Week Ending August 20th We had our annual appreciation dinner on the farm this week. We enjoyed a great evening with all the families we do business with. We are grateful for all the people who help make our farm successful by entrusting us to farm their land, supplying us with inputs, buying our grain, or otherwise supporting our business.
I received a nice drawing of our machines from one of our young land owners, Andy Rousonelos III. That drawing is posted below. We are honored to be able to farm for three generations of the Rousonelos family. Andy, his Dad, and Grandfather were all able to join us for the dinner. Andy is as enthusiastic about farming as we are.
The dinner was catered by Fay's BBQ who cooked a great meal as always.
We were busy most of the week before the party getting things cleaned up and ready for the event. The annual dinner gives us a good reason to get everything cleaned up and ready for harvest.
Also noteworthy this week was the filming of the new Superman movie in the area. Scenes from the movie are being shot just down the road from the farm and in the sky over the farm. A helicopter was filming the corn landscape in some of our fields this week.
We have been doing some yield checks on the corn. The yield estimates are disappointing in the Farmer City area. The excessive heat and dryness over the last month cut yields substantially. Our current estimates put the crop yield around 140-150 bushels per acre which would be well under our 200+ goal.
Week Ending August 6 We finished spraying fungicide on corn this week. Major field operations are finally done for the spring and summer. We have been out in the fields doing some type of field work nearly every week since April. It will be good to have a little break before harvest starts.
Soil moisture levels remain good in the north but dry near Farmer City. Yields are expected to be highly variable again this year based on areas that got too much rain early in the year and areas that missed rains late in the year. Excessive heat during pollination has also hurt the yield prospects.
Below are some pictures of the fungicide applications made this week. Efren and Brad made good time and got over all the corn during the narrow application window which is tassel to brown silk.
Week Ending July 30th This week was spent applying fungicide on corn in the north, mowing ditches, and putting together a new ripper. We bought an CaseIH 22ft disk/ripper to use this fall. We are putting it together ourselves to save on the cost and because we just like a challenge. It actually went together fairly well.
Keith enjoyed riding along mowing roadside ditches this week. However, he determined that his buddy seat is too close to the side window as he knocked his head once or twice as we hit some holes.
Below are some pictures from the week.
Week Ending July 24th We finished up spraying fungicide and foliar fertilizer on corn and beans in the Farmer City area this week. Crops there remain in good condition despite the near 100 degree temperatures. The pictures below where the corn looks good is Farmer City.
Corn in the Yorkville area started looking tough this week as a lack of rain and record heat took their toll. Pictures below show the corn rolling up and starting to fire on the bottoms of the stalks on high areas in the fields.
We were blessed with a much needed rain in the Yorkville area on Saturday and Sunday of this week. Over 3 inches of rain fell.
The girls did some horse showing this week near Rantoul, IL. Kristine (13) and Karoline (10) had a good time despite the heat. Keith (7) helped on the farm this week where he insisted on wearing his boots tied together.
Week Ending July 17th
We enjoyed having a group from Prairie Farmer magazine visit the farm this week. The group toured several farms in the area to learn more about farming practices and the issues the farmers face.
Corn in the Yorkville area is starting to show signs of heat stress in the afternoons. Pollination will start this week in this area. Silks are just emerging. Hopefully we can get a rain soon.
Week Ending July 9th The crops are looking good this week as the fields finally dried out from the excessive rains in June. We spent time this week building horse fence and getting yard work caught up. The corn easily made knee high by the 4th of July despite the slow start this year. Keith shows us how tall the corn was this week in the picture below as Kristine and Efren spread mulch.
Week Ending July 2nd We planted in some of the last wet spots with soybeans this week. The wet holes in the Yorkville area that were lost to the earlier heavy rains finally dried out enough to replant. These holes were all in corn fields but it is too late to plant corn so we planted in some beans which will hopefully mature before the frost comes this fall. It will be good to finally be able to clean up the planters and put them away for the season. The planting and replanting season was drug out for 3 months this year. Last year we were all done in the month of April.
Karoline (10) got a chance to try driving the 15ft mower this week. Although she is not quite ready for a combine, she is getting there.
Week Ending June 18th Wet conditions continue to hurt the crop in the Yorkville area. Most of the corn is OK but the low areas are yellowing from too much moisture. The drowned out areas remained too wet to replant this week. We will have to switch these areas to soybeans.
We started some summer building projects this week. We are putting in some hopper bottom load out bins in our grain facility to load trucks.
We took some equipment to Prairie Fest in Oswego to teach kids about farm equipment. We had over 100 kids go through the combine and tractor exhibit.
