DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Ah August... You can smell the change of season in the grass. The allergies kick into a different gear. School buses are on the roads again -- along with the first of the woolly worm caterpillars. Harvest is just around the corner, and this year, it appears to be coming at full throttle.
It's been a whirlwind summer so far for DTN's View From the Cab farmers. Genny Haun reports in each week from her family farm, Layman Farms, located near Kenton, Ohio. Kyle Krier farms in the Claflin, Kansas, area.
This past week, Haun indulged in an off-the-farm outing and was gearing up for county fair activities and upcoming seed field days. Krier had just put the third cutting of hay away and was getting ready to mow the fourth cutting and swath sorghum sudangrass.
Here's what is happening in their parts of the farming world:
KYLE KRIER - CLAFLIN, KANSAS
Rain was beginning to fall on Kyle Krier as he reported in this week -- again. The central Kansas farmer can't remember ever seeing this much green across the landscape in August.
"I don't have to drive far for that to change, and I really feel for farmers in other parts of the state that are experiencing drought," said Krier. "It sure has kept us busy spraying wheat stubble this summer. We just finished another round of spraying, and not sure that we won't have to do yet again."
Soybeans and milo look "incredible" in this area, Krier said. "We're one August rain away from having an extremely impressive crop. We're not there quite yet. I keep trying to be optimistic and still be practical in my expectations."
The Aug. 13 NASS Crop Progress report rated Kansas topsoil moisture supplies as 11% very short, 29% short, 58% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 12% very short, 30% short, 57% adequate and 1% surplus.
Overall, NASS rated Kansas corn condition as 7% very poor, 15% poor, 31% fair, 41% good and 6% excellent. Corn in the dough stage was 77%, ahead of 67% both last year and for the five-year average. It was estimated to be 42% at dent -- well ahead of 22% last year and 19% average.
Kansas soybeans were rated 7% very poor, 15% poor, 38% fair, 37% good and 3% excellent. Soybeans blooming was 94%, ahead of 89% last year and 85% average. Setting pods was 74%, ahead of 64% last year, and well ahead of 54% average.
Sorghum condition was rated 1% very poor, 5% poor, 32% fair, 53% good and 9% excellent. Sorghum headed was 72%, ahead of 62% both last year and average. Coloring was 15%, ahead of 3% last year and 7% average.
Sugarcane aphids have been reported in Kansas, but Krier hasn't found them so far in his crop. Corn aphids have also been spotted, and he said some farmers are seeing the darker green aphid in sorghum, but that they are rarely considered an economic pest in that crop. He's not growing corn this year.
He has a close eye on soybean pests. Lush vegetative growth and lots of pods seem too good to be true, he noted.
Turning the blessing of rainfall into dollars has meant baling everything that is green this summer. "We're baling everything we can windrow," he said.
That includes the heat-loving sorghum sudangrass that has grown so fast that it seems one should be able to see it move with the naked eye. The summer annual grass is an easy keeper with several advantages, Krier said. Seed cost is modest, it smothers weeds quickly and the remaining stubble holds the soil and captures whatever snow might fall this winter.
Sorghum sudangrass can take longer to dry down, though, especially with current temperatures and sporadic rainfall, Krier said. "Some of this stuff is 6 to 7 feet tall, and we often have to use more net wrap to pack it into the bale. Still, it makes good beef cattle feed and we can sell everything we can bale right now," he said.
"It also has worked out well as a rotational crop on some fields we've recently taken over and want to renovate to go back into grain production," he noted. Wheat prices have looked a bit more lucrative lately, and he'll plant no-till wheat right into the sorghum sudangrass stubble this fall.
Like most wheat growers, Krier is already busy shaping his 2019 cropping plans. Chemical costs weigh heavily on his mind this year, and he's hoping to take advantage of early season purchasing discounts. With that in mind, he's anxiously awaiting EPA's decisions on the new dicamba herbicides -- XtendiMax and Engenia registrations expire later this fall.
"It makes it hard to plan when we have these uncertainties. I may cut back on soybeans and go to more corn or milo or even consider a totally different direction next year. We tried canola a few years ago -- not that it ended all that well, but my point is that I'm trying to be open minded and look for opportunities," he added.
Sometimes the smallest things can make a big impact, too. This week, Krier went to pay for his order at a fast food outlet and learned the previous customer had paid forward -- wishing to "thank a farmer for all the work they do."
"Generally, I'm not one that thinks I need to be thanked just because I farm. Everyone I know that cares about what they do works hard, regardless of profession," he said. "But I have to admit that made my day -- even though it was just an order of ice tea!"
GENNY HAUN - KENTON, OHIO
Having a personal sweet corn patch is one of those undeniable benefits of farming. And Genny Haun's father, Jan, parked his close to the farm office this year. Problem is, it is also close to the farm's seed show plot.
"I'm after him to get the last of it harvested so we can clean that up this week in preparation for our field day. I know everyone will know it is sweet corn, but it just looks odd when we've got everything else groomed and ready," she said.
The family has an Ebberts Seed dealership, and coming up soon is the farm's twilight plot tour and customer appreciation dinner.
The county fair is also around the corner in early September, and the family has a long history of involvement with the junior show sale of champions. Jan is one of the auctioneers and Genny has been increasing her involvement as clerk of the event.
Crop conditions continue to look good in this part of Ohio, she reported. "Rains have been spotty, but we seem to be in the right spot.
"Corn looks really good. Dad keeps saying he thinks it could be the best he's seen in his 40 years of farming," she said. Soybeans are well podded and just starting to fill.
The Aug. 13 crop report from NASS rated Ohio topsoil moisture as 3% very short, 19% short, 67% adequate and 11% surplus. Subsoil moisture was 4% very short, 19% short, 69% adequate and 8% surplus.
Statewide, Ohio corn conditions were considered 1% very poor, 4% poor, 19% fair, 56% good and 20% excellent. Indications were for a more rapidly maturing crop with 66% at dough stage compared to 48% last week, 52% last year and 50% average over the past five years. The report showed 16% of the Ohio crop in the dent stage compared to 3% last week, 5% last year and 7% average.
Ohio soybean maturity was also slightly ahead of pace. An estimated 95% of the Ohio crop was blooming compared to a five-year average of 93%. The agency pegged pod set at 84% compared to 73% last week, 71% last year and 72% average. The overall soybean conditions were rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 21% fair, 55% good and 19% excellent.
Double-crop soybeans are a good indicator of the healthy season and show the importance of moisture, Haun added. She's been watching a neighboring field thrive this season.
"In general, farmers here will try double-crop soybeans if they can get the wheat harvested early, there's moisture and beans can be planted by July 4. Sometimes those soybeans just become a cover crop, but this year looks to be one when the practice will really pay off," she said.
With a bit of a break in the crop schedule and plenty of events on the horizon, Haun and a long-time friend took a quick get-away to Michigan for a couple of days.
"It was nice to do something just for fun. But the big thing was being able to get some solid sleep free from toddlers," she said, sighing.
Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
© Copyright 2018 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.