Search This Blog

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weather and Crop Report

Today's weather and crop report says 89% of corn is harvested and 94% of soybeans.  This seems pretty close to what I have seen.  The farm I was on today had double crop soybeans done, but 50 acres of full season soybeans and 30 acres of corn left to harvest.  Temperature and precipitation are below average.  Today's soil temperature was 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so Nitrogen is a go for those who cannot wait.  It is still early, so go with nitrification inhibitors for sure.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nutrient Removal.

I recently received an article about using nutrient removal rates to calculate fertilizer needs.  It is an old concept that should be put to rest.  We find that a better concept is "what is the fertility of the soil, and is it enough to get through seasonal variations and produce a top yielding crop?" Nutrient removal also does not necessarily take into account variations within the field, although some people are looking at yield maps to determine fertility needs.  Looking at yield maps does no good unless you already know where your fertility levels are.  Also, keep in mind that the soil does not always do what the book says it will.  The best way to determine fertilizer needs is a good soil testing program. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Amish Country

I drove through Amish Country in Douglas County yesterday and spotted this working corn picker parked next to a well maintained corn crib. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fertilizer Time

I went to Champaign for a class I am taking mostly by webinar.  We had to make 3 visits to campus and today was the last one.  On my way home I took the scenic route so I could take pictures.  I got a number of good ones, but perhaps none with more information than this one.  In the foreground is a pile of lime waiting to be applied.  Lime is important because in addition to providing needed calcium and possibly magnesium, it helps to control soil pH which effects the availability of all 16 essential nutrients.  In the middle of the picture is a fertilizer tender truck.  It is used to carry fertilizer to the field for the spreader in the background.  They are probably spreading Phosphorus and Potassium.  Some people add micronutrients as well, but most soils in Illinois don't need them too produce corn and soybeans.  We do look at micro-nutrients, but only after we get the major nutrients in order. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fillmore - Witt - Geenville

I made the rounds today fairly close to home.  Farm activity was dampened by the drizzle yesterday and this morning.  One farmer yesterday told me that beans were dry, but stems were too wet.  Corn was working better,  Sunshine will get harvest going again by tomorrow afternoon. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interesting story

I read this story today in Farm Week News .  I found it to be a bit humorous, but what made it worth posting is that it shows a farmer helping the local law enforcement officials and in turn his community.

In other news, harvest plods on.  I expect it to slowly wind down in the next 2 weeks.  I found soil temperatures to be 60 degrees this week.  Still too warm for Nitrogen application in my area.  I have to admit I am on the borderline for fall applied nitrogen anyway.  I really do not advocate it south of Springfield.  If you must, use nitrification inhibitor, but even then it is a dicey proposition.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big Tractor

I ran across this Versatile 856 still doing the job.  It is at least 25 years old.  Here are the stats on this big tractor. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


We headed north today to the Pike-Brown County line.  Harvest is about done in that area.  My customer has had about an inch of rain since June 28.  His corn yields were disappointing, but soybeans were above average.  He is done with his harvest and wheat is sown.  Wheat had been in the ground for a week and it was still not spiking.   He wants to wait a while before tilling.  He is thinks it is too dry.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

3 row corn picker

This 3 row corn picker caught my eye on the way to Springfield today.  Know whose farm it is sitting at, I don't think it has been used in some years.  Back in the day, Probably early-1960's, this would have been quite the machine.  It implied that the farmer probably had a 6 row planter too.  That would have been big machinery.  My dad had a 4 row planter and  2 row picker.  We did have neighbor with a 3 row corn head on the combine.  My non-farm and younger readers my not know that corn was picked on the cob and air dried in a corn crib before being shelled to be sold.  It could be ground whole for cattle feed, or fed on the cob to hogs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Roundhouse Winery

I attended and participated in the Illinois Soil Classifiers annual fall field day held this year at the Roundhouse Winery and Vineyard near Centralia, IL.  My part on the program was to discuss soil health as relates to plant health.  David Gaines pictured in the foreground with me in the background, discussed the history of grape production in Illinois.  Gaines is also a grape grower in the Centralia area.  Our hosts were gracious and accommodating.  Their winery is in a beautiful setting.  They have wine waiting to be bottled as soon as their label is approved.  Photo is courtesy of Sam Indorante,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hillsboro to Centralia

It looks like about half the beans are harvested on this run.  I saw some very uneven stands.  Corn is maybe 75% harvested.  Worked in Winchester so not muchto report there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I made my way to Winchester today to sample in the Illinois River Bottoms.  Harvest progress is about 90% on corn and 80% on soybeans.  Soil was dry.  Usually chisel plowed land is less than ideal to sample, but today it was kind of welcome because at least I could probe it without a hammer.

