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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crop Duster

This is in the challenging photo category.  It is not easy to catch an aerial applicator in flight.  I am not sure what he was applying.  From the looks of the field, it could use some nitrogen, but that is not what it is getting.  It is a little early for fungicide so I am guessing something to kill the Japanese beetles.  I have not seen any beetles that were enough of a problem to spray.  The aerial application gives you an idea how wet it has been.  I have worked in the field the last two days, but I had to be careful to miss the mudholes. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Good - The Bad- and The Ugly

This good looking corn has a few tassels showing.  It was planted on April 3. 

This may be the worst field of corn I have seen.  Lots of water stress and lots of missing corn. 

And here is the ugly problem with sidedressing nitrogen.  I hope he was done before the rain started because the corn is too big now. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thinking of Fungicide in your corn?

I read an article from No-Till Farmer today about using corn fungicides.  This has been a  source of some controversy for several years.  This article quote Kierston Wise of Purdue University on Midwestern research on fungicides.  She says to only use fungicide if you have disease, but many of the fungicides are not effective once there is a disease outbreak.  She says that just having the conditions is no guarantee of an outbreak.  So how do you decide if you need fungicide?  Toss a coin?  I would go with cool moist weather and susceptible hybrids, but that could leave you spending $30 per acre without needing to.  I hope researchers come up with some more concrete advice. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Long trip

I have written about my class, but not crop conditions between Hillsboro and Alma, WI.  Alma was my furthest point North.  Corn between Hillsboro and Springfield looks very wet with lots of denitrified spots.  Soybeans are not so bad so far, but that was before a weekend of rain.  Springfield to Bloomington, corn looks sort of OK.  It was planted later than ideal, but still a good looking crop.  North of Bloomington, there are some drowned looking spots, but overall not too bad.  Wisconsin corn looked ok, but a little late.  Some corn was still at the 4 leaf stage.  I have written that we still have potential for excellent yields, but that is slipping away in the south-central part of the state.  I think I have heard of more prevented plating than any of the past 3 years.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Effective spraying

One of the highlights of our 3 days in Wisconsin was spending one of those days in class with Andrew Landers.  He is an agricultural engineering professor from Cornell.  He is a true teacher. not just a lecturer.  Spending the day with him convinced me that there is no perfect sprayer, at least not for orchards and vineyards.  We were able to see demonstrations of conventional orchard sprayers and some innovative farmer made sprayers.  He convinced me that sprayers that deliver the right material to the right place are key to orchard and vineyard management.

One of the "new" products that he discussed and demonstrated was an air induction nozzle.  It seems that the nozzle makes larger droplets for a given delivery rate, but retains the accuracy and coverage of a conventional flat fan nozzle.  It is worth a try even in field crops.  The air induction nozzle should cut way back on drift problems.

His book on effective vineyard spraying is excellent.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trempealeau WI Photos

Night shot of Lock and Dam 6 at Trempealeau WI.  Saw lots of grain moving through it.

Ferguson's Morningside Orchard near Galesville, WI.    The Ferguson's  were among 4 gracious hosts for our training in Fruit IPM.

One of the blocks of grapes at Danzinger's Vineyard near Alma, WI.

View of  the Mississippi River from Danzinger's Winery is spectacular.  Thanks also to Ecker's Apple Farm near Centerville, WI and Hoch's Orchard and Garden near LaCresent, MN. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Organic Farming

I had the good fortune to visit the Hoch Orchard and Gardens farm near LaCresent, Minnesota yesterday.  Harry and Jackie Hoch have an organic operation and it was very interesting to see how they operate.  We were learning about disease and insect pests of apples.  It was a good place to visit because they had a little bit of everything in that regard, but there were no huge infestations of anything. 

The Hoch's do make use of the limited chemical arsenal which is available to organic producers, but they also make use of cultural practices such as sanitation.  Harry has this theory that he needs to create  a very diverse habitat so that he supports predator insects.

Some people seem to think that organic producers tend to be hobby farmers, but these people were making their entire living on this small fruit farm.  They emphasized that they used creative approaches to marketing in order to make a profit.  It was really enlightening to get to see this operation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Corn response to late Nitrogen

I am outof town so blogs might be brief.  Today I ran across this article on late application of Nitrogen.  Late Application of N  .  If considering applying nitrogen late in the season, allow time for testing first. Keep in mind that Nitrogen over the top will have some loss depending on material.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weather and crop report

The new weather and crop report is out.  It shows we are pretty much on schedule with the 5 year average.  I guess that means that wet is the new "normal".  If you remember 2007 or earlier, this still seems wet and late.  Growing degree days appear to be slightly ahead of average, so that is helping corn growth. 

