Innovation

Growing Season Timeline: Moore Farm, Roseville, Illinois

Ron Moore – Roseville, Illinois

Moore_TimelineDecember 7, 2015

This week, we are doing some repair work on the grain table for next year’s harvest. We’re also rebuilding some gates for the livestock part of our farming operation. There are always gates that need repair, and you need them when you’re moving cattle.

We’ve also been meeting with seed salesmen and making soybean and corn seed selections for next growing season. We are going to move closer to a 50-50 rotation with our corn and soybeans. I think we are going to be around 55 percent corn and 45 percent soybeans. We will stick with the varieties that we thought did well on our farm, but we like to add one or two new varieties of corn and soybeans each year based on our salesmen’s recommendations. We buy a few new varieties each year to experiment and see how they do on our farm.

Next week, we will meet with a fertilizer and herbicide agronomist. We know where we are going to plant corn and beans next year, but we need to make sure we have the right herbicide and fertilizer programs in place.

We are also working on year-end tax planning. Our fiscal year ends on December 31, so we are making sure we have all of our information for the federal income tax to give to our accountant.

We had some snow here a few weeks ago and quite a bit of rain lately. That has been challenging because it means that our livestock operation has been dealing with some mud. We ran 100 head of cattle through the head gate recently to check their temperatures and make sure they’re healthy. We found a few that had fevers. We decided to give them antibiotics prescribed by our veterinarian to help combat that fever just like you would with your own family. Cattle can’t tell you that they don’t feel well, so you have to use your past experience and look at their symptoms. We then use our thermometer and take their temperature. If they are sick, we give them medication to control their fever. They won’t eat if they don’t feel well.

We had a fantastic yield for soybeans in our area, and we should have plenty of supply for our international customers. We are very proud of the fact that we were able to produce a record soybean crop on our farm and almost a record nationwide given the tough planting conditions we had early in the spring. Despite that, we still produced a high-quality, high-yielding crop this year.

November 23, 2015

We’re all finished with harvest and tillage. Lately on the farm, we’ve been cleaning up equipment and putting it away. That way we can store it over the winter without any problems.

We’ve also been buying feeder cattle, so we are taking care of the new animals now. We just tested them to make sure they’re healthy. We treated a few with medication that had fevers. We will do that for a few more days to make sure they get over their shipping fever. When you move them around with other cattle, they tend get pneumonia and other illnesses at times.

We’re also planning for next year. I have a meeting coming up with a corn and soybean seed salesman to figure out what varieties we want to plant for next year. We will order the same varieties that were successful for us this year. We will remove the ones that didn’t perform well for us from the lineup and try other varieties.

Also, we’re working on our marketing plan. Some of our crops were already sold ahead of time, but we have to sell the rest of our crops. I was just at a marketing meeting where the speaker told us what the markets are expected to do and gave us some options for us to think about.

That’s about all we will be working on during the winter until the weather gets warmer in the spring, and we can get out in the fields again.

Recently, we had some very high winds that came through our area and were a challenge. We were without power for 12 hours and our neighbors didn’t have power for 24 hours. The wind blew down some tree limbs, and we had to clean that up. Some areas nearby had a tornado go through, which was concerning. That was a bit of a challenge for us lately. You don’t like to see tornadoes in November.

We had a very good year for soybean production. On our farm, we had record soybean yields. We averaged over 70 bushels (nearly two metric tons), which is a phenomenal yield based on all of the rain we had in June. We had moderate temperatures, which I think helped the soybeans. We didn’t have any extreme heat. We have plenty of soybeans to supply the market.

Soon, I’ll be in Europe for an International Soy Growers Alliance meeting. I’ll be meeting with farmers and industry representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, the United States and Uruguay. One of the main things we are working on together is the biotech approval process. All of our countries use biotechnology and we are working to speed up the biotech approval process in other countries, which can benefit food security around the world.

October 28, 2015

We finished harvest last week. Now, we’re doing some fall tillage in preparation of planting soybeans next year.

Harvest went pretty well for us. We were pleasantly surprised with our yields. We had a record soybean harvest on our farm this year. The corn was also better than we anticipated. The best corn was a little better than we thought it would be and so was the worst corn. We’re probably not going to have a record corn crop, but it should be above our average. We are still tabulating the last few acres of corn to see exactly what our yield is.

