Monthly Archives: May 2011

Epic Fail in so many ways the last few days, topped off by this morning.

Epic Fail 1:  Coyote at same place as kill shot on the one the other day.  In my haste to get the shot off I doped the scope to 200 yards and held dead on.  Only I didn’t adjust the elevation turret, I adjusted the parallax focus for 200 yards.  Result….yep you guessed it, a gun shy coyote now roaming the neighborhood.

Epic Fail 2:  All that corn I got planted 10 days ago, well after the three inch rain event and follow up 1 inch rain event last week, about half of it needs to be replanted/spotted in.  Ground is still to wet to do that….maybe Thursday.  I hope.

Epic Fail 3:  No corn sprayed since planting due to high winds and rain.  Result, weeds growing when and where corn wont.

Epic Fail 4:  First 30 acres of corn planted is now showing N defenciey.  Needs sidedressed but tractor for sidedressing is on the planted.  Plant first, I hope then sidedress N.


For those who either rely on their firearms for work or professional reasons or even those who compete with them in timed competitions you know what Tap Rack Bang means.  Its a drill or action drill to clear a stoppage or get the gun back in a fight with it doesnt go bang.

Yes it is or was or has been used most often with semi auto pistols and with semi auto rifles that are fed via a box magazine.  The technique is a bit different from rifle to pistol but the concept is the same:  Tap the magazine to insure it is seated and fully in the up position, Rack the slide or bolt to get the empty case out if there is one and get a fresh, live, loaded round into the chamber and Bang, pull the trigger and resume contact.

Well the drill, once ingrained in your head, even works with bolt action rifles.  Or at least it did for me yesterday………

A coyote has been harassing our animals here, specifically the chickens.  Before the storms hit I was making my way from the house to my office out back when I saw her at the corner of the woods and water way.  I made a mad dash and recovered my Savage 93R17 in .17 HMR from the safe, fed it with a partialy loaded magazine of 17gr .17 and then quickly made my way to the walnut tree stand behind the house and looked in the only place that she could have been and the only place I would have a shot at her if she stayed on her course when last seen.

I quickly made a calculation in my head that it was about 200 yards to the spot where she would be, if she stayed on the course, doped the scope up to 200 yards, racked the bolt, released the safety and held my breath.  As she appeared I began to lead her a bit in the scope and take the slack out of the trigger.

Nothing happened.


TAP RACK BANG went through my mind…….

I quickly smacked the magazine up, racked the bolt and saw a live round fly past my head.

At that point I realized that my Savage has the AccuTrigger and I wasn’t getting the full length press out of it.  In other words I was getting a press to the trigger itself and thinking I was at full press.

I have been to use to shooting the the AR lately and wasnt ready for the feel of the of the AccuTrigger.  Part of shooting with the AR was dry fire exercises on Tap Rack Bang in the event of a stoppage.

No Bang.

A quick Tap and then mid Rack the brain kicked into high gear when I saw the live round go by and realized that I didn’t have a stoppage but just wasn’t at full pull.

Quickly I reacquired the sight picture, and began the press all over again.


Chicken Thief on the ground……………

Had I not been practicing Tap Rack Bang by dry firing I would have most likely missed my opportunity to shoot.  I would have been standing there trying to figure out why the gun didn’t go bang.  Instead when the gun didnt function as I know it should have, the Immediate Action Drill – Tap Rack Bang, kicked in and the result was I didnt loose my shot.

Only perfect practice makes practice makes perfect…………….once again the lesson learned yesterday was that its the little things that make a big difference when the rubber meets the road.  Or in this case, the bullet meet the chicken thief.


Was going to post some corn scouting updates but there is sever weather coming and I am trying to get things bolted down as best I can and prepare to seek shelter.

Working the computer, radio and cell phone getting the word out……

Be safe

We got about 2.3 inches of rain yesterday.  At one point the rain was horizontal so we may have got more than that……

This rain will pretty much put an end to my corn planting.  I had hoped to get some more planted but with this rain and the one that is comming tonight and tomorrow, if it happens, it will put an end to the hopes of getting the last 25% planted.

I am not proud of how the 75% that is in the ground looks right now, I mean it looks like a sheet of water for the most part.  If we get more rain and the water continues to stand I am not sure how much will come up.  But it is planted.

Now we see what happens between now and the Fifth of June.  That is prevent planting day for crop insurance.  I might plant beans on the remaining acres but again it all depends on what happens the next ten days.

Yet it could be worse.  Much worse.  I feel so sorry for those people of Joplin, Mo.  Pictures I have seen make it look like a war zone.

Thanks to Luke Baker, Agronomist at BLI for contributing to this post.

Just a follow up on the N testing and the trend we are seeing here in Southern Illinois.  I continue to see PSNT (Pre Sidedress Nitrogen Test, the nitrogen test I am running to test for nitrate and ammonium N) return at values less than half the original amount applied.  I have even seen samples return that are within the range of what we would see as “background noise” or what we would expect to see from a DAP application or from residual N from a legume.

