Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Plant or Bust

I thought I would pass this on to my farmer reader friends. The picture is our smallest corn a year ago today.

"Today marks corn’s crop insurance D-Day for much of North Dakota, southern Illinois kicks in May 31 and most of the core Corn Belt June 5. After those dates, growers who bought Revenue Protection policies with harvest-price coverage must decide to (1) abandon corn and claim prevented planting coverage of $6.01/bu.; (2) plant corn late and take 1% per day reduced insurance coverage up to 25 days but be rewarded if harvest prices are higher than $6.01/bu.; (3) skip the prevented planting claim and switch to soybeans (4) take prevented planting indemnity and plant soybeans 25 days later (“This turns a lot of people off because it cuts your insurance payment in half and hurts your APH yields,” says Farm Credit Services of Mid-America crop insurance specialist Cory Gault. So let’s assume #4 is not a viable alternative).

Normally, corn growers would default to soybeans. But surprisingly, crop insurance agents like Jarrod Bennett (see last post) expect growers to take the “safe,” no-risk option this year, even if it means collecting prevented planting claims and taking the summer off. He says most of his clients will collect $400-$600 per acre with a pp claim, so who would take the risk of planting soybeans? Farmers in Ohio I talked with are running the numbers, but growers like Mark Ruff call this a “sad but true” situation. He’s toying with the idea that maybe he’d tile some of those wet empty fields this summer, rather than try to plant beans.

In today’s FarmDocDaily e-newsletter, University of Illinois economist Gary Schnitkey details his analysis, and you can summarize it as a “plant corn first, but take the summer off if you can’t” conclusion.
“Basically, I don’t see soybeans competing economically with corn prior to the end of May. After the end of May, then soybeans have to compete with prevented planting corn and prevented planting corn wins,” he says. By Schnitkey’s updated calculations, a grower with Revenue Protection or Yield coverage would net $382/acre to $466 with a 150-bu. yield guarantee on corn by taking a prevented planting claim. Growing soybeans with no yield loss and corn with reduced yield prospects would net about $373 for corn or $363/acre for soybeans because of higher direct and machinery costs. In other words, someone with 85% coverage and a 150-bu. APH yield would make about $100 per acre more with a prevented planting claim than if they took the weather risk and got just 120 bu. corn.

Schnitkey assumes the grower will average corn prices of $6.40 and soybeans $13.30 for the season. With higher prices or yields, the results could swing the other direction. So if you’re a bull who thinks corn will be at $9 by harvest, then keep planting corn as long as possible. Or you could take the summer off.

A blog posting by University of Minnesota Extension economist Kent Olson and Extension agronomist Jeff Coulter today didn’t analyze the insurance choices, but cautioned growers not to be too quick to substitute soybeans for corn. Based on historic Minnesota farm records from the center for Farm Financial Management, they had forecasted net revenue per acre at $443 for 2011 corn, versus $195 for soybeans.

“These estimates indicate a tremendous advantage for corn over soybean and the need for a large decrease in corn yield before soybean is more profitable than corn,” Olson and Coulter said. That’s especially true since corn planting problems will likely lead to higher prices this summer; even with no change in prices, you’d need a 25% drop in corn yield to make someone better off planting soybeans."

It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out. I know corn is going in the ground in southwest Ohio.


Last Day of May

It's the last day of May and still little is planted in Ohio. We are just getting dry enough to do anything in the fields. The fertilizer trucks are everywhere and I saw some spread. The planters are not out in full force yet. I did see a neighbor side dressing corn this morning, very unusual this year and the only one I have seen in our travels.

I got all my FSA papers finalized and now have to remember to get back in there to firm up planted acres by July 15. That is also the day we can start mowing the CRP waterways and boy are they a mess. I have poison hemlock to mow and spray as usual as it tries to keep a foothold in our fields.

My reported yields since we moved here seven years ago this weekend are very good and I am proud of them. I had only one bad year, 2005 when we planted corn after corn very early, probably didn't get enough nitrogen on and it snowed and froze on it this weekend six years ago. Today it will be near 90 degrees again. What a contrast in weather in a few short years.

We skipped the Taste of Cincinnati this weekend as it was so hot but we did go down to the city for the Reds game last night. Remember when the the Milwaukee Brewers were the Milwaukee Braves? I do. They changed names in 1965 when Atlanta became the Braves and Hank Aaron made them famous.

The Reds played really well and had lots of hits. It was a fun game to watch for the 21,000 plus who watched. The pitching was good enough to hold on for a 7-3 win. The fireworks went off for the three run home run and they had a nice Memorial Day tribute for our soldiers throughout the game.

Greece is in the news again as they cannot pay their debt and Germany is tired of supporting the whole Euro dollar system. I can't blame them.

Everyone is well here and I hope you all are too.

Have a great first of June.

Ed Winkle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Most of the Memorial Day Salutes are at 10 AM this morning. I remember playing taps all of the years I was big enough to play when I was in school.

The original song is a very long piece so it was shortened to the version we hear today. It is often a tear jerker for many people when it is played.

We sure have plenty of good reasons to visit our local cemetery and watch the salute to our soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Yesterday we took a 100 mile trip to my sister's for her grandson's birthday. It was the first hot day we have had this summer. I saw some of Ohio's 11 percent corn planted. As you go east out of Hillsboro you start seeing some all the way down to the Ohio River. It's not a major production area but at least they have corn out of the ground.

We had 3-4 inches of rain in the 30 mile radius here last week so we are still stationary. It is hard to wait but if you don't, this heat will turn the soil into brick.

We saw our first hay cut and it smelled good. Some windrows will be baled this afternoon. There is so much hay and grass to mow in that 100 miles it would take every farmer a week just to mow it.

The cemeteries really look nice for Memorial Day and the farmers here are just ready to hit every dry field they can find. It will be difficult to find fields ready to plant that don't turn into concrete after planting. It looks like we may have a 10 day window to plant here the first of June.


Sunday, May 29, 2011


We finally get some good wheat growing conditions so the heads can fill properly and we get three days of heat that could limit it's fill. It's been a really tough year for growing wheat or anything in Ohio.

"Five Important Management Steps to Profitable Wheat Production in Ohio
The 2010/2011 winter wheat season is fast approaching its end and as growers make preparations for harvesting, we would like to remind them of a few management decisions that are important for a successful crop. Nearly every farm in Ohio has a field or two that could benefit from planting wheat, if for no other reason than to help reduce problems associated with continuous planting of soybeans and corn. Consistent high yields can be achieved by following a few important management guidelines. Below are listed the most important management decisions that Ohio wheat producers need to make at fall planting time to produce a crop with satisfactory economic returns.

ONE. Select high-yielding varieties with high test weight, good straw strength and adequate disease resistance. Do not jeopardize your investment by planting anything but the best yielding varieties that also have resistance to the important diseases in your area. Depending on your area of the state, you may need good resistance to powdery mildew, Stagonospora leaf blotch, and/or leaf rust. Avoid varieties with susceptibility to Fusarium head scab. Plant seed that has been properly cleaned to remove shriveled kernels and treated with a fungicide seed treatment to control seed-borne diseases. The 2010 Ohio Wheat performance trial results can be found at (http://oardc.osu.edu/wheattrials).

TWO. Plant after the Hessian Fly Safe date for your county. This date varies between September 22 for northern counties and October 5 for the southern-most counties. Planting within the first 10 days after this date minimizes the risk of serious insect and disease problems including Hessian Fly, aphids carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus, and several foliar diseases. Planting before this date has lowered yield by 7 to 20% in research trials due to disease and insect problems. On the other hand, planting late (generally after Oct 20 in northern Ohio) can reduce the number of primary tillers that develop in the fall and increases the risk of cold temperature injury. The Hessian Fly free dates can be found at (http://ohioline.osu.edu/iwy/flydates.html).

THREE. Optimum seeding rates are between 1.2 and 1.6 million seeds per acre. For drills with 7.5 inch row spacing, this is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed. When wheat is planted on time, actual seeding rate has little effect on yield, but high seeding rates (above 30 seeds per foot of row) increase lodging. There is no evidence that more seed is better, it only costs more money. If planting is delayed to more than three weeks after the Fly-Free date, plant 24-26 seeds per foot of row which is 1.75 million seeds per acre.

FOUR. Planting depth is critical for tiller development and winter survival. Plant seed 1.5 inches deep and make sure planting depth is uniform across the field. No-till wheat into soybean stubble is ideal, but make sure the soybean residue is uniformly spread over the surface of the ground. Shallow planting is the main cause of low tiller numbers and poor over-winter survival due to heaving and freezing injury. Remember, you can not compensate for a poor planting job by planting more seeds; it just costs more money.

