Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parts Runner

I spend many days running parts. I am the parts runner around these parts. I am always picking up parts for my mechanical friends. I have a knack at finding parts at a good price. I am the kind of person that doesn't buy much though but when I see something I need, I buy it at any price. Quality ranks high with me and that is getting difficult to find in this day and age of "shove it out the door."

I really admire mechanical ability. I don't have the patience to find out why something ticks, tear it down and put it back together. I don't even have the patience to fish. It amazes me I have the patience to plant a seed and watch it grow all season long. Sometimes I hate to see it come to an end because that means winter is coming next. I do like the change of seasons though.

The mechanic for Farm Journal's AgWeb recently sent me this:

"Growing up around farm equipment has made many of us blind to the free education we received. It's only when we spend time around folks who didn't grow up working around and on machinery that we appreciate the basic mechanical knowledge we take for granted. Here are a few true stories about non-farm folks who came to farm equipment dealerships trying to get parts for lawn mowers and other mechanical gadgets:

-A well-dressed man wanted a new battery for his riding lawn mower. When the parts person placed the correct battery on the counter, the man firmly stated that it was the wrong battery because, "on my battery, the terminals were on the back side." The parts man thought for a moment, then took the battery to the back room, waited a few minutes, then carried the same battery back up front and placed it on the counter with the terminals facing away from the customer. The customer left, satisfied.

-A parts person sold an air filter for a small tractor to a city dweller who had purchased an acreage and wanted to be a "farmer." The wanna-be farmer soon returned and complained loudly that the parts man had given him the wrong filter, because the tractor wouldn’t run after the filter was installed. When the parts person removed the plastic bag that the filter came in to see what could be wrong, the customer got a funny look on his face, grabbed the unbagged filter and disappeared out the door.

-Riding lawn mowers are nightmares for parts people. There are hundreds of models that each require unique belts, sizes and lengths. Mechanically-challenged customers routinely don't know the model or serial number of their mower, and frequently insist that the parts person simply give them a belt because, "all the belts are basically the same." One savvy parts man keeps the separator drive belt from his manufacturer's largest combine underneath the parts counter, and when he gets the familiar statement, "All belts are basically the same.." he hoists that monster belt onto the counter and says, "That'll be $180. Cash or charge?"

-An urban customer sent his wife to a dealership to get a major drive belt for the belly mower on his utility tractor. The parts man gave the wife the correct belt, but within an hour the man himself came storming through the door. "You gave my wife three short belts, and I needed one big, long belt," he complained. The frustrated parts man checked the part number printed on the belt to confirm that the belt was correct, then uncoiled the looped belt and began to measure it. The customer stared at the uncoiled belt, grabbed the belt and headed out the door without another word.

Never underestimate the wealth of mechanical knowledge that you have acquired simply by being a farmer. Things that you do without a second thought, repairs that you make routinely, even the simple knowledge that, "right is tight, left is loose" are mysteries to many folks who didn't have the blessing of growing up on a farm."

These guys are the ones I admire. They build and keep the wheels rolling that makes this world go 'round. I am the parts guy with a building full of parts and trying to match up the numbers so they can do their work.

I found a good job in college at Massey Ferguson on Kinnear Road near the Ohio State Campus. First $5 job I ever had, they gave you a dealer parts order and you headed into the warehouse with a grocery cart and climbed like squirrel on ladders all over that warehouse tracking down parts. I became very good at it.

You were good when you were the quickest or almost the quickest but never had one wrong part number in your basket. My mind would wonder over the dealer list from Indiana to the Atlantic Ocean, where they were, what the place looked like, what farmer would be picking up that part. If my mind wondered too much I would not be quick or worse yet, put the wrong part in the basket. Those were big no-no's and the chief would sit us down and "ream us out."

I will be running parts through planting between everything else I do. I am better at evaluating seed, seed furrow, planter setup, soil tests, and fertilizer application. That is nitty-gritty in maximum yield and profit for the farmer.

Now you know a new thing about me. I wonder what I don't know about you?

I wish every reader had a Google Account and would use the Comment section at the bottom. Sometimes I am just too curious.

Ed Winkle

Monday, March 30, 2009

Agicultural Education

Agricultural Education was never needed more than it is today. We are so removed from this basic application of science that most people have little idea where their food comes from.

"Craig Kohn's classroom at Waterford Union High School, students use traditional Punnett square diagrams to study animal genetics.

But they also use 80-pound Foster, the living, breathing class Holstein calf, and talk about his genetics and which of those traits they can predict his offspring may have generations from now.

Using Foster requires more post-lesson cleanup in the school's agriculture education classroom, but students say Kohn's lessons bring science alive. It is fun, real and far more engaging than memorizing facts and formulas.

The approach represents part of a revolution in agriculture education that is under way across Wisconsin and the United States.

The so-called "cows and plows" high school curriculum - animal science, plant science and mechanics - once dominated by farm kids in Carhartt jackets and Wranglers has morphed into courses that cover turf management, wildlife ecology, landscape design, biotechnology, organic farming, genetic engineering, sustainable water, biodiesel production and meat science.

The developments have exciting implications, from a wave of new student interest in agri-science to ample post-secondary career prospects.

Many school leaders are harnessing the potential of the programs. The Hartland-Lakeside School District is designing an organic farming charter school; state agriculture officials hope a similar urban agriculture school could take root in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, the Oconomowoc Area School District recently invested in a new plot of land for its agriculture education students to work and use for experiments.

Districts such as Waukesha and Kettle Moraine have cut their ag departments to meet budget constraints, but the demand for quality agriculture teachers in Wisconsin and elsewhere remains high. Often, these young and enthusiastic teachers are shaping the new educational landscape.

From cattle to algae
"This isn't what an Ag Ed class looked like 20 years ago," said Waterford's Kohn, 25, as he led a tour of the greenhouse attached to his classroom (Foster's newly formed pen is just outside) and another room where Kohn built a life-sized model of a cow for his animal science students last fall.

Kohn was in medical school before he decided to pursue a career in teaching. Now he's working with students to turn algae into biofuel. The goal is to eventually power all the district's vehicles with it. And maybe score a patent.

"This is taking science one step further," said Kohn. "Students get invested in science when they see that it's real, that it has a purpose, that they are creating something that can change the world."

Nationwide, 7,200 high school agriculture education programs exist in public schools, but the National Council for Agriculture Education wants to increase that number to 10,000 by the year 2015. Beyond creating agriculture and FFA programs in new communities, the council hopes to help increase math and science proficiency and prompt more kids to look at potential careers in the "food and fiber" industries.

Wisconsin's public schools have 250 agriculture education departments, said Jeff Hicken, an education consultant for the state Department of Public Instruction and leader of the Wisconsin FFA. Most of those departments are in high schools, where the agriculture teacher advises the FFA, a youth leadership and learning program.

Qualifying for key credits
The DPI recently put its stamp of approval on the melding of science and agriculture curricula. Last year, it began approving certain agriculture courses as equivalent science courses, meaning that students could take an agriculture class and have it count for, say, a required biology credit.

"From the state superintendent's standpoint, students need more options, and this is one option for them to learn science in a little bit different way," Hicken said.

