Friday, June 22, 2012

The drought continues…

Today, the local electric co-op is upgrading our electric service.  The new dryer upgrade has increased our potential load in such a way that the wiring and the poles that hold them up will need to be bigger.  For many years now, the farm has had a pseudo-type of low-grade three-phase service, and now it must become a full-blown three-phase service.  We have maxed out what the current wires can provide.  They are replacing the poles and wires down our lane, over 1/2 mile of new materials to bring in the proper amount of electric power.   The folks at WIN Energy are sharing some of the cost of the upgrade, but it still is costing us $11,000. to make the improvement.  When complete, there will be no question of the utility’s ability to to provide what is needed to power this farm.

Here the guys from WIN Energy install the first new power pole; this one will have many guy-wires to stabilize it, as the lines will turn directions on this pole.

I visited this afternoon the fields at 2 Hills…. some soybeans are emerging… and I don’t know how that is happening.  It has been 3 weeks since the field was planted, and two weeks since the .28″ rain.  But the emerging population is <10% of the planted 170,000 per acre– not enough to make a ‘stand’.

How did this one little bean seed find enough moisture to emerge? It is a rare sight in the DCB this year. It has been 3 weeks since this was planted, and 2 weeks since the .28″ rain.  Less than 10% of the planted population of 170,000 beans per acre have emerged.

Here’s what I’m typically finding when I dig into the DCB rows. I don’t think this one will survive in the dry soil. It was still over 1/2″ below the surface.

I spoke with Troy Clawson, our Monsanto seed consultant, and made a plan to replant these DCB immediately after the next appropriate rain 1+”.   If that does not come by July 10, it will not be feasible to replant.

I met over lunch today with Rick Hofmann and his son Chris.  Rick’s wife Alice (and her sister Ginni Rothrock) were the landlords of one of our rented farms.  We have had a very long relationship with that family, beginning with Alice’s parents, Gertrude and Willy P Klingensmith.  Dad began renting that farm from them in 1962, and we remained their tenants through generational changes for them and us.  I would characterize our relationship as still warm and personal, even though we stopped farming the land in 2004, when it was enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).   Rick, retired from the airline business,  lives in a Denver suburb. Chris works at DePaul University, overseeing the theater program.  He is now invovled in a major new theater construction project at the university, 175,000+sq ft building.  He has the responsibility to see that the new theaters in the facility are outfitted appropriately for the program’s needs.  It was great to have lunch with them, and see them off on their trip back to Chicago.

Pat and I attended on Wednesday evening the 2012 Master Farmer ceremony.  It was held in Plymouth, Indiana (about 25 miles south of South Bend).   I am acquianted with two of this year’s 6 winners.  Ed Carmichael of Sullivan, and Gene Schmidt of Hanna, Indiana were added to the roles of Indiana’s Master Farmers.  This award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine and Purdue’s College of Agriculture.  Congratulations to these new Master Farmers!  It was great to visit with many old friends from across the state.

On our drive to and from Plymouth, we saw that most fields of corn and soybeans across Indiana are in some level of drought stress.  We even saw some spots in some fields that were already dead and brown.  Makes my heart go out to my fellow farmers.  But at the award event, a fellow farmer-friend of mine reminded me, “If the worst thing I have to face in this life is one bad crop, I’ve had a pretty easy life.”  I must agree.  Every now and then we need a little perspective….

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