With the fall harvest nearing the end and the fact that I keep getting PMs about farming, I figured this would be a good time to start up another AMA. I learned quite a lot just in the last year so I hope I can be more insightful to all of your guy's questions.

Short bio: my dad and myself farm around 4,000 acres around the southeastern part of South Dakota. We are one of the largest producers around the area however, we are downsizing our operation.

Fire away and AMA!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/a/TbNwG

EDIT: Sorry about the delay guys. Phone got no service at the bar I was at. I'll answer as many questions as I can!

EDIT 2: I'm still here! Had to work this afternoon and I didn't get much free time but now I am off. Answering every question I can that I already hasn't answered.

Comments: 482 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

Openrefrigerator42 karma

Ever found something strange in the cornfields?

pillowpants491 karma

Hired man saw a mountain lion one night. He nope'd right the fuck out.

Amadacius37 karma

What would you do if the massive corn subsidies ended. Would your operation still be profitable? Would you grow something else?

pillowpants411 karma

I would be for it. I realize that I won't make quite as much profit but in turn I would be more independent and not "rely" on the government as much. Also tax payers (including myself) would be much happier.

TJBAM32 karma

Rain makes corn,

Corn makes whiskey.

Whiskey makes my baby get a little frisky.

Can you please verify? BEST REGARDs

pillowpants473 karma

Never met a chick who liked whiskey =[


pillowpants418 karma

Its sad. They are mostly drinking Bud Light which is pretty much water.

tassysurfer29 karma

What time do you typically start your day?

pillowpants454 karma

6:30am and stop about 9:30pm

brandnewyou19 karma

I know money isn't everything, but have you ever calculated your average hourly wage?

pillowpants442 karma

For straight up labor and no investment in the crop, its about 15 an hour. If you invest (basically you are the one with crop and everything) its about 400/hour. Gotta remember though that has to pay for land, machinery, and cost of living.

IMPORTANT EDIT: I dun-goofed. I only factored in harvest hours. After everything I could think of its about $150-200 an hour. Sorry about that, folks.

guy_lovejoy14 karma

Money after everything is deducted (except cost of living) divided by how many hours you work in the year. That figure would interest a lot of us.

Khatib6 karma

His number is WAY off. He's not factoring in his hours right at all when it comes to all the hours involved, from planting, to spraying, fertilizer, working up ground, machinery maintenance, hauling crop in to the elevator, etc etc. Farmers can do well, especially with the high prices the last few years, but not that well.

pillowpants44 karma

This man is right. I dun-goofed. I was only factoring in harvest hours. It turns out to be about $150-200 with EVERYTHING I can think of factored in. I'll be sure to edit my post above.

toxlab27 karma


I just read an entire AMA about corn farming. The questions were good, but the answers were great. OP even told a corny corn joke.

Thanks a lot, /u/pillowpants4 . This was a very entertaining read. It's nice to see a different perspective.

pillowpants418 karma

Glad to be of service =]

screwthebankiworkfor25 karma

Favorite corn recipe? Favorite korn song? Favorite corn joke?

pillowpants469 karma

Corn on the cob with lots of butter. I love me some cholesterol

I never really liked corn so I'll tell you may favorite song from BTBAM. White Walls.

How much does a pirate pay for corn? A buccaneer!

mackrealtime3 karma

I used to love BTBAM and listended to them all of my senior year in high school. Colors was in my opinion a musical masterpiece of all genres, not just progressive metal.

pillowpants46 karma

Shits great, bro. I can't get enough of them.

the_low_s3 karma

Nice to see a fellow farmer listen to BTBAM.

pillowpants43 karma

We're a rare breed, my friend.

antoniusmagnus20 karma

OK. When I grew up in KY we grew corn, and there was always the risk of the stalks getting blown down by winds--how do much larger operations do it? Do you tie the stalks, or what?

pillowpants421 karma

What you do is disk them down as soon as possible or chop them up and bail them for bedding in livestock yards.

Oprah_Nguyenfry16 karma

What does "disk them down" mean? I have never planted corn (or really any crops) in my life. I stumbled upon your AMA and I was interested.