FIVE. Apply 20 to 30 lb of actual nitrogen per acre at planting to promote fall tiller development. Wheat also requires at least 45 ppm of available phosphorus per acre in the soil to produce really good grain yields. If the soil test indicates less than 40 ppm, then apply 80 to 100 pounds of P2O5 at planting. Soil potassium should be maintained at levels of 135, 165 and 185 ppm for soils with cation exchange capacities for 10, 20, or 30, respectively. If potassium levels are low, apply 60 to 100 pounds of K2O at planting. In Ohio, limed soils usually have adequate calcium, magnesium and sulfur for wheat. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0.

The key to a successful wheat crop is adequate and timely management. The above recommendations are guidelines that may be fine-tuned by you to fit your farming operation and soils. They also assume that you are planting wheat in fields that are adequately drained. You can review more details on these, and other, research-based wheat management recommendations on-line at http://ohioline.osu.edu/iwy/

I have done all these things and left the rest to Mother Nature. She has been rampaging since July last year with no rain for months and then rain about rain for months.

My tissue test came back and as expected from the poor growing conditions, it is deficient in potassium, boron and zinc. Wheat needs less water and better uptake to get these valuable nutrients into the plant.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Saturday, May 28, 2011


I woke up thinking this morning of the impact this weather is going to have on our income and the income of Ohio and neighboring states. Agriculture is the major business in this region and the income is really going to be down this year. Right when the economy needed the boost, too.

Our income and expenses will be a far cry from last year, the record of my lifetime. This year could be the record low for me and I expect many other farmers.

The ag suppliers have to be really hit hard with many fields left vacant this year with preventive planting crop insurance. We will slide right by the June 5 cut off date this week with very little corn planted.

It won't all go to soybeans, either, though if we get a good two weeks of weather we could plant a record number of soybeans. I still think there will be a lot of fields left idle this year.

"It is still difficult to put a firm finger on the number of cropland acres that have been flooded, or the impact on 2011 production. Here are some of the latest estimates.

Using the weekly percentage-planted figures from USDA as of May 22 and applying them to March planting intentions, University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey said the 18 reporting states stand at 79% planted, not much different from the 81% average since 1980. However, many key states still have substantial acreage unplanted. The states most behind included:

Ohio, 3.3 million
Indiana, 2.0 million
Minnesota, 1.5 million
Wisconsin, 1.5 million
South Dakota, 1.4 million
Illinois, 1.3 million
North Dakota, 1.3 million
Michigan, 1.1 million

If weather permits, "a great deal of planting can occur before final planting dates, and it is quite possible most of these acres will be planted to corn," Schnitkey said. If corn doesn't get in the ground by the government cut-off date -- May 25 through June 5 in the Corn Belt and upper Midwest -- Schnitkey feels it is unlikely that many of these Corn Belt acres will be planted to other crops such as soybeans. Many producers will opt to take "prevented planting" on their crop insurance instead because the payments may be larger than any returns expected from planting beans, he said.

University of Minnesota Extension Economist Kent Olson agreed, noting that corn needs to lose a lot of yield before soybeans would meet its expected profitability -- and fewer acres of corn and more soybeans would lower soybean profitability relative to corn even more.

The situation in the Dakotas and the rest of the Missouri River system is still in flux. The Army Corps of Engineers expects to release record amounts of water from the Garrison, Oahe and Gavins Point dams between now and at least early June. Mountain snowpack above the Fort Peck Dam in Montana to the Garrison Dam in North Dakota is 138% of normal, and the forecast annual runoff for March 2011 to February 2012 is 178% of normal. The dams already are near overflowing and the main snowpack melt has not even begun, according to the Corps. The Corps has not said how much additional flooding might occur.

If there's any state where corn may never get planted this year, it is North Dakota. The North Dakota State Climate Office's monthly rainfall maps show most of the state received 100% to 300% of normal precipitation since January, leaving soils saturated and lakes overflowing. For May 28 to June 8, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicts "widespread flooding across portions of the northern and central Great Plains," including all of North Dakota except the northeast quarter.

For more on the flooding situation in North Dakota, see "Water Begins to Dampen Farmers' Dreams," by DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton, in Ag News.
On the positive side, the CPC's forecast for May 28 to June 8 shows normal probabilities of rainfall, with higher-than-average probabilities for warmer-than-usual temperatures for the Dakotas, perhaps affording fields an opportunity to dry out.

According to Alexis Maxwell, senior analyst for market fundamentals at Lanworth in Chicago, about 2 million acres of cropland were inundated along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in early May.

"From May 3 to May 13, standing water in the Ohio and Mississippi river basins have been observed on nearly 2.1 million acres of cropland in southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi," Maxwell told DTN. The estimate is based on the company's satellite imagery; it has not yet analyzed other areas.

"But the net effect of this flooding on U.S. spring plantings is likely to be minor," Maxwell said. "As flood waters moved downstream and warm and dry conditions set in over much of the impacted area, a large portion of the flooded land dried out, implying that there is still ample time for many fields to be replanted. In much of the area we analyzed, soybeans can be planted as late as mid-June and rice as late as the end of May."

Lanworth estimates the floods have likely prevented planting of 200,000 acres of corn and may reduce the combined area of rice and soybeans by no more than 300,000 acres, given that soybeans could ultimately replace other intended crops.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) came up with a bigger number, reporting that nearly 3.6 million acres of farmland were affected by the natural disaster. On a conference call, AFBF's Washington staff asked state AFBF staff how many acres in their states were flooded. Their list: Arkansas, 1 million acres, including 300,000 acres of rice and 120,000 acres of wheat; Illinois, 500,000 acres; Mississippi, 600,000 acres; Missouri, 570,000 acres; Tennessee, 650,000 acres; and Louisiana, 280,000 acres.

"There is no doubt about it, the effect of the flooding on farmers and ranchers is being felt deeply across the South," AFBF Chief Economist Bob Young said. "One is reminded of the '93 or '95 floods in terms of scale of affected area. While some may be able to get a crop in the ground this year, we also need to think about the long-term economic health of these farms and communities," he said, stressing the need for levees to be rebuilt.

Note, however, that flooding impacts or acres affected in this survey were loosely defined. "They were reported in whatever way the state staff chose to define them," Young told DTN.

DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom assessed the potential effect on corn supply and demand. His assumptions: 2 million acres unplanted (a 2 percentage point drop from intentions); 90% harvested vs. 92.2% USDA estimated in its May report; a trendline yield of 158.7 bushels per acre. The resulting crop would be 12.906 billion bushels. If demand didn't fall from USDA's projected 13.355 billion bushels, ending stocks would drop from USDA's May projection of 900 million to a record-low 301 million bushels, resulting in a stocks-to-use ratio of 2.3%. "That is the tightest ratio I see on record," said Newsom. "This is not likely to happen," said Newsom. "Prices will ration demand."

My guess locally is that a lot of the above will not happen.

It is going to be one interesting year to watch.


Friday, May 27, 2011


"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.

Abraham Lincoln

Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 3:21 PM
ok everybody. here we go.. what a ride it has been. I just woke up from crashing finally.. I was at work at Freeman hospital when the tornado hit. I was the ONLY mantanaince man on the evening shift. the alert sounded. said it was a warning for carl junction which is 10 miles north of where we were. I started all the generators. 10 of them. just in case... when the storm hit we did not realize what had happened only 1/4 north of us at St Johns . not until the caravans of people started coming in. St Johns took a direct hit. blew out all the windows, then had a gas leak and an explosion.

The tornado was about 8 blocks wide and went through Joplin . west to east.. never left the ground. residential... business... residential... main business.. residential. we had people coming in pickups with wounded.. cars with all the windows blown out. people on boards, doors, tables. we emptied 4 conference rooms of the rolling chairs .. about 100.. to use as wheel chairs. we had 4 triage areas going full blast. one at each entrance. people were lined up for 10 blocks or more just to get to our driveways.

We had just gone through an earthquake drill last week, so every one knew their supplies were. it was calm chaos. hundreds of wounded, covered in blankets, sitting in chairs, lying on the floor in rows. blood every where.. new chairs coming now for sure.... the nurses and doctors were great. our phones were out instantly... the cell towers were inundated, couldn't get out. we couldn't call for reinforcements.. they just started showing up.

