Top 10 Ways Warrior Dash and Farming Are Alike.

This weekend We ran in our 4th Warrior Dash with our group appropriately named “Just A Little Dirty!”

  For those of you unfamiliar with Warrior Dash, it is a 5k run (or jog in our case) with obstacles and a lot of mud mixed throughout, especially this year.

  
This month (June/15) we have had abnormal amounts of rain, rain and more rain.  This made the parking areas (a hay field) for the event a muddy mess (to no fault of the promoter or venue).  Now it wasn’t that we and other participants weren’t warned of this and told by the promoters to “carpool and drive 4×4 vehicles” there leaving small cars at home, but for some a Prius may be all they have.  At any rate, it wasnt a good place for “grocery getters” to be. 

As for the race itself, it was a blast and one of the most challenging to date. There were new obstacles, plenty of mud, huge and fast water slides, cargo nets to climb over, walls to climb to test your skills, and plenty of mud to crawl over and swim through.  Oh and barbed wire and fire…yes, real barbed wire and fire. 

(Play the video to see the water slide part of an obstacle named Goliath.)   

       While these obstacles may be considered extreme for most, I got to thinking about the barbed wire, getting stuck, the obstacles, the hard work and life skills it takes to complete the race, and of course the mud, and how it relates to the farm.  So here are the top 10 ways the Warrior Dash and Farming are Alike!  

 Top 10 Ways That Warrior Dash and Farming Are Alike:
1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm, usually has a better experience, and doesn’t get stuck in the mud.  
2. 4×4’s are a necessity, small cars belong on concrete.

3. You pay a lot of money to play in the /dirt mud. Quit complaining.  
4. It’s always going to be too wet, too cold, too hot, etc. Suck it up buttercup and enjoy it!

 5. Mother Nature can be a cruel cruel creature, learn to adjust to her. She is in charge at all times. 
6. Large amounts of rain and repeated rains aren’t your friend.

7. Weather it be a tractor or a car, every vehicle has its limit on how much mud it can handle, and so does its drivers. Mud is real.

8. No matter how hard the task, Never Give Up.  
9. Roll with the punches. You and those in charge can do everything right and still have everything go horribly wrong. 

10. (last but not least) Help others in need. When your neighbor is stuck, get out and help them. Karma is real.

Big thank yous out to Warrior Dash and all those who made this event possible.  It continues to challenge us and bring our group together by creating life long memories!  
I’ll leave you with a few more pics and one more way Warrior Dash and Farming are alike.

11.  After a hard days work, stop, sit back, enjoy what you have accomplished and have a beverage of choice,  you earned it! 

 
Extra pics:

   

  

  

  

  
  

  

  

  

  

  

  

    

Farming 101:  What is a Superweed?  Hint…it’s not one of the Avengers!

By now You may have heard the term “Superweed“. 

Generally it refers to a weed that is naturally resistant to common herbicides like the popular Roundup Herbicide made by Monsanto.  However there has never been a great definition on what a Superweed really is until now.   Yesterday, AgWeb, a popular agricultural news source, published an article (click here)  which included the excerpt below aiming to define what the so called Superweed really is:

“the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) has defined the term “superweed” as:

Slang used to describe a weed that has evolved characteristics that make it more difficult to manage due to repeated use of the same management tactic. Over-dependence on a single tactic as opposed to using diverse approaches can lead to such adaptations.”” – 4/30/15  in AgWeb

While the so called Superweed Is a growing problem for farmers, there really isn’t anything “Super” about it. It doesn’t have a cape, change clothes in a phone booth, or turn into a big angry green monster like the Hulk.   It’s merely a weed that is naturally un affected by a certain herbicide, which is nothing new.  Weeds have done just that for years!  This is not to say that other herbicides or the old school garden hoe won’t do the job.  After all it’s not like it has Avenger Style Super Powers or anything.  It’s just a little tougher than the average weed. 

Farming 101: Are farmers forced by Big Ag and Monsanto to plant seeds they don’t want to?

