Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Start and Stop

Corn planting for 2015 has been start and stop because of the weather. What else is new about life on the farm?

Randy initially started planting April 11, but we got rain that night and the next day, totaling 1.50 inches. Then, we got another 3.10 inches here at home on April 16 and 17. A week later, April 23, a couple of fields had dried out enough to plant more. But when Randy about got the tractor and planter stuck after moving to another field, he took another hiatus. He started again yesterday (April 28). And, just so there is no question, I'm definitely not complaining about getting rain. I know some parts of the state got little to none.
Wheat is still our primary crop at the County Line. Corn was a primary crop in this area when it was settled. The 6th Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture of 1888 reported that corn was the main crop for Stafford County, covering 48,030 acres. Oats were grown on 10,849 acres, while the winter wheat crop totaled 8,717 acres. Pasture ground was tallied at 13,446 acres. Other crops in 1888 were millet, spring wheat, rye, Irish and sweet potatoes, sorghum, castor beans, cotton, flax, hemp, tobacco and broom corn. Swine outnumbered cattle in livestock. (Information taken from Stafford County History: 1870-1990.)
Randy applies fertilizer to give the seed a boost of energy for germination and early growth.
In some ways, I guess we are returning to Randy's Stafford County farming ancestors' roots by planting corn. However, the corn planted today is much different than the varieties planted 125 years ago.
Today, many farmers plant RIB corn (refuge in a bag) - whether it's irrigated or dryland.

The green-colored seeds have a different genetic make-up and are treated with a different insecticide than the pink-colored seeds. The pink seeds are a refuge for several different insects in a field, giving them a habitat to satisfy EPA rules. Before RIB technology was available, farmers had to plant so many acres in a field to a corn that wasn't resistant to the bugs and the rest of the field could be resistant. With RIB technology, farmers can plant it all at the same time, without changing seed and figuring acreage requirements.
Our planter was set at 18,800 corn seeds per acre. Each $260 bag had 80,000 seeds and plants 4.3 acres. One bag of certified wheat seed costs $15 and plants a little more than 1/2 an acre. A bag of milo seed costs $100 and plants 14 acres.

Before switching to corn three years ago, we planted milo as our row crop. Corn offers a potential for higher yields. There is more drought tolerance built into dryland corn seeds than previously available.
Additionally, corn is Round-Up ready, and milo is not. We have been having trouble controlling weeds in milo. If there are weeds and grasses in the corn, we can spray with Round-Up without harming the growing plants.
We only have 200 acres of corn to plant. Who would have thought it would take 3 weeks to accomplish? (And I'd better not get ahead of myself. We're not done yet!)

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