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No tow truck needed – this time

Between the Fencerows: Stackhouse survives post-rain field operations, but downtime caused by wet fields and machinery failures test a farmer’s patience, lead to new post-harvest equipment plans and renewed faith in strip tillage.

Kyle Stackhouse, Blogger

May 17, 2024

2 Min Read
No tow truck needed – this time
Getty images

Once again it has been a low productivity week. We worked banker hours Monday as it took a little while to get the planter loaded up and then rain began around 5 pm.

Strips were the first place we could go. One reason we like to have some strip-till fields is that the strip dries out a little faster because of the ‘tillage’ and yet the tractor tracks remain on firm undisturbed soil. Another advantage of strips is they give us a place to keep going when we need to allocate tillage labor to other tasks, we don’t have to have a second tractor and driver.

Over the years, strips have proven to be a great option for corn-on-corn acres. We get comparable yields to full tillage and have substantial time and fuel savings.

We were able to get our longest maturity corn planted, but Monday did not go well as far as up-time. Even though we spent all day last Friday checking over the planter and doing maintenance, we were ‘broke down’ for about 3 hours.

I’ll concede some issues may have been due to pockets of less-than-ideal field conditions in areas of the field, but certainly not all of them. In any year, much less a year like this one is turning into, the equipment must work when we have the opportunity. I did a survey of three friends this week, by far we are experiencing more down time in one day than they do in a week. Changes are coming for 2025!

I was up early on Thursday and made a loop around fields we farm. If it were June we probably would have ended up trying to plant, but we were still a day or two away on the fittest fields. I did find a couple of fields that need a burndown application.

After walking those fields, I decided to give it a go. I left a few short tracks in one field. That was okay. The other field definitely was not my best work, but I did manage to stay off of the Reichert and Knepp Wrecker Service Facebook page! I probably should have just sat still. Neighbors, who are also getting twitchy, were testing out fields to see if they could work anywhere.

Rains Thursday evening varied greatly again. In the immediate neighborhood we only received a couple hundredths of an inch. My guess is that today will probably look much like Thursday with guys trying and maybe doing work we shouldn’t.

We’ll give it a whirl. What happens in the next two weeks will be a big indicator as to whether we should have waited.

About the Author(s)

Kyle Stackhouse


After graduating from Purdue University in 1999 with a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Kyle Stackhouse began farming in Plymouth, Ind., in northern Indiana. Kyle farms alongside his father Brad, not as an employee but as an owner who runs separate businesses in three counties in a 20-mile radius.  Kyle shares insight into day to day operations, current issues, and management of the family's mid-sized grain farm that specializes in NON-GMO and Identity Preserved crops.

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