Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's from all of us at Johnson Family Farms! Thank you to everyone who had a hand in our successful business this past year. We wish you and your family a safe and prosperous 2014!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14th...

Since we wrapped up our harvest on November 16th we have been applying anhydrous ammonia and finishing up our tillage operations.  We were able to wrap up the tillage weeks ago but the ammonia applications drug along due to the ground freezing. Fortunately, the weather warmed up enough on Sunday, December 1st to allow us to resume our ammonia applications.  After 3.5 days we finished and then the cold weather returned.  Since that time we have been busy cleaning fall machinery, hauling soybeans, attending meetings and working on year end books.  2013 was a very good year for our business.  However, margins for the 2014 crop look to be extremely narrow at this point causing us to reevaluate input decisions, cropping rotations, and machinery purchases into the new year.  

As you can see below most of the recent field activities have focused around installing new tile to a couple fields.  We are targeting areas that were excessively wet this spring.  
After starting the planting season an entire month behind and harvest also starting almost an entire month late, we feel very blessed to have all our tillage and fertilizer applications completed as well as the tile we wanted installed.  Thank you to all who helped us this fall!

Installing new tile lines on our Grand Prairie farm

Adding tile to a few wet spots on our farm between Ashland and Prentice

Snow beginning to fall as they were installing the last of the new tile lines

Loading soybeans on the semi in the snow

Recently we installed a ProTrakker hitch with assistance from Stevens Implement.  This hitch is tied in with John Deere's iGuide system which connects the GPS receiver on the tractor to the GPS receiver on our 20" strip-till bar.  The ProTrakker hitch has a sensor on it as well as hydraulic cylinders which can move 36" from side to side.  This allows us to have a 30' strip-till bar match up with our 60' planter without having wide or narrow rows.  We ran it on the last 400 acres of our anhydrous ammonia and it worked great.

Max & Owen with their first snowman of the year

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Harvest is completed...

I am pleased to report that we wrapped up our 2013 harvest on Saturday evening, November 16th.  We had to work through sporadic drizzle and the occasional shower to get the field completed, but it was well worth it. Unfortunately, the very next morning a strong wind and rain storm rolled across Illinois and leveled whatever corn was left in the fields. This same storm system spawned the terrible tornado outbreak that devastated the Central Illinois town of Washington.

After harvest was completed we immediately began applying anhydrous ammonia nitrogen to the fields we plan to plant to corn in 2014.  We were able to work for two days and then rains pushed us out of the fields.  After the rains, unseasonably cold weather has set in and frozen the top 2-4" of our fields which has prevented us from getting back in the fields with the anhydrous applications.  Because the fields were not frozen deeper, we were able to continue to operate our chisel plow and in-line ripper.  We should finish up with our tillage operations tomorrow.  The Younkers Brothers have also began washing up harvest equipment and putting things away for the winter.  

On this Thanksgiving we are very thankful for our family, our bountiful and safe harvest and all our many blessings we have received.  From our family to yours, have a great Thanksgiving!

Last day of harvest

Vertical unload auger broke with 110 acres left to harvest
Waiting on trucks as we harvest the last soybeans on the County Line Farm

Crossing the creek with the 40' MacDon draper head on the combine

Semi's hauling dry corn out of our grain facility to make room for the final corn acres to be harvested

Loading nonGMO corn on a barge at Cargill in Florence, IL along the Illinois River

Getting started with our 20" row strip till bar

View of the strip till bar going through the field

Ron running the chisel plow

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Friday, November 8th...

Harvest continues at a rapid pace.  Sporadic rains have delayed our progress; both in harvest and tillage activities, but we are making great headway towards the finish line.  We are down to 465 acres of corn and 140 acres of soybeans.  Yields remain excellent both on the corn and the soybeans.  However, next on the schedule is our June planted corn which does not appear that it will be as good as our earlier plantings.

If the weather holds, we should be able to complete our 2013 harvest by next weekend.  A handful of fields in our area still remain unharvested and each time we get a wind or a heavy rain, more corn stalks fall over. It is time to get this crop out of the field.  Our dryer has proved to be a very wise investment for this particular year as we have dried double the bushels we anticipated.  Many thanks to our employees and spouses who have put in long hours to get our harvest where it is today.  

Harvesting on the Grand Prairie farm

The truck never has to leave the dump on this field

Deep in-line ripping soybean stubble on the Stelte field outside Ashland

Sunset on another day of harvest

Late night refueling of the machines

Rain trying to impede our harvest progress

Moving out dry corn to make room for the remaining bushels still in the field

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, October 20th...

