July 8, 2011
Today, I’m back in the office, after a 2.2″ rain last night. The good news is that yesterday I was able to complete planting the double-crop soybeans in the wheat stubble. That finishes planting season, unless, of course, I can do some replanting in the next few days. The soil conditions were often muddy. It was a judgment call, weighing the risks of waiting for soil to be in ideal conditions, and the risk of planting in wet soil. I opted to go ahead with planting, running Wednesday and Thursday. Some of the acres were dry enough to give me confidence about planting, but not all. I think that last night’s rain confirms that it was OK to move ahead with the planting, for the rain would have delayed planting even more.
There are some acres that were lost to the heavy rains and flooding of June 25, and most of them still have water covering them. I’m thinking that July 15 will be my deadline for returning there to re-plant, and if I cannot re-plant by then, I will not replant at all.
I took a small movie on my iPhone on Wednesday, and I will attach it here. It shows the planting of double-crop soybeans in wheat stubble, the tractor is guided by a GPS system called AutoTrac. The soil conditions were pretty good, but still there were spots of standing water to work around. Late in that movie, after the tractor is turned around for another pass, you can see off to the right the alternating stripes of light and dark stubble of the previous passes across the field.
John also had a really big two days of spraying, going over 1000+ acres. It was getting sort of urgent, and he met his goal. It was made a little more complicated when he was spraying that last corn field. He had to add ‘drops’ to his sprayer boom. Those tubes hang below the sprayer boom and run between the rows of corn. This allows the spray to be applied below the top of the crop canopy, more directly on the target of the weeds. His sprayer has computer controls that meter the spray material accurately, adjusting the rate of application to his speed. As he slows down or speeds up across the field, the computer adjusts the application so that the rate remains constant. It also uses GPS to control each of the 5 sections of the boom, and on the ends of a field where he enters the end-rows at an angle, it will shut off each section to minimize overlap. This saves money, and protects against over-application. Using glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, he applies 10 gallons of water in which is mixed 22 ounces of herbicide on each acre. It is low-impact on the environment, but big impact on corn yields. Controlling the competition from the weeds makes a huge difference in crop production. The corn is now what we call ‘laid by’. The next operation in the corn crop will be harvesting. The soybeans will need one more application of herbicide in about 5 weeks. John does a good job with the sprayer, and that is among the many things for which he is responsible.