Planting Progress

Planting season is here again! Well, it’s been here a few weeks already…Most farmers in the area are close to finishing up their corn and some are finished with beans. We planted our popcorn (3 varieties this year!) on Monday April, 24.
We’re planting our mushroom popcorn in this photo.
Planting popcorn at sunset

A couple things about the photo:
  • We rotate crops. Last year we planted soybeans here. Beans fix nitrogen so we don’t have to apply as much fertilizer this year. It also helps with weed and pest control.
  • We practice no till farming. This means we typically don’t plow before we plant. This conserves water, improves soil quality and reduces erosion.
  • Check out those straight rows! Our tractor has GPS steering which means our rows are just about perfect!
  • The farmstead in the background was started in the late 1800’s when my great great great grandparents immigrated from Germany. It’s been in the family over 100 years!

 

Farming is a Gamble.
Burying a bunch of seeds under a couple inches of dirt is always a gamble. A lot of steps are taken to mitigate risk, but it’s still a gamble. Mother Nature typically provides a lot of things to worry about….Bugs, heat, too much rain, not enough rain, hail, wind, etc….you get the point.  This year is no different. Last week we had a fairly significant weather event: Winter Storm “Ursa” if you buy into the naming of winter storms.


A few hundred miles west of us had up to a foot of snow and many farmers are worried about their wheat crop. We were lucky and missed the snow. The biggest issue for our area was cold temperatures. We planted in warm weather, but a few days after we planted the temperature dropped into the 20’s. It stayed cold/wet for a few days so hopefully the corn all comes up! It’s important to plant seed into warmer soil. Planting in cold, damp soil causes the seed to absorb cold water which could reduce yield or kill the seed. Here’s an article about imbibitional chilling injury if you want to learn more. And yes, we also have websites that track soil temperatures for planting. You can check out one from the University of Nebraska here.

Popcorn germinates and begins to grow when soil temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, the risk is that the popcorn will remain in the ground too long before temperatures increase. Remaining in the ground increases risks and we’re anxious for it to pop out! Hopefully we won’t have to replant. Some risks include bugs, fungus and gophers (13-Lined Ground Squirrels).


gopher holes      gopher 

Bare spots in this drone photo show gopher damage. The gluttonous buggers eat all seed within a 15ft diameter circle. Adding insult to injury  is when well intentioned badgers excavate larger holes hunting gophers. Badger holes represent a particular joy when walking through fields - you don’t really trip so much as violently collapse. Badger holes elicit a primal lexicon understood only by those who have survived the trauma. We. Love. Gophers.

What's next?

Now that temps are warming up, we expect to see the popcorn sprouting within the next few days… stay turned for updates as the growing seasons continues!

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