Coinciding with that development is the newly formed Wisconsin Agriculture Education and Workforce Development Council. The group, made up of state agriculture industry and education leaders, wants to ensure that all of Wisconsin's food, plant, animal, environmental and natural resource businesses have a well-educated workforce coming up the pipeline.

They're interested in kids such as 14-year-old Waterford freshman Megan Mullikin and her friend, 15-year-old Jasmine Belew. After class last week, the girls said that unlike biology, which is mostly about plants; and chemistry, which is all about chemicals; their intro to ag science class is about . . . everything.

"The way Mr. Kohn teaches it, I can apply it to real life, like something I saw yesterday in the grocery store," Mullikin said.

In Kohn's landscape design class, students choose projects in one of three areas: greenhouse management, design and budgeting, or construction. One student chose the design and budget option and planned an eco-friendly wedding that re-used all of its materials.

Another was hunched last week over a blueprint of a house, meticulously drawing to scale every rock, shrub, tree and walkway that surrounded it.

"There are huge opportunities now for students in landscaping, environmental sciences and teaching," said Ken Seering, an agriculture education teacher in the Denmark School District, south of Green Bay. "If you've got an agriculture degree from a four-year college, you're set."

I got my first agriculture degree 38 years ago and I was set. I use the principles I learned obtaining it every day if not every hour of every day.

This program works in every style school you can think of, from farm to urban to suburban to cities. We have programs in all of those areas.

Do you have agricultural education?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daniel Hannan

I just saw Daniel Hannan, a member of Parliament in Great Britain in an interview on TV. You might have seen the email floating around about his speech aimed at the Prime Minister of England in the last week or so.

"Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that. Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British jobs for British workers’ and that you have subsidised, where you have not nationalised outright, swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks? Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words? Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country?

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child. Now, once again today you try to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls. But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging; in other words – to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line under the accumulated weight of your debt We are now running a deficit that touches 10% of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary; countries where the IMF have already been called in. Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising; like everyone else I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year - in the last twelve months – a hundred thousand private sector jobs have been lost and yet you created thirty thousand public sector jobs.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on for ever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re ‘well-placed to weather the storm’, I have to tell you that you sound like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times. The IMF has said so; the European Commission has said so; the markets have said so – which is why our currency has devalued by thirty percent. And soon the voters too will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government."

Everyone I talk to is asking why don't we have someone like him speaking up and asking the hard questions in this country?

Do a quick search on him and you will find the video. I highly recommend it.

I can't disagree with what he his saying. I don't know all the politics involved but I believe you can't spend yourself out of debt. I think Congress should have not gotten into bailouts so quickly and the real crisis is what they did, not what they failed to do.

Time will tell. The 90% who are working don't have enough time to study and vocalize the issue and the 10% who do are struggling to survive.

I suppose my last few posts will go unheeded and this mess will grow.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Reply

I thought I better get my letter written this morning while I had time after posting my last blog. I stated what I think and believe. You could get a lot more specific about the ruling but I kept mine general, focusing on the main reason why this ruling is even being open for comment.

I got an email back saying the fellow in charge was out of the office and to send your comments here.

If you are submitting comments for regulations please send them to dan.mcglynn@wdc.usda.gov. If this email is part of a distribution list please remove my email address from it. My new email address at the Forest Service is seramirez@fs.fed.us Thank you and have a nice day.....

Looks like he got promoted or demoted to the Forest Service!

Dear Sir,

I am not sure how to reply but I can tell you farmers are itchy about all the information we have to give now for our piddly payments.

I have taught school or worked in Extension all my life to get my dream to farm. Now that I am here, I was quite taken back when I signed up for the Farm Program last week and the USDA worker brought out this three page questionnaire about my engagement in farming.

She said if you don't answer this correctly you won't be eligible for program payments. So I took my time to answer honestly and completely.

She basically asked questions that had no implications to my income or operation. I had to think who could answer this without their tax records in front of them. I had studied my answers so I knew how to reply.

The big point here is that government is too large compared to the average citizen. That makes for a big disconnect between us.

I am for any changes that helps the little guy succeed and makes the big guy pay his dues fairly.

How we arrive at that is a big discussion for debate.

Agriculture has no one voice to represent us so we are at the mercy of people who don't understand what we do.

We are the backbone of the country and its economy but we are given a pittance for it compared to other entities who are treated as being more important.

USDA is even a misnomer as most of your budget is a food program not a food producing program.

It is past time we should straighten this out. I see no effort to address this problem on the horizon, just more regulation for dollars most farmers would gladly give up to get out of the regulations.

The trips to the FSA office are like going to the doctor. We don't want to go but we can't afford not to gain a few more dollars we deserve for our farming operations.


Ed Winkle
3308 Martinsville Road
Martinsville, Ohio 45146

I hope you take time to get your gripes off your chest, too. This is an important time to speak up in our country as what we do today will have a huge impact on our present and future generations.

I have always tried to do what is best for them as they are a part of me. I hope you feel the same way and take time to let those in charge know how you feel.


April 6

If this is old news to you, I apologize. I just found this and intend to reply.

Our government is getting flooded with letters, email, phone calls on various subjects right now as I think it should be. I hope this is a record commentary time for our officials to hear from us.

"INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — What defines “actively engaged in farming?” The definition is a key in many government programs and is a stumbling block for many producers applying for those programs.

The public has until April 6 to submit comments on the regulation defining actively engaged participation in a farming operation.

The regulation, published Dec. 29, 2008, invites comments on the interim rule for implementation of key eligibility requirements for many Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) services.

“In the past, we had the three-entity rule,” said Carl Schweikhardt of FSA. “Now with the new farm bill, we’ve gone to direct attribution. We’re looking at the person, not the corporation, and payments are traced down to that person’s Social Security number.”

The regulations were revised as mandated by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) to make changes in payment eligibility, payment attribution, maximum income limits and maximum dollar benefit amounts for participants in CCC-funded programs. In addition, certain provisions were incorporated that are discretionary.

The actively engaged provision requires that individuals and entities must be “actively engaged in farming” with respect to a farming operation in order to be eligible for specified payment and benefits. To be “actively engaged in farming,” the individual or entity must make significant contributions to the farming operation of (1) capital, equipment, land or a combination; and (2) personal labor or active personal management, or a combination.

Current rules, in effect since 1988, state that not every member of an entity is required to contribute active personal labor or management. The interim rule requires each partner, stockholder or member with an ownership interest to make a contribution of active personal labor or active personal management.

The contribution must be regular and substantial, and documented as separate and distinct from any other member’s contribution. The rule limits the ability of passive stockholders to continue to realize benefits from the entity.

The rule changes make the requirement for adding new persons to a farming operation more restrictive. The addition of a person to an existing farming operation can be met through an increase of 20 percent of base acres to the operation; previously the requirement was an increase of 20 percent in cropland.

“Depending on how an operation is set up, in some cases the new rule is better and in some cases producers are limited,” Schweikhardt said.

Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
•E-mail: Salomon.Ramirez@wdc.usda.gov
•Fax: 202-690–2130
•Mail: Salomon Ramirez, Director, Production, Emergencies and Compliance Division, FSA, U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), Stop 0517, Room 4752, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250–0517.
•Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver comments to the above address.
•Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Comments may be inspected at the mail address listed above between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. A copy of this interim rule is available through the FSA home page at www.fsa.usda.gov


Ed Winkle

Friday, March 27, 2009


I went to an auction today. This fellow used to bid all the state mowing projects. If you ever travelled I-71 in Ohio you probably saw him and his crew. They have had Deutz, IH, White, JD, Ford New Holland. Today he sold a nice new fleet of 90-100 HP Ford NH tractors and all the equipment to go with them. There were loaders, bush hogs and a full line of new hay equipment.

The dealer or the banker got a lot of it back. There were too many tractors the same size of the same "off color" brand to bring much money. Ford New Holland is not popular here. If it isn't red or green, it doesn't have as many potential buyers.

The NH90 tractors brought $8000 to $16,000 but again a farmer didn't buy them. The NH-100A tractors went in the high twenties but again I don't think a farmer bought them.


2006 New Holland TL100A dsl. tractor, FWA, cab, 3 remotes, 540 & 1000 PTO, 800 hrs. w/ New Holland 52LC Quick Attach loader; 2005 New Holland TL100 dsl. tractor, FWA, cab, 2 remotes, 540 & 1000 PTO, 1200 hrs. w/ New Holland 52LA Quick Attach loader; 2007 New Holland TL90A dsl. tractor w/ ROPS, FWA, 3 remotes, 540 & 1000 PTO, 1100 hrs.; 2007 New Holland TL90A dsl. tractor W/ ROPS, 2WD, 3 remotes, 540 & 1000 PTO, 1400 hrs.; 2001 New Holland TL90 dsl. tractor w/ ROPS, 2WD, 3 remotes, 540 & 1000 PTO, 3800 hrs.; (All 5 tractors sharp & good w/ original hrs.); 2006 New Holland BR 740 round baler, wide pickup, twine or net wrap w/ monitor; 2006 New Holland #1410 discbine w/ 10 ½’ cut; 2008 Sitrex 3 basket hay tedder w/ hyd. wings; 2006 H&S 18’ V rake; 2006 Bush Hog 2615 Legend Batwing rotary cutter, 15’ w/ 8 airplane tires; 2004 Schulte Series 2X1500 Batwing rotary cutter w/ walking tandems, 15’; New Holland #513 manure spreader, PTO, single beater; bale mover, 3pt.; Following loader attachments sell separate – (84” material bucket; set pallet forks; 2 bale spears; All interchange w/ a Bobcat); OTHER ITEMS

3 TRUCKS (FORD F-450, F-250 & CHEV. 3500) - 2 TRAILERS

2003 Ford F-450 dsl. truck w/ 4WD, alum. flatbed, gooseneck hookup, 6 speed trans.,70,000 miles (bought in 2004); 2004 Ford F-250 pickup truck, Super Duty, ext. cab, Lariat, 4WD, gas 5.4 eng., 93,000 miles; 1997 Chev. 3500 pickup truck, auto., 4WD, 454 eng.,110,000 miles; 2008 Coyote gooseneck flatbed trailer 25’ plus 5’ dovetail, tandem dual wheel, 20,000 lb., elec. over hyd. brakes; 2006 Eby 16’ alum. livestock trailer, bumper hitch w/ divider gate; (Trucks & trailers in good condition.)


250 bales of straw; 8000 watt generator, gas; Lincoln welder; lg. power washer w/ heat, 220; 20 ton press; 2 portable air compressors (1 w/ gas eng. & 1 elec.); engine hoist on wheels; several hand tools- shovels, post hole diggers, etc.; lg. amt. sockets, wrenches, etc; gear pullers; torque wrenches; air tools; assort. filter wrenches; 10 log chains; boomers; several jacks; 200 gal. truck bed fuel tank w/ elec. pump; several hand pumps for fuel; 2 new 18.4x34 radial tires; 15 gas cans (1-6 gal.); PTO shafts; top links; alum. ladders; front wts.; shop lights; creepers; tool boxes; other items; ANTIQUES: dresser w/ mirror; display cabinet; bed head & foot board; sm. chest; buffet; modern oak table w/ 2 leaves & 6 chairs; office desk;

AUCTIONEER’S NOTE: Carl is retiring & therefore dispersing this good line of equipment. Everything is good & ready to work for you! You would have to look really hard to find a better set of tractors & hay equipment. Equipment has been well maintained & serviced. Mark your calendar & be sure to come!

That is what a farm auction advertizement looks like in Ohio. I got talking to Don Andrews, Jake Osborn, Gerald May, Scott Bradshaw and John Hatfield so I didn't get much bidding done! I did get a few tools for the shop before people started recognizing me.

It is hard for me to buy at an auction because I always run into someone from my long and varied past. Former students, farmers, old friends, there is always someone at a local auction I know.

I got home and helped Jason burn a few brush piles since we finally had enough rain I knew they wouldn't set the field on fire. Now if I can get the tile repair areas leveled out I will be ready for planting.

Hope you had a good Friday too.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good Day

I had a good day doing what I enjoy, passing on to other farmers what a few have taught me. I have an extremely knowledgeable network that makes me look smarter than I am.

I drove up to North Central Ohio for lunch with some farmers in that area. The drive up was no picnic as it was pouring rain and almost fogged over. My bad eye doesn't pick up too well in those conditions and it gave me a headache.

The trip was worth it though. I had homemade beef and noodles at the local diner with the rest of the guys.

These farmers have learned the value of calcium to balance soils and the value of wheat in a crop rotation. Most of them plant corn, soybeans and wheat in rotation. That is great for the soil and spreads the farmers work load.

I talked about no-till and cover crops into that rotation. They are naturally set up for the benefit of cover crops since they plant so much wheat and double crop soybeans like I do.

They want to use oats and tillage radishes wherever they can in that rotation. If they give up the double crop beans, I think they can grow most of the plant food the following corn crop will need.

We have to cut costs in the financial situation farms are in right now and this will help address that issue. We need to keep the soil covered and make it give up all that locked up phosphorous and potassium and other nutrients sitting in most soils ready for "harvest."

You could tell they were a savvy bunch by the questions they asked. They got right down to the nitty gritty of which radish to use and how and when to plant it. Thank goodness I have a good network that keeps me informed.

You wouldn't believe how the Internet is helping farmers. We trade a lot of secrets and beneficial ideas. About the time you say "that won't work in my soil" some farmer will speak up and say "that works for me and here is how."

I told them to be sure and buy the tillage radish. These were hand selected for growth and size for cover crops from forage radish. There are so many kinds of radish it is confusing.

I am sure I had no better day than LuAnn. She took Sable to work since I wasn't home so Sable got the royal treatment at Turning Point. She even got her first McDonald's double cheese burger. LuAnn cut it into bites and said Sable politely removed the bun and just ate what was inside.

Another day in the life of two farmers from Martinsville, Ohio. Thanks to the host we even got to eat at Bob Evan's tonight. I have to write and tell you about Bob sometime! Try their new Big Farm Salad, it is really good.

Ed Winkle

Improve Your Planter

At the risk of boring my non-farm friends I have to address my farm friend followers who are trying to no-till or improve what they are doing.

I put this piece on NAT thanks to Daniel Davidson at DTN and contributors.

