Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apples Are An Old Halloween Favorite

When I was  a kid, apples were a halloween favorite.  I remember my first carmel apple.  Remember the little Kraft suares of carmel you could melt and cover your apple with?  With a nice wooden stick though the apple, you had a sweet treat on a stick!

Apples have always been a favorite fruit and it was always hard for me to choose between apple or cherry pie.  We didn't grow cherries so I usually picked the cherry pie because we had so many apples!

When we bought this farm we inherited a small apple orchard the farmer had planted for his grandkids.  One tree for each kid.  I thought that was a great tradition so I kept it.  All of the original trees have died but two and I wanted to plant a tree for each of our grankids.  Now we have quite an orchard!

Most apple trees tend to be perennial in fruiting because they are not properly pruned, let alone thinned.  Hardly anyone prunes or thins their apple trees.  They just let them grow and maybe give them some fertilizer.  As a result, the trees only fruit every other year.  This was our year.  We had the biggest apple crop ever and I have been giving away apples all fall.

Do you have a couple of apple trees in your yard that just aren't producing much fruit? Do you get a lot of apples each year, but they're smaller than you would expect?  Thankfully there are some simple things you can do to improve yields and increase fruit size.

There are a few things to understand about the behavior of an apple tree. Most apple trees, when left to their own devices, only produce a large amount of fruit every other year. In other words, they are naturally biennial. We can change that to a large extent through fruit thinning. Thinning involves removing excess fruit to allow space for remaining fruit to grow large, and to allow flower initiation and development for the following year.

Thinning also promotes improved fruit uniformity, color, flavor, and reduces limb stress and breakage.  So when is the best time to thin? This is the tricky part. There is a short window during which you should thin an apple tree, which falls between fruit set and flower initiation.

Fruit set occurs after the petals have fallen off, and the remaining ovary begins to swell.  That's pretty simple. But if we can't see the flowers, how do we know when initiation happens?

Thankfully, flower initiation is dictated by day length, which is quite reliable, and generally occurs around June 20 or summer soltstice, in this region.

Fruit thinning should be done before then or next year's harvest will be compromised. A good rule of thumb is to thin the tree when the fruits are about 1?2 inch in diameter, or about the size of a dime.

Most apple trees will self-regulate to a small degree, meaning they will drop some fruit to reduce the burden. This is called the June drop period, and in this time the tree will naturally abscise some of the tiny fruit.  Abscised fruit is recognized by a yellow pedicel - the stem that connects the fruit to the tree.

These fruits become loosely attached and can be removed with a flick of the finger. June drop may happen before or after the ideal thinning window, so don't rely on it as a guide. Just remember the 1?2-inch rule.

How much should we thin? If you look closely, you'll see that each bud produces a cluster of about five flowers. The first and largest flower in each cluster is called the "king bloom" and it will go on to produce the "king fruit," the largest fruit in the cluster. Ideally, this is the one to keep, but it can sometimes be difficult to determine when the fruits are so small.

Generally, fruit should be thinned to a spacing of about 6 inches. This may seem excessive when looking at those tiny apples, but consider when they grow to 3 inches or so how close together they'll really be. And that is when they'll need a lot of light to mature, and will be weighing down the branches.

A spacing of 6 inches will allow the tree to produce large, uniform fruit while conserving some energy to work on flower buds for next year.

So how exactly do we thin the fruit? Thin by carefully plucking the tiny fruits off the ends of their pedicels (stems). This prevents any injury to the spur which is holding next year's buds. You can use a thinning shears to make this a little easier. Just snip the fruit off right at the top.

Try some pruning and thinning of your fruit trees.  You can do some pruning in the fall and finish pruning and start thinning next spring.  Good luck with your apple trees next year and Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turbo Story

That Hurricane Sandy wound up like a good turbocharger, didn't it?  My friend Jay from NE Ohio told a good story about his Jeep Liberty diesel.

"The turbo on my Jeep Liberty CRD (common rail diesel) went out on Sunday when I was 100 miles from home. It started making a whistling sound back in June (4 months ago), but I decided to keep running it. There were no other signs of imminent failure (did not use any oil, fuel economy was unchanged, no loss of power). I pulled the hose off in June to check for play and did not detect any significant play in the shaft. The Jeep only has 80k on the odometer (bought it used, might not be right). It was the first Liberty diesel I bought,,, I now have 3 and really like them. Back to the story:

I was on the highway when it failed and drove it to the next exit (about 1/2 a mile). There was a huge cloud of smoke whenever I gave it any throttle, but I limped it to a parking lot. My dad brought a trailer and I drove it on. Pulled it into my shop when I got home and drained the oil. There was only a quart left in the pan!!!! I pulled the turbo (about 2 hour job). I then installed a used turbo in the CRD. I put new oil in the pan and a new filter. Did a quick lookover, and everything seemed to be in order.

Here is where the fun begins! I started the engine and let it idle while the oil pressure came up. It seemed to be running fine. I let it idle for a couple minutes while the oil warmed up. I then gave it a little throttle (2000 rpm) and it sounded great. So I gave it more throttle (about 3000 rpm). I sounded great for a second and then suddenly went to 4000 rpm. I instantly removed my foot from the throttle. And then it went to 5000 rpm ( I am guessing on the rpm)..... I quickly turned the key off. The engine continued to race as my shop filled with black smoke. It ran like mad for at least 30 seconds and then finally came to a stop.

I went to the house and ate lunch while the smoke cleared. Later I went to see what was left of my Jeep. Surprisingly, there were no puddles of oil or holes in the side of the block. There was a black stain on the concrete where the tailpipe turns down. The oil level in the pan was still on the full mark.

I figure that the intercooler was full of oil and when I gave it some throttle, it started sucking that oil right into the intake. Turning the key off probably saved the engine from going past the point of no return (limited the "fuel" to just the oil in the intercooler).

I pushed the Jeep out of the shop and fired up the engine again. It ran fine until I gave it some throttle. The rpm's danced around the red line again, but soon it smoothed out. I let it run for a few minutes while I varied the throttle. A little smokey, but no too bad. I decided to take it around the block to see if I could use up the rest of the oil in the intercooler. By the time I got back, it had quit smoking and seems to be running normal.

So the lesson here: if you have turbo failure, don't forget to clean the oil out of the intercooler. "

My worst turbo story is having a detonation on an Oliver 88 gas while on the dynomometer and spitting the smoking crankshaft out on the ground.  No less it was in front of a bunch of students back in the early 70's.  That's what we call ventilating the block.  Sounds like Jay nearly did something similar to his Jeep Liberty.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Findlay Market

How did you like the story of no-tilling in France yesterday?  It's a pretty up to date piece and I thank Chimel for putting this together for us.

Here is a simulator for you test your combine operating skills on a Case IH Rotary Combine.  You can change the settings on the bottom and see how it changes the readouts above.  The first thing you can do is try to go faster across the field and see what that does to your readout.  It won't be long until you put the engine in full load or overload.  What happens to the grain sample?

Here is a good story on how corn, soybeans and livestock have replaced the dwindling tobacco market in nearby Northern Kentucky.  The article is about a family whom I have not met but have heard a lot about since one of the sons is on my Facebook readership and on NewAgTalk.  I know a local dealer who used to deliver a lot of Pioneer seed and chemicals to their farm.

We were near Northern Kentucky yesterday and could have come that way home.  We were visiting the famous Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati for our first time together.  The market opened in 1852 and is still going after all these years.  We did not find Miss Jenny's Pickles but 60 Minutes had a great story about them and Asheboro, North Carolina last night!

