First off, I have done one before but I got a few requests to do another one recently aso I figured I would start fresh. I'm not trying to karma whore, just give the people a chance to ask some questions on a recent AMA.

Now lets get this thing rolling. My father and I farm roughly 4000 acres in Southeastern South Dakota. We are one of the larger producers around our area. Our main crops are corn and soybeans.


So go ahead and AMA!

EDIT: Time to hit the hay. I'll be back in the morning to answer more questions!

EDIT 2: Morning! I'll try to get to all of your questions. And thanks for putting this on the front page! You guys are great!

EDIT 3: I gotta head out but thanks for the questions and the information! Hope provided a little insight on what its like to be on the inside of farming.

Comments: 1509 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

[deleted]748 karma

Are you outstanding in your field?

pillowpants4507 karma

Like am I good at my job? I am ok. I'm still young and I need to learn a lot.

Am I out in a corn field? South Dakota is one giant corn field so yes.

[deleted]205 karma


pillowpants4149 karma

Thanks man! Good luck in all of your studies and thanks everything you do for us simple folk!

[deleted]70 karma


pillowpants4194 karma

Sorry ma'am. Should have looked at your username more closely. Go teach them kids about corn and moo-cows! They're two of my favorite things in the world.

BoldDog165 karma

To what extent do government farm subsidies effect your decision to grow corn? What percentage of corn grown in the US end up as high fructose corn syrup?

pillowpants455 karma

Not much if any at all it seems. I don't know specifics but I don't think its to much.

Leaper_colony50 karma

Sorry for the crappy link. But this article makes it sound like the subsidies lower the overall price of corn, and in turn HFCS and grain-fed animals' meat. Too bad insulin isn't also made from corn.

pillowpants446 karma

If it does lower the price we still are making a decent living and things could be a lot worse so I'm not going to complain.

dampew67 karma

You misunderstand (it's not a big deal)... Subsidies lower the price of corn for us because they lower costs for you. Without the subsidies you'd make less of a profit on corn and it wouldn't be as profitable to grow.

I'd like to ask a different question: Is there a large corn-growing community where you live? Can you tell us a bit about your culture and how your lives may be based around growing in ways some people might not appreciate?

pillowpants461 karma

Sorry my brain is kind of fried from being in a tractor for 15 hours these last 2 weeks.

Large scale. The culture is very close and open. Everyone knows everything. Its cliche small town living. I've been told that the main way a rural community can survive is an Elevator and I do believe that 100%

dampew17 karma

No worries :)

An elevator?

pillowpants459 karma

The place to bring grain to and sell it.

AMBsFather132 karma

How come whenever I eat corn, wait a few hours and then go take a shit, I always see it in my poop?

pillowpants4282 karma

That is just the outer "shell". The nutrients of the corn is all gone and is now filled with your poop.

Tekz0896 karma

... is that seriously how it works? I never thought to ask this question before, and was honestly astounded by the clarity and bluntness of your reply.

pillowpants4133 karma

That is what I have been told all these years.

logically126 karma

I was running wagons all week in Southwester MN. We had 50 bushel beans and 145 bushel corn w/18% h2o. We farm about 220 acres and run equipment that is now considered vintage. 1972 Gleaner M2 is hard to find parts for. It's amazing how different the soil condition are over that 120 miles between our farms. Hope you finish up ok.

pillowpants4115 karma

That's amazing! Glad you guys had such a great harvest with awesome prices to sell your grain at! Not to hard to find Gleaners around here so parts are pretty easy to come by.

msheatherrene125 karma

What is your opinion about Mansanto? Have they in any way impacted you directly?

pillowpants4167 karma

Actually Mansanto used to run test plots on one of our fields that had 150 acres of farm-able ground. They took up about 30 acres for themselves and paid for all of our seed and fertilizer on the entire field and we collected 100% of the grain. They were incredibly generous to us but we don't associate with them anymore.

cessik56 karma


pillowpants4112 karma

We just said our goodbyes. They were done working there and we didn't need them anymore. I have heard some bad stories too so maybe that is why we don't deal with them anymore but it was a nice, graceful exit by them.

