I need more tile. That is a big takeaway from 2019. It was a trying year but we were better than a lot of places. We had one of our Pioneer varieties that really stood out on soybeans that we’ll be looking at more this fall.
The weed control we used worked well this year. So many people were having trouble but we had great weed control. We do a lot of tillage with pre-emerge on the corn and we use Roundup for soybeans. We like to chisel the corn stalks in the fall. We mow the stalks and chisel, then hit it with another pass in the spring.
Hay always seems to be a challenge. This summer was better than some because we got some heat and dry weather.
The soybeans were about what I thought they’d be going into it. They ended up below average, but they are what they are. I had yields from 35 to 68 bushels and I heard about yields higher and lower than that. For corn, I had one field off that was 180 bushels and another better than that so I’m pretty happy with corn so far. We tore out some wheat this spring and planted corn. That corn was above average and that was the best thing to do. I hope everybody stays safe and gets harvest done.
It is important to have a crop in the field versus not having a crop in the field and to have pre-emerge chemicals. We spent all summer battling weeds in prevented planting fields. At the start we thought we’d go out with a field cultivator and work them up and have them in good shape, but that would only buy us a month window before weeds started taking over again. Without any pre-emerge chemicals out there it really got away from us. Moving forward, this is something we are going to battle for maybe 3 years trying to get the weed pressure under control.
This year was an outlier and we are trying not to make major decisions based on this one year, but if it ever comes to this again, we’re going to plant. The last time my dad planted corn in the middle of June, he had 180- to 200-bushel corn. Here we are again in 2019 with middle-of-June corn planting and still great corn. I think, if this happens again, we are just going to keep right on planting and not pay attention to what day of the year it is.
There really was not a difference in soybean maturities this year. Nothing really stood out. It is like they reached a threshold of moisture and they were all about the same across the board. We are looking at the new Enlist beans moving forward to help with our weed problems.
Some of our crop rotations are out of whack right now and we’ll have a lot of beans back to beans next year, which we don’t like to do. We do have cereal rye on some of those fields and hopefully that will break it up a little bit. We put our normal acres of wheat out and got our ground worked to go to corn.
We may plant some different varieties for soybeans to broaden our toolbox. We are going to stay with no-till whenever we can. That helped us a good bit this year. We could stay out in the fields a little longer because of more soil stability.
We did have a little bit of a stalk quality issue with some hybrids. That could go back to the weather we had. There was some premature death due to the dry conditions we saw. That is also why we just started running with the corn even with higher moisture. We were drying 23% or 24% moisture corn but we were able to get it in before bad weather hit. The yield is still the most important factor we look at with hybrids, though.
The 2019 season was challenging. For the most part we were pleasantly surprised with the yields we had. For some fields we were ecstatic with the yields we saw and in other fields that were hit pretty hard we were at least happy to have something to harvest. We learned this year. When you can plant, you need to go for it.
Our corn was really close to average, maybe slightly below. Soybeans were below average but not far below. We didn’t have too many breakdowns during planting or harvest this year, which really helped. We were able to keep running.
The cover crops and no-till really allowed us to get on the fields a little earlier. The roots and biomass there really helped. Early on, it helped control weeds and at the end I think it was a saving grace on a lot of these fields when we turned so dry and hot.
I talked to some neighbors who did some tillage to try to get into the fields and get crops planted and they are really bummed about their yields. I think a lot of that goes back to compaction. Every year is a challenge and this year I think the no-till and cover crops really paid dividends. I think everyone learned that you can still plant corn in June and have good yields. I think with corn we can maybe not push so hard early when it is cold and wet. Maybe we can plant corn a little later and still have fantastic yields.
I had a few fields that did not get cover crops on them last year and I saw yield advantages in the fields with cover crops and it made the ground more forgiving. We committed lots of sins this year and the cover crops helped.
We took a wheat crop off, no-tilled in a cover crop and now we are grazing it. We took calves off the cows early and let the cows reprieve, let pastures reprieve and these cover crops are growing like weeds now. I am excited to see what this will do to the overall soil health of the farm.
Weed control was tough this year and we have stayed with the Roundup program, but we will definitely increase cover crop seeding rates to help with weeds and look at different traited seed — Liberty or dicamba. We have to use something other than the Roundup system we have been on.