We were able to get back in the fields at Farmer City to finish up the side-dressing operations by mid week.Some of the corn had gotten too big for the pull type applicator so we also used an applicator on front of the Hagie sprayer.The applicator worked well and we were able to rap up all of the side-dressing by Thursday.
Progress on the horse facility continued this week as well.Pictures of the new barns are below.We are building the stall barn walls out of cement which has become a little bit of a project but it will make a nice barn. At the end of the week we finishing up the last of the Round-Up spraying on the farms in the far south.Corn there looks OK but it too has suffered from too much rain.
Fields at Yorkville and Hennepin look good but they will need some more rains to keep going strong.Most fields to the north are tasseled or just about tasseled now.
Week Ending July 12th
An inch of rain at FarmerCity on Sunday night shut down field operations there on the side-dressing for a good portion of the week.With only 500 acres left to go we thought we had a good shot at getting over the ground before the corn got too big.However, the frequent rains in FarmerCity made it a challenge.
We spent most of the week cleaning up the tillage and planting equipment from the spring and working on the new horse barn.
On Saturday, July 12thFarmerCity was hit with another hard rain.We received 3 to 8 inches on the fields there in one day.It was too much rain again, especially for the replanted corn.We lost many of the replanted acres to standing water again.It is too late to replant this time so those holes will have to stay there.
Week Ending July 5th
The big news this week was that Brad and Kelli had their baby boy.Vincent Craig Stewart was born on July 3rd.He is named after his two grandfathers.He and mom were home from the hospital by the end of the week and they are doing great.He is not quite ready to run the sprayer but he should be ready for a lawn mower before long.
Nitrogen side-dressing continued this week in Farmer City.The late planted corn continues to have some yellow color but the side-dressed nitrogen appears to be greening it up.
Week Ending June 28th
This week started out on a bad note.While planting in one of the wet spots in FarmerCity, I broke the hitch off of the planter.For many implements, breaking the hitch is not a big deal but for a planter with all of the hydraulic hoses and electrical wires going to the tractor breaking the hitch is a big problem.As the picture below shows, the arm between the two point hitch broke.When it went we lost most of the hydraulic hoses.Luckily only a few of the wires broke.Most wires just came unplugged.It took some time and a lot of running around getting parts to get the planter going again.By the middle of the week we had it going again and we finished replanting corn.It was a relief to finally have planting behind us.It has been a long, drawn out spring.
The side-dressing crew of my Dad and Efren made good progress this week getting half the corn done that we had to side-dress.They nearly got all of the big corn done before getting rained out on Friday.On Friday we had 1.2 inches of rain in FarmerCity.
The spraying crew also made good progress around Yorkville.They are spraying Round-Up and foliar fertilizer.We are applying a foliar fertilizer called Coron with the herbicide.The Coron contains nitrogen and micro nutrients to give the corn another boost. With the high corn prices and an outlook for good crops in the north we are trying to do all we can to maximize our yield potential there.
Week Ending June 21st
We spent most of this week replanting in the drowned out spots in FarmerCity.We changed the tracks on the two row crop tractors to be able to go down the planted corn rows.We run 25 inch tracks most of the year on the MT765 tractors.We then switch to 18 inch tracks for going into the planted corn.We changed the tracks on the planter tractor to plant in the wet spots so that we could get into the isolated replant spots without running down the corn that survived the rains.
One of the pictures below shows us changing the tracks.We have gotten better at it over the years. We can now change both tracks in about ½ hour.This year we figured out how to jack the tractors up on the low-boy semi trailer so that we had more clearance for changing the tracks.
We replanted over 300 acres of corn.It was not a lot of fun since most of the holes were 1-5 acres in size.However, the auto-steering on the tractor made it a little easier since it guided us back down the original corn rows.The fields looked a little tough with all the holes but for the most part the water went down quick enough for us to get the holes replanted in decent time.
The second MT765 tractor started side-dressing nitrogen this week.We are putting on another 100 pounds/acre of nitrogen on the fields in FarmerCity.This is in addition to nitrogen also put on during the winter.We are using liquid 32% nitrogen solution.Side-dressing nitrogen this year should pay off since a good portion of the early applied nitrogen may have been lost to all of the wet conditions.We are again using a 24 row applicator from Elburn Coop.
