Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Give Me AC!

So like much of the Eastern US, it has been hot and humid at the NCRS for the past several days, and are all grateful for air conditioning in the farm office and equipment cabs. OK, the above picture is not actually from the NCRS, but rather my West-facing enclosed porch this evening at 6:00 when I got home. (Alas, I've stooped to yellow journalism to get readers.) But at the NCRS it was in the 90's with humidity and it was pretty uncomfortable working outside today, or so I was told. Well I went outside some, in fact to take some pictures of getting the combine ready for wheat harvest. Below Phil brings up our grain head out of storage.
Below, Ron runs the grease gun to get the combine good and lubed. Wheat harvest has ben running for a few days now in the area, although much of the grain moisture has been running in the 17 to 18% range. We hope to get started on our plots tomorrow, hopefully with lower grain moisture. In the last installment, I mentioned that we are quite a bit ahead of last year in heat units. Last year we didn't harvest our wheat until July 24, and this year we are ready to go now. In 2009 from April through June 30 we received 873 GDD. This year we have received 1134 GDD for the same period. In 2008 it was 953 GDD. So that is why the wheat is ready for harvest.
Another thing we did was plant some cucumbers for our tour demonstration site. Our plan is to demonstrate the effectiveness of foliar applications of ferti-Rain. Cucumbers have been a crop that has shown consistant yield-increasing response to such applicatons. Our dealer and farmer tours are in late August. If you need more information about the upcoming tours and PLFP, contact Stephanie at or your local Area Manager or Sales Account Manager, who can be found at the website. However, we are practically bone dry now. Thank goodness we have irrigation on some farms, but on the new Farms 7 & 8, crops are "rain fed". (I always thought that was a funny term for non-irrigated.) So we will need some help from Mother Nature to get these cucumbers up.

Below, Doug checks for seed placement while Stephanie stays within earshot in case of any mistakes or questions.

The picture below shows some of the corn on Farm 7 this afternoon. You can see the leaves are rolling in the heat in a response to conserve moisture in dry conditions. I always thought this was a pretty ingenious response where the leaves roll up so that the stomates on the bottom of the leaf can stay open for temperature regulation, that is, to help the plant stay cool. But by being open, there will be net moisture loss. But by being rolled up, the moisture level can stay relatively high close to the leaf surface within the rolled leaf, and this reduces net moisture loss from the leaves. If the leaf stayed flat, the moisture levels would dissipate in the hot air, and there would be a steady loss of moisture from the leaf. We do hate to see this, but in our fertilizer comparison plots over the years, we have usually seen corn fertilized with Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers do better than corn treated with conventional fertilizers under stress conditions due to the reduced salt index. In other words, reduced stress from fertilizers in the seed and root zone. So this may be a good test. But I am hopeful for rain, as I hate to see my children suffer. Supposedly, there is a chance for some tomorrow, so I would rather wait on wheat harvest if we could get some rain.

Stay tuned for more news of what's happening at the North Central Resarch Station in a future post. Thanks for reading.