View From the Cab

Harvest Complete in Pennsylvania, But in Illinois They Keep on Truckin'

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) -- The days are getting shorter.

"It gets your attention when it gets dark at 5 (p.m.)," said DTN View from the Cab farmer Jim Hoover about daylight-saving time and waning days of 2016.

Time is short before winter arrives. But Jim doesn't care, because after weeks of work, harvest at Hoover's Turkey Farm is over. "As of 3 (p.m.) today I'm finished," he told DTN late Sunday.

Corn yields were disappointing. Jim's dryland had wide yield variations. Even irrigated fields didn't end up being as good as he expected. "Drought does something so that even irrigation won't do everything you want it to," Jim said, before adding, "but some water is better than nothing."

Soybeans were another, better story. His full crop soybeans averaged near 55 bushels per acre. "The beans over at Tower City did well," Jim said. Double-crop soybeans following wheat measured in at 20 to 30 bpa, a respectable yield given this year's limited summer rains on Jim's fields outside Newport and Tower City, Pennsylvania.

For all things, there is a season. Autumn harvest extends beyond planted crops to other things as well.

"Mark (Jim's son-in-law) got another elk. A great, big bull. He was telling me there's something different this year. The acorn crop has been phenomenal. It's so good the herds don't want to come out of the woods." For hunter-wary elk, acorns are part of their early warning system. "He said every time he would take a step, the acorns would crack."

Mark and Stacey, Jim's daughter, have their own farmers market and family fun farm. Autumn is that special time when entire families come out into the country to experience the beauty and bounty of another crop first-hand. "Today was their last day. They had a phenomenal year," Jim said.

With harvest done and winter approaching, Jim has two things highlighted on his to-do list. One is a chore, the other a pleasure. "Now we'll have to clean the equipment and wash it down," he said. As for what else, in the cool, fall evenings after a day's work is done? "I've been reading up on my trip to Cuba," he said.

"I tell you what. I'm tired." That's the confession of DTN View From the Cab farmer Chase Brown of Decatur, Illinois, after his first full day after the end of daylight-saving time. Shorter days, continuing harvest, and time-change jet lag all combine to make even short autumn days long. "I saw this thing that said 'welcome to seasonal depression,'" he noted.

It's not all that bad for Chase. That's because soybean harvest was completed just ahead of a weather change. "We got the soybeans done Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, about 5:30 (p.m.) a really good storm came through. We had tornado warnings and a lot of wind. We got .7 inches of rain out of it. The whole thing only lasted for about 10 minutes."

Corn harvest continues on the last 150 acres. "We probably would have been done with corn, except it all has to go to ADM in Decatur, but ADM was closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday," he said. If truck lines look long on Monday morning, commercial haulers may be enlisted to augment the Brown's own semi-trucks for speedier progress in the field.

"We didn't work today. It was Ashley's (Chase's wife) birthday so we had everyone over for that. ADM was closed so we couldn't have worked anyway," Chase explained.

A bred Hereford heifer was delivered that Chase bought in New Mexico with two bulls he sold that were shipped on the back haul. "We're really happy with her. No buyers' remorse here," Chase said.

Sensing the approaching winter, occupants of parts of the farm drainage system have stepped up efforts to get ready. "We have a beaver infestation. We walked our ditches. I knew we had a problem, but I didn't know how bad it was. We can use a back hoe to knock them (beaver dams) out, but if you don't take them (the beavers) out, the problem comes right back again." Wouldn't removing trees and brush eliminate natural building materials? Beavers are resourceful. "At the creek by the home farm, they were taking corn stalks out of the field and damming that up," Chase said.

The local drainage district will help by paying for trappers. "I called someone and showed him five dams real quick. I said I've got five or 10 more, but I don't want to confuse you," he said.

Chase is participating in a Soil Health Partnership through National Corn Growers Association to measure the effects of cover crops with some interesting results. "We have 120-foot strips of conventional and cover crops across 20 acres. We took the soybean plot out ... and what I found was that if you cut one 35-foot strip down the middle, it was pretty much the same. But if you took (individual) 120-foot strips (in their entirety), cover crop beat conventional by 8 bpa," he said.

"Sitting in the combine cab, I would say cover crop crops beat conventional. Cover crop crops beat tillage strips in terms of dollars per acre. (That's because) with no till we eliminated three trips over the field," Chase added. "But my dad and uncle are like, 'we've been doing this for a long time and it's been working for us.'"

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Richard Oswald