For years now, there has been a myth going around the internet about how farmers seed options have been growing smaller and smaller to the point where they are basically forced by seed companies to plant a certain variety in a monocropping style production method.  This myth is most likely rooted in the fact that farmers who want to use the “latest and greatest” corn hybrids or soybean varieties must sign a contract (discussed here) with the respective seed company agreeing not to reuse the harvested grain as seed for the following year.


The fact is this myth simply isn’t true.   Today there are quite a few seed companies out there that offer countless options for farmers to pick from.  The three most well known seed companies are Monsanto which has the Dekalb, Asgrow, Channel and other brands.   Syngenta Seeds providing the Golden Harvest and NK brands. And DuPont with the Pioneer brand.  Others include smaller privately held seed companies like Wyffels, Becks and Burrus Seeds.

FACT: Farmers have the choice to purchase seed from whatever brand they want to as well as the choice to purchase whatever seeds they want to from that company.   In fact, based on what I have seen in many farmers sheds this spring (and for years prior) many farmers choose to diversify and buy a few bags of seed from 3-4 companies on average.  You can learn more about how farmers choose what seeds to plant by clicking here.

Here are 17+7 reasons why this myth is 100% busted.  
Every year we conduct seed trials on our farm comparing the yield potential of various seeds and brands.  As in years past we go above and beyond what is considered a normal size seed trial which is usually 4 rows wide and 500′ long.

For 2015 our main “Potential To Yield” (P2Y) seed trial consists of 17 corn hybrids from 7 different Seed brands including everything from the big Monsanto brands to the little guy, Wyffels Hybrids Brand.  Each corn hybrid will be planted 32 rows wide and 1/2 mile long and will provide ourselves and other farmers with quality yield data after harvest is completed this fall.  That data will then help farmers choose which seeds may be best to plant on their farms in 2016!

For more information on our “Potential To Yield” (P2Y) seed trials visit our web site Potential Ag.

Have a comment or question?  Feel free to post a comment below.

I look forward to discussing your concerns with you!

Thank you and have a Great Day!

Friday Farm Flicks #plant15 Style

This week was out first week back in the fields, and the first few days of the 2015 planting season (#plant15 on Twitter)

Here are just a few of the pictures I have taken so far while we were busy planting.
 

First we started off by filling our tractor up with fuel  

Then Start off the year with a prayer


  Some quick flying to make sure the fields are ready
Then came the rain  
Meanwhile we prepped the planter for #plant15 in our shop    

A few days later the ground dried and we were able to level some of our fields off, prepping them for planting.  That night Mother Nature offered a great sunset  
Ground leveling continued for a few days  
Meanwhile our cover crops thrived in the warm spring weather  

When the fields were ready we began to plant our 2015 corn crop

 After one day of planting, more rain fell, bringing field work to a halt for the next few days

  Thank you for stopping by.

Want to see more pictures and follow us as we continue the planting season? 

Follow us at @boucherfarms on Twitter

like us on Facebook at Boucher Farms 

Farming 101:  What difference do a few pennies make?

Farming is an expensive occupation.  Whether the farm raises cattle on 20 acres or raises corn and soybeans on 5000 acres, the expenses and risks are high.

That being said what difference do a few pennies make?

All the difference in the world.

Today the USDA released its monthly report showing the status of cash crops grown in the U.S. such as corn and soybeans.  At this time of the year (prior to most farmers planting the current years crop) the reports can show esitimates of how many acres will be planted into certain crops, estimates showing how many bushels of grain are sitting in storage in the country and the demand for their eventual usage.  All of these factors and many more go into determining the price of the grain for local and worldwide market levels.

When reports like this come out the market often reacts quickly. Sometimes it rises quickly and stays there offering the farmer a opportunity for increased revenue, other times it’s not so positive. To a farmer, that move in the market prices can mean the difference between turning a profit for the year or being in the red.

Here is a screen shot of the markets reaction to the USDA’s report today. Showing a $0.13 cent drop in the Corn price shortly after the report was issued. 

Let’s pencil this out:

A farmer farms 1000 acres of Corn

After paying the landlords rent, or making land payments (if he/she owns the land) and paying for all input costs like seed, fertilizer, machinery, fuel, etc, he/she may have a total per acre expense of $750.00/acre of corn.

