2021 Between the Rows kicks off with a solid start to spring

John Schumm

We started no-till — total no-till — about 12 years ago and things have been working great for us on the soybean side. We have struggled a little bit here and there on the corn side but we are getting closer. I farm with my son, Jeremy, and we both work full-time jobs and this no-till has taken a lot of labor away so we have time to do that.

First we had to take care of the drainage problems. We have used cereal rye and the tilth of our ground just changed tremendously when we started using it. We have a farmer up this way who inter-seeds it with a 90-foot air seeder. He drives it through our standing crops and we try to get that all done the first week of September in corn and soybeans before the soybean leaves start to turn and fall off. We get tremendous growth in the fall. The root structure is amazing and that took care of our water problems. To look back it was just a blessing. It takes the tightness out of the ground so the water gets away.

The height of the rye does not matter to us. We have planted in rye that was taller than the cab. It plants very easily. It separates when the openers hit it and it makes for very healthy beans. It plants like a garden with our no-till planters. We plant everything into green and they we try to kill it a day or two after planting, depending on the weather. 

Spring has been very good. Our cover crop is ahead of schedule and we did put some beans in last weekend. Our ground temperature was 56 and I checked them yesterday and they are starting to sprout already. We hope they stay in the ground a few days yet. 

There are a handful of farmers planting soybeans. I don’t know of anyone in this immediate area that has tried corn yet. The weather has been perfect so we did stick a little bit in.

The ground is as fit as I can ever remember it in a spring. There are a few cool nights in the forecast but we’ll be back in the 60s by the weekend. 

Ross Black

I’m the fifth generation farming behind Dad. We all get along pretty well. It is an adjustment for grandpa because he is 79 years old, but he enjoys watching me and Dad plant and he still gets his help in running the fertilizer truck for us. 

We’re pretty anxious because we’re drier than we have been in several years. We haven’t planted corn in April since at least 3 years ago, but as cold as it is, we’re still worried about putting anything in the ground.

My house is just west of Orient and I only got 3 tenths out of the Friday rain event and 45 hundredths out of everything over the weekend. Dad and Grandpa got over an inch of rain over north of Ashville. They are a lot wetter than I am over here.

It is amazing this year how much drier we really are compared to previous years. We were spreading dry fertilizer on Saturday and I joked with Dad and told him it is a good thing I don’t have the planter quite ready to go because I probably would have been trying to plant. 

If we could get the wind down we could get some more spraying done. We have a little bean burndown done. With the dry conditions and talk of a drought, we’re looking toward more of a no-till year over a conventional tillage year to conserve a little moisture. 

Our planter is a year model newer than me. It is an ’01 and I was born in 2000. We have a Kinze 3600 16-row corn planter with row fertilizer on it. I tested our corn meters and we were getting about 80% singulation average from the original units with over 12,000 acres on them. Last year was the first year we planted with electric drive on the Kinze planter and we put RTK on it for the row shut offs. I had never planted corn with GPS until last year. I didn’t realize that you could plant going through the field and actually not know what to do with your hands. We had one of the best corn stands we’ve ever had on the farm.

Last year we realized there was anywhere from a 100- to a 400-pound downforce difference across the planter. We got to looking in the field last fall and found we were losing 10 or 25 bushels where we were not getting adequate downforce. We decided to plant with hydraulic downforce for this year. This ought to be the cat’s meow.

Bill Daugherty 

I am the fifth generation and my son is the sixth generation on the farm. We are milking approximately 230 cows with a year-old state-of-the-art dairy facility with four Lely robots. There are still plenty of things to do but we don’t have to depend on local high school boys to do the evening chores. As far as the evening milking, the robots take care of that.

 We farm around 1,600 acres and if we are halfway across the county I don’t have to worry about getting a phone call from someone who can’t make it that evening. With the robots, the cows are going to be milked. 

The cows get a partial mix ration balanced for 75 to 80 pounds of milk. Any cows milking more than that get a robot pellet. It has increased our forage needs and we are seeding more hay this year and chopping more corn and rye this spring. We are currently growing about 800 acres of corn, 600 acres of soybeans and about 200 acres of hay. We double-crop around 150 acres of rye and we do a lot of rye cover crop. If we get enough growth we’ll chop that too. We chop corn silage around mid-September and plant the rye and haul manure on it. The soybeans we take off up through about Oct. 15 or 20 we plant rye on as well. That has the opportunity to come off for forage as well if it is close enough to the farm for the transportation.

We chop rye usually the end of April or beginning of May and put it in the bunker and we come in with corn after the rye. Most of that corn will be chopped again in the fall. We chop about 160 acres of corn for silage. We are chopping more this year and we hope to be up to 240 cows by mid-summer, which will be about the capacity of the barn. 

We chop about 120 acres of haylage four to five times throughout the summer and then we round bale about 80 acres of hay. Things look really good this spring. We had a nice dry spell and got most of our new seedings in with the drill. We have a few CRP seedings we need to get to yet. With the rain we got over the weekend that looks really good.

Don Jackson

I farm in Preble County and Butler County in Ohio right on the state line. I also farm in Union County in Indiana. We farm about 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans. I have a contract hog barn to finish for Kalmbach Feeds. I also feed out a few beef cattle a year.

We have good fertility ground and the contract hog barn provides manure for some high yields. The genetics keep getting better and better every year too. 

We are minimum-till. I try to do a little in-line ripping in the end rows in the fall and maybe on some of the darker, tighter soils. We run a Turbo-Max or a Case 330 in the spring right ahead of the planter. 

We got about a half inch or three-quarters an inch of rain this weekend. We have been running about 2 inches below normal since the first of January. Overall, we are not in too bad of shape. We haven’t seen these kinds of conditions since 2012, which is in the back of your mind. We’re going to need some rain because the subsoil is not overly loaded with moisture. We had a dry fall and we were able to get a lot of work done. We got fall spraying done and did some tile ditching. 

Getting that 2,4-D and dicamba on in the fall puts you way ahead of the game in the spring. Several years ago I was putting residual on my corn ground going to beans. We backed off of that, but I tried it again with some Valor XLT and I’m seeing tremendous results this year. On the bean stubble we put a quart of Simazine on and my fields are really clean.

We run two planters as long as I have enough help. We’ll probably start beans a day or two sooner and then we run both at the same time. 

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