Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sorry Wheat

I have a picture file called Sorry Wheat from a few years ago where I had difficulty deciding whether to keep a field of wheat or plant a new crop. This year we never had a chance to remove the sorry wheat and plant a new crop so we are harvesting sorry wheat.

On the bright side, it is amazing what it is making with a year's rainfall on it since planting, and more. Still, the best I have heard is 60 bushels around here and there are 20's. I don't have the weigh tickets yet but I know I have both. 20 isn't worth combining to me here and would have rather had it full of young beans or corn right now.

Also my quality is amazingly good for the conditions. I don't have the verdict on that yet either from the buyer but it is dry and the kernals are in good condition out of the combine. It tastes good and no musty smell or taste to it so it will make good feed or crackers or cookies.

Still, it's pretty sorry in today's economy. It won't pay many bills and that puts the income responsibility on the double crop soybeans with not much growing season left. But who knows, it could still come out a winner but I have my doubts on that.

I will report on the John Deere 9770 STS combine. It's a lot smoother to operate than the Gleaner, unloads 3 times faster but cuts no better. The AGCO cab is roomier and nicer. The electronics are better after 7 years of improvements if they would work and you knew how to adjust and use them.

I did notice the fire extinguishers mounted in obvious places on the machine to reflect all of the John Deere combine fires so many farmers talk about. I am sure the insurance premium reflect those fires too but I haven't investigated that yet.

I will add some more after I take these loads to the miller.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wheat Harvest

It's finally dry enough to cut my wheat. It's been like waiting for a new baby, it's been nine months since it was planted.

The combine needs some fine adjustments, the bushels cut says we are still throwing too much grain out the back. I need to make some calls this morning and see what other Deere operators say. The sample is clean, maybe too clean but the wheat threshed out nice at 9 in the evening and it passed our taste and crunch test, I just don't want a bunch of lost wheat and volunteer plants next spring.

We are trying out a 9770 STS with 35 foot head. It is quiet and smooth and the chopper and spreader work together to spread the width of the combine which is something I have struggled with. That is extremely important to me as a farmer and consultant and one of the top harvest problems in the nation. Most combines don't spread the straw far enough.

You can see how green it is underneath after a year's rainfall since planting, most of which came the last 3 months which is not good for wheat or planting spring crops.

I am going to burn down with Ignite and Select and start planting double crop soybeans this morning behind the combine and spray it before they sprout. There are tons of baby marestail and big foxtail under that wheat and Ignite is the only thing killing the marestail around here except Sharpen and I chose Ignite over Sharpen for my emerging soybean crop.

There is wheat cut to the west and east of us but this is the first in our community. I am anxious to see what the miller thinks of my wheat crop because that effects my net check.

I have lots of spraying and mowing to do as soon as it is cut and start spraying first crop soybeans. It looks like we have the 3 driest and sunniest days to work starting today. The sky is clear and it is below 60 degrees with dry air for once this year. High should be in the 80's, perfect weather for cutting wheat.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I got today's topic from my email box from a farmer asking an importtant question about his planting units.

"Hi Ed,

Is there any websites or articles that talks about your per acre loss on poor seeding due to the planter? I'm not happy with the spacing on my corn planter (CIH 900) or my GP 1500 (controlled spill). I was looking at some different planters and was wondering if I could figure out how much these planters are costing me with their poor spacing. The 900's issue is mostly skips, I've tried about everything everyone has suggested on NAT but, still can't get a nice stand. I was thinking of a Kinze 3000 with interplants and selling both my planters. New ones are pricey and used ones seem to hold there value. Can you think of a way out of this situation?"

This question is so difficult to answer I thought I would "let it set" overnight and tackle it this morning. That first question takes research and I know there have been some studies on corn spacing but fewer on corn emergence. Soybeans, I am not aware of any.

My first reaction is those two pieces of equipment will plant about as evenly as anything I have seen so it must be a question of the cost of the total rebuild versus trading up to something better. New is out of the question for most of us.

The only way I see out of this question is a total rebuild of both units versus the cost of buying a new or good used planter. For me, if I have another operator I would stay with two units is better because planting date is more important than spacing. If not, the Kinze trade makes more sense but it will be hard to sell two used units and they won't give you much for either trade in and most won't trade two for one.

Plant spacing is worth about 5% from average results to improved results for me. Plants emerging at the same time is at least 5% more yield and sometimes 10% in my experience. Planting date is ahead of both those problems for me.

From the limited information given that is how I see these questions. This is where having a mentor nearby really helps. All of mine are some distance away like I am to this farmer and its hard to paint the picture with words. It's obvious to me he wants to trade but afraid of not getting his money back in crops versus the expense.

I think I would build a budget, allocate so many funds to this problem and try to figure out rebuilding the old units versus the trading deal. That's about the best I can come up with this morning.

My trusted old planter works in Indiana now so I had this decision not that long ago. I had to make my decision on different factors including labor, distance and acres to be covered.

What do you think?


Monday, June 27, 2011

What Sable Sees

Sable has become a pretty close friend. That dog knows my habits better than anyone else as she spends more time with me than anyone else.

This picture gives you an idea of what she does with me. She's looking across the wheat, for wildlife or anything or anyone who comes in sounds, smell or vision. Of course she has uncanny senses and could pick up my scent anywhere.

In a little bit I will get her up and feed her daily dose of one quart of Purina Beneful which she seems to like and do well on. Beneful contains Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal1, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, beef tallow, rice flour, beef soy flour, and sugar.

She's a healthy 77 pounds with little fat and as agile a dog as I have ever owned. She is part kangaroo though, you know. She can leap off those strong back legs like no dog I've known.

She has been smiling a lot lately so I know she's pretty happy. We say she won the dog lottery as she has it "made in the shade with a cool lemonade" as I like to say around here. Spoiled? Of course she is, but she earns her keep as a terrific watch dog.

She watches everything. From my windshield, to hanging out the window, to surveying the farm, she watches everything. I would feel sorry for anyone who tried to become between her and I.

It wouldn't be pretty like she is in this picture.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

From Cheerios to Ethanol

America's Heartland TV program focused on biodiversity of grains this week. They showed a family farm raising soybeans near Lafayette, Indiana and the Honda HAPI soybean production that ships Ohio soybeans back to Japan in Honda shipping containers.

The last segment showed the empty grain silo's on Lake Erie in Buffalo New York. General Mills produced most of their Cheerio cereals and Gold Medal flower there at the turn of the twentieth century but the plants were all closed after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1969. This was the start of Buffalo's decline.

Entrepreneur Rick SmIII ith had the vision to transform those empty silo's to storage of east coast grain for the production of ethanol. I am sure many or most people thought he was crazy as the east coast has a positive basis for the huge supply of grain needed to feed all the livestock operations on the east coast.
One of my acquaintenaces has changed his farm operation east of Buffalo to supply them corn at a good profit for him and a competitive price for RiverWright Ethanol compared to shipping the grain from the midwest to them. The venture seems to be working for all.

I am sure many farmers have done the same to find the profit that meets the need of demand for grain where they live. Here it was soybeans for export and soy products but the demand for corn has overtaken that for soybeans and wheat so far this year, although they are all competing for grain.

From Cheerio's to Ethanol, there is a place for all the grain we can produce in this country and the world.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Field Day

Today and tomorrow is the famous Amateur Radio Relay League's Field Day world wide. Field Day shows how a group of ham operators can gather quickly and set up communications from any spot. Recently, this was another life saving reality when amateurs provided essential communications for the devastated community of Joplin, Missouri.

I think my first organized Field Day was at W8LT when I was a freshman at Ohio State. The group set up the antennas and equipment and generators out east of Columbus. Since I was a decent CW operator I was always asked to participate in Field Days. CW is short for continuous wave broken with a key to form dots and dashes for letters and characters or Morse Code.