One field was planted to wheat.  I wanted to take a picture, but I think it would have been difficult to see the what.  Emergence was pretty good for as dry as it is.  The are where I was working looked like it had around a quarter inch of rain in the last few days. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rainy Days

We have had 1.3 inches of rain in the past 2 days. Hoping the soil will probe better now.  I am also hoping there is enough moisture to cut down on combine and field fires like the one below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicago Run

A family emergency took me to Chicago and Dekalb in Sunday and Monday. I took 251 thru Lee and LaSalle counties for old time sake.  It looks like this week's weather and crop report is pretty accurate regarding corn and soybean harvest.  Northwest and Northeast are a little behind the rest of the state.  Corn harvest was going  fast along 251.  Combines were in the field in every direction I could see.  Soybean harvest is ahead of corn harvest in Northern Illinois.  We had an inch of rain in Hillsboro in the past 24 or so hours.  U should not saturate the soil for more than a day. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Roundup Resistance

I have been in the field almost daily in the spring for the last 6 years.  When I started consulting and soil sampling, we were just hearing about Glyphosate resistance.  I saw some the first year I worked in the field regularly in 2005.  It has steadily gotten to be more prevalent.  The first time I saw Roundup Ready genetics at work was in 1997.  I was amazed, but I had a sense that using it every year in corn and soybeans was not a good idea. 

Recently, the Liberty Link gene has allowed the use of herbicide containing Glufosinate.  Glufosinate seems to be a good way to rotate herbicides to overcome resistance.  Another way to overcome resistance is to tank mix 2-4-D for burndown.  This article covers the use of 2-4-D tank mix.  2-4-D resistant corn is also on the way. My preference would be to eliminate the glyphosate altogether every other year, but it is important to have choices.  The important thing is to kill the weeds to reduce the amount of resistant seed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grazing Stalks

Cattle Grazing stalks used to be a much more common practice that it is now.  It is an inexpensive way to get cattle some decent feed. 
In other news, Harvest was not quite as far along in Staunton area as it has been in other areas. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greene County

From Greenfield, Wtights, Berdan, White Hall and Roodhouse were all on my route today.  Harvest is progressing very quickly although a
= few late soybeans are still not mature and double crop beans are still a week to 10 days from harvest.  It was possible to go to some wide open spaces and not see anything that needs harvested.  I have finished 2 customers this week and one is done except double crop beans.  With more open land now, we seem to be making good progress.

Soil temperature today was 62 degrees.  So far I have not seen any nitrogen application.  Soil temperatures are too warm.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Medora Again

I was in the same area as yesterday.  Yesterday the weather did not allow me to finish my work.  I think we had only 3/10 inch of rain today and in the corn stubble, it did not penetrate much.  The farm I was working on was a new one so I had to map it before sampling.  When I start out I look at key breaks and then try to figure out how to break the bigger areas into smaller sub areas to sample.  I did get all the major breaks mapped yesterday so I could subdivide with my GIS. 

Deer are moving around a lot with crops off.  That is a big safety issue in rural areas.  I hope the dampness has helped with the fire hazard.  I saw a burned combine with a lot of corn burned too.  Keep machinery as clean as possible and be careful about parking hot trucks in dry residue.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Southeastern Macoupin County today.  It was a drizzly fall day, although temperatures were pleasant enough.  Dampness kept me from doing as much as I would have liked.  There was not much field activity today.  Harvest has progressed nicely in our area. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harvest Moon?

