Excellent weather allowed us to finish all the field work we hoped to do this fall. It has been a great fall to get work done.
Our manure application went very smoothly in early November. The nutrient value of our manure was noticeably lower than normal, likely because we had pigs on an all-corn diet earlier this year to slow their growth during the time when packing plants shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as fertilizer it will still benefit next year’s crops.
We also applied a little bit of nitrogen fertilizer in the form of anhydrous ammonia in areas where we didn’t apply manure. Temperatures were a bit warmer than we prefer when applying fall fertilizer, but the weather cooled off shortly after we finished, which will help the nutrients stay in place through the winter.
We no-till the vast majority of our fields. However, we did do some tillage on about 40.5 hectares, or 100 acres, that will be planted to corn for a second year in a row next spring. I haven’t figured out how to no-till a corn crop into corn stalks with our equipment.
We will soon start getting our equipment cleaned up and repaired from this year. Then we will be ready for next spring.
Iowa was dry this year. So, we are welcoming fall rains before the ground freezes to replenish subsoil moisture. We started getting rain in late November, after we finished in the field.
Right now we are focusing on taking care of our pigs. For example, I vaccinated many of our pigs the last week of November to protect them from common contagious diseases in our area as they grow. Raising pigs has been business as usual for a few months now. And although COVID-19 cases are increasing in our region, we don’t anticipate the supply chain disruptions we experienced last spring. We are better prepared to manage the virus and keep essential workers healthy now.
We are also figuring out where we will plant soybeans and corn next season so we can order inputs. I expect to plant more soybeans than corn in 2021, based on field needs and crop rotation. That will work out well, as soybean prices are good right now. We have good soybean demand, but our smaller-than-expected crop tightened supply. That helped boost prices enough that farmers like me won’t lose money. I will monitor crop prices throughout the winter, with plans to start marketing the next crop in the spring.
2020 has been challenging in many ways. As a crop year, we’ve had better. But it wasn’t a disaster, either. I have enjoyed sharing updates throughout our growing season about spring preparation, planting, crop emergence, weed control, both good and challenging weather conditions, harvest, crop yields and manure application.
Regardless of challenges, U.S. farmers are always looking forward to next year. We are optimistic. And so, we will do our best to grow high-quality, affordable crops next year, expecting good results so that our cycle continues.