Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Checking corn maturity

Corn maturity as marked by "milk line"
I have marked where the kernel changes from a more liquid stage or "milk line" to the more solid stage of starch on the right side of the ear shown.  Maturity on this one in 1/2 Milk Line and will move towards the cob as heat units accumulate.  In approximately 2 weeks this will complete the process and a membrane layer will form at the base of the kernel that will later allow the separation from the kernel form the cob.  This membrane is black.  So if you hear us farmers talk about "Black Layer" it means maturity.  From this point on yield does not increase but moisture levels continue to drop.  Black layer is over 30% moisture and safe storage levels are 15% moisture.  The decision will be made to harvest and dry the grain or wait for corn to dry and then harvest. But you can expect to see harvest to begin soon.

Ear showing full dent

This is the same ear sometimes called full dent as each kernel is dented which is an indicator of starch shrinking as moisture leaves.

Can't help but smile

John visited the corn grown for our local FRB project.  This year will be one of the best on record for this field.  Fortunately it can also bring smiles to our overseas project as with every ones help this will be sold and the money sent to aid those farmers become self sufficient.

                                                                                        Serving together, Dean

Sunday, September 7, 2014

One last push to get ready

Harvest is fast approaching.  And there is one last push to make, or make that several.

One push to prepare for the Harvest Celebration Oct 18th at the host farm by our gracious hosts Gary and Jean Dau

Another to have all the committee's line up a fantastic event that will be educational and entertaining

Another by all the farmers making sure that they are prepared for the large harvest while also preparing for next years crop planning

Yet another by the Crop it's self.  The corn really has a challenge to dry down to harvestable moisture levels and the Soybeans need to dodge the increased disease pressure that has arrived thanks to the cool wet weather.

I have over 800 tons of lime delivered for application to the fields this fall prior to tillage.  Dry fertilizer is booked to replace the phosphorus and potassium that this years large crop is to remove, plus an additional amount to build up areas that were below optimum levels. Both of these will be variable rate spread using GPS grids.

Seeds are being booked to get the best pricing available, and other inputs ate getting close attention.
Farmers need to make some projection about income and expenses for the 2015 crop year and many are getting very worried that profits will be hard to achieve at current corn prices and current expenses of land costs and inputs.

I just read an article that farming has the highest suicide rates of any profession.  Let us all remember that God can give us the strength if we can only look to him for guidence.  And also sometimes that guidence is in the form of helping hands or one of us.  Continue to pray for each other and get involved.

                                                           Look forward to seeing everyone Oct 18th
                                                           Serving Together, Dean

Monday, August 25, 2014

US crop conditions

crops look great but how much?

    There is an extensive in field survey taken in August by Pro Farmer each year.  Many fields are visited across the corn belt.  They released their estimate from this data that forecasts 169 bu of corn on 83.24 million acres.  If this is true production will be over 14 billion bu of corn.

Corn: Acreage by Year, US
Chart shows reduction in corn planted acres from last year's record amount.  Between now and next april farmers will be deciding how many acres to plant next year.  Corn is at 50% of the prices from 2012 and the drought reduced crop.  How will that impact 2015 corn acres?

So we are looking at 14 billion bu. from less acres.  Unfavorable weather in the northern corn belt was the major impact on the reduction.  For yields, many producers will have record levels.  If you look at the "eye in the sky" from last post you can see portions of the field yellow.  Where this field shows some there will be other areas that receive too much rain causing nitrogen loss or the inability to do timely field applications.
Corn: Yield by Year, US
Chart showing yield per year.  I know we just reduced the possible top yield because of too much rain but am glad it was not the drought of 2012 that had a severe impact on many more acres.  The phrase rain makes grain will always hold truth even if it is too much rain.

On my farm corn is beginning to  fill kernel size and weight and looks like a possible record crop for me.  The harvest moisture will be higher and increase harvest expense because of the cool summer.  My beans however enjoy the cool summer and because of that also look like they could close in on a record for me.
With harvest approaching please think of the hungry in the world and what we can do for them.   FRB is one way to get involved and share our bounty with the less fortunate.

                                                                                                     Serving together,  Dean

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

an eye in the sky

Look at the new way to scout fields.
a drone 18 inch square but great for a quick look around

I wanted to see how much drainage improvements are needed

Drones have become an easy way to get great pictures anytime in the season.

                                                                                             Serving together, Dean

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

big harvest brings questions

2014 harvest looks bigger yet.

