Monday, April 30, 2012

College Debt

Debt for college tuition is in the news. I find it hard to believe that people on Social Security still owe one billion dollars total for college loans! Now they are complaining their debt is being taken out of their benefits!

One report said the average graduate owes $40,000 now and it's closer to $60,000 if you add the money the parents have also borrowed! One broadcast showed the most expensive college in the United States where room and board is $60,000 per year.

LuAnn had a great idea. She said instead of the stimulus, we should have let GM and Lehman Brothers and whoever else go bankrupt and stimulated the economy by forgiving the college debt and encouraging more training instead of more debt. I thought that made a lot of sense. Most American's agree the $5 trillion or whatever has been spent has not done much good. Nothing is any better after 3 years and few actual, good jobs have been created.

It is good news to see companies like General Electric building refrigerators again in the US, this time in Louisville, Kentucky in a plant that they said hadn't operated in 50 years. The union conceeded wages to $13 an hour instead of the $21 they would have made without concessions. I have been in negotiations as a school board member and it is no easy task!

There is so much going on it's hard to keep track of. I dug corn all day and found anything from no sprouts to one inch sprouts in some fields. Those guys who took the risk in March have nice stands of corn overall. I guess planting time did come a month early as I had suspected!

Be sure to dig in your fields and look for emergence problems, cutworms, weed control and whatever you need to be concerned about. If you have any questions you can send me a picture at and will help you the best I can.


Sunday, April 29, 2012


Today I want to talk a little about Jazz. I don't mean music like we heard in New Orleans years ago, I am talking about apples. I had a fruit craving so after we saved 90 cents per gallon on our 35 gallon fill up at Krogers, I went fruit shopping. Do you think $150 in fruit and gasonline might be just a little too much?

It was on sale for $1.29 per pound so I bought a few after I sampled the slices they offer. It tasted better than the last Gala I had, and probably as good as the last Fuji I ate. It is crisp, juicy and sweet with a hint of tart. It is a cross between Gala and Braeburn, two good apples. Now I have my apple craving settled for a bit.

I have to share this jazz with you from Machinery Talk. It is about the dear, young parts kid.

"was in a dealership the other day at the parts counter and an 84 year old guy that still farms was trying to get a part. After explaining the part, showing the new parts kid a picture on his smart phone, he still couldn't get the correct part.

Finally, after a bunch of wrangling with the computer, a couple of trips to the back room, the kid comes back and says I'll have it for you tommorrow.

Clearly exasperated by now the old farmer leans in across the counter and the parts kid leans in to hear what he has to say:
"Sonny, I hope when I finally get old and senile, I hope they will let me have your job."

1. "I can say we don't have that, but it will be here tomorrow."

2. "I can say we don't have that, but our other stores have 15 each of them, could I get that here tommorrow for you?"

3. "I can say, I've seen the picture, heard the description, & I still don't have a clue of what the hell you are talking about."

4. "I can say, the computer says it's this, even though I'm clearly holding something different in my hand."

The old man got up and shuffled out of the store after that, and I just had to chuckle because there was a lot of truth in what he said to him. Now, before I get bashed, a good parts guy is worth his/her weight in gold, but many of these new kids have only seen this equipment on a computer screen now days and many times don't have a clue as to what your talking about, or order the wrong thing then want to charge restocking fees, extra shipping, ect. I kind of have to agree with him, I liked the old days when many of your parts guys were old farmers that knew what you were talking about."

Only a couple of decades away from being 84 and having worked as a parts kid, I SEE BOTH SIDES,

What do you think?

Liam is a good guy to share an apple with and really good with parts.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Excalibre or GraphEx?

I just got another good question via email from a young farmer who is obviously doing something right. His soybean yields are nearly 20 bushels above the county average! He wants to know the difference between Excalibre and GraphEx.

"Is there much difference between the two? Which do you prefer?

I thought about using two different inoculants anyway to get more multiple strands.

Your thoughts?

Not too worried about another $5 per acre. I treat my beans like a real crop with multiple forms of Fert and multiple foliars. I have had 60 bushels beans 3 years in a row which is very good for my area."

My response was "Wow, those are good yields! You are definitely a high yield producer
from my correspondence in your fair state, there are a couple of others but most
are well under that amount.

I prefer Excalibre installed on my seed for convienience. I prefer GraphEx as
a seed treatment over putting on the Excalibre myself. The bacteria strains
and load are similar enough I just go for convenience so I can focus on all
the other little details it takes for those yields.

