Sunday, July 31, 2011

Produce


Today I got the opportunity to judge fresh and canned produce again. Today was the opening of the Greene County Fair in Xenia, Ohio. It was great to see our good friends Ed and Wilma again and their excellent committee.

Entries were down a bit but the quality was high, as usual. You could tell gardens were late or went unplanted this year but the savvy garders were right in there again with quality produce. The heat is taking its toll on these crops but the quality is still excellent.

I don't remember seeing zucchini in so many different forms! This venerable, unstoppable vegetable made its way into all kinds of canned foods! Potatoes and tomatoes took a hit this year but there were still some real good entries.

One lady cans everything under the sun and they keep reading her exhibitor number over and over. I don't look at the tag but it makes you want to look when you are judging and spread the wealth around a little! Then when they read a different number for first I wondered now did I really pick the best one?

Canned vegetables are difficult to judge without tasting but we couldn't taste every sample so color and presentation is about all you have to work with except size and uniformity of the vegetable. I look for damaged pieces and off colors first and always compare the rest of the class to the one I think is best.

I am pretty brain dead and tired when I get done but it's still fun. Teaching the committee what you are looking for is as much fun as watching them watch me and just talking back and forth. It's good for all of us and makes us all think.

Lots of fairs are losing their older exhibitors and it is good to see younger generations involved like the youth shows. I hope these traditions never end but I can see where they might.

Many Ohio fairs are commerating 150-160 years of exhibition and I hope we can keep them going a long while.

Ed

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Positive


I am trying to be positive this morning and struggling with it. It's hot, sticky and we didn't get rain. We had to turn the TV off last night and take Sable for a swim.

I couldn't watch our so called leaders using Parliamentary Procedure to defend their undefendable positions about our debt crisis. I can't even describe how I feel about our situation without getting really frustrated.

This should have been handled a long time ago but it keeps getting passed down the line. Now with the slim majorities on both sides of the aisle nothing gets done because nothing is bipartisan and no one dares cross that line.

The two party system has really failed us but its mainly our own greed and the ignoring of basic economic laws; you can't spend more than you take in.

We moved more stocks into safety before the Dow started its expected tumble. If the country does default who knows what will happen. Our credit score is already damaged in my opinion no matter what happens now.

Oh Lord, It's Hard to be Humble, When You Are Perfect in Every Way has been the politicians theme song way too long.

I am afraid we are all going to get a big dose of humility for the lack of it from leaders. You and I can't do much about it but speak up and manage our own affaris.

I guess this long heat wave with no rain and nothing but doom and gloom has made me grumpy so I better focus on gratitude and enjoy every minute of it.

This morning that spells GRANDKIDS.

I leave you with a picture from a year ago which we did again yesterday. The heat took a toll on the flowers, too.

Ed

Friday, July 29, 2011

Heat


Everyone talks about the weather. It's probably the oldest, common discussion point. We sure have had plenty to talk about in my lifetime but you wonder if it was much different in anyone's lifetime over the centuries.

"The 'Heat Streak' is up to 12 days in row with temperatures in the 90s and we are destined to make it 13 today. Yesterday we climbed to 97 degrees officially and that tied for the hottest day of the year so far. Our average temperature this month is now at 80.7 degrees making it the 8th hottest July on record. A cool front and the chance for rain may help some, but only a little."

Columbus set a new record low high temperature of 77 degrees this week. We have had 2274 Growing Degree Days in Martinsville as of today. Growing degree days are calculated by subtracting a high of 86 from a low of 50 degrees, divide by two and add fifty. All of these 90 degree days are counted as a high of 86, more than the plant needs.

So plants have been in a defensive mode this month. This is when irrigators add water to crops to cool it down, especially when it doesn't rain like it hasn't recently. Cincinnati is only around one inch of rainfall this month.

One of the big questions is how corn is pollinating across the country. There has been everything to perfect kernal set to very poor. The crop is so short the traders want to know how good or bad it really is.

We knew planting all this late corn in Ohio was going to be a problem and it is. Lots of corn fields are just silking and ready to pollinate in this heat. Heat disturbs pollination.

The main thing is all of the crop needs a good drink around here. We have chances for showers today but they will be sporadic. Even Sable doesn't like the heat but she is so close to us she does pretty well, pretty much living like a human in this heat.

We tricked her the other night, a family brought their brown mixed Lab dog Dixie to swim at the lake and Sable is so intriguied with other dogs she followed Dixie out into the deep water where she had to paddle to keep her nose above water. Of course she wouldn't do that for us but she did to keep up with another dog. Dixie looks like a little seal swimming and Sable didn't do too bad for a Shepherd. Some Shepherd's won't get near the water.

The picture was taken a year ago today. The weather is in the news again so keep cool!

Ed

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Counting Purple Soybean Flowers


I got lost hunting for fields this morning so I had to call LuAnn and Google a map for me. I was very near where I wanted to be but after many years of scouting that area I forgot exactly where it was.

No I don't use Street Pilot for scouting. I usually get copies of aerial maps with the field circled or highlighted and you hope they put the county roads on there so you can figure out where to go.

The primary job is to count soybean flowers and make sure they are all the same variety by description. This variety has purple flowers and tawny pubescence or reddish brown plant hairs in common language.

I was jealous of these non GMO beans but they looked like the ones I raised last year. They were dark black green, fairly tall but not too tall and loaded with flowers. The farmer had good weed control too for all the resistant weeds we have. His chemical program sure worked.

I hope they do better than mine did but they are related to the bean I had last year. That variety shucked all its pods in the heat and drought and the stems were blank 6 to 12 inches off the ground. I was not impressed with the yield.

That's the trouble with non GMO's today, most of the breeding investment is going to GMO's which farmers plant most. It's hard to find a good adapted variety that competes with the myriad of RR and LL varieties available.

I had mentioned to a chemical supplier the concern of glyphosate on soil and he sent me an email he received this morning pointing out everything I had mentioned to him and more. I have encouraged the National NoTill Conference to get some good speakers on the subject as there is a lot of confusion and unknowing out there that needs to be cleared up.

I was in a field yesterday that must have been sprayed with insecticide all season. It had the least bug holes in it I ever remember seeing. There was hardly a hole in a leaf in the whole field. If he didn't spray, he is really doing something right!

We are in our 12th consecutive day above 90 degrees and another 7 predicted which will more than break the record. We had so many last year I lost count. Cincinnati is saying 17 in a row is the record and we usually average 23? for the year? I need to check that out, my memory fails me if I don't take notes and who takes notes during the weather at lunch.

I don't know about you but I am tired of breaking records. It's been 7 years since our record breaking yields of 2004. I could sure use some more of that.

Keep cool,

Ed

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Church


Working on LuAnn's church project of procuring donations for the Silent Auction for our Church Festival September 4 has made me think about the church lately. It's made me think of my religious training, and spirituality versus relgion which should go hand in hand to me.

There was only one universal church until the Reformation in the 16th century. In the 16th century, the followers of Martin Luther established the evangelical churches of Germany and Scandinavia. Reformed churches in Switzerland and France were established by John Calvin and more radical reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli. Thomas Cranmer reformed the Church of England and later John Knox established a more radical Calvinist communion in the Church of Scotland.

Life Magazine had an article on Origins and Divisions of Protestantism many decades ago. The flow chart of church origination since the Crucifixtion is very interesting. I remember asking a farmer I was working beside what the original church was and he quickly replied, why the Church of Christ, of course! That is where he worships and all he understood about religion which was fine to me, just not the truth as I understand it.

The Church of Christ didn't appear until this house was built in the 1880's and both happened in America. Although this house is old in modern standards that's 19 centuries after the Crucifixtion. There's a whole lot of history in 1900 years that is missing.