Week Ending June 15th We were able to get back in the fields in the Farmer City area by the middle of the week. Soil conditions were still a little wet but with the calendar continuing to march on we planted in as many of the remaining areas as we could. We are still planting corn despite the late planting dates. With the current high price of corn and given the fact that we already have nitrogen fertilizer on the fields we are driven to keep planting corn instead of switching to soybeans. We may still have to plant some soybeans in the ponded areas in Farmer City instead of trying to replant corn in those areas. The ponds have yet to fully go down and it may be another week before we can get those areas replanted.
On Saturday we moved the machinery back down to the Illiopolis area to plant fields that have been too wet for much field work since March. We finished up most of the corn planting there by Sunday evening, leaving a few wet areas to dry out a few more days.
We had the help of our friends at Johnson Farms while we were in Illiopolis. Special thanks to Brent Johnson, his father Tom, and their employee David who helped us plant the corn in Illiopolis and sacrificed much of their Father's Day weekend in doing so. Thanks to there help we were able to run 3 24-row planters and get the corn in quickly.
Brad and Lee on the spraying crew had a good week of spraying and are nearly caught back up after the rains. We have bee able to keep ahead of the weeds fairly well thanks to Round-Up. This would not have been a good year for us to have a lot of non-Round-Up ready corn.
After running all night on Thursday night and long days the rest of the week we are getting a little worn out again and we are thankful to be coming to the end of this long planting season.
Below are some photos of the planting activities in Illiopolis as we raced the approaching rain clouds. The green machinery belongs to the Johnson's but we are not holding that against them.
Week Ending June 7th We were able to get back in the fields around Farmer City on Monday, June 2nd. Field conditions were good and we planted until early the next morning. But once again were rained out with 1.5 inches of rain.
More rain came in the middle of the week. We received over 4 inches for the week in Farmer City and over 6 inches in Illiopolis. The heavy rains resulted in significant flooding throughout the area. We have large ponds in many of the fields that are already planted. The corn under water will not survive and we will likely have to replant 20% of most of the fields. This is fairly painful since we had a good stand of corn in these fields before the heavy rains.
This is becoming a more challenging spring every week but we will survive. We will have less hair on our heads but we will survive.
On the bright side, the corn around Yorkville in the north looks good. We have been fortunate to not get the severe weather there.
We are now waiting out the ponds to dry so we can get back in the fields. It will likely take 7-10 days for that to happen.
The pictures below show some of the current field conditions.
Week Ending June 1st We finished planting the last two remaining fields around Yorkville on May 28th after soil conditions dried out again. Late in the week we moved the machinery back down to Farmer City for the second time this season. Soil conditions were fit once again around Farmer City and we were able to get an0ther 800 acres planted on Friday before heavy rains hit us again. We had 1.5 inches of rain on Friday evening in about 30 minutes. 60 mph winds and another 1 inch of rain came over night. Needless to say, we did not sleep to good in the motor home that night.
Week Ending May 25th We were able to make some good progress in the fields this week but we had to move the machines back to the north to find dry fields. On Monday, May 19th we started planting in Farmer City again only to be rained out in less than 1 hour. Thinking we might find some drier conditions at Illiopolis we move some machines there but we found that it was too wet there as well. On Tuesday we decided to cut our losses and move all the machinery back north around the home farm and Yorkville were soil conditions were dry. We hated to leave the central Illinois area before everything was done and move the machines 100 miles north, knowing we would have to be back later. However, it turned out to be the right thing to do since it continued to rain on and off all week in central Illinois and we were able to make good progress in the north.
We planted over 3,300 acres between Wednesday and Sunday in Will and Kendall counties. For the most part soil conditions were good. We did run into some wet spots as you can see in the photos. The landscape and the road traffic is a little different around our farms in the north compared to what we have gotten used to in central Illinois. Some of the farms around Will county are completely surrounded by houses.
The first corn we planted around Hennepin back in late April is looking OK but small for how long it has been in the field. The cold conditions have limited the number of heat units and growth.
The farming crew continues to be in good spirits despite the drawn out planting season. Hopefully soil conditions will dry out this coming week in central Illinois and we can get planting wrapped up.
Week Ending May 17 It was another wet week in the fields. It rained nearly every other day keeping us out of the fields now for over a week. We had nearly 2 inches of rain for the week in both Farmer City and Yorkville.
We spent some time this week going over the machinery to make sure it is ready to go when the weather cooperates. You can tell that the planters have been sitting too long when birds start making nests on them as shown in one of the pictures below.
The corn we planted around Illiopolis back on April 30th is up and looking fairly good. The stand is good despite the cool and wet conditions we have had there since it was planted. A picture of that corn is included below.
We hope to get back in the fields in Farmer City on Monday, May 19th.
