Monday, October 20, 2014

My Neighbors Weeds

I have one good neighbor who has a terrible weed problem.  I don't know him well enough yet to offer him any advice but I sure wish he would take some from somebody.

He is a kind old gent, probably a better man than I'd ever hope to be but his weed problem reminds me of what dad said they fought when he was a kid.  They are clear out of control and costing him big money and me a little.

If it were mine, the whole thing would be planted to cereal rye or at least sprayed with 2,4-D and Banvel this fall.  That would get us started.  He only raises soybeans so other crops are not an option and I am sure he wouldn't want to pay for planting cereal rye or a fall spray.

You read all of this great advice on Crop Talk but when it really comes down to applying them to your local situation, sometimes there just isn't a good answer.  I would love to rent the farm just to clean up the weeds but that isn't going to happen.  I would really like to own it but that is just as far a shot, too.

I am not whining but I am complaining.  These resistant weeds are going to eat our lunch unless we stay on top of them.

This is what happens when you farm in 2014 like you did in 2004.

Farming doesn't change much but it is continually changing.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kona Joe Coffee

This year Linda, Fred, LuAnn and most of us on the Roach Ag Tour of Hawaii got to visit Kona Joe Coffee.  Kona Joe developed the idea of planting coffee trees on trellises like is done for some fruit production.

I was watching America's Heartland, a program I record weekly and there was a tour of Kona Joe's just like we took.

"Deepa Alban and her husband Joe were planning to retire on a lovely piece of paradise on the Big Island of Hawaii. That is until they began sharing the coffee beans that were growing on the tropical landscape. Friends and family raved about the coffee and a family farming operation quickly got underway.

The Alban farm sits on a swatch of ocean front soil known as the “gold belt” of the Kona coffee district, one of the richest coffee growing regions in the world. The Albans planted a few coffee trees and began enjoying their home brewed beverage. To improve their crops and get better yields, the Albans began planting coffee plants on trellises, just as you would for grape fines. The results provided a 30% jump in productivity, just by treating coffee like wine. Soon they had a business that they named, “Kona Joe” coffee.

Many farmers have been enjoying trips to Hawaii to break up the winter and get some summer sunshine in the dead of winter.  If you go, I would recommend a trip to Kona Joe Coffee, even if you don't like the drink!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Clermont Soybeans

First call for the Clermont soybean variety.  I think they will sell out fast.  I am very impressed with them after 2 years of watching them develop.  I planted my first Clermont soybeans and encouraged my friends to do the same.  I've heard good things so far from Kentucky to Michigan.  Southern Ohio and Indiana growers are very interested in them.

Today I found many 4 bean pods in the June 28 planting so that tells me they have really good reproduction properties.  I saw that last year when the foundation seed made 85 bushels per acre in a Ohio State University Southern Region plot.  I certified seed locally through my inspection scouting and I have watched them grow since June, 2013.

Clermont non GMO soybeans were developed by Ohio State University soybean breeders.  They are 3.9 maturity with white flowers, light tawny pubescence, brown pods and the key thing to buyers, it is a black hilum soybean.  I wouldn't say its especially pretty but not as ugly as some beans are.  The beautiful thing is watching them grown and put on and fill all those pods.  They look similar to Dennison, a recent 3.5 maturity variety released by Ohio State.

I highly recommend the Ohio Public Soybean Releases.  They always perform well in the University testing program but more importantly, on the farm.  From 2.6 to 3.9 maturity, they've got your soybean needs covered.

Clermont is named after Clermont County Ohio and means clear mountains and hills, though the county is not mountainous.

Ed Winkle

Friday, October 17, 2014

Less Wheat This Year

With the late crops and cool summer there is going to be less soft red winter wheat planted around here.  I can think of one farm near Dayton who has a couple of hundred acres of soft red winter wheat planted and one farm with about the same 40 miles south of here.  The 80 miles in-between which would normally have several acres of wheat planted basically has none.  I don't think I will get any planted this year.

There is going to be less planted wheat here this year and that is mainly due to weather.  If we had any kind of a year to plant wheat, the few of us who like to plant wheat would.  It is not here this year.  I would not be surprised if acreage is way down with the wet September and October we have experienced.  It is far reaching across the soft red winter wheat belt.  It's basically anywhere east of the Mississippi on this map.

That puts more pressure on soybean planting next year and reduces the amount of potential double crop soybean acres.  Double crop soybeans has been a real winner for us with our principle of load the drill when the combine starts up.  It looks like we won't have any next year unless we have to plant as late as we do double crop soybeans!

