Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"all farming is done on a bet" - the corn conundrum

I was reading some commentary about a farming documentary, and the comment "all farming is done on a bet" stuck with me.  It's really true.

For me the bets I make every year are what people will eat in 6 to 10 months... and how much, and what kind and that's the market bets.

But there's the second bet -- the weather.  Climate plays a big part in what I do -- more so in the last 18 months than ever before because i've started growing my own feed, and while I can carefully test my soil and do my research on seeds, and till the ground in the best way I can... if the weather isn't there I'm not going to get the results i hope for.

All farming is done on a bet.
my corn, Sept 21

So this week I'm looking my my corn.  Here's some pictures
alberts corn, Sept 21
 My corn is making progress, but my late planting time is showing right now.  The weather has been temperate -- highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s and the corn is progressing.    Alberts corn was planted 3 weeks or so ahead of mine.
Alberts corn Oct 8

my corn Oct 8
After consulting a couple of local dairy farmers, the basic opinion is that I can chop the corn at any time; I'll lose some value because of the immaure kernels, but the risk is that if I don't chop before the heavy rains come in I may lose a portion of the crop because I can't harvest it.  There's a couple of low areas in my fields, and if the water stands there after a storm, I can't run the chopper there.

The long term forecast is for the rain to start on Oct 11 and basically keep raining for a month.  They're saying that we may have flood conditions around October 18th.  So I'm sitting here looking at the corn, and wanting it to grow faster, but with the growing sense that I should chop it and get it into the silage pit sooner, vs later.

That said, I'm pretty happy with the corn itself.  It to my novice eye I think that my spacing is ok (having some unfertilized kernels at the end of the cob is desirable, apparently.  ) and the size and number of ears is good.  Between the orchard grass and alfalfa and corn, this has been a pretty good year.

Pretty happy about this bet so far.  Crossing my fingers I can follow through correctly and get it put away before the serious rains start.
Red, my airedale, loves the crop walks 

Corn is about 10' tall.  


Steve said...

Good job. Looks like a good crop. After the crop is in what percentage is lost to spoilage?

Bruce King said...

The best guess is that I'll get 22-24 tons of silage per acre, which over the 10 acres will be about 220 tons.

The spoilage is when air contacts the ensiled chopped corn mostly; so depending on how good a job I do packing it tight and keeping it tightly covered I'm hoping that I don't lose too much; 5%? But I'm going to be honest and say that's a guess. Ask me in May and I'll be able to tell you