"Dave Moeller with Moeller Ag Service in Keota, Iowa is very active in checking and rebuilding planters and seed meters and is a dealer for Precision Planting. His advice always starts with the meter.

"Have finger pickup meters inspected and then run on a seed meter using seed of similar size and shape that you will plant. Finger pickup meters need to turn 60 to 65 rpm in the field so adjust your (ground) speed so that you are running in that range," said Moeller. By running the meters on a test stand, Moeller can provide his customers we a recommended speed range for each seed source.

Moeller said to check that double disc openers are within specifications, Discs come new at 15-inch diameter and should be replaced when they wear down to 14.5 inches. He also suggests testing the edge. "Disc edges get dull so check and see if the beveled edge has become rounded," said Moeller. "You can quickly put an edge on discs using a die grinder and mounting the disc's spindle in a vice so that the disc turns as you hold the grinder in a set position."

Lastly growers need to check their double disc opening. Use a business card or old credit card and slide it along the open slot between the two discs through from base of two discs. The opening should be about 2 to 2.5 inches long right below the seed tube. If discs are worn, they will be too wide at the bottom resulting in a ‘w’ bottom and seed will not be placed at the bottom of the furrow.

Moeller said the length of the opening depends on the thickness of the disc. "Newer blades are 3.5 mm thick and the opening slot should range from 1 to 1.5 inches. The thinner 3.0 mm blades carry a length of 1.5 to 2 inches. John Deere still recommends to 2 to 2.5 inch length."

"Keeton Seed Firmers help push the seed to the bottom of the furrow," said Moeller "And they are a must in no-till and when using spader closing wheels."

If you already have a set of Keeton, Moeller suggests testing them with planter down and lifting the tail of Keeton with a hook attached to a fish scale. When the Keeton just clears the surface it should require 1 pound pressure. If your Keetons have lost some of their down pressure, he reminds growers that they can buy the Mojo Wire from Exapta Solutions. "They can add 3 to 5 pounds of down pressure to the seed firmer."

Lastly the enlarged end of the Keetons can ball up, look like a drumstick if the soil is moist and sticky and ride out of the furrow. Moeller suggests trimming down the end of the firmer so that it is about three inches shorter while still having enough firming length.

Tomorrow comes his recommendations on row cleaners, gauge wheels and post planting evaluation.

Another good quote:

"Many do not seem to understand,they have not experienced the thrill of notillers successfully planting in near free water conditions.I agree with them though, planting in Plains dust, RID tires would have little value. When planting 2 inches or deeper (and many do in Kansas and Nebraska) a few seeds could be found off under the sidewall. This is seldom seen at slightly shallower planting depths. Adding RK products POLY WINGS to the RK products seed tube guard mimics the CIH row unit setup.

It is surprising that fans of RK products do not mention this fix. Seeds now get guided 100% to the bottom of the Vee. This simple cheap fix totally address's any seed versus sidewall issues. Taking advantage of the RID tire design as well as other advance's in row unit weight control technologies allows the modern day no-tiller to open the planting window further than ever before. When solid flat depth control tires press down at the same instant as the opening disc wedge the soil open, side wall compaction starts to form. This action has an intended compounding effect. The effect was designed to squeeze air pockets out of dried out cloddy tilled soils of yesteryear and create a true Vee

In wet high clay soils this intended action was a curse for past no-till hopefuls. Modern day attachments and technologies reverse this intended action. Leaving the soil loose and aerated above the seed allows for quick warm-up. Mixed messages add confusion to many would be no-tillers .Experts work with people all over the nation not just in one area. We all need to work to understand why and how different ideas work."

Refer to my past posts on no-till and planting for more information, especially those new to these subjects. I am traveling to Cardington Ohio today to share my ideas with farmers from that area.

These no-till conferences pay great dividends for me. I trust this information update on planter setups is helpful to those of you trying to no-till or improve your planter for no-till.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Shower!

After all the baby showers we have a spring rain shower! Just enough to wet the ground this morning and dampen the garden and activate the fertilizer and chemicals that have been put on this week.

Got the soil tests back from the new farm, little lower than we would have liked to have seen and there is not enough room in the budget to start fixing all the problems in one year. At least I know what to concentrate on now, Calcium, Sulfur, Zinc, Manganese and Boron.

One of the neighbor's has been putting on chicken litter from Mercer County all week. He has his GPS set up and spreading every 40 foot with his new spreader. One ton of chicken litter for $30 plus hauling is pretty much what he needs to raise a 200 bushel corn crop.

He has been working for years to put this all together and it finally has come together for him. I took Sable over to watch and her nose was sniffing those composted chicken feathers. She sure has been sniffing around a lot with the spring weather and dug a few nice holes in the yard chasing moles. She had a brown nose last night from digging in a water line repair so we called her Brown Nose.

Then we went over to see the little girls and she was very well behaved. We took her over to her breeder Sunday and the young couple was happy to see her. So much has changed in Sable's short life she acted almost like she had never lived there. Again, she was very well behaved. It made us both proud of the progress we have made with her. The young man said "It is good to see one finally turned out right!" meaning we have done a good job with her. She is part of the family now for sure.

LuAnn is working with her network to provide a community garden for the displaced workers around Hillsboro and she and Scott pulled the soil sample yesterday. I had her draw a map and showed her where I wanted the samples pulled. Beautiful soil, they should have a good first year garden. I have to send that off and some MolySoyAlive to a client in Indiana this morning before I take mom to the dentist. Yuck, I know neither one of us are looking forward to that.

I put my first post of the spring on Crop Tech Tour for AgOnline. Those people have been good to me so I try and help them out whenever I can. It is another web place for farmers to see what is going on around the country during the crop year. It is going to be another exciting one, no doubt. There is so much uncertainty in the weather, the economy and its effect on agriculture.

Facebook has been busy too. It seems like many of us aggie types are just catching on to it. I use it to get a more personal view of many of my friends and family who use it.

Tomorrow I get to meet with a group of farmers in North Central Ohio. I am not looking forward to the drive up and back but I am looking forward to meeting some new friends and exchanging ideas in farming. Friday is a local farm auction where a local farmer is retiring with almost all new equipment. I am looking forward to getting out of the house while LuAnn writes a grant for one of her clients. You can't distract someone when they are focusing on writing.

Hopefully Saturday and Sunday we can rest a bit. We want to go look for new apple trees, one for each grandchild like Phil and Betty did. Hurricane Ike took down Liam's favorite Jonathon apple tree and it is in the brush pile and firewood stack. I even burned some of it with the dry wood I have.

Everyone has piles of firewood around here. Looks like we are all going back to the basics with gardens and firewood.
Country folks will survive!

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gardening Today!

One of our neighbors came over and tilled our garden yesterday. I never spent the $2000 extra for a tiller when we bought our tractor so we trade other things for tilling.

The soil worked perfect. LuAnn jumped out of her car and ran her hands through the soil. A farmer has to be proud to have a wife like that!

After dinner we started rummaging through our packets of seed to see what we could plant. It's early but when the soil is right and the weather looks cooperative I plant.

I went to the barn and got the Mule and brought over the tools, garden planter and stakes. She rounded up the seed we picked out and we headed for our new favorite spot on this farm.