The Reformation started in 1517 when priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. The Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (now known as the 95 theses)[5][6] debated and criticized the Church and the Pope, concentrating upon the sale of indulgences, the doctrines of purgatory, and the authority of the Pope. Luther maintained that justification (salvation) was granted by faith alone, saying that good works and the sacraments were not necessary in order to be saved. Luther sent a copy of his challenges to his bishop, who in turn forwarded the theses to Rome.[7]

So all of the churches you see today besides the Catholic Church and the Synagogues started only 600 years ago or so.

I find that pretty interesting. Time to go scout fields so have a good day.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feet


Yesterday we talked about plant health so today I thought we would discuss human health. I have told you I have been to more doctors this year than I ever have trying to keep myself going in the 60 plus group.

Yesterday I went to see my foot doctor to get some help for my aching feet. The X Rays showed plenty of arthritis going on there too but nerve endings and blood flow was good so he ended up trying an old trick of his of custom orthotics. This would cost you $500 or more at the Good Feet store and he does it for $25.

He cut two little circles about the size of a drinking glass bottom and put them where your middle toe bone meets that bone across the part you spring from. I felt instant comfort and relief and my gait straightened up. He also doubled my dose of Naprosen or Naproxen Sodium to get the swelling down.

We talked about family and travel and like us he hasn't been back to New York too often with our busy lives here. His oldest child, a boy is entering High School where our youngest lives and he said he had been studying Spanish and Chinese and should graduate from High School with 10 years of Spanish and 6 years of Chinese and he wants to be an engineer. I imagine he will be a prized find for a college and later an employer.

His younger daughter is a whiz kid too but he said she didn't like Chinese because it makes her head hurt. I understand that because when I went to China very few people on this planet are fluent in English and Chinese because each language uses a different hemisphere in the brain.

We got to talking about Drew Hastings and his run for Mayor of Hillsboro and shaking up the business as usual political scene. He said Drew said in one of his talks he was cutting his corn down and a farmer asked him why in the world he would do that and he answered, "Well you told me it had to be knee high by the fourth of July and it's taller than that."

Drew is a life long bachelor who doesn't like kids and he dated a Vegan from LA and after a deep passionate kiss she exclaimed, Ugh, you taste like meat! He said of course I taste like meat because I love meat and you taste like lettuce!

I judged another show at Owensville yesterday and that made my head hurt, too. It was hot by one o'clock and I was brain tired picking out the best plant specimens. Those lucky ducks got two inches of rain the day before and we got one tenth or so. It was so wet I was afraid I would get stuck in the grassed parking lot.

I have a friend who has thousands of acres of corn and soybeans in that area so he hit the jackpot. This morning we have a little fog from our shower, just enough to keep the crop alive in this heat.

So my advice this morning is if you are hurting somewhere, go find out more about it. Farmers are notorious for not going to the doctor before it's too late.

And, please pray for our country in our time of peril.

Ed

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plant Nutrition


We have been having discussions on Crop Talk about how to feed plants or Plant Nutrition. I have always taught healthy soil equals healthy plant, healthy plant equals healthy animals, healthy animals equals healthy humans. This is a very basic description of the cycle farmers face to produce food.

There are a million ways to do this from strict organic to spraying every week, from pure notill to full tillage and from dryland to irrigation. Since every soil and soil history is different we see different results and lots of lack of understanding of why we get what we get.

My friend John Haggard posted this in 2010 and it is a good review on how he applies his knowledge of plant nutrition to the farmers he consults for.

"North Central Ohio, across the Corn belt ! soil basics - how it works

1. The Symbiotic Decay-Nutrition Cycle

The soil works as a dynamic plant-growing system. Good soil is rich in organic matter and microbes that, together with the atmosphere, precipitation and sunshine, provide all the needed elements and conditions for strong plant growth.

Plants are known to need at least 16 elements to live, grow and reproduce (See Table 1). Recent research has shown that most plants also require very small amounts of nickel, and some plants require silicon. Like animals, plants need a certain balance of nutrients, not just the nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K) that we typically associate with plant foods. And like animals, plants need different amounts of the various nutrients at different life stages. How does the soil supply these nutrients in the right balance, and how can we improve soil properties to maximize plant health and vigor?

Table 1. Typical Elemental Plant Composition (%)

Oxygen
Magnesium
Carbon (from air)
Manganes
Hydrogen
Iron
Nitrogen
Zinc
Potassium
Chlorine
Calcium
Boron
Sulfur
Copper
Phosphorus

Molybdenum

In the real world of crop and pasture management, two things are very important to maintaining soil health, and therefore plant vitality: the decay cycle (by which organic matter is recycled to recover critical elements), and supplemental provision of nutrients, usually via some kind of fertilizer.

Decay of organic matter that enriches the soil is a cycle – there must be organic matter present to decay, and there must be microbes present to cause the decay. Organic matter, plants and microbes have a symbiotic relationship; organic matter enriches the physical attributes of the soil by holding water, warming appropriately but not baking in the sun as barren soil would, and providing a food source for the soil microbes. The microbes breakdown the organic matter and make elemental nutrients available to the plants. And the plants provide shade to prevent excessive soil warming (which would be detrimental to the microbes) and provide a continuous supply of organic matter through fallen leaves, dead grass blades, seed husks, etc. The addition of complex chemical and biological compounds to the soil via decay substantially enriches the physical, chemical and biochemical complexity of the soil and helps to maintain the proper pH (6.0 to 6.8) that allows for a healthy balance of microbial life. Use of a natural fertilizer such as the Bradfield products contributes to this provision of organic matter and nutrients.

This symbiotic development of a nutrient cycle results in healthy plants with deep, extensive root systems that are better able to absorb nutrients and water from the surrounding soil. Use of a straight chemical fertilizer interrupts this symbiotic cycle by 1) not contributing organic matter; 2) depressing natural fixation of nutrients by bacteria living in the soil and in nodules found on the roots of plants; 3) disrupting the balance of nutrients available to the plant (much as oversupply of one nutrient may disrupt absorption of another in animals); and 4) interrupting the normal progress of the decay cycle. Over time, this results in plants suffering from malnutrition and inadequate root development, thus increasing the need for extraneous provision of fertilizers.

Nutrient needs are relatively small at the beginning of a crop’s or pasture’s growth, then increase dramatically during peak vegetative growth and during seed production. If soil is healthy and the decay cycle is progressing normally, last year’s residues will be digested and their nutrients released and available to the plant at about the time the plant is approaching its peak needs. Anything that interrupts or slows the cycle can result in inadequate nutrition when the plant most needs it.

Healthy soils have far larger amounts of nutrient elements than crops need, but most of this total soil nutrient supply is unavailable to plants. Most of the nutrients in soil are initially “tied up”, their molecules chemically bound in mineral particles, or in the complex organic molecules in humus or the bodies of soil organisms.

These nutrients can be made available through natural processes: weathering, the action of precipitation and temperature changes; plant root release of acidic substances (hydrogen ions and organic acids); microbe release of acids and chelating substances; and microbial decay of organic matter. In a healthy, biologically active soil, these natural release mechanisms can often meet much of a plant’s nutrient needs. Indeed, natural nutrient release is one reason that biological farmers can reduce their fertilizer inputs after several years. Farmers using inorganic sources of fertilizer typically find that they must increase application rates year after year in order to sustain reasonable crop growth.

For optimal plant health and production, your soil needs sufficient organic matter (2 to 3% minimum), adequate moisture, a proper balance of all nutrients (not just N, P and K), and high biological activity in order to provide an appropriate balance of nutrients and encourage plants to have strong root systems by which to absorb these nutrients. Bradfield products act as a part of the symbiotic cycle to provide natural sources of nutrients in a base of organic matter to feed the soil, not just the plants!
References

Zimmer, Gary. 2006. Soil Basics: How It Works. Acres U.S.A.
www.answers.com/topic/CNO-cycle

Harrison, John Arthur. The Nitrogen Cycle: Of Microbes and Men.
www.visonlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=98&l=&c3


Soil Basics - How it Works

1. The Symbiotic Decay-Nutrition Cycle

2. Water Uptake

3. Ions, Nutrition and all that “Scary” Chemistry

4. Who are these Microbes, and what are they doing in my Soil?

Download Soil Basics - How it Works from Bradfield Organics® (Adobe Acrobat Required)"

I am posting this for my reviews and yours and as a reference for the future.

