Fall harvest is a busy time for farmers. You see a lot of combines and other equipment working in the fields, sometimes around the clock, to get crops out before any bad weather arrives.
Our fifth-generation farm is no different, although I am just as likely to be caring for our dairy cow herd as I am combining corn and soybeans or doing weed research for Purdue University. I put in a lot of long hours all year wearing so many hats. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You might think that our activity on the farm would slow down as harvest wraps up in the fall. After all, the crops have been gathered and either stored in large bins for sale or use later or transported to a buyer to take the next step toward becoming food, fuel and animal feed.
But that isn’t the case. Cooler, shorter days take me inside for recordkeeping and for preparing for next season, always with the goals of meeting the needs of our land and of our customers.
Farmers pay attention to what today’s consumers want from their food. More consumers are further from the farm today than ever, so I make a point of sharing with consumers how I treat our soils and our animals with great care. Food safety, the health of our cows and using best management practices to raise crops sustainably are in the best interest of everyone.
For example, we raise crops on our farm that do well in our geography. Our family grows double-crop soybeans in Washington County, Illinois, because it is the top winter wheat producing county in the state. We take advantage of a growing season that allows us to raise not only full-season crops, but also to plant and harvest two crops from the same acreage in one year. We plant wheat in the fall, harvest it the next summer and plant soybeans for fall harvest.
This process keeps crops growing on and protecting our soils all year long. We also can supply more bushels to the market and spread the risk of our farm business.
Now that fall harvest is wrapping up, I am switching gears to prepare for 2021. I am reviewing the impact weather had on our fields this year and the weed control plan we will use next year.
My dad says that in his lifetime of farming, he has not seen so much water flow through our fields like he has seen the last five years. We have watched new gulleys develop following the big rain events we seem to get now. We will be moving dirt and building berms in those fields to send any extra water underground and through drainage tile to manage soil erosion in 2021.
The last few years have also seen a stubborn weed problem spread. Waterhemp is hard to control, spreads easily from one field or farm to the next and affects crop yields. I am taking a look at the options we have to safely manage waterhemp without harming the growing crop.
As you can see harvest time is go time … but so are the other seasons. I love what I do and look forward to helping meet the needs of our customers every day of the year.