I planted 4 rows of Vision sweet corn, while LuAnn planted snow peas, snap peas, a few beans, lettuce, spinach and carrots. Her reasoning took over and limited our length of row for later succession plantings.

How did I know the soil was right?

Grab a handful of your garden soil. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet for planting. (Chances are the seeds will rot.) If it crumbles through your fingers, it's ready for planting.

Here's another soil test. Make a ball of soil and drop it. If the ball crumbles, your garden is ready for seeds. If it holds its shape or breaks into two clumps, it's still too wet for planting.

You can also step into the garden and then step back and look at the footprint you've left in the soil. If it's shiny, there's too much water near the soil's surface to dig and plant. If it's dull, then excess water has drained away and it's time to plant.

Old farmers had an even easier guideline: When the weeds start to grow in your garden, it's time to plant your hardy vegetables. The weeds have been coming for two weeks so I knew it was close.

See an annual Outdoor Planting Table(our zip code is 45146) and check the approximate safe planting days for your area.

Planting time is an exciting one for farmers and farmers-at-heart.

Now we can't wait to taste the fruit of planting but there is lots of weeding and watering to do before then!

I have got to find some seed potato tubers and onion sets on my rounds today!

Happy Gardening!

Ed and LuAnn

Monday, March 23, 2009

Special Day @ Deere

I don't have to write a blog today, Loran Steinlage already wrote it for me. His boy popcorn AKA as Rolan is 12 and fighting a cancerous pineoblastoma.

One of their many friends lined up a tour for Rolan and his dad at Waterloo, Iowa today. His story is one of the best I have read!

"Sorry for being late with the update today...

We just got back from our tour of the John Deere Waterloo assembly.

Rolan was getting very excited as we neared asking how far was the next town and then the on after that,and the one after that........It's only 45 miles total and if needed I can get there without towns, yes I know I mean..we took the long way.

We had no idea as to what to expect upon arrival...CA had lined the whole thing up and we just had a phone call confirming our tour,as we left the hospital a few weeks ago. I did gather that CA was behind it from the gal that had called. I knew in a previous conversation with CA I'd told him Rolan's first response when he heard he's elgiable for Make-a-wish was to do a Gold Key tour (we did 1 in 2000 when we bought a new tractor). At the time I told Rolan we'd see what we could do and use his 'wish' on something we'd never be able to help attain.

Upon arrivial this morning we're greeted by several front office workers and heads of departments and they presented numerous special items...Rolans eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger. I don't think we'll wipe that smile off for a good long time.

Once we started our tour several times along the way people stopped and offered Rolan some personal gifts and my hightlight was when a forklift driver stopped and offered Rolan his CreditCard and said to go to the JD Store when we're done and buy anything he wanted(he got a 4020 with loader). That one wrenched big old grumpy dads heart a tad.

The tour went along great till Rolan got a wiff of food...Then the guide said that's your dinner,enroute we met the plant manager and several other department heads. After Dinner Tom had lined up to go see an 8430T roll of the line(the end of the 8000's line is severly restricted right now as they're in transition getting a new paint line operational)

We took some pictures by the track tractor, and then a guy walked over and said Rolan hop in you get to go with for the test ride....I think his smile about popped off his face.

Upon return to the lobby the hospitality kept flowing as Rolan was presented a GOLD KEY of his very own, then if that wasn't enough CA told the story of 4 farmers that had stopped at his farm on their way home from a Gold Key tour of the Sprayer plant in Ankeny...They signed their key and left it for Rolan..

Turns out I've hauled hay to one many a time and another was my Mom's neighbor growing up...I will have to look them up some day to see if they made the connection. All 4 are from the Lawler area.

A big thanks to everyone involved that made this day special for Rolan and next time you see a Deere tractor go think about the fine people that make them, Thank you very much Charlie

For those of you that like to rib about green paint I got the official company line as to why Deere's are Green and yellow (Rolan told the guide it was so they could hide in the weeds)

Green represents the spring cropping season

Yellow represents the fall crops and harvest

And we also heard that if one doesn't start as it rolls of the line........

They send that one to the red paint booth *GRIN*"

Since I can't top this story I had to put it here. Rolan and Loran and Brenda and the girls have been through a lot this winter with much more to go. I don't see how Loran is going to farm with all of this but he has great neighbors and friends. Rolan has been on my prayer list for a long time now it seems, yet it seems like yesterday.

If you have room for Rolan and his family and people like them in your prayers, offer them up, please. We got to meet them in Nevada Iowa after the Farm Progress Show last August and they are great people. We never would have dreamed we would be here doing this today and I know they didn't either. Make-A-Wish and CarePages are special.

You can catch Loran and our friends on NAT but obviously Loran isn't posting much these days. You can read about Rolan on his Care Page.

Ed Winkle

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Blessings to you this morning. Have you been blessed? I sure have!

This morning on the way out of church one of my friends told me she was reading this blog. I was immediately almost embarrased. You think of people in far off lands reading your Internet writings, not your closest friends!

I guess I have written long enough now and told enough people and many of you have told each other that "Ed is writing a blog." Why would he do that?

I like to write. I like to talk sometimes. I thank my teachers for helping me with both. Mrs. Ella Mae Alexander comes to mind first, then all my great teachers from kindergarten through Master's thesis. So many great teachers!

The most powerful one though was dad. He was always so happy, so happy being a farmer and a husband and a dad. He loved livestock and the crops that fed them. It just came naturally to him and has to me. He loved being Grandpa but longed for his youth, I am getting that, too.

Yesterday I went to an auction where the old farmer sold all his machinery and toy tractors and rented out the farm to his neighbor. That is quite a moving time for me as dad would have no part of it and was planning his next crop on his death bed.

LuAnn went to an auction in St. Martin at a house that was built by the first Archbishop of the Diocese that is now Cincinnati. The house is amazing, built in 1854. I would love to see that house and this old house being built. Can you imagine? Bake a brick out of local clay, cure it and lay it brick by brick. Three bricks, even four bricks thick like this house. Amazing!

I decided I couldn't buy any more toys for my collection so I watched the cheaper stuff sell then came home to let Sable out of her crate. I called LuAnn and she said bring Sable over, you have to see this!

Sable is getting comfortable riding in the truck and when I open the door now she is at my footsteps ready to jump in. Big strides for a timid Shepherd a couple of weeks ago!

Sable is an attention getter. Dog people come right up to her and start petting her and asking questions. She sure is an attractive young German Shepherd female. The auction speakers bothered her at first like it does me but LuAnn said don't worry, it is good for her. Sure thing, she drug me all the way to the truck when we left!

I saw Freddie Ring from Sardinia, hadn't seen him since school I think. He was attracted to Sable and we started talking. Small world! He was the cousin of Patty Hansleman, the girl they married me to in the Tom Thumb wedding when I was a little kid. He described it and started naming names I hadn't heard in 30 plus years.

Many of you asked about yesterday's picture from my picture file. Where was that taken? From the driveway of my neighbor's house across 28, the old Chillicothe Pike our farm is on. It gives a neighbor's few of our farm, something neither one of us ever thought we would be seeing every day!

