September 4th All the machinery is now in place and ready for harvest in the Farmer City area. Corn moisture levels have been dropping and are now below 25% for most hybrids. 2-3 inches of rain fell in the area in the middle of this week, delaying our start on harvest until next week. Early yield reports from the area have been a little disappointing. Excessive rains in the early part of the growing season combined with hot/dry conditions later in the season may have cut yield potential this year.
Below are some shots of the machines getting ready for the trip south to start corn harvest.
August 21 My family and I got away for a quick trip to the west this past week. We toured through South Dakota and Wyoming, hitting the main sites at Custer State Park, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. We enjoyed seeing a lot of beautiful scenery and up close views of wildlife. However, after 3200 miles of driving and it is good to be back home and sleeping in our own beds. Now it is back to school for the kids and back to getting things ready for harvest for the rest of us.
August 10 We had our annual farm appreciation BBQ this week. Each year we invite the people we do business with for an open house at the farm and BBQ dinner. This year we had over 100 guests. We are grateful to the many landowners, suppliers, grain buyers, neighbors, and others who help make our farm successful.
August 4 We are getting equipment and grain facilities ready for harvest. With the early corn planting and good growing conditions we have had this summer, we are expecting harvest to start in early September. The corn continues to look good despite some heavy rains and winds in the north. Areas around Kendall county have had over 12 inches of rain in the past week.
Last week we spent some time at the Kendall County fair. We had a combine and tractor at the fair that kids could explore. We had a lot of visitors at our exhibit including many adults with good questions about farming. It was a worthwhile event. I think we helped give many people a better understanding of modern agriculture and the equipment used.
Next week we will be hosting our annual farm appreciation BBQ for many of the people we do business with which means we will be busy this week getting the farm cleaned up for the event.
July 20 -- Corn College This week Brad and I attended Farm Journal's Corn College in Bloomington. The sessions were well done and helped to reinforce the importance of some of the farming practices we are doing now. The importance of managing soil pH was emphasized at the conference. With the wet conditions last fall we had to postpone some of our limestone applications for managing soil acidity. We hope to get all of the necessary limestone applied this fall.
We applied some of the new things we learned by scouting fields on the way home. Below are some of the current field conditions.
July 13 -- Fungicide spraying We have been busy spraying corn and soybeans. We are spraying all of the corn this year with fungicide. The warm and wet conditions this summer are ripe for the development of diseases in the corn including leaf blights and stalk rots. We are spraying the corn with Quilt fungicide along with Coron foliar fertilizer to give the corn another shot of nitrogen. All of the corn and beans to the south are now sprayed. We started spraying in the north today. Below are some photos of the spraying progress.
July 10 -- Moving dirt We are in the process of getting a tractor and scraper set up to do some land leveling and waterway maintenance this fall. We have been using the equipment to level out the drive area around the new grain facility this week. Below are some photos.
July 4 -- Crop Conditions Crop conditions remain good. We did end up losing 20+ acres of corn in the Farmer City area to standing water. All of the corn is now pollinated or in the process. We replanted some soybeans in the Farmer City area that were lost to high water. Below are some pictures of the good and the bad of the current conditions.
June 26 The front mounted mower project is now complete. As we mentioned in an earlier posting, we redesigned an old Bush Hog pull type mower into a front mounted mower on a bi-directional tractor. The completed machine along with a new paint job is shown below. We have started using it and it works very well. It maneuvers nicely and you have full view of the mower deck as you mow. The mower is 15 feet wide with its original folding wings. We added the pivoting tandem wheels in the front. The lift system was modified so that it lifts with the front and back wheels. We also modified the drive lines so that the PTO could be driven from the back of the mower. This required adding a gear box and drive shaft to get power to the rear of the machine.
The project took us a little longer than we expected but it was a fun challenge to make it work.
Week Ending June 25th Heavy rains and wind this week caused some crop damage near Yorkville. The crop still looks good but we will lose some of the lower areas to flooding. We had some damage to buildings due to the high winds but nothing major.
Most of the corn is now past shoulder high. Corn in Farmer City is 3 leaves from tasseling. Soybeans in Farmer City are flowering. Pictures from some of our crop scouting trips from the past week are below.
Week Ending June 13 We were busy this week side-dressing nitrogen and spraying corn for weeds. All of the side-dressing is now done and the spraying is nearly complete. We used liquid 32% nitrogen for side-dressing. We only had about 700 acres to side-dress. All of the other corn had 100% of its nitrogen needs applied in the winter and spring.
