Machinery Chatter

Rains Slow Spring Work

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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April and May rains mean early corn in parts or the Midwest is getting its feet wet and soybean planting is delayed. (Photo by David L. Hansen)

This spring started out promising enough for fieldwork. Warmer weather and fairly dry field conditions meant spring chores could happen here in eastern Nebraska in March, something which always doesn't happen.

The cooperative weather continued into the month of April as farmers prepared for corn planting by applying fertilizer and doing some tillage work. There was even some corn planted in the middle of the month.

But the last two weeks of April was a complete wash out with heavy rains in both weeks. I didn't write down exactly what we received during this time but it had to be around 6 to 8 inches of rain as there a couple rains of 2 to 3 inches.

Two weeks of nearly continuous rains is something we have seen some in recent years. A few years back we had nearly the same occurrence where mid-April was fairly dry and some corn got planted only to see many rains in the end of April into May.

Then there was the year the two weeks of rains came in the end of May into June. If I remember correctly, that was the year we were planting soybeans to around June 10.

This was the latest we had ever planted -- until two years ago. This was when the worst hailstorm I have ever seen in my life blew through and completely destroyed a couple fields. We replanted corn and soybeans in mid-June, not an ideal situation and yields showed it in the fall.

On our farm, we were working our way through the different tasks which must be done in the spring before planting. We had spread manure from our cow lots and then moved to spreading pasture fertilizer. We apply dry urea to fields we use to graze our beef cow herd and also a field of brome grass we use for haying.

After that was complete, we began to spread dry fertilizer (phosphorus and potash) on our row-crop acres. We were about done with this chore when the rains began.

The one good thing about the break in the middle of the spring is it did allow us plenty of time to do maintenance work on our older equipment. On our small farm, there is no new equipment.

There were a couple repairs we had to make to our International disc and John Deere planter. Both of these tasks are taken care of and we are ready for planting.

I do want to point here that the fact that our equipment is older and much smaller than new farm equipment, certainly doesn't make it junk. I think there is a misconception that smaller farmers are not worried about the small details of making sure farm machinery is working correctly.

We have both the corn and soybean meters on our planter tested somewhat regularly so we make sure we are planting both accurately and efficiently. We maintain our equipment as much as we can ourselves, but for larger repairs, usually engine-related issues, we utilize a neighbor who is a farmer/diesel mechanic.

The good news is the sun has been out this week (the first week of May) and the soil is drying. With so much rain recently it is going to take most of this week to dry out. I talked to a neighbor who said he thought maybe by the end of the week he could be back in the field.

The bad news is, just as it may finally be dry to get back into the fields late this week there is another chance of rain in the forecast for the weekend.

The spring dance continues.

(CZ)

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