. We have also started and finished all our anhydrous ammonia applications and our fields that are slated to be planted to corn in 2012 are ready for their winter slumber. We have also removed the final fence rows on our Greenfield farms with the help of our neighbor, JL Ford. Thanks to him for the use of his skid steer and all his attachments which made quick work of the rotten and buried fence rows. Harvest equipment continues to be cleaned up and put away along with more attention being focused on year end book work and planning for the 2012 season. This morning we were able to go up in a plane and take some aerial pictures of our recent tile project. The aerial shot really gives you the scope and size of the project versus my pictures on the ground. A few hours after we landed the chisel plow pulled in and began leveling the laterals and working under the corn stalks. Our plan is to chisel the laterals, but leave the mains to settle over the winter and then work them down in the spring.

As we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday we give thanks to all our employees, suppliers, and family for the support they have given us this year - we are truly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

David chiseling over the new tile laterals

Aerial shot of our 150 acre tile project

Chris Urish from Elkhart Fertilizer putting anhydrous ammonia on our Elkhart farm

Operating our strip-till bar on the Railroad field southwest of Ashland

JL Ford loading the trailer as we removed the final fence rows at our Greenfield farms

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tile project...

As I mentioned last week Precision Drainage arrived and began installing tile on a 300 acre project that we have been planning for many years. Due to the distance to the outlet and a few neighbors participating in the project we are using a 21 inch dual wall plastic main that runs a half mile then transitions to an 18 inch tile. As you can see from the pictures, the main tile is so big it almost appears they are laying sewer pipe in the middle of a corn field. The tile crew made good progress last week, but recent rains have slowed things. Today, they were able to get back to work laying the laterals and finishing up some of the sub-mains.

We have a few more acres remaining to chisel and hopefully we get a window to wrap that up this weekend. None of our anhydrous ammonia has been applied yet, but the forecast looks promising to get most of that accomplished. If not, we can always apply it in the spring, but we prefer fall applications. Rainy days continue to allow us to work on 2012 crop plans and clean up fall equipment. Last week I was invited to talk with Owen's preschool class about farming and agriculture. Owen helped me walk his classmates through the growing season and explain to them repeatedly that we did not have any pigs or cows on our farm. Owen let me bring in some of his farm toys which they all enjoyed and we even let them play with some actual corn kernels and soybean seeds. It never hurts to spread the message about what we do in agriculture...

The tile machine making a seven foot deep cut to lay the 18" main tile

Our outlet crossing underneath the county road

This is how big the main tile is compared to a five gallon bucket - HUGE!

Talking to Owen's preschool class about farming with Owen's help

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week ending October 29th...

The hustle and bustle of fall activities continue to make the days fly by. While harvest is behind us, a few acres of tillage and all of the anhydrous ammonia remain. We plan to get started applying our anhydrous ammonia in our usual strip-till applications tomorrow. Equipment from harvest is being cleaned up and put away. Precision Drainage has recently arrived and is working on a 150 acre pattern tile project that we have been planning for many years. I will include pictures of that project in next week's update.

David chiseling on the Williamsville farm

Darin running the Turbo disk chopping stalks

The last day of harvest was a dreary and misty day

Bob harvesting on the Alderson farm north of Chapin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Harvest is over...!

It has been a while since I last posted on our blog, but I am happy to report that as of this morning we completed our 2011 harvest season. We ended our harvest with some of the best yielding corn we experienced all year. The past few weeks held challenges of their own with a few breakdowns. The worst of all the repairs was a blown transmission in our John Deere 9870 combine. Fortunately for us, Chris Dowson was there to step in and help by lending us a combine while the repairs were being made - thanks to Chris! We also had the opportunity to demo the new John Deere S680 combine these last two days of harvest. These are the new models which were rolled out recently at the Farm Progress Show in late August. It was fun to watch everyone take a ride in it and see how it compared to our combine.

A few neighbors have started applying anhydrous ammonia and our plan is to start next week. We have a few fields remaining to be chiseled and the Younkers Brothers will address those this week. We plan to clean up fall machinery and get the anhydrous toolbars ready the remainder of this week.

Trying out the new John Deere combine

Owen driving the combine

Owen impatiently waiting on the grain cart to arrive

The Younkers Brothers changing out a broken belt

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week ending October 8th...

Harvest continues to roll on. Last Tuesday, October 4th we began our 2011 soybean harvest and just one week later we pulled out of the last field and hooked back up to the corn head. Soybean yields were surprisingly good for the little precipitation we received in August. We are in the down hill stretch of our harvest as the grain bins are now full and everything remaining will be delivered to elevators. Once again, the tillage crew is caught up and we are waiting to spread lime on a few remaining fields. Go Cardinals!

