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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Water Does Weird Things

In 1993 the Meramec River Guage near the mouth of the river along the Mississippi read 45.3 when levees of the Columbia Levee District overtopped.  This year the Meramec River topped out at 47.2 which was worriesome to me.  However, the Stage of the Mississippi was somewhat lower than 1993 and was able to absorb the water.  We did move antique tractors and tools to a safer location over this bridge the past two days.  I am glad we moved but even more glad that it looks like we did not need to.  Lots can still go wrong, but one hazard .

You have seen the I-55 bridge over the Meramec River was closed because of high water.  I would guess that if you ever crossed that bridge at normal water levels, you would not believe that water could close down that bridge.  It sits high above the river.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Update on Flooding

A weekend storm had lead to lots of flooding in the area around St. Louis.  In Hillsboro, water flowed through the emergency spillway on Glenn Shoals Lake.  That would be termed a 100 year flood, better categorized as a flood that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year.

Our family farm is located in the floodplain of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.  Flood forecasts yesterday were predicting a 44.9 reading on the St. Louis gauge.  In our area the levees will overtop with around a 49 foot level.  With more rain in the forecast, it seemed prudent to begin moving some machinery from the farm.  Lots of people were hauling grain as fast as possible with hired trucks running in addition the local farmer's trucks.  We also saw farm machinery being moved. We also saw trailers being loaded with household goods.   We do not believe that the flood levels will reach the 1993 record level, but you can't wait and see and them try to move everything in a panic.  Our friends in the West Alton and Portage DesSioux area in Missouri were already put out of their homes by the levee there overtopping.  Right now the forecast looks good for my home farm, but more rain could be a problem.  Flooding on tributaries might reach records, but it looks like the big rivers will not reach record levels from this rainfall event.
Internal Water Protected Side of Levee 

Mississippi River at the mouth of Carr Creek

Monday, December 28, 2015

Floodplain Issues

We are about to experience the second highest recorded flood on the Mississippi River.  It will probably come in third or fourth on the flow list.  Floods bring out the floodplain management specialist in me.  One of the issues that always comes up with a big flood is that we should return the floodplain to nature.  I would contend that farming is a compatible use for floodplains if you are prepared for the crop loss.

However, residences are not as compatible.  Federal Floodplain policy is to remove insurable structures from the floodplain, or flood proof them.  Elevated structures like the one below east of Litchfield are allowed.  The problem is that you u need a boat to get home.  In the case of the one below, it appears to me to be in the floodway.  Construction in a floodway is prohibited.  This house was allowed because of a poorly drawn map.  The house is about 50 feet from Shoal Creek and stream bank erosion could easily compromise it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Very Wet

NWS radar shows we had a little under and inch to a little over an inch.  I made a trip to Shipman today and it looks much wetter.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Check Your Stored Grain

So you got done with harvest safely and grain is stored until delivery contracts come due.  Weather this fall and early winter is very variable.  Humidity and temperatures are running the gamut, making it imperative to keep an eye and nose on stored grain. Farmweek News has advice on Maintaining Stored Grain.    Be sure to follow bin saftey procedures as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Corn Crib in Barn

This barn has a corn crib built in.  I know this is not unusual, but it does not show very often.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fertilizer Prices

Current fertilizer prices are lower than they  have been in some time, but now is not the time to use your soil as a bank.  Low crop prices mean that over and under fertilization is still not  a good idea.  No_Till Farmer gives projected fertilizer prices for 2016 crop year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weather in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

Here in Brazil the El nino is being seen across the country, in southern Brazil have a lot of rain and West in the center near the South are having normal rains in the northern Midwest are having lack of rain. Northern Brazil is being punished by lack of rain!

I will summarize in two problems I look now, in southern Brazil, in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul producers are failing to apply protectants to kill caterpillars, bugs and control Asian rust, the state Paraná is the second largest producer in Brazil, and the sun has not appeared much there and soybeans are already suffering from lack of sun. The forecast for the South is over three months of too much rain.

