Robbins is a fifth-generation farmer preparing for his 40th season on his Peotone-area farm.
March 30: Introducing Jim Robbins
Jim Robbins is a fifth-generation farmer preparing for his 40th season working on the Peotone-area farm. He and his nephew, Mike, grow corn and soybeans. Their proximity to container-loading markets and river facilities is helpful in grain movement and marketing. They use conservation practices including no-till soybeans and strip-till corn with variable rate nutrient application and variable seeding rates. In the fall, they get extra help from Jim’s wife, Pam, as well as his brother and brother-in-law in driving grain carts and other harvest activities.
April 6: Seed and chemical deliveries
As the first week of April comes to a close, I have seen some dry fertilizer applied and oats planted. We are getting machinery ready and doing the never-ending job of trimming tree lines and repairing tile. If we could miss the rain expected this week, there will be a lot more field activity. We have tried to have all our seed and chemicals delivered just in case the COVID-19 virus affects our retailers. Stay safe with social distancing in the weeks to come.
April 13: Planting put on hold for later April
We lost a local farmer and good friend last week. A procession of 25 antique tractors passed through the cemetery to pay tribute. In the fields we have seen lots of activity: Corn was planted, anhydrous ammonia and dry fertilizer was applied. Mike and I worked on our new planter, filled in washes in our fields and sprayed Round-Up on wheat in a prevent plant field. We received 0.4 inches of rain on Saturday and Sunday. Upcoming week’s forecast is cold, maybe a little wet. Corn and soybean planting for most will start the third or fourth week of April, weather permitting.
April 20: 3-inch snow halts field work
Neighbors were out planting corn and soybeans last week. On Tuesday (April 14), we received an inch of snow and planting resumed that same afternoon. Thursday, we received 3 inches of wet snow which halted all field work for the rest of the week. Waiting now for warmer temperatures to begin spraying burndown on corn stalks and cover crops. That is our plan today (April 20) and to begin corn planting on Tuesday. We have put the sprayer and planter in the shop due to the cold night temperatures. Anxious to begin corn with the new planter. It will be good to have that first day to work the kinks out.
April 27: Tractors busy as far as the eye could see
Lots of activity for the week ending April 26. I believe there was a tractor doing tillage, sprayers, tiling, and planters as far as the eye could see. Many acres of corn and soybeans were seeded. Ground conditions were excellent, but we need a little more heat. Last year’s late planting and wet conditions still resonate on everyone’s mind — so with the good field conditions all are taking advantage. We received 1.3 inches of rain Friday night through Saturday so activity will be limited to equipment repair for the next few days. And for those wondering, the new planter is working quite well.
May 4: Lots of rain, ponding, unplanted fields
In the week ending May 3, we received a total of 4.2 inches of rain beginning April 25 and ending April 29 resulting in lots of ponding in many planted and unplanted fields. With approximately half of the corn and 10% of the soybeans planted, it will be at least Wednesday or Thursday for field work to resume — if we miss the rain called for on Tuesday. The cool weather has slowed the emergence of corn and beans planted in the past two weeks and delayed the drying of wet fields. Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all on May 10.
May 11: Slow emergence may be a good thing
On May 5, we received just under 0.5 inches of rain; field work delayed again but I was able to get in to repair some tile. We were able to resume planting corn on Saturday, May 9th in conditions that were marginal at best. I finished spraying burn down on corn stalks and last year’s preventive plant fields that were seeded to wheat last August. Still cold, so emergence of previously planted crops is slow. This may be a good thing with the heavy frost we experienced on May 7. On Mother’s Day we received an additional 0.2 inch of rain. I estimate our area is 60% planted on corn and 15% planted on soybeans. Sunshine and warm weather would be a welcome change to get the rest of this crop planted and what is planted emerged. So, we got in one day planting in a week and were able to repair several tile breaks.
May 18: Looking forward to drier, warmer, sunnier week
We were able to plant corn and beans on Wednesday, May 12-13. Thursday rain returned with 1.2 inches and 0.6 tenths on Friday. We got the largest amount on Sunday at 3.5 inches for a week’s total of 5.3 inches. Saturated slews emptied, only to refill Sunday from the deluge. Our first-planted corn and beans are finally emerging despite the cold and wet weather. I estimate our area is 90% planted on corn and 40% planted on beans. We must switch chemistries on our corn herbicide now that the corn is poking through the soil, a tradeoff we experience when running both planters and not the sprayer. Looking forward to a drier, warmer, sunnier week to complete planting.
May 22: Wettest May on record
A perpetual optimist, I consider my glass half full. But of late it seems to be running over, with rainfall that is. Another week went by with very little field activity because of saturated soils. I was able to spray a field of corn Thursday, but that was the only one due to pattern tiling. Replanting of crops due to the extreme wet and cool conditions will be on the list when we get done planting for the first time. We have had four days in April and three days in May to plant. We just cannot get sunshine and warm conditions to dry us out enough to do any field work. We remain at 90% planted on corn and 40% on soybeans. We now are the wettest May on record for northeast Illinois, and we still have one more week to go.
June 1: Some switching from corn to beans
We were able to finish spraying the corn in less than ideal conditions. With all the wet weather, tile put in 50 years ago is starting to fail in spots - we have been able to fix several problem sites during our rain delay. Due to rainfall amounts, we were able to replant corn fields that were having emergence issues, planted originally in April/May. Some fields required rotary hoeing, and within hours that same field got another deluge. For the week we received another 1.2 inches of rain, but warmer weather has prevailed, and drying conditions have allowed neighbors to resume field work finishing crops. We hope to resume planting on June 1 since field conditions are still not optimal. We are 70% planted on soybeans and 95% on corn – with some switching of corn acres to beans.