NoNamesAreWorkin109 karma

Thank you for doing shit I'm to lazy to do. Why is corn so delicious?

pillowpants4271 karma

Because its magic.

peterohsx74 karma


pillowpants4147 karma

Yep! I limit myself on corn consumption so I will always like it.

Centaurea74 karma

In Iowa, we're pretty concerned about soil erosion. Is that also a big issue for you guys? What do you do about it?

pillowpants463 karma

Its a bit of a concern but not a huge issue around here, I guess. Not to many people complain about it.

BuddyFriendGuy70 karma

I came here to see some corny jokes. I am disappointed.

pillowpants4160 karma

Potatoes have eyes. Corn have ears.

patronizingperv62 karma

Smut. Your thoughts?

pillowpants458 karma

Kind of bad this year but never bothered us before.

theloniouszen47 karma

Can you go over the typical yearly schedule for you for plantings of corn and soybeans for your area? When do you decide to plant, when do you add fertilizer/any sprays, what do you tend to use for those?

What are some milestones for plant growth along the way? When do you harvest?

Do you do crop rotation? If you do what's your schedule?

What do you do in the winters?

When you sell to the grain elevators do you have any idea what your grains typically end up being used for in the end?

I hear a lot that someone starting out from scratch in large-scale farming needs a lot of capital, and it's run more like a family business where a lot of the assets are passed from generation to generation. Is this true?

pillowpants463 karma

We spread fertilizer a month before we start planting so around the end of March. We wait until the soil is nice and warm which is usually around the end of April. We plant corn first and spray herbicide along with the planting of the corn. Then comes beans. Spray grass control before we start planting the beans.

No real 'milestones.' Just all gradual. Sorry if I misinterpreted that question. Wait for the plants to dry up to harvest and that happens on at the end of September. (Except this year, but this is a bad year to go by.)

We do projects in the winter. Work on old tractors and various other things.

It all depends on the market. Theres no set "time" other than usually avoid selling at the beginning of harvest since prices take a dive down.

Completely true. Its almost impossible to start up fresh and be successful without help from the family.

iamkush8 karma

Why is this a bad year to go by? Also, thanks for the AMA, very interesting stuff :)

pillowpants431 karma

Drought ruined the year so its not under normal conditions.

Buckeye7042 karma

I grew up in rural Indiana, and Pioneer Seed Corn was a huge employer in the summer back in the day (I think it's mostly immigrants these days). Hundreds of kids would head out to the fields to detassle hundreds upon hundreds of acres.

In college, my summer job was working for Pioneer following the crews around to make sure the fields were clean enough. Fun job, and I walked my ASS off.

It's funny when I'm talking about jobs I had when I was a kid, and the number of people who don't understand seed corn and what goes into producing it.

pillowpants434 karma

I never had the "pleasure" of detassling so I'm missing out on that fun. It is amazing what has to go into a single kernel of corn.

kabcdef28 karma

Great AMA. There is a lot of incorrect information about farming on reddit, and it is good to get the story direct from a farmer.

pillowpants440 karma

Happy to be of service.

iddn28 karma

How much do you think speculators affect the price of corn? Do you sell for spot or is it sold forward? Since you can probably tell the upcoming season's yields do you take advantage of that 'insider' knowledge on commodity markets?

pillowpants441 karma

A lot. A little bit of both. Contract some at a price, sell some for market price. The only insider knowledge is rumors that spread around town. Its still risky either way.

ravkal27 karma

Do you wear overalls? What is your preferred brand of overalls?

pillowpants441 karma

I don't but if I had to go with a brand it would be Key.

