BTR-Mark Thomas

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 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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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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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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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 Thomas-August 27, 2012

“Maybe 10 days ago we got four or five tenths of an inch of rain and we’re getting a nice rain right now. It is a nice soaker. A lot of guys are chopping. I’ve heard about guys getting in the fields and stopping and guys that wished they had started earlier. I’ve heard anywhere from 60% moisture to 80% moisture. We’re looking for 62% to 67%. Some of it is drier than you think and some of it is wetter. There is a little bit of everything. Some guys have been pleasantly surprised with 20 tons per acre and there are guys that are normally getting 25 or 30 tons per acre that are getting into the teens.

“A friend of mine is going to shell some corn this week. He planted some 88-day corn early and it is dry and hanging. We’re not even ready to do corn silage yet.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas- August 6, 2012

“Things aren’t perfect, but they are pretty darn good up here. We’re just ready to make fourth cutting hay. It looks to be pretty nice, especially compared to third cutting. The sudangrass looks really good and we’re relying on it for quite a bit of tonnage. We got another inch and a quarter over the weekend.

“Every time we got to the point where we thought, if it doesn’t rain, we’ll be in trouble, we got enough water to keep things growing. There are some guys that are chopping corn silage on the early-planted light soils that were hurt the worst. I have heard about some corn appraised for 40 bushels per acre.  We will average 140 or 150 bushels per acre. Our soybeans, except on the light ground, look like they are going to be OK too.

“There is some corn for silage where there was no pollination. The rains have added some moisture, which will help with the tonnage and with the high nitrates.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, July 16

“About 30 days ago we got 1.5 inches, then we got about two tenths since then and yesterday we got an inch an a tenth. I was giggling like a kid loading manure in the rain.

“The rain was a difference maker and it just makes you feel better when you get some water. I am looking at a 100-acre field of silage and it is thick, green and lush. There are spots that are short, but it is mostly pretty tall. It is a long season corn and the tassels came out over night after the rain. My yard now has a light yellow/green tint to it instead of brown and crunchy. The hayfields and the sudangrass have greened up a little.

“These spotty rains are welcome when you can get them. I am starting to see some yellow spots in the soybeans from spider mites. I hope the rain knocked them back.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, Stark County, July 9

“We set a record high of 101 on Saturday. It was windy and there was no rain. We haven’t had any of the devastating stuff, but we are extremely dry. On July 5, we got less than a half a tenth and that is all we had in the last couple of weeks. Some of the crops are looking really stressed. We have some corn that has the gray pineapple look to it and there is no rain in the forecast. I am optimistic that, with these cool nights, we’ll get a good dew to help hold things over and back some of the stress off a little bit. We’re not to total devastation yet like some people are with hail and winds.

“Corn in the area has tasseled and is pollinating. Most of that corn is about 75% or 80%, but it needs moisture to pollinate. Our corn is maybe a week away from tasseling.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-June 25, 2012

“It is about 20 degrees cooler today, which is nice, but we could really use some water. We got .8 of an inch of rain a week ago Sunday. We got .4 in the morning and .4 in the afternoon, which was wonderful. Then, on Monday, we were in a small band that got another .8-inch. So, we can’t complain, because if you go five miles north or south of me, they didn’t get any of that second rain.

“The second cutting hay was about three-fourths of what we normally make. The alfalfa was good, but the grass didn’t have much growth to it. We did get that rain after the second cutting, which will help get re-growth going. We’ve got maybe six to eight inches of regrowth already.

“A lot of guys started harvesting wheat and then stopped because it is too wet. The dry spots in the field are 12% and the green spots are at 22% moisture.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, June 11, 2012

“We could sure use some rain. We have some nice looking stuff, but it could use some water. We got an inch and a half around a week ago and 2 days before that we got 3 tenths. That sure helped a lot. It is so spotty. If you go 4 miles north they got 3 or 4 inches. We’ve got corn that is curling up. I don’t know that I have ever seen young corn curl up like this before. It makes you kind of wonder what that means for a young crop.

