Week Ending December 5th We finished corn harvest on Friday December 5th. We had a some snow and cold weather that slowed us down this week but we were able to finish up without to much trouble. The tillage crew was right behind us and they finished fall tillage on the fields by Decatur on Saturday. They have some fields left to till at Farmer City. Hopefully they will be able to beat the oncoming winter weather next week.
Corn harvest took a total of 67 days from our start date of September 29 until this week. We were ready for it to be over after logging in about 500 hours in the combine seat.
Several of the changes we made in preparation for this harvest season helped make it go much more smoothly than it would have otherwise. The addition of several very good employees helped reduce the work load and let us run 24 hours a day when we had to. The upgrade to a combine on tracks let us run on several days when we would not of been able to with tires. The new combine had very little down time for repairs. Bringing in the Birky custom combines to help us out with some of the corn allowed us to get the corn out in a timely fashion. The addition of a second tillage tractor and ripper allowed us to get over the ground faster.
We are very thankful to all of our employees, family members, friends, and service providers that made this harvest season a success.
Week Ending November 29th Thanksgiving week. We harvested corn in Illiopolis (just west of Decatur) this week. Corn yields were low but about what we expected given the wet conditions experienced there this spring and summer. Moisture levels were still 20-21%.
We took some time off on Thanksgiving to be with family. We are very thankful for a good and safe harvest this year.
Week Ending November 22nd We finished up corn harvest in the Yorkville area this week and started our move back to the south to get out the remaining late planted corn. The tillage crew as able to keep up with us most of the week so that they were ready to move south by the end of the week as well.
Elburn Coop. is applying nitrogen for us again this year. They had a good start on the ground in the north by weeks end.
Pictured below are Keith and his friend Owen who were enjoying a ride in the combine in the last field to the north. They had a good time but they did clean me out of snacks by the end of their ride.
Week Ending November 15th We had a good harvest week again this week. The Birky's brought up a combine and grain cart to assist us early in the week. Keeping grain away from 2-16 row combines proved to be challenging for our trucks and grain handling systems. We hauled some corn to local elevators but they were also starting to get overrun with corn. Corn Products in Chicago was shut down for taking grain most of the week so that also hampered the amount of corn we could handle.
By mid-week we decided to send the Birky combines to Farmer City to start on the late planted corn there. Our machines stayed in the Yorkville area to finish up the <1,000 acres we had left to do there.
Week Ending November 8th We had a good harvest week, getting over 1,000 acres harvested this week in the Plainfield area. Yields continue to be good with the best yields on the corn following soybeans. We had one field average over 230 bushels per acre which is the best one we have found so far this year. Moisture levels continue to be around 20%.
The weather changed dramatically this week, indicating that winter is coming quickly. Temperatures fell from 70 degrees early in the week to the 40's by Saturday. With quite a bit of corn left to go, I would rather see the 70's that the 40's.
Below are some scenes from the field this week. Included in the photos are: o Tally the farm dog who rides shotgun with Diane o Lee and Craig giving each other a hard time about their truck driving abilities o A tired combine operator (Bob) o The stalk stoppers we mounted on the corn head to protect the combine tracks from stalk damage
Week Ending November 1, 2008 The first half of this week we harvested corn in Farmer City. Yields were highly variable field to field depending on how much water sat on the fields this spring. The good fields averaged over 200 bushels per acre and the poor ones were less than 150.
By mid week we finished harvesting the early planted corn and we got into the late planted corn which was still very wet (>30%) so we moved all the machines back to the Yorkville area. We hauled all of the machines by lowboy trailer back near home on Wednesday and Thursday.
The fields we have gotten into so far in Will and Kendall counties have been good with yields as good as we expected and moisture levels 20-22%.
We have been shiping about half of the corn directly from the field to Corn Product's in Chicago. The other half is being dried and stored at the home farm. Most of the time the 4 semis we have hauling are keeping up to the combine but it depends on the level of traffic.
We are soil testing most of the fields this year just after harvest to gauge our nutrient and pH levels. We have been spreading limstone on many of the fields in Farmer City and we expect it may be time to apply more limestone around the Yorkville area as well.
