We have been celebrating in the last week, thanks to the much-needed rain that arrived. What a relief to see 2 inches of rain in the rain gauge!
It still seems strange to be rejoicing about rain, when we spent all spring hating the rain and wishing for it to stop, but that's how things go in farming. That rain likely saved our soybean crop and helped our corn immensely. The extra rain will allow the soybeans to grow a little more and produce more pods and beans. It will also allow the corn ears to fill with kernels now that pollination has happened.
Did you know that each piece of silk on a corn ear leads to a single kernel of corn? Each silk is pollinated by the pollen that falls from the top of the plant, and then each develops a kernel of corn on the ear. It takes rain after pollination to determine how many of those kernels develop into good-sized kernels. Sometimes, pollination is incomplete, and not all the kernels develop. Sometimes, there is not enough rain or enough nutrients, and you get what is called tip-back, where the tip of the ear of corn has no kernels. I'm sure you've all seen ears like that when you buy sweet corn sometimes. That can happen with our field corn too, which reduces the overall corn yield.
In soybeans, lack of rain means the plants don't grow as tall, and the beans themselves may be very small. Not growing as tall means fewer pods are produced, because the pods are produced at nodes along the length of the soybean stem. This reduces the overall soybean yield, due to fewer pods. Small beans mean that yield is reduced because we are paid by weight for the soybeans. If the beans are small, it takes more of them to make up a bushel, so we lose income by giving away more beans per bushel.
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The rain will also help our pastures, though they really were not looking too bad yet. I am hoping that the rain will also make some hay grow, so that we can get some more hay baled. This summer continues to be a challenge in the hay business. This, of course, means that the yard will need to be mowed again, but I luckily have two boys whose job it is to mow the grass!! It's nice to let them do that job instead of me having to do it.
Besides rejoicing over the rain, we are celebrating the fact that the hogs have all been shipped off to market. There will be a few days of rest and then new baby pigs will arrive and need lots of care again. At least it will be warm outside and we will not have to pay to heat the barns this time around! New baby pigs in summer is fine, but new baby pigs in January is not a lot of fun because of the cold and the heating bills.
The next big thing on our schedule is school and the school activities. The weekly schedule will be jam-packed again soon, so I had better take a deep breath of what's left of summer and enjoy it before next week. The next time I will be able to stick my head up and take a deep breath will be Christmas vacation! Enjoy the rest of your summer while it lasts!