In the Midwest, the nearest part of the South are having good rainfall, it is not missing. In northern Midwest we are already seeing soybeans suffer from the lack of rainfall and the heat is killing the crops. Some areas have had two replants and there is no longer time for the third soybean replant. In northern Mato Grosso harvest should begin in January, but this year I do not think that will be possible. Mato Grosso is the largest producer of grains in Brazil.
We have large grain producers, as well as Mato Grosso and Paraná. the states of Bahia, Tocantins, Maranhão who are suffering from the lack of rain and soybeans is dying, and are.

It's too early to tell if all goes well in the fields of Brazil!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Good and Inexpensive American Food

We hear and read about how inexpensive food is in the United States, but with all the convenience foods out there, we may not realize how inexpensive it is to make a really good meal.

Yesterday, has an urge for some comfort food.  In our household, that sometimes means chicken dumplings.  I went to the store and found a chicken for $2.79.  Wow, What a bargain!  Then I got to thinking how much is was going to cost to prepare probably 8 servings of great food.

Chicken - $2.79
Flour   -      $.25
Egg     -       $.15
Onion  -      $.25
Celery  -     $.40 It was kind of high priced.
Salt       -     $.01
Sage      -     $.10  (optional)
Pepper  -      $.05  (optional)
Heat      -     $.05  to operate the stove

Total      -     $4.05

Eight servings, less than 51 cents per serving.  Less then 50 cents to add a serving of fruit or vegetable, although as you can see it already contains some vegetables.

Learning how to cook, might be in order if you think food is expensive.  The best home made foods are also simple.  I could think of  at least 6 ways to use that chicken that would make  a lot of meals for little money.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Coal Train

I was crossing a wooden overpass on my 4 wheeler when this coal train came along.  I thought the view from above was interesting.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fulton and Schuyler Counties

I worked in the Bader area today.  In contrast to yesterday, soil moisture was short in some of the topsoil borings.  

I also got a good shot of a purple corn crib.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sampling in Rushville Area

We took a trip to Rushville today to sample for a new customer.  Low areas were very wet.  There is lots of tillage done in that area on some pretty erosive soils.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Subsoil Moisture Report

I did a septic tank investigation today near Herrick in Shelby County.  The soil was moist to about 30 inches.  Below that depth, moisture is short.  We just finished the 3rd wettest November on record in Illinois.  In my opinion, we are headed into winter with adequate moisture.  We are likely to recharge that soil easily by April 1 planting time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mato Grosso Moisture is Short for Planting.

By Eduardo Paim:

I see the very divergent information, foreign markets are seeing something that I believe is not as certain as the traders think. They speak in good weather in general in South America, but here in Mato Grosso, the largest soy producer in Brazil we still have very erratic weather, lack of rain in the north and we are already in December!

In some northern soybean crops, the heat is so much that the plants are dying, and some farms already had two replantings because of deaths by strong heat.

We have so much to happen until we get "all quiet".

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cover Crops and Soil Health

Healthy Soils For Healthy Waters was the title of the Symposium that kicked off the Edge of Field Monitoring and Nutrient Management Conference.  The highlight of the whole conference was listening to David Brandt of Ohio discuss his system of cover crops and No-Till.  Brandt has been using cover crops for over 30 years.  His soils test very high for microbial respiration.  This indicates high microbial activity.  His figure of a $72 per acre net benefit to using cover crops is a  compelling reason to go for it.  I also had the privilege to visit with Brandt in person.  He talked a good bit about the benefits of using multiple cover crop species to enhance benefits.  He has tried as many as 12 species, but finds little addition benefit beyond using 8 species.

