Friday, August 29, 2014

Harvest Moon

I wrote this a some time ago and found it today.  I've been wondering what the harvest moon will look like this year and how cold it will be.  It's been a very cool year until late when we finally got our normal summer heat.

"Last night was a beautiful, full harvest moon. The problem is, nothing is ready to harvest except the garden.

The garden has been a good one. My friend Steve saved it when he offered to come help till it up with that old fashioned big wheeled push culitvator. It took off ahead of the weeds and never looked back after that, around the first of July.

We have taken over 1000 pounds of produce out of the 30 by 40 piece of land. Took out two big buckets full of tomatoes last night and the freezer is filling with them and corn and beans.

The first planted crops need another 30 days and the late planted crops need 60. They won't get 60 so they will be whatever they are the day Jack Frost takes them.

Last year we were getting ready to shell dry corn, a first in history for me. 190 bu corn at 14% moisture in the middle of September. We lost a third of our potential yield due to drought and heat and still made out well.

Today you have to make out even better because everything we touch turns to gold. There has never been a place I couldn't put extra income to make the farm even better so everything is prioritized. Pushing dirt and cutting trees is first on the list this year, lost about 6 acres of production due to last year's work that never got finished."

September is a busy, outdoor month for us with lots of festivals and activities we like to attend.  This year the expenses have surpassed our income potential so its slow as she goes.

Our grandson Tyler reminds me of 3 years ago about this time when we were anticipating another harvest moon.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Soil Health Explained

I just received this in email and thought it was a good topic.  What is soil health?  How do you explain it?

I have finally learned enough in 64 years I can tell the difference from poor soil health compared to good soil health.  I walk a lot of fields and dig more than many people and it is quite apparent to me what better soil structure is compared to less.

Basically, better soil structure is more crumbly, the plants and roots look healthy in it and it smells good.  It is often darker colored but don't let that fool you.  There are many lighter colored soils due to their formation that are really good soils compared to others.  Black does not mean better though it often is and it can stink because it is anaerobic.  Anaerobic is never good in soil.

Soil needs oxygen or atmospheric air which contains really little oxygen but enough to keep that soil from smelling anaerobic and make it more productive.  I've seen the most oxygenated soils at Keith's farm near Stockton, Iowa, but I have seen them other places, too.  Most fields do not have enough atmospheric air in them, in my opinion.

We all know that the way we farm affects our bottom line.  I don't talk to many people who don't need to address economics first.  Too often it is used to not do what is best for the soil which will make long term profit and sustainability and the answer is no-till.  Cover crops make no-till even better.

My friend Doug Galloway sent me this from Ray Ward in Nebraska.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sudden Death Syndrome In Soybeans

My friends across the US are reporting more SDS or Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans each day.  I hear their concern, it knocked 15 pods per plant off my then record crop in 2008.  It was my first chance to break 100 bushels per acre and SDS prevented me from achieving my goal.

"Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean was first discovered in 1971 in Arkansas and since then has been confirmed throughout most soybean-growing areas of the U.S. SDS is a fungal disease that also occurs in a disease complex with the soybean cyst nematode (SCN, Heterodera glycines). SDS is among the most devastating soil-borne diseases of soybean in the USA. When this disease occurs in the presence of SCN disease symptoms occur earlier and are more severe. Disease symptoms are most pronounced after flowering.

Symptoms and Signs

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean is typically not detectable on the foliage of plants until after the beginning of flowering. Under rare circumstances younger plants may show symptoms. It is always useful to compare the affected plants with healthy plants of the same field when making disease assessments.
Planting date is crucial to achieving big yields but also increases the risk of SDS.  I've never seen SDS in double crop soybeans, they are planted that late.
No-Till and cover crops are your best option.  I did both in 2008 but I planted so early and the varieties I planted were race horse varieties that could not hold up under the infection.  My inoculant/SabrEx strips yielded up to 15 bushels more that year so I have always highly recommended a good inoculant like ABM's along with their strains of trichaderma fungi in SabrEx.
Good drainage is always important but the easiest way to get enough atmospheric air into the soil I've found is gypsum.  1000 lbs or so every fall really decreases the incidence of SDS.
Every year brings its problems and this year it's Soybean Death Syndrome.
I don't think you will find any SDS in Keith's beans.  I was looking for this picture and it was dated today in 2006.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Farm Grandma

Kids say the darndest things.  Tyler called LuAnn and called her Farm Grandma.  What a term of endearment!  His little sister Arianna will be three Sunday so we hope to get together.  We have cases of Loganberry, Sahlen's hot dogs and cheese curds to share from our trip up north.

We are the quotable grand parents at the Peter's house.  "If it rains and if it pours, you can cook your smores indoors!"  That's what happened the last time Liam and Finn were here as the rain started to put out our campfire on the patio.  We used our gas oven to bake some smores as the rain was falling outside.