From every where.. emt's, nurses, doctors, local and even from out of town. the few in the kitchen started making sandwiches, we brought out all the blankets we had, brought up rolling supply carts of bandages, cases of bottled water. formed small groups of volunteers to manage traffic so the ambulances could get in and out. school buses of injured started coming it. truckers were bringing in semi loads of injured. no lights in joplin , we have a six story tower and all you could see were blue and red lights everywhere. I personally took the 1st six bodies and started a temporary morgue. The stories people were telling were beyond belief... we had probably 10 or 12 dogs running somewhat loose in the hospital that people had brought in with them. smoking in the hospital on a no smoking campus. cries of pain, sorrow and yes even joy when people would find loved ones.

The situation in town is way WORSE than you see on tv. I came home in the dark and did not know where I was because of the destruction, untill I came to a round about in the road and realized I had gone a mile too far. I couldn't get through to Sandy on the phones and people started coming in from the area I lived in with horror stories of total destruction. the home depot you see on tv is just blocks from us... finally another employee came in and said his mom was ok. and she just lives two blocks from us. the tornado just missed my son by two blocks as well. My daughter in law is a therapist and has no office building to go to anymore. her father is a dentist who has no office building to go to anymore.

Joplin will take years to rebuild. kinda like the twin towers. you can actually see all the way through town, end to end. the high school is gone. a major business street, going east and west on the east of town is flat on both sides of the street for two miles. nothing left standing. thousands of people have lost their homes, and their possessions, AND their income because their places of employment have vanished off the map.

on the other hand, THANK THE LORD, I have my home, my possesions and my job. I never had to serve in combat, but surely this has to be somewhat similar in relation of chaos. I kinda know what the Japanese must feel like after the sunami now. yes I know some of the dead in Joplin personally.

Freeman hospital still looks kinda like it did that night. we still have STUFF everywhere. the floor is still dirty because joplin has virtually no water pressure. we barely have enough water to run our sterilzers for instruments. only two bathrooms work in the hospital.. don't know whey they do... the water company has SO MANY broken pipes in houses that are gone, that they can't get the pressure to come up. a large area of the roof blew off and the rain collected and ran down inbetween the layers of roofing and into the areas full of pipes and wires and is still dripping and of course the rain won't stop so we can fix the roof. we have buckets all over the halls and even have a couple of areas of rooms we can't even use because the water keeps coming out of the ceiling area. we have removed hundreds of ceiling tiles that have gotten wet and were coming down anyway. the fire alarms keep going off all the time because the wiring system is getting wetter and wetter with all the leaks. we have to check each alarm to make sure there is no fire and then silence it.




This was too good not to pass on. Thanks, Jules.

God help all the people in need.

We can't plant but we are so blessed.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, May 26, 2011


We had another stormy day and night of weather yesterday. Tornado watches were up all day and night and several warnings were issued. Indiana got the worst of it this time.

Farming is stormy, too. We can't plant, the planting season is endind and we have all these hope and dreams and purchased supplies just sitting here.

Years like these are the years we buy crop insurance for. Remember I was convinced I didn't need any? I have gotten about one dollar back for every dollar invested the last seven years but this year the tables have turned.

There will be many vacant fields this summer, right when the world wants our products. Sorry world, we couldn't plant the crop you are needing.

There is hardly a garden planted here let alone a corn field. Corn fields will be few and far between in Ohio for 2011, a year we won't soon forget.

I just hope we don't run into such a shortage of corn that the world loses interest in our crop for future years. We need food and fuel and corn is king in the United States. The states that have corn planted should make out like gangsters.

Several friends called yesterday and we were commiserating on our miserable situation while trying to figure out what to do next. We can't do a thing until this stormy season passes and by then the tables will be changed once more.

I heard one outfit here has a million dollars worth of nitrogen applied to their fields and no way to plant corn. Wow, what a mess that would be, makes my situation look rosey in comparison.

It looks like it will be steamy here through the next week in more ways than one.

Have a good one,


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pesticide Exam

I took the Ohio Commercial Applicator's Pesticide Exam. I am thankful to say I haven't forgotten anything since teaching that stuff in the 80's and 90's.

There were 100 questions on the core exam, 50 on the agronomic pests and 35 on the weed exam. I got through them in an hour and 50 minutes. I only left 4 blank and went back and gave my best guess. They were all converting pints or quarts to active ingredient per acre or looking up a law on the label.

The labels used were Warrior, Ambush, Canopy, Allegiance and the like. Of course atrazine and Round Up and Gramoxone examples were used on the test.

Key words are caution, warning, danger, spill, PPE or Personal Protective Equipment and related concepts. Most of the questions had an obvious sensible answer or 3 that applied and you checked the answer that included those 3 correct answers.

There were some "trick" questions of course like almost every exam contains but you could quickly eliminate one or two incorrect choices.

Farm math including square feet in an acre and pints, quarts, pounds and gallons are used in several questions. Most everything is there and I didn't even use a calculator which you can if you want.

Since we have our own sprayer now and the guys failed the first exam they took, I thought I better get us covered. I should know my score by Friday by looking it up on the Ohio Department of Agriculture website at www.pested.osu.edu.

The worst part is now I have to sit through boring certification training to keep my license. I remember trying to make that interesting when I was extension agent.

"Rules are for fools and we have too many rules and too many people making them that don't their butt from a hole in the ground."

That old addage might just apply in this case.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Phosphorous is one of 3 major nutrients needed by plants of the 17 identified plant nutrients. Farmers in the corn belt are not applying enough phosphorous to replenish the amounts being removed by their primary crops according to a new nationwide survey of soil test levels.

The summary, completed by scientists with the International Plant Nutrition Institute or IPNI shows that soil test levels for phosphorous in the corn belt has seen a decline of 6 PPM or about 3 lbs per acre since the last survey was completed in 2005. The title of the summary is Soil Test Levels in North America, 2010.

This decline had major agronomic significance since a high percentage of samples from the region now test below critical levels and calls for annual phosphorous fertilizatuib ti avoid yield reductions. The 6 ppm decline was discussed in the Better Crops With Plant Food magazine.

I know more farmers are depending on cheaper manure to provide phosphorous in crops, even my neighbors are doing this. I don't have access to manure so I use more expensive commercail fertilizer to supply my phosphorous needs.

I have been able to keep my soil and tissue test levels to the desired amount with expensive commercial fertilizer and don't use any more than my crop needs or takes off.

I sampled an old hog lot last week and of course the soil test levels came back very high. I told the owner I wish I had 1000 acres of that soil. It only called for a little potassium for high yield crops and needed no lime. Livestock farmers feed a lot of calcium for healthy animals so manures can be high enough in calcium and magnesium to not require lime added to the fields treated with manure.

Phosphorous is usually sold in this area as monoammoium phosphate in a 11-52-0 analysis and is over $500 per ton. We used to be able to buy 0-46-0 but it is a thing of the past in most areas today. Even DAP or 18-46-0 diammonium phosphate is hard to obtain in these parts.

If you didn't get yours applied last fall, it isn't getting put on this year with this spring so wet we can't even plant let alone spray or fertilize.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Show Me State

We had a nice surprise visit with our friends Jules and Alice from Missouri. I met Jules on AgOnline 16 years ago and he and his wife have become dear friends.

We talked about the farms and barns and houses we have owned and the barn quilt project that we participated in the last few years. I showed them the old covered bridge and the glacial moraines we farm.

They saw one or two corn fields from Missouri to Ohio. We talked about how serious this situation is this years and all the bad years we remember from the past.

They had a house condemned when they farmed on the Missouri River. Farming bottom ground like he and we did years ago was quite a contrast of good crops on rich soil to complete devastation in years like this one.

We had a beautiful picnic under the Pecan trees yesterday then a big storm blew up and we had hail for 15 minutes which didn't help my wheat nay and record flooding just on the other side of Martinsville.

We did a little road farming and caught the edge of that storm near the new farm in Highland county just down the road a little. Anyone who worked their ground lost it quickly last night and the gush of fresh soil was just atrocioius everywhere we drove. It was that way all the way to Greenfield so our region got hammered again.

This is gotten serious as you can imagine. Crop insurance may help some through this mess but it will never restore the lost crop and soil damage that has occurred.

My cover crops are clear out of control now and the rye has went to seed. It seemed like a good idea last fall and it was but now we have to figure out what to do next if it ever dries up.

I had a clear vision of this crop year last night and it isn't going to be good. We are on hard times on the farm here. It is here and we will have to deal with it.

They even found a new leak in their bedroom so that is two leaks we have to deal with now. We are blessed not to have the conditions they have in the river basins but we have our own set of problems.

This is definitely one of the wettest springs on record as it won't be long until summer with nothing planted.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, May 22, 2011


We had a real good discussion among friends about ego. Isn't it funny how it helps you do good things you thought you couldn't do and bad things you are ashamed of later?