Looking at the moon near full,was going to say it was the harvest moon.  I found out the Harvest Moon is actually the on nearest the autumnal equinox and only comes in October less often than September.  Tradition has it that farmers could work into the night because of the brightness of the harvest moon.  Tonight's moon is the Hunter's Moon or the Blood Moon.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Black Walnut, MO

I spent the day near Black Walnut Missouri.  The first paring lot on the Katy Trail is located there.  Corn is 95% harvested in that area.  Soybeans are about 75% harvested.  Some of them are double cropped beans and will be ready in  maybe 2 weeks.  Soils are dry in the sandy areas, but some of the swales still have water in them.  I saw a few people sowing wheat,  It is not a big acre crop in that area, but some like the double crop opportunity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nitrogen Management

One of the problems with fall Nitrogen application, other than wasting money on nitrogen loss, is that the lost nitrogen has potential to enter drainage tile and eventually surface water.  I will admit that an advantage to applying nitrogen in  the fall is that it leaves one less thing to do in spring.  If that is your motivation, you still need to consider 3 things.  One is that nitrogen should not be applied till soil temperature reaches 50 degrees. Use nitrification inhibitor.  The last is, consider a bio-reactor.  No-till Farmer just published an article on bio-reactors. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Old Iron

Got a couple of decent antique machinery pictures with my camera phone at Witt Labor Day parade.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Been all over

I have done a bit of sampling, delivered reports, delivered a VRT prescription, and taken my Archer field PDA to be repaired.  I also went to Champaign for training today.  I have been to Wet Alton, Carlinville, and Staunton.  In general harvest is progressing well.  Lots of corn is done and soybeans are getting done quickly.  Today, I spotted some corn stored in temporary storage.  At least in that area, corn yields are OK.  I saw some corn with small ears, and some soybeans that were just not tall enough to yield well. There were places where i would drive 2 to 5 miles ans everything was harvested.  Then there would be a block that was less than 50% harvested.  Not sure what caused that.  Ground is definitely dry enough for ripping if you have compaction issues. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Litchfield Overpass October

The Litchfield overpass has one more month and t should run the whole cycle of seasons.  Should I do it again for the next cycle?  There are still beans to harvest in this view.  Corn is all off in the direction I look, but there is still some corn to harvest to the south. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Staunton to Hannibal

By Randy Darr President of Soil-Right Consulting, Inc.

Drove over 300 miles yesterday from Staunton, IL to Hannibal, MO and back to home.  Soybean harvest is well under way.  Soils are very dry to the north of us in the I72 corridor.  Many afraid to plant wheat due to the lack of moisture.  Yields of corn and soybeans have been surprisingly high, but, not near USDA estimates.  Some are taking a blood bath depending on soils ability to shed water and hold it.  Higher yields have depended on soils ability to shed water, which promoted root growth early, which in turn promoted the crops ability to live through the drought

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Combines were getting into soybeans today.  I saw 5 running within a mile.  Now that is getting serious about harvest.  Today I sampled my first harvested soybean fields.  Corn was maybe 60% harvested. 

Weather and Crop Report shows corn harvest way behind last year.  Our area is showing over 60% harvested.  I think we may be a little ahead of that, but not too far off. 

Soil temperature today was 62 degrees.  It will be warming up this week, so don't even be tempted to put on Nitrogen. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Edwardsville - Valmeyer

I had an early morning stop in Edwardsville today.  I then continued on to Valmeyer to do some sampling.  Corn harvest is about 75% done in that area.  Much of the remaining corn is still high in moisture.  One report was 25% moisture, so harvest will be slow for a while.  10 to 20% of soybeans looked to be ready to harvest, but lots of beans still have leaves hanging on.  I did see some double crop beans that are just starting to turn.  Early bean yields are disappointing, but I think later beans will do better.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Weed Control

I read this article on fall weed control today. While harvest in Illinois has not been late, it still has some good advice.  I especially like the advice to keep costs low.  The idea of taking care of some glyphosate resistant weeds, especially marestail is appealing. 

I looked up my previous comments on the subject.  Not much has changed in my opinion in a year.  In addition to herbicide controls, cover crops are a good choice not only for weed control, but nutrient management as well.  I have also seen some people allowing the weeds to get a good start early in the fall and then controlling them with some tillage later on.  Click on Dan Towery's blog to the right to get some ideas about cover crop advantages.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Soil Type Makes a Difference

Soil Type is showing its effect on crops here.  The soybeans at the top of the hill ran out of water.  Soybeans that are still green in the foreground will be the best yielding in this field.