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Thursday, July 31, 2014

George Washington Carver

We finally got home last night from our vacation.  Somehow it seemed longer than seven days. One of our last stops was at the George Washington Carver  National Historic Monument.  Carver and Norman Bourlaug are the only agronomists that I know who have a statue. It is interesting to note that both of them were inspired by the desire to help feed poor people.  The National Park Service puts a good deal of emphasis on Carver's philosophy.  He was certainly a thinker beyond most of us.  Besides being an agronomist  he was a food scientist and biochemist as well.  It was an inspiration to see what can come of humble beginnings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oklahoma City Stockyards

Today's agriculture stop was at National Stockyards in Oklahoma City.  We were able to walk around and see much of the stockyards.  We also enjoyed shopping at Langston's Western store and several others.  The stop was completed with a wonderful lunch at the Cattlemen's Steakhouse.  The steak was tender and properly cooked and the wait staff was attentive without hovering.  There used to be places like this in Chicago and East St. Louis near the stockyards there, but now we have to go west to experience it.
stockyards entrance

Cattlemen's Steakhouse

Monday, July 28, 2014

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Headed home today.  We stopped at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  There is some great art work and great displays.  I always wanted to stop. We spent about 3 hours and did not see it all.  I could be persuaded to stop again sometime.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In the Land of Cotton

I always enjoy visiting different parts of the country and seeing what is grown and how it is grown.  Rainfall is 22.5 inches so water conservation is important. Main crops in the area besides cotton are peanuts and wheat. 
An old Welcome Mat

Ia am told the Cotton Crop is looking good

Cotton Stripper

Summer Fallow for Water Conservation

Skip Rows for Water Conservation

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Western Oklahoma

View in Western Oklahoma near Cheyenne.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Traveling thru Missouri

We traveled through Missouri today.  We were not exactly in the heart of the Missouri crop belt, but crops we saw were in need of water.  It has been a number of years since we have traveled I-44.  There seemed to be more grapes than ever in the St. James area.  Posts may sporadic for a few days because we are on vacation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Soybean Aphids

We have not heard a lot of reports of soybean aphid problems this year, but scouting should continue until maybe mid-August.  Iowa State University offers details in this bulletin

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Deer Damaged Corn

Corn below has a little bit of deer damage and  little bit of wind damage.  Deer are feeding very close to the house.  I don't think this qualifies, but there are nuisance permits available to kill deer doing serious damage. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Comments on Weather and Crop Report

This week's Weather and Crop Report still shows over 80% of the corn crop in good or excellent condition.  I my area we are start to see dry weather stress.  I am sure it does not qualify as drought yet.  Soybeans are over 75% good or excellent.  Again in my area, they need some rain.  I went to Monroe County today and saw a lot of nice looking crops, but to have top yields, we need some rain. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Farm Grain Storage

On farm grain storage has been around as long as there have been farmers.  This Prairie Farmer Article discusses the advantages.  In recent years there seems to be a movement toward larger bins in a central location.  An advantage could be access in the winter and the need to check fewer location.  Storage in or near the field on the other hand provides for short hauls during harvest and keeping  grain from different landlords separate.  Storage also adds flexibility in marketing.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Which Tile Inlet is Better?

Both of the Inlets pictured keep the crop residue out of the tile.  Why is one or the other used?  The type 1 inlet usually has holes or slots.  They can be made of aluminum, steel, PVC, or plastic.  They have slots or holes. The type 1 inlets limit the amount of water that can get into the tile.  Some terrace systems are designed in such a way that water on the up hill inlets must be limited to prevent it from coming out of a down hill inlet. 

The bar guard intakes or type 2 inlets are used to maximize inflow into a tile.  In a terrace situation with type 2 risers, tile size and grade are used to prevent outflow on the downhill inlets.  In a terrace situation, you should replace damaged inlets with the same kind that was originally installed.

Sometimes inlets are used in closed depressions to increase drain water out of the depression faster.  In those situations, if water is not getting away fast enough with a type 1 riser, you could try a type 2.

So which one is better?  It depends on engineering requirements. 

