Commercial Corn, Seed Corn, Soybeans
Our Commercial Corn operation is unique to our area because for over a decade we have been performing fall strip tillage. Strip tillage is the process of making a 6 inch wide strip of lightly tilled solid to plant in the following Spring. The strips are laid out with the help of RTK Autosteer so the planter will exactly match them to the next Spring. The strip tillage machine also applies fertilizer precisely controlled by the RTK System, a computer and flow valves. By Spring the strips are very mellow and are warmer than the surrounding residue covered land, thus making a nearly optimum seed bed for the corn. We perform two herbicide applications, the first being before the corn emerges and the second when the corn is taller. The first application controls early season broadleaves and provides grass control. The second application controls broadleaves and grass escapes. Scouting is done all growing season by a professional crop scout, Jay Johnson, as well as ourselves. Early in the season crop emergence, bugs, and weed pressure are monitored. During the middle of the season we check for insects and weed escapes are monitored. We also scout mid-season for any fertilizer deficiencies, root development, borer infestation and general plant health. During late season scouting pollination, root development, and stand are monitored.The final step is reaping what was sown. This is the step where we find if our decisions made throughout the year along with mother nature’s cooperation were correct. We are thankful for the good harvest team and the help of all through the year.
Seed Corn is raised much like commercial corn. The Strip-Till, herbicide and fertilization are the same, the main difference being seed corn has a pollen parent and a seed parent. Sometimes the pollen parent is called the male or bull corn and the seed parent is called female corn. The pollen parent is planted every fourth row and only the pollen is used from that plant. It is destroyed after the pollen is shed. The seed parent is planted in frames of four rows with a pollen parent on each side of the frame. The pollen parent and seed parent sometimes must be planted at different times so the pollen will shed while the female is producing silks. The seed parent is used only for the ear or seed, therefore the pollen producing tassel on the seed parent must be removed before it sheds. The pollen from the pollen parent makes its way to the seed parent’s silk. The resulting seed on the female corn has the traits of both the male and female corn, thus the term Hybrid seed. Plant Breeders can now develop chemical and insect resistant hybrids by breeding traits into the seed. Traits can help reduce the use of herbicides and insecticides as well as make the corn more valuable for its particular use.
In our operation we No-Till our soybeans. We feel that by not disturbing the soil, and leaving the previous year’s corn residue we have less risk for erosion, and a higher probability of gaining soil back. We plant our soybeans directly into the previous year’s cornstalks. Careful residue management is required when harvesting the previous year’s crop. The residue must be spread evenly over the field as to not create cold, wet spots the following Spring. The planter has attachments to move and slice the residue from the row. Two or three herbicide application trips are used on the soybeans. The first, or burn-down, application is before the beans are planted. The second application is mid-June and the third sometimes right before the beans canopy. Recently insects, such as bean leaf beetles and aphids, have caused us to make another trip. Scouting is done the whole growing season on soybeans. During the early part of the season things such as emergence, bugs, and early season weeds are monitored. In the mid to late season insects, weeds, rust and general plant health are observed. Time plays a critical role when harvesting soybeans. We grow seed beans that are to be planted the following year so it is imperative that the beans do not get cracked or split and are harvested at the correct moisture. It is also important to handle them gently and keep them pure during storage. Although less labor intensive, soybean harvest still requires big days. The seed must be harvested when conditions are ideal. Cloudy high humidity days can even stop soybean harvest. Many times, harvest will begin at noon when conditions are right and run well into the night.