Keith (7) got to run a mower this week on his own. He did a good job. He should be ready for a tractor by fall. Maybe.
Week Ending June 11th Heavy rains hit the Yorkville area on June 8th. We had over 5 inches of rain over night. On the morning after the big rains we had water flowing over many of the fields. Some roads were closed. Ponds remained in the low areas of the fields by the end of the week. We will have some replanting to do again. Some of the same areas we had replanted once before earlier in the week. Despite all the rain the crops still look pretty good and we are fortunate compared to many areas in the Midwest that still do not have their crops in.
We spent the second half of the week replanting holes, spraying, mowing, and side-dressing nitrogen in the Farmer City area. The heavy rains missed that area. We wrapped up side-dressing on Saturday, June 11. Spraying should be wrapped up in the Farmer City area early next week.
Below are some photos from the week including the flooded valley at the home farm.
Week Ending June 5th This week we started applying nitrogen fertilizer to the growing corn. Only a few fields needed a side-dress application of liquid nitrogen to get the balance of the nitrogen levels that we wanted to apply. The rest of the fields had enough nitrogen applied pre-plant and at planting.
We also started applying Round-Up herbicide to all the corn to catch the early weeds. The corn is growing fast enough and the weed pressure is low enough that we should only have to make a single application.
We have some corn to replant in low areas that were flooded out in the recent rains. The drowned out areas are small. Hopefully those areas get dried out enough this week to plant. The later planted corn was hit worse by the heavy rains. The larger early corn seemed to take the excessive water better.
Below are some pictures from the week.
Report for Tuesday, May 24th We finished planting today. It was a good news/bad news kind of day. The good news was that we finished planting but the bad news was that the sprayer got stuck in the mud the night before. Once we finished up planting we focused on recovery of the sprayer.
Pictures below show how bad the sprayer was stuck. It started out only being down in the mud about 1 foot. Previous efforts to pull it out made it worse. The peat/muck soil were it was stuck has no bottom once you break through the top soil. When we tried to dig out behind the machine and pull it out the night before, the machine went down to the frame which meant we were now 6 feet down. We decided the best method for getting the sprayer out would be to pick the front end up with a crane. We placed wood mats on the ground to stabilize the crane. With a tractor pulling the sprayer backwards at the same time, we were able to life the sprayer up and out of its hole. There were some stressful moments but it all turned out OK in the end.
Below are some pictures and videos of this weeks planting and sprayer pulling excitement. The last picture of young Vincent riding along in the planter sums up the spring for many of us. We are a little tired and ready for a nap.
Week Ending May 14th The early part of the week was still too wet to run. Cool conditions slowed down the drying process. By mid week we were able to run again in Farmer City. We ran hard when we could. The tillage crew ran 24 hours per day late in the week. We finished planting both our corn and soybeans in the Farmer City area by Friday May 20th. We had to replant some of the low spots in the early planted corn that was drowned out by the heavy rains.
We switched several fields that we had planned on planting to soybeans to corn. Corn is currently showing a better profit potential per acre and we are much more efficient at both planting and harvesting corn. We ended up having just one field of soybeans. The soybean field helped allow a neighboring farmer to grow seed corn this year and it may allow us to grow seed corn on this field next year. Seed companies typically want to plant seed corn on fields that had soybeans the previous year to reduce the potential contamination from volunteer corn. We have one field of seed corn this year.
The spraying crew was able to make good time this week in Farmer City. They also finished up on Friday.
We moved all the machines home on Saturday, May 21st and we started planting our remaining fields up that way by Saturday afternoon.
Below are some pictures from the week.
Week Ending May 14th We made good planting progress in both the north and south farms this week. Field conditions were fit for planting around Yorkvillle and Farmer City early in the week so we ran planting crews in both locations for most of the week. We would rather run all of the machines together to keep the support operations more efficient but when conditions are fit to go we did not want to waste valuable time moving machines down the road.
The Yorkville crew was able to run Sunday through Wednesday before getting rained out. We then moved that planter south to Farmer City where it was still dry. Both planters ran in Farmer City until Friday night when we were rained out. While it would have been good to keep going on planting, the rain did allow us to catch up on some rest. Our hard working tillage crew had been running 24 hours per day and really needed a break.
Brad was able to get started on spraying this week. He is busy trying to catch up with the planters and stay ahead of the emerging corn. He is spraying Harness Extra herbicide with 32% nitrogen in solution. The nitrogen is the second of several applications of nitrogen that the corn will get through the year.