That same acre of corn has been known to produce an average of 190 bushels per acre (bpa) of corn grain at the years end.

Using the prereport price per bushel of corn for $3.98 the potential income equals

190 x 3.98 = $756 income per acre.

Now let’s Subtract the $750 he/she spent to plant the acre.

$756 – $750 =  $6/acre return on investment.

Remember: there are 1000 acres of corn,

This results in a mere $6,000 profit for the year.

As you can see there is income but isn’t enough to support the farm or the farm family, but, this is a real life situation.

So what financial effect did the reports initial reaction have on this farmer?

At the time of this screen shot the market price for corn was $3.85. So let’s calculate the farmers income.

190  x $3.85 = $731 income per acre.

Remember the farmer needed $750/acre income to turn a profit.

$750 – $731.50= $-18.5 per acre loss.

1000 acres x $-18.5 per acre income = $-18,500 loss for the year.

Harvesting Corn

Harvesting Corn

Sure the market moved only 13 pennies per bushel of corn but the result to the farmer was a $24,500 change in potential income and a $18,500 loss, all in a matter of minutes.

  I bet the pile of change you have in your cars cup holder looks a little different now!

Interested in watching how the market performs in the coming days?  You can watch the price of May Delivery Corn fluctuate by up to $0.40 per day by clicking here to visit the Chicago Mercantile Exchange website.

Friday Farm Flicks 3/27/15

it’s been quite a while since I have posted, since December 5th actually. But just as spring brings change to our environment it brings change to The Farmers Story too!  As spring arrives so does the planting season, aka #plant15 on social media.   With that I thought I would share some photos from the winter and beyond to get the season started off right!

Let’s first go back to this fall, #harvest14.  This pic was taken on the last day of harvest and is very special to me.  This is a pic of 3 generations of Boucher Farms working together for the first time harvesting corn.  In the pic, my oldest child (BF generation #5) takes the wheel of our combine (with me sitting beside her) harvesting corn while simultaneously unloading corn “on the go” into the auger cart and tractor driven by her grandfather (BF generation #3)  while I (BF generation #4) take the pic.  While it wasn’t the first time she drove the combine under my watchful eye, it was her first time unloading while combining which was a big step for her, making for a proud Dad and Grandpa!  I mean, how many 10yr olds can handle a combine in stride?   I was grinning ear to ear for a few days straight!  Great Job Miss H.!!

The next picture brings us to post harvest plowing.  This pic shows our John Deere 9510R 4 wheel drive tractor pulling our Case IH 870 disk chisel/ripper. This tool allows us to mechanically till and loosen the soils in preparation for the following year.  

 This pic shows an alternative method of tilling to the mechanical one above.  These plants are called Tilliage Radishes.  They are a type of cover crop that allows farmers to loosen the soil, help prevent soil erosion, help needed nutrients remain in the soils and also help deter weeds and other pests in our fields. These radishes were flown on as seeds over top of our growing soybean field before harvest.  I dug these up to see how they were progressing and many of them were already about 12″ long, which is around the same depth that we mechanically till the soil, and having similar effects.

   

Christmas came and went but not without a first for our family. This year we spent part of Christmas Day on a Florida beach, near my inlaws winter home.  While Christmas isn’t the same without the cold and snow, we didn’t miss it either!

  On our way home from FL we stopped in Nashville TN.  Upon a visit to downtown Nashville we found a cowboy boot store with the most boots we have ever seen in one place! 

January brought us back to reality and the cold and snow of IL.  The pic below shows us unloading soybeans we grew for a seed company, who will clean them, check them for top quality, package them and sell them to other farmers to grow in 2015.  We will be growing more seed beans for them again this season, so more farmers can utilize the seeds we grow in 2016!  

This is a pic of the sweep auger inside the grain bin where the seed beans were stored.  The sweep augers its atop the bins floor and helps bring the beans from threshes of the bin to the center where there is a hole in the floor where another auger catches them and draws them outside of the bin and eventually into a truck.

