Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Boy Who Changed The World

Today's blog is dedicated to a boy who changed the world. Our good friend Randy passed away after an operation Thursday. The family friends and neighbors are shocked, saddened and traumatized.
Randy was one of those really good people who helped anyone and everyone. LuAnn got to know him in her work at Turning Point and we boarded Sable with him and Shana.
He taught Sable a lot and Randy she almost heels when you put her on the leash now and does better after you get some of her powerful German Shepherd energy out. Randy used the German word kanoie to make her heal by our side. I had never heard that word and will never forget it or Randy.
The visitation was happy and sad. Happy because of all the good work he did and sad because we wanted him around awhile longer, a whole lot longer.
I stopped at a local quick stop where the sign read Randy Reffitt was everyone's friend. He sure was that and more to us and Sable. When I paid at the counter I made a comment about the sign and the young man told me about his underage drinking escapade where Randy brought him home for his family to deal with him instead of going through the courts. He was that kind of guy and the young man wasn't ashamed to tell his story.
I felt bad for his older children, they just looked lost. No words could console them. Shana asked LuAnn if Sable could still come visit and she looked at Shana and said you can have her to keep. LuAnn was serious. Anything we could do to make that young wife's transition without her husband would be worth it. No words can console like an action of love.
I don't know how she will do it or how any of you go on without that special someone in your life. I saw my friend who lost his dad last week and he is still hurting and lost and breaks to tears just talking about his dad.
Randy changed the world one person and one good deed at a time. He wasn't the famous Norman Borlaug who is credited for saving billions of lives with his genetic findings. If you can help just one person, it is worth it. I would like to think he was just like you and I.
Randy changed the world one person at a time and so can you and I. This blog is for LuAnn's online friend Turkey Feather and all of the unknown readers out there I don't know and haven't met. I get healing and a good feeling sharing what I know and what I am thinking so here's to all of you today.
Go out and help someone this week and when they thank you just say this was for Randy.
May you rest in peace,
Ed Winkle

Monday, August 30, 2010


I guess I am a moron in many ways and I like it that way. I got a new email that compares WalMart to morons until you get to the bottom. At least I am not a corrupt moron!

There are some very interesting comparisons but I would rather be a moron. I detest everything about WalMart. The way they do business, the way they ruined many, many, many successful businesses who were not corrupt and not run by morons.

Can you imagine living like WalMart does business? It is their way or the highway although that trip is short until you come upon another WalMart. It's like they have mastered the socialist scheme being shoved down our throats but the books look great!

The best part of New Zealand was no big box stores to speak of. Mom and pop stores and cafes flourish. What a beautiful way of life and their answer to almost every problem was "no worries." They live a very serene, peaceful existence if we gauged them right.

They suspect corruption at every turn and think they have crime. It was more like when I was a child in the 50's and boy do I long for that way of living. We had it made and gave it away to people who want to put everything in a box.

So I am passing this on and passing it back with a twist.

Do you really want to live the WalMart way?


Wal-Mart vs. The Morons

Wal-Mart vs. The Morons
1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world's largest private employer, and most speak English.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only fifteen years.
8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought bankruptcy.
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had five years ago.
11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores.
(Earth's population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)
12. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.

You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy. This should be read and understood by all Americans Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!!

To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature, It is now official you are ALL corrupt morons:

a.. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.
b.. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
c.. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.
d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.
e.. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.
f.. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.
g.. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.

You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars. AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ??

Folks, keep this circulating. It is very well stated. Maybe it will end up in the e-mails of some of our "duly elected' (they never read anything) and their staff will clue them in on how Americans feel.

See what happens when you forward me email?


Sunday, August 29, 2010


We finally got together to celebrate our summer birthdays yesterday. We had a "grand ole time" to be sure and the grandkids played so hard we rarely saw them except for the one year olds.

In our conversations, one of group made a statement about the quality of water coming off waterways. It made me think just how safe is the water coming off our, particularly my waterways.

Here is what I thought when I woke up this morning:

You got my curiousity up yesterday when you mentioned your thought of water quality of water coming off waterways.

Most of my farms have a waterway which was designed to slow down water off a slope in a grass designed waterway to keep soil and water on the farm. As I told you, the water coming out of ours and all I have seen is clear, much clearer than the tributary that it ends up in.

My pesticide and fertilizer use is as low as I can get it to do the job because it is too expensive to waste. It cost about $150 per acre to fertilize my corn this year, $100 for my wheat and almost as much for my soybeans.

My chemical bill was about $30 per acre depending on the crop but a pretty good average this year. To maximize profit I have to keep it low but high enough for the products to do there job and to get a return on my investment. I could have easily spent more but I scout all year and only apply what I need at that time.

I have seen water quality tests of water coming off waterwasy and never saw anything that alarmed me, usually parts per million.

Soil erosion is the biggest culprit as it decreases soil quality quickly and clay and silt carry off chemicals with it so it couldn't do it's job.

You ask a good question and I will ask my soil and water and NRCS people what they know about water quality from waterways the next time I talk to them.

I see your alarm from these links. A few are really left wing attacking agriculture as industrial when it is really locally owned. I would not consider farms as industrial but I am sure there are cases where they act like the villanous industries we hear and read about.

The waterways are expensive to put in and maintain. We can't even mow them in Clinton County until July 20 to protect tiny wildlife most of us never notice.

The culvert in the picture is the one at the bottom of the hill on SR 28. It carries the water that soaked in off our farm to the Little East Fork about a half mile away or so. It was broken so I called ODOT and they helped me repair it so it would work properly. I have repaired all my field tile so they get water to that culvert after it has soaked into the ground.

You ask a good question and I propose some answers but I think the water coming off local farm waterways are pretty clear and safe compared to the tributaries that catch all the waterways in that watershed.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bats to cell phones

I was on the patio last night waiting for the International Space Station to orbit around our part of the earth. About that time the bats came out, all 17 of them. They are huge! We don't have bats in our belfrey but we do have them behind the chimney!

I did the unthinkable this week. I accidentally ran my cell phone through the washing machine, tucked away in my jeans pocket. I haven't done that in years. LuAnn asked what that thud was in the dryer and yep it was my cell phone!

Oh no! Panic! All my contacts are on there and I will soon need all those truck driver's phone numbers! Thank God we took out insurance the last time I pulled this trick and I had the same phone back thanks to Assurion of Smyrna, Tennessee the next day. The old phone worked well enough to transfer the contacts to the new one. Whew!

It cost me $50 deductible and it costs another $25 if you don't mail the old phone back in the paid mailer. I did that yesterday. This phone holds a charge even longer than the old phone and that phone held a charge better than any I have owned. The old battery must have been going south. The phone is the Motorola Contractor's Grade and has been pretty indestructible for me.

It has been dropped at 30 MPH, ran over, rained on and still worked. But the washing machine took care of the screen. The phone still worked and it answered! The new washing machine uses lots less water so that was part of it, but still...

Cell phones in schools are in the news, guess they have to have something to write about. All of our kids got through school without a cell phone and they turned out just fine.

Imagine that!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Pretty Day

It is a pretty day for a walk in the woods or whatever you are doing. It's a great day to work outside and too nice to be inside. Most of my work is inside because I have been neglecting it.

I read Mike Bumpus' blog about his pile of office work and it reminded me of me and a lot of farmers I know. The worst part of farming is paperwork.

NRCS called and I had to go to the county seat and sign yet another form. I can see why farmers don't want the government involved in farming. It is just too tedious. It seems we create more jobs than fix problems we have. The beauracracy in this country is deep and huge.

Right now the biggest fix in agriculture around here would be a good rain. We haven't had one in weeks. It would be the million dollar rain and no doubt a multi million dollar rain. We don't need higher prices right now, we need more crop to sell at the levels we have.

