View From the Cab

Weathering the September Slog

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

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Wacky. That's the word Kyle Krier and Genny Haun can agree on when it comes to weather for this season.

The two young farmers have been reporting on field conditions and farm life this year as part of DTN's View From the Cab series. Both correspondents are coming off a very soggy weather week. Haun, who farms near Kenton, Ohio, experienced a constant drizzle over the weekend that accumulated around two inches of rain. It was more like a deluge for Krier, who saw skies open up to deposit 6 to 9 inches of rain in one week over his portion of central Kansas.

September also seems to usher in a feeling of frenzy as harvest closes in. "This year was much, much more intense," said Krier. "The additional rainfall meant there was just always something to do -- from haying to the endless weed battle. I'm afraid we're going to look back on 2018 and say we fought Palmer amaranth all summer long and lost."

Here's what's happening in their parts of the farming world.

Kyle Krier -- Claflin, Kansas

There's nothing like having a baby on the way to provide a deadline. Krier's second child is due to arrive late October and he knows the next four weeks are going to be filled with anticipation and activity as he rushes to bring in the grain crops.

"Not going to lie, one of the biggest challenges I'm facing is keeping life balanced. There's that feeling that I need to do more as a young farmer wanting to get ahead, but I'm also trying to weigh everything I take on carefully," Krier said.

He's found that especially true with opportunities to rent or lease additional land. "Some parcels lack fertility or are particularly weedy. I may be looking at a two- to three-year commitment to get them cleaned up and back to the productive status. So there are times when 'no' may be the right answer, but it isn't easy to back away when I'm working to build a future," he said.

The winds, sunshine, no rainfall and 90-degree temperatures predicted for the coming week in central Kansas will be welcome relief. "We should be able to get some alfalfa put up and some (alfalfa) seed down this week before winter wheat planting and soybean harvesting starts going crazy," he said.

The rain has caused volunteer wheat to be an issue this year and that may mean more time in the sprayer. Volunteer wheat harbors the wheat curl mite and leads to wheat streak mosaic, which can decimate winter wheat stands the following spring.

Those big rains kicked new alfalfa stands into overdrive. However, Krier said some reseeding of alfalfa will be in order as there are several drowned out spots from the heavy rains.

The moisture also helped push existing alfalfa stands toward a fifth cutting -- something of a rare event in dryland Kansas. The fourth (and likely the fifth) cutting will yield less -- around 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton per acre. "The thing is a lot of that is offset with higher quality," he said.

Lack of moisture in eastern Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and parts of Texas has kept the hay market strong, Krier said. He delivers hay sold within the state, but arranges for trucking out of state.

Genny Haun -- Kenton, Ohio

Last week Genny Haun was headed to the county fair to help with the junior livestock show and sale. "We survived, but started out hot and miserable and ended cold, soaked and miserable," she said. Unfortunately the unfriendly weather caused the cancellation of many of the events.

A slow steady drizzle over the weekend also curtailed farm operations this past week in the region of northwest Ohio. "We are still working on custom waterway construction projects when weather allows, but the deadline for seeding them is quickly approaching," Haun said. Temperatures are supposed to climb this week, but conditions are to remain cloudy and overcast.

The September 11 USDA NASS crop progress report showed Ohio crops only slightly ahead of normal in maturity. However, 79% of Ohio corn and soybeans were rated good to excellent and well ahead of last year in terms of crop condition.

While weather may have been slowing some operations, there's always something to do at Layman Farms, the family operation where Haun and her husband, Matt, are employed.

"When the weather isn't favorable, our employees keep busy in the shop getting things ready for harvest. They're double checking bin operations, prepping machinery and putting together a sort-of plan for where harvest is likely to start," she said.

Labor on the farm is an ongoing concern. "Our current team is the best, but we also realize we've been together a long time. As some employees get closer to retirement, we know we will have a struggle to replace them," Haun said.

The farming and excavation work the farm does requires specific skill sets. "It isn't possible to put just anyone in those tasks without some training and experience," Haun said. "The local labor pool isn't always equipped for that."

As seed dealers, Haun said she and Matt have been wrapping up seed wheat orders and delivery. Seed corn and soybean sales come next.

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

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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Pam Smith