Sustainability

Gearing Up for Harvest

We’re nearly ready to begin harvesting our soybeans. I know every farmer is just as busy in the fall as I am, and we are ready to begin harvesting soybeans at the end of this week. As we harvest, we will do so in a sustainable manner. We’ve continued to get greater yields on less land, and this year, I’ve done some work with population plots. Now we cross our fingers that the weather holds out.

Gearing Up for Harvest

  • You might remember that we planted our soybeans late this year because our spring was so wet here in Kentucky.
  • So that puts them behind a couple of weeks our normal schedule.
  • But now the beans are dry and ready to be picked.
  • It looks like we are going to have a good crop.
  • It’s a been a very busy fall season so far because we’ve maxed out our power capacity at the granary, and it’s forced us to figure out a new schedule. I’m only able to dry the corn at night when no other power is running. My dad Ramey and I are trucking seven to eight loads of corn during the day.
  • I’m always grateful for my dad’s help, but never more so than this fall, with all the problems in the granary. I have to be there to unload the trucks and I just can’t get out into the fields as often as I’d like to.
  • I like to be in the fields because there’s always science in the soil, but we do still have to manage the grains in the bins. My dad is managing all of the field operations right now. He turned 69 this year and acts no older than 49! I count myself truly fortunate to have someone like my dad to learn from.
  • My dad says sometimes it’s too bad that we can’t just run the dryer off the power take-off like we did in the old days! But we will definitely need to do something about the power supply next year. It will be an expensive project, for sure.
  • The beans are waiting for us.
  • You can see some of the hills on the farm in this shot.
  • My mom cooks a big family dinner every Wednesday night and she invites about 10 to 20 people from her side of the family.
  • That night, we couldn’t shell corn because the granary was down. There’s a soybean field next to my parents’ house, so we went to check the beans after dinner.
  • My dad actually has a way that he tests the beans most years. He’ll bite down on a pod. He’s looking for soft on the outside and dry on the inside.
  • This year’s beans are too dry to do that test this year.
  • They won’t shell outside the pod. First we had a lot of rain, then some really hot August temperatures, and then three weeks with no rain.
  • These beans are hard and ready to go. Both the pods and the beans are ready.
  • These beans didn’t mature evenly, which is not uncharacteristic of soybeans.
  • When we took this shot, the beans were about 70 percent ready to go, so that’s how we know they’ll be ready to harvest this Friday or Saturday.
  • In the plot closer to my house, I planted two different maturity groups. The 4-2 group matured faster than the 4-6s.
  • I’m checking the roots in my population plot.
  • There’s no yield difference in the low population plot. I talk about this a lot with a farmer I’m friends with in Illinois.
  • In the lower population count, the pods are about the same, but the root systems are deeper and range further. This helps create new paths in the soil, which helps get oxygen to the microbes. We hope this oxygen stays over the winter.
  • The root system really tells the story of the beans. Getting nodulation at the ends of the roots on the root hairs helps with fixing nitrogen.
  • t’s been so dry this fall that Ohio River has been really low. This is a real issue for shipping our agricultural products. When the river is low, the locks and dams aren’t able to work together and they’ve only been able to load barges halfway. The river even had to close temporarily, which created not just a 46-mile backup, but also hurt our prices. This makes us thankful for our bins and storage systems. But we really do need some rain.
  • I’m friends with a farmer in Brazil and we message each other using a translator app. First they had too much rain there, then it stayed dry, and then they couldn’t plant. They are three weeks behind and have bags of crop. Everything is dry like concrete. Like my day says, “It’s all relative.” At least we can get our product there.
  • This year, I planted several different population plots. In the plot where I planted 130,000 seeds per acre, we got about 110 plants per acre.
  • In the plot where I planted 80,000 seeds per acre, we have about 70-90 plants per acre with about 230 pods per plant.
  • This will be an interesting year. How good are the beans in these pods?
  • Quality is always a big question – we can’t tell for sure until we get them out of the field and test them.
  • This plant has so many offshoots that it looks like a menorah.
  • In addition to my dad’s help, I also lean on my wife Leah.
  • Leah is usually the one behind the camera, but this time, we switched roles.
  • So we are all eager to begin harvest here at Affinity Farms. I want our international customers to know that like all U.S. farmers, we are committed to growing a reliable, sustainable product.
  • How many more moons until harvest?
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Quint Pottinger
Quint Pottinger

U.S. Soybean farmer

Kentucky