Have a great day,

Ed Winkle

Sunday, July 24, 2011

3 Men, 3 Trucks and A Sprayer


There's a business around here called Two Men and a Truck. I came up with my own version called one young man, two old men, three trucks and a sprayer.

People slow down to watch when we spray. Picture this, one man about 20, two over 60 with a pickup full of chemicals, an old box truck full of fertilizer and a semi full of water loading and mixing into a self propelled sprayer. There is never enough room for us all on the back roads but we make do.

We crawled up on top of the water tank on the semi to dump a 50 lbs bag of citric acid into the tank, started pumping the water into the the sprayer and then start loading that mixture with my recipe.

On this farm it was acidified water with 15-3-3 liquid fertilizer plus boron and zinc mixed with a dose of corn syrup per acre, plus my scientific deduction of 26 ounces of Ignite, 4.6 ounces of Clethodim, 4 ounces of Headline fungicide, and 1.5 ounces of Providence for good measure.

The Providence is a pyrethroid generic insecticide in tune with God's Providence and clethodim is a generic Select for grass weeds because Ignite is strong on broaleaf weeds and weak in the knees on grass. The corn syrup makes a good sticker spreader and late beans need some N and always a little of everything else.

I did get divine intervention though as it was cloudy when we loaded and a slight breeze from the south which could blow my Ignite onto the neighbor's RR beans to the north. That would make black beans. He even stopped to remind me. About the time Neil was making his turn to spray that end the sun popped out and the breeze switched from the south to from the north and the mixture stayed in my field. The other old man said you must be living right and I just looked up at the sky and said Thank You Lord.

I just have to laugh though when we do this as we look like some kind of gypsy camp with this setup. And people do take notice, they really do.

I came back one week later and the beans are bright green and there are so many black weeds it looks like an Agent Orange attack on a Viet Nam war scene.

You would really have to know me and my background and history to fully appreciate this scene but it makes me smile.

For those of you who know soilife aka John Haggard from Crop Talk, he's applying big quantities of fertilizer by airplane for next year's crop and here I am spraying bandaids again.

For me, bandaids are a big step up. I was told I have the highest insurable double crop soybean yield in the county and did that in just seven years so I think we are on the right path.

I woke up at 5 AM and saw lightning to the west so come on rain, you can do it.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hot!


It is miserablly hot here again this morning. I hope we can make it through another day. It looks like this ridge is here to stay this summer and just hope for some rain and reprieve from the heat every now and then.

We have been blessed to get enough rain with our heat to keep the crops growing. It is so hot I think people are driving around in their cars just to try and get away from the heat.

We are back from the Clark County Fair. I was soaked from standing in the heat and judging crops and produce. Entries were down but quality was good. I love judging county fair displays.

I always get to teach a little of what I have learned over 40 years of working in the ag teaching industry. It's been a great career for me, one that fits me pretty well. One exhibitor wondered if there were any books or courses on the subject and I directed the committee to have him do a Google search on the subject as there are some guides and classes out there but they are not highly visible.

It's mainly hand's on study and learning and applying it as I have done. When people like your work, the word gets around and you get more requests to judge.

It is thundering but I don't see any raindrops. Thunder is music for summer heat on crops but rain is visual and physical therapy.

Ed

Friday, July 22, 2011

Crash


We came across a horrible crash site between Pennsylvania and LuAnn's mother's house yesterday. Here again writers don't know what a self propelled sprayer is, it's not a tractor and it wouldn't pull the hat off your head for a pulling vehicle. It hauls water nicely though and whatever we choose to put in it to spray on crops.

This one is a Rogator like the one we are using and I hope ours never looks like this one.

BENTON, N.Y. — A swath of crushed and trampled soybeans and broken glass strewn across the road marked the spot where five Amish farmers died Tuesday in a horrific three-vehicle crash near here.

Sheriff's deputies have charged the driver of a car who attempted to pass a tractor and collided with a van carrying the farmers with five counts of criminally negligent homicide and with driving while intoxicated.

Steven Eldridge, 42, of Penn Yan, N.Y., also faces charges of reckless driving, unsafe passing, speed not reasonable and prudent, and failure to keep right after passing. He is being held on $125,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond.

Ten people were injured in the crash.

The farmers were passengers in a van traveling north in the town of Benton, N.Y. about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday when a large, slow-moving tractor with spray equipment attached approached, moving south at 5 to 10 mph. A car behind the tractor passed it on a curve and hit the van, sending the van into and under the tractor.

The group of 13 Amish farmers, both men and women, from Steuben County were on a "farm excursion" organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension, Yates County Sheriff Ronald Spike said. The sheriff's office identified those killed in the crash as Melvin Hershberger, 42; Sarah Miller, 47; Melvin Hostetler, 40; Anna Mary Byler, 60; and Elizabeth Mast, 46.

Autopsies were performed Wednesday in Penn Yan, Spike said.

Among the injured are van driver Lyn Oles, 41, of Greenwood, N.Y.; and farmers Martha Hostetler, 36; Enos Miller, 32; Rose Anna Miller, 31; Emery Miller, 47; Andy Byler, 60 and Evia Hershberger, 38. They have extensive injuries, the sheriff's office said.

Enos and Emery Miller have been discharged, and Oles and Hosteller are in satisfactory condition, a hospital official said this morning. Rose Anna Mille, Byler and Hersberger are in guarded condition.

The tractor's driver, Tim Labarr, 44, of Dresden, N.Y., and farmer John Mast, 47, have internal injuries. Labarr was not listed as being at the hospital this morning, while Mast is in the intensive care unit, a hospital official said.

Farmer David Miller, 51, was treated at the scene and released.

Eldridge was uninjured, according to a press release from the sheriff's office.

The Amish group had stopped at a farm south of Penn Yan to learn about new technologies for raising poultry and using greenhouses, according to Spike, and then had lunch in a Penn Yan park. They were heading to their next stop when the crash occurred.

"This was a horrific accident scene," Spike said. "I've been in this business 40 years and it's the worst I've ever seen."

Spike said he didn't know how fast Eldridge was going at the time. The road is posted for 55 mph with signs warning to slow to 45 mph because of the curve. Other signs indicate slow-moving farm vehicles may be traveling the road.

"The intersection is a no-passing zone at a curve. The driver of the car decided to pass the tractor. … The passenger van was forced to collide with and became embedded in and under the tractor," Spike said.

Joseph Zadorecky, 43, said he was mowing his lawn at the northeast corner of Pre-Emption and Loree, about 50 feet away, when the crash occurred. He said he saw the car, a red four-door, coming, and the "spreader," which he called a "monstrous vehicle," locked up its brakes and "was deafening, just screeching."

Zadorecky, who was shaking as he described the crash, said he could see people inside the van turning away from the onrushing collision.

"The spreader raised up and it just kept climbing and climbing and then rested on top of (the van)."

He said he was surprised to see three people get out of the mangled van.

"There was nothing left of the van."

Zadorecky yelled to his wife to call 911, he said, and then went to see what help he could be, later offering one of the injured an icepack for his head.

"There were moans, groans, people saying 'Help me.' Someone was screaming out, 'Oh God, oh God.'"

Spike said the first emergency responders to the scene set up a triage area.

"We had triage set up in the farm field, just bodies everywhere," he said. "I've seen a lot of fatalities, but not like this. It was just a horrific tragedy."

The Amish farmers were all from the towns of Woodhull and Jasper, N.Y., southwest of Corning, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania border, Spike said.

