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Haunted planters?

XtremeAg’s Kevin Matthews and Kelly Garrett can see the planting finish line, while Matt Miles is off to one of his best starts so far.

Matt Miles - McGehee, Arkansas

Matt is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

As farmers, it seems like all we talk about is how bad the weather has been and what’s going wrong. They always say a farmer is never satisfied and the older I get, the more I believe that is true. When doing farm inspections as a young fellow with my late dad, I would always start out complaining about this or that. He always taught me that when I’m in the field to pay more attention to all the good things I see and not dwell on the bad things. Although I am guilty of not following his advice all the time, it’s still some of the best advice I have ever received to this day.

We are currently 100% planted on all four of our crops and 98% are off to a good stand. In the last two weeks we have faced 4.6 inches of rain and very limited sunshine. Again, taking my dad’s good advice, I’m going to say we have been “xtremely” blessed with one of the earliest and best starts of the 32 crops I have raised in my life. How it ends is still to be determined, but with the great start to our crop and commodity prices as high as they’ve been in nine years, I think we are in the best position we could be at this point in the season. 

I’m hoping this is the case for most farmers in North America. If not, then take my dad’s advice and try to concentrate on the good things that you can control in your life and your farm. Change what you can and put the rest into God’s hands. As I always stress, please be safe working these long hours and take care of your body and family. Good luck. 

Kelly Garrett - Arion, Iowa

A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa.

Our planters are haunted! At least that’s what my crew is starting to think based on the problems that seem to arise and then fix themselves magically, only to again shut us down when we start planting again.

We’ve been plagued with electrical problems on all three planters this season. We’ve had all three planters shut down for the day more than a couple of times this year. Just when we fixed one of them, the phone rings, and it’s another operator telling me that his planter is down again. 

Kelly Garrett planter in Iowa
Photo credit: XtremeAg

A new problem this year that we have never had before is the OEM parallel arms breaking on our 24-row planter due to not being able to handle the Precision Planting downforce pressure. In the off-season, we are going to swap the OEM arms out for some new parallel arms from Integrated Ag Solutions that are specifically designed to address this issue.

With the help of Precision Planting and Van Wall Equipment, we have finally figured out the issues and we are ready to roll on the last 100 acres of corn this week – we hope.

We are among the last few in our area still planting. I’m not interested in getting it done fast, I’m interested in getting it down right and if that takes longer, then so be it. I like the soils to be warm before planting corn, and this time of the year is when the soil temperatures are at their prime.

We are working with the agronomists at Agroliquid, Nachurs, Teva, Terramax, and Agricen to run a series of in-furrow tests for corn and soybeans. We are also doing several population trials on soybeans and corn this year, trying to find the right formula. We have soybean population trials at 150k, 120k, 90k, 60k, and 34k, and we are using this season to create variable recommendation scripts on our corn populations.

We are happy with our wheat so far. We just made our first fungicide pass on the winter wheat and added Onward, a PGR from AgXplore. We have found that the PGR application keeps the plant shorter and prevents lodging later in the season. 

Kevin Matthews - East Bend, North Carolina

Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

Planting season has been one of the better ones we’ve had in nearly four years. The conditions have been perfect, and our corn and soybean emergence is looking very impressive. We will finish planting corn and soybeans this week if all goes well. We had to slow down and even stop planting a few times to wait for the land planes and box blades to repair the damage to the ground caused by the flooding from last year’s hurricanes. It has been a tremendously time-consuming repair. 

Kevin Matthews' corn planter
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The weather has been very cool and dry for May; hopefully, this will make for a good small grain crop. Our wheat looks good, but that’s one crop you never count until the scales and grades are read. 

Our postapplications for corn will begin this week with the early plantings that are already at V3. Our irrigation pumps will be running shortly unless we are lucky enough to get a nice rain soon. Our Valley Pivot is ready to go, and we will do a good flush on our Netafim subsurface drip irrigation system soon. We normally flush out the drip system in the fall but the floods prevented that maintenance from being performed.

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