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Three Midwestern growers share the ups and downs of 2013 and look into plans for next year.
Southwest Iowa farmer Jerry Fine seemed confident in late July that his corn yields would turn out just fine this year as long as the weather cooperates for him through harvest.
“Right now, we have had only about an inch and a quarter of rain here in the last several weeks. We have had a break in the heat, which has helped us a lot,” said Fine. “We have a real potential, but if we don’t get any more rain before too long, it’s going to hurt our crop substantially. But right now, we’re looking at a fairly decent crop.”
Fine said that if any further stress could be avoided for his corn crop this year, he predicted a potential of 130 to 150 bushel corn from his fields. Compared to last year’s drought-stricken corn crop, he says that will be a major improvement.
Fine’s biggest challenge this spring, like many others around the Midwest, was dealing with the very wet weather.
“It caused our corn not to root down, and then all of a sudden it turned cool early, and we had a little trouble with stand in our beans,” said Fine.
Others in his area have had to make some crucial adjustments because of late planting this year.
“I’ve heard from some of the guys around here that they’re going to 105-day corn and they’re looking at maybe 140 bushel if we don’t get a return of the heat and we get a little bit more moisture,” he said.
When asked about how he thinks his soybeans will turn out, Fine seemed a bit uneasy. “Our beans are kind of later out here and an early frost is not going to be anything we’re going to look forward to,” he said. “This year really makes a person nervous.”
Looking ahead to harvest time, he still has some decisions to make about the equipment he’ll use.
“I’ve got an L [Gleaner] that I’ve had for several years. I just keep working on it and repairing it and it’s been reliable but I’m at the point where I’m not sure what I’m going to do for this upcoming fall,” he said.
John Deere and AGCO brands seem to be his top two choices if he were to consider making the move, but he wouldn’t buy new.
“There are some combines out there that are just a couple of years old that I think would be good enough for me to get by,” said Fine. “Probably like a lot of others, I’m just waiting to see what this crop’s going to do before I jump over the edge.”
Looking even further down the road to 2014, Fine has big plans to try something new for the next growing season.
“I’m pretty sure that I’m going to go with some cover crops next year. I have not done that yet, and there’s a lot of interest in it,” he said. “I think I’m probably going to use some for a cover crop on ground that I farm, and I’m probably going to use some of the cover crops for utilization for livestock where I’ll bale it and use it as hay.” Fine also has considered a late fall or early spring grazing program with the cover crops.
Fine developed an interest in cover crops through several test plots in his area where they are mixing radishes and turnips.
“The exact mixture I’ll go with -- I don’t know -- but I’d almost bet that I’d go with radishes and rye for sure,” he said.
Some concerns he has about cover crops revolve around their effect on the many terraces in the land in southwest Iowa.
“Am I going to have to kill the rye off the terraces? And just how much nitrogen are we actually going to get from the radishes?” he asks. “There’s a lot of questions to be answered yet.”