I am interested in the details of your program if you are willing to share. Each
little step is so vital to yield but varies on each operations needs.

Good to hear from you and each email makes me think and refine my own
operation!" There is my encouragement for the day to all my soybean producing readers!

I have to mention a big thanks to Case New Holland. Their donation to my alma mater reminds me of my first step into the old Ives Hall, Ag Engineering department in 1968 when my eyes bugged out! They had all these farm engines sitting on stands for tuning and training and a few dynomometers! I was in tractor heaven!

I am sure to my wealthier classmates it looked like "old junk" but to a farm boy fresh off the farm in southern Ohio, it was spectacular! I learned a lot in that lab I used on many farm operations and taught to my students for many years. Those principles are still with me today.

Thanks, CNH!

Ed Winkle

Friday, April 27, 2012

Open Station

Luke from Iowa posted on Crop Talk about quitting planting before 10 o'clock at night. He plants with an "open station" tractor like I always did.

"Open station"
came about after the first cabs on tractors became popular 20 years ago or so. Before that, they were all, just "tractors!"

When I was a kid, dad planted corn with a 2 row mounted planter on a Ford 8N, then quickly switched to an Oliver 550 because we wore out the Ford too quickly. He planted like that with the Oliver 2 row mounted planter for most of my years on the farm. About the time I left, he got an Oliver 540 4 row pull type planter and then we rented the White 5100 notill corn planter in 1976 and that changed planting for us forever.

I gave up planting with that old planter for my 60th birthday and sold it to an AgTalker. He just called this morning to tell me a story. He got radishes and peas planted in 10 acres of wheat stubble last summer and then got 7000 gallons of hog manure on it per acre. You can imagine how rough it was but the radishes really soaked up the hog manure and left the ground mellow.

Jim said he planted a plot for Pioneer on it and the rep drove in, scratched his head and asked, "are you really going to plant into this?" I can imagine what it looked like, not quite as bad as those Missouri River flooding landscape pictures from last spring but you get the idea. He answered, "sure am!"

He said when they got done, the rep said that was the nicest job he had ever seen a planter do and the ground was as mellow as could be. That made me pretty proud I hadn't sold a piece of junk, although it really needs a paint job, and the old White planter lives on.

I don't think I could have pulled it with a cab tractor because I like to be as close to the planter as I can and hear all that's going on with the mechanisms and the sound of the seed to soil contact.

On that note, there are problems as expected with last year's seed from certain areas, so keep your bags and check your fields weekly. Also, I had a farmer call me and he tested the 28% UAN he bought locally and it only tested 13%. What's worse, an unidentified chemical in the fertilizer nearly killed his corn.

Farmers, test your seed and your fertilizer, unfortunately there is some junk out there!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Bad Blogging Day

But that is what you get, "for free!" Nothing is free in life is it? I have a bunch of links to share and not sure if I can do it with this basic html editor page but I will try.

The good news is we got a bunch done yesterday! I got 120 acres planted and 175 sprayed thanks to my great help! Thank you all!

We have talked about mentoring recently and I have been doing that and going to my own mentors. I have many great mentors, very special people in my life. I thank you, too!

"Strong Mentors Help Build Character
by Steve Arterburn

Listen to advice and accept correction, and in the end you will be wise. Proverbs 19:20 NCV

Would you like a surefire way to build character? If so, then you should find suitable mentors-men and women whose character you admire-and imitate them.

A savvy mentor can help you make character-building choices. And just as importantly, a thoughtful mentor can help you recognize and avoid the hidden big-time mistakes that can derail your day (or your life).

Wise mentors aren't really very hard to find if you look in the right places (but they're almost impossible to find if you look in the wrong places!). So today, as an exercise in character-building, select from your friends and family members a mentor whose judgment you trust. Then listen carefully to your mentor's advice and be willing to accept that advice even if accepting it requires effort or pain, or both. Consider your mentor to be God's gift to you. Thank God for that gift, and use it.

The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are. C. S. Lewis

It takes a wise person to give good advice, but an even wiser person to take it. Marie T. Freeman

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains proves that he has no brains of his own. C. H. Spurgeon

The effective mentor strives to help a man or woman discover what they can be in Christ and then holds them accountable to become that person. Howard Hendricks

Character builder
Rely on the advice of trusted friends and mentors. Proverbs 1:5 makes it clear: "A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel" (NKJV). Do you want to be wise? Seek counsel from wise people, starting today."

