Crop Report

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?

48 thoughts on “Crop Report”

  1. Rarely. $50.00 on a scratch off ticket I found laying on the ground. I didn’t even have to scratch it.The person threw away a winner.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wessew, good one.
      I’ve never played on lotteries. I had a hard time in a factory once, for being a killjoy about it.
      Hede in Spain, people that you know are selling tickets all the time, to raise money for village events etc. If I don’t buy them, I’m getting entertained for free, plus I I’m anxious to fit in. And Jane is lottery crazy anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Now that’s lucky, Wessew12!

      I buy a lottery ticket every now and then… I think the most I ever won was maybe $10.
      Once upon a time I won $107 from the local radio station (FM107) when they played the five songs I had requested.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wessew, good one.
    I’ve never played on lotteries. I had a hard time in a factory once, for being a killjoy about it.
    Hede in Spain, people that you know are selling tickets all the time, to raise money for village events etc. If I don’t buy them, I’m getting entertained for free, plus I I’m anxious to fit in. And Jane is lottery crazy anyway.


  3. Good “stuck” picture, Ben. And good to see you’ve got a proper baler. I’m guessing you sell bales to people with horses?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy the posts ben thanks
    All the thought process and response is interesting
    I’m still interested in hops. It’s in my ideas list
    Give me that guys name again

    I’m not a lottery guy
    I’ve bought maybe $50 tickets total in my life when the pot in at 400 zillion, never a hit

    My dad used to say farmers are the biggest gamblers that there are. Between drought and freeze and hail and whatever else they can be wiped out and that’s part of their equation
    I liked farming better after that. I would love a hobby farm as a retirement thing

    I gamble but not n the lottery

    Cards first thursday every month just got a restart last month
    Good to see those guys
    Big winner big loser = $20
    Last month 2 guys went home even and the other two trades $5 bills

    Good time had by all

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Gambling is really verboten for me, it’s evils opined by my mother and her family. My Great Grandfather had to leave Germany in 1914 due to gambling debts. The shame that caused my grandmother was something she never got over.

    My dad didn’t like to gamble, but his brother sure did. Uncle Alvin would buy the whole jar of pull tabs at the Eagles Club or the VFW, and he and my aunt would sit there and open them all and take home the winnings.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I absolutely agree about gambling, Renee. One of the few English guys in this village is a slot machine addict, and has ruined retirement for he and his wife. Still doing it, last I heard. Jane used to say to me when she bought a Lottery ticket “You won’t complain if we win.” Making me the aggressor
      Or something.
      I’ll do a lighthearted bet on something for a small amount. Gambling, it’s true, but it doesn’t seem like something which is giving you idiotic hopes of getting your problems fixed without effort. In Devon, probably like anywhere, we’d try to guess how many bales of hay or straw there’d be in a field. Ylh know how many acres it is, you can judge how heavy a crop it is. I’m sure Ben does it.
      So Bungy (short for bungalow. It either means, you aren’t very tall. Or you haven’t got much upstairs. This Bungy wasn’t short. But he wasn’t tall. I’m not saying anything else.), Bungy, I say, insisted on a bet. I said no, he said, one pound. I didn’t want to take his money. OK!!! I finally said. Twelve hundred bales. He said, eleven hundred. It was eleven hundred and fifty one. Bets like that, I don’t mind, but Bungy could have been a better loser, it wasn’t my idea.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Not much gambling for me. When they started the lottery many years ago, I bought a few tickets and won $10. Then I just forgot about it. I am sure I will win a big pay off someday, if I would just remember to buy a ticket.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah but you can’t win even if you DO play with most systems. I’ve only been to Las Vegas a couple of times, but who do you think pays for all that? It’s not benevolent landlords. It’s the losses of people who can’t stay away.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. While I’m lousy at math, I understand it enough to know how foolish it is to think gambling is a way to make money. The house is going to win, sooner or later, and usually it is sooner. I literally don’t understand people who expect to beat the odds.