In an informal discussion over dinner, one of the Ohio State University professors in attendance indicated that he did not think that you could ever get enough nitrogen out of cover crops to have top yields.  Brandt disputed those remarks saying that he could raise 250 bushel per acre corn if he planted cover crops after harvesting wheat instead of going to double crop soybeans. Brandt is also experimenting with inter-seeding soybeans between corn rows for their nitrogen benefit.  The more we hear about cover crops, the more compelling it seems to use them,

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What I Brought Home from the Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Conference

I looked at notes from Day 3 of the conference and found little new information.  What I brought home was:

  • Monitoring runoff and nutrient loading is difficult and expensive.
  • We don't always find the answers we think we will.
  • A little phosphorous in your water can be a big problem.
  • Controlling nutrient releases is not an exact science.
  • Conservative use of fertilizer can have a positive impact on water quality.
  • Watch out for unintended consequences.
  • Guidelines are scarce for farmers or consultants who want to do monitoring in a practical way. 
I was not sure what to think of a presentation by Brittany Hanrahan of Notre Dame University on the first day of the conference.  She set up her study to monitor the effects of cover crops on water quality in a small watershed in Indiana.  She monitored her outflows every 2 weeks.  Her results showed a positive effect from conservation practices applied.  As I listened to all the other presentations I could see that her study was not very sophisticated compared to all the others; yet she got what seemed to be valid results that showed a positive impact.  Somehow we need people like Hanrahan to lead us to a practical side of monitoring so that farmers can set up their own studies to guide decisions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nutrient Management and Edge Conference Day 2

i probably need to share more details on a few presentations today, but for now I just have a few quick observations to share.

  • Matt Lechtenberg says that he thinks it will take more than 4R to have a significant impact on water quality
  • Kevin King said that acceptable leves of dissolved P were achieved where soil test P values are not excessive
  • several speakers pointed out that half of dissolved P in surface waters is from tile water.  That is surprising to many.  
  • Conservation Activities 201 and 202 are for monitoring.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nutrient Management and Edge Conference Day 1

I am in Memphis attending the Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Conference. The conference kicked off with a symposium on healthy soils and healthy waters.  The morn started with academic research reports.  The afternoon moved to much more interesting topics as farmers and other discussed healthy soils from a more practical standpoint.  lames Moseley of Agree a food and agriculture policy group summed up the afternoon discussing policy and summing things up.  Mosey speculated that 25% of the yield increase needed to feed 9 million people would come from improving soil quality.  The farmer presentations were very compelling with the notion that such an increase is possible.  He also asked who would lead.  He thinks that government leadership is a bad idea.  He suggested that individuals will need to step forward.  Moseley discussed regulation and the idea that farmers need to avoid regulation by implementing god management on their own.  I would add that the reason we need to avoid regulation is that regulations limit our ability to manage a dynamic system. We need the flexibility to address issues as they present themselves. Andrew Sharply of Arkansas pointed out that they are no cookie cutter methods to solve every soil quality and water quality issue.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Is Nutrient Management Regulation Here?

The past year or so has seen algae blooms in Lake Eire, lawsuits in Des Moines and courts ruling that manure if over applied is a pollutant.  Crops and Soils Magazine says, Risk Drives Demand for Professional Nutrient Management.  Their article is geared toward CCA's but the reality is that consultants and farmers are partners.  Irresponsible advice and irresponsible fertilizer and manure usage are problems for everyone involved.  Over application of manure can cause issues with pollution from excessive nitrogen and phosphorous.  I am still waiting for the first CCA in Illinois to be taken to task for selling nitrogen inappropriately in the fall.  We all need to work together to account for and use nutrients responsibly.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thinking of Cutting Out Soil Testing?

With crop prices low, some people are thinking that soil testing is one of the things they could cut out or cut back on.  Kansas State University researchers have studied the issue and found that trying to apply fertilizer without proper data can cost money whether fertilizer is over or under applied. There article on the Economic Return of Soil Testing documents the issue very well.  With lower crop prices, the value of soil testing increases.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Review of Dell Venue 11 Tablet

This spring I bought a Dell Venue 11 to replace my Ipad as a field computer.  I chose the Dell for a number of reasons.  Price was a consideration, but so was the fact that it was a windows computer and there is a hard case (Gumdrop) available for it.  I wrote early about it, but found I needed to delete that blog because issues I raised were later clarified. 

