(Posted Fri. Apr 3rd, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association now offers its fifth 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.


Field Notes caught up with northern Iowa farmer, April Hemmes, on Thursday. While she hoped to begin planting next week, recent weather may have changed her plans.


“We were really pretty dry until we got an inch and two-tenths of rain Wednesday night,” said Hemmes. “We are hauling grain today. It is a little bit mushy on the gravel but the sun is shining, and I am little surprised by how quickly it is drying out.”


Hemmes spoke with Field Notes while taking a break from loading corn. While harvest ended months ago, marketing her crop requires her attention throughout the year.


“I was just talking to a group of high school students about grain marketing this morning,” she explained. “I told them how the decisions about the corn that I am planting now were made clear last fall. But, I have flexibility when it comes to marketing. I have big bins which let me sell crops ahead and then store them, or I can just hold them and wait for a better price.”


To listen to the full interview, click here.


Next, Jay Beckhusen, a Texas grower who farms an hour outside of Austin, filled Field Notes in on what has happened over the past few months. In his area, corn planting often begins around Commodity Classic but the weather has not cooperated in his area.


“We are probably about five to six weeks behind on planting,” he explained. “There is a lot of corn going in the ground this week. I suspect that, if the weather holds, what is going to be planted to corn will be planted by the weekend.”


The late planting season will impact the number of acres growing corn in his area. As the deadline for corn plantings to be covered by crop insurance looms, he expects many farmers will alter their planting intentions.


“We are really pushing it to plant corn right now because, to be covered by insurance, it needs to be planted by April 15,” said Beckhusen. “I have already reduced my corn acreage by about 25 percent. I am worried about when the heat will come, if there will be pollination problems and aflatoxin. So, I will switch a good amount of my planting to grain sorghum and cotton.”


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.