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Field Notes

NCGA's tenth season of Field Notes is in a new blog format. Check back for quick looks into what real farmers see in terms of crop progress and gain insight into how the crop of 2020 is doing from firsthand sources.

Nov 23, 2020

Illinois Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Harvest turned out fairly well this year. Both our corn and soybean yields were above average. We still have 80 acres of beans left standing on reclaimed ground from coal mines. It has been very wet, and they will probably remain standing until next spring. We had a seven-inch rain, waited a few days to try and get back to harvesting. We got stuck with two combines stuck and had to inch out. I don’t trust reclaimed ground to freeze fully enough and to not give way in those conditions. We cut beans out there in the spring before and it didn’t turn out that badly.   “We have hauled all of the corn for our November contracts, and we’ve been working on cleaning our equipment to get it ready for winter. We probably have more corn in storage this year than ever before, and we have contracts for December and January. It will take a while to get the crop hauled and delivered.”   Jim Raben, Illinois farmer

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Nov 16, 2020

Ohio Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We have a rain delay today with half of the corn left to harvest. Soybean harvest is finished here. We finished that before hitting a two-week delay due to wet weather at the end of October. That really put us behind schedule. We aim to be done by Thanksgiving.   “Our yields are good so far. Hopefully, after all the wind last night, the corn is still standing. We are excited and ready to wrap up, but there is quite a bit of corn left to be harvested in our area.”   – Patty Mann, Ohio farmer  

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Nov 2, 2020

Nebraska Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Snow slowed us down a bit this week, but we will be done quickly once we get back in the fields. Corn yields are above average, and the quality is strong. This harvest has been one bright spot in 2020.”   – Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer  

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Oct 26, 2020

Missouri and Kansas Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Our corn crop is good this year. Yields so far are above to well above average.   This morning, we got enough snow to cover the deck. The higher moisture contents due to this could keep them out of the field for a bit. Otherwise, conditions have been good.   “We already finished harvesting soybeans and switched back to corn end of last week. In all, we have about seven to ten days of harvest left.”   – Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer     “As of last week, we were about 35 percent finished with corn harvest and 80 percent done with soy. Our corn yields are good, and I am surprised by how well the soybeans did considering how wet August and September were. Hopefully, we can wrap up by Halloween or early the week after that.”   – Lowell Neitzel,  Kansas farmer  

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Oct 19, 2020

North Dakota and Minnesota Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “The next five days will be even more interesting than the last. Forecasts call for one to three inches of snow tonight. I haven’t seen an amount yet, but Thursday holds the potential for snow, and we could get a full foot on Sunday.   “The good thing is that, if we can run most of tonight until midnight or one a.m., there will only be about 80 to 100 acres left standing.   “It is interesting. We have combined two corn crops of 16 percent or less moisture corn in five and a half months.   “To date, the harvest has gone well in terms of weather and not having the challenges of the last two years. That has been a blessing.   “This year, corn is 13.5 to 17 percent moisture with good test weights, for us, above 56 pounds. Our fields on the higher ground did well with above-average yields. The fields that we are in now couldn’t handle the water and have reduced yields. There was flat out too much water.”   – Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer   “Corn harvest is coming...

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Oct 13, 2020

Illinois and Ohio Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“We have about 800 acres of corn left to harvest and, from what we are seeing, yields range from 20 bushels per acre over average to average. The corn has been consistently wet though, with moisture around 18 percent. So, we have had to dry the corn this year.   “Our farm always plants side-by-side trials of corn. The weather event the night of the derecho this summer showed which varieties best withstood strong wind.”   – Jim Raben, Illinois farmer     “Right now, we’re cutting beans. The lowest corn yields that we have seen are in the 150 to 175 bushel-per-acre range. Most of the corn acres seem to have done average or better. The weather is great right now, and we just keep going.”   – Patty Mann, Ohio farmer

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Oct 5, 2020

Nebraska and Kansas Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We are done with soybean harvest and planting cover crops on old bean ground. Next, we’re starting to harvest some high-moisture corn today or tomorrow.   “The corn is drying down well. We are anxious to get rolling and see what we have out there. The warmer-than-normal weather has helped dry down the crop. So, we should have a pleasant week to harvest, if we can keep the breakdowns away.   “The dryness from August hasn’t let up at all. Combine fires are in the back of everyone’s minds. We almost had one at the end of soybean harvest when a bearing that was going out on the combine-created embers. We stopped, put them out and made repairs.   “We’re weaning calves, and this has slowed down corn harvest. We plan on moving cows into corn stalks the minute we have a field or two harvested.”   – Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer     “Things are decent. It looks like a majority of fields will have better than average yields. We’re still harvesting, but the weather has been...