What good is a Friday Farm Flick post without some country sunrise and sunset  pics from our farm?  Enjoy!

 

  

   

  

In closing I’ll leave you with a little St. Patrick’s Day Ag Humor.   

  Have a great weekend and check back often! As spring arrives and the farming seasons gets busier, I’ll post more blog entries to keep you up to date on what’s going on in the country!  

Farming 101: How Do Farmers Determine If Their Crop Is Dry Enough To Harvest, Store, or Sell?

Every year as fall arrives farmers need to determine when their fields will be ready for harvest.  Many factors go into making that determination such as standability, plant maturity, plant health and grain moisture content just to name a few.  For the purposes of this post, lets talk about moisture content in field corn and how that plays into a farmers harvest plan.

First off, lets start with a little background information.

There are many types of corn grown throughout the United States, including Sweet Corn, which you buy at the store or farm stand in the summer, and #2 yellow dent field corn, which is most commonly grown by farmers throughout the Midwestern ares of the nation.  Sweet Corn is most commonly harvested by farmers as a produce type product in mid summer at a very high moisture content, when the kernels are tender and full of sugars, which is what makes it one of my favorite summertime foods!  #2 Yellow Dent Field Corn is quite the opposite.  Field Corn is harvested by farmers as a grain product in the fall months when the kernels are dry, hard, and full of starches.  While Sweet Corn goes directly into the food chain as canned corn or consumed directly off the cob, field corn has thousands of uses including Livestock Feed, Corn Flours, Corn Syrups, Ethanol to fuel your cars and much much more.

As you may already know, Sweet Corn has a short shelf life.  Ears left in the refrigerator or left out on the counter do not last very long.  However, Field Corn has a much longer shelf life if managed correctly.  The shelf life of Field Corn is largely determined by how much moisture is in the kernels themselves.  The higher the moisture content is there is a greater chance of the Corn spoiling in storage. The ideal moisture content for stored Field Corn is around 14-15%.  Click here to view a chart on Field Corn’s Shelf Life

So How do farmers determine if their crop is dry enough to harvest, store, or sell?  

The picture below shows 2 devices we use on our farm for determining the moisture content of our grain.  They work for multiple crops but for this post we will concentrate on Field Corn.  For reference the moisture tester on the left is around 4 years old while the tester on the right is around 25 years old.  Both are very accurate but the newer tester has a few other useful features we can discuss later.

Ears ready to be tested

Ears ready to be tested

To determine if a field is ready to harvest, we first must determine the moisture content of the grain in the field.  To do so, we walk out into the field, walk down a row of corn for a few hundred feet and pick a few ears at random.  For example, if the field is 80 acres in size, we will walk into around 3-4 areas in the field and pick 1-2 representative ears from each area.  In the picture above, we picked 5 ears to test.

Shelled Kernels ready to be put into the tester

Shelled Kernels ready to be put into the tester

Now that we have our ears picked and the husks are removed, we break the ears in half and begin to remove the kernels, by hand, into a bucket.  While the entire ears kernels will be harvested, we normally test the kernels from the middle of the ear.

The filled tester cup, ready to be tested.

The filled tester cup, ready to be tested.

After the majority of the kernels have been removed from each ear, we blend them in the bucket and remove a measured sample for our older tester to test.

Dumping in the corn

Dumping in the corn

Next we slowly dump the corn into the tester.  This has to be done slowly to be accurate.

The tester filled with corn

The tester filled with corn

After we dump the corn into the tester, we wait 15 seconds then press the button in the lower right hand corner of the tester, and it gives us an accurate reading of the kernels moisture content.  This test reads 15.6%.  This means the field is ready to be harvested and stored directly into one of our grain bins.

IMG_6536

The newer tester operates on the same principles as the older one does, but is a little different.

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With this tester, we fill the clear container with corn and place it atop the tester before we dump it in.  This clear container has a special black slide gate on the bottom of it which helps slow the amount of kernels going into the tester when opened.  Much like the older tester, it has to be filled slowly to provide accurate results.

