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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures keep the natural world cleaned up.  The worse it smells the better they like it.  These guys were on the road a week or 2 ago, but I could not see what they were eating.  They are ugly birds close up, but beautiful when soaring.  They seldom flap their wings except to take off. 
Turkey Vultures

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fungicides Part 2

I wrote about fungicides recently, but thought I should hit it again.  It seems there is a good deal of pressure to spray and there is a good chance it will do no good in this dry weather.  Here is a Prairie Farmer Article.   Another consideration is resistance.  We know how hard it can be when our favorite crop protectants lose their efficacy, so we should not be spraying just to spray.  Here is an article on strobilurin resistance.  Iowa State University has released this information that is helpful too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Passing of the Seasons

Here is my passing of the season photo.  There is a saying that there are no atheists in a foxhole.  Probably no atheist farmers either right now.  Everyone is praying for rain.  It is 107 as I write this and there is not a plant in the photograph that is not wilting.  I expect them to stay wilted.  The forecast makes it look like this is the end of our growing season.  I hope everyone has adequate crop insurance. 
Butler T

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Southern Illinois Peaches

Peach Orchard North of Murphysboro

Peach trees North of Murphysboro

Peaches on the tree at the home farm

Peaches ready to go home with me
Illinois is a leading producer of peaches although there was a when much more acreage was devoted to peaches in Southern Illinois.  The sweetness and flavor is second to none. Move over Georgia peaches.  This years peaches seem to be especially flavorful and sweet.  The crop is also large despite frost worries this spring.  My brother has 3 peach trees in his yard and after I picked this bushel of peaches,  the trees were still loaded.  Dry weather kept disease pressures low. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Southern Illinois Crop Tour

Pope County Pasture
 We took a trip to the real southern Illinois the past 2 days.  Went south on 127 to Murphysboro and then did a little wine tour.   We continued to Metropolis. Grass looked almost as dry as the Dallas area looked last summer in some places.  There was a little green in other places.  I have not heard that haying and grazing is being allowed on CRP land, but that should be coming soon. 
South of Centralia
The corn looks anywhere from not great to really terrible.  Today we made a  return trip along the ohio River thru Golconda, Elizabethtown, Garden of the Gods, Shawneetown and Carmi.  I took lots of pictures of drought stressed corn, but the worst of it was closer to home than I expected between Bell Rive and Centrailia.   I did not realize how much irrigation there is in northern Gallatin and White Counties.  That will pay off well this year.  You could see just how far the irrigation water went.  I was looking for a photo opportunity but did not get one. I saw corn that will not make anything and some that will need to be harvested to determine crop insurance payments.  This year shows some really good examples about why we need crop insurance. 

Soybeans look to be hanging there, but will be aborting blooms for now.  This article on soybeans originating with Iowa State University gives you some idea about how they handle drought.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goss's Wilt

Goss's Wilt reared its ugly head in Illinois last year.  If you had Goss's Wilt last year you may be especially susceptible this year.  Keep an  for eye out for Goss's Wilt regularly because it can attack at any time.  This article in No-Till Farmer fills you in on what the disease looks like and how to deal with it.  More links are available on a blog I wrote last year.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Alternative Weed Control

One of the things that came up in my discussion with Dr. Hager on Wednesday was the need to control resistant weeds in any way possible.  His advice here includes using hand tools.  The advantages have now over walking beans 40 years ago is that we have 4 wheelers to get those scattered weeds.  Get your I-pod, get your 4 wheeler and get out there before the weeds and soybeans get too big.  Arkansas is advising zero tolerance.  That seems like a good idea to me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Narrow Vs Wide Soybeans

Narrow Row Soybeans

Wide Row Soybeans
These 2 photos illustrate the advantage of narrow row soybeans.  Fields are across the road from each other.  Both photos are looking down the rows.  Both crops are about the same growth stage.  Since the narrow row beans have a complete canopy, weeds are shaded out.  Ground temperature will be cooler in the narrow rows.  There will be a bit of an advantage in water conservation in the narrow rows.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Small Grain Research

Wheat Plots With Alleyways
 5 Row wheat plots are divided by alleyways.
Looking down the rows
 Note that the plots are 5 rows wide
Small Plot Combine
 This small plot combine is used to harvest the small grain plots.  The plots are so small that there is no grain tank.  The grain drops into a paper bag and someone has to walk alongside the combine to switch bags and put them in a storage container. 
Agronomy  South Farm Seedhouse
This is the seedhouse at the Agronomy South farm.  I worked the summer of 1975 as a field hand for small grain researcher Charles Brown.  A lot of the research was related to developing new wheat varieties.  We also worked on oats, rye, triticale and barley.  We harvested plots in Brownstown, Champaign, and Dekalb.  We had to push the stems of grain against a sickle bar with lath to cut it off.  It was then hand thrown into the threshing cylinder of the combine.  It took 4 people to operate the combine.  Two pushed grain in, one drove, and one took care of the bags.  Our "office" was on the second floor of the seedhouse.  I am curious if the air conditioner in the window of the seed storage room is the one that was bought when I was working there.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last 30 days rainfall