Type 1 inlet

Type 2 inlet

Friday, July 18, 2014

Illinois River Navigation and the Flood of 2013

The importance of the Illinois River to agriculture in Illinois is huge.  In 2013 record flooding on the Illinois River caused some unanchored barges to damage the Lock and Dam at Marseilles.  The breakaway barges cause huge a mounts of damages, interrupted shipping and may have contributed to flooding of an elementary school.  Ken Olson and Lois Wright Morton did an excellent job of giving background on the Illinois River navigation system.  They also wrote an excellent report in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Should you spray fungicide on your corn

This is not one of my most timely posts, but I know some of you are still making fungicide decisions especially to the north.  No-till Farmer sent out Five Answers to using Foliar Fungicides in Corn.  The information is good for helping to decide.  Really the overriding factors are Susceptibility and disease pressure.  I don't think it is an issue this year, but they say there is not an economic benefit to using fungicide for drought resistance.  Obviously you will need a better yield bump for $3 corn than for $8 corn.  Also keep in mind that fungcides are only effective for a limited number of sprayings, so you might  want to save it for when you really need it. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sweetcorn Day

Today was sweetcorn day for us. My brother plants corn for the whole family, and friends and neighbors.  We put about 10 dozen ears in the freezer. We steam it, coll it, and cut it off the cob.  We also give some to friends and neighbors. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reduced corn yields in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim: 
At this point we can begin to understand that we will not have all the corn we expected toharvest in the northern state of Mato Grosso. On the best plantandos early corn we are now realizing a 20% reduction in production and the corn that suffered from the lack of rain we can expect a reduction in output of up to 35% (or even more); In southern Mato Grosso harvest has not yet begun. We first started harvesting in the north. The producers here waiting better prices and have almost almost no  maize (best price of $ 9.00 per 60kg sack) now have price U $ 6.30 per bag of 60 pounds. Inother words, we're not reaping all the maize that was expected and the price can be better! But every time our government informs the numbers they say that production will record ... do not understand how the less becomes more? 

Soybeans have little available, prices plummeted but producers are not selling hoping to return to U.S. $ 29.50, today we have U $ 26.00. We're not seeing crashes in 2015, prices are very low (about $ 19.00).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Newer Hybrids Need Nitrogen Later in the Growing Season

Researchers with Iowa State University and Pioneer have studied nitrogen uptake in corn to better manage nitrogen.  They have found That hybrids developed since about 1990 take up more nitrogen later in the growing season.  The implication is that early applied nitrogen may be less than ideal for top yields.  It also looks like nitrification inhibitors may play a bigger role in nitrogen management.  High clearance equipment for sidedressing is also looking like a good nitrogen management tool.  Check the link above for more details. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Road Trip to Chicago

We made a weekend road trip to Chicago.  We like to take I-57 north from Champaign.  When we got to Decatur, we decided to head toward Bloomington because of storms. Crops along the way looked good until Dwight.  There were a few spots showing stress from wetness.  North of Dwight the wetness issues got worse.  The addition rain probably added to the stress.  Soils remain on the dry side in my home area.

On the way home we were able to return via I-57.  There was lots of wetness stress and heavy rains had fallen on Saturday as well.  Where not drowned out, crops were looking decent.  Along the I-57 corridor,  the corn was not as far along as other corn we have seen.  only maybe 50% was pollinating until we got close to Champaign.  Kaskaskia River was running bank full at Tuscola. We still had no rain at Hillsboro when we arrived home, but as we tried to unload the car we had a pop up shower. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Road Trip to Carmi

A friend has been telling me about his farm in White County for 25 years.  Friday I finally took a ride with him to the farm.There will be another blog about what we were looking at later.

Almost the whole trip we were commenting to each other about the good condition of both the corn and soybeans.  As we got closer to Crossville we were starting to see the effects of wetness.  Double crop soybean planting is mostly complete.  The field below is near Crossville.  Moisture was excellent in that field and the stand was almost 100%. 

Double Crop Soybeans

Friday, July 11, 2014

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Farm Magazines and other media have made a big deal over the use of unmanned aerial systems in agriculture over the past few years.  60 Minutes has even covered the topic.  A number of agriculture related media sponsored a Precision Aerial Agriculture Show at the Farm Progress site in Decatur yesterday.  The show had lots of vendors on hand.  Two buildings were used for lectures.  The program was well organized and informative. Chad Colby and other organizers did a good job

Below are some photos of some of the products on display.  This is not an endorsement of any particular product.  It is just to show examples of what is available.  I caught the end of a lecture by Trimble.  They have a $50000 system that they will not sell unless the buyer has legal permission to use it.  Hoverfly has a tethered product that is legal under current rules. The problem with Hoverfly is limited utility.

One of the interesting lectures was a discussion of legal issues by New York attorney Brendan Schulman.  FAA rules and court rulings are not always in agreement, and cases are moving through the courts.  FAA has rule clarifications open for comments. Deadline for comments is July 25.  The rule below would pretty much put Ag on hold till final rules are done in 2015. 

Agriculture and real estate are singled out.  In the past the thought has been that as long as no money exchanges hands, unmanned aerial systems could be used. The propo,sed rule changes that.

