Today’s post comes from Ben.
As I write this we’ve had an inch of rain and the temps are cooling. Sometimes we call them “Million Dollar Rains”, this one was a $100,000 rain.
The first few weeks after planting, I spend a lot of time driving around checking on fields. Crop Scouting is really important the first month, and then throughout the summer, but the first few weeks is when we learn the most.
Just like your gardens, we’re watching to see how things are growing and what weeds are coming.
I’m generalizing here; every farm is different and different parts of the country plant different. I mentioned before, the corn was planted at a population of 33-34,000 plants / acre. So, there should be a plant about every 6”. Two together is a ‘double’, and a blank space is a ‘skip’ and that tells me how the planter is working and what I may need to fix for next year. And where there are skips, I might dig it up and see, is there a seed down there that didn’t germinate? Maybe it germinated but didn’t emerge; it’s all very telling. And then the first few inches it grows, it’s so interesting to see how the root develops.
Corn just fascinates me; the seed actually stays in the ground and the root goes down, the stalk comes up and the ‘growing point’ stays underground for a long time. That’s why a freeze or hail won’t necessarily kill a corn plant. Whereas soybeans; it’s the seed that comes up out of the ground. So, if it freezes, it’s done.
This website has taught me a lot about corn development:
This year, with the hard rain, soil crusting, and then cool weather and wet weather, I lost a lot of corn that didn’t emerge. And yet when I compare fields planted after the rain to those planted before, it all looks just as rough. It was kind of a mystery to me and I kept thinking it’s was rather unfortunate this was the year I got so much planted on the first day (because of the hard rain). And then NATE, one of my seed salesman came and looked at the corn. IT’S NOT MY FAULT! YAY! Turns out this particular variety had trouble this year. There are dozens of varieties of seed and most are tested pretty well to judge how it will do with drough tolerance or pest resistance, ect. Guess this one hadn’t been tested for this year’s weather. When I measure out 17’6” (1/1000ths of an acre) and count the plants, that gives us an estimate of the final stand population. I’m counting between 23 and 26 plants. 23,000 plants is a lot less than 34,000. Do the math: missing 11,000 ears, 200 ears = one bushel = 55 bushels less / acre. In a good year I get 160 bushels / acre. I’m thinking the ears will be bigger this year since they’ll have less competition and more sunlight…. ?? J
If I had decided to replant the corn, they would have given me seed to replant free of charge. But I decided there was enough plants there that it didn’t make sense to replant. So, they will refund the cost of my seed. I still paid for fertilizer and spraying so those expenses are already in the ground. And it’s not like there won’t be any crop (Knock on wood; we’re not there yet) but it just won’t be the bushels it should have been.
I’ve been taking lots of photos, but the camera doesn’t capture it very well.
Just notice the leaves curled up from the heat and lack of rain. Notice the uneven stands, the varieties of green color. The deer eating the tops. This corn is thigh high. Now with the rain it will be doubling in height quickly.
Oats has just headed out; looks like a lot of grain out there. Again, noticethe shades of green… it should all be dark green and I’m not quite sure why it’s so uneven this year. It’s a new variety for me, and maybe that’s what this one looks like. See the strips of dark green that’s taller than the rest? That’s where the PTO shaft on the fertilizer spreader broke and it was making a ‘streak’ of fertilizer.
Things to watch now: as the oats starts to turn color and get ripe, the stalks get brittle. Storms can knock it down, break it in half or even lay it flat. When trying to cut it, broken or flat makes it hard to pick up to cut. There is a fungus called ‘rust’ that can hit oats hard. Makes it brown and dusty and more brittle than usual. I have the corn sprayed to prevent that. Just as the kernels emerge, that’s called the ‘boot stage’.
Soybeans are looking OK. See this one field that looks like a lawn? Just all green? That’s a field I plant for a neighbor; he just uses it as a food plot. I didn’t have that one sprayed with ‘pre-emerge’ grass control like I did on my fields. It was my control field. See the rows on the others? With out the pre-emerge spray, they’d all be solid grass. Definitely a benefit to that. Then later I have it sprayed for ‘broadleaves’ and volunteer corn. I used the drill to plant the beans and I said they were sort of ‘clumpy’; you can see that in these photos. Again, it’s doing OK, seed spacing isn’t as critical for beans.
I mowed the roadsides last week. Got 50 bales of grass hay off that. Some neighbors will take that.
Mowed down in the woods for another neighbor. He’s been clearing buckthorn and it looks really nice down there now.
Also mowed an area I call ‘The Swamp’ since it was so dry. Turns out it wasn’t as dry as I thought…
Do you play the lottery? What’s the biggest prize you’ve won?