Regrind19 karma

Run them down with a disk harrow, like this (http://www.romeplow.com/Wheel%20Offset%20Disc%20Harrows.htm)

pillowpants425 karma

^ this guy knows his shit

Oprah_Nguyenfry7 karma

Sorry for the dumb questions, but what does that do to protect against wind? Wouldn't that disk just crush/kill the crops?

pillowpants417 karma

Right but thats after you get the crop out. Theres really no way to protect it when the crop is in. If the corn is down, theres corm heads that are specialized in harvesting downed corn.

Oprah_Nguyenfry6 karma

lol, I feel like even more of a dumbass now. Crop out means what? Collect the corn? What's the point of pushing it down if you've already collected the corn?

pillowpants48 karma

Collect the grain from the plant. You don't push it down, its already down.

Oprah_Nguyenfry2 karma

You collect more than corn from the "corn stalk?". I'm so ignorant to farming it's quite embarrassing. I just assumed you collect the corn and that's it.

pillowpants49 karma

Well in a sense. You take mosr of the plant in but eventually the combine filters out the grain and the rest of the plant is spat out the ass end of the combine.

antoniusmagnus2 karma

I always wondered what the professionals did--we just tied them as best we could and got as many ears as we were able. How does 'disking' work?

pillowpants46 karma

Its basically an implement that has wide steel "wheels" that chop the stalk.

Beakerguy18 karma

4000 acres seems like a really big operation, about 7 square miles. How may employees work that land?

pillowpants430 karma

3 of us for spring work. One guy in the planter, one guy in the field cultivator and one guy in the disk. 4 guys for fall work. 1 guy in the combine, one guy in the auger wagon, and two truck drivers.

hatchettchris4 karma

Do you dry land, then? I work on a spud/bean/wheat/alfalfa farm in Idaho. Altogether we farm about 2500-3000 acres. We irrigate; pivot and solid set lines. There are about twenty of us hands that work. Three guys and 4000 acres, I doff my hat!

pillowpants44 karma

Yessir. Wetlands are for conservation so we can't touch them

huntingoctopus16 karma

Do the chickens have large talons?

pillowpants412 karma

Don't have chickens man. Sorry =[

Beakerguy16 karma

Your first proof picture looks like soybeans. I thought this was about corn, dammit!

pillowpants434 karma

We like to spice it up sometimes ;)

1000waystolive15 karma

What's your worst crop you've ever gotten? What year? Weirdest thing in the feild's?

pillowpants434 karma

Last year was one of the worst crop seen since the Dirty Thirties. Corn was about 40 buschel per acre (normally around 150) and soybeans were 15 buschel per acre (normally about 45.) It was also my first real year of farming but crop insurance kicked in and it workes out pretty decently. Weirdest thing was a mountain lion just chillin in a field.

scoutycat14 karma

What are your thoughts on the GMO controversy? Have you seen the effects of pest and plant resistance? In your opinion, is anyone at fault for the problems that have been documented so far (ie, bugs not responding to pesticides, cross pollination, roundup resistant plants), or are these just some of the unfortunate growing pains of new tech?

pillowpants410 karma

The pest and weed control is a real issue that can't be ignored. I think that there will be new tech coming soon to curve this problem but it might not be as great as hope. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Kibibitz14 karma

My grandparents were farmers in a small town in Missouri. They had soybeans and corn, but also some cattle. Going there as a child was a great experience. My cousin and I would walk the acres to the different ponds and fields, sometimes going fishing or messing with the cows. One of the barns was full of hay bales and we would spend hours climbing them like a playground.

My grandfather is a very stoic person. Few words, and pragmatic. He never talks much, but he works hard. My grandmother is the type that is always cooking, and especially would bake all sorts of things when my family would visit.

The farm has since been sold, and my grandparents live in an assisted living center. They aren't doing as well, these days. There are times when I wish I could go back to the farm with them like it was when I was younger, but they can barely move around. I guess this isn't really a question, but please try to take your kids or grandkids to the farm as often as you can. I really appreciate all the experiences now and how much my grandparents worked and did for us.

pillowpants418 karma

I'm so sorry that it turned out that way. If you can, try to go back to the place and ask the owners if you can go around the place. People will do that around here and they usually love having that kind of company over. Never hurts to ask.

pnewell8 karma

What do you and your family and friends think about climate change?

pillowpants410 karma

Unfortunately my family (aside from my cousin) doesn't address the issue. I personally think its a real threat and something needs to be done about it. The machinery industry is doing a bit to cut back on pollution by filtering exhaust so there is a few things out there that are changing but we still have a ways to go yet. As for my friends, they generally sure the same opinion I have.

