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.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day - Harvest Begins!!!

We started harvest this afternoon on our farm. We planted a 107 day corn right next to our shop so we could test things out. The moisture is 20-22% which was a surprise to us. Stay tuned for more pictures as we work our way through our 2016 harvest. 

You can also follow our harvest progress via Twitter: @BrentJFF 
Or Snapchat: brentjff

Sunday, July 31, 2016

One month to go...

The summer continues to fly by. One of the driest June's we've ever experienced followed by one of the wettest July's has really transformed our crops. The once pineapple looking corn is now lush and our soybeans are also very tall and bushy. The rains were welcomed despite the fact that we can hardly keep up mowing yards and roadsides. Our first planted corn is starting to dent and according to my calculations it will be black-layered by August 26th. That means we may in fact begin our 2016 harvest before Labor Day this year with a projected start date of August 29th or 30th. That will allow us to harvest and dry a hundred acres or so to ensure everything is ready to go once the majority of our corn reaches 26-28% moisture. It will also give everyone one last weekend to enjoy with friends and family before the two months of harvest really commences. While we have enjoyed recent beneficial rains, the hot weather; specifically the hot evening temperatures where it did not get below 70 degrees has taken a tole on our corn causing it to tip back and give up some yield.

Spraying corn with fungicide and insecticide to protect your yield potential

Spraying soybeans with fungicide, insecticide and micro-fertilizer

Corn tipping back from high nighttime temperatures which don't allow the corn to cool down and respire.

First planted corn is beginning to dent

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Happy 4th of July...!!!

Happy 4th of July everyone! We continue to remain dry. Our saving grace while our corn pollinates is that the temperatures have moderated to the lower 80's with evening temperatures down in the 50's. We are simply buying time for our corn crop until it can rain again. 

All our roadsides have been mowed and are looking good for the long weekend. Automated Ag has started putting up our two new grain bins and we have begun working on harvest equipment. After the holiday we will spend a lot of time scouting our corn for leaf diseases such as grey leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, and rust. We will then make the decision on whether or not to call the air plane to spray the field.  

Many pictures with this update, but not a lot of commentary as the summer rolls on. Hope you and your family have a great and safe 4th of July!
Making a late nitrogen application to our corn.

Our 24 inch tram lines are barely noticeable in tasseling corn, but they work great to allow us to apply nitrogen late into the season.

Adding a bin to the existing two along Rt. 125 outside of Pleasant Plains.

We are also putting up a replacement bin near our shop.

This is not my picture, but I saw it on Twitter and thought it was too good not to post on our blog. Amazing the power of a soybean plant.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Heat....

Hot and dry would be an understatement for our area right now. In fact, the last three weeks have been unusually hot and dry and it's starting to feel like a repeat of the 2012 crop year. We've received rains on a few farms, but not enough to keep up with the 90-100 degree temperatures. Our corn crop looks good and could possibly be a 'bin buster,' but it needs to starting raining soon and I mean an inch a week with these temperatures. We are currently mowing roadsides and finishing up the last of the soybean herbicide applications. We planned to Y-Drop nitrogen on +/-700 corn acres, but it has been so dry there is not enough moisture to move the nitrogen into the soil and down to the roots and thus we've decided wait and see if we can get sustained rains before we either resume this practice or just quit for the year. Otherwise, the kids baseball games have consumed most week night's and weekends.

Send rain. 

Spraying beans on the Daubard Farm.

Some wind damage with a recent storm.
The corn righted itself within a week, but has a slight 'curve' in the stalk.

This bin served us well for 42 years, but it was becoming structurally compromised so we decided to take it down and will be replacing it with a new bin in the exact same location.

The bin folded up like a blanket and on the semi.
Next stop, the junk yard.

One of the nice Northern Pike we caught on an early June fly-out trip to Northwest Ontario. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Soybeans are in the ground...

We were fortunate to wrap up planting our 2016 soybean crop on Sunday, May 22nd. While most of our beans went in the ground in excellent conditions we have a couple fields that worked up very cloddy and will need continued rains to ensure all the beans we planted emerge. Since completing our plantings we have moved on to spraying the final herbicide pass on corn, side-dressing corn, mowing roadsides, and returning seed boxes. Sangamon County Real Estate taxes along with State of Illinois license plate renewals have also been on the end of the month to do list. Our corn has gone through its usual yellow stage where it transitions from living off the seedling to the new plant roots and is now a beautiful dark green color. It is quickly closing the rows with the recent 80+ degree temperatures we've experienced in the last week. School is out for the year and the boys have started summer vacation. Baseball consumes most evenings whether it be a game, practice or just playing in the yard. The four dollar plus corn market is a welcomed sign that 2016 could be a good year. 

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Be sure to display your American flag to honor those who have served our Country.

Applying Sulfur, Calcium, and more Nitrogen to our National Corn Growers Association Yield contest entry.

The fertilizer on our NCGA yield entry after it is spread on the corn. The rain later degrades the fertilizer and moves it down through the soil into the plant roots.

24" wide tram rows on 120" centers are very tight for machines to get fertilizer, herbicides, and fungicides applied on our corn. We decided to switch to tram lines this year instead of spreading at an angle and running over the corn as we had done in years past.

Uncle Bob side-dressing anhydrous ammonia on his corn today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Corn planting is complete...

After a couple breaks due to rains, we were finally able to complete our 2016 corn planting on Saturday, May 7th. All of our corn planted ahead of this last round of planting has emerged. A week ago the corn went through its yellow stage where is transitions from living off the seed to its own root system. During that time we also experienced cooler and wetter weather. Now the corn has begun rooting down and has turned a very beautiful green color and is off to the races. We will soon begin spraying our last pass of herbicide. We continue to work on planting our soybeans, and if given a five day window we will wrap those up. 

A picture of our National Corn Growers Yield Contest entry on one of our Morgan County fields. This was planted in 20 inch rows at 48,200 seeds per acre. It is off to a very good start.

A close up shot of our V1 corn.
Installing tile on a newly acquired farm outside of Pleasant Plains.

Making a tile riser connection in the new tile line.