Wheat hasn't been a great profit for me but it is a great way to keep my soil covered all winter.  I have built a little organic matter in my soil from the residue rather than letting it wash all winter.

One little impact on the markets next year is going to be soft red winter wheat in my opinion.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'll Grow My Own

My young friend David Groff in southeast Pennsylvania put together a nice harvest video called "I'll grow my own."  It shows the harvesting of corn and soybeans by a smaller, young farmer.  That reminds me of my own life.  Since bigger isn't always better, it brings a smile to my face.  I applaud the few smaller farmers, especially the very young ones.  They are both a rare commodity in the face of huge piles of corn, soybeans and other crops this year.

I met David's dad, Steve at a National NoTillage Conference 15 years ago or so.  I think we've both influenced each other in a positive way.  Steve was trying to improve no-till with cover crops and I was trying to improve the process of no-till farming with planter modifications, soil chemistry and soil biology.  Our ideas work together so well.

I've always enjoyed growing things and farming has always been in my blood.  Thanks to the Good Lord and LuAnn we were able to increase our farming operation to 1125 acres harvested in 2010.  Our timing was perfect with the resources available.  We have enjoyed a really good ten years since we bought this farm in 2004.

None of this would have been possible without my early recognition that no-till was the only way to go for me, that crop rotation was very important, and that we as farmers don't use enough lime and fertilizer to produce a maximum economic crop.  Economics change but the need for soil improvement and fertilization never does.  We farm plowed to death soil that had a poor crop rotation.  How do you change that direction?

Like David has been blessed to learn at a very young age, tillage is not necessarily the best answer to raise any crop.  Soil was meant to be covered and when we learn how to accomplish that in a good crop rotation, that worn out soil starts to turn around and our mistakes of tillage are less noticeable.

I encourage all farmers to answer the question I've proposed the last 20 years on the speaking circuit:  What change really needs to be made on your farm?  This is a very open question that the operator really needs to search and assess.  I have seen enough in my lifetime I can give a pretty good recommendation.  I need the same assessment of my own life and farm.  A second and third opinion can really help answer what we need to do and so many of us don't do that.

Someone is going to make a living from growing our food.  Who can do it better than myself?

Am I willing to grow my own?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We Want Your Non GMO Corn

A friend in Illinois contacted me to see how much non GMO corn we could come up with in our area.

"We are establishing markets for 2014 and 2015.  Your corn must be 98.5% purity.  How do we establish that?

Send your grain(a pint of corn) samples to:
N27 BioAg Sciences
209 West Jessup Street
Rushford, Minnesota 55971

The cost is $150 per sample, this is not an inexpensive test to ensure buyers are getting a pure product.  Seed can be tested, too.  If you start out with 95% purity, it isn't going to improve in the field.

I am sending them a sample tomorrow.  There is nothing else I can do right now with the wet weather and I want to see what they say my purity is.

I've seen "non GMO" seed samples test positive for GMO.  I want to see how mine tests.

A 50 cent premium would be very handy right now to many local farmers who plant non-GMO corn.

On another note, I did get the Walmart Nitrogen link to work.  Click on Global Sustainability if you are interested, its a well designed video.  Tim Richter from Iowa and also farms in Missouri gives a plug for Adapt-N about 31 minutes into the video.  It is interesting to see how Walmart is taking interest in this, whether it is nitrogen, GMO or non GMO.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Best Presidents For The Economy

Presidents get too much credit for the economy when things are good and too much blame when things are poor.

We tend to imagine every blip in the stock market and every unemployment report as a direct reflection of a president's policies -- particularly during election years. In reality, Congress and the Federal Reserve probably have just as much, if not more, sway over the economy than any president. And one president's policies can spill over into the next administration, making it difficult to sort out who is liable for what. We have a hard enough time accurately measuring what the economy is doing, let along assigning responsibility for its moves.

Still, everyone should know a little economic history. And the cleanest way to get a feel for how the economy has done under past presidents is to just lay the numbers bare.
Here are five economic variables going back to 1900, covering every president from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
  1. Stock market performance
This is the inflation-adjusted, dividend-adjusted, performance of the S&P 500:

This is from The Motley Fool.  It is interesting but is the Standard and Poor the best way to measure the health of the economy?  It is just a tiny part of measuring the health of the economy.

What did that president do to affect it?  Probably not much at all although some did.  Most were in office at just the right time or if they are on the bottom of this list, they happened to be president at a very bad time.

The thing I think we need most right now is leadership.  I just don't see any leadership today.  It seems we have done everything possible to limit economic growth and now no one trusts anyone else.

I really think we need leadership.  What do you think?

Ed Winkle