Brothers Jack and Gary Appleby, longtime members of the Team FIN group of farmers, seem to be on top of their game this year when it comes to their equipment. Farm Industry News interviewed Jack for this story, who said they had already placed an order this spring for the brand new Kinze 4900 24-row planter with electric drive that he saw at the 2013 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky.

“We had been keeping tabs on what Kinze had been doing. We’re getting along fine with the planter we have from Kinze but it seems like everybody’s trying to improve something, and then we heard of the electric drive,” said Appleby. “And I think the electric drive portion is even American made.”

Appleby plans on setting up the new planter once it arrives for spring 2014 planting to be able to apply insecticide on all his corn acres. Recent corn rootworm pressure has pushed him toward a blanket insecticide application.

“Hopefully we’re a step ahead of the game by doing this. Studies are showing that you can gain another two or three bushels an acre by going ahead and just using insecticides on everything and being done with it,” he said.

Another piece of equipment they just traded in for this last winter was the RoGator sprayer with GPS guidance and automatic shut-off. Appleby says the cost savings will be significant over time due to the elimination of waste when the sprayer shuts off precisely at the end of a row.

LOOKING AHEAD

When asked about other technologies he uses on his farm, Appleby says he’s been hesitant about adopting variable-rate planting.

“I guess it’s getting pretty popular. We have some variance in very few fields where it might help. We’re so flat here in Illinois -- it’s not what I would call a lot of variance,” he said. “Some places where it rolls a little bit you might have clay hills where there’s no need to plant a high rate of corn because it’s just not going to pan out. I can see it [variable rate] coming down the road; probably using it to a prescription.” But Appleby noted he would need to be shown that the investment will pay off in order for him to invest in variable rate planting.

This year, it was late April before the Appleby brothers really started to plant their corn, and it was well past May 10 when they were finished. Regardless of late planting, Appleby remained optimistic about yields.

“Anytime in this area, the 10th or 15th of May is when you start losing your yield on corn. The corn sure looks good at this point because we’ve had so much rain. Things are looking good. I think we’ll be a little bit above average [on yields],” he said.

While he can’t predict what the weather will do, he’s also optimistic about his soybean yields. “As long as we keep the showers coming I think beans will be above average, too,” he said.

However, Appleby did have to re-spray a couple of his soybean fields.

“We’re at the point where nothing is sprayed with just Roundup anymore. You have got to tank mix it with something else,” he said. “There’s too much resistance to Roundup out there now. We’ve been doing a lot of fall burndown. This fall, weather permitting, we will spray 100% for fall burndown; that’ll help get rid of winter annuals.

10 or 15, maybe 20 years ago we were saving a lot of money because we got to use Roundup. It was a cheap fix but now, boy, the price is really creeping up since you’ve got to tank mix and do a lot of other things.”

One more way Appleby plans to increase his efficiency is during harvest this fall. He hopes to harvest all the corn with just one machine.

“That way it frees Gary or I up to drive a truck also instead of getting some part time labor,” he said. “It just saves us a little bit of money here and there.”