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kansasfarmer's blog

May 2010 - Posts

  • Three really bad days.

    All I can say is "wow, what a tough three days".  It all started late Wednesday evening, after a daylong cold rain, my telephone rang about 7pm.  A close friend of mine asked, "have you heard the news?".  I answered I hadn't a clue what he was talking about.  Turns out, our long time fire chief had shot and killed himself.  I have never had anyone I knew well commit suicide.  A half dozen of us have served together almost 20 years, we weren't prepared for the shock.  

    On Thursday morning as all of us began to regain our bearings, we realized we needed some involvement in the funeral, and called his son to arrange that.  I went out to the cemetery to see if the ground was firm enough to hold up our fire trucks, and on my return trip through town happened upon a car wreck, an elderly couple(the woman use to be one of my teachers in school) had run into the side of a cattle trailer.   I helped get the man out of the car and into the ambulance, I think he will eventually be fine. 

    This morning right off the bat I got another phone call that a friend of mines father had just suffered a heart attack.  They wanted to life flight him but the cloud deck was too low, I still haven't heard the outcome of that.  Then at noon, I was hit with the news that some neighbors I am fairly close to are getting a divorce, "splitting the sheets" as we call it.  Undoubtedly they will have to sell the farm to settle the divorce..who knows what kind of neighbors I will end up with next.

    I'm fine, I just wish everyone I know was too.

     

     

     

  • Will Monday be a tornado day?

     Kansas is in tornado alley, this time of the year especially we pay extra close attention to the weather forecast.  The names of the towns wrecked by huge tornado's roll off our tongues easily...Udall, Haysville, Andover, El Dorado, Hesston, Emporia, Topeka, the most famous of all Greensburg, and most recently Chapman. 

    Year by year the forecasting gets better and better.  I watch a storm chaser site for their more site specific forecasts, and for almost a week they have been talking about May 10 being a day for a possible tornado outbreak in central Kansas, at times the forecast moves east a bit. The NWS convective outlook this morning shows a target area for Monday taking in eastern Kansas, and part of Oklahoma, Missouri, and even a little bit of Iowa and Nebraska.  

    We won't really know anything for sure until Monday is over, but it will be interesting to me if they can forecast this so far ahead and be correct in any way shape or form, because if they can it will prove to me just how far their forecasting ability has come.

    It is a little maddening to read the comments on the chaser site though, they are "praying" everything will come together for a major outbreak, and "hoping" they aren't misreading things.  I guess everyone hopes for different things in life, I am praying to be spared.

  • High cost of soybean seed changes seeding methods.

    When I planted my first soybean crop in 1987, it was with our "corn planter" the name we often use to refer to what you Brits call a precision planter because for years all they were used for was planting corn(maize).  They were in 30 inch rows, about 8-10 seeds per foot of row.  In those days bean seed came in a 50 or even a 60 pound(one bushel) bag and cost at most $15 per bushel.  In the early 90s a neighbor tried a novel new approach to planting soybeans(we often simply call them "beans"), he seeded them with his 7.5 inch wheat drill.  As time went on it became more and more accepted to plant with a drill, most guys used about 10-15 pounds more seed per acre to compensate for poorer emergence brought about by more haphazard seed depths and spacing.  By 2000, my guess is that 50% to as many as 80% of the soybeans planted in my immediate area(say a 20 mile radius of my farm) were drilled.

    During the "world food crisis" of a couple years ago, the price of GM soybean seed skyrocketed, and as prices eased for the raw soybean, the price of seed kept going up.  New for this year I will no longer be able to buy my seed by the pound, they will come in 140000 count sacks.  For years our corn has come in 80000 kernel units, now it is soybean seed.  With seed costs now approaching $50 per acre for soybeans, rivaling corn, drills are being relegated to drilling just wheat again, and soybeans are being planted more precisely with "corn planters" some with 15 inch splitters.  With at most two weeks to make up my mind, for the first time in 15 years there will more than likely be no more than 25 acres of soybeans planted with a drill, if any at all.  While I would like to purchase a 12/23 split row planter, I will probably just return to the much more economical 30 inch row, and sacrifice a bushel or so of production an acre. I guess this is sort of a "back to the future" moment.

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