2012 Between the Rows

“Between the Rows” farmers share lessons for 2013

By Matt Reese

This year provided some highs and lows unlike just about any production year in history with incredible early optimism followed by a devastating drought. The “Between the Rows” farmers did a fantastic job of expressing all of the highs and the lows of what has proven to be a very challenging growing season in many ways. At the same time, like any good farmer, they have learned from the challenges they faced this year and will apply their new knowledge to 2013. Here is what the 2012 “Between the Rows” farmers had to say about what they will be changing for 2013.

Mark Thomas, Stark County

“Every year we test a lot of new varieties. Some of the old numbers that we like to stick with instead of the new numbers, but when you see how some of these new numbers perform it makes you re-think things. When they hit a homerun on some of these hybrids they really hit a home run.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-November 5

“Things were rolling along nicely until we got rolled over backward by Hurricane Sandy. We got somewhere between seven and eight inches of rain up here.  Some guys got back in the fields on Sunday, but it is moving a little more mud and dirt than I’d like to right now.

“We did not get the snow. We stayed on the warmer side of the hurricane. We had a lot of wind. I was round-baling corn fodder on Thursday and Friday before the Hurricane with the air conditioner on. Then I hooked up the generator knowing we were going to lose power and we never lost it. The wind was relentless but we only had a few tree branches down. I saw some corn on the field edges go down, but nothing like what I thought it could be. I got a few more gray hairs worrying about it.

“We’re done with our first crop beans.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-November 5

“We’re getting close. I don’t know if we can finish up this week yet or not. Last week was a bust until Friday. We started Friday evening but it was pretty muddy. We had over two inches of rain and a tremendous amount of snow for the last week of October. It was completely white with snow one morning. Believe it or not, our corn stood right through the wind. Most of our corn that was still out was in rows going north and south and the wind went down the rows instead of crossways. We were sweating it, but the corn seemed to take it.

“We’ve got maybe 200 acres of corn left and about that same acreage on the beans. We’re averaging 58 bushels on the soybeans right now and 120 on the corn for everything we’ve got. Some of the better fields averaged pretty well. We had a 192- and a 187-bushel average.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-November 5

“We’re putting tile in right now. We got all of the fertilizer spread and field work is 98% done. We stayed pretty busy when we finished harvest. We kept going working ground and fixing things that we didn’t get a chance to work on last fall.

“It was nice getting done early so we can get all of this other work done before winter. We were out of the fields for five or six days. It is still damp on top, but we’re back at it now. We still have no water running though our tiles whatsoever. It is going to take some serious precipitation this winter to get our water table back up.

Some of the creeks are still pretty dry. When you dig down about six inches it is dry and we’re going to need moisture before next year. It is still really dry underneath.

“We’re waiting for these markets to pick back up so we can haul some grain into town.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring-November 5

“We’re just starting today for the first time in about 10 days. It is still plenty muddy, but with a good week we should be able to finish up with the corn. We got plenty of wind but it didn’t seem to knock the corn down. We got a couple of inches of rain and it really soaked things. We also had about an inch or so of snow that covered the ground and it left things pretty sloppy.

We finished up the beans a couple of weeks ago and we have about 300 acres of corn to go. We should be able to finish this week. Yields for the corn really depend on the soil types. I’m in some hilly ground now where the drought really took its toll. I had a field go 292 bushels wet and 270 something dry in Marion County on some good ground where we had a little more rain.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-October 22nd

“I’m waiting in line to dump corn right now. I would say 80% of the beans in the area are off and 25% to 30% of corn in the area is off. I planted wheat over a week ago, which has been good and it is coming up nicely. This little band that we live in here has been doing extremely well. My best field of beans averaged 75 or 76 bushels and our beans are averaging mid 50s to low 60s. The couple hundred acres of corn we have taken off so far are averaging in the 180- to 200-bushel range.

“We were lucky to be in just the right spot for phenomenal yields. You only have to go less than a mile before crops get not so good. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

“We have a long ways to go. The moisture on the corn is anywhere from 17% to 22.5%.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring-October 22nd

“I am just finishing up beans today. I should be done within the hour. I have most of the corn off. There are maybe 500 acres to go. We have things pretty well cornered.

The beans are doing pretty well. They are averaging around 50 bushels, or a little better, but as we went further north the yield was less. There was less rain there.

“Corn yields will end up in that 150- or 160-bushel range for an average. The yields are down 30 to 40 bushels from last year and the beans are probably five or 10 bushels off.

