Moving ahead

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  Ross checked on the fields that still need NH3, and decided he could begin in the afternoon some application at Huey.  It was about the only place dry enough to apply the NH3 yesterday.  He made some progress.  NH3 is the source of nitrogen fertilizer for our corn crop.

Ross applies anhydrous ammonia.  There are 7 farm locations yet to apply.

Ross applies anhydrous ammonia. There are 7 farm locations yet to apply.  He operates the C-IH MX290, with Accu-Guide automatic steering.

John, even though he was feeling a bit rough, took to spraying the Harmony herbicide on the wheat crop.  He also has two special test areas in the wheat where he is evaluating some foliar feeding and fungicide products.  He will tank-mix those additional products in the sprayer to apply to the specific wheat fields he has selected for these important tests.  The GPS systems will record the exact locations.

My choice for the day’s activity was to take the backhoe and visit some farm locations where the White River’s recent flooding brought in some brush and debris.  There was a lot of hand work.  The flood had deposited many logs and sticks at Huey, but the worst was on east side of the Freddie farm.  The logs were pushed to the edge, and the sticks hauled away in the backhoe bucket.   Trees had fallen into the field at Crook, and Steen Hill, and those needed pushed aside.  There were also some farm locations where the crop debris had floated into piles that needed to be burned.  (See the post for March 24, 2014)  When I arrived back at the main farm just ahead of the evening rain, I must admit to having some aches!  Glamorous work, huh?

After school, Brandon took the JD 9330 and the field cultivator to smooth some strips and ruts in a few fields where soybeans will be planted soon.

Smoothing ruts at the Roberson farm.

Smoothing ruts at the Roberson farm.

We received a shower of rain about 6pm that stopped John on the wheat spraying task, and he was in the last wheat location.  Since the rain was a light one, I am confident he can complete that herbicide application today.  It will take some hours of sunshine today in order to resume application of NH3.  At least the soil surface needs to look and feel ‘dry’.  And the drying will not be as rapid as the last several days… the temperatures are cooler today.  They are predicting temps in the 30s tonight.

Some of our neighbors have begun to plant corn.  In our conversation yesterday morning, Ross told me he thinks “it just doesn’t ‘t feel right yet”.   I agree, and this cool spell tonight reinforces that.  However, the planters are ready, and if the weather cooperates, I could see the corn and soybean planters operating by Thursday or Friday.  We do have some NH3 to apply yet, but some of those areas still have water standing on them from White River’s recent flood.

For the ultimate in early planting, we recall spring 2012.  March was warm and dry, and allowed us to apply NH3 and pre-plant herbicides quite early.  Much to our delight, we completed our planting operations on April 13th that year, without any rain delay.  As it turned out, the rain was scarce all summer, and the Great Drought of 2012 cut our yields by 60%.  In contrast, 2013 was wet wet wet.  We had to plant around soggy areas in the field, and return later.  There was much replanting.  But the corn yields were the best ever.  Go figure.  It’s the sum of the year, not just an early planting date, that determines success.  But early planting (April) is preferred.  Looks like ours will occur in late April-early May.

There was no work done at the Burke farm project yesterday.  The bulldozer and excavator work is nearly complete.  We await the arrival of the tile-installing machine to lay in a string of drainage tile in the valley… this will extend a tile that emptied into the former woods all the way to Kessinger Ditch.  They will also install a culvert into the Kessinger Ditch levee, and this will allow any surface water to drain away from the new part of the field.  All this work could be completed in one day.  Let’s hope that day comes soon, so that the corn crop can be planted on this new area without delay!

After completing the Burke project, Shepards will move to our Lett and Watjen farms to install some soil conservation structures.  This is in cooperation with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS).   The NRCS has designed the Water and Sediment Control Basins (WASCoBs) for this project and they will share a portion of the cost of construction.  Lett and Watjen are locations that are reclaimed from strip mining in the 1970s, and the soil there is still so very fragile.  We are using our first experience with cover crops there also to protect and enhance the soil.  There never seems to be an end to learning or to our work to conserve that precious soil.

Let the sun keep shining!



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