Harvesting soybeans on the Grand Prairie farm

The last beans on the Lehmann Farm

Owen riding in the semi- he was more interested in the gum he found...

Ed Clemens running the Quadtrac and chisel plow

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week ending October 1st...

Harvest continues to fly by. This past week we continued to focus on harvesting corn hoping that another week would let all our beans mature and be ready for harvest this week. We also harvested our plot. The highest yield was 250.4 bushels per acre with the plot average of 227.6 bpa. These yield results shocked us quite frankly. We have been harvesting good corn all season long, but our field results do not mirror our plot results. And the plot was treated exactly the same way as our usual corn following soybeans. Albeit where the plot was planted the drainage is better than average. Later in the week we moved up to our Williamsville farm because we discovered two hybrids that were falling down from recent high winds and stalk rots. Even though the corn is mangled, it is still some of the highest yielding corn we have been in so far. Our plan is to move back to the Ashland area soon and begin combining soybeans. We generally try to harvest all our beans in one week and then switch back to corn for the final push towards the finish line. Have a great week!

Special thanks to Brendan Bachman and Nathan Peak from Lincoln Land FS for helping us weigh our plot

Harvesting the 4 row entries in our plot

Opening up the Williamsville farm

Owen and Max playing in a tractor wheel

Monday, September 26, 2011

Week ending September 25th...

Another good week of harvest is in the books. This past week we mainly concentrated on corn harvest, but towards the end of the week we switched over to soybeans. The beans are yielding surprisingly good for as little precipitation we received in August. Moisture's on them have been coming back from the elevator around 12% which is ideal. However, the beans are extremely green-stemmed which is slowing our harvest progress as they take more time to shake the morning dews and process through the combine.

Earlier in the week Lincoln Land FS began piling and spreading lime on a few farms. Soon thereafter our tillage crew went to work incorporating the lime and sizing the corn residue with the Case Turbo disk. Once we had enough acres worked ahead, we resumed chisel plowing.

A lot of the corn in our immediate area has been harvested (~80%). While only ~10% of the soybeans have been harvested. We have few fields of beans that are ready for harvest, so our plan is to switch back to corn. After scouting over the weekend, we are finding a few hybrids that are loosing their stalk integrity and need to be taken out immediately. This may cause us to be inefficient this week, but if we incur any more wind on these hybrids they may be on the ground which would be a worse problem.

Combining soybeans on the Grand Prairie farm

Working in lime with the Turbo Disk on the Gooden/Mae farm

Dumping corn at the bins at the shop

Lincoln Land FS spreading lime

Waiting in line to dump corn from our Chapin farms at Consolidated Grain & Barge in Naples

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week ending September 18th...

Last week turned out to be a little slower as we started to harvest more of the 114-116 day corn planted in early April and found that it is still wetter than we would like to put into grain bins. The May planted corn is also wet. We have been sampling the remaining fields and picking and choosing where we harvest. Our hope is Mother Nature keeps drying this corn down in the field. We are not the only ones who are seeing this as the local elevators this weekend were like ghost towns which is wild for the middle of September. We also started the deep tillage of chisel plowing this week. With the new Case 870 chisel plow we can cover more acres in a day and it did not take us long to catch up to the fields that are waiting on lime to be spread before we chisel them. Recent rains have not totaled much and around our home area we are still dry. However, the larger amounts of rain have fallen on our southern farms, but too little too late as the corn down in Greenfield died prematurely due to lack of July/August rainfall and high temperatures.

Filling the bins at the Grand Prairie farm

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week ending September 10th...

A good first week of harvest is now behind us. The April planted corn has been running from 16-25% depending on hybrid. Yields have been all over the board from 170 to 220 bushels per acre depending on field and hybrid as well. We even received a little rain that kept us out of the fields on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, Owen had his first combine ride of the year with his Grandpa. He loves riding around in the combines or the tractors. Then he comes home and sets up his farm toys to mimic what Grandpa is doing in the field. We started tillage, but the ground is hard and dry.

For those of you who read this and don't farm, this is the season where we farmers are on the roads with our big equipment. Please remember to slow down when meeting us and remember we can't always see you behind us. Also, if it looks as though we are not getting off the road enough when we meet you it's because we are trying not to get a flat tire. Those cost almost as much as a new car to replace... Be safe!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harvest begins...

