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Now, that harvest is over, we’ve been cutting a little brush and working on taxes and getting things ready for the meeting season. Our harvest went really well. We got it all out before the snow, which was lucky. The beans were on the high end of excellent, and the corn, which was exceptional, dried down really well.

I was thinking that the soybeans were probably going to get a little drier than they did, but that was actually good. We kept the moisture up there, and it was kind of good to have the extra weight.

53111_Heisdorffer_harvestAlthough we had a good harvest, we did experience some challenges. There was a time in there when it got fairly wet, and that kept us out of the fields. As it turned out, when we did finally get in the fields, we went a little too soon. We probably should have waited a few more days because the weather ending up leveling out.

Biotechnology really helped us this year. We had all GMO corn, and we sprayed fungicide on everything – beans and corn. That ended up really saving us because we had some wind in the summer that I thought was going to create some real problems. Between the biotech traits and the fungicides keeping the plant healthier, biotechnology helped our harvest a lot. Plus, our weed control was excellent in both corn and soybeans, which were Roundup-Ready soybeans. I do always put pre-emerge down, though, so my weed control is not strictly around the Roundup program.

I was surprised this year with the great yields we harvested, as well as the fact that we didn’t quite get started as soon as I thought we would. I knew we were a couple weeks behind, and I thought we would catch up, which we did. We still got some people picking corn around here with snow on the ground.

Luckily, we were even able to get our livestock nutrients on the ground before the weather. We finish quite a few hogs here so we put down livestock nutrients for next year’s crop, which is a sustainable practice. We did that as soon as we finished harvesting, and it took about ten days. I always worry about having enough time for that. This year, we lucked out and had some good weather and ran pretty continuous to get it done.

This farming season was challenging, but very good in the end. I think the best management decision I made was spraying the fungicide. It really helped a lot – on both corn and soybeans. I think when you have a higher yield potential, having that “extra” really helps.

September 25, 2014

We’re not harvesting yet but will start on corn in a couple of days. Soybeans are still a week off.

As for challenges this week, the hardest part has been that the corn and soybeans are slow to mature. Given the delay in harvest, I’m surprised that my fellow farmers are being patient and waiting for the crops to mature.


As I look ahead to next week, my goals are to continue getting my equipment ready for harvest. I want to be prepared as soon as my crops are mature so we can get this harvest rolling.

We’ve practiced sustainability in our fields this week by planting a cover crop – cereal rye. Cover crops will help us to cut fertilizer costs, reduce the need for herbicides and pesticides and conserve soil moisture. And, they’ve been shown to prevent soil erosion, protect water quality and improve yields through enhanced soil health.

I’m anxious to get in the fields and want our international customers to know that the crops will be plentiful with good quality at low prices.

September 3, 2014

It’s been warm and muggy here in Iowa. Thankfully, we got some rain, and we’re seeing some change in the soybeans. They are starting to turn colors and mature. Although the rain is good, I’ve been a little apprehensive this week as harvest gets closer.

JH1Parts of Iowa have had a lot of problems with Sudden Death Syndrome in their soybeans. I saw a lot of it as I drove to the Farm Progress show not too long ago. Luckily, I haven’t experienced any in my fields because it has ravaged some fields.

We do have some weed pressure in the beans. Although it’s not terrible, a few waterhemp weeds are poking through here and there. Of course, there’s not much we can do about it at this point because it would cause too much damage to the field. When the beans are this mature, I don’t care to be smashing them down any more by taking another trip through with weed application equipment.

My goals this week are to get waterways mowed and equipment ready for harvest. I have been working on readying the combine, but I still have some more things to do including getting the corn head on and ready to go. I also have some Iowa Soybean Association meetings to attend.

I was thinking about sustainability this week since I made decisions about which cover crops to buy and where to put them on the farm. This will be my first year of using cover crops, so I’m starting with just 40 acres. I’ll be planting cereal rye for the most part, but I’m also planting small amounts of other cover crops to see which ones create the best soil conditions in the spring. We’ll spray the cover crop in the spring with herbicide before planting, but the cover crops will serve to uptake my fertilizer and hold it for next year. They reduce the chance of losing the fertilizer I’ll be applying this fall.

August 7, 2014

We’ve had a half inch of rain over the last couple of days, which isn’t a lot, but something is better than nothing. It’s good anytime that you can get a rain in August, even if it’s only a half-inch.