I thought this was a great piece to share and what I am trying to follow mentoring wise, both receiving and giving.

Here are some links that caught my eye on various subjects:
Fantastic set of pictures set to music, met this man's friend Bud on our trip to Holland.

History of John Deere seeding equipment.

What we waste on lunch and coffee!

Let's see if these work. I will post more as I come across them.

Have a great day, better than my current blogging experience!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Up Early

We haven't been able to spray for a week due to this weather, so I am up early to catch this narrow window before the next storm. Cincinnati weather said it would hit by 4 PM today but late last night I saw red lightning to the southwest and thought oh no, it is going to rain tonight. I don't think it did, though.

Blogger came up a simple brown header html file yesterday saying my browser is no longer supported. "Parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems." No kidding, and there is no one to call at Google and no one answers the Send Feedback or help pages.

This stinks. I can't get to my dashboard to edit or post pictures.

It's Friday and I stumbled my way into this blog this week! I am not sure how I got here, perhaps I can remember how to do it!

Here is a good summary in today's Grain Net on GM or GE crops

. It's a long read or you can scroll down to the conclusions!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bloggers Beware

As you can see from this morning's post I am having blogspot problems today and I am not the only one. Something has changed or not working. If anyone has a clue, please email me at

Auto Repairs

Yesterday I got the oil changed and LuAnn's car serviced. I notice the transmission fluid needs attention, it is now getting dark and I imagine there are some filings in the screen filter setup on that Rendezvous.

My oil changed tech's recommended a transmission flush of course and I succumbed to that on the Dakota to try and save it. It's a risky proposition, if you have too much wear, it flushes all the metal out and the worn parts cannot adjust properly and the transmission dies. If it doesn't have that much wear yet, it can save the transmission. I have seen it go both ways with flushes.

I decided to pull pan, replace the filter and clean the screen and put the 3 quarts or so of Dextron transmission fluid it takes to fill it back up rather than flushing the whole system. We will see if that works or not. While I was there, I drove across the street to Tire Discounters to get the tires rotated "for free" that comes with a new set of tires.

The line was short, so I had them rotate the tires. When the tech handed me the keys, he said he put the two "hoppy" tires on the back and I said in my loud teacher voice, what hoppy tires? They only have 15,000 miles on them! I had complained about these BFG's ever since they sold them to me in October. I told them I wanted them adjusted but they never did.

There was a whole new crew in this store so the guy that took my order said, let me call BFG/Michelin. He did, and they offered me a new set of Michelin Defenders for $16 per tire! I said put them on. I posted my comments on Tire Discounters last night and got an email back fast:

"Ed, Thank you for taking the time to comment on the way Cary handled your ongoing tire challenges. Yes we did make some needed changes at the Wilmington store and I am pleased with the results. Yours is not the first compliment we have received on the store recently. What makes this especially personal is I managed that store from 2001-2003 and it’s success is personal to me. I have already passed on your compliments to Cary and the store staff. Although I have not heard back yet, I know they will appreciate the recognition. We look forward to serving you in the future with your tire and under car service needs. Thank you again for taking the time to write. Jim Egeland Regional Manager Tire Discounters"

Now that is the kind of service I expect! It's sometimes hard to find today! Now, the spark plugs have 135,000 on them. Isn't the new ignition systems amazing? It is until you have to take a front wheel off to replace them all! I think I better put a new set of plugs in it while I am at it.

Better yet, maybe I should just trade it in for a Jeep like we had in Hawaii. She looks good in a Jeep!


Monday, April 23, 2012

C3 Plants

I was reading Ohio's Country Journal and came across this note about C3 and C4 plants. I thought what the heck? and looked it up. They started teaching this AFTER I got my Master's Degree.

Soybeans are C3 plants. This means they assimilate carbon differently than other types of plants like wheat or corn.

"The three types of photosynthesis are C3, C4, and CAM. C3 photosynthesis is the typical photosynthesis the most plants use and that everyone learns about in school (it was all we knew about until a few decades ago). C4 and CAM photosynthesis are both adaptations to arid conditions because they result in better water use efficiency. In addition, CAM plants can "idle," saving precious energy and water during harsh times, and C4 plants can photosynthesize faster under the desert's high heat and light conditions than C3 plants because they use an extra biochemical pathway and special anatomy to reduce photorespiration. Below are the details.

C3 Photosynthesis : C3 plants.

