View From the Cab

Illinois, Pennsylvania Farmers Have a Productive Week

Richard Oswald
By  Richard Oswald , DTN Special Correspondent
In spite of a lack of rain this year, View From the Cab farmer Jim Hoover said his soybean crop has fared well with the first acres harvested last week at an average of 55.8 bushels per acre. In Illinois, View From the Cab farmer Chase Brown is harvesting a good corn crop, even though a bit late.

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- "A couple more fields and we'll be done." That's the way DTN View From the Cab farmer Jim Hoover of Newport, Pennsylvania, described his harvest progress last week. But that's just full-season crops on the home farm. Jim won't be completely done until double-crop soybeans, after the wheat and corn on rented land several miles away near Tower City, Pennsylvania, are harvested. "It's windy here today. Three or four more days and it's off to Tower City," he said.

"Craig was doing beans today. I think we're all done now with single crop. When we got back in after the rain we were at 16.5% moisture. Pods are still filling and some leaves are starting to turn on double crop," Jim told DTN late Sunday.

Soybeans yields this year have been solid at 55 to 60 bushels. Double-crop soybeans are still an unknown, but after a dry summer, fall rains came soon enough to help pod fill. They should be good.

This year's corn has been a different story.

"Usually you get one field that's pretty good, and the others pull you down. But (with the drought), I can't believe that my stands are just phenomenal. We only did 14 acres of corn after church. You have to take your time because parts of that field are so steep you could roll it (the combine). Other than where the deer were bad, I'll betcha there were only 10 or 12 stalks down in the whole field," Jim said.

Jim told DTN the rented farm had been an exception to this disappointing year for corn, when it averaged around 140 bushels per acre. He credits slightly better rainfall totals and the staying power of an old favorite. "DK 6188 is an old number I've always stuck with. It's always been a good one," he said.

Even as harvest continues, planting of next year's wheat crop has already begun. "Mason (one of Jim's two grandsons) keeps working with me more. He's been doing all the planting. He had 139 acres sowed as of Saturday. We will finish wheat up in a couple of days and go to triticale."

Jim told DTN he has changed his mind about wheat planting depths, which he once believed must be shallow. He now believes deeper planting depths (almost as deep as corn) deliver better stands and higher yields. Planting dates matter too. "I never start before the last week of September, (due to the Hessian fly-free date) and it seems to me planting then yields better results than what's planted after the middle of October," he explained.

In addition to deer, black bears, and the usual wildlife, parts of Pennsylvania also have elk. "We only have elk in a couple of counties. Mark (Jim's son in law) got a permit for a bull. They've got monstrous bull elk up there. Mark bagged a 6x6 (6 antler points on each side) bull. He was really tickled," Jim said.

Hunting is just a sideline for Mark. His full-time job is working with Jim's daughter Stacey to grow and sell produce for their very own farmers market. Demand is strong.

"They have this Family Fun Farm they do with a corn maze and all kinds of stuff. I decided to go up there and just sit in my car and watch for a while. They had over 200 to 250 people there last night. And today they broke all records. There were about 120 cars parked along the road," he said.

Just outside of Decatur, Illinois, DTN View From the Cab farmer Chase Brown farms with his father, Dave, and his uncle, Joe. Chase told DTN they had been "productive."

"It was a good week," he said.

It rained on Wednesday but only three or four tenths of an inch. "It knocked us out Thursday morning, but we were back going again by noon," Chase told DTN late Sunday. "We were still doing corn and switched one machine to soybeans. Today we switched the other machine over."

That's because the unwritten rule in Chase's neck of the woods is that when the soybeans are ready, you cut them. Besides, over 60% of the Brown's corn crop has been harvested. The rest can wait.

"I'm not looking forward to soybean harvest. Everyone is saying the same thing -- about the fastest you can go is three miles per hour. The good news is they are really good. But you're just kind of burned out by the end of the second day, running the reel in and out, up and down (to keep tangled beans feeding into the machine). Dad was riding with me and he said, 'They are cutting pretty good. Why don't you speed up a little?' As soon as I did, I plugged up the combine. Dad said, 'I'll dig that out for you.'"

Chase told DTN yields are good, but until combine yield monitors are calibrated he won't know for sure how good. "The first ones were 71 or 72 bpa, but I think they're better than that," he said.

A mile-long test strip of soybeans where under-canopy nozzles were used to apply fungicide and insecticide underneath the canopy was a success. "You didn't need a monitor to see they were better (than over-the-top treatments)." Accuracy, penetration, and lower evaporative losses are good reasons why. "Our ag applicator did it at a discount, so they could show it off," Chase said.

The cover crop seed business has been "crazy" with customers who booked their initial needs now wanting more. Cereal rye is most in demand. "I spent the whole week off and on, running around with the seed tender. My seed shed is just about empty, so I've got to make a call and get some more in here pretty quick."

As soybeans come off, winter wheat goes on. Chase has a special treatment for that. "We're big believers in gypsum. Not a lot of people use it, but we've used it on our wheat three years in a row...we really like it." Chase said that gypsum provides calcium, while N needs are taken care of with encapsulated urea. "We used to use ammonium sulfate, but it burned the plants," he said.

Wheat's not the only crop where gypsum is applied. "I don't think there's a crop that loves gypsum better than alfalfa. I tell guys to apply it, but go wide and leave a six-foot wide untreated strip in the middle. You'll prove it to yourself." he said.

As fall crops melt away, full time residents of those fields seem to come out of nowhere.

"I saw a covey of quails today and a couple of pheasants, a coyote, and a baby fawn that looked like a newborn. So now that all the crops are coming off, we're seeing a lot of wildlife."

But one type of wildlife is in oversupply.

"We've got an infestation of coyotes. We lose a chicken or a cat once in a while. But to be honest, they don't seem to bother cattle the way I've heard they do other places."

That may be because efforts to control the varmint have been partially successful.

"We've got a guy who hunts them with dogs. They've killed over 100 in the last two years," Chase said.


Richard Oswald