Later, I participated in Highland, Brown, Clermont and Clinton County Field Days all over southwest Ohio. The idea is show you set up by a certain time and communicated with other stations next door or around the world. We never won first place except at Ohio State, who was really competitive, but we had some pretty good showings.

I should have some good field day stories but I can't think of any at that moment. All I remember is setting up antennas and equipment, fast CW as long as I could stay awake, crashing and getting up and doing it all over again.

The Highland group is operating just 5 miles east of here and having a covered dish dinner at 5 this evening so we might go over and re-introduce ourselves.

I have several years of QST Magazine I might bring to give to someone, they were valued to me as a kid when I read them from cover to cover.


Ed Winkle

Friday, June 24, 2011


Today I am going to discuss a subject people don't often talk about. Number one it involves the male body and number two no one likes to talk about private things unless it's serious or used in a joke.

It's the male prostate gland often confused with the word prostrate or meaning to stand up. I guess that's a joke in itself!

I had my first visit with a urologist this morning. My normal PSA level elevated slightly over the year so my doctor and I agreed it was time to visit a specialist.

Prostate health issues not only affect men, but also their families and their sense of well being.

The Question of Prostate Health
Many people take their health for granted, only worrying about their body when things don’t seem to be going right. Men are often the last ones to worry about their health problems and many avoid the doctor until something is significantly wrong. Prostate health might be the furthest thing from a man’s mind, until a prostate growth occurs or some other issues comes to light. But the earlier these issues are spotted, the better for the man. This can keep people from having to go through further health issues and being forced into assisted living situations.

Benign Prostate Problems Need Treatment
The good news is that most prostate issues are generally benign. Once a man learns how the prostate works, they can begin to understand what is supposed to happen during urination and ejaculation and what is not supposed to happen. Keeping a journal or a mental diary of problems will help a man to see when things are going wrong. If a problem persists for several weeks, it’s a good idea to see a doctor, even if the man is certain it’s not cancer. Impotence and other issues can be remedied almost immediately with medication.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, often occurring in very young men in their twenties and thirties. But while this is a common cancer, it may not be diagnosed right away since many of the symptoms can seem to be normal – troubles with ejaculation, urination issues, etc. Just like women, men are afraid of having to deal with cancer, but they might not realize that treatment can be simpler than they think. Some prostate cancers can be found at such early stages that many doctors don’t even treat them. A man might simply need to continue regular screenings, but then they will not be have to consider surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation unless the prostate growth becomes larger.

Maintaining Prostate Health
As with any part of the body, the better care a person takes of their health, the lower their risk of health troubles. Prostate cancer and other issues are more likely in men who are overweight or who have a family history of the diseases, so it stands to reason that the better a man treats their body, the more likely they are to be healthy.

By taking the time to prepare healthy meals, to exercise, and to begin to cut back on stress, men of all ages can ensure their bodies are as healthy as possible. Even with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, they might find they are able to not only fight the cancer, but win the battle quite easily.

The Long Term Prognosis
With proper treatment, prostate problems can be treated and cured. Most cases of prostate cancer are able to be cured without recurrence. Though some men will face other cancers in their lives, prostate cancer, when caught and treated early, has one of the highest success rates.

Prostate issues are able to be treated and cured with the help of a qualified physician. Men who were once afraid of their doctor should not have this fear anymore. Even with a diagnosis they did not expect, the prognosis is good."

My dad had prostate cancer so I am aware of these thing and doing all I can to avoid it and treat it when it comes. Early diagnosis is key to treatment of any disease but prevention with good health is the very best thing we can do.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


Now is prime time for crop scouting across the midwest. LuAnn and I saw a young man pulling soil samples for Sever Consulting out of Washington Court House last night on our way to Werner's Pork House for our anniversary dinner. It gave me an idea of what to talk about today.

I started scouting fields for a fee in 1985 when we lived on Canada Road and one of our neighbors was Steritz Seeds. He encouraged me to contact Ohio Seed Improvement, I did, and I have scouted for them ever since. I just finished certified seed wheat scouting and it won't be long until soybeans are in flower and we will be scouting seed soybeans in addition to other fields.

Today's picture is from our farm with headed out cereal rye killed with Gramoxone the first week of June and planted to LL soybeans. It will soon be time to spray them and I need to determine what day that is and what rate to use and whether I need anything else in the tank with Ignite.

You can see the problem with the notill drill by my foot. This drill shoots out a string of beans and then skips, which is not good for maximum yield. The White planter doesn't do that but it was planting corn the same day on another farm.

It looks like last year's corn stalks washed in a pile might have caused the skip. The beans are healthy but so are the weeds. I marked it as moderate to heavy foxtail, light marestail which is resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicides, light Canada thistle and a few other weeds but those are the main targets.

I didn't see much bean leaf beetle pressure but I usually add an ounce of a generic pythrethoid insecticide for insurance. I may add a generic select to hit the grass harder but the 29 ounce rate of Ignite should take care of everything so the beans can canopy and smother out any new weeds later.

There is no disease yet but as wet as it has been I expect plenty of septoria which turns the bottom leaves yellow and is present in almost every field every year in the United States. It can spot the leaves and the pods and take up to 10 bushels per acre in yield so I might use a fungicide later on this season. That is why you scout the field more than once.

A tissue test could be taken at this stage but I would prefer two trifoliates present on every plant and take a soil test with it where my shoe is. This is pretty standard for many farmers and crop consultants to do but very few fields get tested that way in the United States.

My tissue test in last year's corn was Sufficient to High according to my Midwest Labs report so I don't expect any problems. It just needs good growing weather. This field got two tons of high calcium lime which should unlock more nutrients over time and increase the efficiency of the fertilizer I applied last fall before the cereal rye was planted.

All in all, this farm is good to go with planned practices. The rye really kept the rolling farm from washing and the soil has everything the crop needs to maximize yield.

This is what crop scouting looks like today in southwest Ohio.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22

Today was a good day. It was our tenth wedding anniversary.

Over ten years we have lived the ups and downs of life. We saw graduations, marriages, birth of grandchildren, sickness and health but it was all good. I wouldn't appreciate the good without some trials along the way.

Some of the best days was watching our crops grow, watching our children grow, watching their children grow. We are blessed with good children with really good values. I am humbly proud of the decisions they have made, knowing what we do and what we have done has had a strong impact on who they are.

Our travels has been a real blessing, too. Camping all over the United States and Canada we have seen some of God's great creations and met a lot of good people along the way. I can't really pick one over another but the farm states and the National Parks are among my favorites.

Then we got those special trips to Alaska, every island in the Carribean, several countries in Europe and New Zealand. I really like Europe and New Zealand and we visited places we could call home on both continents.

It's been a really good ten years together and I thank God for sending me LuAnn so we could scheme and dream and actually live out those dreams together. It is amazing what two people can do together.

For a farmer I think it was really neat we got married on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Everything is green and growing in North America on this date and today was no exception.

I can only hope for another ten or twenty years, whatever God grants us but just thankful for today.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


One of my friends made the news the hard way last night. His grain cart was stolen and painted "broke, junk" and sold to a scrapper for drug money. Theft is big on the farm today.

My friend said "got a call wednesday afternoon at work that one of my carts was missing from the barn . stop by local scrap yard and saw it setting with a great new paint job. they paid the kid $500.00 for it. first thing thursday morning I was at their door with the cops . They said they had pictures of who sold it on file and give it to the cop we knew who had stole it before we got there. heres the problem we knew that they just returned a trailer to a friend on tuesday that the kid had stole last weeks and they still bought the cart from him after that. the cart looks a lot bluer than the pics show and also has a new shurloc roll tap last fall put on. He told them he was tied of working on old cart and get a new cart to replace this one. who is the bigger crook the kid or the scrap yard that is buying this stolen equipment"

You can view the video we saw on Channel 12 News last night here.