We picked up some fresh gulf shrimp we hope to enjoy tonight and some fresh vegetables to go with them.  We had to have something to eat before we left so we ordered an authentic Greek Gyro or "Yuro" from Demetri at Areti's stand in the market.  LuAnn got a cellphone picture of Demetri slicing off the roast lamb and beef off the spinning spools.  It was definitely authentic and not some American clone of a gyro and we can highly recommend it!  Our friends who visit us might get to taste one in the future!

Here is a good one from Mike Huckabee.  The intense battle for president has a few candidates really disoriented.  "I know what it’s like to campaign so hard, you sometimes forget where you are. So I think Joe Biden can be forgiven for telling a crowd in Ohio that he’d seen all the ads running “here in Iowa.” Although Joe seems confused about a lot of things—and not just where he is, but the where the country is headed. But I think the one who really needs a break is President Obama. He told a crowd in Colorado that he wants to see more wind turbines made “here in China.” I don’t know how to explain that one, unless they brought him Chinese food and he assumed he was in Beijing."

We picked up almost an inch of rain last week so harvesting is going to slug down some here, right when corn needs to be harvested.  It will be interesting to see what the Crop Weather Report says today.  October 22 is still posted so we will check back to see the October 29 report later today.

Blessings to all, especially those in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  Steve Groff has already delayed his big fall Cover Crop Field Day a week.  Terry Taylor also has one at his farm near Geff Illinois next week as well as our friend Jules Willott.  If you are anywhere near Missouri, Illinois or Pennsylvania, you have no excuse to see a good cover crop field day next week!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Now Telling Of No-Tilling

"Now telling of no-tilling in France"

A third of the field crops were planted no-till in 2006.

No-till is getting more popular it saves time, reduces the cost of planting and reduces soil erosion. It is practiced on winter crops more than on spring crops.

Will the mythical plow eventually disappear from our countryside? Difficult scenario to imagine and yet... a third of annual crops were grown in 2006 without tilling the soil. A mini-revolution in tillage: no-tillage concerned only 21% of the acreage in 2001. This practice meets multiple motivations: time saving, energy saving and soil protection. It also suffers many exceptions. No-till works better on winter crops than spring crops, is poorly suited to monoculture, and has varying degrees of success depending on the region. Its adoption is rarely definitive, many farmers alternating years of no-till and tilling on the same plot. No-till however progresses on all crops except durum wheat which had already largely adopted it in 2001. The growth primarily affects soft wheat with almost 50% planted as no-till. It was 25% in 2001. Rapeseed is the other crop that massively converted to no-till in 2006.

Adopted on large farms
Without plowing, farmers lighten their workload. An important element when acreage continues to grow and so does the shortage of operational manpower. All crops combined, 58% of the acreage was not plowed in farms over 400 hectares (988 acres) in 2006. This proportion rises to 74% for soft wheat. The advantage of no-till increases with winter crops such as wheat or rapeseed, planted when harvesting work is not necessarily all over. Availability of farmers in spring is indeed greater, to plant corn, sunflower or sugar beet. They have an average of one and a half months between harvesting and sowing rapeseed, 8.5 months for sugar beet and 9 months for sunflower. No-till also means cost savings. Saving on equipment whose parts don’t wear away as much. And immediate energy savings: 20 to 40 liters of fuel per hectare (2 to 4 gallons of fuel per acre) when the land is not tilled. Another advantage of no-till: reducing erosion. Structural erosion is limited in slopes, and rain erosion is also limited thanks to the crop residues left on the surface. For even more efficiency, proponents of no-till were more likely than others to use temporary cover crops. These cover crops, planted between two field crops, are most useful on spring crops that leave the soil bare for a long time. Located in a region with a high risk of erosion, farmers of Midi-Pyrénées (South West region of France) were the pioneers of no-till in France. They were already no-tilling in 2001, and today (2008) no-till is present on 85% of the acreage for ​​durum wheat and 76% for soft wheat. This choice is far from being uniform throughout. For soft wheat, the reluctance persists in Alsace, Brittany, Normandy and Rhône-Alpes (South East.) Regional disparities also exist for durum wheat, with no-till expanding in the Centre region, leveling in Languedoc-Roussillon (South Center) and Midi-Pyrénées (South West), and declining in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (South East.)

Not recommended for monoculture
No-till does not work so well when growing the same crop on the same plot. With no-till, crop residues remain on the surface and facilitate the transmission of fungal diseases on wheat. Less than 30% of the acreage of durum wheat are planted no-till when they follow another wheat. The proportion is 58% for all durum wheat and 88% in a sunflower-durum wheat rotation. Similar results can be found on soft wheat. No-till is also less commonly used on corn often planted without crop rotation. Crushing and plowing crop residues are indeed one of the best solutions to fight against the European corn borer. Only 8% of corn acreage are planted no-till in Alsace (East), a high spot for corn monoculture. This rate has been declining since 2001. In Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées (South West), two regions of monoculture, 21% of corn is planted no-till. But the corn borer pest pressure is low. No-till represents only 25% of the corn acreage in Brittany (West), a region where corn is rarely planted without a rotation. This is on the rise from 2001.

Using more herbicides
A corollary of no-till: an increase in weeds that germinate more readily in the absence of deep burial of weed seeds. The elimination of plowing can help perennials in wet areas. To fight these weeds, farmers use more herbicides. There are, on average and on all crops, 0.3 additional passes with a herbicide compared to farmers tilling the soil. This gap is 0.3 passes for wheat and 0.7 for rapeseed. The use of chemicals increases as the duration of no-till increases. Never tilling between 2001 and 2006 means an average of one extra pass spreading herbicide on a crop of rapeseed. Alternative to herbicides: mechanical weeding remains the exception. It represents only 7% of annual crops in 2006, and slightly more in no-till because it is expensive to implement. Another solution to fight against weeds: rotation management. Alternating winter and spring crops, grasses and broadleaf plants, cuts the cycle of some weeds. This is one of the difficulties for barley growers who do not till their land: 90% of all barley is preceded by another grass crop.

Reluctance to adoption
One of the limitations of no-till is that it is not suitable for all crops. It makes rooting of sunflower, a summer cycle crop, more difficult. Which may affect its quality and yield. As such in Midi-Pyrénées (South West), a region known for no-tilling its durum and soft wheat, farmers no-till only 28% of the sunflower acreage. No-till sugar beets can also threaten the proper rooting of the plant. Consequently, the plow stays in the barn for a quarter of the crop in Champagne-Ardenne (Center North East,) twice less than for soft wheat. No-till is certainly not an exclusive technique. When farmers adopt it on a plot, they come back to tilling the soil some years. If 34% of surfaces were not tilled in 2006, only 11% were never tilled since 2001. Plots that haven’t been tilled over the past five years yield a little less than those that were tilled every year. The difference is only 4% for soft wheat. It reaches 9% for barley. But no-till does not affect the yield of the sugar beet.


The 2006 survey on agricultural practices follows the one from 2001. It was conducted in partnership with the SCEES and with financial support from the Direction of the Water Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development and Land Planning. The survey identifies the evolution of techniques used on each plot, namely the previous crop, soil preparation, planting, fertilizing, pest-fighting methods, irrigation, yield and the recording of these practices. It focuses on a sample of just over 18,000 land plots, including 4,000 planted with soft wheat and 3,500 with corn. Crops surveyed are soft wheat, durum wheat, barley, corn grain and fodder. But also sunflower, rapeseed, pea, sugar beet, potato, temporary and permanent intensive grasslands. The survey covers all metropolitan French departments where these cultures are sufficiently large. Areas were not extrapolated to other departments. In total, the survey covers 96% areas of the national wheat crop, 92% of corn, 82% of barley and 78% of rapeseed.