Our corn crop is made and it is what it is but the beans have plenty of room to fill. Farmers normally plant 110 corn here and plant it first and most of the beans take 130-140 days to fill and usually planter last or at least a little later so a good rain would really increase their yield.

A pretty day like today wouldn't be ruined with a good rain. It might for you but not for those who produce your food.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


It is good to see former students. It is even better to see them do well. I have seen many of them in my recent participation in field days and meetings related to agriculture.

Teaching was a very trying but rewarding career for me. I had 40 students achieve the State FFA Degree during my 16 year tenure at Blanchester. Some went on to receive the coveted American Farmer Degree which was only presented to one per thousand FFA members at that time.

All three of my children earned them too and I know it has helped them in later years. Most of the 40 students who received the State Degree became the farmers and businessmen who still contribute greatly to Blanchester and wherever life took them.

One is veterinarian in upstate New York, I found another on FaceBook and he lives in Nevada. He calls his ranch Ronocco Valley, which his last name spelled backwards. I think Frank is lifetime military man but I may be confusing him with his brother Marty.

It is hard to keep track of your students. Especially when you teach ag and they are scattered around a laboratory or shop, let alone graduated and all of the country and maybe the world.

I was lucky to have taught at the time I did. School rules have really increased thanks to litigation. I barely made it through without big problems when I did teach and I would be very leery of problems today. My oldest boy and today's teachers don't seem to be bothered by it all but it is always in the back of your mind.

It is difficult being a student but even moreso being a teacher.

My hat is off today for all teachers and students.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tunnel Vision

I think everyone is suffering from tunnel vision. They can't see in front of the nose.

I was at a field day today and a lady landowner heard the words Sudden Death Syndrome and assumed her tenants soybeans were all dead.

Another speaker talked about the company's non GMO varieties and he said they weren't offering any because there wasn't any market for them! I ruined his day when I said Pioneer said they were providing non GMO soybeans for the 2 million acre market out there. Still, that is a small part of the acreage in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan production which produces much of the non GMO soybean acreage for Japan and Korea.

There is so much information out there that there is quickly misinformation and misunderstanding. Staying abreast of all of this in just one crop or one market or one business is a full time job.

It is difficult not to have tunnel vision. You have to focus on any one job so much it is hard to see what is going on around you. Just driving safely down the road requires all of your attention. No wonder texting or talking while driving causes so many accidents. There has been a rash of them here again in the past week.

It is obvious to me many people have tunnel vision about our world. They only seem to know what they hear or perhaps read. I think it is just too much to comprehend. I am trying to not be overly focused on any one thing and do a lot of things well.

I read a good article on how Monsanto's tunnel vision has cost them market share back to Pioneer, owned by DuPont. They charge so much for their seed traits, farmers have went to less expensive sources that do as well for them.

Their stock has dropped in half the past two years where other stocks have stabalized and increased. Proctor and Gamble has had similar problems as other brands figured out how to get back market share.

These past few years it has been challenging for everyone, from the family to the corporate board room. Someone has to have vision and not head the group into that tunnel. It might seem safe in a storm but that quickly changes when you pass through after the storm is over.

The grass is greener on the other side and there are more ways than that tunnel to get there.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


It is time to go back to school. It doesn't matter if you are a farmer or a preschooler, school is in.

Will sent us this picture of Liam going to his first day of preschool. Only five years ago we were preparing to go to North Carolina for his birth. Will was a Marine at Camp LeJeune and Becky was expecting Liam.

Here he is, five years later, going to school. Madison is in the second grade and Brynn will soon start her preschool. Our little family is going to school.

School was mostly good to me. I was good to school. It wasn't always good to me. As you know from reading my blog I love to learn. I learn every day. When they bury me, my learning here on earth will have ended but my learning of the hereafter will have just started.

I liked school and meeting new people. Some were nice to me and others weren't. Isn't that a great reflection of this life we are all living?

My favorite subject was always science and how things work. The history of how we got to this point fits right in so now I am a history buff too, in a small way.

I love to travel so I like geography. You have to have English in this country to communicate so why not do it right? English is really bashed these days with texting and acronyms. I didn't like English class but it taught me alot, not to use alot for example, but I can communicate now with about any group of people I want to.

An exception for me is foreign language, I don't do well in that subject. I had two years of French in High School but learned more about that and other languages when I travelled.

It is time for school to start again in Ohio and across the states. But school never starts and it never ends, you learn each day.

The classroom setting is starting back and that is what this blog is about.

Learn much, you students! Teach well, teachers!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Corns

We sampled a corn field this morning. What do you think is the difference between the two sets of ears? Hybrid? Tillage vs no-till? Fertilizer rates?

None of the above, it all came from the same field! This is the same hybrid dropped at 36,000 seeds per acre at the end of April. It had the same fertilizer, same everything but you can divide the field in half. Good corn and not so good corn.

Actually it isn't half like drawing a line. The plants on the left represent the better plants in the row and the ones on the right represent the lesser plants in the row. I think the variation is due to weather and moisture and heat differences in the row from the day it was planted.

The funny thing is it also reflects two different scouts doing the work. LuAnn took the south end of the field, I took the north end. She pulled very uniform stalks and ears. I picked random samples, leaning toward the worst corn because I do so much troubleshooting in fields. My eye just goes to troubled stalks.

The ears on the left are 16 rows around by 45 kernals long. The shortest ear on the right is 18 by 20. The average stand is 33,000 plants approximately though there are 19 ears in the picture from our samples.

I counted about 30 ears wherever I took samples so 19 ears is about 2/3 of one thousanth of an acre. I weighed the bucket of ears we got and it weighed about 10 lbs. One third more would be nearly 14 pounds of ears and there is 70 lbs of ear corn in a bushel, 56 lbs shelled. 200 bushel corn per acre would require 1400 lbs of ear corn. That field should be very close to 200 bushel although you can see the combine is going to miss some corn on the little cobs and broken down stalks on that one broke over stalk.

The stalks are pretty consistent as showed on the left but you see a tiny one on the right, one with stalk borer, and one ear with wildlife damage. The damage from racoon and deer is probably 5% or greater in my estimation. There are patches down the size of a pickup truck.

The biggest thing I noticed is the lack of kernal weight. The corn is on the light and fluffy side due to the extreme heat this summer. I hope that doesn't hurt test weight and yield too much. It did take yield.

The hybrid performed well and I am overall pleased with it. It will be very interesting to compare to the other hybrids on that farm and the one right up the road planted within days of each other. The stand is good, the fertilizer was efficient, the pest problems were moderate and the leaves are fairly clean. But the proof is in the pudding and we won't know the end of the tale until harvest.

Then we will know the end of the Two Corns story this year and wonder what would happen IF and what might happen next year.


Black Layer

This corn has now reached "black layer." In this picture a few weeks ago which seems like a few days ago, it hadn't.

"When agronomists talk about black layer in corn what does it mean? Black layer refers to the point in time when dry matter accumulation in the kernel ceases. It is also occurs when the milk line has receded all the way to the base of the kernel. At this moment the kernel no longer get any heavier or bigger regardless of the weather.

In corn, black layer signifies physiological maturity. Physiological maturity occurs with the formation of a physical black layer located at the base of a kernel. Black layer normally occurs about 60 days after silking or 20 days after denting begins.

A dark abscission layer forms when the hard starch layer reaches the kernel base. This abscission layer cuts off water and dry matter movement into the kernel. Kernels will have a moisture content of about 30 to 35 percent at this stage. From that point on corn will dry down a half a point a day to acceptable harvest moisture. So if grain is at 30 to 32 % at black layer it requires another 30 days to drop to 15.5 percent.