"The price for scrap metal has been soaring in recent months. So, too, has the amount of heroin flooding into the Tri-State. That means addicts who want to buy heroin are stealing anything they can get their hands on. Frequently, they sell those stolen goods to scrap yards to fuel their habits. Local 12's Rich Jaffe says that could mean criminal charges for a local recycling company.

Metal theft in rural local communities has gotten so bad that thieves are even stealing metal gates on farm fences, but investigators say at some point, the people buying that scrap metal have to use at least a little common sense.

Last week, investigators say Kyle Smallwood stole a grain cart out of a Highland County barn. According to the cart's owner, it's worth $5,000 to $8,000, but investigators say Smallwood sold it at this recycling company for scrap, even though employees knew it was much valuable. "They knew it wasn't scrap, and they knew they could sell it to a buyer for a much higher price than what they gave for it, and again, the same business, days later, bought a trailer days later that was full of scrap from the same suspect, and the scrap was taken off the trailer and crushed, and the trailer was set aside."

The sheriff says Smallwood's a heroin addict who's got a long criminal history in the area. The owner of the grain cart questions the way the scrap yard operates, saying theft and scrap sales have become a problem across the area. "The vehicles they pull up on the scales. They weigh it, and they send them back to dump, and then they come back, and they ask them who they are and what it is. Probably if they would just ask people a little more, some of them would get nervous and say this is the fourth time you been here tearing your copper out of your house."

"We're investigating, and we're going to see if there's any criminal culpability with the scrap yard because as an individual, if you or I buy something and we have reason to believe is stolen, we could be held liable under Ohio laws for what's called receiving stolen property."

Management at the Sardinia Recycling declined to comment on the situation when we spoke with them on the phone. Sheriff Ward says the case against Kyle Smallwood is expected to go to the Grand Jury this week, and more charges are expected."

The scrapyard is across the road from the edge of the home farm we were raised on. I took one load of scrap there one day on the way to visit mom and I "smelled skunk" and never went back. Now I wonder how much of her missing farm items went through there.

Sounds like Sardinia Recycling is as guilty as the crook and they are in trouble too.


Monday, June 20, 2011


I didn't "trade up" from the old Dakota so I had to go shopping for tires. I don't like shopping and I don't like shopping for tires.

Tire Discounters leveled the playing field here when Chip Wood opened their first store in Cincinnati in 1976. I prefer buying from a local outfit but their prices and service is hard to beat.

Once you start buying there, they keep you coming back by adjusting the price off the last set you bought. Tires often don't make the recommended mileage you should get off a set so if a 60,000 mile tire wears 40 or 50,000 miles, they tell you they can take a little off the next set. I haven't found another store able to beat that.

They also have full service shops with free alignment, free lifetime rotation and tire maintenance, brakes, shocks and struts and all kinds of stuff. Now they have a store in every major town like Wilmington, Hillsboro, Mt. Orab and Washington Court House so they are "always in the neighborhood."

I would rather buy from Brown's at the Martinsville Mall or Magulac Tire on US 50 or Chuck Wait Tire in Mowrystown and Hillsboro but they can't always match the price and service. Bob Sumeral is a Tire Discounter shoot-off also I think but I haven't priced them as they are not close to me.

So I went with Tire Discounter's once more. They had the best deal but they install freshly made tires and I prefer seasoned ones. I haven't made myself buy my tires a year early so I can season them myself but I would probably almost double the tire life if I did.

Convenience is so much easier than money making habits.

At least my truck is safe again and I won't have to call AAA to rescue me like they did a few weeks ago. But I have to be careful where I drive, I can't use it haul metal to the scrap yard or I may pick up a piece of metal in my brand new tires.

That's hard to do on the farm.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there and especially to my dad! I will get down to talk to you soon, dad.

I had a good Father's Day last night at the Wilmington tractor pull with Matt and Corbin. The pull was boring, poorly run but we had fun just talking. Pulls are great social events for farmers and non farmers and wanna be farmers. I got to talk to a lot of good people I haven't seen in awhile and some old farming and pulling stories came up.

One of my favorites was in the mid 70's when I was chasing the Ohio State Tractor Puller's points race like many were doing in Wilmington last night. I won the 5,000 pound and 7,000 pound stock classes with my famous Oliver 88, each class by inches. While I was racing up the track because the track was uphill at Stockdale, Ohio, I caught a glimpse of my dad smiling at me and there was my little mother standing beside him! I think that may have been the only time they ever watched me pull.

I won the most money I ever won, $225 for each class which was a record for my class in those days and everybody was there to get it. My experience of plowing with dad's Super 77 and mounted 3 bottom plow gave me the advantage in balancing my weight and power and traction.

Not too many years after that it cost more to haul the tractor to the pull and home than you could win at the pull so I lost interest. I never lost heart, I just lost interest since the kids were little and needed me more than the pull did. I still plan for my 12,000 pound farm stock tractor in the back of my mind and there is a Case tractor sitting in front of a barn just down the road that has been sitting there for years with "my name on it."

I would rather pull an Oliver or Moline but that would be very expensive to build for that class, red would be next but it costs so much to build the cubic inches it takes to compete in that class. The Case has the big 504, pump and injectors that would be needed, just like Chevy is to racing.

Oh well, I am just grateful to be alive to and be a dad and granddad today.

That's good enough for today and something so many wish they had.

"When God created fathers,
He made them proud and wise...
He put the light of truth
and understanding in their eyes.

He formed them in His image,
hearts, faithful, smiles bright,
their skin a shade of evening,
as it passes into night.

He gave them sturdy arms,
for lifting children in the air,
and knees that were afraid to bend,
in work or play or prayer.

He planned them with a passion
for the role of fatherhood...
and when the Lord had finished,
He was sure that it was good.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

News and Notes

I am glad my friends at USPS weren't working at this Post Office when this poor old lady hit the gas instead of the brakes.

Got a call from Tyler's dad this morning and they are making a visit here in a few hours. Tyler has outgrown his bed and his shoes so they can hit the outlet mall and pick up the bed frame after while. Maybe I can talk dad into helping me get the Mule running when they visit?

I hate to impose on visitors but I am behind on my spraying around fields and barnyards. I have a big patch of Canadian thistle in the CRP waterway in my wheat field behind the house. They are in flower and ripe for a good shot of glyphosate or Round Up as most of you know it.

We had a nice visit with our lady Episcopal priest friend and husband in Hillsboro last night. Pork loin, home made biscuits and white gravy, you don't get that every day!

It looks like rain and we are trying to cut barley so we can get to the wheat. I need a few more soybeans and my seed man is out of the 3.9 LL I planted and only had a 3.4 left over. That is too early for double cropping here as soybeans are different than corn maturity. The longer the season bean, the harder they flower before harvest so he found a 4.0-4.1 LL that sounds better for my double cropping needs.

I want spread 100 lbs of ammonium sulfate on all my wheat and barley straw besides other fertilizers and I am finding everyone is out and the price has doubled if they buy more! It is a by product of the steel industry and probably won't be available much until this fall, if at all.

The eye doctor said my eyes haven't changed much in a year so that was good news. My family doctor called and said my cholesterol was 140 so that is really good news. A year ago was the first time it had been under 200 in a long, long time and I still don't see how I got it that low. I guess I eat more good stuff than I think I do. I sure eat a lot of fruit and cereal.

