This week encouraged many folks to “scratch” around. Waterway jobs, field tile, and a little bit of tillage. I anticipate floaters and a few planters to start to be seen this coming week.
Ross Albert is a first-generation farmer near Heyworth. He and his wife, Kathleen, raise corn, soybeans, hay, and operate a small freezer beef business.
April 5, 2021: A week to 'scratch' around
April 12, 2021: Green flag ready to drop
Up until the rain, we saw a fair amount of field activity including some bean planters. Soils worked nicely anywhere a tillage tool ran. The weekend brought 1.5 inches of rain or more from local reports. Cool temperature and wet soils will keep most everything parked for the next several days. This should be the week to put any finishing touches on spring equipment. Hopefully the kinks are worked out and the next period of dry and warm temperature will be very productive. I anticipate the green flag will drop just about everywhere on the next stretch of good weather.
April 19, 2021: First planted beans cracking through
Cold and dry. We saw several bean planters rolling and a handful of corn planters. The first planted beans are just starting to crack through. This will be a spring to learn just how hardy these beans are.
April 26, 2021: It's 'go time,' even for conservative operators
Some folks sneaked a few acres in late last week in between rains. This week is go time for even the conservative operations. I expect the crop planting progress to take a jump this week, especially if we miss the mid-week rains. Earliest planted beans are beginning to emerge. It doesn’t appear the frost hurt much.
Introducing Ross Albert
Ross Albert is a first-generation farmer near Heyworth. He and his wife, Kathleen, raise corn, soybeans, hay, and operate a small freezer beef business. To help support the farm and their four children, Ross also works for First Mid Bank and Trust as a loan officer. Their farming operation is rooted in creative thinking, and a willingness to try new things, including conducting several third party research trials each year. The theme for 2021 is “margin management,” he said, looking to maximize ROI during a year with higher projected revenues with increasing costs of production climbing as well.
July 5, 2021: Grain markets look rewarding
The higher drained ground is looking amazing. The low areas, which held water most of the week, will likely need attention in the coming week. Sprayers will roll again as farms dry out. Scout heavily for disease and keep this crop healthy. The grain markets suggest your efforts should be rewarded.
June 7, 2021: Corn hits its stride
The corn crop hit its stride this past week with sun and heat. The weeds did too. A lot of hay got baled as well. Most pre-plant herbicides have run their course, making post applications needed on many acres. My sidedress applications were finished up over the weekend. In-season nitrate tests called for more N than anticipated. I will be shifting gears and focused on pest management — keeping the flies off the cows and the weeds out of the field.
June 14, 2021: War on weeds has begun
This past week brought heat and scattered showers. The majority of my farms caught little to no rain but I was lucky on a couple farms to catch more than 2 inches. When driving, the effects of things like compaction, poor seed bed, shallow planting, etc. really show up during times of stress. Weed pressure is on, and the war on weeds has begun. Keep scouting, as the crop will begin to speak to us more and more.
June 21, 2021: Looser the sed bed, worse the wind damage
This past week started with drought and heat stress followed up by much-needed rain. Reports range from 0.5 to 1.5 inches. We saw some downed corn that came with the rain event as well. As I scouted this weekend, I found that the looser the seed bed, the worse the wind damage. Fall tillage followed by a soil finisher pass had the most down corn. No till and minimal till acres fared much better. Weed management is in full swing as well. On Father’s Day my daughter and I picked several flowers off soybeans from my early April bean planting. I will keep pampering this crop, as we have gotten lucky with some timely rains that will keep us heading in the right direction for the time being.
June 28, 2021: 'We will have a crop to harvest'
This week brought excess rain in my little area. Some farms received 9-plus inches in the past week, resulting in several acres under water. While the ponds and rivers in the field can be discouraging, I go back to something an old farmer told me years ago, “A flood can scare you, but a drought can starve you.” We will have a crop to harvest, and at the end of the day let’s be thankful for what we do have. Once the waters recede we will have plenty of debris to clean up and eventually try to get back into spraying and tending to the crop.
May 3, 2021: Initial stand counts promising
This week there was intermittent opportunities to get some acres planted. When it was dry the conditions were as good as they have been all season considering we finally got the soil temps up. You can row all the early April corn and beans that were planted. Initial stand counts suggest those acres will be fine.
May 10, 2021: 'On edge' with wet ground, cool temps
Most folks were able to make another push this past week, with many getting done planting and the rest approaching the finish line. This weekend we saw around 2.5 inches of rain in a short period causing some ponding and washing. This combined with cool temperatures will put us all on edge for a moment as we pray to get this crop fully emerged and off to a good start. We will be watching emergence, getting side dress rigs ready, and preparing for post spraying corn.
