View From the Cab

Beneficial Rains in Iowa; Oklahoma Rain More the Rule Than the Exception

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) -- Any corn farmer will tell you the very best Fourth of July fireworks shows are sheet lightning ahead of an inch of rain. But View From the Cab farmers, Brent and Lisa Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, didn't need to wait until the Fourth for fireworks.

That's because they've already had the rain.

"I'm sitting here on the deck watching fireworks all around me. Now that it's legal in Iowa, you can buy them here," Brent told DTN late Monday. But that's not the best part. "I sprayed beans Monday. We had just a little rain Tuesday. Wednesday it rained four-tenths. Thursday we got ninety-five hundredths and Friday another four-tenths. We're not too dry and not too wet. Three or four rain events have been spread out nicely. It got up to 84 today. It's about perfect right now at 72. So far, it's like 2016," he said.

Weather cleared over the weekend so Brent could finish postemerge soybean spraying. "I spent the better part of the day on Sunday, that left two fields I sprayed today," he said.

There's one job rain doesn't interfere with on the farm. Brent summed it up. "Monday and Tuesday Lisa washed machinery. [Wednesday and Thursday we] watched it rain. Friday, Lisa and Rusty washed machinery. Saturday, Harold and I washed machinery; that just leaves planters and getting the combines ready."

Brent and Lisa have plans for the holiday. On Tuesday, he planned on driving a tractor in the neighborhood Fourth of July parade. After that he and Lisa want to take a bicycle ride.

Not everyone has benefitted from rain the way the Judisch's have. "The rain has been spotty, even in Iowa. Forty miles north of here they would love to have an inch. We've had a little over 6 inches over the month. Twenty miles from here they've hardly had 2," Brent explained.

Northeast Iowa temperatures have been on the cool side with warmer weather in the forecast. Soybeans remain shorter than normal with 15-inch rows beginning to close. Corn hasn't tasseled, but flag leaves signal it is near, perhaps within a week.

Marring an otherwise perfect spring scenario, a hailstorm about three weeks ago left its mark.

"Monday the hail adjusters came. The worst field of corn was 34% damaged. Across the road it was 18%. The other way across the road it was 11%. A number of soybeans were damaged. Three fields were hurt 11%, 10%, and 8%," Brent said.

For next week, more mowing is on tap, and the planters must be washed before storing them away. There are combines to prepare for fall harvest. He wants to get that done because Brent is a regular on the Midwest Pro Farmer Crop Tour held in August. July and August will pass quickly. Most pressing of all perhaps is that a portion of last year's corn crop remains stored on the farm unsold.

"We'll give it a week and probably start moving some corn and maybe sell some new crop. I think that market's going to be weather dependent now. Wheat markets have been leading this week. Soybeans (stocks) came in less than normal (in the USDA June 30 crop report) Corn is following. The crop is going to be an average crop at best. We'll need good weather (to meet USDA predictions)," Brent said.

Outside Miami, Oklahoma, where View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel lives and works, rainy days have been the rule more than exception. "We met at the shop yesterday and said we aren't going to work of it rained. We're taking the day off today, so it (weekend rain) worked out good for us," Zack explained to DTN early Tuesday morning. Zack farms with his Uncle Brent in eastern Oklahoma where excessive rain has been a problem. Corn was planted in a timely fashion, but they've fought mud ever since. "We're down to 600 acres of soybeans to plant. We're thinking of switching 150 to 200 acres of that to fallow and planting (winter canola) there this fall," Zack said.

Fallow isn't a bad thing if it means a chance to improve drainage and grow a crop. That's what the Rendel's plan to do in the field where Zack got the tractor and vertical tiller stuck last week. "We have some water management issues in terraces in that field. We may use GPS and a scraper to level the channels out," he said.

Zack's dad Greg runs the planter. "Dad knows the clock is ticking on soybeans, so he put in some long hours and got 200 acres done each day on Wednesday and Thursday. He was up at the crack of dawn and stayed late. I was worried about him because his back is still healing from surgery."

Greg's back caught a break. "Rain came in Thursday night. We got 1.2 inches. Then Sunday we had .2 at my house. North of the Turnpike (I-44) they got about one quarter, the south side got 1 inch. So the interstate was the dividing line." Tuesday, the Fourth of July, brought more rain.

Corn is pollinated. Grain sorghum is beginning to head. "It smells kind of like corn now. Soybeans are looking better. Rain helped them move up," Zack said. PPO damage from rain splashing herbicide onto soybean leaves is still visible in the worst affected areas that may need to be replanted. Metribuzin may be the culprit.

Brent's sons Job and Isaac washed combines last week while Zack checked over the corn head. Terry, the hired man, brush hogged along fence lines and road ditches.

Newly rented bottom ground that's been too wet to plant finally dried last week. "Tuesday it was hard as a rock. I went out with our big disk to break it up. I set the disc shallow and ended up going deep as I could. I could only go about an inch and a quarter deep. Rain will soften it up. They're calling for a half-to-three-quarters of an inch today. Looks like we're going to get the three quarters for sure, because it's coming down pretty good right now," he said.

Soybeans will be planted there no later than July 15.

Rain is good for softening sunbaked clay, or getting honey do's done around home. Zack used some of his time to get out the smoker and put up a family pool in the back yard. But the best thing rain did for Zack was make time for the rodeo on Monday.

"I had a proud Dad moment last night. Nathan (Zack and Kristi's 6-year old son) won the mutton bustin' competition (in front of 3,000 people) and a trophy belt buckle from the Miami Oklahoma Rodeo Assn. It's got all kinds of jewels on it and says 2017 Rodeo Miami Champion Mutton Buster," he said.

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Richard Oswald