It was good to get back around the home area so we could sleep in our own beds and see the family.
Week Ending October 25, 2008 This week we were busy harvesting our early planted corn in Farmer City. We had some help from Don and Matt Birky and their custom harvesting crew. They were able to help us for a couple of days before they had to get back to some soybean harvesting.
The Birky's run two Lexion 595 combines like ours. We ran all three of the combines together along with 6 grain carts. With 3 - 16 row heads we were able to take out quite a swath in the fields. We had 9 semi's hauling to the elevators. We were able to harvest over 600 acres per day.
Below are some pictures of all the machines running. We plan on getting some more help from the Birky's later in the season.
Week Ending October 18, 2008 We started the week moving machinery down to central Illinois. We harvested early planted corn at Illiopolis and Wapella. Corn yields were variable depending on the level of water damange from the spring rains.
The tillage crew also got started this week. We are running two Krause Dominators this year. We have a 21 foot tool on the Cat MT875 and a 18 foot tool on the MT865.
Brad and Kelli's new little one Vincent (pictured below) is ready for his own semi.
By the end of the week we had moved to Farmer City with the harvesting crew.
Week Ending October 11, 2008 This week's harvest update was written by Sarah Stewart, who is home in Yorkville with more dependable internet access.
We completed our harvest in Hennepin, IL. The yields were okay, but less than expected. We've hired some new employees to help with harvest. Gavin Hatch is from Peru, IL; Chad Norquist is from Yorkville,IL; Russell Myers is from Verona, IL. They join our usual crew of Bob, Brad, Craig, Diane, Efren Real, & Lee Hage. We're still arranging just where everyone's skills will best be utilized.
I think we can all agree that Diane's job of "cook" is one that is most appreciated! After she is done making the lunches for the day, Diane runs a grain cart for us. I think she likes this job and has been doing dependable work as a grain cart operator for over 30 years. She oftentimes has riders in her buddy seat that call her "grandma." While riding with grandma, the grandchildren enjoy making "cat" noises on the CB, a tribute to the Caterpillar Machines that we run in the fields.
Below are some pictures highlighting our week. You'll be viewing a picture from Hennepin corn harvest, a picture of Keith (age 4) using the pressure washer in the Yorkville shop, and a picture from the University of Illinois Homecoming game. Bob and I took the kids to the Homecoming game on October 11th. It was great fun to go back to the campus and show the kids where mom and dad went to school. I sure missed The Chief during halftime. GO ILLINI!
Week Ending October 4th We started harvest on Monday, September 29th. We started at the Hennepin farms since that was the first corn that was planted and it is the driest corn we have so far. Corn moisture was running 22 to 25%. Corn yields are OK so far with field averages between 150 and 160 bushels per acre. These yields are good for the Hennepin farms given the sandy soils. We made fairly good progress for our first week, getting over 800 acres harvested.
The corn is being hauled to the ADM elevator on the Illinois river at Hennepin and to Corn Products in Chicago. The haul to Chicago is over 100 miles one way but they have a good price and a better discount schedule for corn moisture. We had 8 semis running one day this week to keep the corn away from the combine hauling to Chicago. We would have rather hauled corn to the new ethanol plant that is right next to the farms but the corn has to be 16% moisture to go there.
Our family was deeply saddened on Friday to hear that our Grandpa Bob (Robert M. Stewart) passed away. He was a lifelong farmer and still ran a combine for us up until 3 years ago. He was 89 years old. We receive the call that he had died while we were in the field combining which was painful but somewhat appropriate since he loved the harvest time and he would have liked to have been there. We know that he is now watching over us and we were blessed to have him with us for so long. Below is a picture of Grandpa Bob taken from the top of our grain silos a few years back as he looked over the surrounding farms.
Below are some images of the new combine we are running this year. It is a Cat/Lexion 595R with a 16 row head. It has the same capactiy as the one we traded in but this one is on tracks which should help with the wet field conditions we will likely have this fall.