Growers are generally well aware of what's going on in their own fields. But, what about what's going on the other side of the state or in neighboring states? It can be raining in one area and dry just five miles down the road. Pests and diseases sometimes develop in patterns, and sometimes not. To get a sampling of what is happening in the Midwest, Michigan Farmer, Indiana Prairie Farmer and Ohio Farmer editors have teamed up and lured in, or more accurately roped in, a couple of observers in key parts of their states to report every two weeks on what's happening in their fields.
Are the aphids out? Is weed resistance rearing its ugly head? Has corn rust set in? How wet are the soils?
These growers will begin reporting May 3 on what they are seeing, what practices they're implementing and, in general, the health of their crops. This feature, called Friday Field Walk, will be featured exclusively on Farm Progress web sites at www.FarmProgress.com, accompanied by photos of our grower "reporters," and a map to pinpoint their locations.
Look for them to report on spring field work, weather, soil temps, planting, inputs crop progress and much more. You can also be part of the conversation and expanding the dialog by adding your own comments about field conditions.
Meet Michigan's field and crop reporters:
Janna Fritz (green pin), 33, who farms in partnership with her husband, Joel, will report from their farm in Pigeon. Janna is also a district sales manager for Specialty Hybrids. The couple farms 940 acres of mostly sandy loam soils, "but we really have a mixed bag of soils," she says.
They plan to plant 300 acres of corn, 400 acres of soybeans, 100 acres of wheat and 140 acres of dry beans in Huron County located in the Thumb.
The couple recently established their own LLC, JDF Farms, following a family farm transition that spans five generations in Pigeon.
They are currently installing a liquid fertilizer system on the planter for 2x2 application. As most everyone in the state, they were held out of the fields in mid-April after several days of rain – very heavy in some areas. However, in April many area farmers have put fertilizer on the wheat, Janna reports. "While we don't grow sugar beets, others in the area are primed and ready to plant. Many fields have seen some work and there are a couple fields that have been planted."
Richard P. Dobbins (blue pin), 41, who farms with his dad, Richard, will report from the farm in Concord. They farm 3,000 acres, and this year have broken it out into 600 acres soybeans, 2,200 acres corn and 200 acres of seed corn. The farm, located on the west side of Jackson County, also has a wide range of soils, but most is sandy loam and rolling terrain.
North Concord Farms is owned by Richard, William and James Dobbins. The farm was transferred from the family name into NCF in the late 1970s. Some of the land has been owned by the Dobbins family for more than 100 years, giving the farm a centennial status.
In mid-April, Richard says, "We have been clearing fence rows and installing center pivots. We are eager to get in the fields for planting. We have started tilling the ground and I see a small amount of tillage going on in our area. Local farmers have been side dressing their wheat and spreading fertilizer getting ready for planting."
Janna Fritz and Richard P. Dobbins are both newly elected to the Michigan Corn Growers Association board, representing District 3 and District 7, respectfully.
The reporters from Ohio include Dan Corcoran, who farms with brothers Pat, Tim and Dennis in Pike and Ross counties, and Luke VanTilburg, who farms with brothers Matt and Kyle in Mercer County.
Dan Corcoran (red pin), 50, farms sandy loam to clay loam soils and no tills and raises corn, popcorn and soybeans utilizing some pivot irrigation. He also has a beef herd.
Luke VanTilbur (yellow pin), 33, operates a grain farm, as well as an ag retail center, commercial grain elevator, poultry litter brokerage, trucking fleet, crop insurance and excavation business. He farms 4,500 acres of silt loam soils with about two-thirds being planted to corn and the rest beans using no-till. He also plants cover crops.
Hoosiers Chime In
From Indiana, we'll be hearing from Jim Facemire of Edinburgh, and Bill Pickart of Bringhurst.
Jim Facemire (light blue pin), of Edinburgh, farms a variety of soils in south-central Indiana, from somewhat poorly drained soils to loams with gravel at three feet.
Some of his fields are irrigated, while some are not. He grows corn, soybeans and seed corn.
Bill Pickart (pink pin), of Bringhurst, is an Indiana Prairie Farmer/Purdue University College of Agriculture Master Farmer.
He retired from active farming, and developed a second career as a seed rep and manager for a local company.
Retried again, he still has farm interests and assists neighboring farmers on occasion. His knowledge of north-central Indiana will make his reports meaningful.