IMG_6539When filled, we remove the clear container and run the test.  The corn we tested here has a 29.2% moisture content which was too wet to harvest at the time of this test.  As you may notice, this tester also provides us with other information including test weight (how much a bushel of this corn would weigh) and what the temperature of the grain is.

To store the grain in our grain bins, we need the moisture content to be at or under 15% as a rule of thumb.  Some farmers like it a little higher and some lower, but 15% is our target.  There are many times we harvest corn that is above 15% moisture and have to dry the corn artificially before we can store it in our bins.  Check back for an upcoming post: Farming 101: How Farmers Dry Their Corn For Storage for more information on how we dry our corn.

 

Do you have any Questions or Comments?  

Feel free to post them in the comment section below.  I will gladly do my best to answer them asap!

 

Keeping it Cool

A short and sweet post for you this morning. I found this pic on its corresponding Facebook Page this morning and I have to say, with all the recent events we hear about on the news, the admins behind it just won the internet.

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May we all take this advice to heart. In the end, Our race shouldn’t matter, our Sexual preference shouldn’t matter, our Religious beliefs shouldn’t matter, in fact none of our differences should matter. Only LOVE & RESPECT for each other matters in the end.

As we go throughout our day today, may we put our differences aside and decide to move forward, together.

The Pro Farmer Tour, When Corn And Soybean Yield Estimates Count

THE PRO FARMER TOUR RESULTS:

This week is a big week for Grain Farmers all across the Nation.  This week brings an annual tradition, the annual Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.  This tour has one simple goal in mind, to evaluate the potential yields of the corn and soybean crops on a state by state basis across the Midwest.  Why is this important?  Their findings can set the tone for the rest of the season  going into harvest (follow #harvest14 on twitter) and has an effect on the prices which farmers receive for their crops.  To sum it up, if the Pro Farmer Tour finds an above average crop, then the market prices would theoretically go down, if they find a below average crop, then the market prices would theoretically go up.  Keep in mind, I said THEORETICALLY, as the grain market is never that simple.

As some of you may recall, yesterday I wrote about how we conduct yield estimates on our own corn fields.  You can view it by clicking here.  The numbers we estimated in our own fields are great information for us to use for our own purposes, but in order to get a handle on what the nations farmers will produce for the year, we need to broaden our testing area.  The Pro Farmer Tour does just that!

A 100 acre Corn Test Plot Comparing Various Varieties of Corn in IL

A 100 acre Corn Test Plot Comparing Various Varieties of Corn in IL

About the tour:

To sum it up, the Pro Farmer tour is conducted by a group of crop scouts who are hands on in the fields of the Midwest.  These scouts have one job to do, scout the fields and report what they find.  Good, bad, or indifferent.  These scouts go from area to area, stopping in fields along the way checking corn and soybeans for what their potential yield may be come harvest.

Determining Corn Yields:

The renowned Agricultural web site, AgWeb.com may have said it best:

“…scouts count the number of ears that will make grain on two 30-foot rows, then pull the fifth, eighth and 11th ear from one row (three total ears).  On those sample ears, scouts count (and average) the number of kernel rows around and measure (and average) the length of grain on each ear in inches. The final piece of data for the yield calculation is row spacing.”

Determining Soybean Yields:  

Again, AgWeb.com did a great job explaining how the tour scouts come up with the figures:

“In each soybean field, scouts go to a “representative” area of the field and lay out a 3-foot plot. All the plants are counted in the plot, then three plants are pulled at random. All the pods on the three plants are counted and an average number of pods per plant is calculated. To determine the total number of pods in 3-foot of row, multiply the average number of pods per plant by the total number of plants in 3-foot of row.”

Soybeans are a hard nut to crack so to speak.  Their final yield can vary greatly depending on the size of the soybean, which wont be determined for quite some time yet.  So rather than estimate the yield completely, the Tour Scouts count the number of soybean pods on each plant and compare that figure to those of other tested areas and states.  While this doesn’t translate directly to bushels per acre, its safe to say that the more pods there are, the greater chance there is of having a good soybean crop.

