View From the Cab

Weather Swings from Wet to Dry in Parts of 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) -- Successful farmers share a trait of accomplishing priorities by keeping them front and center. That's what DTN View From the Cab farmers Brent and Lisa Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, did last week.

"Saturday we pulled out the combines and grain carts (from the machine shed) and put all the planting stuff in the back. Now we're in the mode of getting ready for harvest," Brent told DTN late Sunday.

But the focus at the Judisch farm last week wasn't all on harvest. There were other priorities. Brent said that Tuesday, July 4, was slow. He and Lisa did some computer work and took a 27-mile bike ride. Wednesday was warm with more inside work. Thursday, Brent and his partner Harold Burington got Harold's planter ready for storage while part-time helper Rusty Zey replaced gauge wheels on the drill and greased it before moving it to the rear of the shed. On Friday, Harold and Lisa worked over Brent's planter and put it away.

Everything, but for one seemingly unending summertime chore, is ready for next spring. That chore is mowing ditches, which Brent did on Saturday.

Earliest-planted corn -- corn planted April 16 -- started tasseling Thursday on the Judisch farm. On Friday, two more fields showed emerging tassels from corn planted April 18, and two more fields entered their reproductive phase on Saturday. "Corn looks good except on sandy ground," Brent said. That's because it's been awhile since it rained, and sand doesn't hold moisture as well as other soil types. "The lawns are still growing, so that's a good sign," he added.

Other than hail on some fields, corn has performed well, but soybeans have struggled. Earliest-planted fields emerged with good stands, and rows are shading middles. But later-planted soybeans are lagging. "A lot of beans went in on Mother's Day Sunday. (Then) we got a general rain and temperatures dropped ... below 50F. Soybeans we put in before that have 140,000 to 145,000 (plants per acre) stands. Those we planted on Mother's Day have 115,000 to 120,000 or less. (They) have gotten better. We'll see what they do this week," Brent explained.

Japanese beetles, an insect pest soybean farmers struggle with, are nowhere to be found.

Markets have rallied just in time to deliver what's left of last year's corn. Hauling is a priority now. "We loaded some corn on Friday just to get that started. We have about 150 loads to haul. On a good day, we get about 15 loads," Brent said.

"It's been nice, mid-80s for the highs today and yesterday with very minimal winds. Windy, low-humidity days really take a toll on corn. We're going to need some rain by the end of this week. It just depends on how fast it (soil moisture) evaporates. I still had a couple of tiles running pretty heavy yet on Tuesday," he said.

With its vista of modern life on the land, View From the Cab brings readers and farmers together on a very personal level. That was never truer than last week when Brent and Lisa made three new friends.

Attica, Indiana, farmer Wilbur Pearson, an avid View reader, contacted his landlords near Cedar Falls, Iowa, to ask if they know Brent and Lisa Judisch. That made for an interesting revelation.

"We both have the same landlord. They live right across the road from me. Wilbur called me up and said, 'I want to come over and bring some friends,'" Brent told DTN. Accompanying Wilbur was fellow farmer and pilot Dwain Cottingham from Attica who flew them over, and Tom Hetrick from West Lebanon, Indiana.

Brent's other job as a sales rep for a local John Deere dealer means he has connections to offer his recent acquaintances.

"While they were here, I set them up to do the hour-and-a-half tour of the John Deere tractor plant in Waterloo (Iowa), and they spent about three hours at the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo," he said.

Meanwhile, near Miami, Oklahoma, View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel has seen the weather pendulum swing from dry to wet and back again. "Our water spigot is turned off. We got a little under a half-inch on the Fourth of July. It went away fast," he told DTN on Monday.

"All the water puddles are gone that we've been fighting. Ground is hard and dry; we've gone from one extreme to the other," Zack added.

Due to planting delays from excessively wet weather as spring turned to summer, 250 acres once headed for soybeans will be fallowed until they can be planted to winter canola later this year. As of Monday, that leaves about 200 acres to go. Zack will be using the Monosem 6 twin-row planter, originally purchased to seed canola, to plant a side-by-side soybean plot. On Monday, his plans were to keep going across the field until they're finished planting.

The Rendels still have two 15-foot Deere no-till drills in the shed alongside the two Deere 7000 six-row planters pulled by two 4020s 25 years ago.

"We decided not to pull out the drills (to finish soybean planting). I've never been satisfied with the stands with them. For us, solid stands have never yielded as well as 30-inch rows. Ten years ago, we stopped using them for milo and started using the big planter for everything. But this Monosem works very well even if it is only 15 feet wide," Zack explained.

Staying with what works while changing what doesn't is a hallmark of successful farmers.

"Our history is here, that after we finish planting corn, we get big rains and have stand loss," Zack said. By planting on ridges, young plants could be above standing water.

So the Rendels gave ridge-till a try.

Zack said that fertilizer was applied before ridging so that, after ridging was done, fertilizer had been pulled in under the ridge, or bed, where corn roots could gather it up. But there was an unanticipated complication.

"We made a deal with OSU to try the bedder on corn. We got 8 to 10 bushels better yields. The only problem we had was harvest. You can't hardly cross those beds with grain carts. We tore up a grain cart auger crossing those with the auger raised up. So we learned to leave out alleyways to cross the field. Then, before we could plant wheat, we'd have to disc or chisel out the ridges. We went away from that, kind of from the harvesting standpoint," Zack told DTN.

This year it was time to dust off an old idea to ensure adequate stands on a wet piece of ground.

"One thing we did different this year -- the new river-bottom ground we have is very flat. There's only 3 feet of drop across the whole field. I went out there and used ridge-till to make beds. Brent, Zack's uncle and partner, is planting soybeans into them. Canola doesn't like wet feet either. If it stands in water, it's dead. The only thing we think about is the harvesting standpoint," Brent said.

Another experiment looks promising. "Our late-planted corn, planted 17 days ago on June 20. is already a V4 or V5. We twin-rowed it with the Monosem. It looks nice," Zack said.

Zack's full-season corn is past roasting ear, approaching dent. Earliest-planted soybeans have begun to bloom. Milo is almost fully headed with low-lying areas slightly behind the norm. It's hot. Heat indexes into mid-week are forecast at 102.

Due to this week's heat, Zack and Kristi's 6-year-old son, Nathan, is dealing with a fashion conundrum. On one hand, the weather demands shorts and sandals instead of Wranglers and boots. But last week's big win at the Miami, Oklahoma, Rodeo when he brought home a huge first-place mutton-busting trophy belt buckle in front of 3,000 in attendance, is still fresh.

Where there's a will there's a way.

"He asked his Momma if it would be OK to wear his big, leather belt and buckle with his shorts," Zack said.

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Richard Oswald