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From the Fields: A competitive edge

As I sit down to write these updates at the end of each week, I’ve come to a couple conclusions. First, it is harder to come up with things to talk about when things are good. When Mother Nature is throwing her tantrums of rain, wind, hail and heat, there is always more to discuss. Second, it is also harder to come up with things to talk about when you are at the point in the growing season where it is more about waiting and little else you can do besides wait and see what happens. That being said, our crops are looking good. Yes, we’ve had some considerable heat brought into the days, and, yes, we’ve had some storms that brought isolated wind and hail damage. Overall, the crops are looking good thanks to timely rains. We are blessed.

Seeing lots of activity in the air as aerial applicators are busy putting on fungicides. Back 2016 — I think that’s right — we learned about the devastating effects of southern rust as it was brought into our area through hurricane weather pushing up into the Midwest. I still vividly remember Todd getting phone call after phone call over Labor Day weekend from farmers nervous about spending the extra money on aerial application fungicide so late in the season. But for those who made the choice to do so, it saved their crop and kept yields up. It was also any eye-opener into how the fungicide helped with overall plant health in addition to defending against southern rust. Since that year, several of the farms we work with now make in season aerial application fungicide part of their standard growing season practices.

Speaking of applications, we’ve been working more with molasses-based sugars this year not only on our farm, but also advising other farms looking to incorporate sugar into their nutrient program. My husband, Todd, hosted a meeting at a local farmer’s shop with some area growers trying out the use of sugars to feed the soil and plants in an effort to increase yields and improve plant health. We are excited to see the results come harvest. For those with irrigation systems, they’ve been busy keeping them running with the heat that has came into the forecast. We ran our system this past week and took advantage of the opportunity to fertigate while doing so.

Got the hemp seed picked up this week in preparation for planting. There are three different hemp purposes that farmers in Indiana can grow hemp for through a research license from Purdue. Farmers can grow hemp for fiber, hemp for CBD oil or hemp for seed. Last year was the first year producers in Indiana could grow hemp and we were sought out to grow hemp for seed on our irrigated ground which we plan to do once again this year. One of the things I’m most proud of on our farm is our intentional effort to try and learn new agriculture practices. I’ve heard it said that if you aren’t killing some of your corn you aren’t doing enough experiments. Hemp was definitely a new experiment for us last year that involved lots of learning, head-scratching and wondering, “Are we doing this right?” Our 2019 hemp seed crop turned out good and we look forward to taking the lessons we learned from last year and putting them into application. I can say without any doubt, I never thought we would say we are hemp farmers one day.

Salem, Ind.

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