Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week ending July 30th...

Severe kernel tip-back due to high day & evening temperatures

Goss Wilt is taking over this field

It took two trailers to pick up all the parts & pieces of new chisel plow

Assembling the chisel plow

David mowing along the highway

Hot, humid, and dry weather is causing our corn crop to rapidly deteriorate. We have significant tip-back on ears from not only the hot weather during the day, but also the warmer than welcomed evening temperatures. We have quickly went from 230 bushels per acre potential to 170-180 by my kernel counts. And if the high heat doesn't break soon, we will continue to loose more bushels to the point this will be a very disappointing crop. This week we also discovered Goss Wilt. This is a disease that engulfs the corn plant killing it very quickly. It originates in the residue from the previous year's corn crop. Unfortunately, at this point there is nothing we can do for this field but watch and plan for next year. From what I have read, this will take 60-80 bushels per acre off our yield on this field. We plan to check the rest of our continuous corn fields this week to see if we have any more of these outbreaks.

Around the farm last week we began mowing roadsides again and continued working on shop projects. This past week our new chisel plow arrived at the dealership and David, Ron, & Darin began to assemble it. We also sprayed a few acres of soybeans this week with fungicide and insecticide.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week ending July 23rd...

Another hot and humid week. The crops in our immediate area seemed to fair the extreme heat and humidity this past week better than some areas of Illinois we are hearing about. That being said, we are still taking top-end bushels off of our corn crop. And in some areas of Illinois the damage to the corn crop is going to be irreversible even if they receive a rain. We were fortunate to receive a nice rain around the Ashland area today and I believe the northern farms also received a shower. Unfortunately, according to the radar it did not appear the south farms had any rain at all. And with another round of hot and humid weather starting tomorrow, we are growing concerned about our crop prospects around the Greenfield area.

The first picture below is from a friend of our's over in Eastern Illinois. While his entire corn crop does not look this way, this particular hybrid has been the most affected by the weather and will have significant yield loss.

A hybrid that really doesn't like hot and dry weather - Eastern Illinois

A HUGE yield saving rain around Ashland today!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week ending July 16th...

The past week consisted of hauling grain from the bins and scouting corn fields to be sprayed with fungicides. The weather seemed to dictate which jobs we accomplished based on the temperatures. We also spent time in the shop tearing down the corn head replacing parts so we can be ready to go this fall.

The upcoming week's forecast is for hot and extremely humid temperatures with little to no chances of rain. While we have been more fortunate than others with a few recent rain showers, we are concerned about how this weather will affect our final yields; more so the corn. The hot temperatures both during the day and at night (plus 70 degrees at night is not helpful) make the corn focus on maintenance of the corn plant (surviving) versus focusing on producing energy or sugars which create bigger/heavier kernels and larger yields. One of the main reasons we are spraying fungicide right now is to help the plant respire at night or give it "air-conditioning." A lot of the thought process behind spraying fungicide is to help slow the plant down so it doesn't have to work so hard during the high temperatures. Think of it as if you were running a marathon and someone threw you a cold and wet towel to put on the back of your neck. We normally like to spray fungicide when we see one-third brown silks. However, due to the coming weather we are pushing our fungicide applications up to once again try to give our corn plants air-conditioning.

Also, another important item worth mentioning is that the first-wave of sweet corn was ready this week. Sweet corn, similar to fireworks during 4th of July celebrations are another right of passage for those of us who farm or were raised on a farm. Eventually, we will all gather as a family to harvest hundreds of ears of sweetcorn and cook it and bag it so that we may enjoy it all year round.

Stay cool this week.

Applying fungicide on the Grand Prairie farm

The last pass of fungicide on the Whiznat farm

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week ending July 9th...

This past week we were able to finish mowing all our remaining roadsides and begin hauling our July contracted corn. The demand for old crop corn in our area is so high that we have an "inverted" basis. That means that instead of bidding "below" the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, end users are bidding "above" the national offered price. Having an inverted basis isn't something that is uncommon for our area, but we were able to lock in plus 30 cents over our contracted price because our delivery location must have corn to fill barges.

We also finished putting up the remaining signs on our corn plot. This year our plot grew to 43 entries with a "check" hybrid between every company entry. A "check" means we put the exact same hybrid in between every company's entries. This allows us to make adjustments to soil types and possible wet holes which could cause entries to yield less. After harvesting, we then average the yields of the checks and then adjust the hybrids' yields next to the check hybrids.

We also started scouting our first planted corn fields for diseases and pests. So far we have not seen much disease due to our early fungicide applications. However, we do have significant infestations of Japanese beetles in certain areas. These beetles chew on both the silks and tassels. This can cause kernels to not pollinate, thus reducing yield significantly. Also, by them clipping the silks on the ear they open up the tips of the ears and allow other insects, birds, diseases, and rots such as diplodia to enter and cause yield damage as well. Thus, we called in Holzwarth Flying Service to come in and spray the infested fields.

This week we plan to haul corn and begin work on rebuilding the corn head. We also plan to attend the Wyffels Hybrids Corn Strategies seminar in Dixon, Illinois. Check it out at

Our 43 entry corn plot along Highway 123

Japanese beetles feeding on fresh corn silks

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week ending July 1st...

The past week was great for the crops' development. Hot temperatures along with adequate moisture have both the corn and beans gaining height at a rapid pace. Earlier in the week our first planted corn began to tassel. As of the holiday weekend, their is a fair amount of corn that is tasseling in our area. The recent drier weather allowed us to wrap up spraying our final pass of herbicide applications on the soybeans. We also got the majority of all our road banks and ditches mowed and looking good for the 4th.

On Thursday of this past week we hosted our local McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomic Focus Group. This group is comprised of farmers from central Illinois who have the desire to improve their cropping practices and share ideas with other farmers in order to achieve higher yields. The majority of this meeting focused on late season nitrogen management and fungicide applications.

Enjoy your 4th of July weekend!

Knee high by the 4th of July, no tassels by the 4th...!

Tassels showing on our April 6th planted corn outside of Ashland

MC Agronomics meeting held at our shop this past week

Spraying our last field of soybeans

Mowing roadsides at our Williamsville farm

Greensnap damage from recent winds on our farm Northwest of Jacksonville