“The ears seem to be holding on well in the corn. I have heard reports of some varieties dropping, but I haven’t seen any of that. It seems to be standing well. With the rains we are getting, it has been keeping things wet and the beans don’t get too dried out.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-October 22nd

“We’re cutting beans today. We didn’t get much rain over the weekend and things are fairly dry. We’re about three-quarters done with the corn and a third or so done on the beans, maybe close to half. We’re averaging 112 bushels on the corn and 60.5 bushels on the soybeans. I think we’ve run our worst soybeans and I know we’ve run our worst corn. I think we can still get to that 120 or 125 bushels on corn and hopefully keep it around 60 on the beans.

“The corn is standing well and we got our wheat in around the tenth. We usually are right there at the fly date putting it in. This week, with temperatures getting up into the 70s, it will really take off. Hopefully that will make up for the 10-day late planting,

“Our Vistive Gold soybeans have been yielding well for us. They are right there or better with all of our other beans.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-October 22nd

Harvest has wrapped up for 2013. “Corn and soybean harvest has finished up on the farm. Soybean yields are in the mid-50s and corn is going to end up right around 100, which is pretty much what we thought it would be. I was a really happy with the soybean yields we had this year.“

Considering the extremely challenging conditions on the farm — most notably the lack of rainfall — the harvest went pretty well. “I was surprised that the corn held up as well as it did. We really did not see many problems with the ears falling off or standability. I am really pleased with my beans. The beans died off early then started to green back up when it started raining. There are some beans shattering on the hills, but it really was not that big of a deal.”

With harvest completed, the focus on the farm has turned to other autumn tasks.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-October 8th

“In the last two weeks we’ve had quite a bit of rain and we’ve been out of the fields. Just on Friday afternoon we got an inch.

“We’re about halfway through the corn. We’ve had field averages of 75 bushels to 180 bushels and we’ve had a wide spectrum of everything in between. I don’t think the heat hurt us as bad as the lack of water. The final average will probably be in the 115- to 120-bushel range, but we’re getting into our better ground. We’ve run all of our worst stuff so far.

“The corn looked rough and we wanted to get it out before it fell down. We have seen some ear drop. One of the neighbors was talking about problems with ear drop based on a couple of hybrids. You can pick out the refuge corn pretty easily in our fields. There are lower yields and more dropped ears.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-October 8th

Harvest is progressing quickly despite the rains.

“We’re just trying to get these beans off. We have probably 500 acres of beans left to run and probably 175 acres of corn. Corn yields have stayed right around 100- and 110- bushel range and beans have been right around 50 bushels.

“I am really pleased with my beans, but the beans died off early then started to green back up when it started raining. There are some beans shattering on the hills, but it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. I got a lot of my early beans off. I think the later beans will be right there around 50 bushels for an average too. I have had beans at 60 bushels but I also had some at 40 bushels.

“Some of the later corn is still a little wet, so we are going to finish up the beans and then finish the corn.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-October 8th

“Silage is done, fifth cutting hay is done and we got a heck of a frost this morning. We have about half of our wheat planted. We would like to get a bunch more beans off, but we have not had the weather. We’ve had plenty of rain the last couple of weeks that we could have used this summer. There are still green spots out in the bean fields. The beans we have run are wetter than we’d like.

“We have not yet shelled any corn. From everything I’ve heard, corn is 20% to 30% moisture with more guys in the upper 20s than lower 20s. The ears are still hanging on there so we’ll let nature take its course here and dry things down. If I see ears getting loose, we will get started, but it looks OK so far.

“Sand and gravel hillsides are producing beans in the 30-bushel range.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring-October 8th

“There are some surprising yields out there, but inconsistent is the word for the corn. It is all over the board. Even on every round we’re seeing numbers from one end to the other. The averages on corn are certainly down compared to beans. I took my worst field off and it was 100 bushels. Some of the better fields have averaged 180.

“We ran our National Corn Growers Association contest corn and 289.67 bushels and 282.51 are the two numbers I posted. The plots ranged from 240 to 290 dry, they were more than 300 bushels wet. Those were weighed, measured and certified by the NCGA. It was definitely accurate. If someone told me a month ago that we would have 180 bushel corn, I would have believed them — but not 100 bushels more than that.

“In the soybean contest plots, we posted a 77- and a 70-bushel yield and we haven’t run our best beans yet.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-September 24th

“I’m cutting the third cutting of sudangrass now, it is three feet tall. I was worried about frost last night but it only got down to 36 degrees or so. The fifth cutting of hay is done and, though some of the cuttings weren’t great, overall we are OK. We may still get around to a sixth cutting. We got done with silage and that was fantastic, but we haven’t harvested any other corn or soybeans yet.

