Saturday, July 26, 2014

Northwest Iowa Dairy Days

In celebration of June dairy month, Iowa Corn interns, Sarah Tweeten and Natalina Sents, traveled to Northwest Iowa to participate in Dairy Days. The educational open house was hosted by Plymouth Dairy Farms near LeMars, Iowa and sponsored by Western Iowa Dairy Alliance and Midwest Dairy Association. Families of all ages enjoyed tours of the 2,700 head dairy, kids activity tent, and a free meal. Guests were able to catch a glimpse of life on the farm with stops in the milking parlor and maternity barns. 
The Iowa Corn display was inside the children's tent along with tables from Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, a petting zoo, the corn pools and other commodity group's information. All the action entertained hundreds of kids despite gloomy skies and pouring rain.

At the Iowa Corn table, families lined up to make corn necklaces for a solid two hours. Even with poor weather, the line was steady. As an intern, it was exciting to see eager young faces curious about corn. As the children filled their small baggies with soil, selected a corn seed, watered it and clipped it on a lanyard, Sarah and I questioned them. "Is the corn hard or soft? Do you eat this kind of corn? Why are you putting water in there?" As they moved down the line Sarah explained, "This corn is hard, not soft and juicy like sweet corn. You eat sweet corn at your house, but these cows eat hard corn. The corn helps the cows produce the milk you drink. If you tasted their corn you'd think it was yucky. Corn plants need water just like you to grow big and strong." By the time the kids proudly held their finished project they were repeating all they'd just learned to their parents.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Corn Congress - Day 1

Many within our group spent the morning flying to Washington D.C. from various airports across Iowa.  Some had to leave their homes at 2:30 a.m., others had connecting flights delayed due to late stewardesses, but eventually we all arrived safely.

Upon arrival and meeting up with each other, we traveled to the DC Central Kitchen.  The primary location of this amazing nonprofit is located in the basement of DC's largest homeless shelter.  Staff members, Alex and Amanda explained to us that DC Central Kitchen has a four pronged mission: combat hunger, create opportunity, nourish community, and resist recession.  They cook 5,000 meals a day to distribute to shelters, rehabilitation facilities, and other nonprofits.  These meals are prepared by both volunteers and the men and women in the culinary job training program.  This program creates opportunity by graduating  approximately 85 people every year with the skills needed to begin a culinary career.  One graduate is even an assistant pastry chef at the White House.  Other graduates find work in DC Kitchen's second location.   This location is a for profit social enterprise providing important services in low income neighborhoods.  Two important projects are contracting with several DC schools providing balanced and healthy school meals and providing local corner stores with locally sourced fruits and vegetables.   DC Central Kitchen also fights the recession by paying all employees a living wage, providing health insurance, and even providing a significant retirement match.

We were all very impressed with the size and efficiency of this great nonprofit.  After this visit, we had a little time to visit some of the many great sites in our nation's capital.  We are all very excited for our opportunity to visit local agriculture tomorrow.


Chris Wolters is a sixth generation corn and soybean farmer from Northwest Iowa.  He is active in many local organizations and is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Corn Congress 2014

Our final day in Washington DC found us on the opposite side of the Hill, visiting with our Iowa Congressmen. Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) members, I-LEAD and CAT conversed with Congressman King, Braley, Loebsack, and Latham on many issues directly affecting their farm operations and the agricultural industry as a whole. A few members also met with members of the House from Hawaii, Montana, California, and Louisiana to voice their concerns and share their view points on the following topics:
  • WRRDA – Members thanked the Iowa delegation for their support of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Increased funding through a higher barge user fee fuel tax would support increased funding for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, allowing for the improvement of our lock and dam systems. Currently, there is an $8 billion backlog for construction and rehabilitation projects needed for important transportation outlets, causing direct concern for the future of Iowa grain transportation down the Mississippi River. If not addressed, these projects will not be looked at again until 2090, which will be too late for Iowa’s farmers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, commonly known as RAGBRAI®, is the nation’s largest and best known bicycle ride.   Every year since 1973, bicyclists have started at the western side of the state and pedaled across Iowa to the Mississippi River over a seven day period.  Typically the distance is between 400 and 500 miles.  It has become immensely popular amongst cyclist, attracting riders from all 50 states and many countries each year.  It is so popular that the organization has had to limit participants to 8,500.  Iowa doesn’t have seashores or mountains but one reason it continues to be so popular is because of the hospitality that Iowans show to their two-wheeled visitors each year.  Towns all along the route go out of their way to make riders feel welcome when RAGBRAI comes through.  Churches bake pies and serve dinners, and there are food, drink and entertainment stops all along the course.  Another reason riders cite for doing RAGBRAI is because they discover how beautiful our state is.  Every July, they ride through the lush green fields of corn and soybeans, across the rolling countryside.  Many cyclists, even those from cities in Iowa, rarely spend time in the country.  You can imagine how refreshing this must be for people who live in large cities.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crop Updates from Iowa Corn Leaders – Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer temperatures and high humidity are making the crops grow this week.