Identifying the victims of the crash proved difficult because, in addition the mangled condition of the crash scene, the Amish don't usually carry IDs. A Yates County deputy brought some Amish residents from the Woodhull-Jasper area to help with identification.

Spike said most of the people who were killed or injured were in the right front of the van, and that the van's roof had to be cut off to get to some of the victims. He said it took two hours to get everyone out of the mangled van.

Two coroners were at the scene.

Dozens of ambulances, firetrucks and police personnel scrambled to untangle the wreckage, and at least four helicopters removed patients from the scene, Spike said.

It was the area's second mass casualty incident in three days, following a tour bus crash that killed two people and injured 35 Sunday on Interstate 390."

Be careful out there, you can never be too careful and get caught up in a mess like this one. I wonder how the sprayer operator is doing.

Ed

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tim Horton's


We are sitting in Tim Horton's in Batavia, New York waiting for LuAnn's best friend Jill. Tim Horton's is someplace we never go and blogging in a wi-fi'd spot is something I never do.

We have completed our 10 audits of Pennsylvania farmer IRM's. It was hard work this week as many were not available or didn't want to talk or don't understand how Herculex fits in the genetic corn scheme. We had to look up 20 farmers to get 10 good audits. Oh well, it was what it was.

In this heat it really wore us down. I am supposed to judge a big show in Springfield Ohio Saturday and wondering how I can even do it in this heat. It has been tough the last two years and the weather is even worse this year. It is so hot you don't even want to move.

It hasn't been that long since Chicago lost 750 citizens in heat like this but I don't remember what year it was. Grain and stock trade has remained high during this heat and economic uncertainty but I don't know why. With weather this severe it feels like we are operating in pending doom.

Sable is staying cool by swimming in the creek behind the sitter's house but she will be in the cool air conditioning as soon as we get home and pick her up.

I noticed in USA today that Federal employees are more likely to die than lose their Federal job. Our so called leaders can't agree to cut spending and this article just proves that point.

I have to wonder when this country will look like this famous field in Missouri that has been pictured in our news all summer.

Ed

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peas


Why does Google have their name spelled out in peas this morning? I read your comments about logging in for comments. Google had changed their format and I don't understand it all but it's about security.

I don't click the box to keep me logged in anymore and that makes posting and navigation easier for me but I have to log in again everytime I turn the computer back on.

They have a new spam feature that reports spam comments to your email box so that is part of the security issue. Maybe we will figure this all out but about that time they will change it all again.

I am thankful they host this blog for free but know I don't like them owning all the comment. I have two years and seven months of work on this blog and they own it. I guess that was dumb on my part but it taught me how to blog.

I can't imagine all the security problems Google and Facebook and whatever has but they have become pretty unfriendly to use. There are way to many bells and whistles for an old geezer like me.

I just wondered if anyone knew what the peas were all about today. I do like the artwork on Google but it has become a hassle to use.

Stay cool if you can, this is serious weather. Everything is coming to a screeching halt I believe.

Ed

Again I do this as much for me as I do anyone else so I had selfish motives to start with.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

3 Squares


A dairy farmer told me that Holsteins wouldn't eat round bales of hay. I looked at him funny and said I hadn't heard that. He said they eat 3 squares a day.

That was a good farmer joke. That refers to how much more feed black and white cows eat compared to other breeds. They usually also produce the most milk too though, and that is why there are more black and white dairy cows than any other color.

That got me to thinking how lucky we are in America to have all the food we have. We have the largest supply of high quality food of anyplace in the world to the point obesity is our number one problem in humans and we complain about the price of food.

Everytime I pray the Our Father or the Lord's Prayer I think how I have never really been hungry in 61 years because I have always had my daily bread. What a blessing we enjoy every day.

You have to love America and you have to love farmers. They are the backbone of this great country with the best soil and weather in the world for raising food. Weather is in the news though as we are having the hottest week across the country in the last five years.

Crops really look rough in a lot of places but the crop is made in some places and it isn't too far behind in a lot of others. If you are the one needing rain though, it doesn't ease the pain like a good rain. Some of you got that yesterday.

I visited a Mennonite farmer recently and commented that I hoped he got rain and he looked at me and boldly stated God knows what He is doing! It kind of made me embarassed I acted like I didn't have enough faith in Him. Yes I agree God knows what he is doing more than any of us earthlings, can't disagree with that.

I hope you get the rain you need and the heat doesn't get you down. We always lose a lot of elderly in these heat waves so be careful. I am trying to be.

Ed

Monday, July 18, 2011

IRM


Bt corn revolutionized how farmers grow corn. The Bt gene is so powerful that scientists convinced EPA to require seed companies to sell only 80% of their genetically modified seed corn to farmers. Farmers agree to plant 20% of their acres to non BT corn when they buy their seed to plant.

Each year companies collect data to show EPA that indeed farmers do plant 20% of their corn crop to non BT corn. This is called IRM or Insect Resistance Management.

I have been interviewing farmers to obtain their data from company lists since Bt corn came out. We are busy visiting with those farmers right now.

The job was easier when we only had BT corn but as new traits were added for root worm protection and hybrids were sold with "stacked genes" the job had become more complicated.

Basically I find out how many acres the farmer planted and how many of those acres were non BT and how the other acres were spread amongst the many company traits available. I love talking to farmers so it behooves me to make it simple when I audit them for compliance.

I try to make it as simple as possible yet make sure I find out what they planted and what they understand among these complicated trait packages today. SmartStax has confused it even more since it only requires a 5% acreage refuge instead of the 20% for other trait packages.

It hasn't caught on too well so most farmers have stacked and non GMO hybrids. That makes it simpler for me if they do but it all must be reported so the trait company owner can prove farmers are following the refuge rules.

Lots of farmers don't want to be troubled by this but it's my job and helps EPA recertifying the traits they are buying. One audit I remember was in Pennsylvania and I stopped to check a young Amish farmer plowing tobacco with a horse and his two little boys right behind.

He didn't know what he planted so he became worried. I asked him if he still had the seed sacks and he ran inside the barn and came out with 3 empty sacks. I read the labels and he had two bags of Bt corn and one non GMO so his ratio was 33% non BT, well within the requirement. I told him that was good and to sign the form I filled out. You would have thought he won the lottery he was so happy.

Another guy ran a junk yard and didn't want me around so he wouldn't answer my questions. I reported that and did the same thing the next year on the re-inpsection. The next year I heard he got busted for some crime, the farm was sold and he was in jail.

Those are extreme examples as most farmers understand the science, plant the refuge and report it to me. We usually end up talking about farming, the weather, notill and how we farm at home.

It doesn't pay much but it's a fun little project.

Respect the IRM.

Ed

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Comments


What happened to all my great comments? Did I really upset you readers or are you all at the beach? I feel like I am talking to myself.

I guess that is OK as I do this for me as much as anyone else. It's my daily log of thoughts, ideas and happenings.

Comments really make a blog GO though and this blog is going nowhere in the comment department. I thought I had some really good blogs in the last 10 days but no comments!

Today's parable was about the bad guy who came and sowed weed seed in the landlowner's wheat. He instructed his workers to not pull the weeds because it would pull up the good wheat too. I think we run into that every day as people, good versus evil is what I call it.

There sure is enough evil to go around and has been since Eve was tempted to eat the apple so she could think like God. What a deception that was! We see that so much today in our own lives and especially in mankind as nations, it is enough to make you want to be a hermit with no TV. I think we would be better off many times if we did just that.

I hope I got the "evil ones" killed in my crops, weeds that is, literally weeds like the wheat parable but time will tell. There is always something around to ruin a good crop of soybeans or kids. Thankfully we didn't see that much at the county fair this week and the little ones had fun showing off their hard work.

The farmer's fields are looking pretty good too considering what we have been through but we sure could use rain all summer after way too much water earlier this year. I think a lot of farmers agree.