The black layer can be seen by shelling kernels and scraping away the seed coat to expose the black abscission layer. The black layer formation occurs progressively from kernels at the tip of the ear to the base.When agronomists talk about black layer in corn what does it mean? Black layer refers to the point in time when dry matter accumulation in the kernel ceases. It is also occurs when the milk line has receded all the way to the base of the kernel. At this moment the kernel no longer get any heavier or bigger regardless of the weather.

In corn, black layer signifies physiological maturity. Physiological maturity occurs with the formation of a physical black layer located at the base of a kernel. Black layer normally occurs about 60 days after silking or 20 days after denting begins. A dark abscission layer forms when the hard starch layer reaches the kernel base. This abscission layer cuts off water and dry matter movement into the kernel. Kernels will have a moisture content of about 30 to 35 percent at this stage.

From that point on corn will dry down a half a point a day to acceptable harvest moisture. So if grain is at 30 to 32 % at black layer it requires another 30 days to drop to 15.5 percent The black layer can be seen by shelling kernels and scraping away the seed coat to expose the black abscission layer. The black layer formation occurs progressively from kernels at the tip of the ear to the base.' (Daniel Davidson, DTN)

You can see why this is so important for sileage corn or anyone who irrigates corn. If you are chopping sileage, the plant is going to die after black layer and the kernal starts drying down. If you are irrigating corn, all you are going to do is keep the plant green but not change the grain yield.

My corn is physilogically mature so it has begun dry down. My yield is there, what moisture do I want to harvest it? I could start shelling my corn and mechanically drying but I and most farmers will let Mother Nature dry it down for me and save the cost. My grain is still probably over 26% moisture and the market pays for 15%, not the water above that amount.

Corn shells well at 20-21% moisture or lower without much mechanical damage to the grain so we have a few weeks yet. Still some farmers are shelling from the south all the way up into Illinois. Steve Terpstra at Mark Seed sent me two results from Illinois yesterday, one was 130-140 but and the other lucky fellow reported 207 bu dry on a field of 107 day corn.

I don't know who came up with the term black layer but I have heard it and the term milk line in corn all my life. It sounds strange to anyone who doesn't deal with corn.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pioneer Field Day Friday

Here is what the local paper had to say about the Pioneer Plot I attended Friday. There are two good plots in the area, this one 7 miles north of me and the CPS variety plot 5 miles west of me. Both are excellent learning plots to help understand how different genetics took the unusual growing conditions in southwest Ohio this year.

I will invite my clients, neighbors and friends to view both plots. There is much we can talk about in figuring out what went right this year and what we might do next year to get a good crop and improve profits. I apologize for the column format I copy and pasted from the Wilmington News Journal online edition:

Freshman agriculture students
at Wilmington College
can expect a cornfield to be
their classroom when the fall
semester starts Monday, Aug.

More than 300 farmers and
others in agribusiness converged
at the College Farm
on Friday, Aug. 20, for
an agronomy field day hosted
at Wilmington College by
Pioneer with a focus
on research and advances
in growing corn and soybeans.
Pioneer and the College’s
Agriculture Department each
planted research plots on site
in which new varieties were
introduced, as well as findings
on such related areas as nitrogen
rates, plants per acre and
proximity of plants and rows.

“We’re in the business of
education and we saw this
(partnership with Pioneer) as a
great teaching tool,” said
Monte Anderson, professor of
agriculture. “It’s going to be a
great freshman lab next week.”

Pioneer agronomist Jonah
Johnson, a 2004 WC graduate,
said advances are being made
that can increase the yield and
quality of corn and soybeans
— and this event was designed
to get the word out by actually
showing farmers how the
plants are affected under a
variety of conditions.

Information sessions on
various topics were held both
in the fields and under several
tents located throughout the plots.

More on SDS

This SDS thing is getting huge. I am getting a lot of email and requests for information. I sent this and other pictures of my infected field to NoTill Farmer last night as they are doing another article on it. I imagine every farm publication is right now.

I set myself up for the worst case I ever had by notilling the seed in a high yield environment right before one of the wettest May's on record here. It basically rained the whole month.

X. B. Yang at Iowa State predicted this midwest fiasco in a March press release.

"When spring is cold and wet, soybean growers need to be concerned with SDS and seedling diseases like Pythium and Fusarium seed rot, cautions Yang. “While we don’t yet know what the temperatures will be like this spring, we do know that soils are definitely going to be wet,” he says. “So, it’s quite possible that SDS will again be a problem in Iowa and surrounding states.”

That is exactly what happened and he hit the nail on the head with this article. It is obvious to me I have a variety with little or no tolerance to Sudden Death Syndrome and created the ideal environment for the disease.

I did use the best seed treatment I could find and it helped the beans pop out of the ground although it was cool and wet all May. Add the compaction from heavy machinery and many soybean crops I have grown there in seven years and here I am with SDS.

It canopied earlier than any crop I ever raised and started flowering near the summer solstice which is rare around here. I had potential for 100 bu per acre but l am looking at much less than that now.

The sick, infected plants can't fill the pods with beans as it should. The good thing is the crop is 4 months old and dying naturally, it is just getting a little too much help from SDS. It takes 140 days for a group 4 bean to mature and we are at 120 days since emergence.

This might have been the year for a variety trial like I had in 2006 in this field. Septoria brown spot and frogeye leaf spot were the major diseases that wet, cool summer.

The field will still make twice the beans of most of my other fields so all is not lost. When you shoot for high yields in a high yield environment, you get challenges like this one.

The whole state of Iowa must be high yield goals in a high yield environment!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Field Days and Plots

There are plenty of field days and plots for farmers to attend now, it is the time of the year.

I attended the local Pioneer Field Day today to get a feel for what they are up to and I saw some really good plots.

Pioneer used to be number one in farmer seed but they let it slip to Monsanto with new innovation. Almost every farmer has planted RR seed and that is their trademark, their hallmark.

Today they had three sessions in my locality at Wilmington College. One speaker talked about non GMO seed and movement, one about soybean production and one about corn genetics. I am pretty critical but they were all good in my estimation.

The PhD in soybean grain movement told us there are 1.5 to two million acres of non GMO soybeans sold each year mostly to Japan or Korea. He talked about the shrouded taste test and how 93B82 was still their favorite in taste but US farmers are losing interest in the variety since it is 14 years old. It can't compete yield wise.

I felt for the soybean production speaker. He was from Illinois and had no idea about southwest Ohio conditions and had to try and tell us how to increase our soybean yields. Of course, he couldn't do it. He did show us that soybean yields have increased 1.25 bu per year in the last 25 years, a paltry total compared to corn yields. I don't have the number but corn has probably increased at least 4 times that amount in 25 years?

The big news is SDS in soybeans or the lack of it. Most of the midwest has it.

We need to find out why and the search is on, right now.


Thursday, August 19, 2010


Yesterday we needed enough food to feed 10 or more people. So we needed to "go Krogering," our new store is right down the road, just a few miles west of us near where we used to live in Blanchester.

Now we didn't need preserves like our good friends produce in Greene County, shown in the picture at the Greene County Fair.

We needed fresh food, fast. We depend on our local Kroger store to provide that again and again and they do give us fresh food, fast. Not as fast as McDonalds but a better selection of food we can serve to our friends and family and ourselves.

I spent $33 to cover our quick menu of fresh salad, fruit, pizza and even a sweet dessert. Not too bad for 10 plus people, right?

I am a receipt studyer so I quickly looked at it when I got home. They got me again. The 69 cent lettuce was billed at normal price, so were the cucumbers and a couple of other items. I know I need to check it at checkout but who has time to check it then? It is a mad rush to get through any checkout, even when slow and leisurely which never seems to happen.

The center of the fruit bowl was full of green and orange melon, low priced items they make a profit on for usual $10 plus fruit bowl. We have bought one per week for a long time. It was better than last week, someone had shoved off over ripe green melon in the fruit bowl LuAnn wouldn't eat. I don't blame her, it was soft and mushy.