June 8: At last: Sunshine, heat, no rain
Finally a week of sunshine, heat and no rain. We were able to finish planting and re-planting corn and beans on June 2. About 15% of our corn required replanting due to consistent heavy rain and cold weather. It is amazing what a little heat and sunshine can do for emergence – what took four weeks to emerge earlier in the year now is up in five days. Crops are really starting to grow. Activities in the area are planting, replanting, spraying, side dressing and hay making. Next will be post spraying corn and beans. Tropical storm Cristobal is expected to reach our area Tuesday with high winds and welcomed rains – hopefully in moderate amounts.
June 15: Good quality hay, time to stock up?
We received 1.1 inches of rain on Wednesday from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal. This has helped the emergence of the latest planted soybeans, believe it or not - it was getting kind of dry. We finished sidedressing nitrogen and post spraying corn with many doing the same. Crops are really starting to take off, looking better every day. Post spraying soybeans will now start in our area. Lots of hay being made with lower yields, but good quality. This may be the time to stock up on hay.
June 22: Looking for good “soaker”
During the week ending June 20, we received 0.2 to 0.75 inches of rain in popup showers. With 90-degree temperatures this week, we could use a “good soaker.” Crops are looking better with corn now filling rows and plants reaching nitrogen, hiding some of the less than ideal stands in some fields. We started post-spraying soybeans. Soybeans, for the most part, are looking pretty darn good. Activities in the area included side dressing corn, post spraying corn and beans, baling hay and equipment clean up. Weather is always a concern – we hope for less oppressive heat and more moisture this week.
June 29: Crops stretching out with heat, moisture, sunshine
We received anywhere from 0.8 to 2.5 inches of rain this week on area farms, with water again sitting in replanted sloughs, but not complaining. We resumed post spraying our last planted corn and soybeans. Crops are stretching out with the combined heat, moisture and sunshine. This last rain will improve yields for the second cutting of hay. Weed control on our first post sprayed soybeans is excellent. Wheat is turning with the potential of harvest in about two weeks. We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July – and keep the rain coming.
July 6: Growth surge for corn, beans
Since our last posting we have received one inch of rain. This will be beneficial as 90-degree daily heat is forecast for this week. We finished post spraying soybeans this week and weed control looks to be excellent. Much hay has been made due to the drier conditions, with some starting second cutting. Wheat in our area is still 5-6 days away from harvest – one farmer tried it Thursday testing 21%. Corn and soybeans have experienced a growth surge with the combination of moisture and heat. Early planted corn fields will begin tasseling in about a week with fungicide application following, if needed. Hope everyone enjoyed a great 4th of July.
July 13: Fungicide decision looms
We received 2.3 inches of rain, a great growing week for the week ending July 12. Some corn will be tasseling. Temperatures will be more moderate in the mid-80s over the extreme 90s of this last week. Wheat was being combined with good test weights and respectable yields. Combining may finish later this week. Decision before us now with the price of corn presently, to use fungicide or not. Soybeans are now growing rapidly with the recent moisture getting some height to them. This week we hauled the last of our soybeans – in our operation – every bin is empty! As we await this year’s crop, we are cautiously optimistic on yields – with a lot of the growing season still ahead of us.
July 20: Cutting grass every week in July
For the week ending July 19, we received, on average, 2.5 inches but there were several spots where fields received in excess of 4 inches. An indicator of field moisture is how many times you cut your grass – so far in July, we have had to cut the grass every week. The decision to apply fungicide and insecticide on some of our fields that were not replanted has been made. We will begin this week on corn. Most of the wheat has been combined – now farmers are harvesting their oats. The Will County Threshermen’s salvaged a portion of their cancelled Threshermen’s Show holding a Plow Days on Saturday with 25 tractors of all colors. Fun was had by all. Weed control in soybeans continues to look good. None too soon, we will be preparing equipment for harvest.
July 27: Motorcycle zips under highboy
We received 0.2 inches of rain in the week ending July 26, completed corn fungicide application and began fungicide/insecticide on our soybeans. Crops are progressing well. Lots of good quality second cutting of hay was made this week, filling barns to capacity. We are currently in the process of building a bin. For excitement as I was driving down a state highway in our highboy Hagie, I heard a motorcycle but was unable to spot it, until it zoomed at 70 miles per hour underneath me – successfully. Although his stunt was dangerous, to his credit he was wearing a helmet! Let this be a reminder to stay alert when out on the roads with our farm equipment. We know we are responsible for ourselves, but also for the actions of others.
August 3: Soybeans appreciate a drier week
In the week ending Aug. 2 we had a total of 0.3 of an inch of rain. We finished spraying fungicide and insecticide on soybeans and some herbicides on some tall water hemp weed escapes. The soybeans appreciated the drier week – improving crop health since they are not a fan of saturated soil. We continue to progress on our bin project. Sweet corn is not ripe yet for harvesting, but there seems to be plenty out there. Hopefully we can enjoy it before the raccoons do. Looking forward to the Will County Threshermen’s Vintage Tractor Ride Aug. 8. The double crop soybeans on wheat stubble benefitted from the moisture of the last couple of weeks. Most of these fields are ready for herbicide application.
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