Farm Update

Today’s crop update comes to us from Ben.

Been checking some fields.

Soybeans are about 85% yellow and starting to lose some leaves

It’s interesting because right there by a stalk that’s lost all its leaves is another plant fully green. This picture taken two weeks ago

and there’s a waterway in the middle there. It’s good and green to the left and to the right it’s rocky and yellow. Typically crops do poorly in the rocky areas. The roots don’t establish as well, and it tends to dry out faster. So presumably this area was less robust to start with and that’s why it dries out sooner. Still, to see a line like that is interesting.

Notice there are a decent number of pods on the plants,

and they all have 3 beans in them. But the pods are very wet yet. Even when the leaves fall off, the stalk and pods need to dry down in order to harvest. I cracked one open but it was tough to get open and the beans are firm, but not dry. They should be round, about ¼” to 5/16ths diameter. These are still bigger than that; swollen with water. They’ll get smaller as they dry down. I pay more money to have soybeans combined than corn, because beans are harder on the combine. Because they’re running the combine so low it picks up more dirt and rocks. And as the heads get bigger and wider (my guy is using a head for beans that is 30’ wide) and lots of newer combines have ‘auto float’ for the head, but if my field curves a bit, the header can be on the ground in the center and 4” up on the ends. Then you’re leaving more beans on the ends. So, it’s important to keep the field as smooth as possible in the spring when planting.  These beans are about 20” tall. Normally, they should be 36” tall at least and filled with pods to the top. Sometimes you’ll see 4 beans in a pod but that’s unusual and they say extra pods on the top of the plant indicate an exceptional good year. Won’t be any like that this year. Remember one day I said beans respond to the length of day light? Everyone’s beans look about the same now no matter when planted. Height may be taller if planted early, but colors are about the same. I’ve seen a few people already combining beans. The rest won’t be too far behind getting started on combining beans.

Three weeks ago, I noticed a little bit of yellow in a field and I thought there was some disease damage happening. Nope, just starting to turn, but that first hint of yellow always surprises me. Takes about 3 or 4 weeks to all turn and loose leaves. That happens fast, once they start to turn and then they still have to dry out. Often, it’s not until a killing frost that the stalks are dry enough to go. Not always, again, depends on the weather.

I’ve got some beans on a rental field. They look terrible this year.

They’re short, and the stupid deer have eaten the tops off the entire field!

Everytime I go look at that field I just feel sick about it. The beans there are only about 8” tall. See all those pods near the bottom? The combine will have a hard time getting them so close to the ground. Sigh.

The corn is looking good.

The ears in the field are surprisingly good looking in size.

You can see the deer damage on the outside here.

Notice all the ears standing upright yet. Once they get down to a certain moisture, the ears will drop and hang down.

I don’t know what that moisture % is, but when they’re standing upright, all the rainwater can run down inside the husks. Course that can cause mold issues.

You all know there is a silk to every kernel, right? Notice the odd kernels in this ear.

So that silk didn’t get pollinated for some reason. And the odd shapes, I’m not sure, but obviously, something didn’t all work right. Too cool, too wet? Too dry at that point? Who knows? All part of the mystery.  Splitting the ear, there are nice kernels in there.

See how its’ all dented? But still a drop of milk when I squeeze it. So not quite to ‘black layer’ yet. That will start at the bottom and move up the kernel as it dries. I’m not there yet. I’ve seen a few people starting to chop corn silage for feed. This wouldn’t quite be ready yet either. You want it in black stage before chopping. Maybe another week or two depending on weather. Not that I chop anymore. I kind of miss that. I always liked chopping corn. It smells good and goes easy and was fun to do.

I have one field that has gone down in a kinda random way. I hired a kid to fly his drone over the field. He didn’t know what he was looking for and I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he did good enough that I could get an overview. The header photo comes from him. (Thanks to Nick Casper’s drone!) It’s called ‘lodging’ when the corn goes down like this.

I don’t think all the deer walking through helped. But the rows and tassels should all be in nice lines. See the mess in part of the field?

Corn puts out extra roots called ‘brace roots’ as it’s gets bigger. Usually they’re 4” above the ground, just to help brace the corn as it gets bigger. Notice these roots coming out 18” up?

An effect of wind and lodging and weather conditions I’m told. Weird. Hopefully it stands until harvest and doesn’t fall over. It’s a mess to combine if they all fall down.

