Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday, December 13th...

What a stretch of crazy good weather we've experienced this fall and early winter! It has allowed us to get more outside projects completed than we ever thought. As the calendar rolled into December we began hauling corn from our bins to the rail terminal in nearby Jacksonville. We've also shipped a few bushels of soybeans. As the soils have dried, that has allowed us to fix more tile holes and do more work outside. Marketing meetings along with end of year tax appointments have also consumed a lot of our time. We have a few more meetings to attend and things will transition toward a little time off to focus on family and the Christmas holiday. 

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Installing new tile outlets on our Williamsville farm

Loading soybeans into the grain cart from our grain bins while we wait for a semi truck to return from the elevator

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday, November 21st...

As I write this post the first snow fall of the year has arrived. The weather has changed as things are quickly turning towards winter. Since my last post we have cleaned up and put away the fall harvest and tillage machinery and applied all the anhydrous ammonia we wanted to get on. We have also worked on trimming a few trees, fixing tile holes, and performing various other odd jobs. Year end book work, 2016 seed selection, and a few meetings will consume a lot of our time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are also catching up on family time and attending the slew of youth basketball games that are scheduled for this winter. The Fighting Illini have made Springfield there new home for basketball while the State Farm Center is being renovated and we try to attend as many of those games as possible with the boys.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We are thankful for those that continue to support and promote our business - we couldn't do it without you.

Refueling the 20" strip-till bar

Putting on anhydrous ammonia on the Williamsville farm

Fixing tile holes on the Arnold 30 outside Jacksonville

Sean up in the loader bucket trimming trees in Greenfield

Replacing a corner post on the Mears Land Trust in Greenfield

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday, October 28th...

Harvest 2015 ended for us a week ago as we wrapped up the last of our corn in Greenfield. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this harvest was much different from last year's. This year it lasted seven weeks and virtually only had one day we had to stop for rain. Versus last year that was 71 days from start to finish with about a third of those being rain outs. Corn yields this year were down 15-20% and soybean yields up 8-10%. We continue to remain very dry, although the last two days have consisted of light rain. Since finishing harvest we have been busy seeding cover crops on a few select fields, cleaning harvest machinery, trimming trees, and other various odd jobs in preparation for winter. We have also been getting the anhydrous ammonia applicators ready to go for when the soils cool down. Catching up on office work, fertilizer plans, and preparing our 2016 cropping plans have also been on the list of activities. It's great to be done ahead of the time change this year!

Harvesting the last field of soybeans in Nortonville.

Planting cover crops outside Ashland.

Tire threw a rock into the back windshield of one of our semis. End result was a shattered window that fell out during pit stop for fuel. Sean Mears, one of our employees making light of the situation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday, October 11th...

What a difference a year makes! Last year we battled mud and cold temperatures most all of harvest. This year it is dry and warm. We are actually very dry. So dry that most all of us will need subsequent rains before we begin anhydrous ammonia applications. Harvest is moving along nicely. We have 200 acres of corn to harvest around Pleasant Plains and then we will move to our Greenfield farm. We have one last field of soybeans to harvest, but believe it or not they aren't quite ready yet due to them being a 4.2 maturity and planted on June 10th. Corn yields have stayed towards the higher end of the "good" category; despite only being 13-15% moisture coming right out of the field. In fact, we only ran our corn dryer for two weeks of our entire harvest. That is very rare. Soybean yields have been nothing short of exciting with only a few fields disappointing; but only by this year's standards. Bean yields across Central Illinois seem to be exceptional everywhere. We are caught up on our tillage operations. The weather this fall has allowed for good tillage conditions and also plenty of time to get fields limed to get the pH's corrected. We are working on plans to plant some rye cover crop ahead of corn on a few fields and hopefully next time I update the blog I'll have pictures of us seeding that. With any luck we will be done with harvest within the next 10 days. 

Another semi load of corn getting ready to leave the Elkhart farm at dusk.

Ronnie Brown running the chisel plow.

Two 40' draper heads can cover a lot of soybean acres in a hurry...

Harvesting soybeans on the Quad J field South of Prentice along Rt. 123.

Ron getting all the waterways and creek banks looking good on the Williamsville farm.

Keeping the trucks moving.

Harvesting corn on the Grand Prairie Farm.

Aerial shot with the drone of the chisel plow working at Elkhart. He is literally pulling in the field the same day the combine finishes.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21st...

Harvest continues to roll on at break-neck speed in our local area. Corn has rapidly dried down and we have been able to turn off the corn dryer and take the grain directly to the bins for storage. We began harvesting our soybeans last week and those are also drier than expected; despite still having yellow leaves on them. We have had a few rains in the last few weeks, but we were so dry beforehand that the rains usually only kept us out of the fields for a half day. On Saturday we harvested our plot. The high yield this year was 248 bpa. Last year the high yield was 281. And that is very typical of our field yield results from this year versus last; a decline of about 30-40 bushels per acre. We were too wet early on and then too hot with zero rainfall to finish our corn crop. The corn essentially "died" down rather than matured naturally on it's own. But, at this point it is what is and our job is to make sure we get it harvested before any wind storms.

