Confused Winter = Opportunity

Have you seen the weather forecast for the week ahead?

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A year ago we wondered if a snow storm might prohibit farmers from making their way to the Winter Innovation Forum (it didn’t, but the way; 700 growers showed up) and this year we wonder if potential attendees may be planting corn.

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Mother Nature is sure playing an interesting card and keeping temperatures above freezing for the next 15 days. The problem with abnormally warm temperatures in February is that people begin to get a little too aggressive on their spring planning and a (very likely still to happen) cold snap could really mess up the best laid plans.

For instance:

crocuses-wallpaper-1343-1474-hd-wallpapersGrandma’s crocuses are coming up and she’s already looking for a reason to begin searching for perennials to plant. Crocuses are beautiful, but seeing them in February means their pretty buds may not make it through the month of March when the cold, true winter weather returns. Additionally, she’s already filled the north end of the dining room table with her garden starts, anxious to get seed in the ground. Now her dining room table only seats 3 instead of six; that’s why you’ll have to eat in shifts.

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Mom already washed and stored all of the coveralls in a wishful-thinking kind of way. She is hoping that Mother Nature is, in fact, a Mother and no mom in her right mind would want to bring out the worn out Carhartts once they’ve been double washed and stored.

 

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While the warm winter weather may seem like a good time to celebrate spring, the truth is that this is an ideal time to get fertilizer spread on your fields. Take advantage of the sunshine and dry days and prepare now for spring’s work load. Spreading fertilizer in February reduces future work load in the extremely busy spring days. Contact your YieldPro Specialist now to take advantage of this window in February to get some of April’s work done.

That way you have more time for other things, such as helping Grandma plant those tomatoes or lugging that 50 lb. tote of clean Carhartts up to the shop loft for your mother.

 

LAST CHANCE!! Register for the 2017 Winter Innovation Forum here

 

The WinField Crop Adventure

Growing up there was one phrase, comprised of only two words, which if spoken was sure to land you in a bad place.

“I’m bored.”

This brief declaration was usually followed by this powerful response: “Oh, I can fix that.”

Mom and Dad were always good for their word.

Picking up sticks or nails, hauling manure via wheelbarrow, sorting the recycling and smashing aluminum cans with a homemade steel tamper, stacking wood, pushing rocks up hills. The list of boredom-prevention exercises goes on and on. One summer morning I recall the hay tedder broke down and we actually tedded an entire hayfield by pitchfork. That was a fun day. A hot one, too.

I never looked at boredom the same way again.

Summer is in full swing and soon – believe it or not – the county fairs will be over and families will have a bit more free time to do some traveling. Ten days at Disney World livestock free, you ask?

Not likely.

However, there is a place that just opened that might feel a little like Disney World to a kid involved in agriculture.

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The Winfield Crop Adventure has officially opened at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. This hands-on exhibit is designed to fully engage participants in understanding exactly what it takes to grow food for a population growing quickly to 9 billion people. It’s very likely that the kids in your family “get it”, but this state-of-the-art exhibit is sure to educate and impress even the most seasoned agriculturalists. Yourself, included.

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What can you experience?

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food.
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmer use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Take your picture with your favorite bugs.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.
  • Find the right ag career for you.

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So pack up the kids, or grandkids, or the annoying neighbor kids who have absolutely no idea about food production, and head to Fair Oaks Farms to visit the new Winfield Crop Adventure. Teach everyone a thing or five while getting out of your home area and combatting the “I’m bored” scenario.

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Check out all Fair Oaks Adventures

Oh, and might we suggest a place for dinner on your way home? Culver’s has a fantastic partnership with America’s farmers and they’re actively working to help us tell our story. I highly recommend the double butter burger with fries and a vanilla snickers concrete mixer for dessert, but that may just be the boredom talking.

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Perception: A Game Changer

Perception, as you well know, can change things.

What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

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While driving to church Sunday I was surprised to see a family emerge from a field and approach the roadway. I instantly hit my breaks, slowing down to try to process the situation. Did they need help?

It only took a few seconds to realize what was going on: This family was being followed out of the field by a gal with a camera and some props. They were having family photos taken on this Sunday morning. I drove by slowly as they waited for me to pass, and while doing so I scouted the field, which served as the scenic background.

I thought to myself: A weed patch? They chose the middle of a weed patch to get photos taken?

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To me, it looked like a poorly managed field that was over run by butterweed.

To this family and the photographer, it was a field full of beautiful yellow wildflowers, serving as a perfect, bright landscape for spring photos.

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Perception, as you well know, can change things.
What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

While we’re not in the business to make photographers work harder to scout the perfect field of “wildflowers”, we are in the business of finding solutions for local farmers to increase yield and profits. One of those ways is to implement a fall herbicide program that burns down weeds long before they even become a twinkle in a photographer’s eye.

Here are points worth remembering to ensure that weeds – such as the beautiful butterweed –don’t rob your yield.

  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.
  • Pests that winter in crop fields can make their home in annual winter weeds. Be proactive and use a fall herbicide to prevent the pests from over-staying their welcome during the cold winter months. Your wife’s weird uncle already does enough of that around Christmas! Pests such as black cutworm and soybean cyst nematode are easier to control in the fall by eliminating winter weeds.
  • Seedling corn does not compete well with early-season weed competition. Weeds that reach over 4 inches in height before they are sprayed silently rob yield.
  • Soils warm more quickly where fall herbicides are applied. In fact, studies show that soil temperatures increase by as much as 5 degrees in corn and 8 degrees in soybeans when a residual fall herbicide was applied. This allows for faster planting and fewer delays for customers who exercise a fall burndown program.
  • Maximize your time: Fall months usually provide more days that are suitable for field work. A burndown application applied post-harvest allows farmers to be certain that when the spring weather (finally) arrives they can efficiently use their time  planting the next crop.
  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.

I collaborated with agronomist Steve Dlugosz to write this week and he gave the family photo shoot story and the idea of perception a laugh. He remembers watching the music video of John Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses on MTV and hearing the host remark about the beautiful, giant field of marigolds Mellencamp was dancing in.

Those weren’t marigolds; those were soybeans.

 

Ah, perception.

Potash and Profitability

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Indiana and Ohio producers are growing some of the best corn in the states’ history. But it’s important not to get lulled into a false sense of security: 25% of Indiana soils test below the critical level for potassium.

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In the video below Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz explains the importance of potash to a grower’s profitability and the three pitfalls to avoid in order to maintain the proper potassium levels needed to reach yield potential.

Contact your YieldPro Specialist to discuss the next steps in
Preserving the Potential of every acre you farm.