It's a new day and a new week so life goes on. There will be plenty of challenges tomorrow and every day and as long as we take time and do it right things will be like they are supposed to be.

If not, the weeds or whatever will take over and we will deal with the price of that happening.

Sure would be nice to read some comments and maybe even some blog topics would be good!

Hope you had a good one, I think we did.

Ed

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spraying


Lots of spraying of soybeans is going on in our area. I hope to get 120 acres sprayed today.

I wanted it done a week ago before the they really started blooming but it never happened. There is so much work to be done in such a short period of time it all can't be done at just the right time.

That's often true but even more so this year when we crammed a whole spring's planting into the first week of June. We waited and waited to plant and then nearly killed ourselves getting it all planted in that late, narrow window.

We have never caught up so now this field is in flower and we are going to knock the first flowers off with the spray. It's inevitable. So farmers are asking how much damage is being done by knocking the early blooms off.

The soybean plant flowers the month of July right after the summer solstice and the double crops even flower later into and through August. Weed control is the most important thing a farmer can do for his crop so it must be done whether the beans are flowering or not.

In theory we would prefer not to knock any blooms off but in reality we often do. We have to. Every crop program is designed around good reproduction but that is the process that makes our annual crop. Sometimes you can't help to ding it a bit and you can't go without weed control.

So I tell myself and others don't worry too much and focus on the problem at hand. We must control the pests and weeds are number one here, disease number two and insects number three.

That's why pesticides were invented, to control pests. We have plenty of weed pests to control in southwest Ohio so bugs and diseases and even soybean blossoms are taking second seat to weed control.

Ed

Friday, July 15, 2011

Confused


Corn is like a lot of people today. It's all confused.

A farmer in Iowa writes "Got some questions on corn pollination for those of you on here that are more wise than I.

Some of my corn has just shot green silks. Some of the hybrids shot silks about the same time the tassels came out. Some shot tassels first and then silks. Some shot silks and then tassels. Now some of the silks are starting to turn pink already on hybrids that have had tassels for a few days. Some fields only have a percentage of stalks tasseled. From a high vantage point of the field in places that have tasseled early, it appears that they may have been dryer spots early in the season like mounds or ridges.

So my question is when does the pollen start and when does it end and what can you look for to tell? I realize it mighty vary depending on hybrids but do the silks have to be green to be pollenated or are these pinkish silks the ones that take pollen? I'm relativley sure that brown silks are done right? Dont have any that far anyway.

My fear is the timing of this heat wave coming up being right at pollenation. I dont think we are hurting for moisture yet but it wont take long if it gets in the high 90's to get there."

He poses a good question. We have corn from waist high to shooting tassles. We have corn with ears and no tassles, corn with tassles and no ear shoots. It's all confused.

You mix together record rainfalls, planting in the mud and huge variations in temperature and moisture since planting across the country and you have corn like people, it's very confused. It's doing the best it can with all the pressure on it to act normal.

Our country is the same way and our leaders are our best examples. We are in a huge financial mess which I feel could blow up any day. So far it just keeps going along but the fundamentals aren't good.

We may have record corn acres but I bet a lot of people are disappointed this fall. Yes, some will have a lot more than they expect but overall things are not running right from the corn plant to the people who plant it.

I can deal with my crop but I have little impact on those who bid on it.

It's going to be interesting. Have a great weekend.

Ed

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crop Reporting


The writer for the DTN Market Report gave some good food for thought yesterday.

"USDA's wildly optimistic planted-acreage report for corn has turned markets upside down, and spawned an avalanche of tweets, blogs, wire articles, etc. Even though no one believes the 92.3-million-acre figure for a minute, the market plummeted yesterday and is down the limit this morning. But before you conclude, as some bloggers have, that USDA purposely made up numbers to cause corn prices to drop, please consider the agency's procedures and resulting constraints.

IIWII (It is what it is). That's the rule at the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS). Its procedures are clearly spelled out and it follows the same procedures every time. He explained that the question asked in early June was how many acres had been or would be planted to various crops. "I don't understand why the trade would be so skeptical of corn acreage, yet apparently accepts the soybean and wheat acreage figures. Farmers were asked the same questions about all crops. The procedures were identical."

Furthermore, NASS does not adjust the results of the survey. "We report what the farmers tell us," Prusacki says. "When I first saw the data this time, I thought 'Wow. This is going to be a surprise,'" he said. "We went over everything with a fine-tooth comb. We were still looking at the data at 4 a.m."

If you look at the aggregate principal crop acres, you can see by state that the results don't look too weird, Prusacki added. "For example, North Dakota is way down from last year and from intentions. On the other hand, if we look the corn data for Nebraska and Iowa, which were able to plant quickly, they are up."

Are the surveys perfect? Of course not -- statistics never are perfect. This year's flooding highlights one of the ways the historic procedures fall short.

USDA is trying to remedy that by re-surveying areas where it appears planting did not take place. In July, NASS will collect updated information on corn, soybeans, Durum and other spring wheat plantings in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. DTN asked NASS Director Joe Prusacki how they chose those states and why they are not going to re-survey states such as Ohio.

"So we looked at planting progress, and we talked with our field offices where we thought there might be acres that didn't get planted," he explained. "There was no evidence in Ohio and the states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky or Tennessee, where flooding has occurred that acres failed to be planted. Since our survey in early June, weather in the eastern Corn Belt has been pretty good and farmers made a lot of progress. Our staff in those states didn't feel there would be many acres not planted as planned."

"Yes, there are acres that were planted that now are under water," Prusacki said. "We know there is flooding in Iowa, where the crop went in in a timely manner. But Iowa planted almost 25,000,000 acres of principal crops; almost 14,000,000 of corn. How much is flooded? Probably not a million. Probably not 500,000. One-hundred thousand? As a percent, is that going to have a significant impact on the state's crops?"

Harvested acres can be adjusted in any crop production report, added Lance Honig, chief of the crops branch at NASS. "Harvested acreage is 'open' to change anytime we publish a production forecast -- i.e. beginning in August," he said.

The re-survey will go back to farmers who still had crop left to be planted in the early-June survey period. It will ask both what has been planted and it will ask farmers how many acres they plan to harvest, Prusacki said.

Trade expectations aren't always based on the goals and procedures of USDA's reports -- understanding what they do and don't do may explain some of the discrepancies and surprises in the market."

We had all the flooding news this spring, preventive planting acres, late acres planted in Ohio to the point no one agrees how many acres there are this year or how good it is. There is stress from too much water in many areas, burned out drought in others and storms that caused the damage like the pictures we have seen in the news on TV, email and Internet.

It's all over the board. So, even with all this technology we live in a very vulnerable world with a marketplace that reflects that fact. Large demand, weak economy and wild weather swings have really made farming and just living day to day a challenge.

As usual, I hope we meet the challenge!

Ed

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soil Compaction


I bet that soil compaction is the number one yield robber in the United States this year. 60% of soil organic matter has been lost due to tillage in the past 100 years and organic matter is the energy rich, carbon laden "cushion" between soil particles.

Crops and Soils magazine has an excellent article on The Biology of Soil Compaction in today's newsletter. If you are a farmer, take time to read and think about this subject this summer.

This is the crux of my talks across the country and around the world. Notill and cover crops are the best ways I have found to reduce soil compaction and maximize crop growth so I can make some money farming and keep on making farming. I think this is key to farm and country survival.

Most of the midwest, the bread belt where corn is king has been planted in soil that was marginally dry enough to plant into in recent years. You couldn't even think about planting until June this year in the east like Ohio and some farmers have had that situation four years in a row. Talk about soil compaction, they have got it!

No wonder so many believe in tillage and talk about rippers on ag forums and in barnyards. Tillage just compounds the problem for me and my cover crop is my ripper so my soil biology benefits from growing roots instead of cold, hard, compacting stell that burns fuel to pull it.