NWS 30 day rainfall - June 20
This is the last 30 days of rainfall in the Midwest.  The yellow and orange areas are probably adequate.  The green areas are somewhat short, but hanging in there.  The Blue is very short.  May not be much of a crop.  Missouri data is missing for some reason.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weed Science Field Day

Crowd at U of I today

Montgomery County Weeds
 I spotted this field early this morning as I headed to the University of Illinois Weed Science Field day.  If I knew who farmed this field, I would have taken him with me.
One of Hundreds of Combinations tested.
 The Weed Science Group is testing hundreds of combinations of hercides on the South Farm at Champaign -Urbana.  This combinations of herbicides seemed to be pretty effective.  I do not endorse products or give specific chemical advise.  This is just to show what was going on. 
This combination seemed pretty effective too.
One of the things being tested was single product soil applied herbicides.  No one product appeared to be effective on its own.  Multiple Modes of action and multiple chemistry is preached for a reason.  I asked one of the researchers about mechanical weed control (cultivation).  He said they did not have any cultivation plots even though it was in the news a bit this spring.  
Control Plot with no treatment
Just so no one gets the idea that there is no weed pressure on this site, check out the control plot.  It is very weedy.

The weed science day was a great opportunity for farmers and retailers to see what is really working in the field.   Lots of time was allowed to browse the plots in both corn and soybeans.  I did not post any corn potos because the crop is further along and it is really not as easy to see the weeds.

I also took the opportunity to network with U of I weed scientist Dr. Aaron Hager. I asked him if he was seeing any problems with herbicide effectiveness because of dry weather.  He said that one of the problems he has observed is dust on leaves.  I missed this when it was published in May, but it still applies to spraying soybeans.  He said the most effective solution is to slow down when spraying so you don't kick up as much dist.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Corn Nematodes

Winter meetings the past few years have often included information on corn nematodes.  Many people have tended to ignore that information.  Nematodes are little almost invisible wormlike creatures that live in the soil.  There are hindreds  of species.  Some like soybean cyst nematode are well known.  A relatively small number of species eat corn roots.  In a dry year and root issues can affect water uptake and in turn yields.  This Farm Progress article gives tips on sampling and tells where to send the samples to see if you have a problem. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Double Crop Soybeans

Double Crop Soybeans were emerging nicely this morning near Staunton

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cabbage Harvest

Cabbage Harvest was over when I went past this field.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Deep Soil Borings

I did a soil investigation toda to a depth of 5 feet in a grassy area.  Surface 10 inches is pretty dry.  There is good moisture around 2 feet down.  This is pretty much what I saw Tuesday too.  Bigger corn should have roots 2 feet deep.  This was about 5 miles from home, but bigger corn is looking stressed.  Smaller corn and soybeans looked OK for now.  Big corn is at a growth stage where water requirements are increasing. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fungicide Time?

The early corn crop continues to grow in spite of dry conditions.  Some very early fields are already tasseling and others will be soon.  That means it is decision time for fungicides.  Will pressures be less because of dry weather?  Do you have a vulnerable hybrid?  You probably need to contact your seed corn agronomist to find out.  Here is some research conducted last year by Iowa State University. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Double Crop Soybeans

Rain means conditions are very favorable for double crop soybeans.
 Most of the double crop soybeans are being planted no-till in narrow rows or drilled.
This irrigated field of double crop soybeans should yield like first crop.

Soybean Seed Tender in a field planted to double crop soybeans,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Corn Silking

This corn is located between Carlinville and Litchfield.  It was planted on March 13 and is now silking and tasseling.  I could smell the pollen in the air.  I have been watching this field all growing season.  The idea of planting in Mid-March was to beat an anticipated drought.  I also drove past a very early field between Raymond and Nokomis.  It is not as far along or as even as this field, although it was about half tasseled.  On average corn should be mature about 60 days after silking, so harvest on this field could be mid-August. 

Fields were looking a little more perky this morning after yesterday's rain.  We need more rain to keep the yeild potential up.  An area south of Witt looked to be very wet.  Some areas were already dry on top.

The above corn is furthest along in our area.  We have late and replant corn as small as 5 leaf stage. 

