Planting Corn

This week’s farm report comes to us from Ben.

Been having some nice rain the last few days. Over an inch now, plus the heat and humidity and we’re almost 200 Growing Degree Units (GDU’s) above normal. I figured we were behind, but we got that warm weather back in April. Crops have almost all emerged, and things are off to a good start.

Back in Blogworld, It’s the end of April and I’m just about to start planting corn. The wild leeks are up so I’ve been nibbling on them. Oats is just coming up, anhydrous fertilizer (nitrogen) is done, planting is next. My brother, Ernie comes out and drives the 8200 tractor and the soil finisher to get fields prepped. He says it’s the first time he’s driven a tractor since he was 18. He joked it was still just as boring going around and around. Plus, it’s hard to get run over by the tractor when you’re in a cab. (Hold that thought.)

I’ve been clearing edges of the fields with the 6410 tractor and loader. We have so many box elder trees and brush and weeds that come in from the edges, it’s a constant effort to keep the edges open or we lose them back to nature. Every year I go around and knock down the big branches, but sometimes I spend time literally pushing back everything, 7’ at a time, (the width of the loader bucket) back and forth, back and forth. Ernie thinks fieldwork is boring? But it’s good to get it done.

Back in the fall of 1968, Ernie was using a John Deere 720 tractor and a 3 bottom plow and his long jacket got caught by the tractor tire and pulled him off the tractor. The 720 is an open tractor and we’d often stand up when driving them. He got pulled off the tractor into the freshly plowed ground, right in front of the rear wheel. The rear tire went right over his chest, and he rolled out of the way before the plow got to him. My parents had just built the new house that summer and they were working on that and painting the roof trim when someone commented that the tractor was going in circles and Ernie was chasing it. Dad ran over there and somehow, they caught the tractor. Took Ernie to the clinic and he was fine; doctors couldn’t believe he was really run over, but he had the dirt on his shirt to prove it. They figure the soft dirt is what saved him. Plus, the tractor wasn’t that big or heavy. Another instance of luck or miracles to grace our family.

I took the loader off the tractor, order the corn starter fertilizer, get corn planter out and greased, get the fertilizer wagon ready, and make a trip to Plainview with Amelia and the dogs for the headlight bezel on the 6410. Pushing the trees off is hard on the tractor; I’ve broken a lot of little things doing that. And sometimes some pretty major things. But this year it was just the plastic bezel around the lights on the cab.

About 4:30PM I get out to plant. I have made some dumb mistakes in my life. Here’s another. The middle fertilizer tank auger is backwards. (My dad taught me to only put a little fertilizer in to start to be sure everything is working.) The tanks hold about 750 lbs each, so I fill it maybe half full or so. When planting corn, there’s a monitor to tell me seeds are coming out each row, and when I lift the planter on the ends, I look to be sure fertilizer is coming out the tubes. There’s a shaft I watch to make sure it’s turning because that’s what makes the fertilizer come out.

But if I put the auger in backwards fertilizer will not ever come out. At the end of planting season, I pull the shafts and augers out, clean and oil everything, and put them back. I try to keep everything lined up so it goes back the right way. And normally, I look in there and make sure they’re all going the same way. Clearly, I forgot that step this time. So, I made 2 rounds to use up some fertilizer, then use 5 gallon buckets to shift some fertilizer from the middle tank to the right, and put the left fertilizer in buckets, because I have to slide the left auger out, and then the middle one out through the left tank to reverse it. Remember back on oats and the shaft broke and I dropped too much fertilizer in a row? Well, now these two middle rows won’t have any fertilizer and I’ll be able to see that too; the corn will miss a boost this starter fertilizer gives it.

A lot of guys are using liquid fertilizer these days. I still use dry; it’s just what I’m set up for. I have a 6 row planter. Small these days of 12, 18, 24 row, or bigger planters. So, I have three fertilizer tanks, each doing two rows

Kelly and Amelia and the dogs take a walk, when they come back Bailey comes across the field to find me so she can ride in the tractor. She’s such a sweetheart. 

Kelly comes out in the field with the gator and gets in the tractor and makes a couple rounds with me. There’s not an extra seat in the 6410 so riding along isn’t that comfortable. The 8200 has an “instructor seat” and it’s more comfortable riding along. Humphrey goes back home. I spend some time checking seed planting depth and spacing; all critical things to a good final yield. You want it about 2½” deep and about 6” apart.

(It’s not 6” deep, that’s just the way the ruler is laying).

The seed is treated, that’s why it’s blue / green to prevent bugs like corn root worm, soilborne and seedborne pathogens, and to keep it healthy if it sits in cold ground for a few weeks before it gets enough GDU’s to emerge. (It takes 100 -120 GDU’s to emerge) and this year it took a few weeks before it finally came out of the ground. The random red color seeds are the ‘refuge’ seeds to prevent corn borer resistance.  

I finish planting at 9:30 PM. Out of both seed and fertilizer. I had added six bags of seed, each bag holds 80,000 kernals. So, 6 times 80,000 kernels equals 480,000 divided by the 14 acres I planted means 33,500 seeds per acre which is a good planting rate.