Earlier this summer I bought two boxes of cereal with a blue dot on them so I could get a gallon of milk with it for "free." There is no free anything as we all know and they charged me for the milk. I never knew it until I got home and checked my receipt.

The soft melon is one thing but the item not matching the price at the pickup area is a real problem at Kroger's and across the country. Fast moving items change price so quickly they claim they can't keep the computer updated quick enough. So we get gouged a little, one item at a time.

One gas station had gas for $2.79 on the sign by the street but I go to fill up and and the pump says $2.89. Who has time to squabble with the cashier who probably doesn't even know it is going on?

So I am writing a letter to Kroger and mailing it with the discrepancies on it and mailing it to the manager at the local store. I know they will make it right, they always do. But I shouldn't have to.

Some farmer quoted the attack on corn sweeteners by Hunt and many other companies at his local WalMart Grocery at the sweetener talk at Southwest Corn Growers yesterday. I don't know why anyone would shop there if they knew the whole story but that is their choice.

We don't shop WalMart.

This is all of waste of time because my money is in my $500 per acre crops and the cost to produce them. A ten cent difference there amounts to thousands of dollars. I need to stay on my buyers and suppliers and believe me I try. That is where real money is lost or made.

The same principle applies to all of us every time we shop.

Are you a smart shopper?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I had a sweet surprise today like I had at the county fairs this summer. Fruit sugar is a hottopic, like the corn fructose I raise and all the many vegetable growers who produce crops which contain fructose.

Corn syrup got a bad name when the media took data from the sources which use fructose in raw form and produced bad results with it. None of us eat raw fructose, though we might be tempted to.

Lab rats were given lethal doses of pure fructose, nature's natural sugar and of course they died! Too much water will kill you, you know? Anyhow this got in the mainstream news as lefties portrayed corn sugar as part of the evil empire of agribusiness.

Myth: High fructose corn syrup is metabolized differently. It blocks the ability of the body to know when it is full.

"Reality: A study published in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) by Pablo Monsivais, et al., at the University of Washington found that beverages sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and 1% milk all have similar effects on feelings of fullness.

Another study published in the December 2007 issue of AJCN by Stijn Soenen and Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga from the Department of Human Biology at Maastricht University, The Netherlands, also found that beverages sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, as well as milk, have similar effects on feelings of fullness.

The November 2007 AJCN included a study on the effect of solutions containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup and various ratios of glucose to fructose on food intake, average appetite, blood glucose, plasma insulin, ghrelin and uric acid in men by Tina Akhavan and G. Harvey Anderson at the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. The researchers found that sugar, high fructose corn syrup and 1:1 glucose/fructose solutions do not differ significantly in their short-term effects on subjective and physiologic measures of satiety, uric acid and food intake at a subsequent meal"

Add that to the overdosing America does with pop and food and you have this HUGE obesity problem. High Fructose Corn Syrup is not the reason why! Get the facts at Sweet Surprise and make up your own mind. Isn't America fed up with the liberal news media yet?

OK, off my soapbox. I attended the Southwest Ohio Corn Growers Field Day north of Washington Court House, Ohio and exchanged information on corn growing. soybean growing, too, but I was there for the corn growing aspect. One of the speakers was from the corn fructose supporters and thus my rant, I am pro corn., pro soybean, pro wheat and pro farming.

I am a corn, soybean and wheat farmer and proud of it. I work to make a profit in doing something I love which feeds the world. You couldn't have a better profession, could you?

Any of our crops can be produced into products that could become "lethal" at levels considered overdose. "Moderation in everything", When did America ever use moderation?

We better use moderation because too much of any good thing is overkill.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tiny root syndrome

Lots of midwest gardens and crops show what I call tiny root syndrome. If you look at my friends soybean roots you can see them clustered near the top of the soil. If you did your plant roots I imagine most of you see the same thing in many of your plants.

I see three root clusters in the photo and some gravel. If you look closer you see some white nodules on the soybean roots. Hopefully, they are pink inside showing some nitrogen production for that crop.

This farmer is looking for SDS symptoms in this crop and they are hard to distinguish from brown stem rot. If you split these stems with a knife, BSR will show dark to black lesions in the stem tissue.

Other crops won't show this difference. All crops were subject to tiny root syndrome with the planting conditions this spring. It was cool and damp to plant anything and many farmers and gardeners waiting to plant their seed.

Many of us took our best shot and planted in April when the soil was warm even though the night time temperatures were cool. It was easy to develop tiny root syndrome in this years plantings.

These fields sprouted for the most part but developed small roots when it rained all May in most locations. You got a small root like these which needed more rain when it did dry out. Many midwest crops show this. Some got more rain when it needed it and some did not. Many fields received too much rain.

The Pro Farmer crop tour this week in the Eastern Corn Belt will reveal this. Some crops will be green but if you dig them up they have little roots. If they got more rain they will show various stages of a good crop and if they didn't, they will still be stunted to one extreme to the other.

SDS is one thing, tiny roots could have added to it. Any crop with small roots like we had this year is subject to any pest than came down the pike and that included disease, insects and weeds.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Popcorn Story

Last evening Liam asked LuAnn to read his new popcorn story book to him. It was pretty interesting and told of the history of popcorn going back 5000 years.

The story reminded me of our visit to a farmer who grows popcorn seed on the south island of New Zealand and they were picking it like sweet corn to be dried on the cob and in the husk like ear corn.

"Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Don't you love the smell of fresh popped corn? Popcorn's history dates back over 5,000 years ago. It's believed by archaeologists and researchers to be the oldest of a group of five sweet corns; Indian corn, pod corn, popcorn, sweet corn and field corn. Ancient corn pollen (not popcorn variety) has been found and judged to be 80,000 years old. This pollen was found two hundred feet below where the site of Mexico City sits today.

Popcorn was originally grown in Mexico but somehow it had spread globally through India, China and Sumatra years before the first European explorers arrived on North America's shores.

Popcorn ears over 5,600 years old was found in the Bat Cave in New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. The size of these ears of popcorn ranged from 1/2 inch to 2 inches long and are the oldest ears of popcorn known.

Popcorn was popped by throwing it on sizzling hot stones tended over a raging campfire. Naturally, as it popped it shot off in various directions. The game was to catch the popcorn and the reward was snacking on it.

Grains of popcorn over 1,000 years old were disvovered on Peru's east coast. Preservation methods of the Peruvian Indians was so advanced that 1,000 years later, this corn still pops.
The Indians of North and South America popped corn 2,000 years ago. Teenage girls today would most likely balk at wearing popcorn to the prom but Christopher Columbus, in 1492, observed West Indian natives wearing popcorn corsages as well as using popped corn to decorate ceremonial headdresses. Columbus noted in his memoirs that Indians sold popcorn to his sailors.

Cortez, another European global explorer, wrote in his diaries Aztecs decorated ceremonial garb with popped corn. He noted it symbolized goodwill and peace and how the Aztecs made necklaces and other ornaments for the god's statues with the grain, especially that of the god Tialoc, the god of rain, fertility and maize (corn).

An amazingly clear documentation of popcorn comes from an early account of a Spaniard. He records observations of a ceremony honoring the Aztec god watching over fishermen. "They scattered before him parched corn, called momchitl, a kind of corn that bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water."

French explorers, about 1612 in the Great Lakes region, made mention in their documents the use of popcorn by the Iroquois. This popcorn was popped in pottery with heated sand. The Frenchmen took part in an Iroquois dinner that included popcorn soup and popcorn beer.
Popcorn was spreading through almost all tribes of North and South America by the time the Pilgrims arrived. Quadequina, a brother of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Indians brought popcorn to many of the meetings with colonists as a goodwill gesture - kind of like their contribution to the potluck meal.