Brutalitops_the_mag21 karma

Has/Will your crop be damaged significantly by the drought?

pillowpants443 karma

Oh God yes! Beans are doing about 25 bushel/acre (normally around 40 bushel/acre) and corn is about 40 bushel/acre (normally 130 bushel/acre). Thank God for insurance.

batjac720 karma

Wholly.... 40 bushels from normally 130? Wow. Beef, pork and chicken prices are going to become Insane. How much will the insurance protect you?

pillowpants424 karma

Yep. You'd be surprise how much it will affect everyone. There's different policies. My father had 70% of his bushels covered while I have 65% covered.

ConfirmedCynic6 karma

How do you water the crop?

I've heard that much water can be saved by running tubes under the soil to distribute it rather than spraying water onto the surface where a lot is lost through evaporation. On the other hand, that sounds expensive to install and I don't know how tilling would work with tubes in the ground.

Is this something farmers do?

pillowpants418 karma

Rain. Some people use irrigation for sandy ground but we don't deal with it.

Yep just not around here to much. That is more down in Nebraska.

AngelAri21 karma

Can you tell me what exactly the difference between sweet corn and the corn they use for livestock is? I've heard you can eat both (pretty sure the 'feed' corn is what they use for flour, but I'm not sure.) Can you eat young feed corn or is it only useful to humans ground up?

pillowpants438 karma

Sweet corn is a completely different mutation. Its more of a vegetable then a grain compared to 'feed' corn and is picked while still maturing. Grain corn won't hurt you one bit if you eat it, but it doesn't taste to great...

CarlTheHobo20 karma

So tell me about corn.

pillowpants441 karma

Corn is always interesting. You probably have some right now.

pillowpants421 karma

I'm a farmer. I don't know much. Have a little patience.

kabcdef18 karma

People always complain about core farmers getting subsidies. Do you get any?

pillowpants424 karma

Other than crop insurance, no.

surroundedbycorn23 karma

I am sure someone in your operation gets a direct payment from the USDA.I farm by the way so I am not trying to be offensive.

pillowpants423 karma

You're probably right but I haven't seen a check yet haha. Sorry if I sounded defensive. Wasn't intentional.

MistaSchlong18 karma

Hey, thanks for the AMA. Here are some questions:

  1. Do you think your corn crop will come back next year and into the future or do you think rain has been decreasing (thus affecting your yields) over the years?

  2. If the drought continues into the future, do you worry about water? Is that something other farmers in your area worry about?

  3. What is the average age of farmers in your area?

Thanks again

pillowpants425 karma

No problem. Glad to be here!

1) I think the rain will be back next year. We get a nice wet winter to re hydrate the soil we should be good. 2)Yeah. We rely 90% on rain for moisture. 3)Around 50 if I had to guess.

kabcdef16 karma

Are you making a lot more money these days, with the price of grain going up so much?

pillowpants430 karma

In that past 5 years, yeah but thanks to the drought this year we won't make this much. Oh well. Can't win them all.

ampari15 karma

Is your farm family-run? Were your parents farmers, too?

pillowpants447 karma

Completely family-run. I was born into it. My family has been farming ever since my great-great grandfather came from Ireland in the early 1900's.

dan_v_ploeg14 karma

Any problems with coyotes? i hunt SE SD often, so message me if you got a problem haha

pillowpants423 karma

Nope haha but you're always welcome here.

ClashM13 karma

1) What do you think about hydroponics?

2) Do you think we should pursue industrial hemp as an alternative to corn based ethanol?

3) What is your opinion on the obstruction of the Farm Bill?

pillowpants424 karma

1) Its neat but I don't think I will see it take off wildly in my career.

2) Of course. Anything to burn cleaner fuel.

3) Better get their shit together right. It could take a huge blow on everyone in the nation.

NickTheHalfling12 karma



Wooo, Illino-- oh.

pillowpants49 karma

Sorry bro =[

AntiquatedReality12 karma

Do you accept the Great Cornholio as your lord and savior?

On another note, any idea how much you guys spend on the corn or farm equipment?

pillowpants457 karma

Nope. We worship Chris Rock in his true form.