    I only remember betting once. It was with my mother. My mother could be wrong at times, but if she was prepared to bet money on some issue it was absolute folly to bet against her. I never made that mistake again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Food plots are an area left for the wildlife. Deer and turkeys in this case. Could be any crop, really.
      This guy has at least 3 of those little houses on stands around his fields. So he lures the deer and turkeys into the field and makes it easy hunting. Therefore, I’m not so concerned about how the beans do on his place and I was willing to let it all go to grass.
      He’d prefer corn every year, but I’m not making a special trip over to plant his place when I’m there planting my rental field anyway. So he gets whatever I’m planting. And he pays for it.

      Years ago, the DNR would pay $100 / acre to leave food plots for the deer. Since the deer are eating my crops anyway, I’d leave a couple acres for them and at least get some reimbursement. They ran out of money for that program. But the deer are still eating.

      I read a study that showed how, with heavy deer pressure, you loose money on the outside 12 rows, due to how much they eat. But it seems like, if I don’t plant those outside rows, don’t the NEXT 12 simply become the outside 12?? But I do leave maybe 10′ open on the edge of those fields, next to the trees. (Steve, I’m assuming the deer would prefer more shelter and therefore avoid the open areas? Wishful thinking I think)

      I leave a couple small plots that isn’t the best soil, and has trees on three sides, I just plant to oats rather than corn or bean, and hope the deer hang out there. And I have one guy who hunts out here, he rents an acre and plants a food plot of Turnips and radishes; to promote antler growth. And he says the deer will go eat that before they eat my corn.
      I think they just use it as an appetizer before they go get my main course.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ben, you are right. Deer prefer being in cover over being in the open, hence they like edges where food and cover but together. Small food plots interspersed with brushy areas would be ideal for deer. But they adapt. If they find the best food in open areas, they will take advantage of that.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Ben, as we both know, the outside rows are the biggest. Can’t you put a sign up for the deer to eat the INSIDE 12? Maybe cut a little track for them, with arrows.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m not a gambler in the sense of buying lottery tickets. Like others on here, I have bought the occasional lottery ticket when the pot was so rich it seemed like I should at least give it a shot, but as you all know, I’m not a multi-millionaire. So much in life is a crapshoot, I don’t see any reason to on a regular basis indulge in games of chance.

    Parky, my old neighbor, used to go to the Casino at least once a week. He played the slots, to my mind a mind-numbingly boring activity. He’d sit there for hours feeding coins to the machine; can’t imagine how much money he squandered that way. One night he hit the jackpot and won a red Jeep Cherokee, proof to him, that if you were persistent, eventually you’d become a winner. I’m convinced he had paid for that car many times over by then, but that’s another matter. At any rate, he drove that car until he died many years later. Guess it had become a reminder of the one time he was a WINNER.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. We are talking about gambling because Ben has pointed out that farming includes taking gambles. That doesn’t mean farming is “just like” playing casino games, hoping to get a profit. Farmers who work hard and smart are likely to survive the ups and downs of markets, but I wish we could arrange it so individual farmers didn’t have to carry such a load of pressure by risking so much each year.

    My dad was not a gambler, but when he saw he was poorly respected by his boss, he had the courage to gamble on himself by starting up his own company. It was a huge roll of the dice that ultimately paid off handsomely. Seeing my father deal with bankers and corrupt businessmen and a business recession taught me a big lesson about how much courage it takes to be a small businessman. Most of us have elements of risk, but farmers face way too much of it, I think.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Steve, that’s true.

      I was also thinking about my being stuck in the swamp. I was taking my chances there. And what’s really interesting is, if you study the photo, The front wheel didn’t go down, I had driven over it and the back wheel just ‘dropped’. I know that area can be wet, and I was being careful… but normally, with all the grass there, the grass provides a pretty good mat, and if I see the tires getting wet, I turn to the left and get out of that area. This didn’t happen this year, it was just, rather abruptly, stuck.

