End in sight (soybeans, that is)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Well, we moved into the Freddie farm yesterday afternoon.  It’s our largest field, 310 acres, and most distant from the farm.  The soybeans there were replanted in early June because the April-planted ones were taken out by a flood in May.   We may have a slight delay, for we are getting sprinkles of rain this morning.  Not a problem, for it has been dry for so very long.  The dry weather has been quite conducive to soybean harvest and we made good progress.   Once the Freddie farm is done, we will only have to return to 3 other fields to cut some tiny areas of  replant soybeans.

So, depending on the weather, we may soon have the soybean crop behind us.  Need a couple good days to wrap that up.  We are happy to be receiving some rain.  It will help launch the wheat crop and the cover-crop oats.

The rows at the Freddie farm are a mile long.

Working at the Huey farm on Tuesday evening.

Have a good weekend.



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Wrapping up one task

Monday, October 2, 2017

Larry is back today, and he should finish the planting of the 2018-crop wheat.  He has been working very diligently since September 25.  We discussed this morning his experience with wheat planting.  According to his ‘red book’ (where he kept his hours for many years) he began planting our wheat crop with the fall of 1976.  We never have to be concerned about Larry’s work, his many years of experience with this task are apparent.

The fields where the wheat is sown look really great.  We are hoping that a gentle rain will come soon to help this crop get started.  It’s been so dry for so long, that we are not confident the wheat will sprout without a rain.  The weather folks are predicting a small chance for a rain event on Friday.

We continue to harvest soybeans.  Ross will take a drive this morning to check on some of the fields that were replanted after the May flooding along White River.  Not sure they’ll be ready yet, but if so, we will just continue the march through our soybean crop.  If they’re not ready yet, we will likely convert over to corn harvest tomorrow.   The conditions will tell us what we’re going to do.

Have a wonderful week.  Happy October!

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Oregon visitors

Saturday,  September 30, 2017

Another month in the books!  Wow, the calendar pages are flipping over pretty quick.  This month has been a flurry of harvest activity, since we began on the 11th.  It has been quite dry, and the results in the soybean field are showing the effects of the dry July and August.  If the soil does not have a high water-holding capacity, there seems to be an upper limit on yields in those areas.  But where the fields often drown with too much water, those soils have a higher water-holding capacity, and the soybean yields are higher.  My estimate is that final soybean results will be right at average.

We have had visitors this weekend from Oregon.  Three of Philip’s close friends have come to visit him.  Jeremy, his wife Annie, and another friend Markus arrived yesterday.  (Jeremy and Annie actually live in northern California, Markus in Portland.  They all met during their University of Oregon days)  They came to visit Philip.  Apart from that, they also came to the field to observe the soybean harvest Friday evening.  Jeremy and Markus had some passenger seat-time in the JD S680 combine.  These folks are quite polite and easy to have around.  Their thoughtful questions about the process and our management were interesting.  John also had some time to show them around the grain storage facilities and the farm office.  It is always a good time to have visitors on the farm, and especially nice with these pleasant young people.  Thanks to this great group for coming all this way to see Philip, and then using some of their time to check out the farm, too.

Jeremy rode a while with me in the combine. As I have learned from #AgTwitter, anytime you take this kind of picture with a farmer, it’s called a ‘felfie’, not a ‘selfie’.

Thanks to the perpetually dry September weather, we are marching through the soybean crop at a good pace.  We have about 1/3 of the soybean acres yet to harvest.  It has been complicated a bit by the replanted spots, and we’ve had to move in and out of those fields as the different planting date beans matured.  This slows the harvest process a bit with the extra ‘moves’ and driving around the wet beans and returning later to cut the ones we cut around earlier.  But, it’s what we must do to harvest good quality, dry (<13% moisture) soybeans in 2017.   You can check a short video I took from the seat of the combine as we were harvesting soybeans last Tuesday at Burke.  That was probably the most fun day of fall so far.   Just click on the YouTube icon at the upper right of this page, and it’ll take you right there.  It’s less than a minute, but shows a fun time.

Our thinking is that by the time we catch up with all the harvest-ready soybeans, we can return to corn… and that the corn will be dry enough then to move directly to the market or to our storage.

We have several truckloads of contracted corn to deliver beginning October 2.  If the corn is dry (15.5% moisture) in the field, that will make those deliveries more convenient.  I guess that having the corn dry enough not to need the dryer is one benefit of the drought-like July to September.