Interculture: period between planting a crop and harvesting the previous one

Annual crop: crop planted and harvested during the same agricultural season

Till: plowing over 6 inches deep (15 cm) with soil churn up

Original article (in French):

AGRESTE Bureau of Agricultural Surveys and Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing, France

Copyright mention (from the web site): “Feel free to use the content of this site for personal or professional purpose as long as the sources are mentioned.”

In PDF format (more detailed, in French):

This translation was first published on:

Picture from NewAgTalk

Translated by: Chimel, edited by Ed Winkle.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fuel Problems

Fuel line problems brought combining corn to screeching hault Wednesday night.  After an exhaustive search, the crew found the grommet on the fuel line return to the fuel tank had slipped out of its seat and let a few pounds of dirt suck into the tank.  100 gallons of contaminated fuel had to be pumped out and everything cleaned up to get it running again.

I imagine vibration causes the grommet to vibrate out of its seat but you have to wonder if the grommet is the right material and size to do the job.  Isn't it always amazing how a 69 cent part puts a $400,000 machine out of business?  That's farming, that's machinery and that is how breakdowns work sometimes, or don't work.

Corn yields are coming in pretty flat with too many weeds and too much damage that week of the heat.  I think there will be some insurance claims around here.  There will be some in soybeans, too, but much less than corn.  The wheat that has emerged looks good and I think we have more planted around here than the last two falls.

I am hoping this storm stays out in the ocean more than hitting the coast.  That would be good for everybody.  The Northeast sure doesn't need a big storm with floods and power outages and we don't need any "goose drowner's" around here.  There is a lot of corn out in the fields yet and a few fields of soybeans.  Fall seeding is pretty well over with unless we can drill some more rye in and the storms don't dump too much water on us.  The ditches are still dry so that's a good sign but one inch more and they will be running.

How did you like my Karate picture yesterday?  I am surprised I have no comments on it here or Facebook.  Her feet got cold taking that picture because I demanded no shoes and she complied!

The 85th National FFA Convention is history today.  I don't like that they added in the words Expo after National FFA Convention during the secretary's roll call in opening ceremonies.  Looks like they had a great convention again though, with nearly 53,000 registered.  I am sure Matthew and all of the other advisors there will be glad to get home tonight!

LuAnn said last night we ought to go to the 100th.  Let's see, I would only be 77 years old.  I asked if she would be able to push my wheelchair!  God willing we could be there or not.  Either way is OK.

What would you good folks like to talk about next week?


Friday, October 26, 2012


It feels like Mother Nature is going to give our good weather a quick Karate chop.  It feels like Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are blowing a big head of cold air from the frozen north today.  It looks like the heating oil men are going to make money next week.

We are still shelling corn but the big red combine broke down last night.  It smokes like a freight train and has no power.  As of this writing, the repair hadn't been made yet.  At least it doesn't need a $78,000 engine like the fellow told on Machinery Talk awhile ago.

I think I hyperextended my left arm a few times too much the last few weeks and headed back to Occupational Therapy this morning.  Man did that therapy feel good!  April is an exciting young lady and she always gets me telling stories so I told her a "doozey" this morning.  I had the whole place laughing.

The first year I taught at Blanchester, they also hired a new Industrial Arts or Shop Teacher as we called them.  His name was Glenn "Jake" Jacobson and he lived near Washington Court House.  He was a great Mentor and teacher to teach beside as our classrooms adjoined and we shared a central shop.

The kids found out he was a real black belt in Tae Kwon Do Karate he had learned as a soldier during the Korean War.  They razzed him all year that Karate was fake and you couldn't do all that stuff and so on and so on.  At the end of a successful school year, he had us move all the machines to open up the shop floor.

One good old boy who wasn't a believer was Randy Faulkner, about 6 foot 4 and 240 lbs.  Jake was barefoot in his white suit with black belt and warmed up by breaking boards and concrete blocks.  The kids and I were well entertained.

Then he said Randy, I want you to hold my kicking bag.  He told him to hold it tight because it was going to be a powerful blow.  Jake warmed up a few times, just flicking the bag with his foot.  Randy smiled like this is going to be easy and he and the kids had no idea what was about to happen.

 Jake wound up and spun and threw this mighty kick that picked Randy up in midair and sent him sailing for about 20 feet until he hit the shop floor.   His body scooted across the floor another 30 feet until he hit the shop wall  Any harder and it would have knocked him out!

The kids and I were stunned, we had never seen anything like that, even in a movie. Jake said great job Randy, you held onto the bag!  Thinking about it, that was something in itself.

The story quickly spread around the school and some nasty old concerned parent called the police.  Jake had to go to the police station and register his arms and legs as lethal weapons!  So Jake started Tae Kwon Do classes in the gymnasium and here were those overweight policemen with half the town taking classes!

I had to call Jake for a special favor 3 years ago and Jake did it for me.  He didn't have to and I made it clear and he knew it.

It's good to have a Karate expert on your side.


Thursday, October 25, 2012


We have been blessed with pretty good weather ever since the Orecho winds passed June 29 and that week of 104 degrees passed.  That week of heat cost local farmers a lot of money on their corn yields.  The farmers that I have talked to think it took an easy 20 bushels off our corn yields or we might have record yields.

Still, many are within 10% of their APH and we all feel very blessed for that.  Just 25 miles away, all 4 directions and there is corn and bean fields that yielded in the 20's, just like much of the midwest.  Weather controls our business and puts all the risk into it.  Everything we do has to be in time with Nature.  I can plant a little earlier or a little later but the weather after that day I can't control.  I have to stage my crop to take the licks and the good weather.

Some private and public forecasters are calling this hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean the "perfect storm" for the East Coast.  I sure hope not but we know we can't control the weather.  I just saw Loran Steinlage's Oh No, this can't be good picture on Facebook and Darren Hefty's snow picture from South Dakota.  That strong storm meeting those hurricane winds are going to do something, somewhere, that's for sure.

Lowe's had blueberry plants on sale for $2.50 each and we had a $100 credit so LuAnn bought them.  It's late but we are going to take a chance on them for that price.  I called the neighbor boys from the field and had them dig 50 holes for the plants.  We figure if half of them live, we got a good deal and Lowe's are out of that batch of plants they owned.  It's a variety called Brigitta, I will have to look that one up.  I don't know much about blueberry plants but I know they need well drained acid soil which we have near the hog barn. 

It gets a little too wet there sometimes but no worse than anywhere else.  If I had known, I could have Jack run me a tile line through the middle of it to get the excess water out of the subsoil because the ground drops 10 feet right on the other side of the hog barn.

Well that's it for today.  I better get back to the combine so the guys can eat their dinner.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Someone on Crop Talk asked what Potassium Sulfate is and how to use it as a fertilizer.  Several of us joined in the discussion and offered what we know.

Potassium Sulfate is 0-0-40-17 analysis and a product of some process used in industry.  It typically comes from Utah so the freight increases the price, although Candadian Murate of Potassium is not much closer to me.  It is just usually more widely available and less expensive.

Potassium is an excellent source of Potassium and Sulfur for crops.  It is just not available at every dealer like Murate of Potash is.  "It's odd how this old-fashioned name remains in use! Muriate comes from Muria, the Latin for brine. Muriate of potash is potassium chloride containing between 50 and 60 per cent potash. It was deposited eons ago by ancient seas and should be considered a natural product, blessed by organocultists, but it is not. Its chlorine content passes off rapidly when applied to soil.

