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Smoking hot July

Agriculture.com Staff 07/20/2007 @ 1:49pm

Sunrise Acres has lived up to its name this week with spectacular morning vistas of red-orange skies over the dark green foliage of corn and alfalfa fields. With the sights and smells of smoke in the air and days of 100 degree temperatures, this truly is shaping up to be a "smoking hot" July.

Our hay has been harvested a second time and the growth for a third cutting is well underway. Our second crop was put up in excellent condition and should bring a good price. We elected to cut a bit early to even up the growth after the first crop had sat so long on the field, causing a pattern of tall and short alfalfa plants.

With water in short supply this year, Carol is carefully watching each set to finish the irrigation as soon as possible. Our alfalfa is irrigated in 24-hour sets to allow the water to fill the soil profile as completely as possible. On the positive side, any runoff from our corn and alfalfa fields is picked back up in the drain ditch to operate our pasture sprinkler system.

As for the gophers, well, let's just say they are not giving up easily. With the high temperatures I have a hard time getting too excited about trapping after a long day at work. In my irrigation travels I hear varying outlooks on how the hay market will shape up this winter. For those ranchers who are losing their grazing grounds to wildfires, the high hay prices will probably force them to cut back on the number of cattle they overwinter. There is always a ripple effect to a negative or positive in the farm economy.

With July's hot days and nights, Carol's corn crop is really coming on strong. The rich green color contrasted with the yellow and reds of the silk and tassels is a sight that I never tire of. I purposely take the back route leaving for and coming back from work to look at these beautiful fields. Carol has done a great job of keeping the edges and ditches sprayed adding to the beauty of an already impressive crop.

Luckily, we have adequate water to irrigate on a four- to five-day schedule during silking and tasseling which should help with ear fill. The 100-degree temperatures would have me very concerned if we were still raising sweet corn seed. The heat can actually kill the pollen before it reaches the silk causing erratic set or fill of the seeds on the ear.

At least with field corn there is a tassel on every stalk so the pollen is more readily available. In sweet corn seed only the male or bull row is allowed to pollinate the other rows so the pollen has further to travel. While corn prices have slipped somewhat from earlier highs, are still favorable.

The new pasture is finally looking like it will be a success. After an application of nitrogen and lots of water, the growth has really taken off. Carol will finish this irrigation tomorrow. Then after a bit of drying we will have it windrowed and take a cutting of grass hay.

I think the grass has finally out competed the cheat grass and other weeds. The wheelline has been a big improvement and hopefully we can find another to eliminate the long handline Carol is still moving. This field has come a long way since it was converted from machinery parking and furrow irrigation to sprinklers.

At Agri-Lines Irrigation July has been a month of preparing for Fall projects. I have received numerous calls and visited with growers who are tired of irrigating with siphon tubes and old wheel and hand lines. They see the benefits of "push-button" irrigation over the constant monitoring and adjusting of other labor intensive types of watering crops.

Other producers are applying for EQIP cost share projects. Depending on the practice this funding can pay for up to 50% of the system. With a new farm bill being discussed these programs may suffer some cutbacks. They have been a great help to farmers wanting to upgrade irrigation practices and have helped to eliminate sediment runoff into streams and rivers.

Each county office can take applications for these projects with the deadline coming sometime in the fall. Others who have been accepted will soon start construction on their pivot projects as crops are harvested. The fall and winter season is a much better time to install these projects as springtime can be very hectic.

Our recent customer appreciation barbecue was very successful and is a welcome opportunity each year to gather our great customers together for a chance to say thanks. One of the best parts of my job has been the opportunity to meet so many people from all types of operations and backgrounds.

Our family finally took a bit of a break and enjoyed a weekend trip to Ponderosa Park at McCall. Fortunately our boat ran great and the food was excellent. Nothing can bring more razzing in our family like a boat that won't run. There is a long historical background to this that I won't get into right now!

With two of our children, Becky and Robby, on fire crews this summer, our prayers go out for the safety of all of those who help protect our forests and rangelands. Locally all of us need to be extra careful with fire and do what we can to think ahead to protect our own property before fire strikes.

From Sunrise Acres-

Fred, Carol and Katie Butler

Sunrise Acres has lived up to its name this week with spectacular morning vistas of red-orange skies over the dark green foliage of corn and alfalfa fields. With the sights and smells of smoke in the air and days of 100 degree temperatures, this truly is shaping up to be a "smoking hot" July.

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