We actually finished harvest about two weeks earlier than usual. We started harvest a week early and normally during harvest we will get four to six days of rain, and can’t get in the fields. This year, we didn’t get any rain from the time we started harvest to the time we finished. That’s definitely been a good thing.

Right now, we’re getting some rain. We could use some rain to help soften the ground up to help with tillage and also recharging the subsoil moisture because we are very dry here in western Illinois.

We’re getting equipment cleaned up and repaired and putting it away in the sheds. We are also actually starting to plan for next year’s planting. We’re making sure we know where the acres of corn and soybeans are going to be. We’re also getting fertilizer applied to the corn acres and just want to make sure we don’t forgot something. It’s always a bad feeling when you get in the fields and you realize, “Oh, that hasn’t been chisel plowed yet.”

Now, we’re just trying to recover from a month and a half worth of long work days. We worked seven days a week trying to get harvest done. Hopefully we will get a couple of days of rain here, so that we can relax and recover. It’s time to slow down a little bit.

The quality of our soybeans was excellent. From what I’ve been able to learn from friends in the area and even around the country, the protein levels are a little higher than they have been in the past few years. We are going to have an ample supply of soybeans for our international customers. It looks like this part of Illinois is going to have an increase in our average yield, so there will be plenty of soybeans for the marketplace.

October 1, 2015

We’ve been harvesting soybeans for the last five or six days. Once they got dry enough, we jumped at the opportunity to start harvesting them. The yields have been a little better than we expected. The yield is probably 5 to 10-percent better than I thought they’d be. That’s been a pleasant surprise.

We’ve harvested about 20-percent of our corn acres. When the soybeans became dry enough, we stopped harvesting our corn and switched to soybeans. The moisture has been around 12-percent on the soybeans, which is very good. The first few fields we harvested, the moisture was around 9-percent, which is too dry. After we got those done, we got to some later maturing soybeans where the moisture was 12-percent, which is where we like to harvest them. You get fewer harvest losses at that level.

SoybeanHarvestCloseup1We have around 300 acres (or around 740 hectares) of soybeans left to harvest and the forecast is calling for some rain sometime in the next week, so our goal is to get the soybeans finished as soon as possible. If they end up getting too dry, they could shatter. The pods will split and the beans fall on the ground before you harvest them.  Also, if there’s a bad windstorm or hail, that can also shatter the beans and pods.

As soon as we’re done with the soybeans, we will go back to harvesting corn. So far, the harvest weather in this part of the United States has been excellent. We’ve had 10 days without rain so far, and we’ve been able to get a lot of crops harvested. There’s no rain forecasted until next week, so we will be able to get a lot more harvested in the next few days.

SoybeanHarvestOur biggest challenge right now is that everyone is tired. We’ve been working 14-hour days to get our crops harvested as fast as we can. You start early and work late. Everything is going smoothly though. The weather has been great, the combines have been running well and there haven’t been long lines at the grain elevator, so we haven’t had to wait for the trucks to get back. We have to be conscious that we’re all tired though and make sure we don’t make any mistakes and someone gets hurt. Safety is always our first concern.

We are getting a high-quality crop harvested for our international customers though. One of the reasons we try to harvest at a 12 to 13 percent moisture rate is that it will limited the cracks in the soybeans and will help us produce a higher-quality product that our customers overseas and domestically are going to want to use. We have ample supplies this year. We are going to be able to supply the market this year with a high quantity of high-quality soybeans from the United States.

September 15, 2015

We finished corn silage last week, and we fixed some head rows of some fields that were dry. The head rows are the rows closest to the borders of the fields. Once we got the head rows off, the moisture jumped up on the corn, so we’re waiting for another day or two to let the corn dry down a little bit. The moisture levels have been testing in the mid- to upper-20s, and we would like to have it down in the low 20s before we get started.

SoybeanFieldYields have been pretty decent so far. They have varied from anywhere above 200 to 40 bushels an acre (2.6 to 13.4 metric tons per hectacre) in places where water stood and drowned it out. We haven’t completed any fields yet, so we don’t really know what our averages are. I’m about where I expected though. The damaged and water ponded areas were about as bad as I thought it would be, but the land that’s at a higher elevation that didn’t hold water is a little better than I expected. It’s going to be hard to get an early forecast on yields because it varies so much.