My ego was always big enough for three people. When it was focused on doing good, I am amazed what God accomplished with it. I guess that is strength. When it was focused on ME it went wild and caused a lot of harm.

You have to have some ego to teach a group of youngsters that don't want to be there anymore than you do. At least I had the desire to do some good and take care of myself financially but that can be difficult for a student or another person to see.

If a teacher didn't have some ego, it would be like throwing a piece of meat to Doberman Pinchers. It wouldn't be pretty. I have seen that and it is painful to watch. We have all seen people in positions torn to pieces in such situations.

That is why helping others to see and learn is so painfully difficult. It' easier to just do it yourself but doesn't help the other person one iota. If you succumb to it you become an enabler and people pleaser and no one accomplishes anything worthy.

When I am stuck on ME it's even worse. I don't care what anyone else thinks or wants, I just want to please me. That becomes very self destructive. Hmmm, that describes the mess in our country pretty well right now.

Some farmers around here have pretty big ego's. I like the humble ones. The big ego guys have all this machinery, all this high priced land, all this debt and all this worry over it. One field of corn up between here and Columbus, now that is pretty humbling. We have all these grand plans and schemes and Mother Nature says Halt, not so fast there young(0ld) man.

Everything needs sprayed and planted before this ongoing week of rain coming. It's not going to happen. The big ego gets pounded down with the hammer of life.

So, I will just give this day to the Lord who created it and "be happy myself and play square with others." Together we can get through this and alone we don't get much done.

Such it is today, Sunday, May 2011.

I hope you enjoy it.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Seed School

Today I attended my 27th Ohio Seed Certification School. 27 years, where has it gone? The kids were 8,5 and 3 then and now they have kids of that age.

Seed wheat acres are up from 11,000 acres last year to almost 17,000 this year. Malabar is the newest, most popular seed variety this year. I have some to look at near by.

We looked at all the AGI varieties, Ohio Certified, Pioneers and private wheat varieties in the plots. Water damage was apparent like it is all over Ohio. Hopewell is still the number one wheat in Michigan.

Dr. Pierce Paul went over the diseases with us and Ohio fields have them all. Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus carried by aphids, Septoria, Staganospora, Rust, Powdery Mildew, Wheat Spindle Streak now called Mosaic and we will sure have some wheat scab from rain on these flowering fields.

There are only two inspectors with more experience than me now and there used to be a room full of them.

I had a good day until I got almost home. I had a rear tire separate and had to call LuAnn to pick me up off US 68 and AAA hauled the Dakota to the Martinsville Mall. Jimmy was going to fix that tire Wednesday but I had meeting in Hillsboro. Now the tire is destroyed, probably was anyhow.

They sure don't make tires like they used to. This set only last 40,000 miles like the set they replaced. I need to buy them a year ahead and put them in the old barn to cure a year before mounting. These fresh casings just fall apart.

Yesterday a bearing went out on the big mower and neighbor Gary came to my rescue. I almost lost the tips of two fingers on that thing, it hurt so bad for a minute I thought I had but it was just a close call with 1000 lb piece of steel.

We went to a graduation party this evening and discovered we were related. Her grandpa's mother was a Winkle from Mowrystown. Grandpa and I had a good chat about the family.

All in all it was a good day as farmers were hitting the fields slowly and cautiously. Still lots of mud holes out there.


Friday, May 20, 2011


Yesterday I met a lady whom I recognized and she recognized me. She had been in my Sunday School class 30 years ago. She told me about her life and that she had tried to commit suicide 3 times and she remembered what I told her in class and it helped her not go through with it.

She also told me another girl in the class passed away last summer. I was pretty blown away by all of this and got home and saw that a friend had lost a friend. She was an ag broadcaster and died yesterday morning in a crash near Springfield, Ohio. She had interviewed me before and I knew her and her husband very well. Her husband DJ'd one of our weddings and has spoken to my ag students when I was teaching.

I knew right then I was right where God wanted me and reminded of all my blessings and my gratitude for everything and everyone.

This mornings ag news is good. We have sunshine once more although it will be days if we can do much. Farmers are meeting with their crop insurance agents to calculate preventive planting payments versus what if we do get to plant.

"Gasoline stations have been busy, with prices falling in line with crude oil. You would have thought there was a fire sale going on. Gasoline prices over the $4.00/gallon mark have been easing back towards the $3.70 mark. By the way, we hear that it is ride -your-bike to work today in Washington, DC. Can you imagine what a nation-
wide initiative would due to crude oil stocks? Speaking of crude oil and other
commodities - they are higher today keying in on what may become comfort levels
of trade around $1500 / oz for gold and $100 /barrel crude.

Ag prices continue to follow the ups and downs of macros. But the investor flow
may be ready to come back to corn, wheat, and beans as this late season and
flooding issues are certainly affecting the total amount of acreage the market has
going for it. For now, the sudden upturn in corn prices seems to suggest that 1-3
million unplanted acres of corn is at stake. Our starting point via the planting
intentions report was 92.2 million acres. One group released an 89.5 million acres
(corn), but the uncertainty is certainly going to suggest that corn breaks may be for the owning right now, particularly as we have not yet even hit the pollination period when prices can really heat up along with summer temperatures.

There are more storms in the forecast for St. Louis, and open weather does not
look as though it is going to happen. South American farmers took advantage of
higher soybean prices yesterday, but the US farmer is unimpressed.....and busy.
Firm old -crop,new crop soybean and corn spreads remain the key feature posting
new highs. In other featured spreads - buy oil, sell meal also seems to be back
in vogue.

Calls this morning are going to start on the defensive, following through with the
start of what was a good day of profit-taking, which is suggestive of price congestion
on a typical Friday:

beans: 4-6 lower
meal: 1.80-2.00 lower
oil: mixed/lower
corn: 2-3 lower
wheat: 5-7 lower

Look for possible price congestion today and two-sided trade."

I thought this was pretty good. Two sided trade, now that's a good one. It's not a fair trade unless it's two sided and we agree in the middle but I think they are talking about buyers and sellers.

With 3 million acres under water and millions of acres that can't be planted or will be planted late, I say Katy Bar The Door on prices. People are already hoarding food and 100 watt light bulbs that won't be made any more.

It is exciting times, no doubt and I plan to write this tomorrow and Sunday unlike that kook is predicting the world ends tomorrow.

The picture is corn a year ago today.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 Speed

I was looking in a free car trader magazine yesterday and found two 5 speed pickups out of thousands. What ever happened to shifting gears?

Shifting gears is the way I grew up. The first automatic I remember is that 58? Chrysler mom and dad bought with those big automatic shifting buttons left of the steering wheel.

One time mom had to go to Renfro Valley and we got caught in a snow storm on the way home and I think it took about all night to make it home.

We still had the 55 International pickup truck with Silver Diamond Engine and 4 speed transmission, the truck I learned to drive on. I found one similar in this paper for only $13,000!

My 90 Dakota was a 5 speed and the last one I have owned. I save 2 MPG with a 5 speed over an automatic which is nothing to sneeze at in this economy. But American's won't buy them anymore so they are rare as hen's teeth.

Saturday is my annual seed school near Columbus, Ohio. The few inspectors that are left in the state get together to go over our field assignments and discuss some training. Dr. Pierce Paul at OSU is the one I learn the most from. He has the big job of filling the shoes of Dr. Pat Lipps, retired, whom I learned so much from.

There isn't that much seed grown in Ohio anymore as it also has moved to other states. You can say that about so many things that used to happen in Ohio. Now we are just one big bedroom state with few jobs available.

This weekend is the big antique flea market Extravaganza in Springfield, Ohio so I know LuAnn will be going there. Hmmm, what have I not gotten done this week?

It sounds like we may get near 80 degrees again this weekend after two months of rainy, gloomy weather but the forecast for rain hasn't subsided yet.

I think we could all use a 5 speed and some sunshine.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Social Insecurity

In a few months I am eligible to apply for Social Security. For me it is better named Social Insecurity.

In my case, my finances are insecure if I had to live on this pittance. I am insecure about it paying off and the death benefit is a joke.

I know, I know, many people live on that amount and it is important to them but I never counted on getting anything back from my investment. Too many people of my parent's generation were led to believe they could use their SS to live on until their death.

What a bunch of bunk. Maybe if you lived in poverty and never made anything of yourself it would work but to me it is a form of socialism I don't believe in. I never bought into it though I sure paid into it.

Yes I was a teacher and paid heavily into state teachers retirement along with the employers I worked for. I could have taken their contribution and built a hefty retirement plan but that is not how it works in America. Because I have this plan I can double dip but it amounts to gas money for me that I could burn up in a day or two at today's inflated prices.