As explained under soil organisms, however, muriate of potash is harmful to certain beneficial bacteria. Some authorities think sulfate of potash makes a better potash fertilizer."

Another good thread included the discussion of another primary plant nutrient, Phosphorus  Here was my reply to his question:

".4 row, Jeff the foliar dud(e) has the fancy explanation why you may not have enogh P. This is where the tissue test comes in, you should have found P Low to Deficient with a tissue test in that corn at tassle and I think you would have.

I didn't see see that you put the lime on and that would help over time. If it is rental ground, 200 lbs of pellet lime in your dry mix has helped me avoid P and other deficiencies that crop year and I have picked up as many as 20 bushels doing it.

When it calls for 74 units, I about have to double that to come close, that would be over 200 lbs of MAP or DAP and still the conversion is lower because it needs 1500 lbs of lime.

Theoretically you could convince yourself that 10 gallons of 10-34-0 would be enough to feed the P needs but in reality it probably wasn't.

I say get the ton of lime on now, it's cheap here compared to P and I would want the ground 3 more years and double the lime rate because that soil will probably also be slow at changing Ca Mg and P.

Not a long post at all and a great question. How much does it take to resolve a known deficiency? In my experience, it can easily and often takes more nutrient to get the tissue test to say Sufficient in the needed nutrients and when those go up, others start showing deficiency like Zinc, Manganese or Boron.

Great question and I hope you can learn from this experience and grow better crops in the future. "

Farmers have a lot of questions and though we are all busy right now, it is good to address as many as we can!  It looks like our Indian Summer is coming to an end tomorrow and we will be down 30 degrees for daily temperature next week.

Maybe this wasn't Indian Summer.  Maybe it is coming yet in November?  Remember how warm last winter was?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


An 8 acre swamp we farm for a couple grossed $10,000!  That breaks the record of 70 bushel beans I raised on it in 2008 at $12.  The interesting thing is the weeds on it cost me 20 bushels per acre!  The foxtail and fall panicum was awful and there are two big patches of Canada thistles on it and a big giant ragweed patch.  I was not able to get a rescue spray on it before it got too tall to run over.

I did that on 120 lbs of nitrogen, 50 lbs of P, 60 lbs of K and a pound boron, zinc, and manganese.  It is going to get 4 tons per acre of wet calcium on it if it doesn't rain and the pumper guy gets here next week, and another shot of the same recipe less about 80 lbs of nitrogen it doesn't need to break the stalks down over winter.

This was the sad little field I talked about half the winter where the beans would never get dry enough to run.  I never got them out until February and then planted notill corn on it May 21.  I planted right through those little ruts I left, just enough to make the seat rise when you cross them.  The poor old Gleaner sat out there half the winter waiting for that perfect day to cut them.  I know, that was stupid and that is my fault.

We are truly blessed in southwest Ohio as I know millions of acres of better ground across this great land of ours yielded a whole lot less.  Less enough to cause the crop insurance writers to write record checks totalling billions and billions of dollars to the insured farmers.  I am thankful I wasn't one of them, you always make more money when you DON'T get an insurance check.

If I can do this you would think everyone would.  It feels like they are!  I lost the 50 acres beside it because one of my former students thought it was worth a whole lot more than I did!  I upped the rent every year but it wasn't enough.  The owners of the 8 acre patch didn't want him to farm it so I drive 5 miles to farm 8 acres.  I don't know how long that is going to last.  They are going to get a nice little bonus though this year for sticking with the teacher!

This is the eighth year I have farmed it.  There is a real trick to farming it, too.  It really responds to tillage but I don't till so I have to compromise.  It doesn't like to be farmed wet either and that isn't very often.  Today was one of the driest days I remember in the last 8 years there, we barely left a print.  It doesn't respond to big doses of fertilizer either which just fertilize the weeds which I did this year.  It likes a little at a time or spoon fed.  It does have a reoccuring weed problem so it has a huge seed bank of weed seed.

It makes your day and it makes your year when something like this happens.  If it weren't for ethanol and the high corn markets, it would not be a record.  The fields either side of it were in beans and I guarantee you they didn't gross that per acre although they didn't cost as much to farm, either.

I got my best compliment from reader Bill though this morning.  Those kind of remarks are very flattering but very hard earned from the school of hard knocks.  That patch's result today was almost worth the aggravation I went through last year.  Here is what it looked like September 8.  I will post some harvest pictures later.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Seed Sales and Indian Summer

A young friend posted this on Crop Talk and I felt his frustration.

"When is it best to be satisified with what you have? I have fallen into a routine lately where I plant one, maybe two brands of beans and one brand of corn. Mix the varieties quite a bit, but stick with those companies. I kept hearing about X company's corn, and got a little curious. Found out where the closest dealers where and made a note to talk to someone here as soon as I got wrapped up with beans.

Well, lo and behold, a rep from those folks came out to see my cousin whose farm base is adjacent to mine. They were thrashing beans several miles from home and he couldn't find them so he stopped by my place when I was just pulling in. Said it was too late for him to track them down that evening but if I could tell him where they would be he would find them tomorrow, so I explained to him how to get to them. We talked a few minutes about the usual, and I asked him to tell me about a couple varieties of this seed corn I'd heard so much about. He practically shut me down on one and sort of gave me the run down on another.

Apparently, the age of your equipment must mean you're not much good at what you do or maybe it leads people to think you don't have enough acreage to help them pay their bills, because this guy never shared his business card, any literature or anything with me whatsoever. I even came out from the get and stated that I probably wouldn't plant a whole crop this seed, but I'd like to plant 15 or 20 acres to see what it did and go from there. Obviously, even though that might've been a doorway to more business, it wasn't ENOUGH business, and off he went. I was floored.

Obviously, I'm thinking it's time to dance with the one that brought me. I'm consistently yielding better by the year, and while it's not record breaking it's more than any of my ground has ever seen, so things must be going right. The cousin I speak of, his father is in his 80's and was talking to me later that day, and he made a statement that I think is likely true. He said that nearly all of these companies are offering nearly the same things, it's just finding the varities that fit. I think he's probably right. We ran 30 acres of beans the other day, same ground separated by a lane.

One side was completely different brand, but varieties of the two brands were similar. If I didn't know which we were, couldn't have told you the difference. Yielded within a bushel and color and size nearly identical. Thinking I'll stick with my dance partners unless they give me reason not to. I have reps that seem to appreciate my business even though I'm probably a drop in the bucket to them, and are there if I need help. Their products are proven all over, I see many of you using these same seeds. If it ain't broke, I'm done trying to fix it, I think I've learned my lesson."

My boys sold Bird Hybrids in the 90's before the traited seed came out.  It helped put them through college and I learned a lot about quality seed.  Traited seed changed all of that and suddenly it became too big a chore for us to keep up.  They moved on with their lives, yet I still help a couple of friends find good seed.  Traited seed changed the whole shooting match.  I find myself in a constant quest to find new non GMO varieties which seem to become scarcer every year.  It is the seed I need so I keep my quest.  Seed sales is not really for me, it is a full time job like everything else in this age of specialization.

Indian Summer is upon this week but a big storm will quickly bring it to an end, we know not the day or time.  This behooves us to get everything done we can outside before it quickly leaves us.

Have a great Indian Summer week!  Our Northern Pecan trues are showing the last of their beauty for this year.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Low pH and Wet Soil

This is the best piece I have read on Crop Talk in  a long time.

