Friday, August 17, 2012

Irrigation Wrap Up

I haven't posted for awhile, alright a loooong while. It is hard to believe that fall is approaching and schools are starting.

This has been the summer of the drought. All growing season has been early, planting in mid April, etc. Irrigation was not different. We started running the pivots on June 14 and started the gravity soon after. I have never laid out pipe before June 20 and ths year we were across most of the corn the first time by June 20.

We will be starting our 6th rotation on the gravity irrigation on corn on Monday, yikes. Hopefully this will be the last time for the corn crop. The soybeans will take two more shots. Normally we run at most 4 rotations, usually we can get by with 3 rotations with a few rain events helping out. Not this year.

We received a total of 1.5" of rain at our home place in June & July combined. August has been a little more kind, but still has given only about 1" so far. Through all this we have not had one day off irrigating somewhere since June 14.

The rain in July did not come without its terrible relative, hail. The corn around our house had about 60% defoliation of the upper leaves. Luckily the lower leaves are still intact and will feed some to the developing corn ears The crop insurance adjuster is estimating a maximum loss of 25% on much of our corn. He hopes it will be less but estimates on the high side.

We do carry insurance on all of our crops, since that is all the income we have. We carry both multi-peril insurance that is subsidized by USDA and production hail insurance.

For those who care, multi-peril is for catastrophic losses. They pay up to 75% of your average historic yield. We hope to never file a claim on that, but did last year on one field. The hail insurance is just for hail losses. It covers from the expected yield down to the 75% level that the multi-peril covers. Crop insurance is very complicated and even I can't keep all the details straight.

We have ben out pulling a few ears, estimating what our yields will be when the combine starts through. What we are seeing is very encouraging. Ear sizes are good to great. Now if the kernels will continue to fill out and get long. The cool nights we are having right now are great. That is what the corn needs to finish off the crop.

Soybean pod counts are also looking good. They are still  blooming and setting more pods. More water and sun is needed but should be fine.

We are expecting an early harvest, why should things change? We will start on high moisture corn for a neighboring feedlot around Labor Day. That is 2-4 weeks early. Soybeans are about 2 weeks early as well, which is a huge surprise.

Soybeans are a light sensitive crop, they use the day length to start blooming and setting pods. The large amount of sunlight we have had this summer (no rain=no clouds) has sped them up.

In a couple of weeks we will be picking up our irrigation pipe. If any of you want to tone up your upper body, come on out and we'll give you a free workout. :-)