So if I sound like sour grapes on the issue I guess I am. To me the money should all go to our soldiers who kept us free and to those who are truly disabled and can't make it on their own. Those two groups are few and far between but they are extremely important to me. That's the ones we should take care of.

Farmers? I don't know. I know my dad never had any cash to spend until he qualified for social security so I sure don't begrudge the amount he received. I know many retired farmers who live off their social security benefits and they wouldn't have much if they didn't. I suppose you could lump a whole bunch of people into that category but farmers are about as important as soldiers to me but I am biased as I love farmers. They are the backbone of this country economically and morally as I see it.

I remember him wrangling over whether to wait for the full benefit or taking it early. The amount is so small for me either way I might as well take it at 62.

Age to receive full Social Security benefits

Year of birth
Full retirement age


66 and 2 months

66 and 4 months

66 and 6 months

66 and 8 months

66 and 10 months

1960 and later

I am sure coal miners feel the same way. There becomes the problem, soon you have every job description fighting for a pot or maybe it's a cup of money for 40 years or so of work and staying out of trouble.

So I guess I will be applying for my "gas money" in a few months.

How about you?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good For Missouri

Looking for some cheery news this morning, it is good to hear Missouri farmers are ahead of last year. I know we had it better last year than they did as that region had 3 wet springs in a row and I imagine some farmers have four in a row. That is not a good thing on the farm.

Planting progress beats last year

By Jessie Belt, Missouri Farmer Today
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 1:48 PM CDT

SHELBYVILLE --- For Northeast Missouri farmer David Vannoy, this year’s planting is running a little ahead of schedule, at least compared to last year’s spring.

Vannoy is one of the four generations involved in the family farming operation Smith-Vannoy Farms, which was originally started by his grandfather.

The farming operation, which plants a third of its acres in corn and two-thirds of its acres in beans, has roughly 1,000 acres of corn left to plant this spring.

Last year, Smith-Vannoy Farms started planting in the middle of April only to have several acres to replant. The family finally finished planting by the end of May.

Most years, fall seem to disappear rather quickly as farmers try to get their crops harvested. However, last year’s fall cooperated nicely. Smith-Vannoy Farms took advantage of the good weather and were able to work their ground and even some of their terraces before winter.

Vannoy said May 5 the “ground dries out so much faster when it’s been chiseled.” Being able to prepare their land seems to have put them ahead of schedule. They planted the first of their corn April 7.

Despite early preparation and planting, the weather quickly turned cool and wet. Vannoy said they still have no idea on whether they will need to replant any of their early planted corn.

Without any replants, he estimated they could finish planting corn in four to five days if the weather would cooperate and the bottom ground would dry out.

With the end of the corn acres in sight the thought of switching to beans is starting to creep into their minds. With a little help from Mother Nature, they could switch as early as next week.

You can count the fields of corn around here on one hand. It will be past the 20th when we get back into the fields as we expect 3 more days of this dreary weather with no sunshine.

It was 45 degrees when I woke up this morning. It's even too cold to ride the lawn mower and it all needs mowed again. Some of the barnyard I have left for the bush hog.

At least we got to wish Tyler a happy second birthday last night. It looked like Christmas at his house with all kinds of new toys but they all got tossed into the trailer of his new John Deere electric tractor. It didn't take him long to figure out you get off on the left side of the tractor or you step on the go pedal that makes it move if you step on the right side.

I'd hate to be on an open station tractor today with wind and mist blowing from the east. I am sure we did that years ago and I still do.

I think I will stay inside today. The trees and the weeds are about the only plants growing outside in this weather.


Monday, May 16, 2011


My wheat is fully headed out now without an extra shot of N or fungicide. I got a decent kill on the weeds but not total control. The barley headed out a week ago.

It looks tough. I lost half the wheat due to water. It looked so good in March and then 13-19 inches of rain since April 1 took its toll on it.

I sold too much so I hope one of my dear friends can help me fill my contracts. I should only need a thousand bushel or so and the price I sold it for should be no problem in today's market but who knows what it will be at harvest time.

There is some decent looking soft red winter wheat around here on the rolling fields but everyone is concentrating on corn and soybeans.

It's another interesting year to say the least. I need to scout and pull flag leaves for tissue tests to finish this crop off.

At least the wheat scab predictor is low with the low temperatures today. It was 47 when I got up and I see a farmer got frost in Kansas.

Our wheat specialist just put out a good piece on fungicides on wheat.

Date: Sat, 14 May 2011 12:15:38 -0400
From: "Pierce Paul"
Subject: Flying on a Fungicide now (before flowering) WILL NOT Prevent Problems with Vomitoxin

Flying on a Fungicide now (before flowering) WILL NOT Prevent Problems with Vomitoxin – Pierce Paul and Dennis Mills

2- The head scab fungus infects when the wheat crop is flowering i.e., when anthers are seen sticking out of the heads, causing scab to develop and producing vomitoxin.
3- Therefore, fungicides need to be applied to protect the flowering head to reduce infection, scab development, and vomitoxin production.
4- Between flag leaf emergence and boot, the head is in the leaf sheath of the flag leaf where it is protected from the head scab fungus, so scab will not cause a problem while the head is hidden, even during these constant rains.
5- Between flag leaf emergence and boot, the head is in the leaf sheath of the flag leaf where the fungicide will not reach it. These fungicides need to be applied like a protectant – ON THE PLANT PART just prior to infection. THIS PART FOR SCAB control is the WHEAT HEAD WITH ANTHERS HANGING OUT. So, if it becomes wet and humid after the heads emerge when the crop is at greatest risk for scab, applications made before flowering WILL NOT PROVIDE PROTECTION.
6- Fungicide application between flag leaf emergence and boot will provide EXCELLENT CONTROL OF LEAF DISEASES BUT NOT SCAB.
7- Fungicide applications made at heading (when the heads are fully emerged) will provide some suppression of scab, but are much less effective than applications made at flowering.
8- For scab and vomitoxin control, application by air may be the only option if it is too wet to get into the field, but THESE APPLICATIONS NEED TO BE MADE AT FLOWERING, USING A VOLUME OF 5 GALLONS/ACRE AND GETTING AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO THE WHEAT CANOPY.
10- So, if you are targeting leaf diseases, applying a fungicide at this time may be an excellent idea, given the wet weather that we have had.
11- However, if you are truly concerned about scab and vomitoxin, which is understandable after last year’s problems and the weather we have had so far, applying a fungicide now (before flowering), is both a waste of time and money.
12- Read product labels for proper timing, since not all fungicides can be applied as late as flowering.

Pierce Anderson Paul, PhD.
Assistant Professor Phone: (330)-263-3842 (Office)
Department of Plant Pathology Phone: (330)-202-3555 Ex. 2850 (Lab.)
The Ohio State University/OARDC Fax: (330) 263-3841
1680 Madison Ave. Email: paul.661@osu.edu
Wooster, OH 44691-4096

Ed Winkle
Martinsville, Ohio

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bat Disease

I saw this article in the Ohio Farmer and haven't met anyone who had heard about it so I thought I would share it here.

Bat Disease Could Be Expensive
As white nose disease runs its course western counties of Ohio face potential losses of $23 million per county per year from increased insect damage.

Ohio farmers could suffer more than $740 million a year on a in agricultural losses, and possibly as much as $1.7 billion, if the new deadly disease called white-nose syndrome wipes out the state's bats, according to a recent study in the journal Science.

Especially hard hit, the study said, would be the rich farming counties in the state's west and northwest, such as Darke, Wood, Mercer and Putnam, where typical losses could range from $18 million to $23 million per county per year.

"Simply put, bats eat a lot of insects -- insects that bother us around our homes, and insects that can damage crops and forests," says Marne Titchenell, Ohio State University Extension wildlife specialist, who was not part of the study, but gives bat conservation workshops around the state and studied southern Ohio bat populations in graduate school.

"It's logical to assume we'll lose a significant amount of the pest-control services that bats provide us as the disease spreads through Ohio and potentially the Midwest," Titchenell says.

The numbers, from an article called "Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture" in the current issue of Science, are estimates based on crop acreage, the number of crop pests eaten by bats, the damage to crops that their feeding prevents, and the need, as a result, for farmers to spend less on pesticides.

Wildlife officials confirmed the first case of white-nose syndrome in bats in Ohio in late March. It's fatal to at least 90% of the bats in infected caves and sometimes as many as 100%. Human health isn't at risk.