"Yes there is a connection. Wet soils allow for the growth of organic matter but don't let it mineralize as much due to the lack of oxygen and cooler soil temperatures. This leads to an accumulation of organic matter over time. Lots of deep black dirt with OM levels over 4%.

Organic matter is composed of elements held together by energy captured during photosynthisis. Generally, the larger the organic molecule assembled, the more energy that is stored and the lower the PH. (and the blacker the dirt) That high energy/ low PH breaks apart minerals in the soil like a leaky battery on a concrete floor eats away at the concrete or makes your manure spreader rust in record time. It makes nutrients available to plants by assembling nutrients into organic form that otherwise would be bound up in the inorganic form in the lattice of particles of silt and clay.

The problem is that increasing amounts of organic matter never breaks down (mineralize) to release the nutrients back to the plants, and new organic matter keeps forming and pulling more and more nutrients out of the declining mineral portion of the soil and incorporating them into the organic portion.

These long chain organic compounds are like long magnets with nutrient exchange sites lined up along their length. Once the OM production outpaces the nutrient supply, the result is lower PH. Empty exchange sites are filled with the only thing left, Hydrogen. You need to fill up those exchange sites with Ca+, K+, Mg+, Nitrate...? and the Hydrogen H+ will disappear. The other thing you can do is help decrease your OM by doing things to help it mineralize such as Tile and tillage. This would decrease the number of exchange sites, and raise the PH.

PH does not cause it to be wet, but wet soils start this cycle of high OM accumulation and low breakdown. OM long chain molecules are like long chain polymers that retain water much like a sponge. Rising OM levels increases the water holding capacity of the soil. And as I mentioned above, OM accumulation leads to low PH. So there is a connection between the PH, but the PH is a symtom and not a cause.

Lastly about the high P levels. A soil test does not tell what is in a soil sample. Repeat A soil test does not tell you what is in a soil sample. It tells you what is available in the soil. High OM leads to high energy organic acids making lots of P available in the sample. There might not actually be any more P in the soil on that high testing 40 than on your worst testing clay hillside, but one is available due to OM and one is not available due to mineral lattices. (its in the middle of a rock). If you really want to know what the posibilities of P in your soil are, I suggest splitting samples and running half at the lab as a manure test on both this field and your lowest testing P field. The results may shock you as they did me."

That is a good explanation for many soils.  However, we have a lot of old Illinoian Glacial Till in this region that is low organic matter with acid topsoil and very acid subsoil.  One percent organic matter is common with a pH of 6 in the topsoil and 4-6% in the subsoil.  Farmers struggle to get enough lime on these soils.

That's why farmers in this area will be liming and tiling these beautiful Midwestern soils for maximum productivity!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Don't Miss Plowing

Robert W. Grief in Iowa posted a long winded piece on handling corn stalks over his lifetime.  I was familiar with every line he wrote but noticed the one that said "I still like to plow."  I never did like plowing that much.  I don't miss plowing.

Dad and grandpa plowed 100 acres for corn each year with a team. I never did figure out how they did all of that. Grandpa had a little Titan when dad was little but it just pulled a disk and harrow. That was replaced with a Farmall Regular but they still plowed with a team!

By the time I came along, Grandpa was getting too old to help and dad was plowing with an Oliver 77. He traded that for a Super 77 with 3 point hitch and a raydex plow. He bought a used 8N and he will pull 3 bottoms and I would plow with 2 at the same time. We thought that was big farming in our little livestock area in the 1950's.

He couldn't keep the Ford running and bought a used Oliver 550 for manure loader work and for me to plow with and we were pulling 6-14's total. That was really big in our neighborhood.  We always plowed in the spring. No one fall plowed much in those days because our soil was too light and often too hilly. The fields were all fenced and got hogged and grazed off. Some years I think they ate and licked up every kernal.

I never liked plowing because you sat so unlevel. The neighbor's WC and WD seemed to be built around the plow unlike other tractors. I got to plow with them in later years when we had a brand new D-15 bought on state matching funds for the Blanchester FFA School farm. We had plowing contests and taught a lot of plowing about the time the chisel plow hit the scene.

I did like watching the soil roll under the plow bottom and I don't know of anyone who didn't like the smell of fresh soil plowed up. But we chiseled only a few years before we rented the White NoTill planter in 1976 and haven't plowed since.

Now Robert farms the flat black soils of Iowa.  Not all of Iowa is that way.  His soil is higher in organic matter but is so flat it doesn't move very much.  Our land was marginal for farming and livestock was the best way to make a living off those little rolling farms in Brown County.  Plowing was cause for erosion where I grew up.  Wind erosion was probably a bigger threat where Bobby grew up.

We both disked stalks before plowing.  Plowing was so much easier if you disked them first.  Plowing sod could be a challenge.  I remember farmers running a number nine wire used for fencing attached to the bottom to help the sod split and roll under the moldboard.  The first plow was just that, a molded board which you could do with some wood when it was wet.  Of course, they didn't last too long and steel and cast iron replaced them.

Now most plows have been scrapped in this area but there is still a six bottom sitting on our concrete pad where the big hog barn used to stand.  Hog barns and moldboard plows have disappeared in my lifetime in Ohio.

I know that plowing my cornstalks under would have helped my notill tree problem and so far we haven't got enough rain to wash the soil.  One big 3 incher though and my precious topsoil would be gone and the creek would be browner than ever.

I just don't miss plowing.


I never cared that much for plowing but thanks for the memories.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Making 200 Bushel Ground Out Of 150

Here is a good topic for today's blog:

"I farm both types and of course the goal is to make them all 200. When faced with the major difference being soil type and depth, can a sows ear really be made into a silk purse (or at least a kind of nice purse)?

I've been using hog manure the last few years and it seems to be getting a little better. Tiling just isn't an option for the land ownership and I don't think things are long term enough for me to take it on myself either - would tile make #2 soil compete with #1 or just make it a little better? Or, is this more of a live with what I got situation - try to fix significant issues, but it is what it is. For land like this have guys found that minimum tillage and other practices that reduce costs are a better direction than farming it like it will yield 220?

I know it sounds a little obvious but I'm betting we are all faced with these situations and I can't say it would be an easy decision to back off, but spending even more money may turn the ground into an expensive hobby also."

My response would be that finding your lowest common denominator is the key.  For me, that was taking soil tests regularly in the same zone using the Midwest Soil Test which is similar to the old OARDC REALab numbers I worked with all my life.  The tissue test has helped me understand how what I had and what I applied got into the plant or failed to get there.

This has resulted in my applying more lime, P, K, and micronutrients than formerly had been applied.  I usually apply Manganese Sulfate and Boron now finally seem to have my Zinc and Copper in line.  I seem to not be able to get too much calicium on these soils and am waiting for 2 tons per acre applied to all our ground right now.

Hog manure is good, I would prefer cow manure but poultry litter works best on the ground around here.  It is better calcium balanced because of the need in poultry diets.  Applying manure in a notill situation is challenging but many are doing it very well.  NPKK Pork in Iowa would be a good place for you to look.  Yes we can take a little less yield with a lot less tillage and leave more soil in the field and more money on our bottom line.

Drainage is a big issue.  If drainage is the limiting factor, the farmer is going to gain more from installing tile than the above listed method.  How do you drain someone else's land?  A few have worked out a deal but not many.  The tile plow craze has helped but it is still darned expensive to tile someone else's farm, I don't care how you look at it.