Anderson State Road, the old Anderson Station path just south of us is where the auction was yesterday when those early Catholics settled in St. Martin and built was is now the oldest chapel in the Cincinnati Diocese. I lived on that road for 10 years and all of my children were raised in that house. Next Saturday the church is cleaning all the cemeteries in that area and the one across from my old house is one of the first in the region when white man settled here.

That was part of our Saturday. Hope you had a good one too!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, March 21, 2009



Spring is officially here at 7 something if you are of the precise nature. Just the opposite for all my friends “down under.” Sometimes I think they are really “on top.”

March Madness is one of our favorite things to watch. Our DVR will be filling up fast if we don’t delete as we go.

Wasn’t too many surprises yesterday, probably will be more today. Illinois proved they were the weak number 5 seed many agreed on. Some games were close and pretty good but no really big surprises like past years.

UCLA edged it out and Butler went down like I was afraid they would. I was rooting for the underdog. You just never know when you put unlike or little known teams together.

That is appropriate for work, marriage, even mixing crop chemicals together. You have a hunch what will happen but often you are surprised.

I guess the weather and the economy are the big unknowns to farmers and every day people like you and me today. We can only do so much with either one.

The Democrats are fighting among themselves and El Nino is fighting La Nina and vice versa. Who wins will affect our outcome.

Me, I am just hoping for enough rain this year to raise a crop and try and make a profit against all odds. I hope the economy stays strong enough to bring a decent price before or after harvest. Harvest looks like lows again this fall but who really knows. Too many variables!

Lots of spraying and fertilizing and some tilling happened this week. This was one of the few years you could plant early garden around St. Patrick’s but I didn’t see many doing it. I guess most agree there are plenty of weather changes left before mainstream planting time.

Most of us are trying to do it once and do it right. Just like the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, do your best on the appointed day.

Got to give it to Sienna. They are one scrappy team. I doubt either could beat Louisville but at least we will find out for one of them. That was one crazy, sloppy game where two unlike's were trying to overcome the style of the other the whole game.

My goal is not to be crazy or sloppy today. Time is too short for that.

Ed Winkle

Friday, March 20, 2009

National Agriculture Day

The 36th anniversary of National Agriculture Day was celebrated this week. This celebrated week is sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA). Each year, a key component of National Ag Day is an Essay Contest for 7th- to 12th-grade students across the country.

“This year, the theme ‘Agriculture — Every Day in Every Way,’ was a great way to show how important agriculture is to everyone,” said Linda Tank, vice chair of ACA.

Approximately 400 students entered this year’s contest. The national winner is Kelly Kohler, a 10th grader from Redwood Valley High School, Redwood Falls, Minn. She received a $1,000 prize and a round-trip ticket to Washington, D.C., to be recognized at the National Celebration of Agriculture dinner at the USDA Whitten Building Patio. With permission, the source of this information is provided by the Ag Council of America and CAST (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology), and they have allowed me to share her essay as follows:

A hard-working farmer will be the first person to tell you that agriculture has an essential part in our every day lives. In small-town Minnesota, where a considerable amount of the population has a career in the agricultural industry, this is a widely known and accepted fact. The fields serve as a constant reminder to the inevitable truth that agriculture is a large part of our lives. ??On the contrary, in large cities where the view of the fields is hidden by looming skyscrapers, agriculture is practically a foreign concept. Thousands of people from the metropolitan area eat, touch, drink and wear agriculture and for the most part, the urban population is oblivious to the effect agriculture has on their lives.

“How is the urban dweller to know that, as he or she walks down the street, their life is impacted repeatedly by agriculture? The leather briefcase in hand, the burger for lunch, and even the shirt on their back are all products of the agricultural industry. The leather and beef came from a cow, the fibers in the shirt came from a plant that grew on a farmer’s property.

“I grew up hearing stories of the family farm, the funny and sad ones. My grandma had once said, “When money was scarce, we would buy grain and go without so that our cows could eat.” Then, agriculture was the largest part of my grandmother’s world. The cows were both food and income so they made a large sacrifice to keep the cows nourished and healthy.

“These days, agriculture is so deeply rooted in society that it is taken for granted and often ignored. The products that come from farms and agricultural processors are so commonplace that they are always expected. The food that farmers produce goes to nourish the masses that largely overlook their entire existence. Have you ever gone to a grocery store where there was no food?

“This livelihood is the most important. A world without food, fiber and natural resources is unfathomable. People would walk around naked, cold and despairing. World hunger would spread, reaching the edges of the globe, and we would starve, unaware of the hidden potential that lies underneath our feet, in the soil, oceans and rivers. This world would be chaotic and swiftly deteriorate under the burden of the people’s needs. Even the tough financial times our world is currently facing would seem simple compared to life without agriculture.

“Agriculture is everywhere, even though society seems to have forgotten, it surrounds the countryside, cities and everyone in them. The agricultural industry is one of the most important industries in the world today. A world without agriculture is a world without life.”

Kelly Kohler says so much in a very small space. Don’t take agriculture for granted. Celebrate agriculture and thank your fellow farmers for providing for each of us. It is the foundation our community and as Kelly Kohler said, “A world without agriculture is a world without life.”

The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, National Agri-Marketing Association, Country Living Association, and McCormick Company. For a complete listing of state winners, go to www.agday.org/media/pr9.php.

Happy National Agriculture Week and today is the day, the first day of spring!

Ed Winkle

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No-till Those Soybeans!

The wet 2008 fall put a hold on tillage operations for many farmers, which has given them with time to consider the use of no-tillage system for soybean after corn. Conventional tillage, whether for corn or soybean, generally has shown limited advantage in yield and economic returns.

The exception is a few cases with corn that involve lack of drainage and wet, cold soil conditions. Those problems have been taken care of by innovative farmers who are continuous notill regardless of soil challenges.

As preparations for spring field operations get underway, producers need to stop and think about their tillage system choices. Especially given the costs associated with conventional tillage operations – labor, fuel and equipment just to name few. Primary tillage, such as a chisel plow or deep ripping, often requires 1 to 1.5 gallons of fuel per acre, or more, than a no-till system. A secondary tillage pass through the field with a field cultivator or disk may use 0.5 to 0.7 gallon of fuel per acre.

These additional fuel costs for tillage operations, in addition to other input costs, make no-tillage, a far better choice given the insignificant soybean yield differences across all tillage systems. In addition, demands on farm labor this spring may be greater than normal due to the late 2008 harvest.

Research shows advantages to changing tillage practices so farmers who didn’t complete tillage on corn stalks last fall need to have an important question answered. Are tillage operations really needed for soybean crop following corn? If the response to this question is based on yield improvement – the answer is no.

Research across the country shows NO advantage of tilling cornstalks and never enough yield increase to pay the tillage costs. Factor in advantages to soil improvement characteristics and notill is the clear choice.

70% of farmers have figured this out and will no-till their soybeans in the country this year. Still, 30% plan some kind of tillage and only 24% no-till corn. We have a ways to go with our educational efforts!

The results of the past 6 years ot so show soybean yields are not significantly different for all tillage systems at all locations. In addition, the input cost of conventional tillage system for soybean production is approximately $18 – $25 per acre more than no-till. We find that the increase in soybean yield in most cases for conventional tillage systems does not exceed 1 bushel per acre over no-till. In addition to the economic and yield advantages for soybean production with no-till over conventional tillage, there is also significant environmental benefits associated with no-till in term of improving soil organic matter, soil quality and water quality.