My Archer had decided it did not want to start.  I have had it since 2008 and a 7 year old computer is bound to quit working sooner or later.  I have also been having touch screen issues on my IPAD, so I thought it was time to upgrade at least one field computer.  It seems I have tried and reviewed a lot of different platforms for field work and of course I still have much of that equipment. Last year I upgraded to a Surface Pro 2.  It worked well enough that I decided that a windows tablet would be in order.

I know some consultants who are using Dell tablets to run Farmworks Mobile in the field.  I have used Global Mapper on my Toughbook and on my Surface Pro 2.  I have 2 issues with the Surface Pro 2.  One is price and the other is there is no ruggedized case.  I looked at the Dell tablets and they came equipped with Windows 8.1 and some of them have ruggedized gumdrop cases.  The Venue 11 looked like it would meet all my needs, so I got out the credit card and paid up.  I bought this computer strictly for field use and intended to only load up Global Mapper to use as my mapping software..

When I got the computer, my setup was simple.  I connected to my account and all my apps were transferred over.  I down loaded the latest version of Global Mapper.  When I tested Global Mapper, I found that the right click function does not work with Global Mapper.  To right click on a tablet, you hold the spot for 2 seconds and the appropriate menu pops up.  I called Dell immediately because the right click feature works on my Surface Pro 2.  Dell tech support got into my computer and checked it out.  Since the technician was using a mouse, Global Mapper was fully functional.  He promised to have an experienced technician look at it and get back to me the next day.

The next day, I did get a call as promised, but all they did was confirm my issues and promised another call a day later.  The technician that called back asked if I had contacted Global Mapper, which I had, but I told him that since it worked on the Surface Pro 2 with Windows 8.1, I thought it was their problem.  He asked if I bought it from their app store.  I said it was not available on their app store. He said they only back applications from their app store.  That answer was not very satisfactory to me.  If I want a computer that only runs proprietary stuff, I could buy another IPAD.  I really want the Windows versatility.

I decided to see if my GPS receiver would work, so I hooked up my Garmin Glo.  It paired easily and when I displayed the maps on Global Mapper the GPS function worked.  Global Mapper worked fine ln the Dell with anything I could do with a tap on the screen.  Just the right click won't work with my finger or a stylus.

I need to tell you up front that I have been a fan of Global Mapper since I first purchased it I think in 2007.  They have always been very responsive to issues and have even added features at my request.  Their support has been phenomenal.  I recently upgraded to version 16 and had an issue with using some black and white aerials that I really like.  The problem was corrected in less than 48 hours. Global Mapper's response was less than satisfying as well because they said that they do not support Global Mapper as a mobile app even though I have been using it as such on my Surface Pro 2 for a year. They did agree that it sounds like a Dell issue and not really a problem with their product.

Global Mapper came up with a solution a few days later.  After further checking on the Surface Pro 2 I found that the touch issue was also an issue on it.  It seems that the reason that Touch Mouse Pointer was invented was that Windows 8.1 had issues with the touch screen on certain apps.  It worked well enough that I downloaded it for my Surface Pro 2 as well.  

After solving the touch screen issue, I tested the Dell Venue 11 in the field.  I found that it shut itself down for no particular good reason.  I called Dell support again and they tried to update to the latest operating system. I tested it again and it still shut off.  They had me remove and replace the battery.  No fix with that either.  At this point I was wishing I could send it back for a refund, but I was past 30 days.   Eventually I convinced them I should send it in.  They messed with the operating system, said it was OK and sent it back.  When I had time to reload apps and test to again a couple of weeks later, It quit again rather quickly.  I could always restart it, but that was not acceptable.  Dell support sent me a memory stick that I was supposed to use to re-install the operating system myself.  Tue stick did not work. When I next called Dell support, they said perhaps it was the motherboard.  I sent it in again.  When I got it back it still shut itself off.  I really did not have time to mess with it, so it waited until August.  

