Corn Roots in Rotovated Soil

July 21, 2014

DSCF1776

 

I expressed some concern when I rotovated the soil in the spring that the smeared soil at the bottom of the rotovated soil may prove difficult for corn roots to penetrate.  So I decided to dig up a plant to check.  If the roots had a difficult time they would be turned and/or short.

I took these photos June 24th, and am pleased to see that this corn plant appears to have had no problem.  By the looks of the rest of the field, its safe to say my fears were unfounded.

DSCF1779


Contour Strip Cropping, Farm Update

July 19, 2014

DSCF1817

There must be some sort of dubious record I am setting this year.  The top photo was taken July 6th.  It shows the contour strips, which is how we farm the hillsides in Wisconsin to prevent soil erosion.

The green in the foreground is a little strip of hay next to the road which was cut and baled in June.  Next up in the photo is very mature, cut hay.  Yes, the last of first cutting was made in July.  The green strip in the middle of the photo is hay which was cut and baled in May, and is now ready to be cut for a second time.  The light colored strip above that is my oats and hay new seeding which is cut and drying, waiting to be baled.

So, yes, I made first cutting hay in May, June, and July.  I know of no other farmer who is as on the ball, and behind, as myself.  At least I’m still laughing.

DSCF1782

 

The bottom photo shows my sweet corn on June 26th.  Beyond the sweet corn are the farrowing huts.  I’ve had 14 beautiful June litters.  Beyond the farrowing huts are my grass-finished steers.  I started them grazing hay fields at the end of June.


2014 Corn Height, 4th of July

July 4, 2014

DSCF1816Here we are again, another year older, striving for wiser.  I’m attempting organic sweet corn this year.  The last time I tried it was about ten years ago and it looked like I was a foxtail farmer.  This iteration is looking much better.  Pumpkins are growing in the foreground.

 

 


Hummingbird Moth Caterpillar

June 30, 2014

DSCF1795

The forage peas continued to grow, reaching over four feet in height.  They are flowering now and producing pods.  I snapped these photos when I turned the sows into fresh pasture.  The caterpillar in the bottom photo is a big one, and the second one I’ve seen, so I decided to try and identify it.

It looks like its a White-lined sphinx caterpillar, (Hyles lineata), commonly known as the Hummingbird moth.  This is exciting to me because I’ve only seen a Hummingbird moth once in my life.  They’re really cool because they look like a hummingbird, until you watch their movements and realize they’re too slow to be a hummingbird.

I read a book this winter, “Attracting Native Pollinators,”  by the Xerces society.  It’s all about what we can do to improve the habitat for our native pollinators.  In a future post I plan to share some of the fun plantings I’ve done this spring.

DSCF1797


Sweet Corn Update, June 2014

June 25, 2014

DSCF1773

I cultivated between the rows on June 16th.  The soil was quite dry.  We received five inches of rain over the following four days.  I snapped these photos the morning of June 20th.

Now the corn is too tall for mechanical cultivation, so we are left with hand weeding.  We’ve been doing some of that, especially around my garden area.  That’s the beautiful thing with organic production, I can plant other crops amongst the corn and not worry about the herbicide killing them.

The bottom photo shows where I ran out of corn for a couple of rows.  Instead of panicking, I planted pole beans and squash and pumpkin in the empty rows.  Since this picture was taken, I weeded and mulched and put up a fence for the pole beans to climb on and it’s looking pretty good.

DSCF1770

 

I have mixed feelings about the weed control.  On the plus side, I definitely think I controlled the weeds enough that the corn yield will not be limited.  Research shows that much of a corn’s yield potential is determined at a very small size, (around four leaves I think).

But I can see a lot of weeds coming now.  I wonder if I let them escape and go to seed will the weed pressure continually worsen?  Maybe I have let too many weeds go to seed in the past?

I can see the allure of using herbicide to achieve a “clean” field.  It’s just that I can also see that there is no such thing as “clean”.  Life is messy!


Sorghum/Sudangrass and Forage Peas for Pig Pasture

June 20, 2014

DSCF1719

 

I planted two forages for a pig pasture this spring which are new to me.  I’m very pleased with the forage peas.  I’m not happy with the sorghum-sudangrass, but don’t feel I utilized it correctly.

I no-till planted both into last year’s pig pasture on April 23rd.  I used my single-disc John Deere grain drill, which is not considered a no-till drill, but works great when the ground is mallow in the spring.  I planted about 25 lbs to the acre for each.

Above you can see what most of the pasture looks like.  Three-foot high forage peas growing thickly.  The warm-season sorghum-sudangrass has been overpowered by the cool-season peas.

Below you can see an open area where each plant is growing side by side.  The sorghum-sudangrass is thriving here.  It looks like corn.  The pea is the green and white leaf on the left.

The sorghum-sudangrass is called Surpass BMR 6, and is from Lacrosse Seeds.  I can’t even find the forage pea on their website.  It’s safe to say the pea did better, but I believe it’s all in how I used them.

Planting them together and early in the spring is an advantage for the peas, and the results bear witness.  I shouldn’t have planted them together, but I wanted to try both plants and wasn’t sure I would have another spot to plant in this year.  Waiting another year is just too much.

I also think the sorghum-sudangrass would have like to have been planted deeper, but no-till into mallow ground worked great for the pea.  On a side note, Buckwheat no-tills very well in the spring, although it is not supposed to tolerate frost.

 

DSCF1709

 

I couldn’t resist including the photo below with my model sow amongst the purple and red flowers of alfalfa and red clover.  The sow was pictured last September as a gilt with her beautiful litter.  She has large, erect ears, which make it seem as if everything is exciting to her.  Maybe everything is.

DSCF1715


Father’s Day, 2014

June 15, 2014

IMG_0853

 

Happy Father’s Day!

This is a photo our friend Jeanenne took of my Dad helping me move farrowing huts about a month ago.  Click on the picture to enlarge, and click again for more detail.  She has a nice camera and took the photo without us even knowing it.  Zooming in changed the perception, though.

The bare dirt in the background is my Dad’s corn field about a quarter mile away.  The white water tower with the Redbird on it is about three miles away as the crow flies.  In the foreground you can see how tall the rye bordering the sweet corn has grown.  There are some flags in the sweet corn field where I planted squash and pumpkins.

When Jeanenne gave me this photo she told me how nice it is to see family working together.  And she’s right, that’s one of the benefits of farming.  I’ve spent many hours working with my Dad.

There is also a little time for play.  I remember one Christmas, Dad  put up a basketball hoop in the barn.  My sisters being too little to play against me, I always bugged Dad to play.  He would usually indulge me in a quick game, especially after chores were done.

Thank you, Dad!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers