View From the Cab

Finally Getting Work Done in Iowa, Oklahoma

Richard Oswald
By  Richard Oswald , DTN Special Correspondent
Zack Rendel of Miami, Oklahoma, (left) and Brent and Lisa Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, are this year's featured DTN View From the Cab farmers. (Courtesy photo of Zack Rendel; DTN photo of Brent and Lisa Judisch by Pamela Smith)

LANGDON, MO. (DTN) -- DTN View From the Cab farmer Brent Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, had a good week. "I worked up a 10-acre piece for corn on Tuesday. Went down Wednesday night before dark and planted it.

"Started spraying bean pre-emerge Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, Friday, Saturday -- we got a lot done here. We started working ground on Thursday and planted on Thursday. Friday, we got along good until Rusty broke a hose on the field cultivator.

"We got done with corn on Saturday. Corn I planted Easter Sunday and the following Monday is up. Stands are good. Plant health is good. You can row it now," he told DTN late Sunday.

Emerging corn is helped by the fact that soil temperatures have rebounded into the 60s. Temperatures have been a little cool, with 60s during the day and down to upper 40s at night.

Hired helper, Rusty Zey, pitches in on the field cultivator when needed, but his primary jobs are drilling soybeans in spring and running a grain cart in the fall. Saturday was Rusty's first day on the soybean drill. "All our beans are drilled. We got 300 acres yesterday (Saturday) and 300 acres today (Sunday)," Brent explained.

Thanks to low weed pressure, Judisch's soybeans aren't the latest technology. "We haven't had the need for dicamba soybeans. We've had some waterhemp, but this pre (pre-plant herbicide application) is keeping it suppressed. Until the need arises, we don't have an interest in them." DTN asked about the neighbors. "Some guys are raising them but they're seed growers," Brent said.

Brent and his wife Lisa have three daughters, but they have always shared a common goal in their relationship. They both say, "We don't have a job. We are a farmer." While Brent continued his non-job work spraying over the weekend, Lisa began vertical tilling on a couple of newly acquired farms where no fall fieldwork was done. "I have one good day left of spraying bean pre," he said. Then, he still needs to spray an herbicide post-emerge application on corn before rows close, and side dressing 32% N to corn around the same time.

With bottom lines sagging under the weight of input costs, Brent buys big to stretch dollars. He said, "We buy all our soybean seed in bulk bags ... We dump the bags into empty seed corn mini-bulks before returning them to the dealer. That makes the soybean seed $2 per unit cheaper." Treated soybean seed comes that way from the warehouse. "Beans treated on site can be gummy and sticky."

Tankers bring 32% N for corn and put it in 10,000-gallon on-farm storage. "If you buy in late fall or early winter, you can get it a little cheaper, so I try to keep the tanks full," he said.

Field cultivating, planting, vertical tilling and spraying, all at the same time makes Brent think of fuel -- and lots of it. "We just ran out of diesel fuel, we had about 10,000 gallons (at the onset of spring work). We always buy a tanker load at a time. If I call tomorrow, we'll have it before the end of the day. (A tanker holds over 7,000 gallons) That'll run us until fall," Brent said.

Corn is all in, soybeans are moving along nicely. Weekend forecasts for northeastern Iowa offer more planting opportunities, but it won't matter. "Our middle daughter Madie graduates from University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree (in speech pathology) on Saturday. I'd like to get done Saturday, but that will be a non-farming day," Brent said.

View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel took a family day off on Sunday. "Can we schedule our call for in the morning? I'm at my sister's wedding," he told DTN late Sunday evening via text message.

Late Monday evening, Zack told DTN current weather conditions were an improvement after last week's deluge that dropped close to 8 inches of rain on his Miami, Oklahoma, fields. "The sun's been shining, and the winds been blowing the last four days. It finally dried enough we could get in the field today. Sunday, we married my sister off. Past three weekends in a row have been family weekends. I guess all the rain has been a blessing in disguise.

"We've been doing shop work for the past week. We've checked oil and grease in everything. Standing water is finally gone and rivers here around us have gone down. There was a lot of flooding along the rivers. The corn has fared decent. With all the rain, sunshine is what it needed. But you can tell on some of the fields our nitrogen has gone away," he said.

DTN asked how he would address nitrogen deficiencies in the crop. "Our plan is to go out there with the (Trimble) GreenSeeker on our Hagie sprayer, read that and put on as much as it needs," Zack replied.

Wheat and canola fields are speeding to maturity. Wheat is in the dough stage. Harvest is about three weeks away. Canola is within 10 days of being swathed. After another week to 10 days in the windrow, and it will be dry enough for threshing.

First-planted milo is looking better after being wind burned and subjected to water logged soil. "It's faring better than I expected -- it's greening up. We still have 250 acres of milo we were planning to put in, but we may switch to soybeans," he said. Early-planted milo seems to yield best, and declines the later planting takes place due to hot, summer temperatures of southeastern Oklahoma that place stress on blooming plants.

"We are approaching prime time to plant soybeans here. We can make more money on soybeans, so it's (switching from milo to soybeans) kind of a no-brainer," Zack explained.

Zack took time last week to visit the school in town. "I did a presentation for (some) elementary students," he said. He wasn't alone, because a pecan grower was also there to talk about his farm, and Southwest Dairy Farmers brought in their Mobile Dairy Classroom to show kids where milk comes from. Zack brought in an antique horse-drawn, walk-behind plow, a drone, and his son's toy pedal tractor where he mounted his Deere 2630 screen, GPS receiver and antennae, to demonstrate how much agriculture has changed in the last century.

"This is what happens when farmers are bored and have too much time in the shop. The kids were mesmerized. Last year, I asked the kids where their food comes from, and only one little girl out of 24 said her food comes from the farm. That was a wake-up call for me that I need to do my part to bring kids back to the farm," Zack said.

Progress is the measure of success.

"This year more than one person knew. I guess you could call me an advocate," he said.

Richard Oswald can be reached at

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Richard Oswald