In August I called again.  Dell support had me do some do some diagnostics and then told me to send it in again.  When I did, I also badmouthed them on twitter.  It seemed to take about a week to get it back.  With no place to test it, it sat there until fall sampling season started.  They said they had replaced the battery.  

I started the fall sampling season with the Dell.  I was not optimistic, but low an behold it worked.  The second day it was still going.  By setting the screen to light blue, and darkening the lines, visibility is pretty good.  I have to shade it in bright sunlight.  The computer is set to go to standby after 15 minutes.  This preserves the battery a bit.  f I give the start button a quick push it comes back on without logging in.  On standby over 15 minutes I have to use my password.  Battery life is good.  I worked from 9 AM till 5 PM in Schuyler County one day and had plenty of battery.  

I used the dell to record tracks that I use as boundaries between zones.  The tracks can then be exported to a shape file.  I am using One Drive to stove the shape files.  This means when I get home I can draw final maps at my desk without transferring files.  I also you One Drive to move files between Computers.  This setup works great. I do have issues with One Drive at times because it is slow to move large numbers of files.  That is why I try to keep files up to date on each computer individually. The computer seems to be more stable if I lock the screen.  I keep it in horizontal mode  because of the mount I have.  I called Ram-mounts to get them to sell me a mount that would work.  The one they sold me is OK, but not exactly right.  If I had to do that over again I would get a universal mount.  Also, I used a sma;l ball that I had.  I ended up getting larger ball because it was easier to tighten down.  

Once Dell finally solved the problem, I would have to say that the tablet lives up to my expectations.  I am not sure when I will buy another tablet, but it will be a Windows tablet for sure.  I am hesitant to say it will be a Dell because of the ordeal with support.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weather in Brazil Not great for Planting

By Eduardo Paim:

Last week I sent you a notice that we were happy and having good rains for our soybean crops and producers returned to planting after 20 days without rain.

We had only five days of good rain and then it stopped again raining on Friday (11.13.15) we have completed 15 days again without rain and very hot. In northern Mato Grosso, where planting should have ended, farmers still have not put a seed in the ground for lack of rain. I believed that the problem of rain was resolved, but I see it will be a very difficult year for crops, low rainfall and very hot.

The soybean planting is delayed by three weeks in Mato Grosso.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Unique Photo

This is something you don't see every day.In fact I have never seen it.  A corn cob got stuck on top of a cut off corn stalk.  The only way to take the picture was from the ground.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fall Nitrogen Application

Some producers are starting to apply fall nitrogen.  Whether or not this is a good idea remains a big question.  Iowas State offers some advice on Determining Whether to Apply Fall N.  In Illinois, the recommendation is to use nitrification inhibitors and don't apply south of Route 16.  Also, wait till soil temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit with little chance to warm.  My advice would be no fall application south of I-72 and no fall application before Veterans Day in any case.  Illinois Soil Temperatures are cooler than I expected according to Illinois Water Survey.  Keep in mind that temperatures on your farm may vary up to 100 degrees depending on conditions.  Check at a depth of 4 inches at 10 AM.  A $5 meat thermometer works fine.  Let it in for at least a minute.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fall Colors

Weather has been so warm this fall that trees were slow to change colors.  Now with our recent freeze, they seem to be just dropping leaves.  I did find some bright fall colors in a few places even though it was a dull day on Saturday.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Line Ripper

I spotted this in line ripper 2 weeks ago.  I did not sample the field that it was used on, but it was obvious that there was not as much lifting and shattering action as the rippers with wings have.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Old Silo

I spotted this old silo in Bond County.  It is hard to find one with a metal roof in such good repair.