Harvest continues.  We are 60% completed with our 2013 harvest.  We have 235 acres of soybeans remaining to be cut with the balance being corn.  The weather has been excellent with very few days where we could not get in the fields.  Yields continue to be surprisingly good and the moisture's on corn have fallen into the 17-19% range.  Most of our fields near our base of operations have been harvested and now we begin our rounds where we are much further from our headquarters.  Many fields are starting to disappear in our area and tillage operations are starting to become more prominent.

Sunset on another day of soybean harvest.

Harvesting soybeans outside of Ashland.

A screenshot of the monitor in the grain cart tractor.  We have a camera mounted on the side of the combine that feeds video to a monitor in the cab of the grain cart tractor so the operator can see what the combine operator sees.

Unloading corn that was ran through the grain dryer into one of the bins adjacent to our shop.

Owen & his friend, Kaleb, before their ride in the combine.

A good shot of our 20" row corn head.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday, October 6th...

Harvest rolls on.  Yields continue to be higher than anticipated and the corn moisture levels are dropping very slowly. With the good weather forecasted for the coming days, we plan to harvest soybeans all week. Tillage also began last week with a few acres being disked and one field chisel plowed.  

Please be safe this fall!

Harvesting soybeans on our Elkhart farm as the sun sets
An evening panoramic view from the combine cab while dumping on the go
Moving corn we dried to another bin for winter storage
A rainbow over the dryer Thursday evening
Sunset over the corn field after a fierce Thunder & Lightning storm rolled through the area
Max riding in the combine
Owen and I posing for the camera beside the semi as we wait on another load of corn from the combine

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29th...

Harvest is underway on our farm.  Corn yields have been surprisingly good for as little rainfall as we received this summer.  We are focusing on our April 30 - May 2nd corn plantings as those fields have lower moisture content.  The bushels from those fields we are drying down in our grain dryer.  We are thankful to get started and very blessed to have good yields.  The corn we have harvested we have dried down and then hauled out to railroad elevator locations to our South in Waverly.  We sold quite a few bushels for a September delivery premium and as of today only have one more load to get delivered to satisfy our contracts.  Saturday afternoon, we missed the rains that came through, so we switched the combine over to soybeans and cut about 25 acres that tested 12.8%.  Yields from the soybeans were also surprising.  Fall is officially here!

Harvesting the end rows on our 1st field - harvest 2013

A view looking down from our wet bin at the dryer

Ron Brown and Phil Smith working on a roof for the grain cleaner

Taking our 1st load of Propane prior to harvest beginning

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday, September 15th...

More harvest preparations have occurred over the last two weeks.  We continue to prepare our grain drying facility with the final touches scheduled to be completed this week.  Last Thursday we fired up the combine and harvested the corn adjacent to our drying facility to make room for the grain pump and new circle drive way.  The corn's moisture tested 32.8% which is really wet so we only harvested half a truck load and stopped.  Our earlier planted corn is not drying as fast as we had hoped, but eventually we will need to get started as we have grain committed to be delivered by the end of the month.  We hope to start harvest in earnest on Monday the 23rd.  This allows us one more week to get all the machinery ready and wrap up any summer jobs we have managed to put off until now.  There is zero corn harvested in our immediate area as of this weekend.  

Harvesting corn to make more room around the grain dryer

An aerial view of our new dryer set up

Ron Brown's handy work installing concrete barriers to meet fire code on the bulk head of the large Lp tank

Fixing a tile hole on the Lehmann farm

Mowing downhill at a 30 degree angle on the County Line farm

Inter-planting clover in the CRP on our University of Illinois farm

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday, August 31st...

A little slower two weeks as we turn the corner towards harvest.  This past week we set both the generator and the large Lp tank for our dryer project.  Work continues as we focus on wiring and building the entrance and exit to our facility.  We have also continued to mow road banks and get harvest equipment ready.  

Later in the week we attended the Farm Progress Show in nearby Decatur.  It was one of the hottest shows we've ever attended, but it did allow us to visit with many exhibitors and see products we are interested in for our business.  Our main focus was trying to find a way to decrease the compaction in the corn rows that are adjacent to the transport tires on our planter.  At the moment, it seems we have two options; 1) an air system that allows us to inflate/deflate the tire pressure from the cab of the tractor and 2) tracks for our planter.  Luckily, we have a little time to make that decision.

Harvest appears to be 2-3 weeks away, although a few of our neighbors may try some corn in the next 10 days due to early delivery incentives and commitments made in early spring.  We are experiencing one of the driest August's in recent years.  Our corn crop is tolerating this hot and dry weather fairly well and we anticipate a 170-200 bpa average yield.  On the other hand, the soybeans depend on August rains and to date those have been non-existent.  We are on the cusp of having the worst yielding soybean crop in the last 20 years if it doesn't rain soon.  

Taking the 18,000 gal Lp tank off the trailer and putting it into place on the concrete piers

Making sure the generator gets set correctly so the wiring goes as planned

The generator is set

Max's 3rd birthday celebration