“We’ve got a beautiful stand of corn. I can’t complain at all. Our corn and beans jumped out of the ground. Because we are a dairy farm, we plant brown midrib corn that is very delicate and it is beautiful. Buddies of mine planted early and have really nice crops too. Our stuff grew great, but guys that planted a couple of weeks before us had to replant half their soybean acres because of slug problems.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows, May 28

Mark Thomas, Stark County

“We are done planting and done making first cutting. Everything is coming up and looking good. There were a few guys that were replanting up here after the ground crusted over from the hard rain. Some guys had the seed corn maggot issues in the beans and corn both.

“We need rain. We haven’t had rain at my house in four weeks. We were wet pretty late up here. If you dig down in the ground more than an inch and a half, there is still moisture down there. Things are coming up well.

“We needed a good week of hot weather so we had good protein hay. It made good tonnage for us and we had around 21 or 22% protein. That is our bread and butter and when it is time for us to make hay we really had to concentrate on that.

“I don’t think we have to replant anything.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, May 7

“In the general area, I would say guys have 60% or 70% of the corn is in the ground. Maybe 30% of the beans are planted. I finally saw corn come out of the ground on Friday. You could start seeing some rows.

“We got some crazy spotty rain. On Friday night, I got 1.8 inches. One or two miles north, they got a tenth of an inch. It was so spotty. One guy in Carroll County got three plus inches of rain. It absolutely flooded my yard. I came down hard.

“I mowed hay yesterday. We wanted to chop it. I figured we’d have all day today, but it is looking like that might not be the case. If this first system goes north of us we’ll still be OK. We had wanted to make hay for a long time, but the weather has just not cooperated.

“I have not planted any corn or beans yet.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden, May 7

“We didn’t quite get done planting beans. We’ve got 115 acres of beans left to plant. We’ve been doing a little spraying on the corn.

“We had pretty good rain go through the county on Friday evening. We got anywhere from .1 to 1.9 inches within 7 miles. We went to Springfield yesterday and there is quite a bit that will have to be replanted over there. They had some good crops but they got covered up. The southern edge of Champaign County had the big rains come through. I went past a field that they will just probably have to start over.

“This heat turned things on. The crops are just going. We’re trying to get some spraying done this morning before more rain. The water got away pretty quickly from the last rain. A light rain would help wash off some of the plants that got mud on them.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, Stark County, April 23

“There are guys that have a lot of planting done, some are done planting. There are some people who have not started yet. Last year we planted corn on June 5 and it still made 198-bushel corn at 18% moisture. So, some guys are being cautious. There are no fields of corn or beans out of the ground yet. A friend of mine planted sweet corn early and it all got frosted off. The earliest corn I saw planted up our way was 10 days ago.

“I have not planted yet. I was hoping to make hay today and tomorrow and then plant, but the hay is really not going anywhere right now in this cold weather. We are ready for more warm weather.

“A guy cut hay last week, but it is just not growing right now. As soon as we know we’re in the clear with snowfall, we’re going to go. … Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, April 9, 2012

“I look around me and there are lot of guys ready to plant, but I have not seen anybody plant anything other than oats and alfalfa. Now it is 54 degrees and they are calling for snow tomorrow, so that is slowing some guys down a little bit.

“We’re just getting caught up on hauling manure. Now we have a good handle on that and we’re getting out and doing some tillage. We were extremely wet for a long time and now the tops of the fields have dried out nicely. It is sprinkling right now and the soils are in good shape. If it rains a little, it won’t break my heart. They are calling for a chance of snow tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday and then temperatures in the 70s by the end of the week.

“It is hard for a lot of guys to keep themselves under control, but the crop insurance date for replant was the sixth and things are wide open now.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, March 26

“We milk 400 cows and farm 2,000 acres. Around 75% of the crops go for the cattle, whether it is corn silage, alfalfa or wheat for straw. We sell the wheat grain, soybeans and some of the corn. We typically have around 650 acres of corn, 650 of soybeans, 300 of wheat, and 350 acres of hay. We also grow some sudangrass for cattle feed. We don’t have set numbers, but we try to make a solid rotation based on what the year throws at us.

“Our wheat is going to be a 75% to 80% crop this year. I have a field that will go for crop insurance. Where it is nice it is beautiful, where it is not, there is nothing. I got the N on in March and the fertilizer and the warm weather have it looking nice.

“It looks like in another two weeks we could be making first cutting alfalfa.… Continue reading

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