I started farming with my father-in-law and my brother in 1980. Then my father-in-law retired and my brother-in-law went to work at Mazda, so I pretty much took over the farm in the mid 80s. At that time it was a little tough.
Now we raise corn and soybeans. I’m pretty much semi-retired and I have a young man that has worked for me take over. He is doing the farming and making the decisions. It is kind of nice.
We have some really good dirt, but we also have yellow sand. It’s droughty and we usually have dry weather in the summer so that really dings us on yield. We have some heavier ground that’s challenging too, but compared to a lot of guys, our heavy ground is their good ground, so we’re blessed with that.
Being near Lake Erie has been challenging, but it’s also been good because it makes us better farmers and better stewards of the land when you have people watching like that. It gave us some opportunities to do some things. We variable rate when we dry spread fertilizer and we also variable rate when we when we’re planting with our starter fertilizer. We have the ability to turn off all the phosphorus on the planter if that area of the field doesn’t need it. It’s made us better managers.
The next 10 days look good for farming and actually we’ll have all the fertilizer spread by Wednesday and there are some tiling projects to do. We haven’t been able to really do any tiling recently. It will be kind of nice to get some of that done and out of the way and not have to postpone planning to do it.
We’ll start planting any time after tax day on April 15. The 10-day forecast looks good and we’d like to start get planting. Compared to some of our neighboring areas we can get out out a little sooner.
We have corn and soybeans and a little bit of wheat and I’ve got two 4,000-head wean-to-finish hog buildings. Me and my dad and a couple of neighbors all kind of collaborate together in an informal partnership.
Caring for the hogs takes first priority. We usually do those chores in the morning and I have a high school kid that helps me in the evening during the busy times.
We have a nutrient management plan and we do soil testing before applications. We try to wait for the right conditions to apply manure and get it worked under to make the neighbors happy and keep the smell down as much as possible. The manure does make for some nice crops.
This week we’ve got a little bit of manure we need the pump. We can usually get out there a little bit earlier before corn planting and get that done. We’ve got a few river bottoms we want to cover; they dry up a lot quicker. When we get that done then we’ll see what the weather does. If it warms up, we’ll start working ground and planting corn, maybe even some beans this year.
We are mostly conventional till. Most of the fields were chisel plowed last year and we’ll take the field cultivator, work the fields two inches deep, and then plant the corn.
It’s looking warm for the full whole week here coming up and looking nice and dry, with some rain in the forecast for the following week. Then we’ll maybe see what the forecast looks like on the following Monday and make decisions from there.
We had a windstorm and we had some trees go down. We’re cleaning them up and the root ball holes where they fell over. It seems like the water table is lot higher than where it should be for this time of the year, but back in March it seemed a lot drier. It seems like the water table replenished itself around here.
We moved from Delaware County to Fayette County in 1999. We started buying ground down here in ’97 and ‘98 and we picked up and moved in ’99. I’ve been here ever since. We grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and double-crop beans.
I never enjoyed growing wheat, but I’m knocking on the door of retirement and my son is coming on. He farms his own acres and helps me also. He has been growing wheat and he talked me into planting some last fall. We don’t have any visible issues with the wheat. We’ve got a good stand and my son Charlie has topdressed the first go round. He does split applications and he will probably do the second round tomorrow or the next day.
It looks clear all week and the last I heard there was chance of rain this Saturday. We hope to start in on anhydrous tomorrow or Wednesday. A month ago, we were pretty dry and then we’ve had so much rain since then that I’m not as concerned about moisture going into the spring.
When we get that done, we’ll start working ground behind it and get bean planter out before we start the corn planter this year. We’ve always planted corn first, but it seems like corn just does better if we’ve got warm weather. We planted beans first last year in April and they got 4 inches of snow on them. They were the best beans we ever grew.
We’re located 30 miles south of Lake Erie and 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border. We basically grow 1,000 acres of corn and 1,000 acres of food grade beans and little oats and wheat. We generally tend to plant oats or wheat on ground that we want to double space tile or go in during the summer and do a project that we don’t have time in the spring to do.
Actually, we did a lot of more fall tillage than normal last fall. In mid-February we got a bunch more done — the ground was in excellent shape. Normally we are wet and a couple of weeks behind the rest of the state, but now ground conditions are good. We’ve been repairing tile, putting on chicken litter and doing general maintenance. In the middle to the end of the week, we’ll probably plant some oats and maybe some early beans. We’re usually in early May before conditions are dry enough and it’s ready to go now. The upcoming weather forecast looks good.
The main thing with managing the food grade beans is herbicides. You cannot plant food grades where GMO beans were planted the year before. We try to control our weeds through corn. We use atrazine in products for good weed control in corn to help with the following year’s beans. We have to use the old Sencor-type chemicals for weed control with the food grade beans because they’re non-GMO. Probably a third of our food grade beans go to the East Coast for the U.S. market and then about two-thirds go mainly to Japan for tofu. We will generally plant those food grade beans early until conditions are right for corn. Then we will switch to corn and finish up beans later, if we can’t plant both at the same time.