Called C3 because the CO2 is first incorporated into a 3-carbon compound.
Stomata are open during the day.
RUBISCO, the enzyme involved in photosynthesis, is also the enzyme involved in the uptake of CO2.
Photosynthesis takes place throughout the leaf.
Adaptive Value: more efficient than C4 and CAM plants under cool and moist conditions and under normal light because requires less machinery (fewer enzymes and no specialized anatomy)..
Most plants are C3."

My friend Kelly said, "The biggest thing I got out of C3 C4 was in weed control and why things yield the way they do…….

A C3 crop like soys cant compete against a C4 weed when its hot and the C3 “stops growing” for lack of a better word. In other words, I know waterhemp is a C4 so when it gets hot and a C3 stops growing because its to hot to photosynthesize I had better be spraying my fields for waterhemp if they are there because in a matter of days they will take away the water, nutrients and also outgrow the soys……….

Best example of how I use it………."

See, I learned something new from a farm paper! I had to research it and ask me network about it first though...

Have a great day! Where did that nice weather go? It's snowing not that far east of here!

I will see if I can post a picture of Liam with his new C3 plant. Whoops, he got waylaid by an excavator.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22!

Happy Earth Day! I have written about Earth Day in the past but today it has a different meaning to me. I was thinking about Earth Day and what I have done to make it a better place and I came up with this conclusion. Learning to no-till is the one best thing I have done for earth from me.

Now I have organized and participated in all kinds of trash pickup, recycling efforts and even tried to get a bottle bill passed in the state of Ohio when I was Farm Bureau Vice President. Our efforts narrowly failed and we still don't have a bottle bill in Ohio or anything close to what our neighbors in Michigan have. I can say one thing about Michigan, their roads are cleaner. Farmers and others don't have to fight broken glass in tires and other bad places as much in Michigan as we do in Ohio.

Dad renting that White 5100 no-till planter in 1976 is the one best thing we ever did on that farm. The soil is still basically there on that old rolling, hilly, plowed-thin piece of land God gave us stewardship over. I can say the same about this farm; we have had erosion but the soil is still basically here and ready to grow a crop like it was in 2004, like we found it, thanks to no-till.

So my gift to Earth and its people is spreading the good word about no-till. With it you can save soil, oil and toil and raise a profitable crop without plowing it. The Plowman's Folly surely told readers what was going to happen if they continued to plow or invert the soil. It was used to control weeds, now we use a little bit of herbicide safe to animals to control those pesky weeds.

April 22 is listed in the Almanacs as a good planting day this year. The signs are right. The most important signs are wrong, though. It's Sunday, it's cold and it's too wet too drive a tractor in the field. So the 18th and 19th were as close as I could come as next week doesn't look much better.

So much for planting corn or soybeans, maybe it's a good day to plant a tree or a bush. We picked out some blue flowers with Liam yesterday at Grant's Farm to plant at his house this week. Today I ask you what have you done for Earth Day to leave it a better place?

You surely have done something and I would like to hear your stories.


Ed Winkle

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Four Tenths

We got .4 inches of rain last night according to my NEXRAD rain report from Spatial Rainfall Consulting and Bill Northcutt. It's a handy resource you can subscribe or look up yourself on his website.

Electrical and other problems have been rearing their nasty heads thanks to Murphy With "19 computers and 1.2 miles of wire" in a new John Deere tractor, these problems will not go away. Technology has really hit the fields.

"Ninety percent of all electrical problems are bad grounds." A man with a good volt ohm meter and experience on farm equipment is invaluable on today's farms. A young man with these skills plus GPS and related equipment modules can name his price!

This week, getting the Kinze planter talking to the computers inside the AGCO tractor was a problem. The main culprit was the "speed sensor," a small black plastic coil that goes onto the planter shaft. When the fertilizer pump turned on, it pulled the voltage down enough to cause the wrong impedance in the speed sensor and it erratically sent about half the normal speed to the computer. When the right one was matched up, the readouts started making sense.

Otherwise, the planter was planting but you couldn't see how much or how fast in the cab. Rusty and corroded connections is the main culprit on most machinery and even dielectric grease won't work on some connections that are badly pitted, even after cleaning. This wasn't the problem on this deal, it was all new stuff.

Then, the White planter folded out wouldn't fold back up. The folding solenoids clicked but the planer wouldn't fold. This friend offered this advice on Machinery Talk:

"Not familiar with that model, but the cartridge valves on my 6182 worked better after pulling them out and cleaning them with a shot of brake cleaner. The solenoid passed the screwdriver test mentioned in the other post, but the guts of the cartridge weren't moving.