      Then, the key is, don’t fight it and make yourself stuck worse. I tried forward and back once and stopped. Called Kelly, got the other tractor and a chain, and it pulled out real easy. Good thing I had the mower hooked on the back or there’s no telling how far I may have sunk. The mower was holding me up.

      One of the things I always admired about Dale’s writing, was his questions were only tangentially related to his story and I always liked that. So I try to do that, but it’s hard.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I would fight. Oh yeah. Go back in there and tell them I was stuck again? I’d get it bellied right down first, and preferably the machine I was pulling as well. Occasionally a miracle would happen and I’d get it out. Otherwise, may as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve got another one, about a bet I lost
    I upset the whole village, letting Pete Snell beat me like that.
    This is farming therapy for me. I hope you all can put up with it. I left farming 30 years ago this year, and miss it like crazy. They grow fruit trees here, not interested
    Pete and I couldn’t pick up a dungfork the same way. It was just constant niggling between us, and, rarely, outright falling out. Every year I’d swear, Not going to help him do his silage this year. But he was good at piling on the guilt. Not even by design, it was just a reflex. The one year I escaped, genuinely couldn’t do it, he gave me so much of the, Oh well, I suppose I shall just have to manage, with downcast tone and expression, it was almost not worth it.
    I have noticed I write very long comments, sorry, I try to keep it short.
    “Not trying very hard,” you’re thinking.
    I used to work the buckrake. It’s a wide fork, preferably no wider than the tractor, mounted on the back of the tractor. You had to pick up the load of grass that had just been tipped up, and build a wedge shaped stack with it. You’d have to roll the layer you’d put there, and then start another layer. The forage harvesters wers suddenly getting a bit bigger, and a lot faster, but I was still stubbornly clinging to the older method, on the grounds that I was fast enough. Just like today, I didn’t take advice, especially from Pete, who wasn’t a natural driver and couldn’t have done the job at any kind of speed. My way was best, and that was that(I had to give in in the end, it just made more sense)
    So I had a layer ready to roll down. Actually, come to think of it, it was left from last night. I don’t approve of leaving it overnight, that had to be Pete’s idea. You need to get it down tight, get as much air out of it possible, to get the correct fermentation. Bed time, the Lord’s Day, don’t come into it.
    You just roll it with the tractor wheels. Slower you go, the better it rolls it. But you need to make a track first,then slowly mak it wider and wider, till you’d rolled everything. Often, if you had time before the harvester started again you’d roll it again, maybe crossways this time, if it wasn’t too steep. I’d probably do it anyway, steep or not, if nobody was looking. I was thefe to have fun. One rule is, if the grass is still loose, don’t go cossways, you’re asking for it. Maybe you’ll soon guess what the bet was about. I did have a reason to go crossways. On the loose grass. I don’t remember what that spurious reason was. Showing I could do it, probably. Straight away, he was on top of it, with his vast, extensive experience and knowledge of why I shouldn’t be doing that. I mean, the guy was actually telling me how to drive on silage. I was instantly enraged. I didn’t say anything about how ling I’d been driving a tractor. But I did mention about having buckraked silage X number of years, and it was a considerable number, since I was 12 or 13(a bit late starting, I know, but they wouldn’t let me, before). So you see, Steve, that’s at least twice I’ve come out with that irrelevant stuff. I took a five pound note out of my pocket, rolled it up, and stuffed it in a hole in the concrete shed post. “If I get stuck, you can have that.” Funny to watch, maybe. I got back on the tractor and continued trying to prove something, and got irretrievably stuck. I haven’t got over the mortification, and humiliation, of a guy that couldn’t drive a wheelbarrow, rubbing it in. You can’t write down a Devon accent, but I keep trying: “Ai knaw you bin drahvin a trattor since ee wuz thirdeen. (no, I’d been DRIVING longer than that). Bud ai knaw be workin o’t, yeh can’t go crossin o’t, etc, etc” I just kept my mouth shut. Oh by the way, that’s not what a Devon accent sounds like. It’s very elusive. I just can’t get it.
    He wouldn’t take the money. I wouldn’t take it back. Another story.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’ve just finished eight hours of a new Netflix series: Clarkson’s Farm. It is reality TV. I am suspicious of any show that claims to present real life without surreptitious shaping of the story. In this series, a TV guy named Jeremy Clarkson (mostly known for his BBC series Top Gear) decides to farm some land he owns. The show highlights the gambling aspect of farming. I was fascinated (if a bit cynical about the reality thing), partly because I’ve always wondered about UK farming. Production values were high. If they do a second season, I’ll watch.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Two of the worst moments in my recent health crises involved male nurses born in countries that used to be British colonies. All the nurses in a covid recovery area wear high tech masks that muffle speech. I have terrible hearing to begin with, so if you have someone speaking through a complicated mask in a doubly-accented voice, I could not understand a word they said. One of the nurses got so angry he seemed ready to hit me, and the other one ended up storming out of my room.