Ancient poppers made of soapstone, pottery and metal have been found in Indian excavation sites. Most of these have tripod legs and are large clay containers with lids to be set directly in the fire. They were used with and without oil, depending on preference.

Some Indian tribes discovered the delicacy of popping oiled popcorn while it was still on the cob. Somehow the corn stayed attached to the cob and it was eaten in the same manner as corn on the cob. This is the ancestor of buttered popcorn. The Winnebago Indians have a long history of enjoying popcorn on the cob, stabbing a stick through the cob and holding the ear close to the fire.

During this time, crude popcorn poppers were being invented. Some were small mesh baskets fashioned with a handle made by blacksmiths. Poppers have been found measuring up to eight feet across to handle large amounts.

The colonists loved popcorn so much they served it with sugar and cream for breakfast. This was the very first puffed breakfast cereal.

Popcorn carts were seen on every street always following the crowds after their invention in 1885. These were steam and gas poppers easily pushed through parks, fairs, carnivals, conventions and expositions. Home versions of popcorn poppers were invented in 1925 and quickly snapped up by those able to afford them. Believe it or not, poppers started being manufactured by young teenagers in junior-high metal shop classes to keep up with the demand.

Popcorn eating thrived until the Great Depression. It was one of the few luxuries families could afford. Sugar was rationed and sent overseas to soldiers during World War II so candy was scarce. Because of this, the American consumer ate more popcorn, in fact, three times more popcorn than usually consumed.

However, this upswing was temporarily doomed. As television came into existence and going to movie theaters slowed down, so did popcorn snacking. It took a few years for people to get back into the popcorn habit in front of the small screen. But as you can see Jolly, Jiffy Pop and Orville Redenbacher rake in billions of dollars and popcorn enthusiasts live on.

The Papago Indians of Arizona still to this day pop corn in clay pots up to eight feet wide. These pots are known as 'ollas'. Researchers have documented these poppers go back in design 1,500 years to the South American Indian and Mexican cultures.

Microwave popcorn is responsible for $250 billion yearly sales by itself. Experiments with popcorn and the microwave date back to 1945. Perry Spencer then experimented with other foods.

Today the American public eats over one billion pounds of popcorn per year; translating to seventeen and a half billion quarts! The average American chows down on approximately 70 quarts per person yearly. "

That is a pretty good story! The best part of the book was the tale of the year it got so hot in the fields the corn popped right on the cob and on the stalk! Any good story has to have a little humor in it to make the facts interesting. My wife calls that embellishment, I call it story telling.

Reminded me of the email floating around with the two ears of corn in the comic. The ear on the left says to the other ear, Man, it's Hot or something like that. The ear on the right is already popped and says some explative to the other ear. Some of you sent that to me. The crude one was the best.


Sunday, August 15, 2010


People love sugar. Sweet corn is very popular and in season right now. I even sprayed corn sweetener on my double crop soybeans last week as a surfactant.

But US sugar beet growers got a shock when a judge ruled that RR sugar beets haven't been studied enough and made a ruling that bans sugar beet planting next year.

" (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday banned the planting of genetically modified sugar beets engineered by Monsanto Co in a ruling that marks a major setback for the biotech giant.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in 2009 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had approved Monsanto's genetically modified sugar beets without adequate environmental study.
Sugar beets account for over half of the nation's sugar supply. But conventional sugar beet seeds remain widely available and environmentalists filing suit said the judge's decision should not significantly affect sugar production.

White's decision on Friday to impose the ban did not apply to crops already planted or harvested. It stems from a lawsuit brought by environmentalists over Monsanto sugar beets engineered to be resistant to the weed-killer Roundup.

Roundup is also manufactured by Monsanto and was sold to farmers together with the genetically altered sugar beet seeds.

"It's a victory for farmers, for the environment and for the public," said George Kimbrell, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, plaintiffs in the case.
Environmentalists have argued that the "Roundup Ready" crops have increased the use of herbicides and herbicide- resistant weeds.

Monsanto has claimed in court papers that revoking the government's approval of its genetically modified seed could cost the company and its customers some $2 billion in 2011 and 2012.
Agriculture Department spokesperson Caleb Weaver said the USDA was reviewing the judge's order "to determine appropriate next steps."

A Monsanto representative referred reporters to Duane Grant, an Idaho sugar beet farmer and chairman of the Snake River Sugar cooperative. "Before planting next spring's 2011 crop, clearly we are going to have to understand all of the implications of the judge's ruling, and what might be open to us," Grant said.

He said that since White's decision did not apply to sugar beets already planted or harvested, "really there is no immediate impact on sugar availability or cost to the consumer." Sugar beets make up a little over half of the U.S. sugar crop, and 95 percent of sugar beets come from Roundup ready seed, Grant said.

The Center for Food Safety has countered that farmers can easily go back to using conventional sugar beet seeds, which were widely used as recently as two years ago. Most U.S. sugar beets are planted in March, April and May, he said.

The government has valued the sugar beet crop, which is largely grown in 11 states, the bulk of them in the Midwest, at $1.335 billion for 2007-2008.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a separate federal judge's ruling revoking the USDA's approval of Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa until a full environmental review was completed.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Tom Doggett in Washington.

See All Comments (3) Post Comment
Aug 14, 2010 10:52am EDT
It is about time they start looking into this situation. I personally think GMO’s are more damaging than good. If you look into the process of how it is done you may become ill. To anyone who is not informed on the subject, I would suggest you do some searching and get informed. YOU EAT THIS STUFF. without knowing what goes into it. They are experimenting on you and you don’t even know it.
Would you accept an unwrapped sandwich from a stranger on the street?That is the GMO story in a nutshell. I could go on and on about good versus bad however it won’t educate you as much as if you see for yourself. I suspect this judge has Googled up some facts. Better yet watch a movie called FOOD Inc.ThePup

Aug 14, 2010 7:27pm EDT
Beyond the paranoia behind most of the GMO opposition, the focus of this article should have been on the herbicides and the particular kind of genetic engineering done here, rather than a slant towards opposing ALL GMO crops in general.

This specific modification encourages use of another product supplied by the Monsanto company, in this case a product known to have harmful health effects. Speaking as one who’s prenatal development had been disrupted and altered by herbicide exposure, although the beets can take it, humans have not been so luckily modified.

Instead of encouraging their use Monsanto should (and could) have developed techniques to eliminate need for herbicides. The concern here was sales, not health and food yield. This, along with the use of planned dependency modifications are what is wrong with the direction of GMO’s today, not GMO’s as a principle. Don’t confuse the two."

I included the comments because they are interesting and represent people who post and don't farm. The RR system has been out now for 15 years and we are still getting feedback and rulings like this?

Farmers are confused. Officials said it was safe and legal so we used it. Now they are saying maybe not? How would you like to be a sugar beet grower right now who is lining up next year's seed like the rest of us are for all crops?

The first thing that jumps out at you is the comment we are using more chemicals with the RoundUp Ready system? We thought we were using less of a "safer" chemical! The resistant weed comment is real because glyphosate is so cheap and easy to use that over 85% of the US corn, soybean and sugar beet crops are RoundUp Ready. We should have been more careful with it as an industry but we weren't.

I assume this will be investigated, settled and farmers will plant RR sugar beets next spring. Right now they cannot. It makes for a big confusing mess and farming is already confusing and messy enough as it is.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh my, Radishes!

Oh my, radishes are hot this week! Lots of farmers and gardeners are planting radishes as a soil builder.

This field in Pennsylvania really started this craze in the midwest a few years ago. Steve Groff understood the value of radishes as a cover crop and thought he would raise his own for seed.