I see compaction in every field here, even my own although I have worked hard to avoid it. It's about impossible to avoid compaction in years like this one, no matter how you farm.

But the little things matter and it all adds up. The crop is best here where there is the least soil compaction. Some fields will never make it without an inch of rain every week, which you can't depend on after 25 inches in 8 weeks.

Working with Mother Nature to take care of your soil while making a living is no easy matter.

The best and brightest are doing it and those fields will be productive long after we are gone.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Powerless


We had a doozy of a thunderstorm at 10 PM last night and the power just came back on 18 hours later. I saw a lot of flattened and broken corn around New Vienna from Hillsboro to Wilmington. We got about an inch out of that rain but the wind took limbs and corn down. I saw someone's trampoline lying out in a field like happened to me in a spring storm. I had a pool liner on one farm and a trampoline in another.

Bayer Crop Science has gotten EPA approval of 64 ounces total of Ignite per field per year and a maximum of 36 ounces at one shot. This will help our weed problem around here and hopefully keep Ignite around longer than Round Up.

Round Up was used to sparingly at the wrong time on way too many acres around the world. Now the whole ag industry suffers from it. RR fields are sometimes weedy around here because the farmer hasn't gotten that message and those fields are more yellow than LL fields.

That just adds to the fire that some people think that Monsanto was able to hide the fact that glyphosate doesn't break down in the soil well and decreases nutrient uptake and increases disease pressure.

I got all my fields and farms certified today and ready to file my wheat claim on my crop insurance. I have to humble myself to do that as I am a better farmer than that but Mother Nature threw me a curve ball I couldn't handle this year and my crop suffered for it.

I am glad the storm is over and we got some rain out of it but some farmers have flattened corn. I work real hard not to have small rooted crops so we didn't suffer much damage but there is thousands of acres of damaged corn within 25 miles of this farm. A big Pioneer dealer called my crop insurance agent while I was sitting there to warn him on the coming claims. At least I don't have that to deal with.

Some farmers stripe their corn like I do with two hybrids and the yellower, racier corn is bent over or flat and the greener workhorse hybrids are standing up better.

I could have predicted that.

It would be great day to take Sable back to Cowan Lake if it weren't so muddy from the soil lost because not enough of us notill. I don't like brown water.

Ed

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pig Show


I love pig shows. I showed in my first pig show in 59 or 60, I can't remember so maybe my sister can straighten me out.

Today, the two oldest grand daughters did well in the Clinton County Open Market Hog Show. Madison got first with her pig and Brynn got fourth. Brynn did a super job in showmanship and so did Madison and she won a trophy for her efforts. Their cousin Zach won one too.

You know, I started teaching other kids how to show 40 years ago and out of hundreds of kids, I never knew one of those children to turn out poorly. There is something about picking out a pig and raising it by caring and feeding for it and taking it to the fair to compare to all the others that really teaches responsibility to kids. I can't say enough good about pig shows or any 4-H or FFA project.

It's been proven in education that hands-on learning can't be beat for preparing a child for a career and citizenship. It worked for me, it worked for my kids and it is working for my grand kids.

The smog alerts are out and it was 93 when I just got home to cool off. It felt like 110 degrees in that barn but the kids and pigs stayed cool with plenty of patience, water, and air movement from fans. That's just the way it is down on the farm and work doesn't stop often for weather.

LuAnn got a first place on her picture of an orchid in Panama and lots of other ribbons. She did well and I am proud of her. She added a lot to our county fair. We were bummed they didn't pick the cute Santa picture from Germany or the vegetable display from Costa Rica but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

It was nice to visit with a lot of friends and former students and see most everyone is doing well. Of course I had to have a butterfly pork chop sandwich for lunch, it wasn't too hot to eat!

It's too hot for Sable though so we need to take her back to Cowan Lake for swimming or leave her in the house. She takes zero a lot better than she does 100.

I saw my first corn tassle yesterday and today I saw corn silking with no tassles yet so this corn is confused in all this heat after all this moisture.

Ed

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fair Time


The Clinton County Fair opened yesterday just up the road in our county seat of Wilmington, Ohio. We went at dinner time so we could enjoy our friend Rich Werner's delicious pork pita wrap, "a fair favorite."

There are a few reasons I still go to that fair, Rich, our good friend Jack Ficke who serves on the fairboard, our grand daughter's showing their pigs and our friend Brad pulling his grandpa's old Case 1370. His grandpa is the fellow we purchased this farm from.

Of course we had to go view our photographs in the photography exhibit and how they compare to the competition compared to the others the way they are displayed. LuAnn has some very unique pictures with great subject matter but when you compare them to others you start noticing differences in size and contrast and display.

It will be even more interesting to see what the judges think of the exhibition later today and another reason to eat dinner at the fair. Since we have to spend $25 each for a season's pass, it makes a better reason to visit more often. And, I always see someone I haven't seen in awhile.

Tomorrow the little girls show their pigs and that is always fun to watch as the pig show is a big deal in this county, once number one in hog production in Ohio. I spent 16 years helping kids learn agriculture and responsibility with pig and other projects at this fair.

I was truly disappointed with the handful of junior fair crop exhibits yesterday. It was a big show when I started teaching here 40 years ago next month. My how things have changed since then and the weather and people's priorities sure showed in the low number of exhibits.

If I can get the soybeans sprayed and do some local IRM audits we will be ready to head for Pennsylvania next week. Until then, we will enjoy the fair as much as we can while doing our daily work.

The weatherman is calling for heat and rain, just what these late crops all need and a typical week for the Clinton County fair.

Ed

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Made My Day


We are blessed with the best children and grandchildren you can imagine. I just opened a card from our oldest grandson, Liam, who is five years old.

It reads: Dear Papaw Winkle,

How are you? I hope you have been feeling good. Are you having fun? I hope to see you at your house.

You are the best papaw ever!

Love,

Liam

He is learning to write in home school and this is pretty impressive for a five year old. What's more impressive to me is the way we get along. We are just two silly kooks together after acting our best when we are apart. We sure do miss him up there in Cleveland but glad his dad has a good job to take care of the family.

Well Liam, I am feeling pretty good and having fun watching our crops grow. Last night Grandma and I went to my cousin's wedding in Worthington. It was good to see Uncle Roy and Michelle. Roy is so much like me and you we would all fit right in together.

It was good to see Jeremy and Erika start their lives off together just like you will with some girl some day I am sure. I pray you find the right one as life is too short to be miserable with someone.

One thing for sure is that I am never miserable when you are around! Your writing is excellent and your vocabulary is outstanding so keep learning and keep up the good work!

Hope to see you soon, too!

The county fair started this morning where your mama won the beef showmanship 12 years ago this week and I met grandma. July 13 was a pretty good day for grandpa!

Love,

Grandpa Winkle

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cover Crops


I am already thinking about my cover crop needs at harvest. I want to have the seed on hand and ready to plant right behind the combine this fall.

It's going to be a late harvest so my best bet is rye again or maybe triticale. Triticale seed is high priced because it's in high demand for dairy operations and makes good green chop.

The cover crops really helped my soil this winter and kept the beneficial mycorhizae fungi alive and good bacteria compared to the barren fields that got flooded and eroded. It's and extra cost and a lot of work but I see the benefit in it.

I had 110 acres of headed out rye but it was pretty sparse in places and we didn't have time to run the combine over it and I didn't want to wait to plant the soybeans into to for it to fully mature.

I like it even more when you can harvest it like the picture but double cropping is hard to do and a little risky. It helps me keep the soil covered while generating as much gross income as one crop.

No wonder I saw the benefit of T-22 trychaderma fungus all these years and use the latest version called SabrEx today. Radishes in my wheat increased yield 9.6 bu in trials and SabrEx increased yield 12.3 bu.

