Friday, April 8, 2011

Update from Flyover Country

Things are starting to get busy down on the farm. We're about to kick off spring planting that rolls right up to the start of wheat harvest followed by what seems like an intense irrigation season, I really appreciate rain then. After a month or so of doing other things the cycle will repeat with fall harvest and wheat seeding that will generally doesn't end until Thanksgiving.

I'm also involved with Progressive Farmer/DTN's View from the Cab column this growing season which should be interesting. Thursday I had a photographer follow me around for part of the day. It was a drizzly slow day at the farm so there wasn't much farming taking place, he plans to return in a couple of weeks and we should be planting irrigated corn then and running pretty hard.

All of our wheat has been fertilized and the fields that needed a herbicide to control weeds have been treated. In the past few weeks our wheat has had a tremendous growth and looks good. The wheat still has a long ways to go, so I won't get to optimistic yet and weather dictates if we have an average or great crop this year.

We've started spraying fields that will go to spring planted crops: corn, soybeans, sunflowers and grain sorghum. We intend to start planting corn on fields without irrigation next week. We plant these fields first and use shorter maturity varieties trying to time the plant's water needs to our normal weather patterns. We've had non irrigated corn yield as low as 20 and as high as 140 bushels an acre. We plant and fertilize for a 100 bushel an acre yield so 140 is maximizing all the inputs, seed and plant nutrients.

This year we will be planting with a tractor equipped with gps guided auto steer. I used it last fall for seeding wheat and was very impressed with how it works , but with spring planting maintaining distance between rows of plants is far more critical for optimum plant growth and development and ease of harvest than it is for wheat.

This past week we reentered the cattle industry with the purchase of 26 heifer cow calf pairs. A heifer is a female bovine that hasn't had a calf, but in this case we use the term heifer to represent her age and the fact she needs some special attention in terms of nutrition. They aren't what I consider fancy cows, but I consider them slightly above average. These girls are very calm and walked away from me then stopped and looked at me when I walked through them the other night. Temperment was a strong selling point for us, a cow that takes her calf and runs to the other end of the pasture will be dangerous to both us and other cattle when they need to be handled and their calves usually have a slower gains weight gains and under utilize natural resources. We intend to own the calves until they reach slaughter weight. I

It'll be great to share with everyone how the cattle business works and all the options cattlemen have available and why we make the choices that we do. The livestock sector is a real passion of mine, but we had to step away to refocus on our cropping system and determine how to incorporate cattle on the farm without sacrificing either them or crops.

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