Week Ending May 10 We managed to get 2,200 acres of the corn planted in the Farmer City area between Monday and Wednesday evening. Rains Wednesday evening shut us down for the week. Field conditions were nearly fit in Farmer City by Saturday but then we had heavy rains over the night into Sunday.
The sprayer crew caught up with the planters by Wednesday. Brad runs the sprayer and Lee Hage keeps him supplied with water and chemicals. They are spraying a 1/2 rate of Harness Extra which is a soil applied herbicide that will hold back the weeds until we get back to the fields about a month from now with Round-Up to take care of any weeds that come later.
The planting crew again this year is Jim Hill and Efren Real taking turns keeping the tillage tractor going, my Dad (Craig) running the CaseIH test planter with the Quad-trac, and me (Bob) running our planter with the Cat tractor. We also have the help of Kevin Chiavario who is a test engineer with CaseIH. He helps us keep the test planter going and is a great addition to the rest of our team.
Soil conditions in Farmer City were OK but a little wetter in areas than we would have liked. For the most part the corn went in well.
While waiting for the fields to dry out, we have gotten started on a summer building project back at the home farm in Yorkville. We are remodeling the horse barn. Pictures and updates on that project will follow in the weeks to come.
Week Ending May 2 Planting progress was limited again this week with rains at the beginning and end of the week. We received 1.5 inches of rain for the week at Yorkville.
Field conditions were fit for field work by Wednesday afternoon at our fields north of Illiopolis. We planted corn there on Wednesday and moved to Wapella Thursday and completed corn planting there. Soil conditions were moist but workable. We would have preferred to let the soil dry out more but with predictions for more rain and the calendar marching on, we moved ahead. Thursday night we moved into the Farmer City area and started planting there. Heavy rains over night into Friday May 2nd have rained us out again for the time being. In total there were only about 1.5 days of good field working days this week.
We are running a field cultivator on most of our ground just ahead of the planters. With the moist soil conditions we are running it very shallow to just level the soil and not bring up much wet soil.
We are again running a controlled traffic pattern in the fields this year to limit the impact of the machines running in the fields. The field cultivator and planters on running on a 60 foot swath with the planters running in exactly the same drive tracks as the tillage tractor. This controlled traffic system should significantly help reduce the impact of soil compaction in the wet soil conditions since the planted rows never fall on a wheel track and all of the traffic is confined to a single set of track patterns every 60 feet. The use of all tracked equipment should also help limit the impact of soil compaction this spring.
We have been running on an RTK network in central Illinois for our GPS guidance systems. The RTK correction source gives us +/- 1 inch accuracy for the automatic steering systems. The RTK network in central Illinois that we use is operated by Central Illinois Ag -- Case IH. They have been very good to work with and they have helped keep us up and going. Without an RTK signal, we are not able to run. A good/reliable RTK signal is critical to performing the type of field operations we are trying to do.
The pictures below highlight some of our activity (and inactivity in the rain) this week.
Week Ending April 26 We were finally able to get into the field this week. We started planting corn in Hennpin, IL on April 22 and finished there on April 24th. We used a rotary harrow on the ground there instead of a field cultivator. The ground conditions were moist. The rotary harrow allowed us to dry out the top couple of inches so that we could get the planters moving.
We are using two 24 row planters againg this year, our own and a test planter from Case IH. The Case IH planter planter is being pulled with a Case IH Quadtrac also provided by Case IH.
Earlier in the week we we put together a service trailer to help keep the machines going in the field. We will pull it around field to field.
On April 25th we moved the planters down to Illiopolis. Soil conditions there have been too wet most of the spring to get started on field work. Our tillage machines have been in postion there since early April. Heavy rains again in central Ilinois have delayed our start there on corn planting.
Week of March 30, 2008 This week we have been getting machinery ready for the planting season. We moved some machinery down to the farms in central Illinois since we plan on starting there. However, the fields are very wet in those areas still from the heavy rains in March. We will likely have to wait another couple of weeks before things warm up and dry out.
Another project we had this week was to install an air clutch system to our planter. This system will utilize GPS to automatically turn the individual rows on an off on the planter to reduce planting overlap in the headlands. The system keeps track of the areas in the field that have been planted already such as headland that we plant first. It will then turn the planter rows on/off as we turn on the ends and go through irregularly shaped areas of the fields.
Winter 2008 This winter we were busy getting machinery ready to go.We also had some time for a little bit of winter fun.Below are some pictures of friends and family having rides on a bobsled we pull behind the Cat tractor.It is a great time and a good way to make the most out of the snowy winter we had.