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Monday, December 4, 2017

Randy Dowdy Program

Last week were invited to attend a presentation b champion corn grower Randy Dowdy.  Linco-Precision was a co-sponsor and invited us to the program.  dowdy may have made on of the best farmer presentations I have heard.  He had 4 main points.   He uses drainage to remove excess water. He uses irrigation when water is short.  He does a lot of soil testing and tissue testing in order to fine tune his fertility program.  He likes to spread his risks by spreading out his planting dates in a 3 to 4 week period. He pushes his soil fertility to the maximum.  He advocates for 1 pound of nitrogen for every bushel of corn. 

I listened and tried to figure a program that would work in Illinois.  Despite having decent annual rainfall amounts, we really do not have a good source of irrigation water except in the major river bottoms.  I am an advocate for drainage.  We can drain our fields economically.  His discussion about tissue sampling is leading me to consider offering a revised program that includes tissue sampling.

I was surprised that he is not pushing high populations although he is using narrow and twin row spacings to maximize sunlight to the plant. 

Dowdy was thought provoking and interesting,  While I am not sure how to implement his program entirely, I think we can learn some things from him.  If you get a chance to hear him speak, go for it. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Frequency of Soil Sampling

We like to sample every year.  We do not squawk too much when clients want to go with every other year.  If  you go further out than that it is difficult to track changes accurately.  It is also difficult to determine if your soil test results are influenced by environmental issues.  In reading my Corn Soybean Digest this week  found an article with the headline that Grid Data improves decisions.   While I take exception to the thought that grid sampling is the best way to monitor fertility levels,  found it interesting the Antonio Mallarino of Iowa State University advocated for sampling more often than every 4 years.   Dr. Mallarino is probably the foremost authority on soil testing.  He had done lots of research on soil testing and sampling from just about every angle you can think of.  His opinions are to be respected even when I disagree with him. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Crop Progress in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

I wanted to write to you to tell you how the soybean planting ended in most of the Brazilian states. In the South there were many rains and it disrupted the planting, mainly the corn was very harmed. In the Central-West (Mato Grosso) The rains had a slight delay to arrive, that delayed the planting beyond the ideal window in about 35%. Delay in planting historically means that there is a high chance of production dropping by about 15-20% in these non-ideal planted areas. They have not yet planted the states of Bahia, Piaui, Maranhão and Tocaontis and part of Minas Gerais, these states make up North and Northeast. There is a lot of caution because La Ninã is firming and has forecast of lack of rain or little rain from 15/12/2017 until the end of January of 2018, that would be a greater aggravation because we already had problems to plant within the ideal window. As the planting of soybeans has spread beyond the ideal, consequently the planting of second-crop maize will be less, because the producers will not risk much.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Swamper Tales Book Review

A family friend wrote the book below about his coming of age in the 60's and 70's showing dairy and beef cattle in Southern Illinois.  The book contains the stories of the characters he met and worked for on the fair circuit.  His stories cover farm life and times.  Every tale is true.  It is a quick read and very enjoyable.  Photographs enhance many of the stories.  Roger Peach is selling the book on his facebook page.  This would make a great Christmas gift for the livestock exhibitor in your life, or anyone who grew up in the 60's.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Compost Moving Day

Today I emptied out my compost bin by carrying to the garden.  It contained 2 years of decomposing vegetable waste.  By spring it will be further decomposed and ready to be spaded in.  This includes sweetcorn husks and cobs, pecan shells, coffee grounds with filters, and shredded paper.  The bin gets completely full when we freeze sweetcorn, but that breaks down fairly quickly.

Compost Bin

Compost in Garden.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

One Man's Junk

The Massey Ferguson 540 below has been parked along Route 16 between Litchfield and Hillsboro for several weeks. It is for sale.  It reminds me of  a story that took place in 1986-87.

One day I stopped to see a farmer named Herbie who was combining corn with a John Deere 45 with a rounded back end.  That means it was ancient even then.  When I pulled up, Herbie jumped off the combine and started to complain about it.  He farmed less than 200 acres, but it was worn out even for that acreage.  A combine can be an expensive purchase for a small farmer.

A few days later, I stopped to see a guy named Lance.  Lance was sitting in an older Massey Ferguson complaining that the transmission had gone out and he wished he could find a newer more reliable combine.  Lance also farmed around 200 acres or maybe a bit more.

Fast forward a year.  I stopped in to see Lance and he was showing me a Massey Ferguson 540 like the one pictured below.  It had low hours considering its age.  Lance had bought it on auction.  Lance was very pleased with it and it was working well.

A few days later, I stopped to see Herbie.  He had bought Lance's old combine and could not have been happier with it.  It was in much better shape than his John Deere and doing just what he needed it to do.  The story proves the axiom that "One Man's junk is another man's treasure."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking for Better Weed Control?

Weed Control has become the biggest field management issue of the decade.  Everyone seems to have troublesome weeds.  Finding the right herbicide, timing the application right, and getting good kills are important.

The best weed control I am seeing in soybeans right now is with cover crops and No-Till.  Cereal rye is the easiest cover crop to manage in soybean production.  You can plant it late after corn and let it grow or kill it early.  Some producers say it is easiest to plant  soybeans in green cereal rye and kill it just before or just after planting.

Narrowing your soybean rows to 15 inches or less can also help with weed control.  The past few years, we are seeing waterhemp growing in the middles of 30 inch row beans.  An early canopy is important for good weed control.

Notice I have not talked herbicide management yet.  If you are not using cover crops, start in the fall.  Fall herbicides can give you a jump on sporing weeds.  Soil applied herbicides in spring are important.  In spite of a lot of bad publicity, early dicamba can give good control of marestail.  Be cautious with later season dicamba operations.  Post planting applications should be done when weeds and crops are both small.  Don't rely on post applications for your whole program.

Prairie Farmer says to"Turn 2017 Observations into Better Weed Control."