We put fungicide on the beans at the beginning of the week, and we were glad to get that done. That’s about all we’re doing this week, except for keeping everything mowed.

The markets are a challenge – they’re probably the biggest challenge right now. My marketing is a little bit different because I raise seed beans. I get a price every day sent to me, and I sell directly to my seed company, which is Asgrow, a part of Monsanto. My beans are picked up on the farm, and they like to empty a whole bin when they make the trip out here. I live 130 miles away from the company, so it works much better for them to pick it up.

My goal this week is to get everything caught up before I leave for Peru for an American Soybean Association trip. I have a lot of things to get done, especially since my son is gone. It takes me a bit longer to do all the chores I have to do before I can get started on the rest of my day. Of course, he’ll have to take care of things while I am gone so it evens out.

We’re going to Peru to meet with some folks from their livestock industry including poultry, swine and dairy producers. Hopefully, as a result of these meetings, the livestock producers will be interested in buying more soybean meal to put in their feed.

The most important management decision I made this week was getting the timing right for the fungicide application on the soybeans. If it’s too early or too late, it doesn’t do much good.  You have a week- to-10-day window for fungicide application. This practice is also sustainable. Protecting the plant early makes it healthier, which means less need for any other chemical intervention down the road.


JH081114_pic2July 21, 2o14

We’re not doing a whole lot in the fields this week. We are spraying weeds on the sides of the field, and we’ll start spraying fungicide on the corn tomorrow. We don’t have a lot to do with the fungicide spraying since we go through our local fertilizer place to hire a plane. They get a few planes out of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for that purpose. The air will be full of planes the next week or so. The aerial fungicide application always seems to give us a 10-15 bushel advantage.

The corn is all tasseled out and pretty well pollinated. The cool temperatures have really slowed things down as far as the crop. There are blooms on the beans – they’re blooming away – but like my sweet corn, it’s taking a bit longer. I thought the sweet corn was going to be ready last weekend, and I wanted it to be for my granddaughter’s birthday party, but the cool weather we had really slowed things down.

Now the weather has gone the opposite way and it’s really hot. We did have the chance to make some hay the first of the week, which was good. We also did some repairs on a tractor or two.

One of my goals for this week is to replace an auger in the bin. I have to tear the floor up and put that in, but it has to get cooler before I do that. I have to mow some driveways and road ways. I’d like to do that now and then do it one more time before harvest.

We had an inch and a half of rain I wasn’t expecting not too long ago and that was a pleasant surprise. I want my international customers to know that at this point, it looks like a bumper corn crop – possibly one of the best corn crops we’ll have. The beans look pretty decent, and I expect we’ll have a normal bean crop. There should be good supply for all our foreign customers.

June 30, 2014

This week, we are starting to spray our beans. We always put down something early for grass and weeds, and that’ll be the final herbicide treatment for the year.

All the rain we’ve had is challenging because the weeds in the soybeans are getting pretty tall. When the weeds are bigger, we have to use more herbicide, but we always try to use as little as possible to reduce herbicide-resistance.

Our goals this week are to make some headway on the bean spraying. This heat and little bit of rain has really got them growing, and of course, it’s got the weeds growing, too. Another goal is to get an electric fence around my sweet corn patch. Otherwise, the raccoons will get it while I’m gone for the American Soybean Association meeting.

The sweet corn looks good; it’s going to be fantastic. We plant a quarter of an acre of Roundup-Ready sweet corn for personal use – it’s just a friends-and-neighbors type thing.


We are also hoping to get some hay made this week, though we don’t have much. I don’t have any cows, but my son does, so we usually mow waterways and bale them. We haven’t been able to do that yet this year, so it’s getting time to get that out of the way.

There’s not too much going on right now. We’re cleaning up equipment and putting that away, like we always do after planting. I have livestock, so I’m looping back around to do the hog chores that I put off for a week or two when planting was going strong.

In the future, we’ll get these beans sprayed, and then we’ll probably come back and spray some of my corn and some of my beans with fungicide.

June 23, 2014

We aren’t doing anything in the fields this week; it’s a little too damp. Mostly, I’m just mowing weeds and grass and spraying a few weeds around the farmstead. We’re doing all those odds and ends that we let go while we were planting.

One challenge I’m afraid we’ll have in the coming week is that they’re talking about rain coming through for the next four or five days again, and we would like to be able to start spraying our beans. The rain might put a damper on that, but we’ll have to wait and see.


