The crazy 2019 cropping season has left everyone a bit frazzled, but Ashley Andersen has tried not to lose her sense of humor.
“Yep … now that the kids are in school, I’m just down to having pedicures and massages every day,” quipped the Blair, Nebraska, farmer.
Actually, the young farm wife and her husband, Jarett, feel as though they’ve barely had a chance to catch their breath this summer. Maybe it’s a sign of the times as cell phones constantly ping and responsibilities clamor for attention.
“I’d give anything for just a bit of boredom to be honest, but [with] three young children, that’s just not going to happen. And really, I wouldn’t change this life for anything,” she said.
Andersen has been reporting in as part of DTN’s farming diary called “View From the Cab.”
Scott Wallis, Princeton, Indiana, is the other contributor to the weekly report on crop conditions and life around the farm. This past week, Wallis and his wife, three children, their spouses and all five grandchildren headed to a cabin on Kentucky Lake for a getaway.
Wallis and his wife, Julie, farm with their son, J.R. and son-in-law, Brad Winter. Julie also provides care for the grandchildren during the week. The fact that much of the family works together and still want to play together speaks volumes to the closeness they feel.
“It might seem hard to believe, but we all like and enjoy each other,” Scott said.
Here’s what else is happening in their part of farm country this week.
SCOTT WALLIS: PRINCETON, INDIANA
There have been a few years when Wallis Farms wouldn’t think of shutting down in mid-August for a vacation. They’ve harvested in the past as early as Aug. 23. That will not be the case this year.
The farm team is still hoping their earliest planted May corn will be ready to harvest by Sept. 16-20. “That’s my target date. It will all be determined on whether we get enough heat units by then,” he said.
Recent rains have been sporadic, depending on where fields are located and ranged from 1/10 inch to .75 inches. Wallis Farms may be based near Princeton, Indiana, but it is spread over 35 miles and two states. While the corn needs moisture to continue adding density, Wallis is more concerned about soybeans. Late planted soybeans continue to bloom and the pods that exist in many late-planted fields are still tiny; he has concerns about whether they will have time to fill. Late pod abortion is also a worry, he noted.
He has some acres that were planted mid-July. “They’ve come a long ways and have almost canopied the 20-inch row, but they aren’t shin-tall yet,” Wallis said.
This week, the USDA-NASS Crop Progress Report indicated that overall, Indiana is struggling as much as any state when it comes to corn condition — 8% very poor; 19% poor; 41% fair; 28% good and 4% excellent. Soybeans were rated at 7% very poor; 19% poor; 41% fair; 29% good and 4% excellent.
Maturity of the corn crop remains a big concern. On Aug. 19, USDA reported 43% of the Indiana crop in the dough stage compared to 84% last year and 76% as a five-year average.
Next up on the agenda at the home farm is to start getting bins ready and dryers set up for what will likely be a heavy drying year. “How wet this corn will be and how much gas it is going to take to dry it will be the theme this fall,” Wallis said. The farm dries with natural gas.
It’s been a rough year and Wallis said they try to stay optimistic. “Harvest is usually something we really look forward to, but we’re thinking ahead to 2020 to stay positive.
“We’ve continued to talk among us as to how we could have done better in 2019, and the reoccurring theme is a second planter. So that’s on the shopping list,” he said.
Meanwhile, he can’t totally dismiss what he thinks this fall will be like. Yield monitor watching will be a thing this fall. “I expect to see the widest variations ever as we go through the field this year.
“When we have a bumper crop, it’s just a matter of whether those numbers are really good or mind boggling. This year I expect to see some really good, and from there it will be all over the place. I expect it won’t be unusual to see 100 to 150 bushel swings in the same field from low to high,” he said.
ASHLEY ANDERSON: BLAIR, NEBRASKA
Things have been rolling at Andersen Farms. Grain bin cleanout and hauling grain to market in anticipation of harvest is on the chore list this week, said Ashley Andersen, who farms near Blair, Nebraska, with her husband Jarett and his parents, Tim and Kim Andersen.
Getting the shop cleaned out and cleared for the combine to enter for routine maintenance was also on the work list. A new grain bin has gone up and is scheduled to be wired and finished this week.
Jarett has also been on the road frequently hauling cattle, she added. “There’s been sort of a mania connected with this crop year, and while Jarett always has his farming hat on, there’s times when I think he feels pressure to put that trucker hat on — just in case.
“Trucking dollars are sure dollars in the pocket at the end of the week and are hard to pass up,” she added. Some required repairs on the semi kept the men busy in the shop this week too.
Given the flooding and early start to the season, Ashley said she would never have expected for their area to be one of the brighter spots for potential yields. “We’re trying not to over hope, but so far everything looks pretty good around here.
“That dry spell we had in July hurt us a little. But overall, our yield checks last week indicated we are looking at average to slightly above average yields on corn and soybeans,” she said.
USDA-NASS pegged Nebraska conditions leading the nation with 59% of the state’s crop viewed as good and 15% excellent. While dough and dented percentages show delayed maturity, the state overall is not as far behind as others. The state’s soybean condition also led the U.S. this week at 62% good and 10% excellent.
One field the Andersen’s were never able to plant due to flooding is also showing productive weed-producing ability. The family was finally able to get oats planted on those swampy acres, but that crop has been no match for weed pressure. “What to do on that field is the current hot topic,” Ashley said.
Recent rains may be adding test weight and helping fill soybean pods, but they have also kicked the yard into gear, she noted. “I suddenly can’t keep up with the mowing around here,” she said.
Early September is the earliest the farm has ever harvested, but that date will be likely extended this year into early October, Jarett said. “Grain moisture is definitely something we’re worried about this year,” he said. “But it’s a little too early to tell where we will be with that.
“Looking ahead to 2020, field days are starting here,” Jarett added, noting that those are good places to learn about new products. “We’ve got an eye on fertilizer prices and watching for good times to lock in some prices.”
Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
Source: Pam Smith, DTN
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