Caused by a newly identified fungus, Geomyces destructans, white-nose syndrome -- so named for the white fuzzy growth it causes on bats' muzzles -- was first detected in New York state in 2006, has spread to at least 16 states and three Canadian provinces in eastern North America, and has killed more than 1 million bats.

Ohio's first case was in Wayne National Forest, in the same part of the state where Titchenell did her graduate research, in the Zaleski and Richland Furnace state forests.

In all, the Science study said Ohio's agricultural losses to white-nose syndrome could range from $120 million in years with a low rate of insect pest survival -- meaning there would be fewer pests to cause problems -- to $740 million at a standard pest survival rate to $1.7 billion at a high rate.

But Titchenell cautions that the figures are only estimates, extrapolated as they were from cotton-dominated farmlands in Texas.

"This is the first study I know of to report (bats' agricultural) values by state and county," she said. "But until there's a similar study that extrapolates corn and soybean figures" -- corn and soybeans being Ohio's top two crops -- "we won't know for sure."

The total value of bats to U.S. agriculture -- and the potential loss from white-nose syndrome -- ranges from a low of $3.7 billion to a high of $53 billion a year, according to the study.

I know many people could care less but I sure hope we don't lose our bats.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why We Have Lost So Much Soybean Yield Potential

I had really hoped to have our soybeans planted by now. Our potential yields have been lost and keep slipping every day.

All joking aside, the soggy saga continues and it has gotten past the critical
point for area farmers. We have not dodged the “rain bullet" and still can't get
in the field.

The decisions of what to do first will be quite varied. Do we just concentrate on getting corn planted and wait on soybeans? Do we try to do both at the same time to
cover more acres? Do we consider switching away from corn altogether(especially if we are still really wet into nextweek)?

The last couple of weeks we have thought about corn planting and burndown programs.
So, what about soybeans? What can we do to help the yield potential in a crazy year such as this?

Agronomists agreethe obvious potential of any soybean crop production system can be greatly enhanced by planting as early as possible. That never happened this year in the eastern corn belt.

There are three key reasons why we want to plant soybeans early. First, you want your soybean crop to collect as much of the seasonally available solar radiation as
possible, simply because plants require the energy of sunlight to convert carbon
dioxide into carbohydrates,protein, and lipids (oils).We don’t want to waste sunlight but we haven't had much this year.

The ultimate goal is for our soybean canopy to be green to the eye by the 4th of July, like we had last year. Also keep in mind that day length increases from
the equal day/equal night cycle of the spring equinoxto the longest day/shortest
night cycle of the summer solstice. A soybean crop, when planted in late April
or early May, is likely to close its canopy within a week or so after the summer
solstice. Later planted soybean crops will be deprived of the opportunityto collect as many hours of sunlight compared to earlier planted crops, and thus will invariably have less yield potential.

Secondly, you want to have your soybean crop transpire a greater fraction of the seasonally available water, simply because there is a linear relationship
between the amount of total water transpired by the crop and final crop yield.

The seasonally available water includes off season rainfall that was stored as soil water prior to planting, plus all of the in-season rainfall. In order for plants to
acquire carbon dioxide to produce plant and seed organic dry matter, the pores in the leaves (known as stomata) must open, allowing water inside the leaf to escape. In effect, plants must exchange water for carbon dioxide. As a general rule, the soybean exchange ratio translates into about one acre-inch of water (27,154 gallons)being required for every three bushels of seed producedper acre.

Crop water use includes water lost via evaporation directly from the soil, as well as water lost as transpiration from the leaves. Crop water use efficiency can be improved by reducing evaporative water loss as this means more water
will be available for transpirational water loss.

Early planting helps in this regard, because:

• The cooler soil and air temperatures prevailing in
late April or early May are much less conducive to soil water evaporation than
the temperatures in lateMay and early June.

• The canopy closes earlier in the season, which reduces the interception of solar radiation by the soil surface, thereby lessening the heating of
soil surface that drives soil water evaporation.

• The higher humidity that often prevails in a closed (versus open) soybean canopy minimizesthe degree of evaporativesoil water loss.

Finally, you want tohave your soybean crop produce as many plant stem nodes as possible, simply because plant nodes are where the plant produces its flowers, then
pods, and ultimately seeds within those pods.

The rates of soybean germination and emergence are temperature sensitive, so these processes are slower in cooler soil temperatures that prevail during early plantings.
However, once soybean plants reach the V1 stage, (temperature sensitivity is much less, given that a new node is produced on the main plant stem about once every 3.7 days), until node accrual ceases at the R5 stage, when seed enlargement begins in the
uppermost stem nodes.

The node accrual rate between V1 and R5 is not impacted much by the calendar
date of planting. What is impacted by planting date is the calendar date when V1 occurs. This is quite important, given that the V1 date establishes the earliest date that linear node accrual can start.

Moving the planting date earlier typically results in an earlier V1 date. Later planted soybeans simply do not have the opportunity to catch up to the soybean node development of earlier planted soybeans.

Thus, earlier soybean planting can increase crop yield potential by allowing plants to generate more stem nodes. It also induces the beginning flower (R1) stage to occur
nearer the date of the summer solstice.

So, what kind of yield advantage does a producer gain by planting soybeans early? In Nebraska, research reported in the Agronomy Journal demonstrated that for each day
that soybean planting was delayed after May 1, the yield penalty per day was as much as 5/8 (0.63) bu/ac in a “great” soybean year (like 2004), and still a substantive 1/4 (0.25) bu/ac in a “not so great” soybean year (like 2003).

Multiplying these yield penalties by the current soybean price provides a clear indication of the importance of planting date in terms of optimizing the net profit potential in a soybean production system. The yield penalties accruing from delaying soybean planting beyond early May in Nebraska have also been documented in other states (Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa).

The yield reward arising from early planting should not be used as a reason to plant seed into seedbeds that are too wet to plant. Other than trying to plant early, exercise good judgment relative to the other seed planting practices.

I thought this would explain why we will have less soybean yield potential this year and be helpful to farmers and our non farming consumers.

Ed Winkle

Indians No-Tilled 500 Years Ago

Our friend Fred Shaw, Shawnee Nation Storyteller has told us much about the past of this land before the white man settled here. They used innovative practices to feed themselves. Relics abound on this farm and this area which was good for hunting and growing corn.

There is not too much no-tilling going on around here yet as it is cool and damp once more. It is amazing how we farm today with machines like others before us farmed by hand with very crude tools.

FARGO, N.D. – As the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices become more commonplace today in American agriculture, some of those methods now being adopted are similar to those practiced four centuries ago by the Iroquois nation in what is now New York.

That became apparent during a presentation by Jane Mt. Pleasant, an associate professor in the Horticulture Department at Cornell University and also director of the American Indian Program at the school.

Mt. Pleasant spoke at the recent Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Winter Conference in Fargo, with her speech focusing on indigenous agriculture and its links to contemporary agricultural sustainability. She used her expertise in Iroquois agriculture to support that contention.

According to Mt. Pleasant, records dating as far back as 1687 for areas in the Iroquois nation, which was located in the area which is now New York State, indicated some very high yields for crops grown by the Indian group.

These yields, according to Mt. Pleasant, were actually higher than the results being experienced by European farmers growing wheat and other small grains at the time. In fact, she termed the wheat yields in Europe as “miserable” with a kernel of wheat seed often yielding only 10 kernels at harvest time. These conditions didn’t start improving until the European farmer started to include forage crops in their planting rotation.

Despite that, the farming industry in the U.S. was actually patterned after the system developed in Europe, which included using the plow and teams of animals to till the soil. Lacking the draft animals and plows, the Iroquois actually used a basic no-till system, once the trees in the forest area were cleared and the planting mounds established.

Though many hail the moldboard plow as the tool that helped agriculture the most, Mt. Pleasant isn’t convinced. In fact, she contends the plow caused more problems than it solved.

“If you keep plowing soils continuously there is no attempt to increase soil organic matter and they eventually reach a pretty stable level of about two percent,” she said. “As a result, very little nitrogen is added to the soil. We now know that plowing is the single, largest threat to soil organic matter to everyone involved in agriculture.

“Soils with less than two percent organic matter, not only suffer from low fertility rates, but also many other problems such as soil structure, its ability to hold water and increased erosion factors.”

However, during this time of scarce wheat and other small grain crops in Europe, the Iroquois nation, making use of no-till agricultural methods were raising good crops of maize (corn) as was documented on several occasions in journals kept by various individuals.

In the 1600s, when Britain and France were fighting over the control of what is now the northeastern part of the U.S., the English made a pact with the Iroquois to supply their troops with food, and the French were constantly sending scouting parties south from present day Canada to destroy those food supplies.

