Ready or not, summer is here
June means different things to different people. For those used to 40-hour weeks, it is the beginning of backyard barbecues, swimming pools and camping trips. For those who still depend on farming for their livelihood, summer becomes a balance of family time and tending needy crops.
Here at Sunrise Acres, getting our first cutting of hay off the field has become a race to keep it from damaging the second cutting. With heavy windrows and slow drying time due to our proximity to the Snake River, our hay was baled just in time to miss the almost inch of precipitation that fell last Sunday.
While the bales are wet on the outside, the inside should still be fine. With these delays, the crop will have been down almost three weeks from cutting to getting the water back on the field. You may have noticed in your travels, hay fields with green and yellow streaks. This can be caused by the cut hay swaths sitting so long it retards the growth of the alfalfa underneath it. To a hay grower it means lower production in those "covered" areas. (Didn't I predict this rain in last months' diary?)
Those who chose to cut earlier escaped this rain and have a great looking second cutting on the way.
Our corn crop looks great with a rich, dark green color and rapid growth. As I mentioned last month, Roundup was applied and the crop sidedressed with nitrogen fertilizer. The weeds died on cue and with an application of water and rainfall, the corn responded almost immediately. Today, as I drove in the driveway after a long day in the office, the warm breeze carried the smell of the green corn plants in the wet soil. There's nothing quite like this rich aroma to signal that summer is here. The field work is complete with the final corrugates in place. Now, we'll just add water.
My impression of our new pasture is mixed. One day it looks good while the next it looks like a patch of unruly weeds. After running a rotary mower over it, I have hopes it may amount to something. I feel a bit guilty spinning the green growth down with the price of feed so high but the cheatgrass and foxtail must die! Our plan now is to let the pasture grow and take a cutting or two of grass hay off of it as we have no animals to graze it.
I am beginning to wish I hadn't had alfalfa mixed with the grass seed as it has attracted a lot of unwanted attention from the neighborhood gophers. One major upgrade has been the addition of a wheel line to the irrigation system. Now I will only feel half as guilty, knowing that Carol has less lines to move. As soon as we can find another "affordable" wheel line, it will much less a chore. I can attest to the fact that you get what you pay for in irrigation equipment. I try to tell my customers that used wheel lines are like used cars. Some are "good" used while others are "well-used."
At Agri-Lines Irrigation, the focus will be less on installation and more on maintenance. Service calls range from pumps that have expired to pivot end guns that are watering areas not intended to be irrigated. (Highways, houses, backyards). Winter maintenance and shelters can go a long way towards giving extra life to pumps and electrical panels. They tend to fail at the worst possible times, such as the first Saturday the mercury reaches 100 degrees. Preventative maintenance on pivots and keeping filters unplugged helps keep pivots watering only their intended targets. Just like your vehicle maintenance program, regular service is much less expensive than emergency calls.