May 17, 2021: Small windows for field work
This past week provided small windows for some field work. A few acres got planted, some side dress rigs running and a few sprayers. I estimate that 90% of my area is planted. These rains will hopefully loosen up some of the crust created from the Mother’s Day rain event and let the late April and early May planted crops emerge. As I reflect on the planting season, it suggests that waiting for perfect planting conditions may have led to your seed still sitting in the shed.
May 24, 2021: Countryside in full swing
Heat has arrived and good growth has followed for every crop. The few acres that needed to be covered should be fit again to work. Post emerge spraying and side dressing is starting to begin. The first cutting of hay is starting, and it feels like the countryside is in full swing.
May 31, 2021: War on weeds under way
This week of heat was welcome for this young crop. Early to mid-April plantings have the best stand counts and most even emergence. We are now beginning our war on weeds. Post spraying is in full swing in between showers and wind. Now is the time to scout often and make notes of areas for improvement. This crop needs a lot of attention yet but hopefully we can spread the workload out a little more as we go into summer.
July 12, 2021: Rain makes grain, but sun needed too
This past week provided a short opportunity for field work. I sprayed some fungicide and herbicide on targeted fields ahead of the rain. This past weekend brought an inch-plus of rain across most of the area. The wet holes and bottom ground officially died off last week from the June 25 flooding. Rain makes grain, however, at this point it would be good to have a little sun to go with it. Many acres have tasseled and are shedding pollen. Going forward we need to keep an eye on disease and insect pressure and keep this crop healthy.
July 19, 2021: A week of extreme weather
This past week brought some extreme weather in my small area. I had farms receive over 8 inches of rain and others less than 2 inches. The good news is it didn’t do much more damage to the crop than what the late June floods had done already. Before the rain, crop dusters were buzzing around applying fungicide. I was able to get a few acres sprayed by ground early in the week before the rain. I still think pampering this crop is the right move. We have all the moisture needed and moderate temperatures, it only seems right to work to keep the bugs and disease out. We will take what Mother Nature gives us and manage accordingly. As my 4-year-daughter likes to repeat, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
July 31, 2021: Starting to focus on harvest prep
The past week we dried out from the flooding the week before. Applicators are running hard both by ground and air. While I will still be managing pests and keeping the farm clean, I will start to focus on harvest preparations. We started a grain bin construction project and pulled the combine out for the first time to start a round of maintenance.
August 2, 2021: Optimistic about yields
This past week brought two gentle showers to our area. At the moment it appears our disease and insect pressure is pretty minimal. We have found some corn fields with sporadic aborted kernels that didn’t appear to get pollinated, likely due to our continuous rain events. Cooler temperatures will slow down the maturity of this crop, hopefully leading to good kernel depth. I am still optimistic about yields despite our challenges.
August 9, 2021: Fix, repair is focus as harvest nears
This week brought some small and manageable rain events. I sprayed what I believe to be my last batch of fungicide. Fix and repair is a focus now as we approach harvest. My initial kernel counts suggest good yields on corn. I hear chatter of crazy high yield checks, but to date I have not found them from my calculations.
August 16, 2021: Focusing on harvest prep
This past week brought heat and some more showers. Some farms saw another 5-plus inches. We should have the moisture to fill beans pods and keep this corn moving. Earlier corn hybrids are starting to dent. We continue to focus on harvest preparation, working to build a new grain bin and working on harvest equipment. Yield checks continue to suggest an above average yield.
August 23, 2021: Turning wrenches to prep for fall
This past weekend brought very spotty showers. Some farms received over an inch while some just a tenth. The past week’s heat pushed the crop along. Many corn hybrids are starting to cannibalize the lower leaves and focus all energy on filling kernels. As I scout, I believe test weights will be good and kernel depth will add to the top end of this corn crop. Early maturity beans are just starting to turn. Folks are trying to finish the last of their summer projects and vacations before harvest. We keep turning wrenches getting ready for fall.
August 30, 2021: Week brings heat, showers, armyworms
This past week brought heat and scattered showers. It also brought an infestation of armyworms to our area. Hay fields and pastures are the hardest hit. Some are well above economic threshold to spray. Some neighbors are likely needing to spray twice. Field days and farm shows are in full swing despite the heat. The heat is pushing the maturity of the crop along quickly. We will keep working on getting ready for harvest while keeping our eye on 2022 and beyond. Many have started preliminary crop plans for 2022, booking inputs with the fear of supply shortages and even further increased costs to come.