Ceramic Silo

Monday, October 19, 2015

Soybean Planting Delayed in Brazil

By Eduardo Paim:

Here in Mato Grosso are seeing the very different weather than anything we have seen. At the end of past week (9, 10 and 11) weather was very cold in some cities in the state and this is not normal for this time of year. After the cold ended, it began the very strong heat that made all the farmers keep their machines at home and stop the planting of soybeans. The heat is very strong and early planted soybeans with slightly damp soil are dead and these areas will be planted again. We have few crops planted in soil with low moisture. It is not very important to the damaged soybeans that died. We forecast that the rains should return this weekend, we're three weeks behind a perfect planting to make the second crop with corn planting after harvesting the 1st soybean crops. As the soybean planting is delayed I do not believe that the whole maize crop second crop will be planted. It's been over six years since we had such a strong heat here in Mato Grosso.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bumper Corn Crop?

We have been hearing reports that corn yield in our area is off 10 to 20%.  The temporary corn storage below is near Tuscola.
Courtesy of Maribeth Rahe

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Early Fall Colors

We are start to see a hint of fall in the Monroe County Bluff and in my yard.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Soybean Planting Time

By Eduardo Paim:

Here in Mato Grosso are having a very hot week, the rains that were in  the forecast to begin in early October are not coming. In northern Mato Grosso where there should have been planting they are still stopped by lack of rain and it is getting worrisome. Farmers who we  talked to are concerned; if the rains are delayed another week already we enter the risk area and may compromise planting the second crop of corn.

Farmers wanted to plant in early October soybeans in order to have a good second crop of corn.

We have farms that receive good rain and another nearby farm that has not received any rain.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Corn Harvest May Be Wrapping Up

Corn Harvest seems to be about 80% done, however, soybean harvest is likely to take a while.  All the photos were from today.  You can see that soybeans range from very green to ready to harvest.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Wheat is Growing

I spotted several fields of wheat that are already up today.  Conditions are ideal except we are very much ahead of the Hessian Fly free date.  Hessian Flies may not be a problem but there may be other reasons to delay wheat planting.    I will let Robert Bellm fill you in.  I will also tell you that early planting of wheat can increase yield, but not without risk.  Also consider your crop insurance requirements for planting date.  Prairie Farmer Posted the Fly Free Date by county in this Article.

Emerged Wheat

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saving on Machinery Costs

One of the things I like to do in my blog is show things that you do not see every day.  I recently ran out of gas in my 4 wheeler and had to go to Morrisonville to get gas.  I was truly amazed to spot the New Idea corn picker about 2 miles south of Morrisonville.  This would have been state of the art corn harvesting about 1960. I guess the producer is saving equipment costs.  Just in case you are in doubt, on the way back to the field, I caught the same machinery actually working in the field.

Friday, October 2, 2015

In Line Ripper

One of my goals with this blog is to pass along things that work. A client this week had used an in-line ripper to loosen his soil without burying residue.  This deep vertical tillage can help overcome compaction issues in no-till situations.  I have previously written some about a DMI In-line ripper that I found to be very effective.  The John Deere ripper did not shatter all the way across the row, but from a soil stability standpoint, that may be a good thing.

Ripped Bean Stubble

John Deere in Line Ripper

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Illinois Ag Director Resigns

By now the Ag world has learned the Illinois Director of Agriculture Phillip Nelson and State Fair Director Patrick Buchan have both submitted apparently coerced resignations.  Lots of information is circulating directly from Buchcan.  This Prairie Farmer Article tells more.  If Buchan is telling the truth, and I have no to disbelieve him, they were fired for trying to run a clean program.  It is a real shame that such a prominent advocate for agriculture does not receive the support of his boss.  I am sure that Nelson supported the Rauner campaign, because he thought he would be good for agriculture.  This is another nail for the coffin of our leading industry.  Coming on the heals of recent University of Illinois announcements concerning education opportunities for farmers, it looks like  a woeful and willful neglect.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Football is a big deal in small towns.  Hillsboro FFA served Pork Patties, Boneless Pork Chops and Marcoot Dairy's Custom Made Ice Cream.
FFA Cookout 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Combine Fire

I happened upon a combine that had caught fire.  You can see the burned spot to the right.  The white truck is the repair truck.  It looked like they would be able to get back to harvest today.  This is the second combine fire I have heard of this fall.  The other one was a total loss.  Be careful out there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Soybean Harvest