I don't know anyone who is still planning to plant corn so that should be 100% planted in my opinion.  Soybeans % planted my be slightly over estimated.  Most of the wheat south of Springfield is ready or will be ready to harvest any time the weather allows.  Who knows when that will be.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Carlinville then Fillmore

I sampled a bit today. It was a hard day but wanted to try to get some corn ground done. Did 146 acres barefoot. I don't think I could have kept my shoes from getting suck off my feet. Not sure how much rain they had. I left 70 acres unsampled because I knew it was wetter than where I had been.  I moved to an area that had 5 inches of rain to sample Nitrogen. Did 180 acres. It was firm enough to wear shoes. Saw some soybeans big enough they will be blooming soon.

Corn is growing very fast where it has not been drowned out. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monroe Co Wheat Harvest

I saw this field of harvested wheat in the bottoms south of Columbia.  Ground is much to wet to harvest now.  Corn in this area was hail damaged too. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wet weather

I went to Shipman this morning to help get samples ready to ship to the lab. We have run out of places dry enough to work. Hillsboro had 1.7 inches of rain since noon yesterday, Shipman had about an inch. NWS data shows 10 plus inches south of Springfield. The structure below is doing it's job in preventing soil erosion in the ditch. It may not look like much, but the 6 inches of water coming across the flat wall of the structure is really quite a lot.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I worked in the Hamel area today.  Corn was planted as late as Memorial day, but it was already knee high at least in the well drained areas.  It is amazing how fat the corn grows in warm weather.  It reminds me that corn is a warm season grass.  The corn was looking very healthy.  Nitrogen was applied immediately prior to planting.  This seems to be an efficient method.  Soybeans were all up, but some just popping.  I saw a few bean leaf beetles but thresholds are very high at this stage of growth. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Livingston Staunton Litchfield Carlinville

I had a lot of stops today.  I finished sampling 2 customers and worked on 2 others.  Corn was knee high on 2 fields I walked.  I was still able to use the 4 wheeler on other corn.  Ground is very wet because of around 3 inches of rain in the past few days.  One field was too wet to walk, but I did anyway because the corn was getting too big. 
 The view from the I-55 overpass north of Litchfield looks pretty promising despite the wet weather.  Soybeans are in the foreground and corn in the background.  I think corn and soybeans still have potential for an excellent crop despite the late planting.  Wet areas will be a drag on some yields.  Nitrogen may be an issue on corn especially if it was applied in the fall or in the spring without N-serve. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder.  This always pro0mpts a visit to the NWS radar and precipitation amounts.  We were planing to work in the Belleville area and it looked good to go.  I left the house with rain falling and fields looked too wet all the way to Belleville.  When I got to my first field in Smithton, things looked good.  A few fields were borderline, but we avoided the puddles.  One field on the west side of Belleville was too wet. 

On days like this, modern technology is wonderful.  W#e would not have left the house if we did not know what was going on with the weather where we were headed.  Crops looked good for the most part.  All the corn we sampled was about foot tall and it was walked.  Soybeans were just coming up.  Wheat harvest should start next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We had rain today nearly everywhere we work and certainly everywhere we need to sample.  I spent the day mostly working on maps.  Customers change the shape of their fields when they do conservation work.  Some add acreage because of construction and some subtract acreage with additions of filter strips and field borders.  From time to time, we even figure out a better way to map a particular field. 

I learned how to draw on Google Earth today.  It really takes a steady had to make it look good, but It seemed easier than rectifying google earth images, so I learned to draw.  I still have maps to print out for tomorrow's work. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weather and Crop Report

My Illinois Weather and Crop Report came as usual today.  Many times I find something to disagree with, but today it seemed to match pretty closely what we are seeing in the field.  I can really only attest to West Southwest. 

Southeast IL says that 12% are very short on moisture and 25% very short.  Is the drought starting for them?  We have excess in my area, but showers have been spotty here too.  Southern Monroe County is very dry right now too.  The Northern part of the county had rain again today. 

Crop progress seems to match the 5 year average pretty well, but the past 4 have been so wet I think that average is skewed to late planting. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Silent Sunday

Flowers in bloom right now.

Elderberry blooming near the poles.

Day Lily in bloom

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Monroe County

I took a little trip today to Monroe County.  Family visits were on the agenda because of rain, but I also ended up mapping some prevented planting areas. 