JulesBlues8 karma

Ever found any hidden treasures or belongings in the field?

pillowpants477 karma

We find gold all the time but I guess we do plant it.

Rangerstorm8 karma

Have you ever had a cow get lost in a cornfield?

pillowpants430 karma

Yeeeep but you do find him during harvest time. Hes just kind of.....dead.

amspaucm7 karma

What is the real difference between the different types of corn? As a kid, I never understood what it was about the "hog corn" my grandpa grew that made it so different from the corn we humans eat.

Also, can you recommend any particular varieties of corn that would be good for those of us who do some backyard gardening? Any tips on how best to grow it? (If it helps with specifics, I'm in central Ohio, zone 6A.)

pillowpants413 karma

The main difference is that sweet corn (which is what we eat) matures a bit differently then feed corn. Sweet corn is picked when theres still a lot moisture in it. Fees corn is picked when it has very little moisture in it.

bustednugget7 karma

I understand that you shell the corn but where do you put the cob?

pillowpants417 karma

The cob whips out the back of the combine as trash. Then it is tilled with the soil, basically becoming mulch.

JF_Queeny8 karma

It's how combine drivers keep the dump cart guys awake...

Zzzzzzzz. CRACK WHOP

pillowpants43 karma

Can confirm , have fallen asleep in Auger Wagon

ThunderDumped7 karma

Opinion on Farm Simulator 2013?

pillowpants418 karma


ThunderDumped3 karma

I also just want you to know my Steam and Twitter handle are PillowPants and @PillowPants_

rustytbone7 karma

Are you guys hi-tec red necks? GPS guided combines? 4000 acres seems like it might be enough to warrant the expense of that technology.

pillowpants48 karma

Actually the only GPS we have is in the planter since it will plant a lot straighter. Everything else is manual.

Necrotic_Horus6 karma

What do you do during the winter ,when you don't harvest or plant? What is your opinion on GMOs?

pillowpants419 karma

I go to school. GMO's are not as bad as people make them out to be. They are necessary for the demand of grain that we need to supply and there have been many tests that confirm that GMO's cause no harm to anyone.

mctab8 karma


pillowpants49 karma

In a sense, yeah. They basically get more control on the prices and demand on the demand of grain. I don't like it but I have no choice. To make it better, I'm going to donate the subsidy checks to a charity.

Joey_Blau6 karma

Hey when using roundup ready corn.. do you wind up using more pesticides or less?

If you do no till planting and end to end roundup applications.. does the land get a hard crust that tends to shed water? Do you think you get more runoff and herbicide loss to streams?

Are you seeing any roundup resistant horsetail or other weeds?


pillowpants45 karma

You use less pesticides when using treated (or round up ready) seeds.

We till all of our ground so my answer may not be perfect, but I'll give it a shot. Unwanted crust should not be a huge problem with no-till land but it is a big deal with tilled land. Runoff might be a problem since the ground can't soak as well compared to tilled ground.

Some weeds are growing resistant to Roundup so there needs to be either a change in chemical or something needs to change in Roundup to kill off the resistant weeds.

Mr_Tulip6 karma

How do you feel about bourbon?

pillowpants49 karma

Never could get a taste for it. I really try but I just can't stomach it.

Beakerguy6 karma

Where do the products go? Who is your customer?

pillowpants412 karma

We bring our stuff to what we call an Elevator and usually they sell the grain to livestock feed lots.

Nachmias6 karma

How many do you usually employ to keep the farm well kept?

pillowpants46 karma

Year-round, its just my dad and me. Spring and Fall we hire a couple of guys to help us out.

numanoid5 karma

Is corn grass?

pillowpants410 karma

YEP! Its considered to be within the grass family.

konceptklear4 karma

I come from a long line of dairy farmers [fortunately I didn't fall into that same lifestyle, if you've seen my AMA], and I've been told all my life that there's no such thing as a farmer who isn't up to his eyeballs in debt. I guess that's farming equipment, hired help, etc. What's your take on this?

pillowpants426 karma

Thats about right for all the stuff you have to buy but it pays off eventually. Dad's philosophy is live within your means. If you cant afford that new tractor, don't buy that fucking new tractor.

backdoor_nobaby4 karma

Why is it called a cornhole?

pillowpants413 karma

Cause you poop corn sometimes....? Yeah, we'll go with that.