I have pretty much done what the post asks in nine years.  My corn APH is 190, wheat a lousy 70 bushels, soybeans 61 bushels and double crop soybeans 40 bushels.  It was a third less than that or so 9 years ago.

I see more more and more farmers applying calcium to help pH, soil structure and nutrient flow but it is still a small number.  I see more farmers "spoon feeding" nutrients as they have become so expensive and we have learned how to apply them a little at a critical time.

On cover crops, I think the radish is helping break my soil pans and putting nutrient where my crop roots can get to.  The verdict is still out how much cover crops help but the increases I have seen with radish planted in wheat and corn and beans after radish and blends look good.

The soil where I took the picture is 150 bushel ground.  The soil below it in the far distance is 200 bushel ground.  Do you really think you can change it that much?  The differences between two have occured over thousands of years.  One farmer's lifetime is only going to do so much but yes, we can make a profitable and sustainable impact.

I thought this was a good blog topic today so I thank Pat H in Illinois for posting his question on Crop Talk.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gold In Dem Dar Fields!

October is slipping away from us and the winds this morning sounds like Old Man Winter is just around the corner.  It has been sounding like this off and on for a few weeks now.  It's a normal thing, it's that time of the year.

Farmers are harvesting the gold in their fields.  That gold is yellow corn and yellow soybeans.  They are coming off at a fast pace around here.  I said the other day it looked like every available combine was in the field.

Farmers are taking off good yields overall.  25 miles around our farm has to be some of the best crops in the United States.  We are very blessed.  I have heard more yields closer to 60 than 40 on soybeans.  The early corn has been taken off and everything else is still in the field.

My friend in NW Pennsylvania sent me his corn plot results.  The high was 263 and the low was 200!  I said Stuart, you are a better farmer than I am!  When so much of the country was toast, some of us made out quite well.  They have a very short season there and it's one of those places I say if you can farm there, you can farm anywhere.

We finished every tile repair but one yesterday.  I have been meaning to drain this low spot on the high spot if you know what I mean.  Right near the curve on Martinsville Road, excess rain will drown out my crop every once in awhile.  I showed Jack and he said we better call OUPS.  I call OUPS and they say he has to call.  I know he isn't going to call.

I know there isn't anything there but a 6 inch tile going around the curve clear past all my driveways.  Still, I don't know where the telephone or water lines are buried and I don't want him to hit one and I know he is not going to let himself hit one.  As they say, call before you dig!  It's almost a 911 call in the US, it's 811.

I just got an email about the post turtle.

"While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, whose hand was caught in the squeeze gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to Obama and his role as our president.

The old rancher said, 'Well, ya know, Obama is a 'Post Turtle''.

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him, what a 'post turtle' was.

The old rancher said, 'When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a 'post turtle'.

The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with."

Best explanation I've heard yet.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Treaty Silt Loam

We were repairing a tile near a main outlet yesterday where the field voles had chewed through and my excavator guy Jack asked what in the world is this stuff?  I couldn't remember so I called Bill at NRCS and told him where I was standing and he looked up the soil type for me.  It is a rare soil type called Treaty Silt Loam.

Jack had asked because it was black goo at 3-5 feet deep.  It is a glacial overwash as the soil scientist call it.  Here is a better explanation if I can get this formatted:

TpA—Treaty silt loam, 0 to 1 percent slopes, overwash
Landform: Flats and depressions on the Wisconsinan till plain

Position on the landform: Summits(this is unusual as our farm is the highest point around here)

Treaty and similar components: 90 percent Contrasting Components: Reesville soils: 10 percent

Land capability classification: 2w(That is a Class II wet with I being prime farm land and VIII mountainous)

Prime farmland: Prime farmland if drained
Soil Properties and Qualities
Available water capacity: About 10.2 inches to a depth of 60 inches

Cation-exchange capacity of the surface layer: 9 to 17 meq per 100 grams

Depth class: Very deep

Depth to root restrictive feature: Greater than 80 inches

Depth to the top of the seasonal high water table: At or near the surface  Water table kind: Apparent

Ponding: Very long  Depth of ponding: 0.0 to 0.5 feet    Drainage class: Poorly drained

Flooding: None(actually that is near where they have put the flooding sign on SR 28 a few times during record rainfall the past 8 years.)

Organic matter content in the surface layer: 4.0 to6.0 percent

Wow, it took me 10 minutes to format this from the website explanation to my blog but this hits the high spots, HyMark High Spots, get it?  This is what you learned in my sophomore soils class.  We spent the best days of fall in soil pits.  You don't have to be a farmer, excavator or soil scientist to appreciate this knowledge in application to life as food is applicable to all!

I told LuAnn if we had 1000 acres of this we might be in the position of the young man who came to Jesus this week in the Parable I told.  I figure I can increase grain production in this little patch about 200 bushels per year so that translates into $2000 more income per year with a $1000 repair.  That patch drowned out from the tile break the last two season and had been getting worse each year.  The big one inch stone should help too, and leveling the depression around the tile.

I hope we can finish the project today.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Honor Thy Father And Mother

From The Eye Of The Needle, one of the Ten Commandments is honor thy father and mother.  I have read that was written in Biblical times to mean to care for your father and mother in old age, not just through your life.

Dad was easy to honor as everyone who knew him loved him.  He was the kind of man you wanted to do anything for because he gave so much and asked for little.  Mom, not so easy.  Mom is very independent but never learned to ask you to do anything for her without feeling like you are being used a little.

Do you take care of your parents in old age or are they pretty independent?  LuAnn and I have both lost our fathers but we still have our mothers.  We try to honor and care for them and they don't ask for much.  We are approaching the age when we will need care ourselves so it is a good question for today.

LuAnn told me this morning that I can say things others dare not say.  I never thought about that much but I admit as I get older I do speak what is on my mind, especially if I think it is something I need to make clear or something that needs to be said.  I get tired of following the leader over the cliff and strong leadership is so hard to find.  I do try to listen more and watch what I say but I just find more opportunity to say something the other person never thought of!

I posted my empty chair on Facebook.  I think my neighbors are avoiding the issue of the empty chair on the political sign on our farm.  "That crazy old coot has done it again."  Actually LuAnn put me up to it or at least gave me the idea after Clint Eastwood made his remark at the Republican Convention.  It was just too good not to do something with.

We are blessed with 2 more days of good weather before another rain.  I hope to finish some more broken tile today.  No combines were running yesterday as the sun never came out after the tenth or so most received but I bet they will all be running again today.  The sun is bright before 10 AM right now.

The wheat is really looking good and I noticed yesterday all of my radish sown with it is in the 2 leaf stage.  I hope it gets big enough before the next freeze that it can live until around Christmas.  Then it will have done its job for my wheat.

We have two of the best days left coming to our area today and tomorrow.

Make it a good one.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Mulberry Bushes

Thanks to my Internet friend "Southernokie" on AgTalk, I have identified my notill trees.  It is the Mulberry.   It looks be the specie Morus rubra.  It was here when we moved here but it spread wildly the last 9 crop years.

It really likes my notill, cover crop and fertilizer program.  It must love the balanced fertilizer program I have spread of Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Boron, Manganese, and Zinc.  The tiny bits of magnesium and copper I have used didn't hurt it, either.

The Newman boys have been taking my Mule out to the field and dig and cut them out.  We take a spade, dig deep beside the roots, pry it over and the other guy takes big pruners and cuts it off.  It gets a dose of brushkiller directly on the fresh cut root.