One of my missions was to test the National Weather Service rainfall totals for storms.  I downloaded the material from their web site and did a lot of driving and observing.  I did have 6 rain gauge totals to confirm the data.  I found that I have been reading the data on the high side.  It did look like it was a good source of relative information, but when you read the scale, you should read on the low side instead of the high side,  Also keep in mind that picture is low resolution so accuracy along the edge of units is not real good. 

Crops in the Columbia area got plenty of rain today and look good.  South of Fountain, very little rain has fallen in the past 2 weeks.  Crops that were mudded in look poor.   All the corn was showing drought stress already.  Unfortunately a high river is keeping low spots too wet.  Wheat looked good all over the bottoms. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Staunton - Livingston

Sampled in the Staunton - Livingston area today.  It was interesting because soil conditions were highly variable depending on the customer's desire to plant.  Some fields were rutted badly.  Others were just very firm.  Some planted around wet spots.  Our first customer of the day ended up planting very late for the most part, but his fields were in perfect condition.  I hope his patience paid off.  Those who missed the early April window had to wait long time for good conditions to return. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Early Corn

I have previously discussed the virtues of early corn.  The corn below was planted on April 2.  It is the earliest corn I know of and it is located near Staunton.  It is difficult to give it scale in the photo, but this corn is about waist high on a 6 footer.  It had fall applied anhydrous which had to be supplemented with additional nitrogen.  I suspect it will be tasseling in about 3 weeks which will have it mature the last week of August.  The farmer and I agree that this corn really only needs 2 more properly timed rains to make an excellent crop.  I wish all his early planted corn looked this good.  He had 70 acres planted on April 8 that needed to be replanted. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Field Activity Update

I worked between Carlinville, Reader,  and Hettick today.  Planting is behind because of wetness, but there was lots of activity today.  We saw beans being planted.  We saw corn be patched in.  We saw nitrogen wagons being pulled down the road to people wanting to sidedress.  Weeds are being sprayed.  Hay is being put up.  I expect that if rain could hold off for 3 more days, planting would be about over for this spring. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Started in Virden

We are working hard right now trying to finish up corn ground this week.  Corn will soon be too big to ride a 4 wheeler to sample.  Corn is looking better than earlier this spring, but stands are still uneven.  Soybeans are looking good as they are coming up.  We have passed on soybean fields for now in favor of corn.  I finished corn on 2 customers today and started on 2 more.  I went from Virden to Girard to Palmyra to Hettick today.

The rock riffle below was constructed in the waterway in order to stabilize the bottom and prevent erosion.  Grass is not fully established on the downstream side.  This kind of thing is trickier to build than it looks.  You should consult NRCS or an experienced contractor.  There are things less tricky that you could do on your own. 

Rockbridge - Chesterfield

We sampled a lot of corn ground.  Ground was fairly dry.  Past years have found more water in the sloughs than this spring where we sampled.  Heat is making the corn grow fast.  We are hoping to get over most of our corn ground this week. 

The crop report shows almost all the corn is planted.  I would agree, but I know at least one customer planning to plant some this week.  Weather looks favorable.  I expect most soybeans will be planted by the end of the week too.  I saw several planters in the field.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Outside reading.

You might want to see what Carl Bradley has to say about fungicides.  Carl Bradley's Comments .

If you still have corn to plant, check out what Emerson Nafziger has to say about it. 

Here is information on Prevented Planting From Purdue.  

Back to the field tomorrow. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Silent Saturday

This deer blind made of hay bales was located near the deer damaged corn below. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Between Shipman and Gillespie

We covered a lot of ground today and most of what we worked on was corn between 4 and 8 inches tall.  This was some of the best looking corn I have sampled this spring.  It was not planted really early, but it was planted in relatively dry soil.  This customer has a tile plow and has been installing tile for about 5 years,  I think it made a big difference.  The soil was moist, but not saturated at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jefferson Barracks Bridge Area

Worked in triangle where Monroe and St. Clair Counties run together.  Most of the corn is planted.  My customer today was just starting on soybeans.  This is wheat country and the wheat is turning.  There is always the question is it turning or is it diseased.  One field I saw had obvious sprayer tracks, so I am guessing it is really turning, along with maybe some disease.  Concerns in the area are river stages.  River flooding is not really a concern, but seep water and trapped surface water can be a problem.  Lots of corn is late in this area. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

West Alton

Crop news from West Alton today is that most corn is planted, emerged and progressing nicely.  Yes we would like it to be further along, but moisture is good to excessive, so if drainage is good, corn is good.  Soybeans are just emerging to bifoliate stage.  Stands seem fine.  There are still soybeans to be planted, and the rivers are high, so wet spots are holding water. I expect some will drain out and get planted, and others will be prevented planting.  No diseases or insects to report today.