Monday, November 27, 2017

Crops Update #6

It's hard to believe that the corn harvest is still going on as we approach December, but there are still a few fields left to bring in.  It's perhaps the most extended harvest of all our crops, because corn is harvested in two different ways here.  And it's certainly the last piece of my growing-season-long crops updates.

On cattle farms, where corn is grown for feed, the crop is often harvested as silage.  As you can see, not much plant material is left in the field after harvest, the entire plant is used.

In this case the corn is harvested by a corn harvester, and the entire plant is chopped up, blown out of the back of the corn harvester into these wagons.  The cows get to eat the greenery as well as the grain, all mixed together.  I saw quite a lot of this, as far back as early October.

The grain corn stands in the field a little longer, well into November, hopefully drying out.  Then it is harvested by a combine, which picks only the ears of corn off the plants, and separates the grain (the corn kernels), usually as a cash crop.  Lots of plant residue is left in the field.

So we've seen lots of these grain wagons out on the edge of fields, which combines drop their load of grain into.  The 'combine' is named because it 'combines' the old operations of reaping, threshing and winnowing the grain - or cutting it, and separating the grain from the plant, all in one operation - an enormous labour-saving invention!

I don't think this farmer was very happy leaving this old grain wagon at the side of the road after what was probably a long working day!  We've seen lots of big grain trucks on the roads as well.  They visit farms to pick up the grain, and take it to an elevator somewhere nearby for storage (and sometimes for further drying) before it is shipped.  A lot of grain is shipped out of Great Lakes ports.

So that brings us to the end of the year's crop cycle.  I've really learned a lot about farming around here by following individual fields over the season, and talking to a few farmers along the way.  If you look carefully, you realize that the next cycle has already started, with winter wheat showing its bright green shoots, planted in mid-fall.  It will sit under the snow and be ready to take off fast in the spring.  So it's not just an 6 month growing season, it's a 12 month cycle.

And a number of fields have already been ploughed in preparation for next spring's plantings.  This depends on what place in the sequence of a crop rotation an individual farmer is at on different fields.  Most fields won't get ploughed every year. 

Hope you've enjoyed following along on my 6 crop posts over the season, and perhaps learned a little along with me.


17 comments:

  1. Still a busy time for them. Winter isn't all that much slower, but they can at least relax somewhat.

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  2. That makes me remember my Grandfather always out working the fields. He didn't have today's modern equipment. A Hard Life.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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  3. It's much better for the soil if all the corn stalks and cobs are left in the field. As that material decays it adds organic matter to the soil and the leaves, stalks, etc. protect the soil from rain and slows down run-off which reduces erosion. Thanks for all those tutorials for folks who think breakfast comes from the grocery store.

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  4. I learned a lot from your posts. Thanks for that. Farmers are hard workers, that's for sure.

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  5. I learned from you what the farmers are doing around here. : )
    Great series of pictures.

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  6. I'm surprised that corn is still being harvested. Over here it only seems to be grown as cattle feed apart from a few small areas which are left as cover (and feed) for pheasants where the farm is used for shooting.

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  7. Thank you - very interesting post.
    Liz

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  8. Very interesting!
    Have a wonderful day!

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  9. Hello, I agree with Woody above. It is good to slow down any run off. Wonderful scenes and photos. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

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  10. Nice to see the crops getting harvested and in the spring the process all over again.

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  11. I can't help but wonder when the field behind the Ridge got harvested. We would have liked to watch that but decided not to stick around to see it. Ha ha.
    Thanks for this last Crop update. That would be painful for the farmer.

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  12. I had no idea the farmers planted crops year-round so far up north.

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  13. I have really enjoyed following the crops with you. Just in the last week, the a field of corn was finally picked...one we pass every week going to Terre Haute.

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  14. cool pictures...i would have never thought that that farmers would still be harvesting corn in late november!!!

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  15. Interesting. I don't think corn gets chopped for silage much around here, but I could be wrong!

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  16. Farming has changed a lot over the centuries - many farmers are learning how to increase yields, all while improving soil quality and reducing erosion. Thanks for highlighting these practices!

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