Did White improve the electrical connections on the newer models? Seems like corrosion at the spade terminals is my biggest problem no matter much dielectric grease is used after a good cleaning."

So I use technology to fix technology! From Bill's electronic rain gauge to posts on AgTalk, I get information I need.

Murphy and Mother Nature are in charge of the show and I have to figure out how to respond.


Friday, April 20, 2012

What Percent Are You?

We all heard about the 99% compared to the 1%. That refers to the one percent of the population with incomes above $500,000. It takes $100,000 income to break into the top 80% and $200,000 gets you in the top 94% of the incomes of individuals or families. Which bracket do you fit into?

That is a personal question so I will leave that with you. Median household income of our county is just above $46,000 but we have 14% below the poverty level and a lot of people in between.

LuAnn works with a lot of these people at Turning Point. It's the last chance for many people on welfare or coming out of incarceration.

Another question today is what percent are you planted? This may be the earliest the US corn crop was ever planted if this pace keeps up.

This is also true in Canada as shown in this video just released.

It will be interesting to see what Monday's tally comes up with.

Everyone needs some rain and Steve Horstmeyer says we will have an Omega jet stream into Canada this week that will keep us cool but bring us a chance for rain at the end of next week.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Saw The Human!

Yesterday I was working in the shop when I heard Sable howling and barking like I've never heard. I went to look for her and she had a big Calico cat treed in our lilac tree.

That cat was scared to death and hanging on for dear life. She was a big, older, mother looking cat and I don't blame her for being scared for her life with ominous looking Sable barking and howling and jumping just shy of her tale! That lilac bush is not that big!

I thought a minute and then called Sable into the house. I shut her inside and tried to coax the cat to freedom. I finally got her to purr and call to me for help but she would not come down. I couldn't blame her!

I walked over to the garage to find a handle long enough to poke her out and thought, she must be thinking I almost got eaten by a monster and then I saw the human! I am sure she has seen me before but I hadn't caught more than a glimpse of her. I knew there was a cat prowling the mice around the house, garage and grain bins.

Since Sable has run off all the cats, the mouse population has been building around here. That's the down side of having no cats. Dogs or cats, the two don't mix for me. I could tell something has been in Sable's dog food and water pans when she is inside.

I walked over and slowly stuck the rake handle toward her and she lost her grip and fell plump on the ground. Of course she was gone in a flash to freedom once more.

Sable keeps the birds in the trees and the cats also if they show up!

Of course I forgot to take a picture of it all but this one looks just about like it...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wierd Spring

Everyone agrees this is a "wierd spring" but we sure had a wierd winter and a wierd, wet, whole last year! It's been pleasant this spring, so I don't mind that part of the wierdness. It is pretty dry across most of the country and I think farmers are "waiting for the other shoe to drop."

No one has rushed to the fields yet here. That is true in most of the country but this report shows it's not true in Illinois:

"Last night crop progress was finally released and it was a surprise. After all
the talk of a fast planting pace for corn, the actual number came in at the
lower end of the expected at 17% (vs. an average 20%, with many
thinking that the pace would be quicker than this). Texas was one the
states most behind for corn, while Illinois was on the fast-track 41%
planted vs. 17% last week (southern Illinois also remains one of the
areas to miss recent rainfall)."

I made a trip to Darke County yesterday and I saw the same except most of Darke County looked more like the Illinois figures. It looked to be about half planted. The soybeans aren't planted yet so some of it could still go to corn or beans. Some farmers are finished, most have planted a little and some have not started. That is not too untypical to most years. The exception here was last year when EVERY planter and drill was in the field the first week of June.

Each year is different and that makes averages and medians nothing more than what they are, just statistical data. They don't tell the whole story but they give clues. It's when those averages move from year to year that is the news.

At least we had plenty of pretty flowers this spring!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17

Eight years ago today we planted our first field of corn on this farm. We are trying to repeat that event although the soil is a little heavy in the low spots. The upground is planting nice but it's "cheesy" has my mentor says down below.

I sure would like to repeat the outcome of that event. That was the most corn I ever grew in my life. That field averaged 265 bu and I will never forget the yield monitor hitting 313 in the little sweet spot on it.