The argument for tilling corn residue to improve organic matter is unsupported by research. Studies have shown that incorporating residue with intensive tillage will do more damage. This practice accelerates the loss of soil organic matter by mineralizing organic matter and altering microbial activities. The benefits to the soil from incorporating residue are far less than the damages caused by degrading the soil's organic matter. There also is a greater potential loss of organic matter associated with conventional tillage due to the risk of soil erosion. In a no-tillage system, residue can decompose slowly and release nutrients more efficiently into the soil system for crop use.

In summary, tilling corn residue for the soybean crop year does not improve soybean yield. There may be some challenges in managing corn residue, but simple modification of the planter to include residue cleaners, heavier down pressure springs, or other residue management attachments are far more cost effective than the expense associated with conventional tillage.

No-till those soybeans and don't forget to plan for inoculation! The benefits are too great not to!

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Some people get caught up in St. Patrick's Day. My wife just left for a meeting in her green outfit. The best green here for me is the green coming outside.

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Many gardeners look at the holidays as a guide for planting. St. Patrick's Day is the traditional time for sowing green peas. Mom always tried to plant potatoes around this time.

Peas are not difficult to grow. The earlier they mature, the sweeter they’ll be. Peas should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. In some areas, you might have to drill holes in the soil to plant peas on St. Patrick's. But not today in Ohio, the soil is about perfect!

You can sow them right under the snow, if necessary, but save some for a later planting as well. Avoid the heat of summer, that makes the worst peas if any at all.

Peas should be quickly steamed or eaten raw. They turn to starch several hours after picking—which is why peas that you buy are often sadly lacking in flavor. We enjoy our peas the way they taste best, right from the shell, and we savor them all season long!

Some people don't like peas though and green is not a favorite color for many. I think we just take it for granted. Green beans are still my favorite and there is nothing prettier than a green crop growing.

Peas are definitely a cool weather crop but cousin soybean won't be planted around here for quite awhile. Not knowing the future weather I wouldn't be afraid to plant some today to see how they fare. Farming is about following the seasons and so far this is an early one in Ohio.

With snow peas, sugar snaps, winter peas and vining green peas there are all kinds to choose from. A stir fry without some peas is missing something!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ed Winkle

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did You Know?

I just caught a link on NAT Cafe that pointed me to a You Tube video called Did You Know?

Take a look at it and post your comments. If you don't want to sign in to Google to post comments you can email me but I would like your take on the video.

I have watched these changes happen over my lifetime and here we are! Some people are shocked at the numbers it reveals but I guess I am not surprised and like one poster said, those might be conservative numbers since they are out of date already.

Who would have thought you would be reading a blog written by Ed Winkle? I didn't even know what a blog was not long ago and I didn't care. Several people helped get me interested and now I am a blogger and a blog reader.

There are lots of experience and good ideas here on the Internet and Did You Know? helps put that in perspective. That is why I asked for your take on the piece.

I haven't looked up the producers on Google yet but I will when I take the time to. Maybe you already have, thus my question. The video makes so much sense I haven't questioned their facts or motives.

Watching our own lives and family change so quickly is good proof to me. We had a great day with the grandkids yesterday but they and their parents have changed so much just in the short time I last saw them! It is easy to see in kids and puppies as they change before your very eyes.

Lots to be done so I better get going. My helpers are pulling soil samples right now while I finish up some grain marketing chores here. One marketer has a sell signal on corn and I am taking action.

Have a great day!

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 15, 2009

El Nino

Farmers have come to know El Nino and La Nina since the 70's when droughts and floods were attached to oscillation extremes.

The question this year is how much will the El Nino cycle we are in die down by planting time?

Dr. Elwynn Taylor is an Alabama farm boy who made climatology and weather his profession. He has become a popular speaker on the farm speaking circuit because of his knowledge of studies and easy, down-home way of explaining it.

He recently spoke to a group of land owners in Illinois where my friend Paul Butler attended. Paul is a good note-taker and his rendition sounds like the one I heard Dr. Taylor give in Ada at the CCTC in February.

"He said La Nina is weakening, but that it could turn around-coin flip. April 15 is a key date. If we can get SOI down under .8 by April 15 we could be looking at a good year, if not then odds of a below trend are more likely. Harder to change patterns if it is not showing it by then.

Taylor is still standing by the 20 year drought cycle. He said if we don’t get a drought in the next 3 years (end of 2012) it would break an 800 year old record.(And I wouldn't be surprised either way!)

He said droughts In Illinois come from the East back. Don’t get concerned about Texas impacting us. Dry in Texas much more meaningful for those West of I-35. He always has some funny comments. Someone asked if droughts ever move from the East back across I-35 or from the West across 35. He said “Definitely yes, usually about 100 yards”. He went on to explain that is why there are so many large cities built on that line.

Dr. Taylor had an interesting segment I had never heard. That farmers make money on Variations-not on increased yield or prices. When yields or prices go up so does land cost and inputs. When the farmer makes money is when things spike quickly-such as having grain left to sell when the drought hits. Selling more ahead of good conditions before the inevitable drop in prices.

He did say there is an 80% correlation between Arkansas spring weather in March and Illinois weather in April. In other words if they have a dry spring there is better than coin flip chance we will as well. They have been dry so far but got hammered last 2 days."

It is awfully dry here, I could plant today but the calendar says NO. I have planted in March and one of the best crops was corn and sweet corn planted March 28 on in 1999. I hope it is not that kind of year. That is among the worst soybeans I ever raised when Monsanto got me to try a bunch of new RR genetics. They didn't like the drought and made 20-25 bushels.

I just heard a brush fire truck go out again, I have seen several the past month. It is that dry here. The residue is tinder dry. One errant cigarette and watch out! The whole country side will be on fire in minutes.

There has been a lot of barn fires and some vacant house fires, too. Not many but more than usual.

I don't know how this year will turn out but I just pray for God's Will and do my best with what I have.

I am sure someone in Illinois or Iowa will wish for a bit of the rain they got last year for this year. I hope it isn't us, it was dry enough here but the crops turned out pretty well considering the limited rainfall.

Farmers don't like it when it takes a catastrophe to raise market prices but it often does. That looks like one of the few price hopes for this year.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Fling

LuAnn and I had our little Spring Fling this week. We headed south last weekend when it was warm and getting warmer the farther south we went.

We saw trees still down in Kentucky from the record ice storm. We have had several "doozies" the past few years but not as bad as that. The one 30 miles south of here a couple of years ago was as bad but more isolated than this one. There is still plenty of trees down from the wind and ice and lots of stumps and logs cut up still lying there.

Kentucky was nice but Tennessee was beautiful. The spring trees are all out and we soon felt it with spring allergies. I think my spring allergies are worse than my fall allergies now and I have been affected by both all my life. Grain dust is the worst though, I really have to watch that. Hard to do when you love farming!

We shopped and walked and walked and realized how out of shape we became this winter. Couch potato symdrom took its toll this cold winter. Of course we are both a year older so you seem to feel the effects of aging a little more each year.

The Biltmore farm was ready to go to full bloom and everything looked so nice. No wonder so many from here and farther north retire in Tennessee or North Carolina or Virginia.