    I was thinking I looked a little dry in the field but just got .5 inches Friday and 1.5 last night for a total of 2 inch rainfall.  The corn is pollinated and cool temperatures helped that.  The soybeans are setting pods and no insect pressure.  Both crops have lots of potential.  Can we finish with as good of weather and what then?

   Record harvest needs lots of storage space.  Will everyone have storage and will harvest be slowed down by trucking further to find it?

   Lots of bushels to dry to safe storage moisture.  We are behind normal in maturity and harvest of a wet crop with high yield might start late and take longer than normal.  Will we see standing corn in December?

   Crop prices are much lower than recent years, how will that impact fall fertilizer applications?  With lower income expected in 2015 how much do you spend on crop inputs?   This big crop just took a lot out of the soil but with income questions some may reduce applications if the soil has been built up over the years.
Others may just run out of time because of a late harvest.  How will this effect fertilizer prices?
   On my farm I have taken new soil tests and will apply lime to correct ph and fertilizer to continue to build up soils, but with grid testing and GPS application I can reduce rates where soils are higher than needed.
   I am buying the lime now and will soon price the fertilizer.

                                                                                             Serving together, Dean

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Add another Billion Bushels

What can add a Billion bushels to the corn crop?

      In 2012 during the mid june to mid july time 21 out of 30 days were over 90 degrees and rain was scarce.  This year during the same time period there was only one day over 90 and rain was several times per week.  The corn looks healthy and 10 foot tall.
  Just pollinated or pollinating in this area.  Nights have been cool but seems the growing stage of corn has kept up to normal.  Can we harvest 90 million acres of corn at 174 bu. per acre? Seems that all the right things are in place.  Good genetics, good moisture, less insects, and good pollination.  We are half way there now so if we can keep things going and fill the kernels and get them to maturity this will be one for the record books. 15.66 Billion bu.?  As with every year not every farm or every area is looking this good but enough of the corn belt is excellent that they will overcome poor areas of yields.
 Chart shows corn harvest prices dropping with the reality that the huge harvest is ahead.  Some corn farmers will not be able to cover expenses even with record yields but the livestock farmers that had lost money paying for corn at record prices for two years are now making profits with reduced feed inputs.  At these prices I do not know of any corn end user that is not profitable so the question is always how much will be left of the harvest come october 2015.  The markets try to lower the prices so that corn carryover is reduced.  

                                       Corn: Yield by Year, US                       
Chart shows corn yield trend line and this year will exceed that.
                                                                                                       Serving together,  Dean

Thursday, June 26, 2014

14.7 billion and counting

  14.7 billion bushels of corn?

 Corn is looking better than the past years.  Although we planted later, rains and good weather has the crops playing catch-up.  Pictures show corn at 3 foot one week ago and 5.5 foot today

Some areas are experiencing flooding, and if those acres are lost it will not be replaced with corn, but every year there are destroyed acres and this year will be larger than average but it look as if the remainder will more than make up for it.  Surveys show 89.2 million acres of corn planted and if we keep up with favorable weather that would be a 14.7 billion bushel corn harvest.  

     Pork exports are up 10% and I expect growth on hog numbers.  The Beef  herds will take some time to rebuild and the harsh winter put another roadblock in any real growth.  Many herds simply have not gotten the opportunity to rebuild after the several years of drought.  Corn for feed use will be on a slower increase than corn that we will be exporting.  With 14.7 billion bushels to market prices will be much lower than the past several years, but it will give the opportunity for demand to build.  

   With genetic improvements and increased technology at farmers availability our yields will become greater than thought possible.  We need to build back our livestock customers and get corn affordable for more countries to buy from us.  

   I am encouraged that the world economy is able to recover and this growth will drive farmers to grow in return.  I mentioned that pork exports are up 10% and this is at a time that pork prices are setting an all time high. With corn price much lower those exports will explode.  

  As always please pray for the farmers that are not experiencing this good weather, also pray for the citizens of countries in turmoil that security will return.

                                                                               Serving together,  Dean    

Sunday, June 22, 2014

one for the record books?

One for the record books?    Well look at this my corn is 3 foot tall (pole at foot markings) and remember the Feb. post showing snow covering the field!

rains have been typical of this time of year one area will get up to 5 inches and the next a trace amount.  For those who spent last night at the Plano relay with me it will come as a surprise that I had less than one tenth inch at this field, I sure was.  The farmer never quits thinking of weather, when I pulled into my drive at the wee hours of the morning the first thing I was looking for was how large of puddles would be waiting there, but surprise!! nothing.  Checked the gauge and hardly enough to dump. 