I think I had like 30 hybrids that year and the field was a giant research plot. It was record corn growing year here and in most of the nation. The yield never varied more than 30 busehls per acre side to side and that was pretty good considering the soil variation top to bottom and side to side. It got rain all summer and expressed the fullest yield in each hybrid. The hybrids ranged from 100 day to 118 day corn.

This year I have a 115 day hybrid striped beside a 112 day hybrid. I trust both hybrids and think they will help each other rather than one being a dud. I have had a seven percent yield increase doing this over my lifetime and that is what my striped field looked like here 8 years ago.

I would rather have one pretty field of corn that doesn't look like a science experiment but I don't know which hybrid is best this year planted at this date and this is the only way I can find out. I will get more yield from both to boot.

Things aren't rolling hard yet with Sunday predicted at 30 degrees or so. April 22 should be a maximum yield planting day in my studies and calculations. The soil and all the signs are right so it's time to get it done. A few days before and a few days after April 22 should be our best planting date this year.

That was true about half the years in the last decade but last year was June 5-7 which is record late for this area.

I can't find my picture Eric took from the grain bins that summer. It could be on the Internet naywhere or even in my old blogs! Does anyone have it?


Monday, April 16, 2012

Would You Choose The Same Career?

I have been reading and talking to a lot of people who are not finding job satisfaction anymore. Are you one of those? Would you choose the same career today knowing what you do today compared to when you chose?

I think I would but it is obvious to me I could have made it farming instead of teaching and farming. It worked out and I have no regrets. Well, maybe a few but nothing to cause a life lost type of thing. I think I am right where I belong and it all worked out fine.

When I started teaching 40 years ago last fall, $5000 seemed like a lot of money to me. I told you I bought a new Chevelle for $2000 cash. I lived pretty meagerly but that was all I knew how to do from my upbringing.

This piece lets you complete a survey on this subject. I am curious how it works out for you and I.

My biggest challenge was transforming from a student to a teacher. It is quite a transformation. I had lots of help and good role models so it was doable. Learning how to control a classroom full of young men, many bigger than you are is no daunting task but I made it and have helped others and can help more. Classroom control is a big issue in teaching. Once you cross that hurdle, it's not so bad.

I didn't have the same resources to start farming. My parents discouraged it and so did every one I trusted. "It's a dying profession, you can do so much better anywhere else" is all I heard. I knew that wasn't entirely true but I had no idea how to start a farm business even though I was raised on one.

If I knew then what I know now, I could have done it. So part time farming and running a school farm kept me close enough to be happy. It felt like farming but it really wasn't a farm business my livelyhood depended on.

There's a 24 row corn planter sitting at the end of the sidewalk to our barnyard. It isn't mine but I know it could have been.

Agricultural Education is a profound profession and I am glad to have been a part of it.

I guess I still am. How about you? Did you choose the right career?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Don't Guess, Soil Test

I get a lot of soil sample results in the mail and email. This one comes from a farmer who just bought this farm and he wants my help to make it yield profitably. His corn made 120 and beans 30 last year. He applied 100 lbs of MAP or phosphorous and 100 lbs of potash before last year's first crop and again afterwards.

The columns are difficult to put in this blog so they are understandable. It starts with the lab number, sample number, water pH of the soil, organic matter percent, organic matter in pounds per acre(gives you an idea on humus content, few labs do this, this one is low.) Then there is a saturation number and the typical chemical symbols except for CEC which is an unknown term called Cation Exchange Capacity, or how many positive and negative charges the soil can hold. Those CEC's are typical for his soil and mine and the better soils have 20, 30 and above. They can hold more nutrients but require more potassium.

LAB# Smple WpH OM% OM# SAT P K Ca Mg CEC H Ca Mg K S Zn Fe Mn Cu B
399766 9 7.5 2.2 44 37 120 12 1.8 66 99 1.4 0.4
399767 10 7.6 2.3 45 25 102 12 1.8 66 99 1.4 0.4
399768 11 7.5 2.1 43 17 114 12 1.8 66 99 1.4 0.4
399769 12 7.4 2.4 48 16 174 12 1.8 66 99 1.4 0.4
399770 13 7.3 2.8 56 13 183 10 1.9 47 130 1.3 0.6
399771 14 7.4 2.2 44 17 141 10 1.9 47 130 1.3 0.6
399772 15 7.7 2.4 47 11 102 10 1.9 47 130 1.3 0.6
399773 16 7.5 2.6 51 25 194 10 1.9 47 130 1.3 0.6
AVERAGE 7.5 2.4 47 20 141 11 1.9 57 115 1.4 0.5

The first thing I saw was the high "water pH." 7.0 is neutral and 6.5 is about ideal for most crops. He said the former owner applied a lot of lime. It is obvious he did! I told him he will probably never have to lime again in his life but maybe his 12 year old son will.

