Between the Rows kicks off the 2020 season

Jake Heilmann

We farm corn, beans and a little bit of wheat. We used to have a large hog operation but we got out of that around 20 years ago. We strictly do row crops now and we have a lot of on farm storage. We find we grow our best corn on our sandier ground and we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to corn-after-corn. We plan our corn acres to the amount we can do with one combine in the fall and the remaining acres get put to beans. We get wheat into the rotation when we want to install tile and we do that ourselves. We have a third party bale straw and we do some double-crop beans if we can make it work logistically.

Drainage certainly is showing its benefits like it does every year. We have been able to get on fields that are better drained. We have some fertilizer spread and some anhydrous ammonia applied on maybe a quarter of our corn acres. The wheat has all been sprayed and topdressed and it is off to a pretty good start. It will be awhile before we can get on the areas without adequate drainage.

They initially extended the date for H2Ohio and then moved the date back to March 31. Some local people got thrown off by that, but we have all of our acres signed up. I am not expecting anything out of it this year because of the uncertainty of the economic situation. That is not going to change any of our plans, though. We are still going to variable rate our phosphorus and our starter.

We had a very mild winter. Some of our cover crops that were supposed to be winter killed did not winter kill. We had to terminate those on our own. We had some bin run oats and they greened up again after winter. I’m not sure what happened there.

We take every year one year at a time and react to the situations we are given. Last year we had to react quite a bit and change a lot of our standard practices. We just take what Mother Nature gives us. When it is fit, we’ll go. It is reassuring having been through 2019 knowing that if we have to wait to plant it will be OK. Last year we planted corn all the way until June 12 and had above APH yields. We know if we have to wait we can, but when it does get fit we are going to hit it hard.

 

Patty Mann

It has been a mild winter and we are on the wet side. We had more rain than snow all along. It sounds like there is some wind coming and more rain and cold this week.

The home farm is in the northeast corner of Shelby County. Logan and Auglaize are just about a mile away in each direction. We are growing corn and beans. Dave and I were both raised on dairy farms and continued farming both row crops and dairy with his family when we were first married. In 1987 we moved to this location and were milking until ’08 when we dispersed the cows and expanded the row crop operation.

We had big challenges with planting in 2019. We got a small field of beans planted very early last year and then it was six weeks until we were able to get corn planted. In the northern counties we operate in we had some areas where we got nothing planted. This year we are attempting to get back into rotation. We only got about half our intended corn acres planted last year and we did flip a lot of those to beans where we were able to plant. It is a little bit of a stretch to get back into rotation in one year but we are going to be fairly close to 50-50 this year if we are able to get in what we have intended right now. We may be doing some extra burndown and that is the next thing we’d like to get started on if we get some dry weather. One day last week it was dry enough to get out and do some tile repair. Hopefully we can get out there soon and get after it.

Some warmth and some wind and a few dry days can really change things dramatically. If we get a few of these rains to hold off we may be able to get some things in before the end of the month.

A survey was put out to look at the challenges of COVID-19 in Ohio agriculture and a lot of people are very concerned about their financial situation going forward. We are trying to hold on to our ethanol markets. A lot of the plants are closing down or where we deliver we are seeing reduced hours. Hopefully we can get this market rolling again and get the gasoline/ethanol demand back up as people get back to work. It was kind of a perfect storm and we need a silver lining somewhere. We are looking forward to another opportunity to have at it this spring and we’re hoping for the best.

 

Charlie Kail

I farm with my son and work for Carrollton Farmers Exchange as their agronomist with seed, fertilizer and chemicals. We are in six counties with Carrolton as the main hub. We have more wheat out this year in this area than we have had out in a good while. We’re seeding more hay acres too around here. You can sell square bales of hay for $7 and with the prices of corn, it makes you think if you want to plant corn or not. This past week, my son took round bales and turned them into square bales to sell. He put the round bale on a single prong and started spinning it around to feed it right into the square baler. The square baler shoots them into the wagon and it’s off to the races. There are several good hay markets around. We sell most of ours locally to people with horses.

I have customers growing more wheat because they are looking at the straw market. Wheat and rye are looking really good coming out of winter. We have some dairy farmers and guys with beef feedlots growing a lot of rye, chopping in the spring and putting it back to corn.

We came out of winter really great because the ground wasn’t frozen. These hills are completely different from the flatlands. We have the north side of the hill that doesn’t thaw out as fast the southwest side of the hill. I was ripping ground a few years ago and was on the southwest side of the hill and went around to the north side of the hill and everything came right up out of the ground because it was still frozen. We haven’t had that problem this year.

It dries out pretty quickly here but we don’t get many days to work. So far we’ve gotten a lot of alfalfa seedings in on the high ground going back into hay. We sell a couple of semi loads of oats every year and a lot of that got in too in the well-drained high ground around here. We have ground we can get on two or three days after a hard rain series because water just flows off.

A lot of our ground around here is no-till and you have to have more patience because it doesn’t dry out as quickly. The chances of causing compaction are lot less if you wait for it to be dry enough to run on. Last spring we planted a bunch of acres that weren’t dry enough in this area. If you wondered what your seed count was, you just looked at the row because it never closed up behind you. And don’t take a cultipacker in and try to pack it shut. That is the wrong thing to do.

In this area, you have to have the ability to sit on a tractor seat and hang on to keep from sliding out. People just don’t realize how steep some of this ground is that we farm around here, but that is what we have to work with so that’s what we do.

 

Willie Murphy

We’ve got a corn-soybean-wheat-barley row crop farm, two 1,200-head hog finishing facilities we lease out, and we have 60 brood cows. We are close to winding down calving season. We have about six more to go. We have about 300-head on feed right now in our feedlot operation.

Calving has been better than it was last year. We actually calved in a different place this year than we have before — right outside my back door — which has been really nice. We had our first calves the first of January. We try to spread it out so we don’t have them all at one time, which makes it easier.

We actually had a little dry spell in the last couple of weeks we haven’t had the last couple of years. We were able to get wheat and barley topdressed in the second week of March. It looks pretty good.

We got all of our wheat and barley planted the first week of October last year and it got a good stand and good growth before dormancy. In early March it looked pretty good when we got the nitrogen put on and now it looks phenomenal. This is one of the better stands we’ve ever had coming out of winter for us.

The barley is for the local grain elevator. We like the barley because it comes off about 2 weeks earlier than the wheat so we can get double-crop beans planted earlier. We have been able to raise 50- or 55-bushel double-crops behind the barley.

Prior to the storms we had last week, it was dry enough to get out and do a little tillage and get some tile fixed. There have been several neighbors putting anhydrous down and I know of two neighbors who planted beans a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t done any burndown yet, but our weed control started last fall. We fall spray all of our corn stalks and bean stubble. Whether we do fall tillage or not we still go in and spray. Our fields are all pretty clean. Our bean fields look like they did right after we harvested them. We found that it is easier at planting time when you don’t have that chickweed and other weeds to contend with.

We have 150 acres of hay we bale for the cows. Once we get enough to feed, we square bale some to sell. The last two years were terrible on our alfalfa, but our grass hay all looks good. We topdressed our grass hay with 15 gallons of nitrogen and it is knee high right now and looks really good. As long as we can get it baled before the first of June it should be good quality.

 

 

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