Soybean is starting in our area, but many soybeans are not ready.  There is a lot of corn being harvested too right now.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

University is Collecting Grain Samples

University of Illinois is collecting grain samples to help them determine nutrient removal rates.  If you would like to include samples from your farm click on the University of Illinois Link.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sampling Near Greenfield

Harvest was going strong near Greenfield.  Both Corn and Soybeans are being harvested.  Yield are some better than a disaster, but far off of last year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Harvest Progress

I delivered recommendations in West Alton Area today  There was not much corn harvested until Bethalto.  We have some customers done or near done in the West Alton Area.  Over all I would guess about 40% of the corn is harvested in that area.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


This weekend we went to Sycamore to visit family.  One of our stops was the Kuipers Family Farm, mostly to buy apples.  The farm is very much a tourist destination with many activities.  It is located near Maple Park, IL west of Elburn.  I was impressed with number of people visiting and also with the variety of activities available.  It seems more like a farm amusement park than just a place to go for produce.  Click on the link above to find out more.  Extension Service has a listing of many agri-tourism businesses in Illinois.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Corn and Soybeans together?

Dave Brandt a leading Cover Crops advocate and farmer, is trying to grow soybeans as a nitrogen source on his farm.  He seeds the soybeans between the corn rows.  It is an interesting idea that Brandt says is working.  Read more in Farm Futures.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Update From Brazil

By Eduardo Paim,

It is dropping a good rain in Mato Grosso right now, but most of the state's southern producers will not start planting because weather forecasts say the rains will only have continuous flow after October 15. In upstate planting of soybeans will start in about two weeks, the rains will start there first.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Crop Update

I took a trip to Brown County today to discuss some livestock issues with a customer.  Almost all corn is mature.  We have had over 3 inches of rain in my area, but much less in the Brown County area.  Burrus seeds was harvesting seedcorn in the Meredosia area,  I wanted to take a picture, but it was in a one lane construction zone.  Others were also harvesting along highway 104.

Some soybean fields have dropped leaves and are nearly ready for harvest.  Others are green and various stages in between.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cover crop Planting Time

We are fast approaching the end of the covercrop seeding time for many crops.  If you are flying one radish, annual ryegrass, or many other crops, now is the time.  The recent rain should be advantageous, especially if the seed is out there,  Cereal Rye can be planted as late as Thanksgiving, but if those fields will be planted to corn, be sure and kill it early in the spring.  Soybeans can be planted into rye more easily.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Capping Off Summer Celebrations

One of the highlights of the Witt Labor Day Celebration is the farmers showing off their restored classic tractors.  Below is a sampling.  Witt Labor Day Celebration is also notable for the number of politicians who show up.  Congressman Rodney Davis was working the crowd before the parade.  Witt Lions Club has the best corndogs and very good funnel cakes.  
Dale Darr's Ford 8N

Farmall Super M

John Deere 720

Oliver 77

Congressman Rodney Davis

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Passing of the seasons.

A late summer view of Route 66 Weigh Station Prairie North of Litchfield.  The ditch area through the middle is healing better than expected.  Laborious and costly teasel control seems to have been effective.  This would look better if we had been able to burn this spring.

Friday, September 4, 2015

What is Going On Out There Today

Part of my day was spent delivering reports.  One client was filling his silo.  He said the moisture was perfect, but it might have been Ok if he had started a bit sooner.  He feeds distiller's grain and silage mixed.  One client was baling hay today.  Weather is perfect for hay baling.  Another client was building a small building.  His said corn is 24% moisture, but at this early date he prefers to dry it some more in the field.  Many of the bigger farmers including a few clients are not waiting for dry down.  They have a lot of ground to cover and prefer to start when corn reaches maturity.  Yield reports are 10% or more off of last year.  One client said hillsides are not any better than flat land.  I am thinking side hill seeps affected his corn.  Last weeks stalk tests lead me to believe stalk quality is not the best.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Farm Progress Show

I spent most of the day on Tuesday at the Farm Progress show in Decatur.  As always there is lots of big equipment to see.  I spent the morning helping out at the soil pit near the conservation tent.  It may surprise some people how many foreign visitors we have for the show.  We had materials in Spanish, Portuguese, and English to hand out.