Sable got her big dose of shots at the vet. It was like last year, he said she is beautiful, very healthy, very obedient and smart, that will be $177 please! Gee that is more than I paid on myself this week but I know there will be bills in the mail after all these visits. Sable is a healty 77 pounds, solid muscle and no fat.

The mail lady gave her the best compliment. She said remember when you were working in the garden yesterday? She said I pulled up to the mailbox and she looked over at me and looked back and you and decided you were more important than another dog biscuit! That made me smile. Sable is my legs now when it comes to running and really handy when scouting fields.

I better go pay some bills and get ready for a visit, so have a great weekend!


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Fling Barn

We got to visit the Fling Barn last evening. The Highland County Chamber of Commerce had their annual meeting "down on the farm" instead of inside Southern State's gymnasium. What a change for the better!

The Fling's south of Hillsboro are 4th generation farmers trying to hang onto the farm by getting into the farm recreation or farm amusement type business. I wouldn't want the work and responsibility but our farm would make a good place to visit, too. We get lots of compliments and interest in it.

The meeting was short and too the point. The treasurer's report was something like we are in the black, we have money in the bank, we are able to pay our obligations and we will be in business another year. I love reports like that!

The highlight of the meeting was when the Vice President of PAS announced the expansion of jobs in their company to repair jet engines. 30 new jobs are being filled right now and they have a good lead on making that 130 in phase II and possible a phase III. When he got to that point, a horse I called Mr. Ed, an arm length's away in the barn from the podium in the tent he was speaking from, brayed a big long whinney like "that is BS we will believe it when we see it!"

Everyone cracked up but the poor guy about jumped out of his shoes and kept asking who put that horse up to that! You couldn't have planned or timed that if you tried but it would be a You Tube favorite. It was really funny.

Everyone was dressed comfortably and really enjoyed the beautiful evening even with the threat of rain. That threat didn't dampen any spirits, I can tell you that.

The caterer's in the county was in another tent and put on a really good spread from pulled pork to deserts too beautiful to eat. I had to hold my plastic plate with both hands so it wouldn't break or fold in the middle:). I still don't have my appetite under control.

The barn lies in a beautiful valley south of Hillsboro on Berrysville Road near the Adam's County line. We have a hog roast to attend a week from tonight so we can do this all again with a different crowd.

It's wet enough not to be able to cut barley or side dress corn. Les cut three semi loads last night and the test weight is down to 42-44 lbs and yields from 30 to 130 across the field. I think the 30's are yelling for tile drainage. Test weights in Pennsylvania are even worse though.

I have a job to do there next month in 3 western counties.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

AGCO Photo Contest

I just wasted an hour trying to enter the AGCO Father's Day Photo Contest. It is so frustrating when you decide to do something like that and it won't work. Their website would not accept my photo and caption although it meets their written criteria.

So I will just send it to you. I have several I could choose from but I will use this one for today's blog.

Dad bought his first new tractor in March of 1949. It was an Oliver 77 and changed our lives forever. I was born in December that same year and have been forever Oliver and AGCO since.

He later traded up to a Super 77 with factory 3 point hitch then a 770 with 3 point hitch and Power Booster two speed drive. He bought his last brand new Oliver, a 1265 with front end loader while I was in college at Ohio State.

Since I became an ag teacher I had a little money to spend on my beloved Olivers. My first was a used 70 and I ended up owning many of them, even a 35 Hart Parr 70 on tip toe steel. I won my first pulling tractor trophy with my friend"s Oliver 77 in 1971 and my second with an Oliver 70 in 72. In 73 I bought an 88 from the family who had farmed where King's Island is today near Cincinnati. I won the Ohio State Tractor Puller's 7000 lb Stock Class in 1976-77 beating every John Deere 4000, 4010, 4020 and 4030 I pulled against, sometimes by one inch. Oliver was always at least one inch better!

I farmed 400 acres with my dad and brother while teaching vocational agriculture and FFA and my first big tractor was an 1850 Wheatland which I traded for a 1755 which I traded for my only brand new tractor, a White 2-70. I have owned many Olivers and still have two 1655's and a 77 which I still use on our farm. I have blogged about my farming history many times and they are usually connected to the farm machinery that affected two generations of Winkle's used and that was Oliver.

I got hold of a media person named Rebecca and she was good enough to pass my entry on(not this one) to AGCO so at least I made my point!

Have a great day,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Middle of June!

Can you believe it's the middle of June already, the month is half over and the year is almost half gone! The summer solstice is here at 1:16 PM Tuesday June 21 and the crops aren't one third the size they were a year ago.

Boy do the crops show the late planting, Martinsville must have the smallest crops in the county. I saw some good corn on Antioch Road from Highland to Wilmington this morning. We surely had more rain than they did though our ground is hilly it doesn't drain any faster than there slightly rolling to flat fields do.

I think we have a decent stand planted the first week of June put some of those earlier plantings are spotty. I see a lot of farmers have the same problem.

I tried to plant sweet corn yesterday and hurt so bad I went to the doctor and chiropractor. The doctor put me on Naproxen Sodium and my back was so stiff my chiropractor couldn't even adjust me. This morning my pain is almost gone, just that ring finger is still swollen. It was like a miracle drug on just one pill!

I have plenty of health problems to go around but at least my blood pressure was 110/64. They say that's pretty good for a guy my age. How is yours? Don't let it get out of hand like I did 3 years ago. Nip it in the bud as they say.

I met a man who is only one of 200 cases of a rare cancer that was found shortly after he lost his wife to cancer. It was isolated as leukocyte 6 and he signed up for an experimental chemotherapy that only attacks that gene. He has no side effects. He is the only living survivor living so I count myself as very blessed.

LuAnn got her new yogurt maker this week and it became a "kitchen disaster." She forgot a put a Pyrex measuring cup on the stove like I did last year to heat the milk up to 180 degrees and of course furing the cool down process it exploded. When I got home I saw the kitchen was sparkling clean and no yogurt maker turned on full of milk and culture.

One of my distant cousins just delivered a load of 26% UAN or Urea Ammonium Nitrate to sidedress corn here. My friends out west say the supply has dried up and watch out for supply and price.

The crop markets are taking profits and the senate is voting on the ethanol tax and that is enough to send markets down.

That's all I have for today. Talk to you tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't Guess, Tissue Test

I always repeated what I was taught about "Don't Guess, Soil Test" and added "follow it up with a tissue test" over the years. Lots of farmers are posting and sending pictures of less than desirable looking crops this year. It's no wonder with the weather extremes we have experienced again this year.

The picture is of a field of a good farmer in Pennsylvania. He has weather, corn variety, pesticide and fertility issues all going on at the same time in this field and he is asking for help, trying to figure it all out. That is about impossible to do so we have to lay out the basics on each aspect. One is nutrient uptake, all affected by the weather, variety and chemical program in that field.

If you click on the picture and enlarge it you see a little purpling on the leaf edges. That is probably a lack of Phosphorous, especially noted in some hybrids. The yellow color in the leaves indicate a lack of perhaps N, K, Mg, S and micronutrients. Even if he did soil and tissue test and provided the nutrients the roots aren't big enough to take them in yet and it was probably cool and wet in this field which isn't conducive to good growth.

Here is what I said about tissue testing in another post. "I started tissue sampling in the 70's, more in the 80's. It almost always revealed imbalance in the Macro, Secondary and micro nutrients. My best crops usually comes from my most balanced fields but yes it often feels like a shot in the dark even with sampling and adjusting the nutrient program. What you learn this year is more helpful for next year than it probably is this year. Look at all the posts today and recently involving nutrient imbalance.

Start somewhere if you are interested but sample one plant per acre, per three or five acres minimum or the same place you take soil samples if you are able to do that. Start with your worst fields at the minimum. Do them all if you can but that might come later or never.