      1. Ben, only just saw that Pemberton Farms link. Sorry, I couldn’t handle that accent either. The true English is spoken only in Devon. This guy’s probably forgotten more about farming than I know, but he really needs a more convincing accent.
        And the “farming disaster.” You and I know that these things happen. But theyhave to make a series out of it,I know.


  12. I still didn’t mention about making that track. You didn’t approach that slowly. Bungy drove onto a heap that I’d built, engine ticking over, first gear. The front wheels went up over the stack, then the back wheels left the concrete and sank into the stack, with the front end becoming lighter by the millisecond. The tractor slowly heaved itself round the back wheels, and Bungo was even slower. It kept on going over, and came to rest when the newly- compulsory rollbar hit the ground behind him. He was sat there with the tractor just past vertical, with diesel from the filler cap dripping on his face. I got the blame, nothing too strong, but it was mentioned again, how steep I would build the heap. My good reasons for this tended to fall on deaf ears. Moral? I’m the buckraking kid. I don’t want or need your help.
    But seriously, if it wasn’t for those rollbars we hated, I’d probably have Bungy on my conscience to this day, 45 years later.
    The way to do it, on the six speed tractors I usually used, was fifth gear, full throttle. Nothing was going to turn over backwards, you might flounder about, and not make it to the top first time, but it was safeish, spectacular, and fun. Do a good job and have fun, that’s why I was there. In no particular order. I used a Fergy 165 a lot for that job. With the buckrake on the back, it couldn’t go over backwards. I didn’t like the 165 model, it replaced the mighty 65,for one thing. Unforgivable. But, partway up the heap on those flat out runs, if it was really sinking in and the engine was starting to die, and a changed down rapidly, the front WOULD lift, and go right up until the buckrake was dragging, which meant, on a steep ramp, one collosal, spectacular wheelie which would make onlookers scared for my life. Perfectly safe if I kept it looking straight uphill, with the independent brakes, and one wheel didn’t sink more than the other. I’m still here, so I suppose it never did, or I stopped in time.
    I used a 65 once or twice, but couldn’t make it do that, they’re heavy on the front.
    At 70, I haven’t learned. I still want to do that.
    They don’t make silage here. Thanks for the therapy.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have won very few drawing or prizes in my lifetime. I’m guessing this is why I don’t buy lottery tickets or do any gambling really — because I look at the money in my hand and I think “this could buy 2 gallons of milk or six rolls of toilet paper” or whatever it is that I need right then.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I picked up a $100 winner scratchoff ticket in a parking lot a few years ago. The ticket I didn’t have to pay for was the biggest winner I’ve had. I sometimes buy a Gopher 5 ticket when the jackpot goes over maybe $600,000 or so. But I’ve never won more than fifteen bucks on those. The Gopher 5 tickets only cost a buck. The Powerball tickets are two bucks, which is harder to part with.

    Liked by 2 people

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