I really see the benefit of keeping my fields green all the time as the soil is healthier and it takes less fertilizer and chemical to raise a good crop. I haven't seen the need for fungicide except for on the seed, when it is most vulnerable.

Vern Grubinger has a good sheet on rye in Vermont. "WINTER RYE: A RELIABLE COVER CROP."
Why Rye? Cereal rye is an excellent winter cover crop because it rapidly produces a ground cover that holds soil in place against the forces of wind and water. Rye’s deep roots help prevent compaction in annually tilled fields, and because its roots are quite extensive, rye also has a positive effect on soil tilth.

Compared to other cereal grains, rye grows faster in the fall and produces more dry matter the following spring--up to 10,000 pounds per acre, although 2 tons is more typical in the Northeast. Rye is the most winter-hardy of all cereal grains, tolerating temperatures as low as -30°F once it is well established. It can germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 33°F, but it sure won’t grow very much when it’s that cold.

When sown in late fall, around the time of the first light frost, winter rye is still able to put on just enough growth to provide some protection against soil erosion over the winter. High seeding rates should be used for late-sown winter covers to assure a decent amount of ground cover, since individual plants will be small.

Growing Rye. Cereal rye thrives on well-drained loamy soils but it’s tolerant of both heavy clays and droughty, sandy soils. Rye can withstand drought better than other cereal grains, in part because of its prolific root system. It grows best with ample moisture, but excessive rainfall can suppresses subsequent vegetative growth and flooding can it. Rye can grow in low-fertility soils where other cereal grains may fail. Optimum soil pH is 5.0 ­ 7.0, but pH in the range of 4.5 ­ 8.0 is tolerated.

Suggested seeding rates are 1 to 2 bushes per acre if drilled, 1.5 to 3 bushes per acre if broadcast and lightly tilled in. A bushel of rye is said to weigh 56 pounds. It’s best to use seeding rates on the high side if planting into a rough seedbed, seeding late in the fall when growing time will be limited, or trying to establish rye on a field that has a high potential for erosion. Rye is more sensitive to seeding depth than some other cereals, and it should not be sown more than 2 inches deep.

Rye will often respond to a modest application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer, but when it follows corn and other crops that have been well-fertilized with N it seldom requires additional fertilizer. Rye has a good ability to scavenge residual soil N when it follows other crops, and it is commonly grown for this purpose. This reduces the potential for nitrate leaching into groundwater and it conserves N fertilizer inputs, which saves money.

Flowering in rye is induced by 14 hours of light in spring. Vegetative growth stops when reproduction begins. If allowed to grow to maturity, rye residues tend to have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio and high percentages of lignin and cellulose, so they can be slow to decompose.

Excessive amounts of spring residue produced by rye can delay cash crop planting and actually decrease the availability of N to subsequent crops as N is tied up or ‘immobilized’ by the decomposing residues.

Rye plus Legume. Winter rye can also be grown in mixtures with a legume such as hairy vetch and/or crimson clover. During the fall and winter, cereal rye protects the soil, scavenges soil-N, and acts as a nurse crop for the legume. In spring, rye provides structural support for the climbing legumes. The relatively high N content of legumes reduces the overall C:N ratio of the rye/legume mixtures, and increases the nitrogen available to the following crop.

Allelopathic Effects. Cereal rye produces several compounds in its plant tissues and releases root exudates that apparently inhibit germination and growth of weed seeds. These allelopathic effects, together with cereal rye's ability to smother other plants with cool weather growth, make it an ideal choice for weed control.

However, allelopathic compounds may suppress germination of small-seeded vegetable crops as well if they are planted shortly after the incorporation of cereal rye residue. Large-seeded crops and transplants rarely are affected. There is some evidence that the amount of allelopathic compounds in tillering plants is lower than in seedlings.

Rye for No-Till. Because it leaves a lot of residue on the soil surface, no-till rye can be an effective way to avoid erosion and help control weeds. Mowing or using a burn-down herbicide are two common methods of killing a rye cover crop for no-till plantings. To kill rye by mowing, it should be done at flowering when the anthers are extended, and pollen falls from the seed heads when shaken. If mowing is done earlier, the rye simply grows back. Studies are underway looking at rolling instead of mowing as a means of physically killing winter rye.

For no-till to be effective, it’s important to first grow a very good stand of rye before killing it. When rye is left as a surface mulch it is difficult if not impossible to manage escaped weeds with mechanical cultivation. Thus, a poor no-till cover may be worse than no mulch at all in terms of weed management.

Research at Penn State, Michigan State and elsewhere has looked at the use of a roller-crimper to mechanically kill winter rye for no-till crop production."

This is a pretty good review and the reason I am planning on rye again this fall.

We got a shower last night which is "pennies from heaven" in the old days and in today's economy it's dollars from heaven!

It's TGIF for the 8-5 work crowd but just another day on the farm here so either way, have a great weekend!

Ed

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Winkle Speedway


We have a new speedway at our farm. It's hundreds of years old and newly paved for high speed. It's called Ohio State Route 28 or the old Cincinnati Chillicothe Pike.

It's paved and striped and ready for racing. I have to really watch my speed now heading west to Blanchester as I could do a 100 in a heartbeat going down our hill from the Wisconsin Glacial Till to the old Illinoian Glacial Till. This is especially true in the Grand Prix which is for sale or my trusted Silverado.

I haven't felt the need for that much speed though. I am more likely to be poking along, window crop scouting and backing up traffic and trying to "keep it between the ditches."

One problem, there is a gently curve at the bottom but it's not dead man's curve. It's even banked a little to keep your speed up. The local law enforcement officers have taken notice and are sitting on the straightaways.

Speaking of racing, NASCAR finally made it to Kentucky. This weekend is the big NASCAR sprint car race at Sparta, Ky, just down I-75 near the I-71 split. The local news channels have been featuring the race this week showing the cars, drivers and all the campers of fans camping at the race track.

I would love to watch the race but don't want near all that traffic and that many people. So we will be at the Clinton County Fair just up the road in Wilmington. The little girls show there Monday and LuAnn's photography exhibits are going in right now as I type and will be judged on the opening day Saturday.

I just read that my dad's cousin Roma Jane passed away at age 93. She was our family historian and we have all pretty much lost contact with her. I have the family tree she gave me years ago and it needs updating.

My cousin Michelle's son is getting married Friday night in Worthington, Ohio so we can do some crop scouting up Interstate 71 and spend some quality time with Michelle and Uncle Roy.

It sure is going to be hot at either place but that's what is going on in southwest Ohio.

Ed

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Huitlacoche


There has been a long standing joke among some farmers when they find corn smut in their fields. That ugly gray fungus that grows on corn in certain conditions is edible.

It looks like a brain full of gray matter and of course is really slimy. I have had to deal with it in sweet corn patches where you get "up close and dirty" with your corn.

Now some enterprising entrepreneurs are selling it or serving it. It's been analyzed for food value and turns out it has nutrients in it the corn doesn't even have.

It's popular enough in Mexican culture that it is worth more than the corn it ruins. Now I would hate to set up my corn fields for failure but someone has figured out how to market and make a profit off "fungus among us." Consider it no worse than boring holes in logs and trees to grow rare delicacies called mushrooms. I don't think that business took off very well around here either because we don't really have the proper growing conditions for it and they must be man made to imitate when "nature throws us a curve ball."

She sure threw me one this year. I wasn't prepared for the wettest spring in recent history as Cincinnati is 18 inches above normal rainfall. Now when we need it most we aren't getting it.

Even conservative weathermen are forecasting a hot dry July already. That dome of hot air has engulfed most of the continent and has spread to Ohio. If your crop hasn't canopied or covered the ground by now, it is getting hurt by the lack of moisture.

Steve Horstmeyer showed the big ridge on the 11 o'clock channel 12 Cincinnati Weather Authority news last night and it verifies what I thought those first hot days in June. Fortunately we have had some showers since then but now it's hot and muggy again an no relief in sight.