In the afternoon, I wandered the grounds sort of at random.  The bigger the company, the bigger the tent.  This is the "greatest spectacle in agriculture."  I meandered thru the varied  industry tent.  I visited with  friends, and I looked for "new" stuff.  The Crary wind header system was one of the most interesting products displayed.  It adds wind to reduce header loss.

It was a very hot day, so my favorite display was the misting fan at the AGCO display.  Thanks to all the vendors who had free water.  I drank 6 bottles and only had to pay for one.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Harvest is Really Started

I took advantage of the need to go to Springfield today and did a mini crop tour.  I was surprised to see soybeans turning yellow and dropping leaves.  Not all of them of course.  I also passed many fields that have mature corn.  Near Springfield, a few fields are harvested.

On the way home, I headed down the Black Diamond Trail and near Raymond, I saw Combines in the field.  The field in the third picture down has 3 combines in it.  They were almost done with that field.  The last picture is nearby, but a different field and a different farmer.

I will be spending Tuesday at the Farm Progress Show near Decatur.  It is the greatest spectacle in agriculture.

Yellow Soybeans

Mature Corn

Harvest near Raymond

Harvest near Raymond

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Deer in the Cornfield

As I was working on sampling this week, I spotted numerous deer tracks.  I even heard on rustle nearby.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

I was attending a meeting in St. Louis as Hurricane Katrina came to shore.  It was close to a year after my retirement from USDA.  As news reports came in, I thought that perhaps some of my experience could be put to use in Louisiana.  I sent a resume to FEMA and I had a phone interview shortly.  It took until almost Thanksgiving before I heard from them again.  I left for Orlando the day after Thanksgiving to report for mustering in and training.  After a week of 11 hour days training in Florida we reported to Baton Rouge.  I spent most of my time inventorying properties that had repetitive claims for flood insurance.  I went all over Louisiana and saw a lot of devastation everywhere.  The second picture below, sums it up.  A house sitting on a pickup truck in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.  Tom Brokaw reported from in front of that house a year later.  The mess was still being cleaned up.

The people of Louisiana were very nice to me.  I made the acquaintance of Rodger in the third picture down and we worked together many days.  I still hear from him from time to time.  I worked 6 days a week 12 hours a day until Christmas.  After Christmas, We did 11 hour days and got Saturday afternoons off.  I stayed in Port Allen across the river from Baton Rouge after Christmas.  The people below also became friends and even invited me to their superbowl party.  I was also able to celebrate Mardi Gras season in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  Despite news reports to the contrary, I never met anyone who treated me badly.

It is gratifying to see the ten year anniversary reports on television showing how well the area has recovered.  I am proud to have been a small part of that effort.

Why did we need to save New Orleans?  It is an area that is very important to commerce and agriculture.  A large portion of our agricultural exports go through New Orleans.  A large part of a our petroleum imports come through New Orleans.  The port of New Orleans extends up the Mississippi River as far as Baton Rouge.  There are 47 refineries located in the area.  If we did not restore New Orleans, we would have needed to build a new port and all that infrastructure somewhere else.  A new city would like not have been any safer from hurricanes than New Orleans, and would have been much more expensive.

Having lived through the flood of 1993 on the Mississippi River, I saw first hand what it takes to recover from a major disaster.  Some people asked me how long I thought it would take to recover in Louisiana.  I told them that it would take at least 5 years until you could look around and say, "It looks like we are recovering."  I said it would take 10 years until things really felt "normal" again, but it would be a new normal.  I am sure that 10 years later we can still find damage, but it is good that the people are back and that commerce continues to move in Louisiana.