I wish Clyde was still here to add his farm comments.

What was the last ag related commercial you saw on TV?

51 thoughts on “Farm Update”

  1. I don’t remember any ag commercials. I do recall the dairy commercials where the farmer says people don’t believe our lactose-free milk is from cows or something like that and then he tells the cow to sit like a dog and cow just looks at him. I’m not sure who that is for. If there are other ag commercials out there I’m not remembering them but I really tuned out commercials if I can. Unless they are the ones that have completely gotten under my skin and bother me (can we say Liberty Mutual?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so you own some of your plantings and rent additional fields?
    do you pay a straight rent or a percentage of the harvest?
    i’ve always wondered why farmers sell to cargil or con agra instead of doing their own deals. if cargil works so skinny that you can’t do it yourself ok but i’ve always suspected that the price they sell it for is so much more than they pay that it would be a worthwhile pursuit
    how about a co op where the road from grower to user whether it be feed corn for critters or wheat for making bread can be a person to person transaction rather than corporate dictates on a take it or leave it basis
    farm commercials don’t register in my muddled brain. round up lawsuits being fished for are what’s wrong with this works
    the usa produces lawyers china and india produce american educated engineers. farming will be automated to the point of robotics run by mega corps soon i am afraid but i am glad people have bens knowledge of moisture, mold, soil conditions, deer intrusion and support root norms.
    i’d like a section in the food store from local grown stuff. maybe not a picture of the chicken that made the boneless chicken breasts but the rolling fields where my corn and beans come from would be nice,… round up free please

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I pay a flat rental rate, but I also mow some land for them and do some Other minor work so it’s a little lower than average figuring we make up the difference.
      I don’t know anyone that works in shares.

      Most of my crops are sold Through my local
      Coop’s. Course they still have to sell it through one of the big companies. Because the big companies own the entire chain: fertilizer, seed, shipping, marketing.
      There are some specialty markets but then you (or your network) have to do the whole thing. It’s been done, it’s just hard.
      The coop has to survive so they’re paying less, and then we get a dividend, but is it enough to justify the hit in the first place?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for this Ben, love the photos – wow, I never had enough detail to imagine all the stuff that can go wrong. That’s a whole other world of information. I’ve been wondering if it’s going to be a bad year around here for farmers in general, with all the weird weather.

    It’s been a very long time since I saw an ag ad, but it would have been for some herbicide, no doubt. Like VS, I have seen one about soy or nut “milk” shouldn’t be called “dairy”.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Is that “ag” as in agriculture or “ag” as in royally aggravating? 😉

    “Nothing runs like a Deere.”

    I usually remember late winter as “prime time” for ag commercials. Lots of ads for seeds, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizer, etc. I don’t recall seeing any ag commercials in the past few months, but then I don’t watch a ton of TV. And when I do, I try hard to ignore the commercials by going to the bathroom, getting a snack or drink, or changing the channel to “see what else is on,” which drives my wife crazy.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    I love this post, Ben. I feel at home getting the crop report after an entire childhood and young adulthood of having this information being just a normal part of my day. I love the pictures and the comments about drones, and hiring a drone puts a point on how technology is changing agriculture. If my farmer parents and grandparents heard that statement, they would not be able to understand what you mean. I sure see the value in that quick overview, though, especially in order to efficiently plan work strategies and what to harvest when.

    When you asked about ag ads, it makes me realize how little commercial TV I watch these days. Very little. I have gone to seeing shows primarily on streaming services. And that would eliminate the source of most agricultural ads. When I am in Iowa, if someone has commercial TV on, it is more likely to see an ad, but my relatives there also have gone to streaming services. On streaming services they mostly advertise cosmetics and pet food. I think I saw some ag-related ads on during a televised Vikings game. However, after yesterday’s game I may go on strike and not watch anymore given the poor performance.

    I watched every episode of “Country Music” on PBS last week. I remember some of their funding announcements and lists of contributors who promote such documentary programs. I don’t remember seeing any ag companies on those lists, but maybe PBS only accept donations from individuals or non-profit corporate entities.