Below are some photos of the week including one of young Vincent starting to crop scout the "baby corn."
Week Ending May 7th We were finally able to get in the fields around Yorkville mid week. We ran with one planter and cultivator in the north and left the other machines in the south waiting on dryer conditions there. We are much more efficient when we get all the machines running together but we were hesitant about moving machines either direction with the threat of rain in both areas.
Field conditions remained wet in Farmer City, delaying any further planting activities there.
Below are some photos of the field work from the week. Keith (7) determined that harvesting corn is much more exciting than planting corn.
Week Ending April 30th Another rainy week. Field conditions remained too wet to do any field work. Last year we finished planting both corn and soybeans before May 1. This year the wet conditions have delayed our progress significantly.
We have kept busy working on some shop projects that would have usually been put off until summer. However, we are getting a little stir crazy waiting on the weather to break.
We picked up some new grain trailers from the Timpte plant in Davis City, Nebraska this week. Normally this would not be the best time of year for us to run to Nebraska to pick up trailers but with the rain we decided to make a little trip out of it. The new trailers replaced some of the trailers we sold this winter. While in Nebraska we toured the Timpte trailer manufacturing plant in David City and the Claas/Lexion combine factory in Omaha.
We enjoyed our visit with the great people at the Claas facility and we got to see how our combines are built. It was very impressive to see all the work that goes into building the combines. We also got to preview some of the Claas combine promotional videos that we were a part of last fall.
Below are some photos of the new trailers at the stop in Omaha at the Claas plant.
Week Ending April 23rd Heavy rains kept us out of the fields again this week. Over 4 inches of rain fell for the week in Farmer City. A string of cold and cloudy days have kept things from drying out much. We have some standing water in the fields but surprisingly the pond areas are not very large. Machines will remained parked for a while yet.
Some of our early planted corn is now just out of the ground. It took about 2 weeks to emerge which is about what we would expect given the cool conditions. In normal conditions we would expect the corn to emerge in 7 to 10 days.
Below are some pictures of this week's field conditions including some of the early corn that is just poking out of the ground.
Week Ending April 16th Another stretch of cool/wet weather kept us out of the field most of the week. We were able to plant corn on Thursday in Farmer City. The fields were dry but temperatures were cool and the weather forecast was for more cool/wet conditions so we were hesitant about planting a lot of corn. We were rained out again on Friday.
We are running two planters this year: a 24 row CaseIH 1250 and a 36 row CaseIH 1260. Both planters are equipped with bulk fill, automatic row shut offs, and variable rate seed drives. We run both without markers, relying on the GPS steering on the tractors for guidance. The 24 row is being pulled by a MT765B Cat Challenger and the 36 row is being pulled by a MT865B Cat Challenger.
We are again running two 60 foot field cultivators, each being pulled by Challenger MT875's. The tillage tractors are also running autosteering. We used controlled traffic patterns in the fields so that the tillage tractors stay off the area were the corn rows will be planted. Each machine is pre-programed with A-B lines that guide them through the fields.
With the rain delays we have been spending more time in the machine shop modifying equipment and making sure we have everything in order when the weather gets better. This week we set up the the 36 row planter to apply liquid fertilizer and liquid insecticide. We will be applying both products in furrow with the seed. Getting the machine set up turned out to be a little work but it should work well. Below are some photos of the set-up on the planter.
Hopefully the weather will straighten out and we can start making real progress in the fields. I asked our "Chief Meteorologist" (son Keith) what the weather would be like this week and this was his response below.
Week Ending April 10th We started planting corn in Farmer City on April 7th. Field conditions were nice and dry but temperatures were still a little cold so we are not in a big hurry yet. Rain came in the night of April 10th and shut us down. Light rain over the next couple of days kept us out of the field unit the end of the week.
It was useful to get into the fields and at least get a little field work done so that we could test out the machinery and see what still needed tuning up. Most things should be in order now to run when conditions get fit again.
We are currently just running one of the planters in Farmer City. The other one is still in Yorkville. We have held off on taking them both to Farmer City until we are certain the Farmer City field work will go first. We did not want to get everything positioned in Farmer City just to get rained out and have to move it back home.
We are running a 24 row CaseIH 1250 planter and a 36 row CaseIH 1260 planter this year. The 36 row will be outfitted with liquid fertilizer and insecticide.
A video of some of the first corn planted is below.
Week Ending April 1 We spent some time this week cleaning out old fence lines and taking out old building foundations. We were fortunate to borrow an excavator and off-road truck from KR&G Excavating to make the work easier. Below are some pictures of the work.