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Sep 28, 2020

Missouri and Iowa Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Harvest is going well in terms of the corn yields we’re seeing. The moisture content is still high right now, but we are working at a good pace. We are keeping up with the drying right now. Last night, it rained a little, but it hasn’t slowed us down.”   – Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer       “Looking at our crop with the drone, our corn is standing well at this time. Yet, like everyone says here, the corn is variable.   “The moisture content has been 18 to 25 percent, and yields have been 170 to 200 bushel-per acre range.  Our kernels are better than I thought they would be. They are not shallow and test weights are okay.  I have heard of some low-test weights and low yields on lighter ground.  On our sandy soil, yields are in the 140s. All in all, I am happy with what I have gotten so far.  I have to remember I have had very little rain since July and most of it came in September.     “Maybe some agronomist can identify the brown/black on my corn?  It is in a small...

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Sep 21, 2020

Minnesota and Ohio Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Our corn crop looks good. We harvested a couple of fields of soybeans this week and may harvest corn next week. We are excited about the way that they are looking.”   – Bryan Biegler,  Minnesota farmer     “We are getting very close to harvest. A couple of weeks ago, we thought we would be harvesting by now, but early September rains and cool temperatures slowed us down. Hopefully, we can begin harvesting here by the end of this week. Overall, it looks like we will have good yields.”   – Patty Mann – Ohio farmer  

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Sep 14, 2020

Illinois and North Dakota Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Harvest has started, and we should have soybeans in by Wednesday. Then, we will start with corn. We tried to harvest one acre that had been impacted by the strong winds here the day of the derecho. In an hour, we only pulled in 180 bushels. Hopefully, there are only the few, spotty acres that were hit, which is what we are seeing now.”   – Jim Raben, Illinois farmer   “We dealt with frost and a freeze September 8 and 9. We saw a low of 31 degrees, but there were 27- and 28-degree readings nearby. We’re still assessing the result this will have on our crop.   “On our farm, the biggest challenge has been getting 1.5 times the normal amount of rain in June, July, and August with soil that was already saturated going into it. Things looked much better a month ago. I am optimistic we will have an average yield from our corn, but it will be average at best.”   – Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer

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Sep 8, 2020

Kansas and Nebraska Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Forecasts say that we are getting cooler weather and more moisture this week. If it does stay dry enough, we may start picking some high-moisture corn at the end of the week. So far, we are seeing decent test weights and yields but, given temperatures that topped 90 degrees and strong winds over the weekend, the test weights might not be as good as they could have been.”   – Lowell Neitzel, Kansas farmer     “Tonight’s forecast shows that our low temperature should be 34 degrees, which would keep precipitation from turning into snow. Last night, we saw rain and hail, and it hasn’t climbed out of the 30s yet today. A hard frost would take some off our top-end yield. Even the temperatures already here might stop the corn from filling out the kernels. If we had gotten another ten days of warm, sunny weather, we would have had a great crop.”   – Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer

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Aug 31, 2020

Iowa and Missouri Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Corn is maturing more quickly than we thought it would. For the first week of September, we are pretty far along for northern Iowa. North of me, they started harvesting seed stock. My neighbor hand-shelled some corn at 35 percent.”   – April Hemmes, Iowa farmer   “The corn has fired, but the ears haven’t flipped down yet. We chopped silage last week. Harvest is still about 10 to 14 days out, so it is a waiting game.”   – Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer

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Aug 24, 2020

Minnesota Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Our crops are looking good. The corn is denting. Dry areas are starting to show up now though. A shot of rain now would help finish the crop off.” – Bryan Biegler, Minnesota farmer  