We drove the Bluegrass Parkway from the Smokies to Asheville and it was a beautiful day. Lots of hikers have left Georgia and heading north up the Appalachian Trail.

The trip was the break we needed. We should have taken a week but there is so much scheduled here. I am still dealing with paperwork involving this years crops. LuAnn's job changes almost daily.

I thought I might blog on the road but her laptop keyboard isn't familiar like this one. The letters are wearing off this one, good thing Miss Winkle covered our high school typewriters with tape and made us memorize the keys. I thought the class would help me through college but I never dreamed we would all use the keyboard so much later in life.

Two years ago I didn't know what a blog was and didn't care. Over that two years it has exploded and now people like me are writing when you might not expect them too.

I wonder how long Google keeps these pages up? I need to print what I have written and assemble a notebook like I have for religion class. Several of you mentioned I should write a book and I say I already am writing one page by page and story by story.

I need to force myself to learn more of the functions of this blog. I know it is a beginner's blog anyone should be able to use but you would be surprised the amount of people who are afraid to start, thinking they will make some mistake they can't fix or say something they will regret later.

Sharing your thoughts with the world sure makes you think before you hit the Publish Post key. Fortunately I haven't written a thing I am ashamed of because it all happened. Funny how the memory makes the good things better and maybe some of the bad things worse.

So we had plenty of time to talk about us, our family, our friends, the world and our ever growing prayer list. About the time I start feeling a little down I run into someone who has it much worse and I become more thankful for what I have.

This life is really about helping each other and we are being forced to work together more with this economy we have all gotten ourselves into. I guess I understand why my family was so conservative and just thankful for what they have or had.


Friday, March 13, 2009

More T-22

I am getting lots of questions on T-22 again. It is a funny thing to me, it has been out over 10 years and I got so tired of talking about it I kind of quit doing it. That is, until I send out emails like I recently sent out with the above picture.

T-22 is trademarked and patented and stands for Dr. Gary Harmon's 22nd attempt of trying to cross a beneficial soil fungi from the south with one from the north. Number 22 hit and the rest is history.

You can read about it on the Internet and an earlier blog I wrote. The bottom line is it works so well for me I use it on everything I plant or transplant from trees to turnips, from corn to cabbage, from soybeans to spinach. It has that much of a positive effect on the plant season long.

Sometimes these biological effects have a synergistic effect with another product, in this case Gaucho XT from Bayer Plant Sciences, one of the best seed treatments available. We really don't know why because the effect is so complex. Dr. Harmon could probably figure it out and explain it but as a farmer I use it and as a consultant I recommend it. It is another great tool in my toolbox of treatments that sometimes make the difference in crop and no crop.

I am anxious to spend that two dollars an acre all over my farms and gardens. That will happen very soon. I just got a soil test back for a farmer that needs N, P, K, Ca, S, B, Zn, and Mn. That figures up to about $150 per acre at today's prices.

My attention to detail makes my $2 investment stand out compared to others. I remember the kids watching A Team which wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the Dukes of Hazard for me. I did like the part where George Peppard puffed on a big ole cigar and exlaimed "I love it when a plan comes together."

That sums it up!

Ed Winkle

Thursday, March 12, 2009

50 Cent Breakfast

Many local Farm Bureau groups are hosting a 50 cent breakfast this time of the year.

Clinton County Farm Bureau will be having their's next week. This is to show what a good breakfast really costs in many parts of America.

You can crack an egg and enjoy it with a piece of toast for pennies on the dollar. That may be all you get with some "free breakfasts" while staying at a motel. More likely you will get a pastry and coffee or maybe a bowl of cereal and some milk.

Neither is anything like you will find in the picture of Nancy's famous breakfasts at her Aleksander House Inn in old downtown Louisville, Ky. I have introduced several of my friends to her cooking and southern hospitality over the last ten years.

The "50 cent breakfast" was started by farmers to show their neighbors how inexpensive food really is in our country and I am sure many other countries. Farm Bureau has the most members of any farm organization so it was a natural for them to latch on to the idea.

These events usually fall before Tax Day when you earn enough money to pay your taxes or when you earn enough money to pay your yearly food bill starting with January 1 and no other expenses figured.

That happens to come sometime before the Spring Equinox on March 21 when we also recognize National Agriculture Week and salute our great agricultural industry. I have been involved in all of these activites sometime over my lifetime to help show how good we have it even when things seem not so good.

I am being too scientific here, you could have them any time of the year but spring works well before farmers hit the fields and neighbors start enjoying the warmer weather their way.

Take the time to attend your county ag breakfast or "50 cent breakfast" as it is known here. It is a good time to talk to your neighbors and remember how good we still have it.

We really have it good in this country even considering all of our self inflicted woes and problems. Food is so cheap and plentiful that obesity is larger problem than starvation but we do have both.

"Moderation in everything" and breakfast is a key way to modify your diet. Every health survey I see asks if you eat breakfast regularly or not. I found out "if not", you are eating too much before bedtime.

I can't wait to challenge my moderation Wednesday and it will be difficult just like Nancy's breakfast!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HyMark Consulting

Several of you have asked what HyMark Consulting is and does. That is the business my boys and I started in 1993 when they started high school and I went back to high school teaching.

When I left Extension my phone rang off the hook. All my farmers wanted to "talk to the county agent." After awhile that got old and I told them I wasn't the County Agent anymore.

The boys needed a Supervised Agricultural Experience for their FFA Projects so it was a natural fit. I would teach them what I knew while we provided services to farmers.

It started out as seed. If the farmer bought seed from the boys we would scout their fields and tell them how to improve their crop. This led into soil testing service, then tissue testing services, then it all got out of hand! We were on the verge of going full time very quickly but I only need a few years to get my retirement so I stuck to teaching agriculture and we worked after school, weekends and summers with HyMark Consulting.

Matt and I always seemed to be saying Hi Mark when we picked up his brother, my second son so the name just stuck. We chose HyMark from highmark or himark or even hymark. I always said we set high marks for farmers like hybrid corn did for open pollinated corn.

Hybrid corn nearly doubled grain production and we always tried to increase our client's production and profits. A good consultant should strive to increase the client's profits and so we did and still do.

Then the USDA Strain of bradyrhizobia inoculum was introduced and we had a whole new business of explaining and marketing soybean inoculant. At the same time, we modified our planter with the Martin System and were asked to explain it around the country.

When I married LuAnn, HyMark took on new meaning and new business. She learned to write grants for the Soil and Water District she worked for and became very successful at it. We added that to our business and she was able to do that full time while we traveled around the country. We made a very good living.

But we both wanted a larger farm to enjoy and our kids and grandkids could come to. That meant debt and change of lifestyle we still enjoy. Then our farm expanded like our consulting business did and now we find ourselves busy balancing all the balls in the air at one time!

They say you get busier when you retire and somehow we have managed to do just that. I won't be able to do all of this forever but for now it is working well and what we choose and want to do.

So if you ever need help in anything related to agriculture, think of us! If we don't have your answer, I am sure we know someone who does. We have a great network and between us, we have decades of knowledge and experience.

Ed and LuAnn Winkle
HyMark Consulting LLC
3308 Martinsville Road
Martinsville, Ohio 45146