Get a lab to work with a follow their instructions. Our new crops are so small we would be using mainly whole plants clipped or gently ripped off(lol). Ask questions, especially on the results. Go back and do the same thing again at tassle on corn, top trifoliates at bean flower and compare results, the weather changed in the middle and indicates plant uptake differences with or without fertilizers. I use the complete test from Midwest and it costs $20 plus shipping the sample and that is a small charge compared to fertilizer or crop value. The labor is the hard part and why so many don't bother with it besides they don't see the usefulness in the information.

Use these results and some common sense in planning next year's fertilizer program which will start right now for me and definitely in my fall applications.

That's it in a nutshell for me and yes I feel it is worth the effort to do this.

Experienced consultants and labor are available if you can't handle the project yourself but I really think any farmer should do this themself to at least understand the basics whether or not they hire someone else to do it. It's a great way to pay an interested young person to gather samples and start learning the science of agronomy if you have children at home next door, in FFA or 4-H.

Good luck,


Crop Talk and the various Internet pages are a great help to the farmer but you can only glean enough information to perhaps understand some things and probably not change the color of that field much without good growing conditions. We really haven't had many good growing days in the Eastern Corn Belt this year.

Tissue test results can help me feed the young crop this year but will help in planning future crops even more.

It's a beautiful day with perfect weather for humans so I better get at it.


Monday, June 13, 2011

48 States On A Tractor!

I have had some wild ideas but this one takes the cake involving tractors.

June 1, 2011 — "Tractor Dave" Wolfsen was to leave on Wednesday morning, June 1, to begin a three-month, 9,300 mile journey across the United States on a restored 1937 Co-Op tractor.

A brief, half-hour send-off ceremony was set for the Byron Center, Mich., office of Disaster Relief Services of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.

Speakers at the send-off were to include Bill Adams, CRWRC Disaster Response Services director; Bev Abma, Foods Resource Bank representative, and CRWRC-Kenya development consultant, Stephan Lutz.

Wolfsen is a retired farm equipment dealer from Fremont, Mich. The goal of his trip, "Tractor Dave Crosses America," is to raise funds and awareness for the two non-profit organizations based in the Mid-West that work toward alleviating hunger and responding to disasters around the world: CRWRC and Foods Resource Bank.

Wolfsen's route will take him through each of the contiguous states. Daily events are being planned along the way, where Wolfsen will speak about disaster response and global hunger—and how CRWRC, a non-profit agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and FRB help communities and families around the world.

Dave’s include events from Massachusetts to New Mexico and Montana to Missouri. For specific information and regular updates about when Dave will be in your area, see Tractor Dave's Trip stops.

Wolfsen has had a passion for tractors that goes back to growing up on a dairy farm. "As long as I can remember I always had a love of tractors," Dave says. "As a kid, I cleaned box stalls all day just to get to drive the tractor while spreading manure on the fields.”

For 36 years Wolfsen sold tractors for a living. Now retired, he has time to devote to his other passion: helping people in need.

Wolfsen sees this project as a calling. The trip is a way for him to combine the main focuses of his life. "I love old tractors and I'm concerned about people who live in poverty. In this project, I can act on both of my passions."

CRWRC is a faith-based, international relief and development organization that touches the lives of more than 1.5 million of the world's poorest people annually in development, justice education, and disaster response. FRB is a non-profit organization that grows solutions to hunger by connecting local communities around the globe through agriculture.

For more information, contact Bill Adams, director of CRWRC's Disaster Response Services at 616-560-2782.

Dave also has an active following on Facebook on the "Tractor Dave Crosses America" cause page. He’ll be updating this page daily during his trip, so follow him there.

For more information about FRB, contact Kelsey Day at

To learn more about CRWRC's disaster response programs, go to, or contact Beth DeGraff at

I wish Dave well on this tractor mission and he is sure welcome to stop by HyMark Bed and Breakfast in little Martinsville, Ohio!


Sunday, June 12, 2011


This is a an old story I heard at church that is worth repeating.

"Fleming was a poor Scottish

farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his

family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby

bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog where he

found a young boy, mired to his waist in black muck,

screaming and struggling to free himself from what

could have been a slow and painful death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the

Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. It’s passenger was the

father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. The nobleman wanted to repay

Farmer Fleming for his kindness. Farmer Fleming

refused to accept anything. The nobleman saw famer

Fleming’s son and made the man a deal. He offered to

take the boy with him and educate him, just as he was

going to do for his own son. That is what he did.

Because of the nobleman’s generosity, Farmer Fleming

attended the very best school of his time. He graduated

from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London,

and went on to become known throughout the world as

Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.

Years later, the nobleman’s own son who was saved

from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved

his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the

nobleman? Sir Randolph Churchill. His son’s name?

Sir Winston Churchill.

Just remember, when you’re feeling down, every one of

us has that same kind of potential.

We had a situation this morning that reminded me of this mired in the bog story. One of our children's family has saved for two years for a cruise for their young family. The plane had a hole in it and couldn't be repaired in time for the flight and there was no other way to get to the cruise port with normal airflights. So they found an Air Tran special to the cruise port's airport and hopefully they will get there in time to board the cruise ship. It will be a terrible shame if they don't but I have to believe something good will come out of all this trouble and frustration this morning.

Every time I get down to grumpy I see a situation worse off then where I'm at and I need to pick myself up and just be grateful! This wheat field isn't perfect, it may not even be a money maker but it protected the soil from 30 plus inches of water since planting it to save that precious soil.

It's not easy to do everyday in every situation but it's the only thing that works and makes sense!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Solar Activity

Farmers noted disrupted radio and GPS signals in their equipment this week. The largest solar flare in the past four years was emitted from the center of our solar system this week, our sun. NASA said it sent masses of charged particles outward into space, including toward Earth.

The radiation from Monday's flare, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection, should pass the Earth today, Friday and Saturday. The charged particles will speed by at some 560 miles per second.

Do not be afraid. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., says the Earth is well-protected by its atmosphere and magnetic field. When solar radiation picks up, the most dramatic effect is usually a brightening of the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights in the sky over Arctic regions. After a big flare they are sometimes visible in the northernmost of the 48 contiguous states.

What makes this storm interesting, said Joe Kunches of the Space Weather Prediction Center, is that there were actually three flares in succession -- and radiation from the last and biggest of them is travelling faster than the particles from the first two.

"What's the effect of the triple punch?" said Kunches. "Stay tuned."

Outbursts such as the current one are actually quite common, scientists say. But modern technology can be sensitive to solar storms; scientists say satellites, power grids and communications networks can suffer outages.

"Each time we use a cell phone or pager, check a GPS locator, turn on a light, or take an over-the-pole flight, space weather could have an effect," said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, in a press statement. The Space Weather Prediction Center is part of his operation.

"Solar Flare 2011
The sun's activity, which follows 11-year cycles, last peaked in 2002 and is now apparently picking up again, headed toward its next predicted crest in 2013. A 2008 National Academy of Sciences report tried to warn that we are not prepared for the biggest -- albeit rarest -- solar storms, which it said could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

In 1989 there was a nine-hour power blackout in most of Quebec -- and people were surprised when scientists later said a solar flare had probably caused it by overloading circuits. In 2000, pager traffic in the U.S. was knocked out for a day, apparently because of a communications satellite that got fried by solar radiation.

This week's storm is unlikely to come close, Kunches said, but there may be sporadic power outages, and radio communications may be affected. Airlines routinely redirect planes on polar routes to stay further south than usual when a solar storm is in progress; if they are more than 82 degrees north of the equator, their radio links can get spotty.

"Our star is waking up again," said Kunches, "and starting to do what we expect it to do."

There was discussion about satellites and technology and how they are used for everything from solar flares to radio activity and radar on earth. This fellow replied to another person bemoaning technology.