They worked out quite well but he soon learned he couldn't produce them for seed like they can in the Willamette Valley of Oregon or the Canterbury Plains in the South Island of New Zealand. Most of the specialty seed is grown in these two regions so far from each other but so similar in climate and soil and distance from the equator. Can you believe we have been to both places in this past year?

A year ago we were at the Iowa State Fair for the first time, on our way to the Northwest to get on our ship to Alaska. We stopped at at Nusbaum's and Mulkey's where they grow these specialty seeds. I have planted seeds that came out of their combines. I really like to know where things come from and find the best quality from people I know and trust. That has been a mission of mine the past few years when I learned the value of quality seed. That started in 1990 when Leon Bird visited me in the Warren County Extension Office.

Crop Talk has become the hot spot for radish discussions. I did a search using the keyword radish on their Search function and got a ton of links to discussions.

Radishes are hot across the continent during this hot August.

Are you planting radishes?


Friday, August 13, 2010


So many of us baby boomers are antique to our children and grandchildren. We are old.

We visited the annual Georgetown Farm Machinery show this moring before it got too hot outside. I found these three Super MTA Farmall's in identical condition.

There are so many people older than me I still feel young. That is the way I felt today. I must admit the walking was getting to my feet. The warmer it got the wetter my shoes were. There was still dew on at noon.

There were hundreds of tractors there and lots of my favorites, the Olivers. That is a huge collection of Oliver 1950 GM's at this show I didn't show you. That goes back to when I was in high school. I never knew of any when I was of that age but saw a few when I went to college and came back home.

I saw one sad looking White 2-70. I call it a 1655 in White's sheet metal. That is the only new tractor I ever bought in 1976. I could have bought a John Deere 4030 for $1500 more than the White. White was going down and Deere was getting stronger but if I noticed that I didn't pay attention.

If I had paid attention I could be like some of my readers. I could be driving John Deere and probably have made more money because of it. A certain brand of machine seems to represent a whole different mindset like Chevy vs Ford vs. Dodge guys. Deere vs IH has always been big in ag and now there is only Deere and Case New Holland and Agco. Agco will probably go first.

Someday they will all be antique like me.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teacher or Salesman?

In this picture I am showing the farmer the improvement in his soils going from tillage to notill. You will have to click on the picture and see the enlargement to get a better idea on soil quality.

Soil quality pays long term but that doesn't matter if you go broke getting there. I see that as a problem of adapting any new measure.

It takes a keen eye and mind to be an innovator who actually profits from his adaption to stay financially alive. Some of the best people are not financially successful and the rich seem to have so may problems.

I was reminded this morning reading an email from China of my teaching trip there in 1985 as a Citizen to Citizen Ambassador. Our mission was created from Deng Xi Peng's disire to make China as successful as America in agriculture. One of his staff thought that American youth groups in agriculture was an advantage for our country so 100 or so people like me were selected to go teach agricultural education as China had none.

The mission was a failure. We had one interpretor in our 30 day mission who could translate English to Chinese well enough they could even grasp what we were trying to say. I am sure a little good came out of our mission but you couldn't put your finger on it.

I was driving this morning to take a tissue test result and some radish seed to a farmer when I passed the house of a younger farmer who is a master salesman. He did it for a major company and now does it for a major seed company. I thought about the difference between a teacher and a salesman.

I came down to this conclusion. A teacher is able to communicate learning to another who doesn't know that learning. The student is able to master what the teacher taught.

A salesman is able to take a product that is necessary for a process or enhances that process and promote the product. He is able to convince the customer that this product will enhance that process and is able to close the deal. Closing is a huge process in selling but involves teaching and trust before the customer buys it.

That leaves me to be a teacher. I am not selling anything here but I need products that make my ideas of innovation happen. They are closely linked yet far removed in some ways. There are many great teachers who are good sales people and vice versa but they are different occupations. The gift to teach is great, the gift of selling is financially greater.

All of us are worker bees in this process as we all have to get certain things done. How you do that work is dependent on how you manage it from teacher to salesman to student to buyer.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


SDS is in my good soybean field and fields across the midwest early this year. That makes sense since the year has been early since the heat hit in June and we saw unusally outrageous growth in corn and soybeans.

SDS is Sudden Death Sydrome which sounds really bad and it can be. It is the disease fusarium solari, a naturally occuring soil fungi that attacks high yielding soybean fields.

"Symptoms of SDS first appear as yellow, interveinal blotches. These blotches rapidly increase in size and interveinal tissues become necrotic. The leaf veins are the last to become necrotic. Petioles and stems of affected plants remain green until considerable leaf tissue has died. Most commonly, these symptoms occur in Indiana soybeans in late July and early August. As symptoms progress, leaf blades drop from the petioles, leaving erect, barren, somewhat green petioles attached to stems. Interveinal necrosis progresses faster on the upper than the lower leaves, the upper leaves are usually the first to defoliate. Leaf symptoms alone are not diagnostic for SDS, as similar leaf death may be experienced with brown stem rot. The root and lower stem tissues must be closely examined for diagnosis of SDS. "

In short, my take is that SDS doesn't attack low yielding soybeans. If you get your system to a higher level of yield you are going to see it. I saw it and Frogeye Leaf Spot in my high yielding soybeans in 2006. They still made a record yield for me, this field on this farm. To go the next level, I am going to have to control it and the linked article gives me some ideas.

My approach to soybeans is notill early following corn, a longer crop rotation with wheat or other cereal crop, high fertility, varietal resistance and seed quality, seed treatment and inoculated with the most competing strain of rhizobia and trichaderma I can apply to my seed. That has worked well for me. My double crop soybeans after wheat or other cereals adds to the disease stress but keeps me at an economically profitable level.

SDS can reduce that profit by robbing yield. How much can the farmer give up? The farmer is a master at production but costs to grow that crop can master him. I try to stay out of that situation but everyone is pushing every acre as much as they can with safe, environmentally friendly yet hopefully profitable growing conditions.

I have done all I can do and I hope for the best. The weather has the upper hand again today. An inch of rain would bring a few bushels more times thousands of acres times $10 soybeans or nearly $4 corn. That's a lot of money and we will spend every nickle of it, most of it right here where we live.

So, like SDS and everything else, aren't we all weather dependent?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

40 years

The Tri State's per capita income is down 2.8% to just over $38,000, the first decline in 40 years. You wouldn't have known it at the Outlet Malls or big stores this weekend as the parking lots were packed.

Not at the potato house, I guess everyone has plenty of potatos. We saw many fields about ready to dig last week but some still in bloom. There isn't much of anything blooming around here today with near 100 degree heat again. I know it's worse elsewhere so I don't mean to complain but I think everyone is just wore out with the heat. We thought that a month ago and it is still here.

Is this the hottest summer on record? It has to be close. Someone said a weatherman said it was the hottest July on record and I think that was Columbus, Ohio. Corn is turning brown record early so it all kind of fits together. I bet someone shells corn soon, maybe in the Chillicothe bottoms where they usually plant first.

Catching this crop in the right stage of maturity will take some planning. The neighbor got his hay baled yesterday and it never rained a drop. I was hoping we would get some rain to cool things down. They say maybe tomorrow so I guess we will see.

LuAnn and I need a marketing class for grain trading. I get all this good information and don't know what to do with it. Other farmers are fully hedged on the board of trade and we aren't. I was just getting into it about the time Alan Lines was ready to retire at Ohio State when I took the class at Southern State. Then our business went a new direction and I quit practicing what I had learned. You really have to practice it and it takes a lot of time to follow the markets that closely.

I think the average farmer needs a fundamentals class, an intermediate class and a advanced trading class around here. Probably a ten week class at popular location like Southern State campuses around here. We could have made enough extra money to pay LuAnn's salary but we could have lost it, too. The successful guys don't mention how much they lose hedging grain when the market turns on them so it keeps a lot of us out of that situation.

