Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Squirrels Ears

When Joe and I worked for Cenex/Land O'Lakes I had the opportunity to work with a coop in LeCenter, Minnesota, called Hwy Ag Services.  Since then, it has gone through mergers and such and it is now called Genesis.  This background info doesn't have a lot to do with the story but I thought that I would give a big shout out to my friends and former co-workers in LeCenter.

One of the tools an agronomist uses in the spring is a soil thermometer.  In early April I start to keep track of the soil temps at the 2 and 4 inch depths.  Corn germinates at 50F.  While it isn't necessary to wait for the soil temp to reach 50F to plant corn you do want the soil temp to be trending upward with good soil conditions. 
Soil thermometer
When I worked with Hwy Ag I had a farmer customer named Rich who would laugh at me standing in a field taking a soil temp measurement.  He would ask me if the field was sick.  Or, Rich would say, "I always knew you're a great agronomist because you are out standing in the field!"  Then he would laugh and laugh.
Rich would always tell me that it did not matter what the soil temp was because the old wives tale went that you shouldn't plant corn until the oak trees leaves are as big as squirrels ears. 

Today's soil temp is hovering around 44 to 46F.
Every spring Rich would come in to the agronomy office the day the oak leaves were the size of squirrels ears and would tell me that it was ok to start planting corn.  It was always beside the fact that he and his son had already been planting corn for a week or so!  When you farm in Minnesota, you don't want to waste any of the spring warmth because you never know when the first snow may fall.

It is interesting that about the time the oak leaves are bursting out the soil temperatures are getting to be close 50F. 

Son #2's oak tree

It's been 13 years since Joe and I moved back to Iowa from Minnesota.  Rich passed away several years ago.  But, every year I think about those conversations and go and check our oak trees progress into spring.  Today the buds are just starting to burst open. 

The oak tree's buds are starting to burst open.

 Rich, we should have oak leaves the size of squirrels ears by this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. What a great post!!! Amazing how farmers figured things out without all of our technology nowadays!