Our soybeans aren’t ready this week, but they should be next week. We have some early beans for our area that will be ready very soon.

SoybeanCloseupOur goal for this week is to get the combine running and get any minor repairs out of the way. For example, we have a fuel sensor that needs to be replaced, so I will have to visit the dealer to take care of that. We want to make sure we have everything running well, so we won’t have any delays in the middle of harvest.

Our only challenge right now is that we had a wind storm around here last week. Some areas got some hail with it. The storm damaged some of our soybeans that were close to getting mature. Some beans were knocked out of the pods, and they’re lying on the ground. The biggest challenge right now is finding the crop that is most susceptible to wind damage and getting it harvested before more damage can be done. You don’t want to wind up with excessive harvest loss, so we’re doing some scouting of the fields to see which ones are going to be ready for harvest. When they’re ready, we need to be there to harvest to prevent yield loss.

We’re coming to the time where we’re going to bring a lot of grain, corn and soybeans to harvest. The quality of the crop that I have seen so far seems to be really good quality for our international customers.

August 24, 2015

This week, I had a team of soybean buyers from China visit my farm. They were here checking the crops to see if they are high-quality. They had a lot of questions on what kind of quality I expected our soybeans to have on our farms this year, especially when it came to the protein and oil content. The customers they serve are the animal producers in China, and they want to make sure they are providing high-quality soybean meal to their customers. That’s encouraging to know that they are aware of the importance of high-quality soybean meal. Farmers in the United States need to make sure we plant the high-quality varieties that are available in the marketplace.

While they were here, they were counting pods and estimating yields of the fields that they were in. They were pretty close to where I think the yields will be in those fields. They’ve definitely done this before. They were also very interested in my cost of production, land costs and input costs. They also wanted to know how I price my soybeans. I ended up asking them questions about China’s economy, too.

Trade team

In fieldsBesides hosting the trade team, we’ve also been working in the fields this week. We’ve been waiting for the crops to mature. We have cattle on pasture, and we’re in the process of bringing them home. When the corn and soybeans start to mature, that’s when the grass stops growing. It goes into dormancy this time of year. My goal is to get them all home before we start cutting corn silage, which will be in about two weeks. We should be starting to fill silos soon, and a couple of weeks after that, we will be into corn harvest.

Our soybeans are looking very good right now. We still have some fields that were damaged by too much rain in June, but the remaining fields look very good. They’re heavily podded. The visitors from China were counting the pods while there were here and estimated 60 to 70 pods per plant. They were very excited about that. I was surprised with how accurate they were. That’s about what I expected them to be when we took them to those fields. I think we’re going to have an average corn and soybean crop in western Illinois this year.

Examining podsWe haven’t had any challenges lately. The temperatures have been very cool for this time of year, so our cattle have been very comfortable. The only issue with that is temperatures have been cooler at night, and that affects the maturation of the corn. You might lose some test weight from really cool nights. They’re not expecting an early frost here though, so that shouldn’t hurt our productivity.

We’re going to have lots of soybeans to sell this year to our international customers, and they’re going to be high-quality. That was made evident by the trade team that visited. They were very impressed by the soybeans they saw.

August 3, 2015

We’ve been counting soybean pods and ears of corn this week. We’re getting an estimate on yield potential and when we might be able to harvest. In our area of western Illinois, the pods and ears look good. The corn that hasn’t been damaged by the wet weather looks very good. The soybeans are starting to fill the lower pods. The older pods that developed in late June and early July are starting to fill the beans in. We do have some damage in low areas of the fields where creek bottoms flooded, but I think overall we will have an average soybean crop.

PodsWe’re also scouting for insects this week. The beans are at the right stage for spider mites, bean leaf beetles or Japanese beetles. We haven’t sprayed any insecticide, but we’re looking to make sure that we don’t need to.

With all of the wet weather we’ve had, we have sprayed some fungicide on our soybeans. We’re starting to get diseases that we can control with fungicides, such as frogeye leaf spot.

Right now, we’re getting ready for harvest because it will be here before you know it. We have to make sure everything is ready to go. It is only six weeks away.