I did that a couple of years ago but not near enough.  They have brought in several Mule beds full of cut Mulberry that I let dry and burn once a week or so.

I have a nice new crop of maples from the seeds that blow from trees in every direction of the field below the house, too.  They are easy to control and I don't worry about them too much.  The next thing you know though I will be writing about trying to kill my Maple tree crop!

I watched a PBS program on The Stock Market Crash of 1929.  We are still doing what they that led to that crash!  I think that might make a good blog topic.  I heard a talk about Debit versus Credit cards and the problem with credit cards is only 30% of users like me have the discipline to use them as cash and pay them off monthly.  The average credit card debt is around $8,000 and 20% of card holders only pay the minimum amount.  That means you will never get out of debt!  Kind of like our country's situation, isn't it?

I also watched the Dust Bowl documentary on PBS again.  It's a great reminder of the importance of minimum tillage and reducing soil erosion by wind and water.  Cover crops and winter crops are key to healthy soils that don't blow or wash away.

I passed my CSP spot check so we are good for another year.  We had zero rain on last week's rain report so thank you Good Lord and maybe could we have just another one or two to get this harvest work in?

Happy Birthday to Finnegan who was 2 yesterday and hope to see you soon!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Eye Of The Needle

Sometimes I don't need to write too much.  I just present to you what I hear, what I learn, and what little I know.  What I know today comes from the book of Mark.

"17 He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, 'Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'

18 Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

19 You know the commandments: You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.'

20 And he said to him, 'Master, I have kept all these since my earliest days.'

21 Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, 'You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'

22 But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

23 Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!'

24 The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, 'My children,' he said to them, 'how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

25 It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God.'

26 They were more astonished than ever, saying to one another, 'In that case, who can be saved?'

27 Jesus gazed at them and said, 'By human resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God everything is possible.'

28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we have left everything and followed you.'

29 Jesus said, 'In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel

30 who will not receive a hundred times as much, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land -- and persecutions too -- now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

31 Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.'

My question today is, what one thing do I have too much of?  What one thing must I give up to have complete devotion.

And the big question, does America have too much?  Are we like the young man?

Have a great and wonderful day!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Furry Mice

The "furry mice" have been busy this year.  I found some more holes in my tile drainage system.  Jack at Terra finally got some time to dig holes for me since I don't own a backhoe.  I really should the way I like to look at soil profiles.  Root pits are invaluable to me to see what is going on under our feet.

These furry mice are field voles.  Jack said I can't believe the damage you get to tile and all those trees your neighbor boys are cutting out!  I said there is no perfect farming system and notill has its challenges.  Mine are weeds, voles and notill trees.  They are a pain but I will trade them for tillage, erosion and soil destruction.

This time we cut out broken tile and laid it over the holes and filled the holes with some number four's or one inch plus stone.  This will make it more challenging for them to bury corn kernals in my tile system.  It won't stop them but maybe it will slow them down.

I need to post a picture of my notill tree leaves.  I don't know kind of tree it is.  I have been calling it sumac bushes but I looked up sumac and it is not the common Staghorn Sumac found in Ohio.  I did find this guide useful for identifying native Ohio plants.  Maybe you can help me identify the bushes growing in my notill field at the house if I post a picture.

I think just about every combine available was in a field somewhere around here yesterday.  Some farmers are just starting, more are about half finished but I imagine a few are wrapping up harvest like my friend in Illinois did yesterday.  He was very happy a neighbor showed up with his 3 trucks to help him finish his soybean harvest.  Some farmers are reporting better soybean yields than their corn numbers!  I am thankful we don't have that here.

I was riding a friends combine yesterday and where he had no Marestail problem the yield monitor was sitting at 60 bushels.  As soon as he hit a Marestail patch the monitor went to 50 bushels.  At today's price that is 150 dollars per acre less soybeans.  I think that would have paid for a different soybean strategy, don't you?  Liberty Link beans are more expensive to raise on the chemical side but they don't cost $150 more per acre!

It's another beautiful day in Ohio but the weather is changing this weekend so I better get to work.  Govenor Romney is coming to Lebanon today nearby but I don't think I will mess with his political rally.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, October 12, 2012

The List

Our local TV station has a new program called The List.  It is a fast paced review of what is going on in Cincinnati, our country, our world and our universe.  Joe Biden added another reason Why I Can't Vote For Obama last night.

Joe Biden wrecked that debate. He was angry, mean and rude. He was not vice presidential at all. Do we want that leading our country? He was on the defensive with good ole boy, I am older and know better than you, you don't understand how it really is mentality the whole time. The debate was out of hand in 5 minutes, that Martha lady had more than she could handle. She butted in and had lost control early on. That debate was pathetic on 2 people's parts. That was no true debate. I hope the average American could decipher what was going on. Biden had NO defense but was defensive.  That came off as very offensive.  As a Catholic I can tell you one nominee is Catholic and the other claims to be.

I am working on my To Do List.  I made a lot of progress this week!  I took some corn samples to my 3 buyers this week and my May replant tested 22 to 25% water but the test weight is lower than my March or April planted corn.  Some of the kernals were flinty, small, light and not dense like the earlier plantings.  Still, with the Crop Report and the runup in corn prices yesterday I would still net $7.35 per bushel on that corn.  Should I store it?  I wouldn't be surprised to see corn test $10 next year.

My old friend Finkbone helped me replace a broken injection line on one tractor, weld a hitch to my new one row notill planter, repair my broken grader blade and finally put a hitch on the Mule!  We got the electric powered Herd Seeder mounted on the back of the Mule so I can seed those bare spots!  We just made the Mule even more versatile.

I think we can notill our garden next year.  Take that, neighbor Bradshaw!  He has always teased me as being a teacher of notill while tilling my garden.  Hyprocritical, eh?  Right now I have the most beatiful stand of cover crop on our loose and fertile garden.  All I have to do is hook up my notill IH one row planter next spring and go to planting!

It is another beautiful day in southwest Ohio.  Jack will show up after bit and we can get to fixing my broken tile and drain three wet spots on this farm.

Then, I can add new items to The List!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Attention Deere Seeding Group

Jacob in Oklahoma just tore a new Deere seeder apart piece by piece on Machinery Talk..  Since many friends use them and one has planted many of my crops, I understand what he is saying.  It is sad to spend so much money and have a piece of equipment almost perfect but certain engineering design lets the whole thing fail.

"I have to go on a little rant. We have been seeding for the past couple weeks and I have a couple enhancements that Deere Seeding group must not be aware of. First of all I would like to state that although Deere is not perfect I would say that they have a pretty good product with the 1890 and 1910 cart. With that being said, there are a couple of design flaws that seem to get overlooked with each new version. I thought that since they were fresh on my mind I would just try and let them know my frustration.

First, let's talk about the cart. We are running two, one with a 8" auger and the other with a conveyor. Other than the weight difference the conveyor is awesome(and smokes the auger for filling), however, the top mounting bracket is a JOKE! It is the same as the 8" auger. Now how am I suppose to rest the weight of a 300lb conveyor bouncing through the field on four 12mm bolts that are in a slot that is 5" long with 1/4"of material around it(take some 1/4" key stock and tell me how much weight it can hold with a 12' lever arm). The slot will just deflect, then the bolts break or come loose and then the weight of the conveyor is on the arm that it pivots on and then the welds will crack out on the main frame of the cart. I feel like every time I fill the cart I have to look to see if bolts are missing and replace them. This is only if you can keep the mickey mouse mechanism tight that the bottom of the conveyor rest on to transfer the weight to the transport brackets. One bolt and a bolt through a round disc is not what I call a positive locking system. I can think of several designs that wouldn't add any cost yet would actually work in keeping the latch at the appropriate height and be able to carry the weight of the conveyor.