On one such expedition, which was headed by Denonville, a French businessman headquartered in Canada, his patrol reported destroying over 1.5 million bushels of corn in his nine-day sweep through Iroguois ag production area, according to Mt. Pleasant.

“It was an incredible amount of corn,” she noted, “and Denonville spent a good amount of his time destroying as much of it as he could.”

Almost a hundred years later, John Sullivan, a general with George Washington, had the assignment of going into Seneca (the Iroquois ag region) and destroying their agriculture ability, since they were still supplying the British with food. Several soldiers in that campaign wrote in their diaries of the agriculture they encountered while conducting their “slash and burn campaign.” Those diary entries told of fields of over a mile in length and exceeding 200 acres in size, covered with heavy crops of corn, squash and pumpkin, with top corn yields in excess of 75 bushels per acre.

“What explains this level of productivity,” she asked, “particularly when the wheat farmers of Europe were not experiencing good yields?

“First, the Iroquois were farming fertile soils, but they maintained high levels of soil organic matter because they weren’t plowing,” she said. “They were also lucky that they were working with maize, which is uniquely suited to no-till conditions and they were also fortunate that maize is usually more productive than wheat.”

After clearing forested areas, the Iroquois formed mounds of earth about three feet across with hand tools and then planted in those mounds. These areas were kept weed free by pulling the weeds. When they came back the next year, according to Mt. Pleasant, they reshaped those same mounds and planted in them again.

This type of farming is starting to take hold in the farming community today as we see an increase of cover crops and less tillage, which is resulting in healthier soils and improved production. All things our forefathers in agriculture learned several centuries ago under different cultures in different parts of the world.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Liam got to visit us yesterday from Cleveland. We had a blast.

His darned old allergies were acting up before he got here and his poor little eyes were almost swollen shut when he left. Like me he hates weeds and pollens so we sprayed and pulled and chopped weeds. You wouldn't think a five year old would hate weeds as much as I do but he does.

He drove the 1755 pedal tractor plenty and we got into the big tractors and shot some basketball in the shop. Of course his favorite thing is the pillow fight in the extra bedroom and the dust mites and feather down probably was not good on either one of our allergy problems.

We had a hamburger and french fries for supper and some snow pea pods and vegetables until a broccoli suddenly attacked me from his plate. He had never done that before so that got a warning from grandma. We get a little crazy when we get together.

Of course we had to wash it down with berry juice and milk and some more berries on top of that for dessert.

He sure is a fun guy, reminds me so much of my dad and I it isn't funny. He told his other grandpa he was going to be a farmer. I think he will be able to do whatever he wants. He sure had grown since the picture.

Grandma got to play with grandson Tyler today in Columbus. That little guy will be able to do whatever he wants, to. He is all boy and has a vocabulary for a two year old you wouldn't believe. He is very hands on, too.

Grandkids are so special and we have a passle full. One is smarter than the other, never saw such a bunch.

What a great bunch of kids they are.


Thursday, May 12, 2011


LuAnn and I have been talking about what we would like to do for our tenth anniversary. I found this and feel really blessed we have been able to see almost all of this.

Now with the price of gas, we are trying to pinch our pennies a little more. It's going to be like that here on out with our age and the economy.

There is hope gas might come down a little since many experts feel like $4 per gallon is the barrier where people really reduce driving as stocks of fuel have skyrockted since gas hit the magic 4 button.

Yesterday gas was $4.09 here, diesel was still still $4.19 and E-85 was $3.49 per gallon. I bought some of all of it for our various engines.

Ten years ago we bought our first pickup camper and headed to Iowa on the way to Yellowstone. That's when we found our first big National Parks like Yellowstone and visited where Custer had his Last Stand. Oh, those were the days and only ten years ago! It's went by in a blink.

We've made several trips west since then and saw all those National Parks on the link. I still have the maps displayed in my office where we visited, that color brochure they hand you when you enter that National Park.

Farming comes first though and our anniversary looks like it will come during prime farming time in this late spring 5 weeks from now.

A friend planted his big corn test plot yesterday near Clarksville not too far from here so we are getting close to planting though they are still calling for big thunderstorms.

People who know we farm are starting to notice the unplanted fields and are asking questions. I figure we have lost a quarter of our yield potential already this year and probably more. The cereal grains, corn and soybeans aren't going to yield like we hoped they would as we have already lost weeks of growing weather that aren't usually made up at the end of the year.

Who knows, it's a long way to fall but it will come fast just like those ten years.

Like this picture from a year ago we can plan the event but we can't plan the outcome.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good Morning!

It still looks like rain this morning and it's almost the middle of May. We have had 11-12 inches in this area since April first and there has been no drying weather.

Farmers have got to be antsy by now. They are even looking at crop insurance options in case they can't plant on time. Our May first planting completion date washed down the river in April. It will be at least two more weeks before much happens if this pattern does shift and it shows no signs of shifting.

I always said you can pick your date but you can't pick the weather that day. That was never truer than this year.

I see another farmer posted whether he should inoculate his soybeans this year. It's been 16 years since that all changed but some never got the message. In 1995 the first new strains of rhizobia bacteria were introduced that don't carry over in the soil but compete for a place to live on the soybean root with whatever rhizobia is already in that soil.

It's made me an extra bushel of soybeans every year since and often 3-4 and sometimes 8-10 bushels. Inoculation is one of the best investments out there but some farmers never got the message.

I admit it's a small piece of the puzzle this year with the problem of just planting period without worrying about the little things but the little things do add up. As wet and cold as this soil is I sure would want every advantage for the new crop I can give it.

The Internet has lost it's zest for me since I have been off it the last month and my computer is acting up again. I will probably have to have cousin Brian out again to look at it. Something has changed in the settings. I couldn't open a power point this week and I am locked out of Facebook. No loss there but I do like to see my families pictures on it.

Arthritis has been really kicking it's heels this week too, must be great weather for it. Spring allergies haven't been too bad so I am thankful for that.

Now if we could just get the yard mowed...


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grandparents Day

Two of the grand daughters invited us to grandparents day Friday and Monday. Friday was a fiasco. Poor mommy had the third automobile breakdown in one week. Grandma saved the day but missed grandparents day.

Yesterday turned out better. So many grandparents showed up they had to unload more chairs in the auditorium. Everyone had a tasty donut and milk or juice or coffee. I even got to sit across my township trustee, a farmer I never see in that situation, sitting with his grandson.

We met a very nice lady who sat beside us who drove two and a half hours for grandparents day. It turned out her husband is well driller and I just had my second well quit pumping. With the years of no use of the wells I imagine silt plugged the bottom or a sand lense and now neither well will pump.

You can't get hold of my well driller, he never returns calls and I had called him for years when we first moved here. She said "Tom loves to talk and would be happy to help you with your problem." I am calling Tom today.

They marched us up stairs single file Indian style to her second grade classroom. Her teacher had them sing a grandparents song to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. They really sang well. The teacher used a powerpoint on one of those new electronic chalk boards.

Her cursive writing and spelling is really coming along! I think we still printed in second grade! We felt sorry for the little children with no grandparents so we made a big deal over them too and asked them about their paper. Two liked to camp, one like to fish and one liked to show pigs.

It felt good to be in the building that the school board built when I was on the board ten to twenty years ago. I remember hiring the principal and her teacher years ago and they both are doing a great job. You are the first people I told this too as yesterday was all about the children.

The Ohio FFA had a great convention in Columbus last weekend too. Fayetteville took lots of honors like eighth in the state in General Livestock Judging, one of my favorites. There are 360 FFA Chapters in Ohio. The team is composed of sophomore and juniors so I hope they can do even better the next two years.

It reminded me of when I taught at Blanchester where we visited yesterday and my team went to the top of the General Livestock Judging Contest and again when my three kids and our grand daughter's dad was on the team. Now he is assistant principle of the high school after teaching ag where I did for many years.

Our friend Drew Hastings was one of the speakers to the group of 6,000 people. Drew is the Republican candidate for Mayor of Hillsboro this fall.

Yesterday was a really good day, just like a year ago when we visited the Elementary School for the same reason. That group of kids have grown and learned so much in just one year.

I even got to mow some grass yesterday and got a lot of chores done on top of the special day.

Hope you had a special day, too.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Community Garden

My organization, Turning Point Applied Learning Center in Hillsboro Ohio made the first cut in a nationwide competition sponsored by Edy's Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree foundation.

To receive a fruit orchard we must earn enough votes in an online competition. We need your vote every day to become in winner! Winners will receive fruit trees and fruit bearing bushes to create a community orchard.

