Mark Pettijohn Farm

Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And we’re in luck today because we’re in Saline County just west of Solomon, Kansas. We’re on the Mark Pettijohn Farm and we’re gonna be joining Mark here in just a second and he’s gonna be telling us about his farming operation which includes a bunch of crops. So, stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host, and we’re in luck because we’re in Saline County, just east of the big town of Solomon, Kansas. We’re in luck because we have Mark Pettijohn with us. And Mark’s going to talk to us about his farming operation. and how he got started. So, Mark thanks for being on the show…. (Mark) You’re welcome. (Jim) …for taking time out today and talking to us. So, tell us a little bit how you got started in this operation. (Mark) Well, I got started really in 2005 when my Dad retired. He’s still around, helps a little bit. I graduated from college in 1992 and really have been farming with him, up until he retired. (Jim) Yea, don’t mention where you went to school. (Mark) That’s a great university east of here. (Jim) The other one down the river. (Mark) That’s farther out. (Jim) OK, so let’s talk a little bit about, you’re the fourth or fifth generation on the farm here. (Mark) I believe I’m the fourth. And my kids would hopefully then be the fifth. And a lot of the land, some of the land is the exact same land as of course, as going back four generations. A lot of it’s new. It’s probably expanded 25 percent since he retired. (Jim) That’s good. That’s good, especially in these times. Tell me a little bit about your crop rotation? Your crops you’re growing and crop rotations. (Mark) OK, the preferred rotation would be go from full season soybeans to wheat and then to milo and then back to soybeans. That’s the preferred rotation, but probably happens less than half the time. (Jim) Right. (Mark) I usually prioritize-what does the landlord really need? He doesn’t need all beans. He wants to have a good mix. So, I might go milo to milo. I might go beans to beans. I might go wheat to wheat. Kind of landlord specific. But the rotation I mentioned at first is the preferred general rotation and then almost 90 percent of the time, we have a double crop following the wheat. (Jim) Double crop plant following the wheat would be mainly beans or sunflowers? (Mark) Probably soybeans and sunflowers would be probably 80 percent of what we do. The other 20 percent would be cane and just general cover crop, although this year, we’re going to go back to some double crop milo also. I forgot corn. Corn is in there too. Three years ago we started double cropping corn. (Jim) OK. so you’re taking your wheat off and you’re going to corn after the wheat crops off? (Mark) We did and we expanded those acres, it’s been so successful. No irrigation and yet it’s been profitable. (Jim) So, you’re looking at late, mid-late June planting date for the corn and then what, a pretty low population, 20 thousand, something like that? (Mark) I think we planted about 18,000 last year. The yields have been 70 to 80 bushel and of course prices have fallen, so that’s not sounding as good this year. But June 24 – June 27 was the approximate planting dates. (Jim) Mark, stay with us. We gotta take a break here. And you folks at home, now is your chance to get a cup of coffee and we’ll be back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and we’re on the Pettijohn Farm, here in Saline County, just west of that big city of Solomon. And Mark, talk to us a little bit about your wheat. How… what your planting practices are with your wheat crop. (Mark) OK. All of the wheat is planted with an air seeder and I have a terrific operator. His name’s Dustin. And we planted I think four different varieties, starting about October 1- October 2. I think it rained eight, nine days. We finished up on the 24th last year. That’s probably perfect, if we could choose, have some early, some late. And we had a MESZ starter fertilizer with it. And we’ve even used wheat as a cover crop last year. (Jim) OK. And that wheat as a cover crop, how was that used? (Mark) Well, if I didn’t mention all the seed is bought new every year, treated with insecticide early until planting hits about the 15th of October. And then we run just fungicide treated wheat. We did use some QuickRoots this year, for the first time ever. And we thought it was greener already. And then our last seed is just plain, untreated seed. But we had some bin run seed kept on purpose just for the purpose of using it like you would use rye. (Jim) Right. (Mark) And we