After they start to emerge, if you measure out 17’6”, that will be 1 / 1000th of an acre and you count how many plants are in that length and that’s your final stand population.

Ever had a seed of an idea that blossomed into something?

28 thoughts on “Planting Corn”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I have LOTS of ideas all the time, and I find every idea is not worth effort. Most ideas are just a thought. People who are able to take ideas, sort them into categories—keep, don’t keep, and make them manifest in something have a real skill, though. Dale from the LGMS had ideas that he manifested in scripts for skits. Jim Ed’s voices and characters made them real. I miss that so much.

    My primary thought after reading this, though, then pondering the tractor running over Ben’s brother, was to remember how prevalent farm accidents are. Farming is dangerous. Ben’s brother was lucky. The family accidents I remember are as follows:

    1. Horses. Dad hated horses because they were unpredictable and several people in his father’s generation were killed by them.
    2. Horses. My mom’s story which I posted here years ago about runaway horses and her brother throwing her off the wagon to assure her safety. She broke her tail bone..
    3. Machinery. Grandpa lost the tip of his finger in the corn shelled.
    4. Cattle. My uncle was gored by his bull. It almost killed him.
    5. Machinery. Cousin killed when combine tipped and fell on him.
    6. Mice. Dad hated it when mice ran up his pant leg and he would lose his concentration about whatever else he was doing. He would tied his pants legs closed to prevent this and further accidents caused by the distraction.

    There are more, but I am back to my morning routine, finally, and it is gym time, then off to the showers and work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. tim is the lead Idea Man in this group I suspect. I’ve never claimed to be the idea man, I’m the guy that makes your idea work.

    Farming is dangerous; I have my own accident of putting my leg in the bunk auger. And honestly, I think that’s why I’m much more safety conscious now.
    Dad would show off his one thumb and how ‘squishy’ it was; got it crushed between a couple gears when he was young. We’re lucky we all have all our fingers and toes. (Even if mine don’t all work right!)
    But I know of several neighbors who have lost limbs or been killed in farm accidents. Had an Uncle killed in a tractor roll-over.
    Whenever I crawl under something I think ‘What will happen if this falls?’ Most newer machinery has safety locks, but they’re way back there and hard to put on and this is only going to take a minute, so…. we weigh the risks and think ‘What are the odds’? So it depends; sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

    Only once have I had a mouse run up my pant leg. It’s pretty exciting when that happens…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s really good to learn how much you need to know to do this job, Ben! I sit here with my little garden plot and read the back of a seed packet,wondering if it really matters how deep or far apart I plant the seeds. No consequence if I fail here, but you don’t have that luxury.

    And the danger – I knew things happen, I just didn’t realize how often. Husband lost an uncle – was smothered in a grain bin accident, but that’s the only one I know of personally.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah yes, and the question… I remember sitting in my San Francisco apartment in January of 1972, realizing I was tired of living in the city and wouldn’t it be nice to rent a little spot in, say, El Granada, where current boyfriend lived (I still wanted my own place at that point.) I was aware that it was just this seed of an idea, and the if I was serious about this, it could happen – would take a lot of thought and planning and work. I moved to El Granada in April of that year, with a l of help from various people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Ben, for another great farming report. I have never lived on a farm, but have visited several in Denmark. American farms are pretty much a mystery to me, so I appreciate the insights. Of course, I realize that farming in the US depends to a large extent on where you are and what you’re farming, and each scenario, I’m sure, has its own set of challenges and required knowledge and skill.

    I’m headed out for an appointment with Ned (the acupuncturist I mentioned a few days ago). It requires freeway driving to get there, and I’m a nervous wreck. Let you know if I survived when I get back, and perhaps I’ll answer the question then, too. See ya.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. My grandfather broke his hip by getting run over by some hogs as he and my uncle were sorting them out. I think Holstein bulls are really dangerous and I have heard of several people killed by them. Suffocating in a grain bin would also be a horrible way to die.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They say Holstein bulls are the most temperamental. Dad never wanted one around; he probably had to have one back in the days before artificial insemination.
      We had beef bulls; Angus or Hereford; they were generally more calm.

      We don’t have any grain bins so I didn’t know much about them when I got hired to measure them for the Dept. of Ag job. One of the other guys I worked with taught me to knock on the outside wall before you got in, just in case there was a crust on the top and it was hollow underneath.
      Flowing grain is what people get stuck in and that only happens when it’s being emptied. I was only checking them when full and not being unloaded so the threat of a crust was the only issue. Never had that problem. Saw some moldy rotten corn that was developing a crust on the top, but never a crust over a hollow.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. OT – Somebody posted this to Nextdoor, and I thought some baboons mike find it interesting and make the effort to go outside and look up.

    “Supermoon alert: Share your view tonight.
    Often called the “flower moon,” the May full moon is nearly upon us. Earth’s nearest neighbor will reach the full stage early May 26, meaning it will appear full both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The moon’s closest monthly approach to Earth happens at the same time, making the flower moon a supermoon, as well.

