View From the Cab

Raindrops Keep Falling on the Beans

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Farmers Genny Haun, Kenton, Ohio, and Kyle Krier, Claflin, Kansas, are reporting in on crop conditions and agricultural topics throughout the 2018 growing season as part of DTN's View From the Cab series.

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Kyle Krier can't ever remember seeing it quite so green in central Kansas this time of year.

Genny Haun, of Kenton, Ohio, is having similar thoughts about conditions on her family farm located near Kenton, Ohio. "It seems like we get just what we need when we need it," said Haun. "These late rains are really going to help the soybeans."

Krier, who farms near Claflin, Kansas, and Haun have been reporting on crop conditions and other farm topics each week as part of DTN's View from the Cab series.

Good growing conditions in their respective regions were also helping temper some of the more disconcerting news of the past week. "There's almost too much to be concerned about," said Krier. "From tariffs to the lawsuit over glyphosate to the many input decisions pending before EPA -- it can be overwhelming if you let yourself get worked up about it.

"I try to stay up to date, but this summer, it is all we can do to stay ahead of the weeds and hay cuttings," he said.

How to best represent agriculture is on Haun's mind as she in increasingly pulled into leadership roles. "What worries me is that many of the issues we are facing today seem to be dividing us as an industry and even pitting neighbor against neighbor," she said.

Recent consolidation of the major agricultural input suppliers is raising questions in her mind about the new, combined corporate cultures and whether these new organizations will listen to farmer voices, she noted. "So many times it seems like issues arise, but marketing plans override what is happening in the real world and farmers have very little say.

"I'm not sure how we change that, but I find it concerning for the future, especially as it is the farmer that increasingly has to answer to skeptical consumers," she said.

Here's what's happening in their area of the farming world this week.

GENNY HAUN—KENTON, OHIO

A rain every other day was keeping the soybeans at Layman Farms happy, but Genny Haun said it was also slowing their grass waterway construction projects. The farm does custom drainage work and had 10 waterways on the books to complete this summer.

The additional moisture will help get grass seed established though. Haun said they seed waterways as part of their service. They hire another company to lay straw blankets on those jobs.

Until recently, rains have been spotty, but in the right spots, Haun said. Then, the farm received 2.25 inches during the past two days.

The big news of the week though is that son Carter will be heading to preschool again this coming week.

Day care is one of those topics that young parents can find challenging in rural areas. Haun feels fortunate to have found an affordable in-home day care setting for her two sons -- who are five and two years of age. She pays approximately $150 per week -- slightly more if meals are included. She must provide all transportation to and from the day care setting.

"I think most people would consider that to be very affordable and we realize we are lucky to have this option," Haun said.

If illness or some issue arises, she acknowledges that working in a family operation allows some flexibility to bring her children to the farm. However, her office position at the farm is a 9-to-5 job and she views it as such.

"On the rare occasion that I bring them here, I get nothing accomplished. Carter wants to be in the shop. The guys are working. We have paid employees that are on the clock, and I need to be respectful of their time as well.

"Like most children that are age 2, Rhett is negative help right now and is into everything. There are also safety considerations to think about," she said.

Family members are often the go-to child care option for many farmers with young children. While there's nothing wrong with that scenario, Haun said it doesn't fit her situation. "My mother works in the business too. And while she enjoys the boys, I want her to experience her time with them as a grandmother and not have to be a disciplinarian and a full-time caregiver," she said.

KYLE KRIER—CLAFLIN, KANSAS

Kyle Krier isn't about to complain about this soggy August just yet. "The fourth cutting of hay is coming on like crazy. The beans are just unreal."

If there's a downside, it could come at harvest, he noted. "Beans are so tall, that we will likely see some lodging." He and his father, Kirby, harvest soybeans with MacDon draper heads with finger reels. "They will grab and draw the beans into the reel, but the main thing is to slow the machine down when lodging is an issue.

"Milo is a whole different kettle of fish. If it starts going down, you can't slow down enough," he said. The additional rainfall have led to a robust milo stalk and big heads. "It would be bad if it starts to fall over, but one thing we haven't had much of this year is wind. So if we can avoid that, I think we'll be OK."

However, the good growing conditions are also attracting late-season insect pressure. "The aerial applicators around here are going to have a good Christmas," Krier observed. "They are spraying for sugarcane aphids and head worm in milo. They are spraying for worms, beetles, stem borer and stinkbug in soybeans," he noted.

Sugarcane aphids can be especially difficult to control because they reside lower in the stalk. Krier said he prefers ground applications to control the pest since 20 to 25 gallon of liquid per acre is required to get good coverage.

Insect applications quickly eat into profits. Multiple herbicide applications to keep weeds down on wheat stubble fields have put a lot of hours on sprayers this summer, he said.

"I've heard a few farmers complaining because of the extra workload this summer, but I just keep thinking if this was a normal August, all our crops would be burning up and we'd be complaining about not having anything to do," he said.

"This is probably going to be the biggest fall crop as a total this area has ever seen. I'm not going to complain about that when there are farmers 30 miles from here that didn't get these rains."

Scouting continues. White mold is on the radar -- although he hasn't found any yet. Fungal disease pressure caused him to pull the trigger on some fungicide applications on some soybean fields. "I just felt we had to protect the investment that is sitting out there and hopefully bring that crop along to harvest in the shape it is in right now," he said.

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

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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Pam Smith