Sept. 6, 2021: Concerned about crop quality
This past week brought cooler temperatures and very scattered showers. My latest observations have me getting a little concerned about stalk quality on corn, and standability on the beans is none too impressive either. There are rumors of operators looking to start harvesting corn fields with wind damage in the coming weeks. There are some grain buyers offering premiums and drying discounts to encourage grain to start to be harvested. Armyworms continue to create problems in hay ground. While there is a high quantity of hay, there is not much high quality hay to be had from 2021 in my area.
Sept. 13, 2021: Cooler temps, sun and wind
This past week brought cooler temperatures, sun and wind. This allowed for some very high-quality hay to be made. The corn crop has rapidly matured mostly due to disease. Rapid maturity of this crop is resulting in much lighter test weights and lower-than-expected yields, according to early reports. It is likely worth scouting for stalk rot and standability. This corn may need attention sooner rather than later. I anticipate many operations will nose into corn this week and look to start fully next week. Soybeans are slowly turning, but most fields are likely a couple weeks out yet.
Sept. 20, 2021: Corn yield good, but less than expected
This past week many operators got started harvesting. In general most yield reports are less than expected. Several diseases are the culprit to robbing yield. We may look to start into beans in the next few days after the rain expected early in the week. Hopefully the beans will surprise us, while the corn continues to be good but less than expected.
Sept. 27, 2021: Hammering toward finish line
Everyone is plugging away. Stalk quality on corn continues to deteriorate, and more and more corn is going down. Many have stayed in corn, although most beans are fit to cut. Fungicide sure looks like it will pay in 2021. We will keep hammering on it here and keep working closer to the finish line.
Oct. 4, 2021: Standability concerns on corn
The past week was very productive for many. Most focused on corn with standabilty concerns. What beans were cut are showing some huge yields. As disappointing as the corn has been, the beans are as impressive. Many are rained out for the next couple days. This is welcome as field fires have begun to become a real concern. Once we dry out there will be another push with some getting finished up with a week or so of good running.
Ocr. 11, 2021: End of harvest in sight
This past week brought rain, so people stayed on corn to finish up. The last two days more jumped into soybean cutting. Now everyone is hammering down to get as much done as they can before today’s (Oct. 11) rain. In another 10 days, if there is sun and wind, it will be hard to find a field not harvested in this area.
Oct. 18, 2021: Rain pushes farmers out of fields
Last week brought more rain. It pushed most everyone out of the field. Many need to make a big run at soybeans at this point. We should get the opportunity for that push this week. I used the rain days to catch up on book work, finalize 2022 crop plans and pre-paying inputs.
Oct. 25, 2021: Catching up on book work and repairs
I finished harvest for my farm this weekend. I still have neighbors that will need help once it dries out. We had more than 3 inches of rain on Sunday. I will use this week to catch up on book work, fix what’s broken and be ready to hit it again when the time comes.
Nov. 1, 2021: Looking forward to dry forecast
This past week we accumulated around 5 inches of rain. We are looking forward to the dry forecast. I used the past week to clean up my books, visit clients, attend some land auctions and work on equipment. As soon as it’s passable, I will be going to work for some neighbors looking to get any crops left out. We have plenty of tillage and dirt work to do yet. Hopefully November will give us those days to get all of the to-do list done.
Nov. 8, 2021: Great weather for bean cutting
I got one neighbor’s corn done this past week and started in on another’s beans. The weather is great for bean cutting and a lot of machines are running as hard as they can. Fall ammonia is going on as well. This is a big push and hopefully many can see the finish line. Land auctions continue to set new records and commodity prices struggle.
Nov. 15, 2021: Worn out iron held up
This past week I hammered on beans for a neighbor again. We got rained out before we got done so we will be waiting to clean up the equipment until all the neighbors are done. Land sales continue to shock and awe, setting new records. Many got a good start at ammonia applications last week and should start back in latter this week. My winter repair list continues to grow but I am thankful for how well my old and worn out iron fared this season.
Nov. 22, 2021: Keep eyes open, head on a swivel
This past week brought decent weather to continue with fall field work. A few beans are still needing to be cut. In between field work, I and many others are cleaning up book work, tax planning, getting inputs prepaid etc. The 2022 season has already begun! All inputs have increased dramatically and margins have compressed. I have run enterprise budgets and cost analysis possibly more than ever with the mission of trying to project the best net margins possible. Keep your eyes open and head on a swivel.
Nov. 29, 2021: 'Unprecedented challenges, opportunities'
The 2021 growing seasons presented unprecedented challenges and unprecedented opportunities for our small farm. I experienced two 10-inch rain events, the most disease pressure on corn I have ever seen, record soybean yields, fine profit margins and rapid inflation. Every year is different, and this one will be unforgettable. The Alberts feel very blessed and lucky for what 2021 has provided. This is a season that will help us young farmers earn our stripes and be more prepared for the next ones to come!