We have been getting rain nearly every day which slowed up field activities. Heavy rains caused some yellowing of the corn in low areas of the fields. Some small areas flooded out but so far we have not lost much corn to excess water.
Week Ending May 22 The last couple of weeks we have been cleaning up the planters and spring tillage equipment. We are cautiously optimistic that we will not have to get the equipment out again to do any replanting this year. Despite some heavy rains over the last couple of weeks the crops look good and we lost very to standing water.
With the return of clear skies and warm temperatures this coming week we are hoping to get back to spraying soybeans for the first pass of weeds. We planted most of the soybeans no till back in April without a burndown application of herbicide. The weeds are coming now and need sprayed ASAP.
We have been working on cleaning up some old farm building sites. Pictures of that work are below. Thanks to KR&G Excavating for to use of their Deere dozer.
We have an engineering challenge we are working on in the machine shop. We are taking an old pull type 15 foot Bushog mower and making it into a front mount mower on a tractor. We are now going to attach the mower to the tractor's 3 pt hitch and push it from the back end of the mower. To do this we are going to have to reconfigure the PTO drive line, add caster wheels to the front end, and modify the lift system. It should be a handy mower when it is done but it will be a challenge to make it all work. Pictures of the project so far are below.
Finally, we have been working on updating the logos on all of our machines. Pictures of the updated equipment signs are below as well.
Week Ending May 1st We finished planting on Thursday, April 29th. All the corn and soybeans are now in. This is the earliest we have ever completed planting. We have been blessed with some very good weather and soil conditions so far this year. We were only rained out for a couple of days since we started planting.
The early planted corn is now up and looking good in Farmer City. 1.5 inches of rain fell there over the week which will get that corn off to a good start.
The first round of spraying is now nearly complete. We had to shut down for a few days this past week because of the high winds.
We spent some time this week cleaning out old fence lines and fixing broken drainage tiles. These are usually jobs we do before planting starts but with good early planting conditions we got the crops in first and are now getting back to field boundary and tile maintenance.
Our attention will now turn towards scouting the crops and staying ahead of the weeds and bugs.
Week Ending April 24th We had another good planting week. We finished up both corn and soybeans in central Illinois early in the week and moved machines north to start planting corn around Yorkville. As of this weekend we are past half way completed planting in the north.
Brad and the rest of the spraying crew were able to catch up with the planters by the end of the week. He is applying a 1/2 rate of Harness Extra herbicide and 20 gallons/acre of 28% nitrogen to give the corn a second shot of nitrogen fertilizer. He is spraying right behind the planters and running autosteer to stay off the corn rows.
One field operation that we have in the north that we don't have in the south is "rock picking." Many of the fields we have in the north are blessed with rocks that are big enough to cause damage to the equipment if you don't get them picked up. Gavin was on rock detail this week with the loader and rock picker shown in the photos below. This is better than picking them up by hand like we use to do but it still takes time.
We are running into a high level of residue left from last year's crop that did not break down over the winter. A combination of the late harvest and weather conditions over the winter caused the stalks to not break down as much as usual. The field cultivators are getting through the stalks fine and the row cleaners on the planters are clearing away the trash in the row but it is a little more challenging than usual. Some of the fields had and excessive amount of root/dirt balls. We worked these with a rotary harrow which did a good job of breaking up the dirt clods and makinig a good seed bed.
We received 1/2 of rain in the north over the weekend. That should help the corn that was planted in dry conditions. We should be able to get back in the fields early this next week.
Below are some photos of the field work this week.
Week Ending April 17th Thanks to some good weather and long hours we had a very productive week in the fields this past week. We started planting corn in Farmer City on Monday night (April 12). Field conditions were very good all week and we were able to nearly all of the Farmer City area corn in by Saturday night.
We started planting soybeans in Farmer City on Friday. It is early for bean planting but the soil temperatures and conditions are good so we are going ahead. We hope to get done with beans early next week.
We started moving machinery back to the north on Saturday to get planting started around Yorkville.
Below are some pictures of the field operations from this week.
April 8 We finished hauling all of the corn out of storage this week. Our goal was to get all of the corn delievered before we started planting and we made it. Thanks to the excellent work of the trucking crew. They delivered over 600,000 bushels of corn since December.
Below is a shot of the last load leaving the farm on this cloudy April day.
April 3 We were able to get into the fields this week to start doing field work. We were able to disk some of the corn stalks down that we were not able to get to last fall. Field conditions were dry enough to work ground in the north but still somewhat wet in Farmer City.
We have started moving machinery down to the Farmer City farms to be able to start planting down that way. We hope to get started planting sometime next week.
We now have to planters ready to go as soon as the weather is fit.