Dr. Elwynn Taylor, my climatologist friend from Iowa State thinks we will get enough moisture this summer for above trend line yields in the midwest.

I hope he is right but you have to remember we are a month to six weeks behind the midwest in crop planting date so even if our crop has caught up some this month, it's way behind normal and parts of the country.

There isn't a thing I can do about it but write about it right now so if Mother Nature throws you a lemon, figure out how to made lemonade from it. Or, that's huitlacoche down south.

Ed

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet Corn


Have any of you had any fresh sweet corn yet? We won't be having any for a couple of weeks. And if we do, it is going to be highly prized, I wouldn't sell it for anything less than $5 a dozen.

I have to hand it to our local experts, Shaw Farms. They have eared out sweet corn on 5 acres or so of Clermont soil just west of us, the wettest soil you can imagine. How they did that is by working with the grace of God himself.

We have seen some tassled out in gardens but no ears. I commend those gardeners, too, they are way ahead of us. We just watched it rain every day.

There is a little band south of us that didn't get quite as drowned as we did, somehow they kept their heads above water long enough and the corn will be in tassle there first. I should say south and east of us.

If the grandkids were a little older, I would let it be their project. I raise it, they harvest and sell it and keep all the money. The oldest are big enough but are so busy I don't think they would have time for it.

The county fair starts Saturday and those two older grandchildren will be living at the fair showing their pigs, I think a week from today. It's way too early for a fair here but it is fair time since they changed fair weeks in Ohio a few decades ago. The August and September fairs are so much better. There are hardly any crops to display because of the wet weather.

If you get a really good ear of corn, remember me. I am ready for a big, fresh ear of corn and a hamburger deluxe.

Ed

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth


A happy fourth of July to you all! Today lots of cities have festivals and celebrations on limited budgets but some didn't make it.

We used to go to Sardinia's Founder's Day celebration but this year they aren't having it because they still have unpaid bills from last year's. Blanchester is having a small celebration for the local folks but it has been bigger in than past.

I guess we are lucky to have any celebration with the economy and the debt load this country is carrying.

Most of the wheat is off around here and planted into double crop soybeans. It is hot and muggy and I hope it brings a good shower. It's pretty unbearable outside and the air conditioner ran all night and the thermostat is set at 74 degrees.

We have plenty to do inside as I have my IRM project to work on while trying to help LuAnn with her church festival booth project. We both need to contact a lot of farmers and businesses in the next few weeks.

We were cooped inside for most of the spring with all the rain and would rather be outside as much as possible. The crops are growing pretty fast with all the summer heat but now we need rain showers to help them catch up a little bit.

The weeds are ahead of the race as usual so there is a lot of hoeing and tilling to be done in gardens and spraying and fertilizing to be done to the field crops. Some corn is not knee high but some is waist high so it varies a good bit in the region but it is all far behind last year's progress at this time.

Today I thank all the soldiers who have kept us free, sometimes I think the freedom to do the wrong thing but it's still a great country and all we have. It is much to be thankful for.

Happy Fourth of July,

Ed Winkle

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wrenching


This weekend has become one to work on equipment. I have a lot of equipment to repair and get back "up to snuff." Lots of them are easier as two men jobs so I found a former student to help me as he is a pretty good mechanic and works part time.

The first thing we found is 5 dead batteries. There goes my repair budget for the month. It's been a few years since I bought any so now I will probably go through 10 or so this year. These usually run in streaks because I replace them in streaks.

I found I have a lot of missing parts and tools that got robbed for another job or misplaced or broken so there will be more trips to the parts stores. It's amazing what you go through in a year but I must admit it gets a little better all the time since I have harped on this for so long. We covered a lot of acres with minimal equipment and no major breakdowns.

Patrick was in my class many years ago and I was shocked to hear he is 47 because he doesn't look it and I forgot how long it was since we had been in the classroom together. It's good to hear the funny stories of the past while working on stuff.

I had him and his three brothers in my classes at Blanchester almost 40 years ago. One brother has side dressed corn for me and another serves on the school board where I did. The youngest has hauled gravel for me and is the go to guy around here if you need gravel fast.

He moved just down the road a year or two ago so I finally got hold of him for help. I caught him at the right time, too as the county fair is next week and he will be pulling his classic tractors in the antique pull. Once again I have nothing to pull but I guess that hasn't been a priority for me.

He needed a jug of glyphosate so we are doing some bartering or trading as we call it around here. I won't be able to do that on five batteries but I'll try.

Happy fourth to all, we watched fireworks from the front and back porches last night.

Ed

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Buckeye Ag Testing


Yesterday we made a quick trip 70 miles north to meet Leon to pick up extra inoculant and radish seed to finish up double cropping. The new America's Best inoculant will have Molydenum in it for soybeans because the response to it is excellent in soybeans in many fields across the US, especially in the east and south.

I haven't seen so many bright young people working on a farm in a long while. The owners of Buckeye Ag Testing and Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Roeth near Troy, Ohio. Jeff was the first FFA State Degree winner at Miami East FFA and serves as chair on their Ag Advisory Board. His pride and belief in FFA showed with all the Miami East students working on his farm.

Crews were pulling leaf tissue for analysis, baling straw and hay, planting double crop soybeans and finishing up their wheat plot harvest testing. Two young men pulled up in their Gleaner F3 combine from the plots while others were in hot greenhouse stacking hay and straw.

Jeff was visibly as proud of his chapter as I am of the young teachers and students at Fayetteville, Blanchester and Wilmington here. "The teacher makes the program" was obvioius in our experiences and reminded me of myself 40 years ago this fall when I started teaching at Blanchester.

He said Miami East has 400 students and 170 are enrolled in Ag and members of FFA while Fayetteville has 200 students and half of them are enrolled in Ag and FFA.

There were something like 4 young farmers to take the place of a retiring farmer when I started teaching and only one half of one farmer to start farming today. That means most young farmers holds two jobs and there is lots of opportunity to start farming today if they could only get the opportunity and most of that is financial since the cost of farming is so overwhelming today. That alone inhibits many start up farmers.

No wonder BTO's have taken over farming, that is big time operators. They have an easier time expanding than a young farmer does starting farming.

Yesterday was little Caolin's second birthday and today is dad's 96th. They are forever in our hearts.

Ed

Friday, July 1, 2011

Holiday Stress


I feel some Holiday Stress this morning and I shouldn't. We are behind on planting double crop soybeans and the ground baked out on me yesterday. I should have held up the combine a day to let the drill catch up but it was time to cut the wheat. I am glad it is done and will be glad when its gone and settled up.

The drill is hung up in wires again and all I can do is sit here and let the guys get it out and wait for the last load of seed to finish up planting. DP&L sent a bill for $7000 for the pole we pulled down last fall in the same situation and we are just over legal heighth by an inch but they were were under their legal heighth by a foot.

John Deere invented this contraption for seeding in the great wide open west. Though it migrated to Ohio, I imagine the drill will be getting a new owner in the near future. There are so many wires strung across highways around here they don't keep them up to standards.

Yesterday I posted an idea a friend of mine and I have on putting radish seed into the double crop soybean seed to try and loosen up these compacted soils. They are really beat down this year with a year's rainfall in half a year. Just the weight of 40 plus inches of water is enough to really pack the ground.

So I am trying another new experiment today, radishes in double crop soybeans. It should be interesting and I will keep you posted. I want no more than a pound or two per acre and that is hard to do with a bulk tank on an air drill but I am going to try.

The radishes increased my wheat yield again this year and I have been getting 12 bushels more wheat every time I interseed the radishes into the wheat planting. I am more out for soil improvement in the double crop soybeans but don't want to interfere with harvesting. I don't think they will, especially if I spray the beans late this summer to clean up any weeds I miss now.

I won't know unless I try.

Ed