“We’re going to have to get after harvesting our corn, though, because even in the silage we saw that we could knock ears off pretty easily. I would say around 10% or 20% of the corn and beans are harvested in the area.

“Everybody so far has been pleasantly surprised with what they have found. I haven’t heard any horror stories in my immediate area. It is not going to be great, but there are still a lot of fields that are better than they thought.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring-September 24th

Harvest is just getting going in the area.

“We harvested the first soybean field on Friday before the rain. It was a gravelly field and I expected the worst with the drought conditions we had. I had to double check the yield monitor to make sure I was seeing things right. I ended up with a 50-bushel average. The lows were pretty darn low, but the highs were right up there. I thought it would be one of my worst fields and it would be nice if that were true. I was really surprised.

“So far, aflatoxin has not been an issue around here in the corn that I have heard of and things look like they are standing pretty well. We are keeping an eye on things and if they start to deteriorate I will switch from soybeans to corn. I planted all full season hybrids and most of my corn still isn’t ready.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-September 24th

“We’ve been shelling corn. Our combine broke down last week on Monday morning and we didn’t get it back until Saturday morning, so we had a whole week off. We started in some of the driest gravelly ground and we were averaging 75-bushel corn. We’re on some better ground now and we’re averaging right at 100 bushels. I still think we’re going to get closer to that 125-bushel corn or better as we get through the season.

“We had pretty strong winds that took some limbs out of trees, but so far the corn survived it. We also had an inch and a half to two inches of rain Friday night. We haven’t found any quality problems in the corn yet. We are maybe 10% done with corn. We lost a lot of ground with not being able to run last week. We’re going to finish up around Urbana and then move back home and probably switch to soybeans.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-September 24th

“We were getting ready to cut beans and the wind picked up the auger, threw it on the ground and totaled it. So yesterday I had to go get another auger to cut beans. Then my draper head wasn’t adjusting the way it should. There was a loose wire in the electronics and we haven’t started at all on beans. Hopefully we’re going to start beans in about an hour.

“I have about 400 or 500 acres of beans that are ready now and they should run pretty smoothly. We hit the corn pretty hard so far and we have quite a bit done. The wind didn’t hurt the corn at all.

“The corn has been better than I thought. The black dirt is OK. On some of my hill ground, there has been some corn in it where I thought there wouldn’t be anything. I haven’t figured everything out yet, but we’re between 100 and 110 bushels dry for an average.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-September 10

“We got about 100 acres of silage off and it is actually a little wetter than we’d like. But we’re averaging 25 tons to the acre with plenty of grain, so I feel pretty good about what is coming off the fields. We plant a heavy population and it did really well with the dry weather. We chop about 250 acres of silage-specific corn. I actually think we may not even need all of it. Another three or four good days of running and I think we’ll have it.

“As soon as we get done with corn silage, we’ll mow that fifth cutting down for alfalfa and a fourth cutting for sudangrass. If we continue to get rain and a little sunshine, we’ll be OK and we can stock up some forage. The more we can put in the bank, the easier it will be next year. I normally like to be able to feed the previous year’s feed all the way into January and that will not happen this year.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-September 10

“We’re planning on getting out and harvesting next week. It is pretty dry, so any rain this weekend will soak in pretty quickly. There really aren’t any beans ready yet, so anybody who is out next week will be in corn.

“I think it would be wise this year to keep the harvest moving before the corn falls down. I did talk to the grain buyer over at Greenville yesterday and they haven’t had any quality problems yet with toxins. Rain could start causing quality problems though.

“The corn moisture is getting down there. It is anywhere between 20% and 30% moisture and that was within 100 feet. I have a contract in early September and they are down to no drying costs and only half shrink up to 25%. If you have any concerns about toxins or standability, that is the way to go. Just get it out of there.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-September 10

“We could be in the fields today but we’re trying to finish up some projects. We’re planning on starting on Monday morning. We took some corn moisture readings and some of it is 25% and some is 21%, so it’s going to be all over the board. I just want to get into it and see what is out there. I don’t trust this corn standing a really long time. There is no problem right now, but these shanks on the ears are pretty small and I don’t want them to drop off to the ground.

“We’ll have some beans ready by the end of next week. We’ll probably run corn for three or four days and then switch over to beans maybe next weekend.

“We got 2.5 inches this week and I heard that places north of Buckeye Lake got nine inches of rain and others got six inches. But west of here toward Circleville, they only got five or six tenths.… Continue reading

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