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Aug 17, 2020

Kansas and Ohio Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Our corn is in surprisingly good condition. Right now, I would say that most are good, and some would be considered excellent. Even some of our less productive ground will do fairly well this year.  The fields we planted first are close to black layer while the corn planted later in the spring is in the late milk stage of development.”   – Lowell Neitzel, Kansas farmer “Our corn crop is looking better since we got rain on Friday. Different fields vary, but all got from one-half to three inches of precipitation. In general, the amount of moisture we have now should get us through finishing.  The fields we planted earlier are in good condition but may yield less due to a dry early July. Right now, the cooler temperatures and morning dew are helping quite a bit.”   – Patty Mann, Ohio farmer

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Aug 10, 2020

Nebraska, North Dakota and Illinois Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Good, timely rains over the last few weeks have given us a bit of a break from irrigating. Most of my corn crop is in the late milk and dough stages. Generally, it is filling out well minus a few fields with hail or wind damage. Today, it is in the 80s with full sun. If we can have more days like this, it is going to help us out a lot.” – Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer     “In our area, we have a good corn crop and a mediocre bean crop coming. Our soil moisture profile has been saturated for quite some time. Last week, we had four days with measurable precipitation. Thirty miles away, they could use a shot of rain on some lighter ground. In our fields, we have enough moisture to finish the year without any rain from here on out and more could have an adverse effect on our crop.” – Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer     “This week, we had about a tenth of an inch of rain by the house with some spots on the farm getting as much as half an inch. The ground still has...

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Aug 3, 2020

Iowa and Missouri Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Looking at the same field I have all season before reporting, the corn is tasseled out, has brown silk and the ears filled out nicely. That said, I do have cracks in the ground as there hasn’t been a significant rain here in the month of July. I now have gravel pockets that are starting to yellow, but it is nothing like my friends to the west. They are in a drought so significant it isn’t clear if a rain now would make a great difference in the crop.” – April Hemmes, Iowa farmer     “With our corn, everything looks good here. The kernels are well developed but a long way from dent. Right now, the crop condition is probably good to excellent. We have been lucky to have weather that was really about perfect for this green phase with warmer days and cooler nights.” – Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer

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Jul 27, 2020

Ohio, Minnesota and Kansas Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“We are glad to know that rain is approaching, and I’m happy for how much we’ve recently. Until last week, we had only had 6/10 of an inch of rain in July. Then, over three days, we got an additional 1 and 8/10 inches. With all of our corn in pollination at some stage, the moisture and slightly less extreme temperatures will help.” – Patty Mann,  Ohio farmer   “We have been receiving some nice rain each week. The corn is looking good. Fully tasseled and looks like the weather is going to cooperate for pollination. Curious to get out and do some yield checks once pollination is done. If we get one more rain in August, we should have a real good corn crop.” – Bryan Biegler, Minnesota farmer   “I would say that our crop would be rated good to excellent. The early planting almost past milk stage. Hopefully, we will be harvesting by mid-September.” – Lowell Neitzel,  Kansas farmer  

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Jul 20, 2020

Illinois and North Dakota Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “It has been hot and dry here with less than a tenth of an inch of rain in the past two weeks. The crops are really struggling. The corn looks like it could be okay right now, but it needs rain soon. The soybeans we had to replant, because it was too wet earlier, haven’t gotten rain, and probably won’t come up at all.” – Jim Raben, Illinois farmer   “The corn acres that we did get planted look okay and are starting to tassel. The spots which weren’t water-logged in the spring look pretty good. If we can keep up the heat through August, the corn crop should turn out okay as we haven’t suffered for moisture to this point.”   – Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer

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Jul 13, 2020

Nebraska and Iowa Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Since last week, we had severe thunderstorms roll through with quite a bit of hail. Crops that were a leaf or two away from tasseling are down to just the stalks. They have no leaves left on them. Plants that were ten-foot-tall are down to my waist. Soybeans were decimated with only the main stem remaining. Our farm was better off than most, but every field has damage.”   – Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer     “We have had drought in western part of the state and too much wind and water in the eastern. I happen to be in the Goldilocks zone. The forecast looks like we could get half an inch of rain Tuesday and Wednesday, but it looks hot and dry after that. Friends in the western part of Iowa say that if they have one more week of hot, dry conditions, it will be the end of this corn crop.”     – April Hemmes, Iowa farmer