    Does John Deere qualify as only agri-business? So much of their equipment now shows up as lawn equipment, golf course maintenance, or snow removal equipment. Nothing runs like a Deere. I remember my older male relatives identifying themselves as a “Deere-man,” an “Allis-man” (Allis-Chalmers), etc, and having protracted discussions about the pros and cons of each tractor’s qualities. Grandpa ran Uncle Leo’s Allis tractor into the side of the barn after somehow getting himself onto the tractor. He was an age and physical condition at which this was not a good idea. His bad hip impaired the efficient operation of the clutch and the brake, thus the side of the barn stopped his movement forward. The tractor still ran after the small side-roof collapsed on the tractor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When we lived on the farm with our friends summer of ’81, their 3-year-old could name every kind of tractor that drove by as he watched out the window. He could say John Deere, Case, and International Harvester was “Nat-nal”. I think he tried the Chalmers rather than Allis, and maybe one other… Massey (Ferguson)?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A guy in my college dorm worked in summer for a tractor company, I believe the company name was White. He said their tractors were inferior. The brand survived thanks to outstanding performance in the Nebraska Tractor Test. The tractors they submitted for testing were secretly custom-built models that they pretended were pulled from their production lines. The folks running the tests apparently never caught on.

        Like Jacque, I enjoyed this insiders view of crops, Ben. I’m puzzled about one thing. Your comments seem to predict a miserable year for farmers this year. And yet you don’t seem sad or worried. What am I missing? I sure hope you are going to be okay.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Interesting about White tractors Steve. The ‘Nebraska Tractor Test’ facility was a big deal for a long time. I just looked it up; part of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, they still set the standards a lot of manufacturers are supposed to work towards.

          No, I’m not too worried. I know this year won’t be my best. And next year should be better. (Right?) I haven’t heard any actual yield results yet on beans. (For this area no one has started corn yet). Everyone is estimating decent, but not great yields. And sort of expecting a wet corn harvest. Meaning more drying costs.
          My oats crop was 1/3rd of what I normally get. I’d guess beans are going to be 1/2 of normal. Corn…. well, it looks good. If it stays up and gets harvested, the yield will probably be close to average, but it will be wetter.

          One of the pros of being a small farmer is that even my losses are less than the big guys. We all have gains and losses, they just add a few more zeros to their numbers.
          All that big machinery and the fancy trucks? We just have good credit. 🙂

          And you gotta remember, in a good year when prices are up, well, that will make a payment for one year, but what about next year? We gotta remember not to get too far ahead of ourselves

          Liked by 3 people

    2. My dad says he only bought his first John Deere because the International salesman sold the tractor he’d been looking at. Dad got mad and went to John Deere. Simple as that and my whole life could have been different!
      The John Deere parts guy, when I was a kid, would give me toy tractors and trinkets. He made me love John Deere too.
      That green paint sure is pretty. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    3. There was a time, around 1958 I seem to recall, when Ford had some sort of deal where farmers who bought their tractors could get a special price on a car. A lot of farmers drove ‘58 Fords.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Robin and I spent the weekend driving country roads a little north of you around Zumbrota and Pine Island and then on the bluffs above Maiden Rock. It was the weekend for the Farm to Fleece Tour and so we were visiting mainly farms raising sheep and also alpacas and one that raises yaks. Aside from the alfalfa they raise for hay, none of them, as far as I could tell, raised other field crops and where they had the acreage they leased it out. So our conversations were mostly about the insiders view of raising sheep and the various ways they sought to monetize their mostly small farms.
    From looking at fields of soybeans and corn from the car all day, I wouldn’t have estimated that the soybeans in general were quite that far gone to yellow.Some fields looked as if they were just starting to turn.

    Like Jacque, almost all of our television comes from streaming services these days and, while they have some commercials, they are repetitive and seem to be mostly for insurance companies and wireless providers.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. We were farmers of a sort this weekend. Since it is going to freeze in the next couple of days we picked everything from the garden and husband roasted the of New Mexico peppers. I cut up and froze 19 cups of sweet peppers for soup later this winter. We made Chili Verde, and soup from the ripe tomatoes. We have a couple of paper bags full of green tomatoes that I hope will ripen. Spinach is hardy to 20 degrees, so I hope it will survive the week. It isn’t supposed to get that cold her.

    There are lots of billboards and newspaper ads for ranch and farm stuff out here. I think the last one I saw was for custom combining.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I got busy this afternoon, too, and froze several different kinds of peppers. We harvested all of our beans, and husband is shelling those that need to be shelled as I write this. I made a big batch of salsa verde, and now need to tackle the left-over Serrano peppers. We need a bigger freezer, there isn’t room for anything else in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There is more corn out here than there used to be. I think it is mainly for ethanol. There are also quite a few sunflowers, and also quite a few dry edible beans like pinto, black beans, and navy beans. I see that central Minnesota farmers are starting to grow hops. Have you thought about that, Ben?

