View From the Cab

Reports of Diplodia in Illinois Corn; Pennsylvania Crops Looking 'Pretty Good'

Richard Oswald
By  Richard Oswald , DTN Special Correspondent
This year's View From the Cab farmers are Chase Brown of Decatur, Illinois, and Jim Hoover of Newport, Pennsylvania. (Brown photo by Pam Smith; Hoover photo by Edwin Remsberg)

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- "All of a sudden, with that little bit of rain, my corn is really coming on." That's the observation of DTN View From the Cab farmer Jim Hoover upon returning from vacation with his wife, Jane. "When you're away for a week -- it's really amazing how that corn came around," he told DTN late Sunday evening.

Jim's corn is doing well and his soybeans look "pretty good." "We had between a half and three-quarters of an inch of rain last week. The soybeans and the pod count have really filled out with the rain. Things really look good in comparison to when we left," he said.

Home looks even better to Jim after touring the Finger Lakes region of New York. "You have to feel really bad for those farmers up there," Jim told DTN. Dry weather has definitely left its mark. "When you look at their streams and rivers, it's really sad ... driving along the road looking at the corn, some looks really bad... some of that is management. But in that swamp country, you can tell their water levels are really down. It's going to be serious for the dairy farmers up there."

"You go to a waterfall that's normally pretty big and it's like water dumping from a 2-inch pipe. I was talking to a couple of dairymen out there and they're really concerned. It used to be nothing to have 24 inches of snow at a time. In the last couple of years, they said they haven't had enough snow to use a snow blower. The whole New England area from northern Pennsylvania north is dry. It's terrible. They're not a factor in the big (crop production) numbers anymore, but there's gotta be somebody in the country that makes up for them," Jim observed.

First, there's harvest, then if everything goes according to plan, there's money. Checks for this year's wheat and triticale are arriving. "It was a very good year," Jim said. Prices received are lower this year than last year, but better yields made up the difference. "We're gonna end up averaging 85 bushels per acre on triticale and close to 90 on wheat," Jim told DTN.

The official name for Jim's place is Hoover's Turkey Farm. That's because Jim and his son, Craig, grow nearly 140,000 turkey hens per year in two nursery buildings and four finishing buildings. When DTN contacted Jim, they had just moved 16,000 poults early that morning, from nursery to finishing. Warm summer conditions are hard to avoid in August. Even cooler morning conditions place stress on the birds. "We lost 15 or 20 birds. This was our third day in a row of 90-degree temperatures," he said.

Triticale acres have been spread with aragonite, a lime substitute mined from the ocean, and with turkey manure stockpiles from the farm. Turkey manure supplies most of the plant nutrients used for small grains and row crops with some supplemental N applied to corn. "Turkey manure is really good fertilizer. One-and-a-half to 2 tons per acre is good enough for wheat or beans," Jim said.

Meanwhile, in Decatur, Illinois, DTN View From the Cab farmer Chase Brown is healing after a mishap the week before. "I am much better. Stitches were taken out last Tuesday morning. There is some numbness in my lip. It healed better than I thought it would. Bone is growing in around the tooth (that was knocked out and re-implanted). I'll have a root canal on that next month," he said.

Chase was injured when the aging UTV he was using broke down while building electric fence. The UTV was hauled to the shop for repairs. That's when a wire winder in the cargo area of the UTV toppled over, striking Chase in the face. "I saw people at the (Illinois) State Fair who said if they hadn't known about the accident, they wouldn't be able to tell I was hurt."

High humidity levels and overcast skies last week made haying difficult. But the alfalfa was insect infested and needed to be mowed to contain further damage. With help from a preservative, Chase baled at moisture levels between 18% and 23%. "We baled all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly big squares and round bales. But there was one spot where we did 250 small squares just to stack in the hayloft for the cows," he said.

More forage for his purebred herd of Hereford cows is on the way with forage sorghum for silage. "I think it's gonna be an awesome way to double-crop following wheat. Right now the sorghum is about 3 feet tall." But an additional top-dress treatment of 40 pounds of nitrogen seemed in order. "(Vertical tillage) planted all the volunteer wheat. Right behind where the combine was, it's yellow and really hurting. Volunteer wheat (8 to 10 inches tall) is sucking up the N," Chase said.

The corn crop is maturing around Chase's farm with the usual late-season ills: "Some of the outside rows are showing fungus and disease. Some guys say the corn is loaded with diplodia. I think we're totally on track with some guys harvesting by Labor Day." Soybeans are a question mark. "There is some concern about soybean diseases and white mold. Soybeans are tall. There's not much air circulation. We've had high humidity and high temperatures. Water hemp in the beans is just an absolute mess."

Chase has helped one of his former college professors, now retired from Illinois State, show Simmental cattle at the state fair. This marked about the eighth year Chase has done that. "I spent the last four days there since Thursday. It's just another state fair. Standing on concrete all day makes my back and knees hurt. I don't get too excited about that anymore. I leave the house at 6 in the morning and get home about 9 at night, eat a late dinner, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day."

Excited or not, Chase's help paid off with a reserve champion low-percentage half-blood Simmental heifer and champion purebred Simmental heifer.

But perhaps the biggest event of the Illinois State Fair in Springfield wasn't about livestock, but weather.

"They had over 5 inches of rain there in an hour. The fair is built in a ravine. I've never seen flash flooding like that. Thirty to 40 campers had water in them. Big, expensive, $50,000 to $60,000 dually pickups were completely submerged. Generators were submerged in water. Power cords under water. It's a miracle no one was killed."

But it was an isolated storm.

"When I got home that night, we'd had four-tenths of an inch," Chase said.

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Richard Oswald