Be safe out there and watch for harvest equipment on rural roads.

Dumping corn through our scale at our dryer site.

Hauling out dry corn to our satellite bins.

Max and Owen cleaning the corn kernels off the scale.

Harvesting corn outside Ashland.

We were using a wagon to directly fill some bins on another farm and the bin got full before the wagon was empty so we had to dumb it at our dryer site before the rains arrived.

Each of our 43 plot entries was weighed and ran through this wagon.

Day two of soybean harvest.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Game on.....

Harvest is officially underway at Johnson Family Farms. We tried a little corn Monday, August 31st and it was still 29-30% moisture which is a little high for us. So we harvested a couple semi loads, calibrated the yield monitor and waited for the week of hot weather to dry the corn. Tuesday was spent touring the Farm Progress Show in nearby Decatur, Illinois. Thursday we decided to try our corn near Jacksonville and take advantage of the half-priced grain drying the nearby Bartlett Rail Shuttle was offering. The corn had dried and was anywhere from 18.5-25%. Yields are extremely variable with yields anywhere from 100-270 bushels per acre a common sight on the yield monitor and often in the same pass. Elevation, tile, nitrogen management, and fungicide appear to be paying large dividends. A few neighbors have also started harvest, but many are saying they will begin the Tuesday after Labor Day. The hot and humid week of recent weather has dropped the corn moisture by at least five points. It appears we are trending towards a fall similar to 2007 where corn went from 30% moisture to 18% virtually in one week. The stalks are not very good and our plan is to keep one machine on corn in the foreseeable future and start another combine on soybeans when those are ready in the coming weeks.

The kids are back in school so please be on the lookout for those yellow buses as well as farm machinery on the roads this fall. Give everyone a little patience and enjoy what will soon be crisp fall days filled with football.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9th...

The summer is quickly coming to a close and soon the school buses will be out and about. This summer has flown by and within the next four weeks we will begin harvesting our crops. June was one of the wettest on record, while July was hot and dry. This was almost the perfect recipe to challenge our corn crop. As you can see from the pictures we took with our drone below, we have numerous drowned out and stunted spots spread across most of our farms; with exception of the pattern-tiled farms which have shown great resilience against all the rain. The soybeans have weathered all the moisture quite well and are actually in need of a good soaking August rain. Rains in August almost always ensure a decent soybean crop. We have been busy cleaning out the last of the grain bins, mowing waterways and roadsides, attending meetings, and taking family vacations. We have started to get out the harvest equipment and will focus on ensuring things are ready go once our first planted corn gets to 28% moisture. 

After decades, it was time to clean out the ditch on our University of Illinois farm.

Good looking soybeans on our Williamsville farm. Just recently sprayed with fungicide.

Aerial shot of one of our fields outside Ashland. As you can see from the photo, there are numerous drowned out spots from all the June rains.

We are the field in the lower right-hand corner.
This is what the neighborhood looks like Northwest of Elkhart.

We have numerous holes in fields that look like this...

Owen & Max touring Chicago on summer vacation

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11th...

Rain, Rain, and more rain has been the story since my last post. We are beyond saturated. Between rain showers we have been mowing roadsides and trying to get the last of the beans sprayed to keep the weeds back. Due to all the wet conditions and occasional humidity, we are noticing grey leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight infecting the corn. Once we see this at a certain threshold, we call in the aerial applicator (spray plane) and have them start applying fungicide. We are towards the end of that process and should have most of the remaining fields sprayed by the middle of the upcoming week; barring rain outs. Next, we will begin checking soybean fields to see if we need to be spraying fungicide on them. Soon we will begin getting the harvest equipment ready. We've also been making a few small updates to our corn drying facility. 

The boys have now had more rain outs in their baseball leagues than games played and the season finale tournament was finally called off because of games not being able to be played and backing up everyone else in the league's schedules. What a mess! We are hoping that Mother Nature decides to dry us out sometime soon because our corn won't be much to brag about if it keeps raining and no one knows yet on the soybean yield potential. Just glad we didn't take the tracks off the combine from last year...

Summer is flying by! Be safe.

Mowing the road banks on the North end of the Williamsville farm

Some road bank mowing had to be done between rains and with standing water in the ditch. Not something we like to do, but sometimes necessary.

Spraying our corn with fungicide using the airplane - Leahy field outside Ashland

Hard to scout corn in the mud...

He's supposed to be cleaning his boots off...

Hauling some of the last corn out of the bins

Boys messing around

Max playing t-ball

Aerial shot of the Mears Land Trust; the yellow spots are short corn where clay was brought up during the tiling.