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Crops off to good start while dry weather persists

It is much easier to have a good finish when one gets off to a good start.  The 2012 corn crop is certainly off to a great start. Our corn was planted early and avoided frost. Today it has a wonderful-looking, uniform stand of healthy plants. Our corn should pollinate before the July heat.

Perils always lie ahead like pests and drought, both of which are worrisome to me. Drought is not far away because rains have been avoiding west-central Illinois. 

Today we planted soybeans in a field where cows have grazed on durum wheat since last November. Since the soil was compacted, we had to till before planting and the dust was terrible. If EPA (which wants to regulate dust) had seen the dust we generated, its digital camera cards would either be full of pictures or their cameras would be inoperative due to dust.  

Dry weather has been wonderful for harvesting hay. I baled 100 round bales of hay that had never been rained on and dried very quickly. The first cutting of our alfalfa crop in 2012 is the best quality and most quantity we have ever raised. With no rain in the forecast, I have left the hay stack uncovered for a few days.

The whole neighborhood is green with wonderful-looking crops. The soybeans I planted in March are taller than the corn I planted the first week of May. 


Rye cover crop

Chopping rye that is 6½ ft. tall is the project for tomorrow. Growing the rye was fun because it gave us a green crop to look at all winter since we had no snow. By early March, the rye was green as the Imperial Place gardens in July. Today, it is as tall as I am until we mow it. Tomorrow it will be in our silo fermenting into silage and by Monday a soybean crop will have been planted into the rye stubble. 

Three people have noticed our rye crop and the benefit of lowering soil erosion by having a crop on the land year-round. These three farmers are considering planting rye on their farms next year. (Note: Kent growing rye as a cover crop is not a new idea. Rye used as forage was a common practice 50+ years ago. Kent just dusted off on old idea many had forgot about.)

Insects and how to control them seem to be on farmers’ minds lately even though no insects are currently causing problems. Many farmers have been getting sugar from my feed sugar inventory in anticipation of a heavy infestation of crop-eating bugs in 2012. Spraying sugar onto growing crops kills/repels many insect species (the science of how and why it works is not well understood). The cost of spraying sugar is 10 cents an acre and the application can be made when applying herbicides. 

I have sprayed sugar on my soybeans for three years. I cannot prove that the sugar application boosts yields, but some trials in Indiana show a 1.7 bu./acre increase, which is not noticeable at harvest.

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