"You must be very very young. The definition work would be very different from what you see now. For food I would bike to the local farm stand instead of going to a big box store. The police are useless anyways in the USA. They don't do police work just had out traffic tickets. You are 99% less likely to get caught being a burglar today than speeding down a road. That why you should have a few high powered assualt rifles for burglars to answer to. No it would not be chaos. treblig56 you definitely make close to minimum wage. In corporate America every single person understands how we are now slaves to electronics."

Interesting how people view science, isn't it?

As an amateur radio operator, I remember these flares and how it impacted talking to other amateurs around the world. My friend Gerald, K0CQ said;

"was on 50 and 144 MHz, my best distance making contacts was New England on 144 MHz and Florida or Arizona on 50 MHz. Reports were that the extended propagation extended to 432 MHz occasionally, but mostly it was like what we call Sporadic E propagation, with very strong signals to locations that changed continuously.

I thought I heard buzzes on some signals typical of reflections off aurora curtains a few times and had that flare not missed the earth had been expecting strong aurora. So it might have been Aurora E propagation where the charged particles settle into a layer that's not moving and give wide area reflections at VHF. The reflections from Sporadic E and Aurora E are very strong, low power stations with minimal antennas can contact all over the country. Southeast stations were making contacts over much of the Caribbean.

It is like skip on 27 MHz CB but Sporadic E is very much more common on 27 MHz than on 50 which is more common than on 144 MHz. Its generally very much frequency dependent and less common the higher the frequency.

The exact causes of Sporadic E are debated, I suspect there are several. Some times there is correlation of Sporadic E reflecting clouds with tall thunderheads having started the E cloud in the upper atmosphere which generally tend to drift rapidly. And it was a stormy day away from here.

It was a good radio day, and there's a VHF radio contest this weekend, the common hope on the VHF ham bands was that it repeats the next two days."

Oh, I remember those days! Now we are just trying to get all the fields sprayed properly and the guidance system goes haywire in these solar storms!


Friday, June 10, 2011


A farmer posted this picture of 3 colors of tractors he caught in one field. Everyone agreed it's a great picture that shows a lot of diversity in one farm operation. They sure aren't color blind!

It's easy to be color blind about machinery. Many tend to favor the colors they grew up on which is meadow green for me, the color of the long defunct Oliver Corporation. I've had to accept silver grey, red and orange over the years since my beloved green hasn't been produced for 35 years. The only "green" we have is a notill drill besides my collection of 3 antique classic tractors.

That green could have been Great Plains green but never quite bought one. I have come close but never owned one. They are pretty rare in this part of the woods.

It's time for LuAnn to enter her pictures in the Clinton County Fair Photography exhibits as the fair is right around the corner. This picture reminded me.

There is one category for local structures and we never really found one that stands out. We figured everyone would enter the famous covered bridge by our house or the many new barn quilts in the county, both of which we have. We tried to find something unique like the old schools or churches and the setting and scenery isn't as good as the bridge or the barns.

I don't know what she will enter, maybe she won't even enter that category but I encouraged her to as she has some great pictures. I figured out we would need a boom truck to get a good picture of our barn quilt without the electric wires in it, the touch up software just doesn't do it justice. So many great pictures are ruined with wires that carry the electricity we depend on.

There are a few thunderstorms close by and here is wishing a good one covers all our fields.

I told you farmers would be praying for rain after 25 inches in two months!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grumpy Gypsum

Grumpy goes with tired so I am grumpy, too. I was yesterday. I have no good reason to be but I am.

Some people never get grumpy, or at least they don't show it if they do. I get grumpy. Do you?

I probably expect too much and when it doesn't happen, grumpiness sets in. The best laid plans of mice and men, you know, well it never happened this year farming wise. We missed the planting window due to rain and now it is so hot that it is tough on the little seedlings.

A dear friend asked me about gypsum so let's take the letters out of grumpy that make gypsum. He found an affordable source of gypsum and I encouraged him to spread some. He thinks it will help his clay soils and I agree. Dr. Norton gives 30 reasons why we should spread gypsum and many websites have copied his notes.

I told him there are 2-3 parts of calcium per part of sulfur in gypsum. The higher the calcium the better it is for soil but to me it's all good. Gypsum helps air and water movement in soil so much that it alone can really improve soil texture and air content so you get healthier crops.

It is not a substitute for drainage tile but it can still increase air and water movement in soil 300% depending on soil type. Most people don't understand it so many people put it down but it is an excellent soil amendment that goes back to ancient times and was used by Ben Franklin to paint it's letters on the hills of Philadelphia about the time our country was founded.

I wish all my fields had gypsum and some poultry manure on it. It would be a world better today in our baked out soil situation but I will have to work on that.

I will work on the grumpiness and help my friend improve his soil with gypsum. Here is a picture of a handful of gypsum, looks like it is lower in calcium from the picture as it is not white. High calcium gypsum will be whiter, especially the synthetic gypsum or syn gyp that is produced as a by product of power plant scrubber stack coal burning.

I am struggling with pictures and this Google browser. I can't post replies to your great comments on recent blogs. Thanks Budde and all for the comments, they really help my blog and I would normally add a comment to yours but haven't been able to do it since the last reload of software a few weeks ago.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Everyone is tired from the heat. Farmers are tired from the heat and the rush. If the AC doesn't work, it isn't safe to be a modern farm tractor cab today. It will cook your brain.

AC is a big problem on the farm. Farmers use a lot of older tractors and equipment where the AC was an after thought and not real reliable. Very few are trained on these AC units.

We went from cool wet right into hot and dry overnight. Our bodies never had a chance to adjust. I am tired when I get up in the morning from the day before even after a good night of sleep.

I did wake up at 4 AM this morning and kept drifting in and out of sleep until I just got up. It is already 70 outside but a dew is on so a little early to be spraying yet. Spray jobs are inconsistent until the dew burns off.

Today's predicted high of 95 degrees should finish off our soft red winter wheat growing season. Our wheat crop has taken a huge amount of stress and I don't expect big yields but hopefully decent yields. It will be key to double crop the beans RIGHT behind the combine before that moisture escapes.

It's June 8 so many farmers are calling their insurance agents on the Preventive Planting acres. We decided to go ahead and plant everything since it is still planting pretty good. If it is a record dry summer like the record wet spring it may be a poor decision. We won't know until much later and we will know for sure at harvest.

My wet wheat farm needs to be tore up and put into beans. I drove around in it yesterday, yes there are that many bad spots that I could drive around in it and I don't think there is enough wheat there to combine it. I don't own a disk, it needs deep disking to incorporate the residue so it is going to be ugly no matter what I do.

I farmed real ugly this year with all my fields covered but I know they will look better at harvest. All that cover will protect the soil and the baby seedlings in this heat. They were predicting a cool down for the weekend and now it looks like the cool air to the north can't penetrate the ridge and it is going to be hot instead.

It is what it is and I can't change a thing, only my perspective on the situation and how I respond to it.

I didn't have perfect stands last year and I sure don't this year either.

I shipped a case of barbecue sauce to my friend in Nebraska for a rib cookoff Saturday and he just emailed me that he didn't get it yet, drat. Now I have to look up the receipt where I insured it and I have piles of receipts scattered everywhere.

That is one of my character defects.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


It is time to hit the fields hard scouting now. It came a month later than last year when we were finishing up side dressing a year ago.

"Now is the time for grain farmers to scout fields at risk for insect infestations and potential pest problems, according to a Purdue Extension entomologist.
Corn planted into grass and wheat in areas of dense growth poses a high armyworm risk. Corn where weedy growth existed could potentially face cutworm troubles, and soybeans first emerging could face bean leaf beetle pressures.

