2011 was a challenging year early in the season. We endured very wet conditions and struggled to get all the crop into the ground. We did get most of the corn and soybeans in, however some areas remained too wet and just couldn't be planted as it got to be too late in the growing season. Weed control was interesting this year as the spraying conditions were far from optimal due to all the rain! 1/2 tank loads were common to avoid getting stuck, but we were thankful we used some pre-emergent chemical to hold the weeds off a little longer (many corn fields could only be hit with the first round of spray due to the wet conditions and rapid growth once the weather improved).
This rapid growth left the corn susceptible to significant "green-snap" during some later spring/early summer storms. A few of these storms produced tornado's in the area this year as well. There was also another aphid outbreak in the soybeans this year. This seems to be the norm now in the area so we were glad to have the option to buy an aphid tolerant soybean variety through REA Hybrids this year. My son Brady and his wife Shanna are now selling corn and soybeans under the Farm Business Services dealer name. REA Hybrids is it's own brand and has Monsanto traits and technology when it comes to genetics and is based out of Aberdeen, SD.
Harvest went well as far as weather goes, but the yields were down especially when talking corn! Many areas had drowned out low spots which yielded next to nothing (not to mention some if not all of the Nitrogen fertilizer leached away due to the wet conditions) and a couple fields had severe "green-snap"/breakage which resulted in a loss in yield as well. We don't usually use it, but this year was one of those year's we were glad we had a REVENUE PROTECTION plan of insurance in place. The soybeans ended up being pretty good even though there were wet conditions early and some hail storms on two of the fields. The aphid tolerant variety never needed to be sprayed for bugs. At most there were 2-10 aphids on a couple plants here and there (which was well below the 150-200 count threshold). The early field stuck in "minimal'/"no-till" before the first big spring rain was one of the better fields (this was also the aphid tolerant variety). Dry fall conditions made for a quick fall harvest and led to an opportunity for improved fall tillage and ditching preparation for the 2012 crop year.
We deep-banded our P & K again this year, but also including some fall Nitrogen in this process with a prescription rate! The ground was very hard because of the lack of precipitation so it was a little hard on equipment. I remember hearing about several shanks breaking of the tillage equipment. Find it and fix it with the spare parts on hand was a common theme this fall. The disk ripper worked great this year and most of the corn acres were hit with that. We were also able to break-up some compacted headlands in the soybean fields too. Scraping and ditching seemed to be a never ending task this year with the very dry conditions allowing an abundant amount of time to complete any dirt work! Hopefully it will all pay off in 2012!
Here's to a challenging year under the belt. We're looking forward to a great 2012. Marketing decisions, insurance decisions and potential equipment updates will rule the next several months! Strong markets are in place, so let's hope for a more normal start to 2012 so we can capitalize on them this year!