Oldalbwalker4 karma

Three part question:

(1) How does one become a farmer these days?

(2) What is an average day like?

(3) What have been the pros and cons of living in South Dakota?

pillowpants45 karma

  1. You gotta hire a lot of your stuff at first but you can slowly build your machinery line to become independent. Its a long process so be patient and you'll go far
  2. Depends on the season. Spring, pretty busy but there is still a laid back feeling to it. Summer is really laid back but you need to spray the crops so there is work to be done. Fall is busy as hell and everything is kind of tense. Winter there is hardly a thing to do so I spend this time going to school.
  3. Pros: cheap cost of living, small and rural if you like that and its peaceful Cons: Its gets pretty boring sometimes. Night life is non existent sometimes and "big" cities get spendy.

Benjaminbranchaud4 karma

Corn on the cob or corn in a bowl?

pillowpants46 karma


Regrind4 karma

Can you explain how grain sales work? Say, do you have a contract or agreement with the grain merchant? Or do you just wheel into whatever grain dealer pays the most at the time and you get paid by weight and quality?

pillowpants45 karma

Both actually. You would contract your grain for a set price and bushel or you can sell it the day you bring it into the elevator. You can also have them store the grain for a fee.

slowmo33 karma

John Deere vs Case... which side are you on?

pillowpants49 karma

I bleed Red.

brotherbock3 karma

I'm late getting here, you may not see this. But I'm gonna ask anyway. Grew up in WI, not a farmer but many friends were. Wife grew up central IL, family incorporated and farms 6000 acres. Awesome to see so much interest in a farming AMA. :)

Anyway, question: are you near any of the SD Indian reservations, and are there land dispute issues? I spent some time at the Pine Ridge res, and a lot of the ranch land being used by white farmers there has been leased out by the government without the (Indian) owners' permission. Big problem. Anything like that where you are, or other issues?

pillowpants42 karma

We are not by any reservation however it is a problem. I'm not sure what the solution would be though.....

artifacts3 karma

Why the plan to downsize?

pillowpants411 karma

Dad is getting sick of the big operation and I dont want to do that much. Gotta deal with landlords and we want to be independent in a sense.

_chem_guy_3 karma

What is your opinion on GMO's?

pillowpants45 karma

GMOs aren't nearly as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Basically they are almost a necessity to the deman of grain these days.

jenny713 karma

Good about time so if you know so much about corn why does are bodies not break it down if you know what I mean

pillowpants411 karma

Actually its just the outer shell you're seeing. Body doesn't break it down but it takes the stuff in the shell.

vineman3 karma

In your opinion, what is the most interesting thing about corn or corn farming?

pillowpants48 karma

All the uses it has. Feed, food, fuel and many more I can't remember off the top of my head.

Beakerguy3 karma

How was your harvest this year?

pillowpants414 karma

Great! All the crops were better than expected. Corn is about 170 buschel per acre (normally around 130) and soybeans are about 55 buschel per acre (normally about 35-40)

AlexPie23 karma

Do you live in Sioux Falls? I live there:D

pillowpants45 karma

No but close! How are you liking it?

whiteworld2 karma


pillowpants47 karma

Sweet corn, brah.

piroko052 karma

What's your opinion on high tech farming equipment IE John Deere 's JDLink?

pillowpants45 karma

Its neat but it kinda takes the fun out of actually doing it. I guess I like doing things the hard way.

Sandpapergooch12 karma

Money. Corn Chowder. They're connected, and they feed back to each other very simply

pillowpants44 karma

Go on...

polluxuk2 karma

Have you ever found someone doing "sit-ups" in one of your fields?

pillowpants413 karma

Not sure if understand...

HelenNorwood2 karma


pillowpants47 karma

Yep. We alternatr between corn and soybeans. Helps maintain the grounds nutrients better rathar than sucking them all up with planting corn every year.

fivepines1 karma

P and K: Broadcast or strip?

pillowpants41 karma


veenesk0 karma

Do you know Malachi?

pillowpants41 karma

Nuh uh