It’s just about that time! This is the cotton field that Dad and I posed in for a photo for The Cooperator Magazine just a little over two months ago that can be viewed lower on the page. What a tremendous change since then. He’ll be picking cotton in a week. I’m taking medical school exams.
It’s been awhile, but harvest has begun and Dad sent me a picture of corn cutting. Pre-flood of 2011 corn is performing about 50 bushels per acre poorer than post-flood crop.
In a typical year we would have the majority of our corn harvested by now, but a wet spring delayed much of the planting (or forced replanting), and the start of harvest was shifted out of August.
An important post for new readers and followers
As you may have deduced from my photo below in a white coat, my time on the farm has come to a bittersweet close. I have loved my agrarian life for many years but I am also very excited to pursue a career in medicine. Tune in around harvest for photos courtesy of my dad, or spend some time reading the over 100 posts about farm life already on the blog.
This photo is courtesy of Allison Morgan of the Cooperator Magazine. Read her story about Farm Photo of the Day in their “Every Farmer Has a Story” segment:
Medical School is keeping me quite busy but expect some interesting posts in a few more weeks when harvest begins.
The transition from the fields to the wards is complete. With our White Coat Ceremony today Katie and I were welcomed into the medical profession. I’ll miss the farm tremendously.
Here we are standing on the Quadrangle outside Jesse Hall on the campus of the University of Missouri. Here’s to the start of a whole new journey!
This is a spot in one of our irrigation runs that had some damage. We know we are in a drought when coyotes and other varmints tear into our poly pipe so they can get a drink of water.
Even though the pipe was damaged, the picture illustrates a simple fix: sliding a piece of corrugated pipe between the torn link. We then use oversized hose clamps or duct tape to splice the line. This allows us to resume irrigating the field without having to replace the entire 1/4 mile roll of polypipe.
What’s going one here? This isn’t a joyride in the country, but a tractor-mounted spot sprayer for killing scattered weeds in soybeans and cotton.
Using a spot sprayer is somewhat analogous to using a DustBuster on a soiled carpet instead of getting the Hoover out of the closet to vacuum the whole floor.
Spot spraying allows us to carefully target resistant or stubborn weeds without having to use herbicides on an entire field, yet another conservation strategy.
Despite the prolonged dry, hot weather Dad has been keeping up with the irrigation pretty well. Here is a developing ear of corn that is starting to “fill out” with little rows of kernels. It especially important for the corn to get adequate water at this stage. The corn in the photo does not show characteristic signs of heat stress such as leaf curling, and this is due partly to irrigation and partly to genetic improvements in drought resistance.
Drought stress on corn can have tremendous yield effects in both the vegetative and silking/pollination phases. Read more about the specifics here in this report from Purdue University:
To see corn grow from a small stalk, through the vegetative stage, into reproduction, and finally into maturity, watch this neat time lapse video:
My first day of medical school is in the books! When I stepped into the lecture hall for my first orientation session this morning I thought of Julius Caesar’s words as he crossed the Rubicon River with his army in 49 B.C: “Alea iacta est”.
This is Latin for, “the die has been cast”, meaning the game has begun and there is no turning back. I’m happy to finally play.
Meanwhile on the farm, Dad sent me this photo of beehives on a field next to one of ours. Honey is another agricultural product of the Missouri Bootheel and bee boxes can be seen against many hedgerows and ditch banks. Of course, the bees pollinate flowers and make sweet honey, which is the only rent many farmers demand from the bee keepers. Watch this video to see exactly how honey is made:
Delta Bee Company of Kennett, Missouri handles the lion’s share of the hives in our area, but look for local honey at your farmer’s market or local goods store and enjoy this blessing from nature. My one medical caveat: don’t feed this honey to infants since it can cause botulism (food poisoning) that their young immune systems cannot handle.
I’ve already demonstrated the way we irrigate today with poly-pipe and electric motors or old recycled car motors, but before poly-pipe tubing Bootheel farmers relied on hard aluminum pipe.
Imagine laying out 1/4 mile of this red hot, heavy pipe in 12 foot sections in 95 degree weather in June. I’m glad those days are past.
Many of you may have seen the headlines in the national news about extensive flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers during April and May. Though the water is long gone we still have our own reminders of the flooding, which for us was due to 22” of rain in 4 days. We were not affected by Mississippi river levee breaches, although a drainage ditch levee did break sending backwater around our house.
The reminder of the flood in this photo is the patchwork of crop. Corn and beans are planted in the same rows of the same field. The corn was already planted when the flooding began, so the low end of the field drowned, leaving a good stand of corn on the high end. Once the water had receded and the field dried, we planted the rest of each row in soybeans.
Harvest will be interesting…