News & Resources

View From the Cab

27 Oct 2015

By Richard Oswald
DTN Special Correspondent

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- "I did absolutely nothing over the week."

That's how DTN View From the Cab farmer Lane Robinson described the last few days. But that's not entirely true. While there to attend a family wedding and catch up since his last visit 30 years ago, Lane used free time to learn about part of Washington state's varied agricultural industry by studying up on raspberry and blueberry production. He shared that with DTN readers last week.

He also had a chance to learn about the Seattle-Tacoma area's other unique qualities.

"They have open cannabis marketing. It certainly is prevalent. We haven't been anywhere where it isn't. There were literally people smoking on the street. There were six places to buy it in the downtown area. It's just a little hard to get used to," he said.

Lane was also surprised to see the volume of grain exported from Seattle seaports. "Our condo was just two blocks from the harbor, overlooking a grain shipping facility."

Voters of SeaTac, the area surrounding and including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, recently approved a $15 minimum wage. Thanks to the presence of headquarters for the likes of Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, there is a stark contrast of wealth not apparent in typical Midwestern agricultural communities. "A car passed us on the highway. Jo Anne (Lane's wife) asked if that was some kind of Mustang or something. I said, 'No, Dear, that's a Ferrari.' I've never seen so many Porsches and Ferraris," Lane said.

Back at the farm outside of Cromwell, Indiana, Lane was scheduled to be home early Monday morning. "It sounds like we're gonna get the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. We have a 100% chance of rain. I got a National Weather Service burn warning on my phone. Things are awfully dry; we could use a good shower."

Lane guessed some folks back home were close to done with harvest. But his 260 acres of non-GM soybeans are still in the field, along with some corn, waiting for his feed mill buyer to give the green light once a facility upgrade is complete. "Some guys have been going three to four weeks. Eric (Lane's row-crop farming partner Eric Strater) said he talked to a guy about helping us finish up. So I think some guys are done or they wouldn't be available to help."

Corn picked last week still tested 19% moisture when Lane and Jo Anne left for Washington. "I'm sure it's dryer than that now," he said. Moderate temperatures and dry weather have helped it along.

"There's nothing better than this time of year. You don't have the temperature swings like you do in spring. Fall is my favorite time of year," Lane said.

Meanwhile, at Gurley, Nebraska, View From the Cab farmer Leon Kriesel told DTN the moisture situation has improved. "We got some more rain, ninety-eight hundredths. It came nice. That brings us to 25.93 inches for the year," he said. That is almost double the average annual rainfall for western Nebraska. "The rain was Thursday morning. If you drive out into a stubble field, you don't want to stop."

All that's left of Leon's harvest is his milo. "I did a hand sample and it tested 13%. We might cut the milo this week. The moisture tester said the test weight is really good. I'm still hoping we'll get over 100 bushels (per acre)," he said.

Elsewhere in the area, sugar beet harvesters are running. Sunflower harvest hasn't begun. Dryland corn yields have been good. Leon grows and sells certified seed from 3,000 acres each year. Wheat seeding is about over after dry germination conditions earlier this fall forced some to replant. "We loaded one seed truck last week."

Some Clearfield herbicide-tolerant wheat has been sprayed with Beyond herbicide. Grain producers usually spray once in the fall or later in the spring. Seed producers like Leon may need to spray twice to ensure fields are free of any weeds.

Fall maintenance to machinery continues. One of the vintage International Harvester Super Cs used to pull gravity boxes around the seed plant is undergoing radiator repairs. Other machinery like drills and the tractors that pull them are being put away after getting the once over. Repairs to the seed plant are finished, but rain put a halt to painting the grain legs. And construction of two new storage bins has started. Cost is up to about $4 per bushel, not counting electrical.

Winter comes early and stays late in Nebraska's panhandle. There have already been several killing frosts. "Leaves are colored and they're falling. The garden is frosted good. I haven't seen any ducks or geese flying, but fall is here, you can tell that. There was a little bit of ice in the water puddles Saturday. Wasps have slowed down and boxelder bugs are on the sides of buildings trying to get some warmth," Leon said.

Richard Oswald can be contacted at

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