This orchard will complement our existing community garden that is part of our employment training program. Our garden and the future orchard provide fresh fruit and vegetables for several area foodbanks and homeless shelters.

To vote for Turning Point:

Please go to www.CommunitiesTakeRoot.com

Click on the “Vote Now” tab

Click on “List by State” and scroll down to Ohio and find Hillsboro….Turning Point

Then register to vote and vote EVERY DAY until May 31st!

We would love to get the most votes across the country to earn an orchard for our community.

You can help us by passing this request on to your email contacts and your Facebook Friends.

Thank you!


There isn't much of anything planted in Ohio, a few acres here and there and maybe some really try gardens. We are over 15 inches since the first of April!

Date Total 05/02/2011 05/03/2011 05/04/2011 05/05/2011 05/06/2011 05/07/2011 05/08/2011
B Farm 3.61 0.20 2.30 0.41 0.28 0.00 0.00 0.42
Hershey Farm 2.70 0.18 1.47 0.48 0.17 0.00 0.00 0.40
New Farm 2.58 0.17 1.53 0.41 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.47
Home Farm 2.67 0.26 1.48 0.46 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.45
Ledford Farm 2.57 0.29 1.41 0.43 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.40

From SpatialRainfallConsulting.com You can look your rainfall totals up there too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Mother's Day is a good time to talk about hugs. Some people give them freely and others don't. My friends are pretty much a big group of huggers. Thankfully my family is too.

I wasn't raised with hugs and kisses and I love you but I could feel it. Touch is an important sense for me. It gives me a lot of security. When I am not in a hugging mood I am probably not in a very good mood for me.

Dad rolled around with us when we were little and that was better than a hug. I know I hugged my kids alot and still do. That sense of closeness is imprortant to me, especially in this crazy world we live in.

I always thought days other than Christmas and Easter were made up holidays to sell greeting cards. They do mean more to me now in my older years as every minute is more valuable to me then when I was younger and thought I didn't have time for such nonsense.

Father's Day was always awkward to me because I thought every day was Father's Day. I respected my dad every day and wanted my kids to feel the same way about me. I bet some mom's are the same way, this is just another day and every day is mother's day. It's nice to get some special recognition, though.

So here's to hugs on Mother's Day. Give someone you love a great big hug. That means more to me than about anything else today and I hope it does for you, too.

Flowers and candy and dinners and such are nice but there is nothing than a sincere hug. It shows openess and feelings we take for granted.

Even Sable likes hugs but she would rather roll around with me like a kid.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kid Seeds

Our friend Sally on NewAgTalk posted a real winner of a picture on the Cafe last night. I always said kids are the best crop you will ever grow and now I have some proof!

You can vote for the picture here. It's a 10 in my book, no doubt. It took me awhile to get my vote in, I can't see well enough to get those encrypted passwords on the first try.

I got a message from Liam last night on Facebook, Papaw I miss you! No more than I miss you, Liam. Liam and his brother and sister moved to Lake Erie the first of March. He is coming down to visit this week and I can't wait to see him.

The little ones grow up so quickly. Madison, Brynn, Liam, Corbin, Claire, Caolin, Tyler, Finn, and baby Cleveland are growing so fast, too fast for Grandpa.

I always said kids are the best crop you will ever grow and these children and they are proof of that fact. Sowing seeds for the future is another good title a farmer gave this picture.

My friend Brad graduates from Wilmington College today. The first time I met him was seven years ago when we bought his grandpa's place. He was just a tall stringy kid then with big eyes and boy how he has grown in seven years! Now he is a young farmer with a college degree, a farm and machinery and a real estate license.

He's got a big challenge with his first big year of farming with no college involved. I never dreamed that he would graduate before he got to turn a wheel this year. God works in mysterious ways.

I wish every parent could give the attention to these little ones most farmers do. The world would be such a better place.

So here is hat's off to you responsible parents. You are the key to our society thriving and surviving! Parenting is no easy job but many of you make it look easy.

Mother's Day couldn't come at a better time.

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers who are mom's. I hope you enjoy your special day.

Ed Winkle

Friday, May 6, 2011

Corn Progress

This weather is something else. I am glad I am not in seed sales anymore.

A year ago Tyler and I were looking at my baby beans. This year they are still in the bag!

The USDA released its weekly planting progress report. Corn planting progress is very behind last year’s outstanding pace, with only 4% of the crop being planted last week, 13% of the total corn crop is in the ground for the 18 primary producing states. This compares with a 5 year historical average of 40% in similar time periods, and 2010’s estimate of 66%. Top corn producing states Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Ohio, all reported no progress in corn planting over the past week due to the record amounts of precipitation.

From Informa:
Corn, down 300 thousand acres at 91.9 million,
Sorghum, down 200 thousand acres at 5.46 million,
Soybeans, down 600 thousand acres at 76.0 million,
Other Spring Wheat, down 360 thousand at 14.0 million, and
All cotton, up 515 thousand at 13.1 million.

"As rain continues to push corn planting back and soybeans after that, growers may be starting to reconsider crop choices. Other guys who got some corn in the ground 10 to 12 days ago before the rains must have their fingers crossed hoping the seed won't rot in the cold and saturated soils. And others are probably happy they watched the forecast and waited.

One worry is now being replaced with another as growers wonder if they should switch varieties to shorter season numbers or switch from corn to soybeans as the clock keeps ticking and the optimal planting window closes.

While it is easy to conclude that the window is closing, there is still time. Most growers want to have their corn planted by April 20 or 25 or no later than May 1. With the rush to plant early many of us believe that there is a really big benefit with early-planted corn. However, the optimal window for planting corn really doesn't close until about May 10 and yield losses of 1 bushel per acre per day really don't kick in until May 8 to 10.

Mid-April to early May is the optimal window for planting corn from Indiana to Nebraska. Sure there is nothing wrong with planting early and nothing wrong with planting later either as you won't lose any yield before May 10. Remember, the final yield is not just determined by planting within the window. It is also impacted by weather conditions over the summer and the length of fall before the first frost occurs -- along with stresses that occur during the season. Most farmers need only 10 to 14 good days to plant corn. If the rains end this week and it dries up fairly quick, there may still have enough time to get corn planted within the optimal window.

What about switching hybrid numbers to shorter relative maturity? If it is May and you stick with corn, it doesn't pay to switch to shorter season hybrids. First, the shorter season hybrids will yield no better than planting the longer season hybrid planted at a later date. And second, if you go looking to switch out hybrids at this late date you will probably not be happy with what you get.
So there is no hurry to switch to soybeans for probably another 20 to 30 days. Optimum planting date for beans begins in late April through mid-May. But let's not worry about soybeans just yet until the corn is planted.

Lastly, and very important, it never pays to mud in corn. The compaction and sidewall smearing you create will have a more negative effect on yield then any planting delay ever will."

We can mud in corn as well as anyone, successfully with lighter tractors and the Martin planter setup. We can tip toe across fields and may have too.

It just hasn't been good growing weather yet, too cool to be this wet.

I am figuring 25% of my yield and income potential at this point is lost but all is not lost yet.


Sunday, May 1, 2011


We are exoeriencing consequences from all this rain. The fall tilled fields are about washed away and very few weeds. The notill fields are weedy. The taller cover crops like rye are getting out of hand and I expect they will be by planting time.

The rivers ran brown all month. I didn't even think there were that many tilled fields around this area but there must be because they have been nilk chocolate brown all spring.

These are the kinds of years that drive seed people nuts. The farmer makes a plan, it's in the shed and you can't plant the maturity you planned on in time so the seed man has to start switching maturities. I won't have any trouble in that area because I planned for this. If I had a barn full of that new 115 day hybrid with the big pearly kernals that did so well last year, it would be heading back to the warehouse. I didn't take delivery on any though I had planned to a month ago.

I tried to mow some 2 foot tall orchardgrass that is in our barnyard lawn. My little diesel mower wasn't designed for that. If you didn't have new sharp blades and and the tractor ready to go and mowed every chance little chance there was your lawn is clear out of control. Our's is and we were ready for it. It rained almost every day in April like it did in May last year but this is much worse than last year.

The tile holes I planned to repair got bigger with all the flooding. I have a big pile of soil to move on the new farm and now I have half as much to move. The windrow is half the size it was before April and probably won't get spread before planting.

"These are the times that try men's soul's" is appropriate this year. We have four dollar fuel and the only place to burn it is on a paved highway.

Life is full of consequences and this one is out of our control.

Sure makes a farmer wonder how this year is going to turn out.

We went to church grateful for what we have anyway. We can't do much about the weather, only how we react to it.