Ken Rulon put on an advanced class at his farm last month and I didn't go because I figured I wouldn't even know what they are talking about. The farmers who went said half knew what were going on and half didn't. I would be in the didn't understand group for sure.

When I make a sale the buyer hedges that trade so it makes sense to me I should too but that is just one aspect of farming and the farmer is already taxed with all the decisions to be made.

Lots of companies offer this service like Roach, E Trader, Top Third, Alan Brugler and so on and so forth. Maybe I should just turn it over to them but you need a good relationship with them to feel comfortable and I don't have that relationship.

Most American's are losing buying power right now and it is in the news today and you and I don't want to be there. I know I don't want to be like the farm couple who lost $400,000 in the stock market in October, 2007.

Ed Winkle

Monday, August 9, 2010


Today is eight, nine, ten. August, 9, 2010. The last time this happened was one hundred years ago. My grandpa was born in 1884 and hadn't moved to Sardinia yet. I wonder what he was doing on this August dog day?

I stopped to visit with him and dad yesterday on the way to Mom's farm. The cemetery was mowed nicely, a little better than dad's resting place in Sardinia. It is so much more scenic there, their grave is right near a big tree near a steep bank down to a creek.

Dad's cemetery is flat with a gentle roll to the north. I have decided that the only thing that matters about your death is how you lived your life. Your resting place should be a place for your friends and family to visit but it really doesn't matter how it is done. If you have the control and the desire to be buried a certain way in a certain place, so be it.

The point of this whole thing is the picture where I first accidentally planted radishes with wheat. The seedbox still had radish in it from Steve Groff near Holtwood, Pennsylvania when I hurriedly dumped the wheat seed on top of it that fall. Look at the difference in color, if you click on my pictures you can see them full size.

Many farmers are interested in this picture. There has to be a relationship between the radishes dying while the wheat goes into dormancy in winter. Usually that is December here but it varies year to year and location to location. The little radish scavanges nutrients and sends a tap root deep and fast.

It dies off, giving energy to the dormant wheat plants that makes more yield the next year when it is harvested. No one has studied it yet so I just speak from my observations. In three wheat crops the yield difference has been about 12 bushels in this area. That will surely vary from place to place but the idea is any living thing affects the growth of another living thing.

Mother Nature puts winter annual weeds in there and we kill them off with Harmony herbicide the next spring. This year my fields were so clean I didn't use anything but still that nasty marestail really came through the wheat late. Even where farmers tried to control it some came through.

I think I am leaning more towards a biological system where plants affect plants and I guide them in a positve direction. It is better for me than applying more chemicals and fertilizers that make a quick response within three years and then are gone. Planting radishes into wheat or whatever seems to make a lasting impact in the right direction.

I have been thinking about how good my crop looks compared to what it could be and I think all the crops I planted have increased my soil biology to the point it works better no matter the weather. I think of Steve's hat that says Soil Was Meant To Be Covered.

That is having a positive impact on me.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wind Farm

We stopped to get a few pictures of a dairy farm that added a wind farm. You can't miss this wind farm if you are travelling east on 20A out of East Aurora, New York.

I heard a price of $6000 income per tower per year. That is a pretty nice farm addition. But then all the neighbors would be jealous, they would call you rich and start stories about how the blades kill birds, the noise and glare is terrible, it shortens people's lives and so on.

There are some interesting "facts" on wind energy, both pro and con. One website was listed on a sign just down the road from this tower so we figured it was one of those jealous neighbors.

The little CyberShot takes nice videos for use like this blog and I took a couple of short ones you can view at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hymark88&aq=f

I should take more video clips because it takes good clips and people enjoy seeing them. We do get around a bit and get some unique views from a farmer that is rarely seen in today's myriad of communication.

I am all for wind energy. It can't solve all our problems but it is a no brainer. The payout is quick. I think the towers are beautiful and graceful but no I do not live there. LuAnn's mom does and she likes them so that is good enough for me.

I am also pro biofuels and hope the government comes out soon with an E-15 mandate. You make the laws and we will grow the corn. And yes the livestock industry will survive.

This isn't rocket science, people.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pa Pastures

We saw a lot of Pennsylvania pastures this week. We travelled two thousand miles through valleys, hills and mountains. Now you see why some cows have longer legs on one side of their body!

This fellow had lots of cows and pigs and a butcher shop. Pennsyvlania has a mix of everything but they now have more livestock than Ohio does. Ours went west when the Worker's Compensation rates got so high a few decades ago.

We still have scenes like this I don't have to travel that far to see them, either. Livestock is still big business in Ohio but not like it used to be. Livestock sure hit the news with HSUS bombing us last year and then the cow video this summer. It got farmers real riled up and it should. That connection from farm to food has expanded beyond common sense.

It was sad to see three workers killed this week in the high winds Wednesday. Two at Ohio Egg, formerly Buckeye Egg Farms and one again near Edgerton where the tornado hit a month or so ago. All three were working on structures when the winds hit and toppled the buildings on top of them.

Two boys were also killed in Illinois last week in a large grain bin. I hate to hear the bad news of the hazards of agriculture come to place. Farm safety is a never ending topic and education. You have to think through every thing you do and not take anything for granted.

The crops were all over the board in Pennsylvania but mostly green on the west side of the state. The worse corn we saw was 12 around and 16 kernals long, down there in crop insurance claim territory. A farmer would rather have a total disaster than almost enough to claim crop insurance.

I see they are tightening up crop insurance for next year, too. The big money spenders say we have to operate leaner. I don't know how lean we can get but the margins are and have always been slim. Farmers may look wealthy and they are in spirit. But they are asset rich at best and cash poor as dad always said.

I will show you more of what I learned this week in later ventures but Monday is spoken for, it's a special day, numerically speaking.


Friday, August 6, 2010


The crop markets have been a ball of fire this week. Wheat got so high merchants quit bidding or putting on a huge basis difference which says we don't want your business right now until this thing settles down.

I got a good forward contract so I am planting wheat again this fall. The crops will come out early and maybe, just maybe we can get it planted in good time this year. Last year wheat was late and an afterthought if you got any planted.

Wheat fits well in my rotation to improve the soil, control the bests and spread the labor and marketing out. I love mulching down wheat straw into improved soil with fertilizer and cover crops. So, here we go again!

I have got the seed and seed treatment on line and ready to pay for it and take delivery when it is ready. The drill needs new gauge wheel tires so that needs to be addressed, also. The combine has to be able to spread the corn and soybean residue evenly regardless of the crop following it and that is really true with wheat.

I have a fence row I want to take out and a tile to put in and some land to shape for drainage. 200 acres needs a ton of high calcium lime and I have started that process, too.

The corn crop gets a little smaller each day in this heat and is leaning towards light and fluffy kernals which means lower test weight and a bigger challenge to harvest.

Chicago has caught up to this reality so the markets have been busy this week.

So have we.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farming in the 'Burbs

We met a farmer and his wife who are farming in the 'burbs, the suburbs that is. In 36 years they have seen their city neighbors literally move in with them. Well, at least they have moved next door.

When they bought the farm from his parents in 1974 it took less than a month to make the transaction. Now they are trying to do the same with their son and it is already over a year and the transaction is not complete.

Why? The short answer is legal complexities. Nothing is simple anymore, it is rare to do business on a hand shake like we did in those days.

I feel the couple's frustration. Everything is so darned complicated. Too many laws from too many lawyers which all stems from greed and a lack of trust. As Father Corapi says what is needed is trust.

Is it a sign of the times? Oh, you know it is! Even the spray records on a modern farm is part to full time job, let alone the myriad of other records we keep and use.

Is there an easy answer? No. They could sell the farm to the son outright but the taxes would probably eat up both estates. Farm business gone or highly financially threated.