We have close to $1,000,000 in equipment. Our operating note (the money it takes for seed, fertilizer, chemical and fuel) each year is around $800,000.

AntiquatedReality13 karma

Damn man, kinda hard to accept the fact you are burying 800k into the ground.

Last question, do you think corn subsidies are helping or hurting the market? Some would say the focus on corn is detrimental especially when farmed for the ethanol market but other say its too vital to just ditch.

Anyway thanks for making my taco habit possible (and answering my questions but damn you for HFCS D:

pillowpants415 karma

But you get some much back from the ground! I believe they are helping. Corn is pretty much here to stay as long as we have a thriving beef market. Corn is the only feed that finishes growing the calf to be slaughtered for good beef. Plus there is a vast amount of demand in the ethanol market. I can't control where it goes after I sell it. I would stop it if I could.

Dissidentt11 karma

Corn is not the only feed for finishing beef. Here in Canada, corn is not an optimal crop because of the shorter growing season and barley is used for fattening beef and for ethanol.

pillowpants49 karma

There's really no barely around here so we kinda are forced to use corn haha.

sat_am11 karma

Are you or your neighbors being affected by drought or temperature changes? I'm asking because a family member of time declared bankruptcy last year after persistent drought failed his wheat crops two years in a row. He doesn't farm any more. It's a troubling situation.

pillowpants412 karma

Yep. We are all in the same boat this year.

SunriseThunderboy9 karma

So... what tractors do you have?

pillowpants426 karma

Die hard Case IH fans.

Boutros-Boutros11 karma

Why do farmers seem to have such brand loyalty? My Grandfather farmed Corn and Soybeans his whole life in northern Iowa and him and all his brothers used John Deeres, collected vintage John Deere tractors, and wouldn't even look in the direction of a piece of farm equipment that wasn't green.

pillowpants421 karma

Its just a farmer thing. We're pretty stubborn people haha

dog_in_the_vent9 karma

If I took a kernel of corn and put it in the dirt, then watered it regularly, would a stalk of corn eventually grow?

What if I buried a fish next to it?

pillowpants418 karma

Yep. Fish would provide better fertilizer so you would get a better stalk and thus a better yield.

Collision218 karma

What is this: and where can I buy it?

pillowpants417 karma

Maize. What corn looked like before we genetically engineered it. Still can find it almost anywhere.

kabcdef8 karma

Do you use no-till practices?

pillowpants416 karma

We don't but some guys do. We are thinking about going into it sometime in the future.

kabcdef12 karma

In my neck of the woods, nearly everyone does Although some people are not keen about the GM seed (roundup ready), it really reduces fuel costs and helps the soil and moisture content. It took some getting used to see soybeans coming up through last years corn stubble.

pillowpants411 karma

Yep that would be the same trend here.

Monkeys_with_Guns6 karma

How much time do you spend on reddit a day during work?

pillowpants420 karma

Waay to much. Probably close to 5 hours all together. Baconreader has become the thing that keeps me from going insanely bored.

Teslanaut6 karma

What are your thoughts on "corn sugar"?

pillowpants413 karma

Never really was brought up to me until now. So not much.

Brownsound76 karma

Is corn an instrument?

pillowpants438 karma

An instrument of pain sometimes, yes.

MomoSissoko6 karma

how do you protect your crops from western corn rootworm

pillowpants49 karma

Treated seed.

FlySIU924 karma

Stratego YLD or Headline AMP?

pillowpants410 karma

Don't use much for fungicide but I would say Headline AMP.

8livesdown4 karma

Do you have any american workers?

Do you have any migrant workers?

There is a sterotype that american farm-workers can't/don't work as hard. Any truth to this?

pillowpants49 karma

All American (family).

No migrants.

A little haha. We still keep busy but a lot of it is sitting in a tractor. But when its time to go (crop is ready), you'd better fucking go. There is a lot of nature elements we have to try to beat.

[deleted]4 karma

Would you ever want to farm anything else?

pillowpants414 karma

Other than having a garden I am pretty content with my crop choices.