About 59 percent of the corn acreage is silking and 77 percent of the corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition. Blooming was evident in 67 percent of the soybean acreage, more than double the percent last year. 19 percent of the soybean crop was setting pods, well ahead of last year. 74 percent of the soybean crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

Carl Jardon of Randolph traveled to Washington D.C. for a week to attend NCGA’s Corn Congress. When he returned to his farm, he says it was amazing to see how much the crops had grown and developed. Nearly all of the corn has tasseled and the soybeans have grown a ton too. He says there are many airplanes in his area spraying corn. Some neighbors’ corn have northern leaf blight coming early. Jardon has not found any in his corn. The corn he planted is resistant to northern leaf blight, so he does not plan to spray. All of his crops continue to look good.

Roger Zylstra of Lynnville, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, says his crops are still looking good and growing great. The corn is pollinating very well. The soybeans are thriving in the dry, hot conditions.


Bob Bowman of DeWitt, president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), is starting to spray fungicides on his crops. The crops still look very good, even in the areas that had been flooded out. He says they could use an inch or half of an inch of rain.   

Man loses cellphone in grain pit; you'll never guess where it turned up

Kerry Willis TODAY contributor

Here’s a glimmer of hope for anyone who ever lost a cellphone.

Kevin Whitney thought he’d never see his cellphone again when, while working nine months ago, he dropped it into a pit filled with 280,000 pounds of grain.

Imagine the Oklahoma farmer’s surprise when he got a call recently from a guy in Japan who had found the phone.

“He said, ‘Did you lose a cellphone?’” Whitney recalled to TODAY. “I said, ‘Yeah, I lost a cellphone last fall.’”

The device travelled halfway around the globe on a series of ships over the past few months, until it landed in a Japanese grain mill.

Whitney got his phone back, complete with all his photos — including precious pictures of his daughter’s wedding.

“It’s crazy,” Whitney said. “I can’t believe it. What really shocked me about it all, though, when I first got the phone call, was what a small world it is.”

Watch the video here! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Corn conditions still at 15-year high

Angela Bowman, Drovers Cattle Network,Staff Writer
More than 75 percent of the nation’s corn crop is rated in good or better condition according to the USDA’s Crop Progress report, marking the best conditions seen in the 15 years.  As Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup, said in a note to clients “the weather continues to be excellent for crop development.”

Corn conditions are 10 percentage points better than last year, and more than double those reported in 2012:

Report Date
Very Poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
July 14, 2014
1
4
19
51
26
July 15, 2013
3
6
25
49
17
July 16, 2012
16
22
31
27
4
July 18, 2011
4
7
23
50
16
July 12, 2010
2
7
18
52
21
July 13, 2009
2
6
21
52
19
July 14, 2008
3
7
26
49
15
July 16, 2007
4
8
24
46
18
July 17, 2006
4
8
26
46
16
July 18, 2005
6
13
26
42
13
July 12, 2004
2
5
19
51
23
July 13, 2003
2
5
19
52
22
July 15, 2002
5
13
33
40
9
July 16, 2001
2
7
26
50
15
July 17, 2000
2
5
18
50
25
July 12, 1999
1
4
16
54
24

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