"Corn that has been no-till planted into an abandoned wheat stand or a grass cover crop should be inspected immediately for armyworm feeding – especially in southern Indiana," said Christian Krupke. "Hatched larvae will move from dying grasses to emerging or emerged corn."

Armyworm feed from the leaf margin toward the midrib and give corn a ragged appearance. In some cases damage may be extensive enough that most of the plant, except the midrib and stalk, is consumed.

"A highly damaged plant may recover if the growing point has not been destroyed," Krupke said.

If growers find that more than 50% of the corn plants show armyworm feeding damage and there are numerous live larvae less than 1.25 inches long, Krupke said a control method may be necessary.

"If farmers detect armyworm migrating from border areas or waterways within fields, spot treatments are possible if the problem has been identified early enough," Krupke said.

Farmers with wheat should examine plants in various areas of the field – especially where plant growth is dense. Signs of armyworm include flag leaf feeding, clipped heads and insect droppings on the ground.

They also should shake plants and count the number of armyworm larvae on the ground and under plant debris because armyworm will take shelter under crop residue or soil clods on sunny days, Krupke said.

"If counts average about five or more per linear foot of row, the worms are less than 1.25 inches long and leaf feeding is evident, control is likely justified," he said. "If a significant number of these larvae are present and they are destroying the leaves or the heads, wheat growers should treat immediately."

Larvae longer than 1.25 inches consume larger amounts of leaf tissue and are more difficult to control.

While scouting, corn growers also should be looking for black cutworm, a pest that has arrived in Indiana in record numbers this year.

The moths that arrived in the state were attracted to winter annual weeds for egg-laying. Now that those eggs have hatched, caterpillars are in the fields feeding either on dead and dying weeds or starting to move onto emerged corn, Krupke said.

"Insecticides, whether soil- or seed-applied, should not lull producers into a false sense of security, as larger larvae are able to continue their feeding," he said. "Timed scouting and careful assessment of damage can go a long way in preserving a stand of corn."

Finally, soybean growers need to keep a close eye out for bean leaf beetle. The beetles awoke from the winter and have been feeding on forages and other legumes, such as clover, while waiting for soybean to be planted and emerge.

"Amazingly, these insects are able to detect and subsequently find first-emerging soybean, whether near a wood's edge or in the middle of a large field," Krupke said. "Once plants have emerged throughout the field, beetles will typically dissipate to non-economic levels."

Farmers should be scouting their first planted and first emerged soybean seedlings for signs of bean leaf beetle feeding on cotyledons and unfoliate leaves. While the initial leaf feeding may look serious, Krupke said only extensive cotyledon damage is cause for serious concern. "If cotyledons are being destroyed before the unfoliate leaves fully emerge or if the growing point is severely damaged, reduced yields are likely."

He pointed out that once trifoliate leaves have unrolled, soybean can tolerate up to about 40% defoliation without yield loss.

"It may look ugly, but they can take a beating," he said."

I have found a little cut worm and wire worm and the early beans do have bean leaf beetle but our number one problem is too hot on dry on top of the soil and too cold and muddy just under the roots.

Wheat is all over the board and I think it will range from 40-80 bushels per acre. Septoria leaf and glume diseases are moderate to heavy.

If Liam were here we would go scout a good strawberry patch after some hours in the fields.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Rained Out

We got rained out planting last night on the Highland and Clinton County line. A rain came out of the southeast and swirled counter clockwise and got it too wet to plant.

This is killed fescue on one farm and killed cereal rye on the new farm. I have never seen any grass smoked so fast as these fields died. I used Gramoxone on the new farm and added some Round Up or gly as we call it now, short for glyphosate on the new 4 acre fescue patch I am adding this year. There is so much generic glyphosate on the market we just call it gly.

I met a scientist who was looking for birds and wildlife and he complimented me on the conservation work. He found more meadowlarks and bobwhite quail on our farms than anywhere else. We have a lot of red and blue birds in that area, too. I explained to him we believe in keeping the ground covered though it is hard to do.

The soil is working better the farther we go on planting and just about perfect now. With our notill setup we can plant successfully where you would have to work up ground instead and that is just a waste of time and money and soil to me.

About the time we finish planting, all the corn needs side dressed and then wheat and barley harvest is going to come early again this year and probably ready before we get done side dressing. Too much water and now too much heat is going to really speed up maturity on the cereal grains. The rye we killed was in flower and it is usually a later pollinating crop.

Two weeks ago we had 2-4 inches and last week we ranged from zero to .39 inches in our 30 mile radius. I think the big high ridge that has set up out west may keep us from getting the rain we will need this summer. It is supposed to get to 90 degrees again today.

We went from a record wet spring right into a hot dry summer 3 weeks before the summer solstice. Some climatologists say to expect this for the next 30 years.

That makes it really challenging to farm.

There is no corn this year as tall as the picture from a year ago today.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Marker Magic

Today we met an artist who uses magic markers. He uses them to make Marker Magic. It is hard to believe you could paint like he does with magic markers.

Michael Morris retired yesterday after 37 years of public education as middle school physical education teacher at Waynesfield, Ohio. Now he can pursue his art full time. We laughed about the christian mission of being a teacher and the weight lifted off your shoulders when you finally give it up.

Michael hadn't drawn or painted since 1971 when his guard unit was called up for Desert Storm. He had some "down time" and started doodling again.

When he finished his mission he and his wife built a new house and his wife said they needed some art for it so they should go down to the furniture store and pick something up.

If you look at his work you can see he could never stand to have that stuff hanging in his house so his artistic talent was rekindled.

Today he has all the time in the world to paint with magic markers. We laughed about that too.

Life goes even faster after you retire from a career like teaching.

I would guess his students were very lucky to have him as their phys ed teacher.

Baxter Black reminded me of my career when his last episode on US Farm Report this weekend featured what his ag teacher had done for him.

I hope you had or have a career like Michael and I did.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

40 Million Acres

We have struggled to keep up with our huge lawn last year and especially this year. It really makes you wonder how much is enough green grass around your house. Have you been able to keep up with your lawn this year?

"The single most irripated crop in the United States is grassy lawn. Yep, 40 million acres of lawn for which Americans collectively spend about $40 billion annually on seed, sod and chemicals. And then there's all that water. If you include golf courses, lawns in America cover an area roughly the size of New York State and require 238 gallons of (usually drinking-quality) water per person, per day. According to the EPA, nearly a third of all residential water use in the US goes toward what is euphemistically known as "landscaping."

The History of Lawns in America
We didn't always have a love affair with our lawns. In fact it wasn't until the industrial revolution that lawns became practical for most Americans. Lawns were seen as a luxury expense for only the wealthy who could afford grounds keepers to maintain the fine bladed plants using scythes. Not everyone wanted cattle or sheep grazing in the front yard to keep the green stuff at a manageable height as did Woodrow Wilson while occupying the White House.

Sheep on the White House lawn?
Actually, it was an effort to draw attention to what could be done to free up men to fight and help with shortages of wool during World War I. The wool was auctioned off for $100,000 and given to the Red Cross. Speaking of presidents, early Presidents Washington and Jefferson both used sheep to keep their home lawns at manageable heights.

Green, weed-free lawns so common today didn't exist in America until the late 18th century. Instead, the area just outside the front door of a typical rural home was typically packed dirt or perhaps a cottage garden that contained a mix of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

In England, however, many of the wealthy had sweeping green lawns across their estates. Americans with enough money to travel overseas returned to the U.S. with images of the English lawn firmly planted in their imaginations. Try as we might, it wasn't as easy to reproduce a beautiful English lawn. After all, they couldn't just run down to their local hardware store and pick up a bag of grass seed. Grasses native to America proved unsuitable for a tidy and well-controlled lawn, and our extreme climate was less than hospitable to the English grass seeds.

