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Recent entries

Kevin Hahn

Food Plotting

Activities The Last 3 Weeks

Sun, June 23, 2013

The weather during the first week of June was still very frustrating as the rains continued to come almost daily.  I found myself bouncing around all over the state with my real job trying to find some of the drier spots to get work done. On May 30, I was in the Mississippi river bottoms west of Jerseyville, IL where I took this photo of a 1993 high water mark reference painted on the foundation of this old corn crib which sits on the east side of Rt 100 at the intersection of Rt 16. The last time I worked in these same bottoms was in 1993 so with the wet spring we were having, I was beginning to wonder if I was bringing bad luck to this area with my presence again 20 years later.

Weeds in the sunflowers

Too much rain diluted the preemergence herbicide I used in our 5 acre sunflower plot near Metamora, IL and thus we had a flush of escaped weeds which would normally be controlled by the herbicide. I made the postemergence application of Beyond herbicide to our Clearfield sunflowers as soon as the ground was dry enough, but some of the weeds were too big to control with Beyond.

Second Week of June—Break out the steel for weed control in sunflower dove plots.

Because we lease the ground for our sunflower plot from a local farmer who has been kind enough to allow us on his farm for several years, I did not want any escaped weeds to go to seed out of respect for him and his farm. So I dug my old two-row cultivator out of the fence row and with a good deal of WD-40 and big wrenches, I was able to get it back in working order.  I found myself row-cultivating 5 acres of sunflowers late on a Friday evening.  Thankfully my wife grew up on a farm so she understands when I do stuff like this on Friday evenings.  It was fun and nostalgic to be row cultivating again after several years, but after the first couple of rounds the reality of the boredom which accompanies this task soon set in.  I endured the boredom and completed the task after about 2-1/2 hours.  The results were excellent in terms of weed control and the rows of sunflowers in the freshly cultivated soil looked nice.

Finding female persimmon trees
Also during the second week of June, I was able to stop in at our farm in SE Illinois.  The persimmons were blooming so I took the opportunity to check some persimmon trees that I found earlier this spring while doing TSI work. I found the persimmon trees this spring before the leaves were out by the characteristic “blocky”  bark on the main trunk (see photo below).  American persimmon trees are either male or female and males and females have different flower types.  I am most interested in knowing where all the female trees are on the farm for they bear the fruit which all wildlife seems to be attracted too.

The picture below shows the flowers of male (left side of photo). Note the stamens inside the male flowers.  The green developing persimmon fruits (right side of photo) on the female tree were already evident and the petals had already dried up and have been shed on the female trees.  Female flowers are easily identified by the size of the green calyx structures surrounding the developing fruit.  The calyx will turn into the characteristic brown woody star-shaped structures found on the top of ripe persimmons.  This is the easiest way to identify male and female persimmon trees at this time of the year.  I now know where I will be placing a couple of stands this summer for fall hunting season.

Third Week of June—Mowing white clover and side dressing corn
I finally felt comfortable mowing my white clover plots.  I never like to mow too early for fear of hitting a newborn fawn.  I did however walk the areas checking for fawns before mowing.  I usually mow my clover plots 3-4 times a year to help control weeds and also to “refresh” the clover to encourage new tender regrowth of the clover which comes after mowing.  This makes the clover more palatable and more attractive to the deer and other wildlife.  I plant clover around all my field edges adjacent to the woods for the white clover does well even in heavy shade.  I also plant clover in my orchard and as fire breaks around my switchgrass areas.

Mowing clover to control weeds and stimulate new growth.

Clover and chicory mix planted along the timber edge which also is a fire break for the swtichgrass.

Freshly mowed clover and chicory mix in orchard.

While mowing the orchard, I couldn’t help but notice the apples that were getting pretty large.  These are semi-dwarf trees that my son and I planted in 2010 and this is the first year for some of the trees to bear fruit.  I hand thinned many of the apples from the trees for the initial fruit set was too heavy for this age/size of tree to support.  As I mentioned in my earlier blog article on growing apple trees, there are no low maintenance orchards, however, you can have a lower maintenance orchard by selecting the right varieties which have good disease resistance.  Those are the only trees that I plant in my orchard.  I have not sprayed any fungicides in the orchard this year and the foliage is still disease free.  For a listing of disease resistant apples and pears, see my earlier blog on growing apples.

Side dressing corn with N
Soils on our farm in SE Illinois can produce about 120 bushels of corn.  It takes about 1 lb of N for each bushel of corn.  I only had about 2/3 of the N down at planting, so I applied more N (urea) by broadcasting over the top of the corn.  Because urea N can volatilize if left on top of the soil surface and be lost, I like to work the urea N into the soil with cultivation after broadcasting.  However, just as I finished broadcasting the N, a huge rain cloud appeared on the horizon and dropped about ¾ inch of rain on my corn plots which was more than enough to work the N into the soil.