Soybean fieldIt’s been very hot here the last few weeks (more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius), which makes it hard to work outside in the afternoon, and that’s been our main challenge right now. Luckily it’s been cooling down a little to make it a little more comfortable to do work right now. We have to make sure our cattle on pasture are comfortable and are staying in. With the corn starting to fill with kernels, the cattle can smell it and are trying to reach over into places where they can get it. So, we’re keeping an eye on them.

We’re getting ready to have another good soybean crop for our international customers though. We won’t have record crops here in the United States, and I won’t have a record crop on my farm, but we will have yields that will stay with the trend. We’ve been trying to take care of the quality of our soybeans by monitoring the insect and fungicide pressure to make sure we have a quality product to sell to our customers.

July 13, 2015

Right now, we are checking cattle and marking sure they’re where they’re supposed to be. A lot of my help is on vacation right now, and I’ve been travelling, so this is the time that we get the minimum done and make sure the cattle are home.

8x10 USSEC Group PhotoI’ve been attending a lot of meetings lately, including the International Oilseed Producers Dialogue in Chicago. When I talked to soybean farmers from South American countries and canola farmers from the European Union and Canada, I was really surprised to hear that they have a lot of the same issues we do. Consumers want to know more about their food in every country that was represented there. Our issues are the same all across the world’s agriculture sector. Farmers in South America are just like farmers in the United States. We’re all trying to produce food for our families and the growing population, and the desire for knowledge for consumers all around the world is very much alive.

IMG_20150710_185640907_HDROn our farm, we’ve been getting the field cultivator ready for next spring. The combine is ready for the fall harvest, and we’re just doing some maintenance work on the other equipment. Next week, we’re going to do some tiling on one of our fields of hay. That field is going to rotate to soybeans next year, so we’re going to get it ready for next year’s planting season.

We’re still scouting for insects and diseases with our soybeans. As we scouted our corn crop, we decided that we should spray a fungicide on it. With all of the rain we had in June, we are getting some diseases that are starting to crop up, such as northern corn leaf blight and Stewart’s wilt. Those types of diseases can be controlled by a fungicide application. I suspect that we will find some things that need to be treated in the soybean fields too.

IMG95201507109518570370095HDRWe had nearly 14 inches of rain in June, which is almost four times our normal rainfall for the month of June. All of this humidity and moisture makes for a perfect environment for diseases to start showing up, which will affect our yield. We will be monitoring that very closely.

Since our soybeans’ roots are so waterlogged right now, they haven’t been able to produce as much nitrogen, so the leaves are starting to look a little yellow and not the dark, deep green that we normally see. So, we’re concerned about that. There’s nothing we are do besides watch it. Right now, the soybeans are flowering and in the reproductive stage. In another month, we will start counting pods and get a yield estimate.

Even with the excessive rain that we’ve had in my part of western Illinois, we will still raise a lot of soybeans. We will monitor them and make sure there isn’t deterioration in the quality for our customers.

IMG95201507109518571707495HDR

June 22, 2015

We’ve had a quite a bit of rain lately, and it’s been too wet to do anything in the fields. We’re kind of at a standstill. We need to spray herbicide on our soybeans, but we can’t because it’s been so wet. It’s a little concerning that we haven’t been able to get into the fields for at least 10 days. The weeds are growing as fast as the soybeans. We have tall waterhemp, giant ragweed, some marestail and foxtail. Foxtail is pretty common around here in Illinois and also easy to control with the herbicides we have. We want to make sure we have enough varieties of herbicides to control the tall waterhemp though because they can easily become resistant to it.

IMG_20150618_161032145_HDRIt’ll cost us a little more money to control the weeds now. You get charged one rate when the weeds are four to six inches, and now they’re going to be a foot tall, so it will be a higher rate. If it dries up over the next few days, we should be able to get in the field soon though.

While we’ve been waiting for the fields to dry out, we’ve been checking flood gaps and fences for the cattle that we have out on pasture. We’re making sure the cattle don’t get out into our neighbors’ fields. In between the rains, we’re also mowing the grass so it won’t get too tall. We’re still busy, but not doing what we’d like to be doing.