Now, this probably looks like gibberish to most of you but to farmers and agronomists who work with soil test results regularly, this makes some sense. This a Mehlich III extraction which is most common but not the one I use. These results shown won't be the same numbers I get from my lab but they are a place to start.

The P and K columns which represent lbs of Phosphorous and Potassium available for the crop are on the low side, so the farmer did well putting on what fertilizer he did. I recommended a tissue test from the crops to get a better idea what the soil balance and micro nutrient uptake is. He has part of it in wheat so he is going to pull tissue and soil samples today and get them to my lab. The results will help me see what to recommend next.

Soil testing is not exact because we are sampling such a small portion of each field compared to the tons of soil underneath one sample. We do have enough information after 100 years of soil testing to get the crop into the "ballpark" as far as nutrient needs.

If you haven't sampled your garden or farm for the last few years, I suggest you do it now. I am willing to help any reader who wants a prettier lawn, better garden or more profitable crop.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

For Ten Cents

Remember that old saying, "for ten cents I would...? For ten cents I would send the corn back and plant all beans. Why? It's going to be a whole lot easier marketing soybeans this year than corn.

Things change quickly. Just months ago beans were only twice the price of corn. Now they are approaching three times the price of corn and some farmers are taking action. I hear more and more who are changing from corn to beans.

Me, I am pretty well stuck in my rotation and really need to plant corn on the acres I have planned to. My rotation seems to be one year off market wise. When I plant beans, the price goes down, when I plant wheat or corn the same thing happens. Is it just me?

No, it happens to just about every one. I have always followed a good rotation pretty closely and it has done well for me yield wise. I guess I shouldn't complain. But for ten cents....

I am slowly getting my feet back on the ground and my head back in Ohio. Jet lag is for real, let alone all the changes that occur during travel. The food is a little different, the people are different and the sights are a whole lot different! I won't forget those seas of tulips and water for a long time. It just baffles me how they could make farmland out of an inland sea. Especially in that time without little instrumentation or labor saving devices.

And those churches, those grand Cathedrals built a thousand years ago with even less tools for construction! It is truly baffling and amazing.

Ohio is quickly going post bloom. The dandelions have about ran their cycle and the fruit trees have buds and baby fruit already. The winter annuals are dead in fields that haven't been sprayed!

You can still catch tulips in Amish Country. There is even a photography contest(hint, hint, LuAnn)! The earth biscuits, now I fondly call them earth monks, are having a big get together in Chillicothe next weekend.

"That Crop Being Planted Just Could Be Yours!
The search is well under way in our latest "Iowa Treasure Hunt" ... and the finder wins a 5-acre cash crop. Twenty counties have been eliminated and the clue is hidden in an Iowa public park somewhere in one of the other 79.

Have a blessed Sunday, whatever you do.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Some local farmers apprarently aren't superstitious because they are out planting corn and soybeans today. It is very dry here and we even saw a few "dust devils" today which is unusual for April. This is very different from a year ago when it rained almost every day.

The Government Weather Forecast calls for normal prcipitation but above normal temperatures. Plants are a month ahead of some years but the frost seemed to nip some of the new buds and flowers this week.

This year July is unusual in that it has 5 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That is something that happens more than 823 years or whatever those catchy emails have been saying.

We are home from our fantastic Holland in Bloom trip to the Netherlands and Belgium. Holland certainly was in bloom and Keukenhof was the height of the bloom with 4.5 million tulips in bloom! It was a flower lover's dream and I highly recommend you put it on your "bucket list."

I hope to catch up blogging and emailing and posting some of our interesting pictures but farming and more consulting is job one now. I think the trichadermas can help the bulb growers and they are very interested in what we shared.

But I have to wonder if they keep the good bulbs to themselves and send the rest to us and buyers around the world! Just kidding, but their plants and blooms are so much larger than ours in general, at least it looked that way.

Strong Gold is one of my new favorite varieties after meeting Jan. A field of those blooms is simply beautiful.

While in Belgium, we came across this button. I am sure you will enjoy it!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kitchen Garden

Todat we visited the most beautiful place we have ever seen, the Keukenhof Gardens.