    Like

    1. My problem with so many of the specialty crops is the fact I don’t own my own combine so harvesting is an issue.
      I hire the neighbors to do the corn and beans and oats. But when i grew oats for seed, that company came in with their own combine, made sure every wagon, truck and crevice in the combine was clean so as not to contaminate the seed.
      And then of course, I’d need a market lined up before I harvest.
      It’s a worthwhile idea, just a few things to work out before I do that.

      A few people here are getting into the industrial hemp market too.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I know I’ve seen some ag commercials too, but I don’t pay attention to them and couldn’t tell you the ones I have seen.
    There is one marketing ploy that is working. Wyffles Seed Corn. They are a small company and their TV commercial is a very simple bag of corn sitting there. May be some kids playing with farm toys around it. The announcer says something like ‘The best seed corn you can buy’.
    or We don’t spend our money on fancy advertising.
    This one is pretty fancy for them:

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Read an article in a farm magazine just the other day, after I wrote this.
    A corn plant, like so many things, is simply trying to make as many offspring as possible. So if it detects a bad kernel in the ear, it will sacrifice that one and allow the others to fill in around it. That explains the funny shapes in the one photo above.
    And the plant can also detect how much sunlight is REFLECTED from neighboring plants and knows if there’s a larger than usual gap nearby, will try to send out another ear to take advantage of it.

    Boy, the more I read about this stuff the more interesting it becomes!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I remember driving to either of my grandmas’ houses, before freeways were in our path, and sometimes counting the Dekalb Seed Corn signs posted on fence posts – it seemed like every mile… is that possible?
    And then those funny 4-sign rhymes for Burma Shave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could be wrong about this, but I think in addition to the seed brand, there is some indication of the seed variety so that its performance as opposed to other hybrids by the same company can be evaluated.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Yes, it is possible. My Grandpa sold seed corn. I have many premium do-dads that he earned for sales of Walnut Grove Seed corn ( a mirror, plates, salt and pepper shakers, and T-shirt’s). The signs marked the fields that would be used for research, next year’s seed corn, or both.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. neeinnd
    2d ago
    There is more corn out here than there used to be. I think it is mainly for ethanol. There are also quite a few sunflowers, and also quite a few dry edible beans like pinto, black beans, and navy beans. I see that central Minnesota farmers are starting to grow hops. Have you thought about that, Ben?

    ReplyLike
    xdfben
    xdfben
    reneeinnd
    2d ago
    My problem with so many of the specialty crops is the fact I don’t own my own combine so harvesting is an issue.
    I hire the neighbors to do the corn and beans and oats. But when i grew oats for seed, that company came in with their own combine, made sure every wagon, truck and crevice in the combine was clean so as not to contaminate the seed.
    And then of course, I’d need a market lined up before I harvest.
    It’s a worthwhile idea, just a few things to work out before I do that.

    A few people here are getting into the industrial hemp market too.

    Reply2Likes
    PlainJane
    PlainJane
    xdfben
    2d ago
    Talk with tim. He’ll probably be willing to start a micro brewery.

    Reply1Like
    Barbara in Rivertown
    Barbara in Rivertown
    PlainJane
    2d ago
    I’d be a customer if you do…

    ReplyLike
    xdfben
    xdfben
    2d ago
    I know I’ve seen some ag commercials too, but I don’t pay attention to them and couldn’t tell you the ones I have seen.
    There is one marketing ploy that is working. Wyffles Seed Corn. They are a small company and their TV commercial is a very simple bag of corn sitting there. May be some kids playing with farm toys around it. The announcer says something like ‘The best seed corn you can buy’.
    or We don’t spend our money on fancy

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel much better now- please enjoy this writing… Random Thought

    My blood pressure 79 over 82, could rap a lyric – disrespect
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    SO true!
    Suttogás,
    we hide thoughts
    per te
    what a great writer, even child- like & I enjoy sending
    Blood coursing through your veins
    En plum Au
    I have asthma…
    A gecko
    Vous êtes ingrat
    Don’t just troll us- Irish Jews must kinder. A friend maybe; life forms plaint phenomenon words are empty like a chameleon

    Like

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