My goals this week are to get everything – all the things that got let go while we were planting – finished. I’ve already started meeting season, but it will get busier with the American Soybean Association (ASA) board meeting and state board meeting. Those types of things are coming up in the next month.

I’ve been thinking about sustainability because I went to the National Biodiesel Board meeting last week. Biodiesel is a pretty sustainable product, and I’m president of the National Biodiesel Foundation so we educate consumers about the benefits of biodiesel including sustainability.

This week surprised me because we got some nice rains, and we didn’t get any of the flooding. That’s really been a plus. If you go to the other end of the state, they have had huge amounts of rain. I was surprised, too, at how the beans took off this week. The corn did, too, but you kind of expect that because corn likes hot, humid weather. Our beans went from 3- or 4-inches tall to 6-inches tall.

June 10, 2014

We actually finished with beans last week and are just doing some spot spraying on the fields now. We had a nice, beautiful rain last night. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t get the 5 inches of rain that many were forecasting. It rained all night, and it was just perfect.

My goal for this week is trying to do a second spraying of the corn – this time it will be RoundUp. We also need to get the first corn we planted sprayed before it gets too big.

Up until last night, the challenge was getting some rain. We haven’t had any rain since Mother’s Day, so we we’re really getting dry. Our crops were growing, but not like they do with a nice rain.


I was surprised by several things this week. For one, we have noticed some corn disappearing in the field – it’s just kind of fading away – and we’re not sure what the cause is. We’ve got some agronomists coming out today to look at it.
We’re keeping sustainability in mind by using no-till soybeans. All of my beans are no-till, and we’ve been using no-till beans since the 1980s. It helps the environment and saves us money through a decreased amount of seeds used without decreased yield. With conventional tilling, we would plant 200,000 seeds per acre, but we are now able to plant only 165,000 seeds per acre. The money saved from a decreased seed cost eventually paid for my new planter when I first switched to no-till.

The best management decision we made was to get all the beans in before the rain, which is good because it takes some moisture to get those beans started. With this rain, the crops look beautiful.

May 12, 2014

We finished planting corn on Saturday evening, and we’ve been mostly selling hogs these past few rainy days. My goals for this week are to get the planter changed over and ready for beans, as the forecast says it should be mostly dry this weekend.

As far as challenges, the soil is so dry that we could hardly see the marker when planting. We have auto-steer on the tractor, but I still use the marker. I’m an old-timer; they’ll convert me some day. The ground has been working nicely, and we haven’t had a hard rain to pack it down.

It’s also been windy, which made loading the planter difficult. The wind never quits; it blows every day. My first corn, which was planted April 23rd or 24th, is up in rows and looking good. My sweet corn, which I always plant first, is also up. Although the ground has gotten hard, we’ve got a good stand with all our corn.

It’s been a good week because we got a lot done. Actually, the week was sort of awesome – even though we did go through a five-hour ordeal to fix the wire harness when our planter and tractor systems weren’t communicating. I think the best management decision I made was to really push planting because we got all the corn in before it started raining.

We’re busy trying to feed our customers, and we’re being sustainable through no-till and minimum tillage practices.

April 24, 2014

We started planting corn on Tuesday, and the ground was very mellow and unsettled. My goal for this week was to get one farm planted before the rain came.


I was really surprised that we didn’t have as much rain as we had been having. After a cold spring with ground temps that didn’t allow us to get in the field until later than usual, I think the most important decision I made this week was to start planting. I’m glad that the rain held off long enough for us to do that.
We thought about sustainability and made management decisions that make our farm a little greener. We’re using GMO seed, and that decreases our use of chemicals and reduces trips across the fields, which both decrease our carbon footprint. I want my international customers to know that their product is being sustainably planted so they’ll have food for themselves and grain to feed their livestock.

April 7, 2014

In southeast Iowa, we are having a dry spring. I’ve hauled livestock nutrients for many years, and this year’s dry weather has produced some of the best conditions for nutrient application, a sustainable practice. At the same time, we do need some rain and warmer weather. Cold temperatures are a big challenge for us now because even though we probably have enough moisture in the ground to plant, the ground is way too cold for anything to germinate.


Despite the dry spell we are experiencing, I want our international soy customers to know that it’s typically August rains that make the beans. We had a good August last year, and will hope for another good summer this year.

About John Heisdorffer’s Farm: John grows soybeans and corn and raises 10,000 hogs on his farm south of Keota. He and his wife of 41 years, Deanna, have two daughters and one son.