We started harvest today. The moisture is around 18-20% on our corn planted April 6th. Yields have been better than we anticipated so far, but the diplodia damage is stronger than we would like to see. We have only harvested a few truck loads as none of the elevators were open today due the Labor Day holiday. Tomorrow we will "dial in" the yield monitor and have an "on-the-fly" idea of what the corn is making.

Last week we took in the Farm Progress Show in Decatur. The boys climbed over numerous tractors and combines, but their favorite stop was the free snow cones GSI was handing out. The cold treat gave them a little extra "bounce" during the 100 degree temperatures. The show had massive crowds on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Thursday dropped off a little due to the high temperatures.

More updates as harvest progresses. Be safe this fall!

Harvest begins outside of Ashland today

The Johnson Boys test driving a new John Deere tractor at the Farm Progress Show

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week ending August 27th...

Not much new to report. We continue to prepare the machines for the harvest season which will soon be upon us as well as wrap up mowing the last of the roadsides. Friday, David and Tom finished hauling the last of our 2010 corn crop from the bins and now our facilities are ready to receive the 2011 crop. We tested our earliest planted field of corn which was planted on April 6th. It hand-tested around 30%, but if you were to actually harvest it with a combine it would come out closer to 32-33% moisture. If the weather cooperates this should continue to dry the corn down to 20-21% by the Tuesday after Labor Day which we have slated to begin harvest. One of our neighbors took out a field of earlier maturity corn this week, which excited the neighborhood. We plan to visit the Farm Progress Show this week in nearby Decatur where John Deere is rolling out there brand new series of combines for 2012. Be safe.

Installing a new "feeder" belt on the MacDon head.

Bob mowing roadsides on the Atwood Farm.

A neighbor's freshly harvested corn field.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week ending August 20th...

What a week - I got to see the President of the United States of America speak at Wyffels Hybrids and on Saturday our little Max celebrated his first birthday.

Whether you are a fan of our current President or not, it was impressive to watch everything that happens when he arrives for a "town hall meeting." I was one of 300 people that had a ticket to listen to him speak and then take questions from the audience on Wednesday. One question posed him from a farmer in the audience was on new EPA regulations about noise and dust pollution. He suggested we as farmers shouldn't jump to conclusions about supposed new regulations, but rather wait and see what really comes out of Washington. He also encouraged all to contact the US Dept. of Agriculture if we had any concerns regarding these regulations. Another question asked of the President was about Ethanol and his thoughts on keeping the Ethanol industry viable. He touted his past and present support about corn based ethanol, but also informed the crowd that he would like more ethanol to come from cellulosic sources such as wood chips and switch grass. That response did not go over well with the corn friendly crowd. Either way it was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Later in the week we hosted our families for Max's First birthday party. Everyone had a great time from the pinata and the "pin the tail on the steer" game to the giant inflatable bounce house that keep the kids busy and out of our house for the most part... Max didn't like everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to him, but calmed down once everyone left him alone to enjoy his own personal chocolate birthday cake. A good time was had by all.

As for the farm this past week more equipment preparation for harvest took place along with hauling the remaining corn from the grain bins. This week we will begin the last round of road bank mowing and continue work on the grain bins and augers. Some of our friends in the Southern part of the county have begun harvest. Yield reports have been as low as 100 bushels per acre all the way to 220 - and that's just in one pass through the field... Harvest for us will most likely begin after Labor Day.

Make it a great week!

Max enjoying his birthday cake.

The Johnson Boys - trouble...

President Obama at Wyffels Hybrids

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week ending August 13th...

One of the signs that harvest is almost upon us the arrival of the State Fair. This week we took in the opening days and walked all over the fairgrounds. The boys especially enjoy the animals, since at our farm we have more dogs than livestock. One of the great things about our State Fair is Agriculture's presence amongst all the other exhibits. Besides the animals, local businesses and Commodity Associations have joined together to create an "Ag" area just inside the front gate of the fairgrounds. This area has the usual large farm equipment on display, but also contains a seudo "field trip" of the different aspects of agriculture in our state. Kids and parents have the unique opportunity to walk through small barns that contain themes of sheep, cattle, horses, grain bin safety, produce, soybeans, corn, and others. Each of these stops has story boards as to what the product looks like all the way through the value-chain to what consumers enjoy from the the product. It's a very nice way to promote our industry!

Around the farm this week we wrapped up assembly on the new chisel plow and brought the semi's into the shop for inspections, cleaning, and general maintenance. While temperatures have moderated, the rain has still missed the majority of our farms. We still anticipate corn yields to be "average," but soybeans yields are too early to establish, however they will need a rain soon in order to be average.

Owen's height relative to a corn plant's

Milking a cow

Digging for "soybean bucks"