Introducing the 2024 Between the Rows farmers

Matt Spillman

We farm corn, soybeans and wheat and make some hay. We’re usually about 50-50 on corn and beans and then we put in a couple hundred acres of wheat. Things are looking pretty good on the wheat. It survived through winter and looks really good. We got the first round of nitrogen on month ago and are looking forward to doing the second application here soon. It was really dry when the wheat was planted. We put it in deep and we seem to have a good stand. 

My dad and uncle started the farm and then dad passed away 2 years ago. Now my two brothers are farming too. We also feed out some freezer beef and sell some through auction.

Most of the winter was really nice. We had a February that was actually nicer than April has been so far. We’re just kind of waiting on things to dry out after the recent rain. This past week we received quite a bit of rain, which was good because I think we needed it. Now we’ll be going into spring with a full charge of moisture. We had well below normal precip from fall through later winter, so we definitely needed a recharge to go into planting season.

Last year we had just a few spots of white mold, nothing that was too detrimental but it was noticeable. We’ve had it way worse in the past. We’re also seeing more corn stalks and residue on top of the ground. That’s become a new challenge and I think that’s played a part in these diseases. We had some tar spot that showed up really late in September. That was new for us and that’s going to be concern moving forward. 

We do have some lighter ground. We could get some soybeans in here in another 10 days or so.  With the forecast, I don’t think it will happen before that.

Jeff Rea

Things are looking pretty good, but a little wet right now. We had almost 5 inches of rain last week so we are not really doing much yet. We’re getting tractors and machinery ready.

The last several rains have really brought up the water table. We were probably a little dry going into the winter and then we really didn’t have any snow to speak of. A tornado went through a couple of weeks ago about half a mile away from here. I had a chair blow off my porch, that was about it. To the to the east there are some houses that were damaged and a local farmer about four miles away had extensive damage, lost their entire house and had grain bins damaged and lost some grain.

I am the fifth generation on our farm. It was started by my great-great grandparents. We farm about 1,800 acres and we own about 1,600 of that. We farm mainly corn and soybeans. We don’t grow any wheat anymore. We have some cattle that we feed out. We grow non-GMO soybeans for a Japanese company that are made into soy products like tofu, soy milk or soy sauce. We also grow some seed beans.

They’re forecasting rain all week, so we’ll  just have to be ready for when the opportunity arises. We’re 100% no-till. I think increasing the size of your equipment really helps in wet springs so you can get your crop planted as quickly as possible. Those are the major things that we’ve had to adapt to get planting done some years.

Josh Kiser

My grandpa started years ago with a registered quarter horse farm. Since then, we’ve kind of transitioned out of the horses into more cattle. We don’t really farm too much acreage so we started a seed business — Kiser Seed — to try to help expand our farm into the next generation. 

We are currently selling for Seed Genetics Direct and we’re selling chemicals now. Hannah went full time with the seed business.

Most of our ground is clay and is usually on the wetter side. About a week ago we were getting ready to be able to start putting a tractor on the ground to put fertilizer down and maybe start poking around working some ground. Then we got around 2 inches of rain last week so we’re pretty wet now.

We had a little bit of tar spot last year, but other than that, we seemed to have a pretty good disease-free year in 2023. A lot of our corn goes into our cattle and we’ve got a decent amount of hay ground we bale for them. The crops we grow that and not for seed go for feed or go to the grain elevator. 

This year we’re feeding out 15 cattle. We have sloped down the cattle in the last few years because it is hard to get manure out when it is so wet and when we’re so close to the lake. About an eighth of our ground is in hay, about a quarter is corn and the rest is in soybeans. 

John Settlemyre

We’re pretty wet. We had 3 inches of rain here last week and we’re going to get back out do some more burndown spraying today. I’ve got a little bit of dry fertilizer to finish up with. I think I saw ground temperatures were between 42 degrees and 45 degrees, something like that. It’s been cold. I mowed my yard last week and I saw some spots with some frost damage in the grass. I think we were down to 31 degrees one morning. 

We’ve done a little bit of dry fertilizer spreading and a little bit of burndown but that’s been it. We haven’t done any tillage or anything like that. I’ve got a few neighbors that have got some ground worked nice and smooth. But it’s really been pretty cold and pretty wet. 

I farm in Clinton, Warren and Highland counties. My family has been on this farm since 1838. Taxes were a whole lot less back then. I think we pay more in property tax now than we originally bought some of the ground for.

Last year we had a little bit of sudden death syndrome in some of the beans, but all in all, it was a pretty healthy crop last year. We’ll certainly keep an eye open for disease this year. It’s been a mild winter for sure. We only had about two inches of snow the whole winter and temperatures haven’t been below freezing that much. It’s been in that 30- to 40-degree temperature range for most of the winter. Our rotation is heavy on soybeans this year. 

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