This is the latest USDA Drought Monitor Map. It shows Knox County, Indiana in the ‘abnormally dry’ category, but the dry days continue.

Also, GPC at Washington, IN–where we will deliver most of those October loads, has a unique inbound system.  They schedule appointments every 4 minutes during their operating hours, and this results in NO waiting for hours in one of those interminable truck lines.  Brandon visits their online site to make those appointments.  It is a very popular system, and I cannot understand why it has not ‘taken off’ in other locations.    Thanks, GPC, for your innovation.

There has been a lot of interest in our neighbor’s combine fire.  The pictures were stark, and a reminder to blow-clean our machines every evening.  We worked in our adjoining field yesterday, and it is sad to see the blackened remains of that machine still spewing smoke from Wednesday’s fire.  These neighbors are terrific farmers, and our heart goes out to them as they have replaced this vital farm tool.  Still, it’s just a ‘thing’ and there was no one hurt in the blaze.  Perspective.

We hope you have a happy and safe weekend.  It’s a happy one here.



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Moving ahead

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The dry weather continues, but it has cooled off a bit.  No more days in the 90s.  Today’s high is predicted in the mid 70s.  And tonight, they’re saying temps in the 40s!  I may have to trade my shorts in for jeans tomorrow!

We continue to move through the soybean crop.  We are using these dry days to the best advantage, to cut beans.  Another hope is that by leaving corn standing while we cut soybeans, the grain will dry enough so that we do not have to run it through the dryer.  We will see.

The planting of the 2018 wheat crop continues.  We have two more fields where we must cut the soybeans for the wheat to be planted, and that may occur  today or tomorrow.  Then, Larry can return to finish off the wheat planting.

The CPS truck has the wheat seed blended in with the granular fertilizer. The blend is uniformly spread on the field. We have used this method of wheat planting for many years.

Larry comes along in the JD 9330 with the disk and crumbler to mix the seed/fertilizer blend into the top 2″ of the soil. Typically this gets the wheat going quickly, but this year a rain will be helpful to a good start.

We are now over halfway done with the soybean harvest.  We monitor the results with our FieldView app on the phone.  It gives a good report of the yields segregated by variety, or soil type, or location.  This data is collected in the FieldView Cab app in an iPad in each combine.  It is a very good data management system for us.

We had a good neighbor who lost a combine yesterday to a fire.   Because of that, we re-commit to blowing off the dust each evening before we leave the combines.  We have a leaf blower that is just right for that task.   Last time we bought a new combine, the JD dealer gave us this blower, and it turns out that we use it as he suggested!

The side panels are opened up on the combine, ready for the leaf blower to clean off the accumulated dust and debris. It’s much easier if there is some wind to take away the dust as the leaf blower blasts it off the combine.

Tuesday was an especially good day, harvesting at the Burke farm.  The field was nearly level, and the beans were good-yielding.  We kept Brandon busy with the grain cart.  The machines worked well, and it was just a lot of fun to be in the field that day.

This was Tuesday afternoon at the Burke farm. A good place to work, and a fun task for that day!

As the hours accumulate on the combines, we are inching towards an oil change in the engines.  The JD is about 40 hours away from this required service.

We keep marching ahead, day by day.


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A return to wheat

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25th is the date when we prefer to begin planting our soft red winter wheat (SRW).  Well, that is going to happen today.  What makes it special is that we have not planted any wheat since the fall of 2013.  The price of wheat has been lower than our cost of producing it, so we stopped planting it.  However, during a short period of market rally this summer, Ross was able to sell some 2018 crop wheat at a favorable price, so we are able to once again be in the wheat business!   For many years in the 70s and 80s, wheat plus double-crop soybeans was our enterprise with the best return.  But in recent years, the wheat price was not adequate.  It will be interesting to see how this 2018 crop of wheat turns out.  Having wheat will protect those fields from erosion during the winter, and provide some agronomic benefits to our crop rotation.

There’s an old saying about wheat:  “Plant in the dust, the bins will bust!”  The fields are certainly dry right now.  Let’s hope the old farmer saying runs true.

This is the rig that will ‘plant’ the wheat crop. CPS blends the wheat seed into a special mixture of granular fertilizer and then spreads it on the selected fields. Larry comes along with this disk and roller to incorporate it all into the soil. In a few weeks, the fields will be a beautiful green!