Again this continues to be true of Anhydrous, Urea or Liquid, stabilizer or no stabilizer.  The fields tested so far have ranged from those fields not planted or just planted to fields where the corn is ~ankle high or about three-four leave stage.  N has been applied anywhere from mid March through Mid to late April prior to the rains at the end of April. I attribute this to mainly two factors:  Soil temperatures above 60 deg F and half a years worth of rainfall over a two week period.

There have been claims that the pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT) does not pick up on N that has been applied with N-Serve. This is wrong.  All N-Serve does is “poison” microbes to stop nitrification.  The PSNT measures ammonium and nitrate in the soil, thus, we will be able to measure any nitrate and ammonium that was applied as fertilizer because N-Serve only influences the microbiology.  This is also true of other stabilizer for urea or liquid N.  They do not keep the N from being detected in the testing procedure.

Could there have been loss of spring applied ammonium treated with a stabilizer?  Most certainly.  In a study done near Brownstown, Illinois (this is available on the N-Serve website) anhydrous was applied on March 15th and April 1st.  Samples were taken on for ammonium and nitrate on May 13th and the found that for the March applied N 53% of the total was in the nitrate form when treated with N-Serve.  This N is now available for loss.  However, this is better than the sample not treated with N-Serve where 100% of the ammonium was all ready in the nitrate form.  For the April application, both N-Serve and no N-Serve treatments showed a conversion of ammonium to nitrate of about 50%.  In this case the N-Serve did not out perform just anhydrous alone.

Was there loss this spring?  More than likely yes.  How do we know? When PSNT’s come back low we know there was a loss.  For example, if 200 pounds of N was applied in April and the PSNT results come back 20 ppm nitrate and 5 ppm ammonium there was loss.  Typical background levels of soil nitrate and ammonium are aroud 5 to 8 ppm for nitrate and 1 to 4 ppm for ammonium.  The field that had 200 pounds of N put on is now only showing 100 pounds of N (20 ppm + 5 ppm x 4 [4 is the depth factor] = 100 pounds of N per acre).  Also, if the N-Serve was still being effective we would see much higher ammonium levels (25 to 40 or more ppm of ammonium) than we did in the above example.

Once N is in the nitrate form it can rapidly be lost to leaching and denitrification under saturated conditions (which you guys here in Southern Illinois had for many days at the end of April first portion of May).  Most of the PSNT analyses that I have looked at from Southern Illinois appear as if farmers are going to come up short on N even though they applied 150 to 200 pounds of N as anhydrous with a stabilizer.

In fact, some samples have had complete loss of N because the PSNT is showing only normal background levels of soil N (8 ppm of nitrate and 1 to 2 ppm of ammonium). In these soils, another 150 pounds or so is likely to be needed for good corn yield.  These fields have corn that was just planted or just coming up.

Do I need more N?  Most likely yes. In my above example showing 100 pounds of N per acre, 80 of those were in the form of nitrate.  If the weather continues wet this N can be lost rather quickly too.  One recommendation that I heard was to “fly on” urea at tasseling.  This would give you quite a bit of bang for you buck.  However, you need rainfall to get the urea into the soil.  If the weather turns dry…as I heard that it might the urea would just sit on the surface and volatilize (be lost to the air), which does your corn no good.  Side dressing N now or later with a high boy so that it gets into the soil is a much better option.  If sidedressing now, it may be wise to use a stabilizer to limit N loss if weather is expected to stay wet for another few weeks.

Who needs Vegas when you can be a farmer?  Don’t guess or rely on the past to assume what is left in your fields.  This year you are going to be very short.

Don’t guess, soil test.


Hope to get back to normal posting next week. Just about wore out switching between implements and jobs this last week. But I did get most of my corn planted. But is ugly farming.

Sunday afternoon I went out and did a little digging in the corn I got planted on Thursday.  I am not a patience person…big surprise there to those who know me.  I took along my camera and took some pictures and thought it would be good to explain some of the process of how corn grows.  This will not be your college text book explanation so please hold your criticism for my Southern Illinois slant on the agronomics of corn development.

Corn seed begins germination when the seed contains at least 30% moisture (as in it absorbs enough moisture to become 30% saturated) and the soil temperature is above 50 deg F.  The combination of the two is a trigger mechanism to cause germination.  The soils temp is above 50 and I am pretty sure we have enough moisture to get the corn to 30%.   This is usually noticeable by the seed swelling.

The thing to emerge from the corn seed is the radicle root, followed by the coleoptile shoot with has enclosed the plumule (first leaves and growing point of the corn plant). Emergence of the radicle happens first and allows the young seedling to anchor in the soil and obtain an adequate supply of water and later obtain both water and nutrients. The radicle is the first of four major root systems to emerge and is basically done when the growing point reaches the soil surface.

To emerge, the first internode on the corn plant called the mesocotyl and it elongates toward the soil surface and continues until the coleoptile reaches light.  This is called or referred to as the VE stage or emergence.  More on the V stages of corn in later post.