We’re also working on some equipment maintenance. You have to make sure the tractors are in good shape. We will also do a little work on one of our field cultivators, so it can be ready for next spring. The combine is ready to go. When you can’t get out into the fields, you have to do shop work, repair fences and that sort of thing.

A month ago, we were pretty dry and worried about not getting enough moisture. Then the weather pattern changed, and now we are getting a ton of rain. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. We have a lot of water standing in the fields now. When that happens, it can kill your soybeans and it might be too late for replanting. We will probably have some yield loss due to the excess moisture.

Even though we are having some problems, we will still have an ample supply of soybeans to move into the export market. The quality of the soybeans on our farm is good in the areas that haven’t been affected by the excess water. It won’t be a record year in our area of western Illinois and eastern Iowa, but we will still have a pretty good crop.

June 1, 2015

Since we’re finished with planting, we’re mowing road banks and waterways and getting weeds that grow in the non-cropland under control. That’s all of the field work we have been doing right now.

We hire people to handle the post-emergent herbicide spraying, and they have finished the corn already. They will probably start spraying the soybeans this week. The soybeans and weeds are just tall enough to get a strong control of them.

SoybeansCloseup6.1.15Our main goal for this week is to do a lot of scouting of the corn and soybeans. We want to make sure the herbicides worked on the corn and that we don’t have any diseases or insects cropping up on the soybeans. Insects start feeding on the new leaves this time of year, which slows the development of the soybean. One pest we are scouting for is bean leaf beetles. They chew on the new leaves. We haven’t had any at this point, but we’ve done some preventative management to keep any problems from arising with our new crops.

Soybeans2.6.1.15Sudden Death Syndrome can pop up in this area when it’s cool and wet conditions. It’s been pretty dry and relatively warm around here, but you still need to scout and make sure. If you get affected in May or June, it won’t really show up until August. You have to try to prevent it because you can’t do anything about it once you have it.

This has been a pretty challenge-free spring for us so far. We had good planting conditions for both the corn and the soybeans in our area of western Illinois. The crops were planted on time and emerged in good fashion. Prospects are very good for another good yield. Of course, the remaining summer weather will dictate how good of yields we have. Right now, we have the potential for very strong yields in this part of the Midwest. We should be able to provide good, high-quality soybeans for the export market. We should have an abundant supply to provide our international customers for their protein needs.

May 12, 2015

We finished planting corn on the April 26 and finished soybeans on May 2. All of our crops are in the ground. The corn is all up and about half of our soybeans are up. We had really good weather in the second half of April and the beginning of May. We are getting some rain showers now, so we’ve got good emergence and our stands are both very good in the corn and soybeans. The prospects are very good right now.

MooreWe had a very good spring. Since we were able to start planting early enough in April, we didn’t have to work long hours. The weather forecast didn’t call for much rain, so we were able to continue planting. It was a very uneventful planting season. I know there are other parts of the Midwest that haven’t been as lucky.

We usually wait until all of the crops are up and emerging before we start cleaning and repairing the planter, so we will probably do that this week. Once it’s cleaned and serviced, it will be put away until next season.

We also have a cattle operation. We rotationally graze 200 head of cattle, so at this time of year and for the rest of the summer we’re always checking cattle and make sure they have adequate grass until they move to the next paddock.

We also plan to repair a waterline that keeps freezing over the winter. It’s much easier to do that now than in the winter when the temperature is 10 below.

Pretty soon, we will have post-herbicides sprayed onto the corn. Some weeds are starting to emerge, and we want to make sure we take care of them before it becomes an issue. We won’t want them to become resistant. Limiting herbicide resistant weeds has been a major goal of ours the last few years. We use multiple modes of action to help control those weeds, so they don’t become resistant.

It looks like we will have an adequate supply of soybeans to go into the export market this year. We are continuously working to provide our international customers with reliable and high-quality soybeans, which we know they require.

Farm:  Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Illinois, is Secretary of the American Soybean Association. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the U. S. Soybean Export Council. Moore raises 600 acres of corn and 400 acres of soybeans, along with 230 head of feeder cattle grazed on 250 acres of pasture. He and his wife Deb have three sons.

Ron Moore
Ron Moore

U.S. Soybean farmer

Illinois

Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill., is president of the American Soybean Association (ASA). He previously served as vice president and secretary of ASA. He is a past chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association.