Many farm publications have tried to address this issue. One is Farm Journal magazine and I get there Legacy emails regularly that show the complexity of farm transferral. It is not an easy job if you want to protect the assets of the business that were painstainingly earned. Or poof and they are gone in a heartbeat.

Why can't life be simpler? It looks like it is going to get a whole lot more complex before reason and simplicity comes home.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


This is interesting. What do you think?

"CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Advances in conventional agriculture have dramatically slowed the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, in part by allowing farmers to grow more food to meet world demand without plowing up vast tracts of land, a study by three Stanford University researchers has found.
The study, which has been embraced by many agricultural groups but criticized by some environmentalists, found that improvements in technology, plant varieties and other advances enabled farmers to grow more without a big increase in greenhouse gas releases. Much of the credit goes to eliminating the need to plow more land to plant additional crops.
The study's authors said they aren't claiming modern, high-production agriculture is without problems, including the potential for soil degradation through intense cultivation and fertilizer runoff that can contaminate fresh water.
"In this one way that we've looked at, which is the climate impact, its pretty obviously been a good thing," said Steven Davis, a geologist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford who worked on the study. "There's very clearly other negative impacts of modern agriculture."
The study, published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been embraced by the agriculture industry as proof that some of environmentalists' complaints are off the mark.
"It's actually something that I've been saying for quite some time," said Leon Corzine, 60, an Assumption, Ill., corn farmer and past president of the National Corn Growers Association. "We really need to talk more about the environmental benefits. The new practices that we do, the new tools in the tool box, whether it's seed or equipment — our efficiency gains are really kind of dramatic."
But some environmentalists said the study is flawed, arguing it's based on unrealistic scenarios of what would have happened if yields hadn't increased during the study period. The yield is the amount of a crop grown per acre.
Bill Freese, a chemist with the Washington, D.C.-based Center For Food Safety, questioned the researchers' motives.
"I get the sense that, just reading this, that their purpose here is to provide some kind of justification for industrial agriculture," said Freese, whose group promotes organic agriculture.
The study, Davis said, began with conversations between the authors about whether organic agriculture could feed the world and whether traditional agriculture deserved the "black eye" it often gets from advocates of green farming.
The other authors are Jennifer Burney, a physicist who focuses on energy and food security research at Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment, and David Lobell, an assistant professor of environmental earth science at Stanford who has studied the effects of food and biofuel production on the environment.
The three decided to look at the impact of agriculture on greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Agriculture accounts for about 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity.
The cost of their research was covered by Stanford and NASA.
The researchers set up hypothetical models in which the world's growing population was fed by cultivating ever more land. Those models were then compared with actual agricultural production between 1961 and 2005.
Yields for major crops like corn and soybeans have increased dramatically over the study period. Midwestern corn farmers, for instance, now average well over 160 bushels an acre. That's roughly double what they produced in the early 1960s, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.
Without those increases, it would have taken an additional 4.35 billion acres to feed the world, according to the study.
The cultivation of that land — including the release of carbon in the soil and burning of brush and trees that covered it — would have released an additional 317 billion to 590 billion tons of greenhouse gases, the authors wrote.
The study concluded that those who fund agricultural research need to focus on improving crop yields — an area in which none of the authors work — to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Although he supports increasing yields, Freese argued that the study overlooked organic agriculture and its ability to compete with traditional farming.
"When you convert from a conventional system, the first few years you do have lower yields because you need to build the soil up," he said. "After three to five years, when you build up the organic content, you see yields going up."
Craig Cox, of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, said he was disappointed the study didn't offer more recommendations.
"Of course higher yields are a good thing," Cox said. "The real question is, how do we get higher yields without a lot of other serious consequences that our agricultural intensification has produced?"
Corzine, the Illinois farmer, acknowledged the limits of the study's claims but said it could be a useful tool for farmers like himself to help teach Americans a little bit about how their food is produced.
"They don't understand or don't really know what goes on the farm," he said. "Rather than just me tell my story, to have it backed up by someone at Stanford is really helpful."


Dog Days

Are these the dog days of summer? I have heard the crickets and cicadas for sometime now. The wildlife population must be maxed out, starting to see more fat racoons and skunks on the highway. Some skunks look like big porcupines!

The deer are really plentiful again so we are going to have to watch our driving this fall. There is a new big buck on the block and that guy is massive. LuAnn pointed it out late one evening to a visitor and he just looked in awe. I don't think he ever saw a buck that large.

This buck is so big you can see him easily grazing on the beans by the creek from our quarter mile vantage point at the house. There there are those smaller does everywhere. About half the heard seemed to be twins this summer so there are a lot of deer out there. It must have been a great year for a new crop of deer and other wildlife.

I wish LuAnn had a got a shot off the eight big coons wandering out of the grain bin setup. I haven't had time to look or do anything about them. I am more concerned about getting the unloading auger repaired and a new motor on another auger and getting all the wiring up to snuff. The guy who rewired the bins didn't finish his job.

We need to really clean out those bins and suck up all the excess kernals and dust for the new crop. That requires renting a grain vac and the dirty job of operating it. Now that would make Mike Rowe's World's Dirtiest Jobs, vaccuming out grain bins!

Have a good Tuesday, we will hopefully.


Monday, August 2, 2010


So nice to have some moderating weather! Farmers have to be reeling with this new marketplace today! I bet many forward contracts got surpassed this weekend and the procastinators got rewarded for not doing anything.

Prices of all three commodities are about as good as they have been all year, so we really can't complain now. The farmers who hedge positions and made a profit at the bottom have bought back in and riding it to the top again. Those very few, rare people are making money at both ends!

Me, I will be happy with just a profitable net price I can live with. I can live with all of the prices today until inlfation sets in and all my inputs go up again. It is a constant game of "catch up."

Inbetween, a handful of farmers will have record crops, most will have less than last year and a few will have really poor crops. I guess it is like that somewhere every year. This is where crop insurance comes in and most carry it because most farmers borrow money to put out a crop and a lender is going to require you to carry crop insurance.

I got a little check finally for my little bit of replant corn. If I had my drainage straightened out on these farms I wouldn't have needed it because it was basically cosmetic anyhow. You had a narrow window to do it once and do it right and I doubt that replant will pay for me. Hopefully you are different if you had to replant.

That's where it stands here on the first of August.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cool Down

I love to take pictures of field canopies. It is a whole different environment down in our fields. My goal of having my soil covered by summer solstice June 21 really paid off this summer as it was so much cooler down there than on top of the leaves. Still, it got quite hot on the soil surface across the midwest with these near record temperatures we had this summer.

Lots of things need cooling down right now. It is so pleasant this morning here it is a real breath of fresh air. We need that breath in our lives, in our country and in our relationships in some cases. There is nothing like a cool down to get a new perspective on things.

It takes heat to make things happen, especially in a crop field but it is nice when its over and you get a cooling down time like we have today. It is the first of August already and my younger son is thirty years old tomorrow. Where did 30 years ago? Some days it just drug on but overall it was the blink of an eye.

Such is life. Some farmers will be at Farmfest 2010 in Minnesota this week while others will be looking at David Hula's and other operations down in hot, dry Virginia. Others of us will be doing the daily routine or vacationing or whatever. No matter what you are doing, today's cool down will be a nice break for us.

We have decided to plant wheat again this fall with the recent rally as local millers are bidding in the seven dollar range for wheat for their needs next summer. That throws a pleasant kink in our fall plans but it will keep our fragile soil covered and give us opportunity to address lime, drainage, weeds and a host of problems on some of our farms.

Every day brings something new and this one is no different in that aspect. We are looking forward to seeing family and friends this week and making some new friends.

Whatever you do this week, make the most of it.

We will try.

Ed Winkle