View From the Cab

Rain Delays Narrow Work Windows

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Our weekly View From the Cab reports highlight the many activities on the farm during the season. Genny Haun reports in from Kenton, Ohio, and Kyle Krier details farm life from Claflin, Kansas. (Photos by Genny Haun and Kyle Krier)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- Rain delays only get boring in baseball. DTN's View From the Cab correspondents might enjoy, and even benefit, from a seventh-inning stretch, but downtime can also compress and complicate field operations.

"We continue to try to find windows of time to get our post soybean spraying done," said Genny Haun, of Kenton, Ohio.

Kyle Krier, who reports from Claflin, Kansas, found himself rained out of wheat harvest and wishing he could finish the final 150 acres just to put it in the books. "We usually count on some extra hands from friends and family that like help on the farm for a few days during wheat harvest, but they've had to go back to their real jobs and we're down to our skeleton crew. Time to wrap wheat up. We have second cutting alfalfa starting soon," he said.

Meanwhile, he had an eye on the high temperatures forecasted for later in the week. "Worrying about it won't do a bit of good, but I can't help but hope for the sake of the crops that we don't realize those highs," he said.

Haun and Krier were selected to provide DTN with weekly updates from their farms during the 2018 crop season.

Here's what is happening in their part of the farming world:

GENNY HAUN—KENTON, OHIO

A 3-inch rain ground field operations to a halt at Layman Farms near Kenton, Ohio during the weekend.

The rain also threw a monkey wrench (or perhaps a rolling pin) into another family member's venture. Last Friday, Genny Haun was preparing to help her sister, who owns a local baking business, sell goods at a food truck festival in Kenton, Ohio. But threatening storms caused a last-minute cancellation of the event -- a move that might have sent all involved into a sugary overload were it not for some quick thinking social media moves.

"Mom and I rushed to help as we discussed 'what are we gonna do with 42 piecrusts and 100 caramel dipped apples' recon plans," said Haun. "But a post on Facebook about the situation sold all the apples within 30 minutes and the pies went as fast as we could make them. If that response is any indication, the storefront my sister is planning will be a hit."

Meanwhile, back at the farm, toes were tapping as they watch for opportunities to stay ahead of weeds. Pre-emergence residual herbicides were hanging tough and keeping most weeds in check, but they only last so long, Haun said. "Our beans are still small, so we still have a little time for post sprays, but that window is closing and we'd like to get the rest of our post sprays out soon."

Fortunately, the forecast of winds and hail didn't materialize alongside the rain this time. Haun said the memories of a destructive storm that hit the main farmstead in 2016 still linger for the family.

"There's some disagreement over whether it was straight line winds or a tornado, but the result was that it wiped out our entire grain system. Basically every building on the farm sustained damage except the main farm house," she recalled.

"Looking back we realize that despite the damage, we were so lucky. Mom and Dad were sleeping when the storm hit. But I think we all still think about it when storms approach."

There's nothing like a near disaster to offer perspective, too. Haun knows that working amid so much family can present challenges, especially when there are several strong personalities in the mix.

She admitted that she's always had an "interesting" relationship with her father, Jan Layman. "We are both outspoken and not afraid to say what we think -- sometimes people are taken back a bit when they hear us discussing something we are both passionate about," she said.

"Now that I'm here working on a day-to-day basis, the dynamics are changing a bit and the relationship with both my parents is really developing and getting richer."

The 10 years she spent working off the farm after college has been key to learning how to negotiate those family dynamics.

"All I ever wanted to do was come back to this farm, but working away from here taught me how to work with others.

"I learned how to work in a corporate setting. I had to work with some difficult bosses and difficult co-workers along the way. I've seen how a corporate structure might be beneficial to us here at the farm. And that perspective is so important as I carve out my own responsibilities and have my own voice," she said.

KYLE KRIER—CLAFLIN, KANSAS

Kyle Krier has never been one to look unfavorably on rainfall. Even though he still has a small amount of wheat left to harvest, the other crops will need every drop of moisture if the blast furnace predicted for the central Kansas area materializes over the next few days.

"Overall though, it was a surprising year for wheat," Krier said. "Protein, yield and test weight all exceeded what we were expecting, given all the conditions it faced throughout the growing year. Unfortunately, we are seeing prices reflect that in the beating the market is taking right now," he said.

Wheat protein on his 2018 crop ranged from 12% to more than 15%. "However, enough growers have good protein this year that buyers aren't offering premiums for it," he said. Test weights have been hovering around 62 pounds per bushel and yields running in the 40- to 55-bushel-per-acre range.

"We were definitely surprised on test weight, particularly because it seemed we lacked moisture at some critical times," he said.

Krier has plenty of paperwork to keep him busy while he waits for a change to cut that last bit of wheat. In addition to farming, he also operates a crop insurance business and has been working on acreage reports on corn, milo and soybeans.

He's also working at finalizing hail or other issues in wheat. "There will be some localized areas that didn't get the rains and didn't quite get up to their APH levels," he said.

Another thing he's keeping a close eye on is the future of Xtend soybeans. Reports that dicamba injury is showing up in parts of the Midwest are concerning to Krier, who has found the trait useful as a protective measure against dicamba moving out of wheat fields. Generic dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides are often used to control weeds in wheat stubble following harvest in his area.

"We've experienced dicamba injury in soybeans for years and know those older, more volatile formulations can move long distances. I think we'd actually gotten to the point where we thought soybean leaves were supposed to curl their leaves at R-1 or R-2," he said.

He admitted the first Xtend beans he raised last year came as a surprise. "Comparing the large leaves to the curled up, golf-ball looking plants we have grown in the past makes me realize we were giving up a yield potential to herbicide injury," he said.

Second cutting alfalfa is next on the agenda for Krier. "You know that big sigh of relief they talk about after wheat harvest? Yeah, well, that's not happening," he said.

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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Pam Smith