Corbin and Claire are showing their fine looking Hampshire pigs at the Highland County Fair next week.  Highland and Brown Counties have two of our favorite fairs which reminds me of the excellent Erie County New York Fair we saw recently.  I still need to download my pictures and share some of the best ones.

Half the grand kids are in school now and half are not.  There is still a lot of education to do either way.  You learn something every day, don't you?

We are unloading wheat this week as most of my Lion soft red winter wheat is going for seed.  Good seed lots of good soft reds are in short supply this year and we have had a lot of interest in it.  The first load looked excellent with no dust coming off it and little chaff.  We did a decent job of getting it harvested and stored correctly.

Our Clermont, Jacob and Apex soybeans are also in high demand and I hope they all get planted for seed, also.

Maybe Farm Grandma can help Farm Grandpa make some lemonade out of the market lemons this fall.

Ed Winkle

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ohio No-Till Field Day September 9

I have been concerned about what I can possibly say at the Ohio No-Till Field Day in Marion County on September 9.  My visit with Odette Menard and her farmers in Quebec last week cleared that up for me.  I think I know what I need to present.

She took us to the farm of Jocelyn Michon near St. Hyacinth, Quebec.  We were very impressed with his crops and his farming operation.  He has been continuous no-till for 21 years and his soil structure is beyond most fields I have visited.  He has taken a little different approach to farming than my friend Keith Schlapkohl in Stockton, Iowa but his crops are every bit as impressive.

He came to our farm with a bus load of fellow farmers from Quebec in 2008 and saw one of the best crops of soybeans I ever raised until last year.  The color and reproduction of his crops showed the benefits of the improved soil structure he has created.  I challenged the group to explore cover crops and they were hesitant since they farm so far north.  But Jocelyn figured it out and took his farm up another notch.

He showed us the mix of 11 cover crop seeds he is planting.  The big thing I saw is if one cover does not do well in a certain year, others take over and do the job of multiplying beneficial soil organisms.  Believe me his system is really working.

He converted a Monosem planter to twin row and his soybeans and green beans and corn are extremely impressive with very little purchased fertilizer.  Odette says we know the chemical properties too well and don't pay enough attention to soil structure from our farming activities.  I saw on Jocelyn's farm the benefit of paying more attention to soil structure and less to chemical fertilizer.  His yields are way beyond normal and his profit line is strong.

In a year like this with poor income, he makes it up with more profit from less inputs.  Then, he makes even more income in years like the last four where crop prices were higher.

I know what to communicate now a little better.  Don't focus on something like gypsum alone, it is just a tool.  Focus on the entire cropping system.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, August 24, 2014

10 Most Liveable Cities

We have visited 8 of these!

The Economist's 10 Most Liveable Cities
1. Melbourne, Australia
2. Vienna, Austria
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Adelaide, Australia
5. Calgary, Canada
7. Sydney, Australia
8. Helsinki, Finland
9. Perth, Australia
10. Auckland, New Zealand

LuAnn asked which one I would pick and I picked Auckland.  I said we should pick one closer and I said Calgary and she said Vancouver.  We are usually pretty close in our choices.

It is more expensive to live in Canada than in Martinsville.  It's even more expensive to live in New Zealand so there is a price to pay no matter where you live.

We have enjoyed our time in Quebec but it is time to move on.  The worst thing for me is that I can't access my Time Warner email unless I purchase Cable Mover so if you have emailed me this week, I am a week behind on email.

I guess for now, Martinsville will have to do!  We might visit Charlottesville, Virginia where the climate is even more moderate and we can take University of Virginia classes for free!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Soybeans Test 12 Brix

Today we visited a no-till farm in Quebec with soybeans testing a Brix reading of 12.  That is as about the most I've ever heard of or seen in soybeans.  The plants were super healthy with just a little bit of white mold showing in a few spots.  Other fields have more mold and disease but all of the beans I've seen in Quebec impress me.

What is this fellow doing differently?  He has been continuous no-till for 21 years on this farm.  He has added cover crops since he visited our farm in 2008.  He has really upped the anty for crop production in his operation.

His soil is a lakebed 145 feet deep with only 8 inches of rich, black topsoil.  With his methods he has increased that depth to 15 inches deep.  This is one of those unheard of stories you hear at a few places like the National NoTillage Conference.  We saw it first hand today.

Odette Menard and her followers in Quebec are after soil quality from improved soil structure.  Water does not stand on these soils like they once did where these methods are used.  The tillage ground looked very much like the tillage ground in the states, impervious layers that don't allow oxygen to move down to the root zone, causing anaerobic conditions.

The difference between the two is amazing.  These farmers are not so concerned with the soil test as they are the soil quality from improved soil structure.  We understand the chemistry of the soil better than we do the physics of the soil.

This reminded me of what no till and cover crops are all about so we can weather these low price years and make more in the higher priced crop years.

This picture is soybeans from tillage, the soybeans I saw today have twice as many pods and I still call this picture excellent soybeans.

Ed Winkle