One thing I don't see mentioned is the movie industry.  Those guys use unmanned aerial systems to make money.  I guess they could film in foreign countries.  

A big part of utilizing UAS is photo analysis. Pix4D and Field of View caught my eye, but they seem expensive.  Trimble's system included flying ship and software.

The Decatur Aerocommanders  made the show possible by their presence.  They also had some interesting aircraft on display

                                     Flying wings are one of the genera used in agriculture

                                                 Multi-blade coptors are also popular

                        This aircraft is for aerial application.  Size and weight might be be a problem.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Road Trip to Decatur

I took a road trip to Decatur for the Precision Aerial Agriculture Systems program today.  There will be more on the topic another day. 

About 90% of the corn I saw was pollinating.  I saw more wetness stress than drought stress, but over all the corn crop looks very good.  The soybeans were also in good shape for the most part.  Some are as tall as thigh high. I did not go into any fields, but I suspect most of the soybeans are blooming too. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Business Commits to Small Town Roots

National Bank is a small town bank with headquarters right here in Hillsboro Illinois.  They have locations in 11 communities in south-central Illinois and provide complete banking services to our business and agricultural people. Most people in  Hillsboro were delighted to hear the bank  was needing more space and planned to construct the new building below. The building covers a half block in the downtown area.  The building was designed to blend in with historic architecture in the downtown area.  Workers were hired locally to the extent possible to complete the construction.  All this is the good news.

The bad news is that the construction has been completed for 3 months.  They did everything possible to eke sure they were in compliance with all  banking   and environmental regulations.  Despite their  best efforts, banking regulators are holding up the move to the new facilities because of NEPA issues that should have been addressed during the planning and construction phase.  While I do not have all the details, it would appear to be an example of government run amuck. Small towns need committed business and we have one, but we seem to be bogged down here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

To Spray Funcide on corn or not

When we look at the yes or no answer on whether or not to spray fungicide we are left on the fence. We hope to get that yield bump, and it does not always happen.  One thing that needs to be done is to find out if gray leaf spot susceptible seed has been planted.  Scouting also important along with a look at growing conditions.   A look at yesterday's map shows where conditions are likely to be wet and good for growing fungi. 

Iowa State University offers good advice

Monday, July 7, 2014

30 Day Rainfall

Rainfall totals for the past 30 days are excessive in some areas and a little short in others.  I have outlined the area in Missouri and Illinois that appears to be short.  Most of my county is in that area. Click on the picture to enlarge it. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cover Crops

The time is drawing near to have seed bought and to be ready for planting cover crops.  June Prairie Farmer Devoted a good deal of print to the topic.  Building better soil is the cover story about a Marion Illinois farm.  The second story, Digging into the Organic Matter debate covers the issue of how we measure organic matter.  Dr. Ken Olson tried to start the debate a number of years ago, but has only recently gotten coverage on the issue.  I am proud to say that I shared Dr Olson's proposed  protocols for measuring organic matter in no-till and cover crop situations right here last year.  The issue also contains tips from the experts including The Dahmers from Marion.  Be sure and read all the sidebars too.  Josh Flint sums it all up a few pages later looking at the surprisingly controversial topic

My advice on cover crops would be:
  • Start small
  • Plant cover crops on  your worst soils
  • Use No-till or very reduced tillage
  • Read as much as you can
  • Set a baseline on your own farm.  
  • Start with a Soil Health Test 
  • Expect to make mistakes

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Passing of the Seasons

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day.  This is the view from the first I-55 overpass north of Litchfield. Soybeans and corn have both reach reproductive stage.  The soybeans are flowering and the corn is tasseling.  I think the streaks of yellow are areas that are stressed by wetness. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Spreading Manure

I make an effort to have photographs of just about any ag related field activity you can think of.  I sampled a recently harvested wheat field today and my customer was spreading manure.  He was planning to incorporate it and then plant soybeans.  Soil moisture was ideal in this field.  I can't say it would be that way everywhere because we have some dry spots in the area. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Grapevine beetle

I found the beetle below on my dewberries.  He is about an inch long.  He is a grapevine beetle.  My neighbor has some untended grape vines very close, so I guess he was eating them.  He is about an inch long.  According to most of what I have read, the grapevine beetle seldom does economic damage. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wheat Harvest Continues

I pulled a few soil health samples yesterday and toured Eastern Montgomery County.  Wheat harvest was about 50% done.  Today I went to Carbondale.  I crossed Washington County, Illinois' leading wheat producing county.  Wheat harvest in that area is about 90% done.  I saw many planters planting double crop soybeans. Montgomery County is in a dry patch, but soil moisture should be good for double crop soybeans to germinate.