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Jul 6, 2020

Ohio and Nebraska Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We are hot, dry, and begging for rain. We’ve had a few pop-up showers in the area, but our farm hasn’t had rain since a week ago Saturday. With temperatures in the 90s, we are really cooking. I don’t think that the damage to our corn crop is critical yet, but it looks stressed with leaves that roll in the afternoon. As we near pollination, a popup storm this week would improve the situation substantially. We really need that to keep this crop going.”    – Patty Mann, Ohio farmer     “It has been in the 90s for the past ten days, and the forecast says it will almost 100 for the next ten. It hasn’t rained for more than a week, and there’s only the slightest chance it will in the foreseeable future. Honestly, this is the driest year since 2012. On the dryland corners, the corn is only two-foot-tall and rolled up like an onion plant. Thankfully, our farm has good pivots and deep wells. It is hard to keep up under these conditions with just irrigation though. We could...

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Jun 22, 2020

Minnesota and Iowa Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “I am happy with the way our crop is looking now. It’s between knee- and waist-high and coming along nicely. 75 to 80 percent of corn is in excellent condition. The rains have been spotty. We had 3/10 of an inch of rain yesterday. One mile south, they had a full inch and another mile south 2 ½ inches. So, we’re sitting well on moisture.” – Bryan Biegler, Minnesota farmer   “The crop had been incredible until the last two days. Corn loves the hot and warm temperatures, so it took off over the last week. Neighbors got hail damage. I’m waiting for the rain to stop to survey for damage on my crop. The flooding will drain, so it should recover given how far along the crop is in terms of maturity.” – April Hemmes, Iowa farmer

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Jun 15, 2020

North Dakota and Illinois Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We finished harvesting 2019 corn on June 1. We finished planting 2020 corn, at least what we could, just a hair before that. Now, we’re planting our edible beans. We grow navy and pinto beans. We had two inches of rain about two weeks ago. Today, we’re planting one more field of edible beans, and we’ll hang it up after that. We’ve planted less corn, in terms of the percentages of acres we intended, in 2019. In North Dakota, planting went worse than even last year.” – Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer     “Our corn looks good. It is anywhere from knee to shoulder high. It is ready to grow, and we’ve finished side dressing.” – Jim Raben, Illinois farmer

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Jun 8, 2020

Ohio and Nebraska Field Notes

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We’re hoping to finish planting by the end of the week if we get lucky. While there’s a little rain in the forecast for later today, it doesn’t sound like enough to impact us significantly. We will finish planting later than we would like, but it’s better here than it was last year.” - Patty Mann – Ohio farmer (June 3, 2020)     “This week, we’ve been side-dressing corn with fertilizer and herbicides. We’ve only had to irrigate a small bit as we’ve had timely rains. The crop looks really good. We are about average for crop stage, growth and maturity. We had a warm week, so the crop is growing fast.” - Andy Jobman – Nebraska farmer (June 5, 2020)

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Jun 1, 2020

Kansas and Missouri Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Our corn crop is finally getting some heat and starting to get some color again. It’s really healthy and growth is taking off now that it has recovered from the cold snap. Soybean planting is a long way from done, but we are making progress every day.” - Lowell Neitzel, Kansas farmer     “Finally, we got the corn sprayed so that it looks like a field and not a pasture. We will have to replant in the bottom-ground but, overall, it looks pretty good. In some places, there are a few yellow streaks, so it needs some heat.  From what I can tell, USDA would fit it in the good to excellent.” - Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer

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May 26, 2020

Minnesota and Iowa Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“Our corn crop is going well so far. We do need sun and heat. It’s been overcast past two weeks with plenty of rain. The crop has emerged, but we are waiting on the sun and temperatures in the 70s so that it can really take off. Right now, the forecasters are talking sun tomorrow with the heat coming next week.” - Bryan Biegler, Minnesota farmer   “Today, we’re clearing out the bins and delivering last year’s corn. The new crop is going better than I thought that it would. I was concerned when it was hit with frost, but the warmer, humid weather brought it back quickly.” - April Hemmes, Iowa farmer

