(Posted Fri. Apr 18th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association now offers its fourth season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.


Today, Field Notes caught up with Mark Oestman, a Colorado farmer in the eastern part of the state. While Oestman hoped to be in the fields by now, his planters still sit poised for action.


 “It’s typical Colorado weather. We were hoping to be ready and get planting about the middle of this week,” he explained. “Saturday morning, it was 74 degrees, and I was out in the fields getting ready to plant. Sunday morning, we woke up to about 19 degrees, six inches of snow and 60 mile per hour winds. Basically, it was a spring blizzard. I guess it hasn’t made up its mind yet whether or not it is spring here.”


While the cold conditions derailed his plans, Oestman remains optimistic that planting will start soon.


“The forecast looks like it is going to warm back up. That is what we are hoping for right now,” he said. “We are going to need the fields to dry back out a little bit before we can get back to working them. We are hoping that late next week we can get our tillage finished and, maybe, get the planters rolling the next week.”


While corn does not germinate until soil temperature reaches approximately 52 degrees, Oestman explained that planting often must start before ideal conditions arise.


“You want ideal conditions when you go ahead and plant your corn,” said Oestman. “Of course, you want to get it in the ground right and coming up as quickly as you can. On our operation, we do pay attention to that. But, on the other hand, you have to start some time. So, sometimes we have to push the envelope with the earlier planted corn. It can sit in the ground for quite a while and that’s not necessarily a good thing either. I know that some of the later planted corn usually pops right out of the ground. It doesn’t take it long to plant the earlier planted areas. Ideal soil temperatures and conditions would be great, but when you are planting a lot of acres you just have to start some time.”


To listen to the full interview, click here.


Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.