planted it into milo stubble to suppress weeds, and to this point it has done its job. (Jim) So far this spring, it’s done its job. (Mark) It actually looked better than some of our other wheat for a while, but we didn’t fertilize it of course, so now it looks yellow. And I’m gonna kill it any day now. (Jim) Right. And I notice as I drive around the countryside, not yours by the way, but as I drive round the countryside and I hear complaints is that you know, with the lack of water the top dress, it’s take a long time for that nitrogen to get into the ground this year, because of the lack of rain that we’ve had. So, we’re seeing a lot of yellow wheat in there. the area. (Mark) Our wheat has split applications of nitrogen and I have that done of course. And I also have a half rate of fungicide on now already. And I’ve been doing some post… I don’t use much weed control, but I did do a little this year. And what we might switch to next year is putting the fertilizer in the ground with a rig we bought. And normally what we do is we either hire the fertilizer streamed on or do it ourselves. (jim) Right. (Mark) And the residue is tying that up. We think so. We can see it green up. But ultimately we want it in the dirt. (Jim) Right. So your yields have been in the past, have been pretty good? What are you shooting for as an average, what do you shoot for? Fertilizing and since you’re an accountant by trade, what are you kind of… (Mark) I think of Duane Hund at K-State. Cause we always use 42 as our goal. (Jim) Right. (Mark) And I think four years in a row, we hit 40 something… (Jim) Uh huh. (Mark)…as an average. We like 50, this year we need 60 with the prices, but really anything under 40 is really a failure. (Jim) Right. Exactly. Mark, my cameraman is waiting for me to stop here. So, hang around we’ll be right back. Folks, stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. We have Mark Pettijohn with us here. And Mark let’s talk about soybeans. I know soybeans have been quite profitable on the place, so tell me how you do it. (Mark) Well, we use this air seeder Jim. Fifteen inch rows and last year we actually put down quite a bit of MESZ fertilizer between the rows. We don’t normally do that, but it just so happened last year, we were a county…sorry region winner for highest production, and I think we came in 13th on quality. But we will follow all the bean acres with wheat. Our rotation is a little bit erratic, but we don’t plant any 30 inch row soybeans, they’ve kind of proven to be… (Jim) Helps with weed control. (Mark) I like the canopy of the narrow rows. And we double crop, we’ve always double cropped a lot of soybean acres. A lot meaning 300-400 acres and last year our double cropped soybeans not only out yielded our full season soybeans, but our double cropped soybean yields were the highest ever. Our full season bean average was kind of low and probably four years out of five, the soybean enterprise will be the most profitable. (Jim) Right, right. (Mark) So, we plant most of our… not most of our acres, but the most of any one crop we plant is soybeans. (Jim) OK. When do you like to plant? (Mark) Well this year we’re gonna go, some in early May and some in early June and then of course, double crop… (Jim) After wheat harvest. (Mark)…because we don’t know the answer. (Jim) Exactly. (Mark) Last year late was better. (Jim) Caught some rains late. (Mark) Caught some rains at the right time. And last year we planted mid-May, late May. And we plant our short season first, obviously, so we can go back to wheat on a majority of the acres. (Jim) Right, right. (Mark) And we don’t use any insecticide. (Jim) Let’s go back to that. Do you feel like you’re giving up a lot of yield with the early season planted early? (Mark) I feel like we do give up a little bit of yield, but for years, we always said, if we could pick one day to plant them, it would be May 10th. And now, the last couple years, all farmers are gravitating I think later and later, including us. And I started to say that we use a fungicide treatment on the seed, but not so much insecticides. We’ve proven that hasn’t been worthwhile. (Jim) What kind of planting rate? (Mark) We are lowering it this year, to 120,000 and we were at 140,000. Ten years ago we were at 190,000. We’ve done some studies, some on-farm experiments, including populations and it’s never been a benefit to be higher for us. (Jim) Right. Exactly. Mark, thank you. We’ve gotta take a break. We’ll be right back here in a second, so don’t go away. (Mark) OK. (Jim) You folks at home, we’ll be right back after these words.