Soybeans Growing on my Farm in IL, Taken in June 2014

Soybeans Growing on my Farm in IL, Taken in June 2014

The Results of the 2014 Pro Farmer Crop Tour:

Back in 2012, the majority of the nation was in a major drought.  Crops were barely hanging on, and were in dire need of water, sacrificing yield along the way.  2013 brought a glimmer of hope for those same farmers bringing in a good corn crop and many farmers had the opportunity to harvest the best crop of soybeans they’ve seen in their entire careers.  In 2014 however, due to the abundant harvest of 2013, the market prices are down (supply vs demand) and farmers NEED a great corn and soybean crop to make ends meet.  In some areas, that just may happen, however others may not be as fortunate.  Lets dig into the tour results to see where those good and not as good areas are.

Since our farm is based in IL, lets start with the Tours Results for IL, which can be found directly by clicking on the headings below.

Pro Farmer 2014 Tour Illinois Results:

Corn: 196.6 bushels per acre average over 190 trials   vs a 149.36 bushel/ac average over 3 years (including the drought year)

Soybeans: 1299.17 pod count average in 177 trials vs a 1085.35 average pod count over 3 years (including the drought year)

Pro Farmer 2014 Tour Nebraska Results:

Corn: 163.77 bu/ac average over 273 trials vs a 146.81 bushel/ac average over 3 years (including the drought year)

Soybeans: 1103.26 pod count average in 265 trials vs a 1106.62 average pod count over 3 years (including the drought year)

Pro Farmer 2014 Tour Indiana Results:

Corn: 185.03 bu/ac average over 168 trials vs a 141.24 bushel/ac average over 3 years (including the drought year)

Soybeans: 1220.79 pod count average in 165 trials vs a 1118.65 average pod count over 3 years (including the drought year)

 

So what do all these numbers mean?  

To sum it up, there is a really good potential for a good corn and soybean crop for #harvest14.  Are the numbers above written in stone?  No, of course not.  The final harvested bushels per acre will be different, as they are influenced by timely rains, lack of rain, or damaging storms that affect both the corn and soybean crops.  Right now, these numbers are good estimates of what the grain traders can expect U.S. farmers to produce for the year.

How Farmers Benefit from the Tour:

The running joke is: When a farmer goes into a coffee shop, sits down with his neighbor farmers, the discussion will eventually turn to how well the cops are doing.  (Let the fish stories begin)  In this situation, the first BS’er is always dead in the water.  If he says he/she has 180 bushels per acre in the field, the next guy will surely have a field estimated at 185 and so on.

The Pro Farmers Tour helps get around that scenario, presenting “Just the Facts”.  As a farmer, knowing these figures helps us better market our own individual crops.  If we think the estimated numbers are low, and more bushels per acre will be harvested than the Tour shows, we may sell some of our growing crops early to avoid a decline in market prices when the added supply hits the market.  If we think the estimated numbers are high, we may hold on to our grain for a longer period of time in hopes that the market prices will rise when the expected supply doesn’t materialize.

At the end of the day, although we may not always agree with the results, we know the results are fairly accurate estimates based on a large data set,  and we as farmers, greatly appreciate everything the people at the Pro Farmer Tour do.

 

Sources: Pro Farmers Tour and AgWeb

 

Farming 101: How do farmers estimate their corn yields before harvest?

If you drive around the countryside this time of the year (mid August) you will find number of farms with their shed doors open, some farm machinery sitting around the yard, and farmers busily prepping for the coming harvest.  Our farm is no different.  For the last few weeks we have been taking steps to prep for this years harvest.  (You can follow many farmers harvest on twitter with the #harvest14 hashtag.)

One of the most important things we do this time of the year is to create yield estimations of our corn fields.  This is very important, and gives us a good idea about what yields to expect in our fields at harvest.  By having the estimates we can develop a “Plan A” for #harvest14 which will determine how many acres worth of corn we can store in our bins, how many acres of corn we will need to haul to the grain elevator straight from the fields and how much LP (liquid propane) we will have to purchase to dry the corn we store in our bins.  While the estimates are just that, estimates, they help provide us with a pretty accurate guess as to how many bushels per acre in our fields.