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May 18, 2020

North Dakota and Illinois Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“As of May 14, we haven’t turned a wheel to plant 2020 crop. We did harvest somewhat but had to quit because of the road conditions. We had more showers last night, but we are hoping to get one field planted early this week. That is only 15 percent of what we planned to plant in corn. After that, I have no idea where I am going to go.”   - Randy Melvin, North Dakota farmer   “In terms of corn planting, it is so far, so good for us. We hope to be done by Memorial Day. This year, we are decreasing the corn acres planted from last year because, given current conditions, it’s harder to make work from an economic standpoint.”   -Jim Raben, Illinois farmer

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May 11, 2020

Missouri and Kansas Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“We finished planting corn and only have 800 or so acres of soybeans left to plant. Joshlin, my husband, has been working long hours trying to beat the rain on Wednesday. That said, the weather has been okay. We’re in the Goldilocks zone. The corn looks like it is doing well. When we started in early April, we just kept going because it wasn’t too wet. So, even though it was cold, we got ahead of things.”   -Addie Yoder, Missouri farmer   “We are still planting corn, but we are almost done. 300 more acres, and we will move onto soy. We’re supposed to get two or three inches of rain this week, and the morning temperatures have been in the mid30s. What we planted in early April is doing well despite the cold. I almost wish we had kept going, but we had snow flurries and cold rain then. We made the best decision we could at the time. It’s all you can do.” -Lowell Neitzel, Kansas farmer

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May 4, 2020

Nebraska and Iowa Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

“We’ve had really good weather for planting actually. We haven’t had any rain delays. It is far nicer than last year with bomb cyclones. we are starting to get dry in areas. As guys are wrapping up planting in a week to ten days, we’ll be hoping for rain. There are a few center pivots are already running.” -Andy Jobman, Nebraska farmer     “I finished planting on Saturday like almost everyone in northern Iowa. It is the earliest I can remember finishing for a long time. I am worried about how the crop will handle the stress as the next few weeks are supposed to be cooler than normal. While conditions are dry, we are getting by this far on subsoil moisture from last year.” -April Hemmes, Iowa farmer    

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Apr 27, 2020

Field Notes Minnesota and Ohio

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “Things are busy. We are getting everything ready to go, and I hope to get the planter rolling today. We have seen a lot of people planting in the area and are excited to get in the field.” - Bryan Biegler, Minnesota           “There’s nothing planted here yet, but we are heading in that direction. We are hoping to get started next week. So far, it’s been cold and wet enough to keep us out of the fields. It looks like we’ll have nice warm weather in May though that will let us get planting.” – Patty Mann, Ohio    

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Apr 20, 2020

Missouri and North Dakota Field Notes

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

  “We started planting the first week in April, before the cold snap. So far, we have had good luck. Things have run smoothly without many breakdowns so far. Today, we’re working hard in the fields.” – Addie Yoder, Missouri   “Personally, we have the majority of our corn left to harvest from last year. Looking at it, we will have our first 70-degree day tomorrow. Best case scenario - we are a week to two away from corn planting. Seven to ten days from now, planting activity will hopefully startup, but 15 to 20 percent of last year’s corn crop is still standing. Farmers will have to prioritize planting this year’s corn or harvesting that left from last year.” – Randy Melvin, North Dakota    

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Apr 13, 2020

Field Notes: Firsthand Insight from America’s Corn Farmers

Key Issues: Production

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

Last week, Field Notes reached out to farmers to find out how planting is progressing on their farmers. This week, NCGA kicks off the tenth season in an exciting new blog format. Check back for quick looks into what real farmers see in terms of crop progress and gain insight into how the crop of 2020 is doing from firsthand sources.   Lowell Neitzel – Lawrence, Kansas   “The good thing is that I have started planting a few acres but not too many given the changing weather conditions. Those acres might be okay. They might not. We’ll see, but we had to get started some time. There’s a lot of corn to plant and, as long as we could get some in the ground and shut the planters off, it made sense to take a chance.”   Jim Raben – Ridgway, Illinois   “We have planted the last few weeks of March or first few of April in the past. It needs to dry out. The river is still high, and the ground is too wet to really work.”

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