    For early risers, there’s another astronomical treat in store: This year’s only total lunar eclipse happens in the hours before sunrise May 26. While only parts of the Western U.S. and the Pacific Ocean will see the full effect, places farther east can see Earth’s shadow begin to cover the moon. This often gives Luna a reddish tint, leading to the name “blood moon” for those rare times when a lunar eclipse aligns with a full moon.”

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I did’t grow up on a farm so I have no direct experience with farm accidents. But I do remember one very horrific accident that happened to John Thompson from North Dakota. Back in the 90’s (I think) he was home alone and got pulled into a piece of machinery that tore both his arms off. He somehow managed to get to the house and call for help. His arms were reattached by a doctor here in the Cities. I don’t know what happened after that…..whether or not he has full use of his arms and hands. Anybody else remember this or know what has happened to him over the years?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. He was just featured in the press here on the anniversary of the accident. He pushed the keys on the phone after the accident using a pen in his teeth. He also stood, I think in the bathtub so he wouldn’t get blood all over his mother’s clean floor while he waited for the ambulance.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. When I was in the sixth grade, my family came up for Christmas vacation to my family’s homestead in Hayward, Wisconsin. I remember saying to my parents “why don’t we live here?” And that seed came to fruition when I went to college in Minnesota and then insisted that we move to Minneapolis after wasband finished with grad school. Still here. Still happy about it.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. My best friend grew up on a hereford operation just outside of Luverne. They had three or four bulls. One was a fence jumper who eventually castrated himself by failing to clear a barbed wire fence.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I was 16, mom and dad took a 3 week vacation to Europe. They’d never been gone that long before.
      They hired a couple “little old ladies” to “keep house” for me, and a guy who came out to help me do chores, but I could handle the daily stuff for the most part.
      Three cows died while they were gone. I was pretty upset about it.
      One was an older beef cow; just died out in the pasture.
      One was a beef cow that had a calf, then had a prolapsed uterus. I called the vet and he treated her but she had issues and died the day before they returned.
      And one was a milk cow that climbed through a barb wire fence, cut a major artery on her belly, and bled to death. Never had that happen before or since.
      I was very upset about them all and thought how mad dad would be. But none were really my fault, and he wasn’t mad; it was ok, and they often said what a good job I did to be in charge for 3 weeks at that age.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That was tough, but your mom and dad realised those things would have happened anyway.
        I got to look after a farm just once, for a month ,when I was 26. June milked the cows as she’d been employed to do for several years. I did everything else. It was my chance to put right some of the neglect which had built up over the years. I resolved to work every minute I could spare from the legitimate chores, and not put the time on the bill, and not even mention I’d done it. But you don’t fix a 200 acre farm working in your spare time in the space of a month. I performed my usual trick of starting, and never finishing, several different jobs. But I tried, and I worked hard. When Robin came back from South Africa he raved about his old friend there, who had a new career running a big farm, with black labour he was able to order about. Robin had never seen such a hard worker, running about from morning till night. Watching people work. Thanks a lot Robin.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Both from your comment on the blog and the photo, Ben, about nibbling on the wild leeks, I’m wondering whether or not you and Kelly harvest some and cook with them? I know you say you’re not a very adventuresome eater, but it seems to me that if you’re nibbling on ramps, you’re well on your way. They’re wonderful in salads, and I love them in scrambled eggs. They make a pretty wonderful sauce for pasta, too. Here’s a link to get you to start thinking in that vein, if you aren’t already:

    My appointment today with Ned was a bust, but I shall save you the ugly details. Suffice it to say that we had to reschedule for tomorrow.

    At the moment, nothing comes to mind about ideas, good bad, or indifferent, that I’ve had. I know there has to have been some of each, but right now I’m blank.

    Don’t miss the moon, folks, it’s super.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Maybe this is a famous story, and you all know it. If so, sorry. At least you’ll know if I tell it wrong. Dave Edmunds was rehearsing “Blue Suede Shoes” with Carl Perkins. Dave was starstruck. He knew what brand of cornflakes Carl ate, the day he made that record. He knew how many flakes. He knew that record starts “Well, it’s one for the money” bomp, bomp. “Two for the show” bomp bomp. And so on. That’s how that song goes. To Dave, that was set in stone. If Carl had subsequently heard Elvis do it without those “bomps”, and wished he’d done it that way himself, well, seems like Dave preferred not to have heard that.
      They started playing, and Carl went straight into “Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, etc” Dave stopped him, said, hey, that’s not how you did it, right? Carl said “Huh?”, or words to that effect. Dave reminded him about the Bomp, bomp, you know, on the record and all. “Uh, OK”……”OK then”. Or words to that effect. They started again. Carl sang, “Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to,” etc. Dave stopped him again. Carl, hey, you didn’t do the Bomp bomp. Carl looked at him. Suddenly Dave realised, “I’m telling Carl Perkins how to sing Blue Suede Shoes! “

      Liked by 1 person

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