At the VE stage, the growing point is normally 1-1.5 inches below the soil surface. The mesocotyl elongates about 0.75 or three quarters of an inch and this is where the first set of nodal roots will be found.  It is of the up most importance to make sure that the mesocotyl is a good 1 to 1.25 inches below the soil surface, failure to do so can cause rootless corn syndrome and yield loss due to poor root development.  That is why I plant 2 inches deep, to insure that I the nodal root system develops well below the soil surface.

The growing point remains below the soil surface for three-four weeks, protecting this growing point from physical injury including frost, surface insects or grazing animals.  During this time any injury to the above ground plant will not kill the corn plant.  However it can affect yield.  Next scouting trip we will look at the semi nodal root system and the growing point and location of the nodal root system on the mesocotyl.

So on Sunday afternoon I found most all the seed corn had swelled, had good radicle development and some had the coleoptile beginning to shoot from the seed.  Things will move fast from here……….


An out the backdoor picture for today, this is between showers and doesnt convey how cold it seems outside.  Part of me wishes I would have pushed and got more corn planted on Thursday and Friday, the other part of me isnt sure what I got planted was a smart thing.

I am in need of a severe Geritol injection (some of you will get that joke later) or a big bowl of peep flakes.  I feel like my attitude and altitude have had a mud hole stomped in them and then walked dry.

First corn planting of 2011, May 12 exactly 30 days later than when I started in 2010.

Big Foot the monster truck visited Benton over the weekend.  Matt and Mo got to get up close and personal with it.

As a sign that I am getting old, I remember the original Big Foot #1 when it was the only monster truck.  Saw it at the old Bush Stadium and even got the official 1983 Big Foot glossy promo picture from Midwest Four Wheel Drive Center………the highlight of that show was the bobcat driver who cleaned up after the truck pull and car smash.  That guy could operate a bobcat!

Spent some time this afternoon on the Cat pushing trees that had fallen into the field edges from fence rows and woods during the last few weeks wind and rain storms.

A Cat is like a backhoe, you dont know how handy it is to have until you got one.  Then you wonder how you ever got along without one.

Now, if it will just stay dry for a while…….maybe I can have some pictures of field work to post in a few days……..

Out of focus photos provided by my bride, Lori…………..

Matthew and I went out to Rend Lake last night to see the water going over the dam.  The water had been much higher or deeper going over the dam but this was the first chance we had to go out there.  Lots of water moving there per minute!


I upgraded from an IPAQ to a fuller sized screen computer for soil sampling and scouting.  The screen is becoming harder and harder to see, even with glasses so it was time for something a bit bigger.


I looked and looked at some of the offerings from the major Ag software and GPS vendors and then settled on a couple of used Panasonic Toughbook CF-18’s.  I ended up getting two used ones for a fourth of what one of the new super duper filed computers from X or Y cost.  (X and Y are major Ag software and GPS companies.)


I can do everything the field computers can do minus take a picture with a build in camera.  I am not saying they are as fast or as good or comparable but they get the job done, are tough and have so far held up to the abuse I have given them.    The real test will start when the ground dries up.  Plus they are touch screen so there is no real need for the keyboard, just use your finger or pen.

Nice thing about these units is when I am not sampling, I can use them camping or for Ham Radio/ARES/RACES.  Which I already have………

Well we got the first field of wheat sprayed with fungicide and insecticide today.  Tim from Browns at Galatia showed up before noon and commenced to spraying with the big wheel Miller sprayer.

I was concerned it was going to be wet and it was, there was water standing on a good portion of the field.  We had had almost 4 inches of rain on Sunday but walking the field on Tuesday showed it was firm, more firm that I could ever imagine.  So I made the call to T C and the plan was made.


I had made arrangements to get my name on a list for a helicopter to spray.  Why not an airplane?  Well they won’t fly on me because I am so close to town and to the airport.  The helicopter wasn’t a done deal either and they were going to be another day or so getting here and then would decide if they would fly on me.


So first thing this morning I made the call to cancel the chopper, much to the disbelief of the other chemical dealer. I don’t think he thought we could run a ground rig today.  I am just not a fan of spraying with a plane or chopper.  You cant convince me that 2 gallon of water per acres gets you any type of coverage compared to a ground rig where you can just about paint the leaves.  And with all this water and forecast of hot weather coming next week, were going to set ourselves up for a disease issue and I want the best chance to prevent it, not just say I sprayed.

Well Tim did sink down a bit in places but the ruts were not much deeper than what he made on the second application of nitrogen a few months ago.  In a lot of places he didn’t even sink down, just ran over the wheat that was growing in the ruts.  That is the nice thing about using the same rig over and over again, you can run those same tracks like tram lines.

By late afternoon the wheat had stood back up in several of the wheel tracks to the point that it was hard to tell where he ran and were he didn’t.

I also got a picture of the tile line in this field to show how much it was running.  That 4 inch tile wasn’t running much water at this point.


Well we sit and wait now until about Friday or Saturday to spray the rest of the wheat, the head is just about out of the boot, but not quite.  Hopefully it will be at the right stage by then before the next round of rain is to get here.


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