   These variable amounts do not mean many of us are lacking for moisture as there have been many fronts going across the corn belt.  Warm and high humidity has sent the corn reaching for the sky.  I will keep posting the height on that pole.

   National ave. corn yields could be above 160 bu/acre and may reach the USDA projection of 165.3.  Current U.S. Drought Monitor

       The drought map shows the corn belt in great shape but continue to pray for those that are less fortunate.

                                                                                                     Serving together,  Dean

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rain makes grain

   Rain makes grain has been the old saying in the marketplace.  We received another 1.3 inches yesterday and with the corn growing fast the rows of corn have completely shaded the ground.  Plants are 90 percent water so timely rains are important to build the new cells.  Crops are off to a good start and farmers are feeling good about the coming year.
   Just 2% of the united states population are farmers and I am reminded of our minority every time I need to set security questions on an Internet site.  I am confused why  What school did you graduate from? or What is your mothers maiden name?  are of help because in a small rural town everyone would know the answer.  So here are some questions a farm boy would chose:   What was your favorite tractor?  What was your first 4-H project? What is your favorite crop? What is your most disliked weed?  What was your highest yield?  What was your lowest yield?  Those are questions I could answer and remember.  As you see a good rain puts a farmer in a good mood.  The sun is coming up and another day to farm.
                                                      Serving together, Dean

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spring rains help and hurt

Spring rains help and hurt depending on how much and when it fell.

     I have received an inch and 2 tenths of rain this week and it has the corn looking real good and growing fast.  My Grandchildren are measuring it for me.

Some of the areas had heavy rainfall May 12th and had to do some replanting of beans so this rain will get them germinated and growing and with  temperatures reaching 70's and 80's for several days they will yield close to the same as the original planting.

If you look close at this picture there is three soybean plants just below the 72 inch mark that will not survive.  They got the heavy rain just after being planted and the ground so hard that the seed was not able to push through the soil and snapped off under the ground.  Even though you see the bean stem the growing point is removed and replanting was necessary.

                                                           Serving together,  Dean 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Drought for some and cold for others

Map below shows drought in South West  States begining to extend into Iowa and Missouri corn belt
Current U.S. Drought Monitor
Maps below show cold temperatures limiting growth in Iowa Illinois and north    Colors show departure from normal

Growing Degree Days Departure Map 3Growing Degree Days Departure Map 4
This map shows the difference between the current seasonal accumulation of modified growing degree days and the 1981-2010 average growing degree days.  The start of season is defined as April 1.Same as Map 3, except the start of the season is defined as May 1.

Growing season is just getting started as you see from the maps some areas need rain to produce a crop this year and in Map #3 areas green blue and purple need warm weather  to get their crops growing.

On my farm I have missed some rains that went north or south of me but some chances of rain in a few days.  Corn is growing and some days in the 70,s degrees, corn is at six leaf stage today. An inch of rain would really have this grow faster.

                    Lets pray for the farmers to overcome the weather obstacles this year. 

                                                                                Serving together:  Dean

Sunday, May 25, 2014

doing the right thing

   This is the same field that corn progress was reported from emergence on May 11th  4th leaf on May25th

  Planting is coming to an end. There was a late start, several rain outs, and fields were slow to dry out enough for tillage but we are doing good and the end of May gets closer every day.  Projected yields get lowered with every day planting is delayed.
   My crops are planted and I can reflect on how spring work went and how to improve.  I also get to enjoy what went right.  Farmers are known for doing the right thing and here are four examples:

1.        This farmer spent time and money to control erosion on a slightly rolling field

grass seeded to control erosion

grass berm to divert water into tile system

2.     Just because you find an insect or larvae you do not have to use chemicals
 crop scouting identified pest at low level and not causing economic damage no action needed 


3.   Another farmer was finishing his operation and a neighbor needed help so he took some large equipment and helped prepare the seedbed for planting soybeans.

4.    22 farmers are donating their time and land toward our local growing project and the profits go to Food Resource Bank supported projects to end world hunger.

It is nice to be a farmer taking care of the land and people in need, it is just  DOING THE RIGHT THING.

                                                               Serving together:  Dean