By 1915, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was collaborating with the U.S. Golf Association to find the right grass—or combination of grasses—that would create a durable, attractive lawn suitable to the variety of climates found in America. Included in the testing were Bermuda grass from Africa, blue grass from Europe, and a mix of Fescues and bent grass. Fifteen years later, the USDA had discovered several grass combinations that would work in our climate. We were off and running, to find the most suitable pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that would protect and serve newly blended mix of grasses. After all, now that we had a good grass blend, we couldn't let it starve or be eaten alive by some hungry pest, or succumb to some nasty disease.

The right grass and the right treatments weren't the only problems facing homeowners wanting the perfect lawn, however. There was also the challenge of providing sufficient water to keep the grass green in summer. It wasn't easy hauling a bucket of water out to the yard during the summer droughts. Cutting the grass was a challenge, as well. English lawns were trimmed with scythes, an expensive process that required a certain amount of finesse, or by grazing livestock on the greens.

Mechanical mowing came about early in the 19th century and there is a general agreement that an Englishman, Edwin Budding, an engineer at a textile mill, developed a cylinder, or reel-type mower. It was a series of blades arranged around a cylinder with a push handle patterned after a machine used in a cloth factory for shearing the nap on velvet. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a machine that basically brought push mowing to the masses. By 1885, America was building 50,000 lawnmowers a year and shipping them to every country on the globe.

For the average American, the invention of the garden hose and the rotary mower made the lawn a more realistic option. Until then, lawns were just too much bother for most families. When most of the necessary tools and types of grass seeds became readily available, the average homeowner was now able to grow a lawn of their own if they wanted. As of yet, there wasn't a real big demand for green lawns in the front yard. It wasn't until The American Garden Club stepped in. Through contests and other forms of publicity, they convinced home owners that it was their civic duty to maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn. So effective was the club's campaign that lawns were soon the accepted form of landscaping. The garden club further stipulated that the appropriate type of lawn was "a plot with a single type of grass with no intruding weeds, kept mown at a height of an inch and a half, uniformly green, and neatly edged." America thus entered the age of lawn care.

Today, U.S. homeowners spend over $17 billion on outdoor home improvements. More than 26 million households hired a green professional, according to a 2000 Gallup survey and this number is expected to grow. Your little patch of green has become a big business and for good reason."


Friday, June 3, 2011

Salaries and Retirements

Salaries and retirements have been hitting the news ever since the crash of 08. Lots of people are up in arms over numbers they don't understand that have evolved over the years. Now that so many funds are deficient, people are pointing fingers at high salaries and retirements that were set up years ago.

Here is a list of local school superintendent salaries floating around our community. Salaries are based on experience and education and these numbers reflect that although base salaries vary from district to district but are usually close.

Blanchester $108,889
Clinton Massie $107,041
East Clinton $99,856
Wilmington $228,782

Even Mason City Schools near Kings Island amusement park has a superintendent salary of $167,547 which is much lower than Wilmington's. Mason has a much higher tax base and all salaries are higher than neighboring schools.

The figures are from Clinton County where we live and I have worked all my life. These salaries were negotiated. Neighboring schools in Greater Cincinnati are higher or lower than the lowest figure but none are close to the highest figure.

Our school district, Wilmington City Schools which is really a very large country school that is funneled into a city school system. They are asking us to pass a one percent income tax again and people are asking why is the superintendent salary so much higher than anyone else's?

I don't have the answer and it behooves me to do some investigation before I vote no on something I don't understand but the figure clearly looks "out of whack."

Martinsville was forced into the city school system decades ago and there is still misunderstanding and bad feelings about it. The city school knows our township will vote no on the tax and does not even try to explain their needs to us. There is a lack of communication from resentments many years ago.

Retirement income is based on the earned income of course so no wonder so many people are questioning these high salaries and retirements being discussed in the media.

As our country works through all this debt to figure out where to spend money, these figures have really caught people's attention.

The picture is from Wilmington's FFA Week and National Agriculture Week activities. Way to go, Mr. Heeg and students.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Really Did Pass

I got my letter back from the Ohio Department of Agriculture that said I failed the core exam that tests a custom operator on their basic pesticide application knowledge.

I thought wow, I have forgot more than I thought I did. Then I looked closer and I only got 8 questions of 50. But wait a minute, I took 90 questions, not 50. I figured it was some crazy scoring method and maybe I was as old and dumb as I act somedays.

I received a national award for teaching pesticides to applicators in the 90's, had I really forgotten that much?

So I emailed the lady who administered the test and asked about my score. Whoops, they owed me a big apology. The person who scanned the answer sheet compared my to the private applicator answers, not the commercial one I took.

I have plenty of glyphosate and AMS on hand but no Gramoxone. Wherever Gramoxone was sprayed this week, the cover was fried by the next day.

So, I did pass. Now I have to go through the hassle of explaining this today as I need some Gramoxone to fry some headed out cover crop. I hope it isn't too much of a hassle as it turns out I did pass, I really did pass the exam.

It's a beautiful late spring, early summer morning here with warm temperatures, moist soil and low humidity. It's a month or two late but we will take it.

What a crazy year, for sure. I am suprised of the lack of farm activity in this region with beautiful dry weather for once so I am convinced there is going to be one heck of a lot of Preventive Planting fields in this area and I bet that area is going to be a surprise to the market place once they figure it out.

I hope we don't get prices so high we cut off our demand for our commodities but I wouldn't be surprised if this happens.

The next time you fail an exam and you think you should have passed it, ask them to rescore it.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vacant Fields

In my scouting today I saw a lot of vacant fields with no activity. I would think everyone could be planting now and they aren't. Fields look like our garden this year, there is nothing there, unlike last year at this time.

I saw two anhydrous rigs and several farmers notilling soybeans but very little corn planting. I wonder if there is going to be a huge amount of PP or Preventive Planting acres taken in my region and maybe even in Ohio and other unplanted states?

"US planting progress was released yesterday (one day late given the holiday).
Soybean plantings at 51% were well below the expected average of 59%
trade estimates. Corn plantings were at 86%, also behind. The states lagging
progress the most in order are 1. Ohio and 2. Indiana. The Ohio late start is in
fact a record with beans only 7% planted vs. 75% average. NASS also released
their first corn crop ratings at 63% good/excellent vs. 76% last year. Ratings for
corn were lowest in Ohio (28% good/excellent), and Indiana (44% good /excellent).

As we generally are at the upper end of the trading ranges weather moving forward
counts. At the present time, it appears that the farmer is going to get that big break with rain amounts dwindling down and heat moving up - in some cases way up.
Summer temperatures have arrived even though we are wrapping up the springtime.
If that continues the next discussion will become more about shallow roots.

For today we begin lower with a better forecast in general. The progress numbers
are factored into today's prices. Yesterday the wheat market was the star performer
falling sharply in response to the end of the grain ban by Russia announced on
Saturday. The ban did have an impact on Russia's internal domestic prices which
firmed sharply after the ban was lifted. So we could begin to see talk regarding export restrictions, but for now they are theoretical."

We begin the trading day on a small market setback led once again by wheat futures. The miller is offering about what he was at planting time after a nearl two dollar drop in wheat prices.

FYI department
According to newsiwrew, there are rumors that prevent-plant dates could be
extended giving farmers another 10 days or 2 weeks and still have full insurance
coverage. Underline RUMORS."

If the rumor is true it looks to me it won't make a dime's worth of difference. I don't think farmers are going to plant much corn in Ohio this year.

Farmers hate wet corn and that $6.01 insurance guarantee was enough to prevent a lot of acres to be planted this late.