Larry is here to plant our wheat crop.  As we have thought about it this morning, this is probably his 40th fall to plant our wheat crop for us.  He began working for dad when he was only 15, and he has been part of our team since then.  After getting his chemistry degree at Indiana, he took a position at the Jasper hospital, running the lab there.  All these years, he scheduled his vacation time so that he would be available to plant our wheat crop.   Now that he is retired from the hospital, his days are a bit more free to be around to help us in the fall.  We have grown to depend on Larry and his can-do attitude.  This is a happy day for him and us.

This is Larry. He is now in his 50th year of working with us. Thanks, Larry!

Here is a picture from the late 1970s, where Larry is planting our wheat crop with a JD 4430, and a little disk and drill. This picture is one of several hanging in the farm office to remind us of our past experiences.

Our soybean harvest will resume today, after taking a day off yesterday.  It felt good to rest.

The heat of summer remains for the next few days, but by next weekend, more seasonal fall weather is predicted.

We are looking forward to next weekend, for some of Philip’s friends from Oregon are coming to visit him here at the farm!

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Back to beans

Friday, September 22, 2017

After a couple days harvesting corn, it is dry enough again to return to cutting beans.  Boy, oh, boy has it been hot!  We’ve had a couple days in the 90s, and they’re predicting a few more.  Maybe rain coming on Thursday.  Until then, we should be cutting soybeans.  We are still dodging some replanted beans, so it is rare that we cut a complete field start-to-finish.  But we are going to get what is ready now and return when the replanted ones are dried enough.  It certainly complicates the harvest, but you do what you gotta do.  The weather must be dry to harvest soybeans, and we use every good day we can to cut beans.

Brandon cleans the air filters on the combines frequently. He’s doing it again this morning.

We have also hooked up our little drill to begin planting cover crops.  This year, we are trying oats, so that the winter will surely kill the growth.   That way, there will be less pressure (than with wheat) getting the cover crop stopped next spring.  This cover crop thing seems to be helping protect from erosion, but there are still many things to learn.  We keep experimenting, and hopefully we will find that ‘right thing’.

Zack from CPS assists Brandon and John in the initial experience of loading the drill with the spout on the seed box. The oats looks great in the drill.

Today is the first day of fall, but it sure feels like a hot and very humid summer day!


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On and off again

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Back to the field we went yesterday, it was mostly a beautiful, sunny SWIN day.  There were strange events weather-wise.  At the fields near Wheatland where we were harvesting, the sun was shining, and the combines were running strong.  But here at the main farm, (just 4 miles west of the combines) it was raining.  I guess it has to stop and start someplace.  Just NW of us, at Bruceville, IN, you could see the black clouds pouring down rain.  We got about half-inch here, but there it rained over 2″!  In  the middle of the afternoon, I got a call from a young farmer friend from Fritchton and he reported that they’d been rained out.  We just watched the clouds in the west and kept going.  Finally at about 830 pm  the raindrops began to fall, and soon it was too ‘tough’ to cut soybeans.  We loaded the heads on the wagons, and moved the machines home.  And there they sit this morning, while the thunder booms and the rain falls.

Ross and John cut soybeans around this neighbor’s house. Can you see the threatening dark clouds in the west?

Ross makes progress in the CIH 8230. Clear skies in the field, rainy just 4 miles west.

John moves along in the JD S680 combine.

The soybeans certainly look nice in the grain cart. This cart-load will completely fill a semi trailer when Brandon goes to transfer it to the truck.

We are not sad about the rain today.  Yes, it stops our combines, but it is probably helping the late-planted (replanted) soybeans fill up the pods with bigger soybeans.

Today’s rain has us stopped from harvesting.

The 8230 waits for a refill of diesel fuel at our fuel building. No hurry on that this morning.

I went to see the doctor yesterday morning, and she said that the treatment had been successful enough for me to return to the combine.  She gave me an additional round of medicines for the next 5 days, and told me to continue the breathing treatments.   But it felt good to be back in the combine seat again.  I wear a mask when I have to step out of the cab.  This rainy spell should allow me to rest a bit more before we must hit the fields again at the next opportunity.

Bill, Brandon, and John are delivering soybeans today to ADM at Newburgh, Indiana.  It takes them about 90 minutes to get there from here, so a rainy day delivery to that distant location will help us deliver more locally when we get back to the fields.

Have a pleasant week.


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