I did a deep boring in a grassy area this morning.  There is good moisture about 2 feet down.  That is deep for some of the small corn.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rain Today

We had a decent rain over much of Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.  Looking at some of the NWS info shows that there are still streaks that got missed.  We had 7/10th.  South of Mt. Vernon, the rain seemed to evaporate when it got to I-57.  What is up with that?  The driest area continues to be parched.

So does this increase the yield potential?  Only in the sense that a lot of the crops can last another week into the heat of the summer.  TheNWS forecast only goes out a week.  It is showing no more rain in sight.  Accuweather is saying rain around June 21.  Another 10 days with no rain and crops will look as parched as they do now.  In addition, we will be getting on toward pollination time by then and rain becomes critical.  In my area anyway, we still have potential for good crops, but we need more than soil water to take us to a bountiful harvest.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


The first four rows of this corn field are sweetcorn.  The variety on the left is about 3 feet tall and tasseling.  It really needs a rain in order to get anything off of it at all.  The leaves are rolling on the field corn, but it is still growing.  Rain would help all the crops at this point. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weather and Crop Report Ratings

I ran across this Prairie Farmer Story concerning early season weather and crop report ratings.  I agree that I would not expect the early season ratings to indicate final crop yields.  I do not think the ratings take into account some of the spot issues that the crop faces.  It is also interesting that Emerson Nafziger does not believe that early drought stresses might not affect overall yield if future rains are timely.

Right now my crop ratings would be good for corn and soybeans, but the crop is far from "made".  Dry weather has been favorable for timely planting and good stands for the most part.  Fields that needed to be replanted, needed replant because of wetness related factors.  We do have limited acreage of corn that will give average or better than average yields with one or 2 more good rains.  That corn will be tasselling  next week.  Much of our corn needs some rain right now to relieve the drought stress.  The southern third of Illinois could stand to get lots of rain. 

One thing about the ratings and weather that I don't really understand is weather related market volatility.  Prices seem to go up and down based on anticipated weather rather than what is actually going on at any given time or place.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wheat Harvest Report

Wheat harvest is underway in my area a good 2 weeks ahead of what might have been considered an early harvest in the past.  Weather is perfect. The farmer in the top photo stopped and visited a bit.  His moisture is 15%, but he still has some green heads. A good rain last week might have fixed that.  He said he is averaging 65 bushels per acre.  Not too bad, but not great.  He did not use fungicide.  When I was  a kid, wheat harvest lasted a week or longer.  Big machinery and less acreage will have it over with in 3 days.  I am expecting lots of double crop soybeans if we get a rain. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Purple Martins

Of course I have seen lots of purple martins over the years, but I  have been noticing them a lot lately because they seem to buzz around my 4 wheeler as I am sampling.  I would love to take photos or better yet, video, but they are so small and quick I don't think I can do them justice.  Purple martins are know to catch insects as they fly around.  Some say they eat lots of mosquitoes, but this article would lead me to say that is not a conclusive statement.  In any case it is great fun watching them buzz around when I am working.  They seem to like the 4 wheeler.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Everyone likes an old tractor

Farmall at the end of the driveway.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rainfall Deviation from Average

Rainfall Deviation From Average YTD  June 3
This is the rainfall deviation from average from National Weather Service.  It is centered on Illinois, but catches a lot of the Midwest including Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, and about half of Ohio.  Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery, and Madison Counties are sitting in an area where rainfall is about average (gray).  Green and Blue areas are above average.  Yellow and red are below average.  You can see that southeastern Illinois is 8 to 12 inches below average.  Note that I prefer the term average as compared to "normal"  I will do a rant on that sometime.  As always click to enlarge or go to NWS site to look at your area closer.

I had an interesting day weather wise.  I got to see a cloud go from little old cumulus to supercell in about an hour.  It was not a huge cell, but very cool to watch.  I understand there was hail with the storm.  I was watching for tails, but did not see any.   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cool Season Forage Grasses

Orchard Grass

Smooth Brome

Tall Fescue

These cool season forage grasses are easy to identify when headed out.  Learning to identify them in the vegetative state is more challenging.  If your cool season forages have headed out it is past time to cut or graze them.  As always click to enlarge the photos.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Double Back Soybeans

No-Till Soybeans

Conventional Till Soybeans
My customer today decided to try some new things with soybeans.  He has been planting in 30 inch rows with tillage.  He planted most of his beans by planting at a half rate and then doubling back with his planter to simulate 15 inch rows.  The No-Till Beans looked at least as good as the more conventionally tilled beans. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wild Raspberries

Wild Raspberries
One of the benefits of my job that I enjoy is to see what is going on with nature.  It is even better when I get to eat what is going on with nature.  Food does not get any fresher than berries straight from the vine.