 

Corn picked and labeled from various fields

Corn picked and labeled from various fields

Here is how we do a corn yield estimate:

Conducting a corn yield estimate is actually fairly simple, and if you have any sweetcorn handy, you can do this too!   We start by picking a handful of sample ears from a few fields, label them by field name with a marker to keep them separate from the other fields corn.  Yields can vary from field to field and corn hybrid to corn hybrid, so we try to be as thorough as we can when picking the sample ears and keeping them separate.

 When we go into a field to grab ears, naturally we are drawn to the large ears.  Its hard not to pick the best looking ears out there, but that’s not what we are after.  We want to pick ears that are a good representative of the field.  To do so we choose the ears at “random” from at least 2 different areas in the field.

We first choose an area of the field  that looks “average” meaning it’s not the best spot in the field, but it’s not the worst either.  After choosing those areas, we enter the fields, walk at least 100 feet into the fields and find a row or two that again, qualify to be considered “average”.    Now comes the hard part, avoiding picking those nice LARGE ears that you naturally get drawn to.  To avoid doing so, we literally close our eyes and take a few steps forward, feeling for an ear.  When we touch an ear, we pick it, then take a few more steps and pick another, then another.  Generally speaking, we take 2-3 ears from each area we walk into.  This “random” picking of a few ears in multiple areas in the field gives us a decent representation of what the entire fields ears may look like.

While in the same area, we also need to determine now many ears per acre there are.  To do so, we measure 17.5′ long (1/1000th of an acre using 30″ wide rows) and count every ear in that length.  While picking these areas, we found the average number of ears to be 32.  So we multiply 32 by 1000 to get, 32000,  the overall ear population in one acre. (this is important for later)

Ears picked from a 100 ac field of 105 day #2 Yellow Field Corn

Ears picked from a 100 ac field of 105 day #2 Yellow Field Corn

After we pick and label the corn, we take it to the shop to be husked and counted using a simple formula to estimate their potential yield.

Here is how:

Take an ear of corn and simply count how many kernels it has on it.  Simple right?  That may take a while.  Instead of counting every kernel, we simply count how many rows of kernels (Around)  there are on the ear and write that number down.

AG FACT:  A ear of corn will ALWAYS have an even number of rows around on it.  Usually ranging from 14-18.

After you have the number of rows around, we now need to count the number of kernels long.  Starting at the bottom end of the ear, and omitting the last few kernels on the bottom and top, count the number of kernels in one row long.  These numbers usually range from 28-42.  We do this for each ear, then average them all together.

 

Here is an example of how the estimates work.

Lets say you have 5 ears, after counting them all up, you come up with:

36 kernels long on average

16 rows around on average

and had the 32000 ear population stated above.

So: 36 x 18 x 32000 = 18,432,000 kernels of corn in one acre

From here we need to turn those kernels into bushels.  Normally, a bushel of corn weighs around 56lb and can contain anywhere from 75,000 to 90,000 kernels.  In order to keep our yield estimates on the conservative side, we will use the 90,000 figure, keeping our estimates lower.

18,432,000 / 90000 =  204.8 bushels per acre

Here is an example from our fields taken yesterday:  NOTE:  This particular variety has larger kernels than normal so we also conducted an estimate using a 80000 kernels per bushel figure.

Ears picked, and estimated from our field on 8/19/14

Ears picked from our field on 8/19/14.  This field has some wind damage causing the ears to be smaller than normal.

This group of ears averaged 36.3 long x 15.3333333333 around x 32000 ear population = 17,811,200

17,811,200 / 90,000 = 197.90 bushels per acre

17,811,200 / 80,000 = 222.64 bushels per acre

Although the combine will tell us what the yields really are, now that we have some basic yield estimates we can make a plan to haul the correct amount of bushels to our bin sites or the grain elevator for storage during harvest.   

The next time you have corn on the cob for dinner, you can do the exact same yield estimate on your ear as we did here to see what it could have yielded if harvested like field corn would be.

Have any questions or comments?  I would like to hear from you!  Please comment below!  I look forward to talking with you!