(Jim) Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. With us we have Mark Pettijohn and he is the champion sorghum grower here in the state. And guess what we’re gonna talk about this time, this issue? We’re gonna talk about grain sorghum, so let’s hear your thoughts on grain sorghum. (Mark) Yea, it’s the 2014 no-till, non-irrigated, to be exact. (Jim) OK. (Mark) And it was on… we actually raised that crop on the worst, perhaps, some of the most challenging ground that we have. Some of the worst producing. And what we had done there the previous year is raise a seven, eight foot tall, canopy sedan grass, radish, turnip… (Jim) Cover crop. (Mark) We had that in there following wheat. And throughout the winter it died and it used moisture and when we had it strip tilled March 1st of ’14, it pulled harder than… (Jim) Bringing up some clods I bet. (Mark) It was cloddy, more than a neighboring field that was much more lush and had some moisture perhaps from the winter. (Jim) Good. So, you are… you talked a little bit about strip tilling. You talked about the cover crops there. Are you mainly all strip till with your grain sorghum? (Mark) Well, starting in 2015 we will have everything already strip tilled, 90 percent strip tilled for the milo to plant in 30 inch rows this year, because we discovered perhaps a 25, 30, 33 percent yield advantage to doing so with both corn and milo. And the starter we use with this rig is a 1240-10 sulfur 2 1/2 unit of zinc product. And with the strip till we are having put down 100 units of nitrogen, plus some chloride. Much like the wheat, it receives chloride also. (Jim) Ok, so you said you like to plant in June. What kind of seeding rate are you looking at? (Mark) Well, it was always higher with the air seeder, so we’re saving money with the planter of course. This is largely something advocated by my hired man, and I sort of grudgingly was convinced it did save quite a bit. The planter was doing much better. And we’re shooting for 42,000 now, whereas before we were maybe 60,000. I would hate to say even higher with the air seeder. And of course, more even stand. (Jim) Now, you told me earlier you were planting more grain sorghum than corn. (Mark) Yes. (Jim) Tell me why. (Mark) Well, last year in 2014 milo was our third most profitable crop. And this year we’ve increased our milo acres because of the relatively higher and ever increasing bases for milo versus corn. So, we’ve reduced our corn acres and increased our milo acres. (Jim) Mark, we’ve got to take a break here. Stay with us. Don’t run away. Folks, stay with us as well, we’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host. And in this last segment Mark Pettijohn here in Saline County is gonna tell us a little bit about his equipment and your harvest strategy. So take it away Mark. Tell us a little bit about your equipment. (Mark) It seems like I’m in the sprayer all the time. I’ve got a wonderful hired man who does a terrific job planting. We have a 16 row planter, with row shut off liquid starter. We have a 42 foot air seeder that does the wheat cover crop. And we plant the sunflowers, the milo. We use the air seeder for the soybeans. But, I think our big, best kept secret I guess, which I really enjoy is the custom harvesters from Canton, Galva area. They’re also farmers and they come in. And we probably spend as much as a farmer owning the equipment, we just don’t have to have the heartache, headache, repairs… (Jim) Upkeep, upkeep? (Mark) And the staff to run that equipment. And it keeps that air seeder and planter busy doing double cropping and planting the cover crops and keeping the sprayer going. We are never behind on what we’re doing. We’re very efficient with the equipment we have. I think our shed is usually 3/4ths full. We have more shed than equipment. (Jim) That’s a good problem to have. (Mark) It’s a good problem. My K-State economist said something like, a farm our size should have twice the capital investment into machinery that we have. (Jim) Could have, could have. (Mark) That it typically would have, yes. So, we’re keeping the planters rolling, the sprayers rolling. Meanwhile the harvesters do a great job for us. Terrific. (Jim) So, what do we have right here? What’s this piece? (Mark) I call it a rolling coulter, it’s a way to get the fertilizer into the ground. It’s new for us this year. It’s probably something they use more back east. And so this year what we’re doing is putting no bulk fertilizer down with the corn that’s already planted by the way, and in a week or so when it’s up a few inches we’ll side dress it. So, it’s a side dress rig and it’ll apply the nitrogen as needed. If you want to add more later, we can do that. (Jim) So, you’re basically getting more bang for your fertilizer buck, by putting it in the ground as opposed to on top of it and not being tied up by residue. (Mark) Almost positive that’s the case because with so much residue after 16 years almost of no tilling, we have quite the carpet, quite the residue mat. We’ve gotten into some strip tilling, which may seem not the religious thing to do for a no tiller, but I’m OK with whatever is most profitable and that has proved to be well worth it. But we have some other ideas for the future for some equipment that might help move some residue in the future also. (Jim) Mark, I really appreciate you taking time to do the show with us this morning and talking to us about your overall operation. (Mark) Yes. (Jim) And even your hired man Dustin there. So folks, thank you for being with us this morning. And don’t forget, next Friday, be back for another issue of That’s My Farm.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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