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From Sunrise Acres: Was that spring blowing by?

Agriculture.com Staff 05/01/2008 @ 10:02am

April has come and gone but the temperatures just can't seem to move upward. Every time we get a warm day it seems as though we pay for it with several cold, windy ones. April showers bring May flowers, but April winds only bring dust!

Welcome to the beginning of a new month at Sunrise Acres. With the winds of April hopefully tapering off, Carol will start irrigating our dry fields next week.

The hay fields have been corrugated for some time and are getting drier by the day. With the cool temperatures the plants don't show stress but are not growing as quickly as they normally do this time of year. The first cutting will probably be smaller than average, adding to the prospect of tighter hay supplies this year. The chemical that was applied earlier has done a good job of keeping mustard plants from taking hold, but the grass seems to be holding on.

Hopefully when the water is applied it will activate the chemical control further and kill the grass completely. Even with the higher input costs of chemicals and fertilizer this year, clean hay will always be worth more. I have heard of hay buyers already visiting with growers trying to contract their crops in advance of harvest. Hopefully the demand and price for alfalfa hay will hold steady this year.

Our pasture really could use a drink. Most of it looks good but any gravelly or sandy spots are starting to get a bit blue. The farmer in me wants to get water on it immediately but with our time constraints and the persistent winds, the sprinklers will be laid out in our "spare" time this coming week. The wheel line needed some repairs after one of the critters decided it needed to put a bend in it. Cows and aluminum lines don't mix well. Some nice people from Nyssa have a business repairing damaged pipe and will get our lines back into shape.

The corn fields have been plowed, worked down, fertilized, and bedded. With the dry soil condition, Carol will "pre-irrigate" before planting. This is something we did routinely when we grew sweet corn seed but not so with field or feed corn. If the soil profile is not filled before planting, the beds will be fluffy and hard to plant into. Not to mention the corn wouldn’t come up without the moisture. I have seen a lot of fields being irrigated prior to planting this year.

With the bill we received for fertilizing 18 acres, I shudder to think what some of you large growers are having to cover this year. Hopefully prices will hold strong and offset the higher input costs. Our May 10 target planting date may get delayed unless we happen to get some serious rain quickly.

Speaking of rain, I recently received an e-mail from a grower on the Iowa-Minnesota border who had still not been able to get in the field to do any work. Hopefully by now he has started planting but the frustration would be hard to take knowing the ideal planting time is slipping away. The scale of farming in his world is a lot different than ours. With his equipment, he can plant 250-300 acres of corn or soybeans a day. He figured it would take 6 days to finish the corn and 4-5 for the beans. That's progress!

This e-mail got me to thinking about farming in different parts of our great country. I always thought I would love to travel into the corn belt during planting and harvest to witness the efficiency of the American farmer. In the Palouse area around Moscow and Pullman it would be a kick to run a hillside combine across the vast expanse of wheat. From running a cotton picker in Texas, harvesting rice in California, or enjoying the aroma of a Florida citrus harvest, I have always thought it's too bad we only have one lifetime to witness it all.

Now all I have to do is win the lottery, buy a bus and hit the road. Maybe I will write a book and share the ride with you!

The irrigation business at Agri-Lines has been busy. No, it has been very, very, busy. This time of the year I try hard not to lose track of anyone, but invariably there are some projects that get behind. The costs of PVC, steel, and almost anything we sell has been going up and is projected to continue this trend. To make matters worse, supplies of some materials is starting to become limited. Quotes that I have given even a few weeks ago are quickly outdated.

I have a customer in the Midvale area that I always enjoy visiting with. After ordering a pivot that will be installed between cuttings of hay, he remarked that he wished I had "twisted his arm" into ordering it a couple of years ago when prices were substantially less. I told him he had better order a second one now instead of waiting for fall because I could guarantee it would cost more then. With the cost of gas and diesel, delivery and service costs will have to increase just to stay even. It is an interesting time to be alive to say the least.

With irrigation season getting into full swing, our crew is spending long hours getting new systems started, servicing existing systems, and building and installing new ones as quickly as possible. This is harvest season in the irrigation business. Hopefully we won't be too crabby when you come to see us!

Well, that's about it for another month at Sunrise Acres. Hopefully the frosts are over, temperatures will warm gradually, and water will be plentiful. Get those tomatoes in the ground, forgive the man who farms next to you for occasionally sprinkling the road, and go out and watch things grow.

From Sunrise Acres-

The Butlers (Fred, Carol, and Katie)

P.S. -- The new crop of kittens is a big one, call for a free sample.

April has come and gone but the temperatures just can't seem to move upward. Every time we get a warm day it seems as though we pay for it with several cold, windy ones. April showers bring May flowers, but April winds only bring dust!

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