Our trip couldn't have been planned any better. I wouldn't have left out one stop. We saw the Veneration of the Holy Blood on Holy Thursday and kept building to Keukenhof on Tuesday.

The farther we got from Amsterdam and the closer we got to Keukenhof, we started seeing beautiful dairy farms with more and more fields of tulips. By the time the bus turned off the freeway, all you could see was flowers as far as you could see.

There are empty fields though that will be planted to another crop as they only raise tulips once in five years. Grandpa's five year rotation rang in my head once more!

Where Keukenhof is situated now, was a hunting area in the 15th century. Herbs for the kitchen of the castle of Jacoba van Beieren were also collected here; hence the name Keukenhof.

The current park was a section of the sizeable estate of Slot Teylingen, with beautiful untamed bushes and dunes. After the decease of Jacoba van Beieren Keukenhof fell into the hands of rich merchant families. Baron and baroness Van Pallandt invited landscape architects J.D. and L.P. Zocher, designers of the Amsterdam Vondelpark, to make a design for the garden around the castle. This design, in the English landscape style, has always been the basis of Keukenhof.

At the moment the estate belongs to a Foundation. On the initiative of the Lisse mayor of that time and a number of leading flower bulb growers and exporters, an open air flower exhibition was organised here for the first time in 1949. This expanded to an annually recurring event that has always drawn great numbers of visitors from all over the world. This is how Keukenhof became the park that we now know."

Put it on your bucket list, NOW! Better yet, let's put together a HyMark trip to it next spring!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Today we got to watch the impressive Alsmeer Flower Auction, the world's largest! Seven million fresh cut blooms passed before our eyes!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

World Collaboratory

Dupont has a new commercial, "welcome to the world collaboratory." It features rows of dinner tables through corn fields and cities.

I wish I had thought of that catchy phrase! I also saw a brilliant piece about Apple and Steve Jobs on BBC's Impact program.

Last night we collaborated with two of Hoorn's best ambassadors, Ina and Clint. We had wonderful evening thanks to their group who hosted the American's from Vantage.

They served a "traditional dutch meal" which consisted of a beef stew and potatoes baked a certain way with common spices. It was very tasty but we enjoyed the comradery of our hosts even more.

Each table of 3-4 couples had a host from Hoorn who explained what they knew about the town and their life in the town. They all had interesting stories.

Luckily, we drew Ina who married Clint from Tennessee. She was Dutch born and travelled to our country on a work visa and worked for Monsanto as a health nurse in St. Louis. She had problems renewing her visa and was denied her green card, very sad for our country.

She wasn't bitter about it but you could tell it hurt. It hurt me to hear it. It reminded me of our friend Dutch in Seminole, Texas who has the same problem His family was working here, went home and was denied re-entry. Dutch perservered, came back and met Katy and made a good life and is an asset to our country.

She and Clint escorted us back to our ship and pointed out places along the way. It seemed to take half the time to get back as it did to walk to the meeting hall.

The Dutch people wear big boots. They are big, friendly boots like the Welly's in the picture I took there. We did get a pair of soft Klammpens for Brynn and she loves them. They have tulips on them of course. They had a big pair of yellow ones I should have brought home for me.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Tulip Farm

Today we learned about tulip propagation at this farm It takes twenty years to get a new tulip cross to market.

Jan made his first cross at age 17 and now it is the most popular tulip in Europe. I found it for sale online here.It is called Strong Gold.

Also, You can order 100 bulbs in a Dutch wooden box here.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Today we hear happy Easter everywhere we go! We wish you happy Easter, wherever you are.

What is your favorite Easter memory and tradition?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7

Today we saw the Floriadein Venlo,which only takes place every ten years!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Apil 6

Today is Good Friday, a time for reflection and penance.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5

AmazinglyToday we saw the Sacred Blood of Jesus, the Veneration of His Most Precious Blood. Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4

I have been studying drainage. To understand drainage, we have to turn to the masters, the real Dutch Masters. Their form of art has brought rich lands into production.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3

The market is jockeying position. I have not seen a sensible acreage report yet.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2

It was sad to see the Buckeyes lose to Kansas. I wish them well tonight against Kentucky but,honestly they don't have a snowball 's chance.

We got a couple of tenths of rain over the weekend. Corn planting will have to wait awhile. April 22 is my next target date to plant.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool's

It's April Fools once more. The best I can do is not be one!

I hope Mother Nature does not make of us. I will report more when possible.