Next on the cart is the cheap strap that holds the telescoping spout up. Since clearance is such a premium on the top of the cart(or so you make it to be), and the lids are full of obstructions that keep hooking the spout when you fold the conveyor out, these straps should be cables, or better yet remove the obstructions. Flexicoil figured that out 15 years ago. Finally on the cart, in which many people have commented on this, put a hopper on the auger or conveyor to get under a semi. Just if you haven't figured it out yet, we are using them, and guess what you can even charge us $2600 for the option, b/c we are paying that anyway (no offense to the air seeder hopper, I am thankful that someone has seen the need for this market. All of our carts have them and we are quite pleased with them). How else do you plan on us to fill up a 350, 430 or even 550 bu cart. We aren't using 1 ton trucks with a scoop anymore.

Second, let's talk 1890 seeder. How can your engineering department let such an important designed part like the main frame wheels go out and fail. Especially on a brand new drill. Everything else seem well thought out and designed, but the guy that did the main frame wheels failed. I worked as a engineer for a couple of years and I had to tell management several times that all the engineers can use the equations, but it is the numbers that you use and the educated decisions you make to get the numbers is what makes you a good engineer or not. It was a concern of ours first time we looked at it. We just looked at the spindles on the front of the cart and knowing the weight that has on it and then look at the wheels on the drill and with just visual FEA we could tell you that it was going to fail (since they were already deflecting).

For those that don't know what I'm talking about, on the 50 and 60' drill they have walking wheels on the main frame and they used the same spindles and walking cast arms from their chisels. Needless to say they had a PIP and put the spindles on the drill like what is on the cart. I would like to congratulate you on improving the design of Flexicoil's easy flow header. The new towers are very nice and work quite well. Finally, I have a fix for the overheating problem that many are having around here with your air seeders. I am talking about a fix not a band-aid( you think a cooler in front of the fan is a fix). Once you understand hydraulically what is happening, the fix is simple. I have a valve that I made on my drill and my tractor does not overheat anymore and I am saving 1-2 gal of fuel per hour. It is amazing how much fuel you can save when to take 35hp worth of heat out of the hydraulic system.

My email is in my profile if you want to discuss to the solution. If anyone has a overheating issue with there Deere air drill, just let me know. I am going to put a valve kit together and make it available for people to purchase so their tractors don't overheat. I know I said finally, but I do have one more thing, bolts are awesome fasteners when used correctly. However bolting through a 7" tube is not a good design. Bolts don't like to go through stress cycles, they like to be stressed(torqued) with multiple solid members, and then they stay at that point, and this can not be accomplished with square tubing. Clamping open air doesn't work very well, but welding to square tubing is a good alternative or using bushings through square tubing is an alternative it you have to bolt it. We replace at least 6-12 bolts a year on the main frame of our 42' drill( and don't worry, we are not getting them from you, so you can't say that you are getting the part sales). Unfortunately it is the same design on the 60' as well, so I can't wait to get to start replacing those as well.

Sorry for my rant. I just feel like things don't get through and that this is our voice to those that are in charge. I may be the only one with these concerns, and if so I guess I know where I stand.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

13 Years Ago

13 is not a lucky number to most people but today it is for me.  13 years ago today, LuAnn and I had our first date at Geneva On The Lake State Park near Ashtabula, Ohio.  Looking back, it was my first real date as a mature man, or at least my most successful one.

We had decided to meet in September and she asked me to pick a spot.  It was a shorter drive for her than it was for me but for some reason I picked that spot.  I will never forget sitting on the tailgate of my two tone grey Dodge Dakota when she pulled up behind me.  She was in a shiny blue Ford Expedition and I happened to look at her New York license plates.  It said SOILH2O!  I had met my match and my destiny and somehow we both knew it.

She had offered to make us a picnic lunch and I remember the sandwiches made from some loaves of Italian bread with lunch meats we don't normally eat here in southern Ohio.  You could call them hero's, submarines or something like that but they were delicious.  I think I remember olives and some other foods but it was a beautiful lunch with a beautiful lady.

We hadn't told each other but we both brought albums of pictures of our children.  Little did those kids know they would be walking down our aisle less than 3 years later.  I do remember stopping to see my boys on Neil Avenue on the way home and seeing the puzzled look on their faces when I told them I had met someone I was going to date.  I had been officially divorced for 6 years but the marriage really ended 10 years before that.

We walked and sat and talked all afternoon before it was time to leave.  A cold wind blew off Lake Erie and I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a big kiss.  The sparks flew and the fireworks definitely went off.  Here we are 13 years later on our cozy little farm near Martinsville.

We have seen our children marry and awaiting our 11th grandchild.  We have seen the 50 states and Candian Provices and around 35 countries together.  We  have buried both our dads.  We have seen a lot happen together since we picked up on God's Plan for us.

It's been 13 years since that first date and I don't know how many emails or phone calls we have exchanged.  We haven't stopped talking long ever since October 10, 1999.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Pants Are Too Big

It's a great problem to have in your older years and maybe any years but I just hauled out a load of slacks to the Dakota.  LuAnn exclaimed, "my pants are too big."  She had lunch with a friend who is down a size, too.  The ladies around here are always trading clothes and it is for good reason.

Me, I am on the last notch and need to go back to my smaller belt sizes but so far, my pants aren't too big.  They sure got big the last five years when I saw my old 38's disappear.  Winkles and Kiers have big hips so it was easy to rationalize.  When that spare tire got too big and uncomfortable, something had to give.

We have changed our diet a lot.  We don't eat near as much red meat or carbohydrates as we used to.  We just can't burn them up.  The big thing is what we knew all along, eat a little for breakfast, more for lunch and less for dinner.  Beware of premade, concentrated, complex foods that are hard to digest.  Fast food, pizza and microwave junk have become a rarity.  And, beware of that nasty Wheat Belly, beer belly and every other kind of belly out there!

Balance is difficult to achieve in this "modern society" but man has struggled with it from day one.  Spiritual, mental and physical balance is just like living how we raised our kids and these little grandkids.  "All I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten."  I remember our adult Sunday School teacher sharing that with us and it is oh, so true.

1. Share everything.

2. Play fair.

3. Don't hit people.

4. Put thngs back where you found them.


6. Don't take things that aren't yours.

7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

12. Take a nap every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”

― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Have a great day, and don't eat too much chocolate!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Cowman Mentality

We had a discussion on Crop Talk the other day about cowman mentality.  As soon as saw the title I thought of my dad, the best cowman I ever knew.  Today I stopped by the stockyards today, probably just to remember going to the stock sale with him.  I always run into friends there and sure enough, I saw several.

"Over the years, we have taken on different pieces of land that have been owned/rented/farmed by cattle farmers for hay land. Not always, but often, those pieces of land have not been fertilized properly when taking into account the P and K removed by feeding/selling the hay. I talked to a cattle rancher today that had a piece of hay land for more than 10 years and had never fertilized it ever. he said it always yielded well so he didn't bother fertilizing. Do many cattle farmers not understand the "feeding" side of grass/crop production. I find it interesting that they will feed their animals and not their hay land.

I'm not painting all cattle farmers with the same brush. There are many very excellent cattle farmers that have a wholistic view of agriculture that do an excellent job of all parts of their farm. I'm glad they do a great job of it because I'm not an animal guy. If I had animals, I'd be doing lots of research to make sure I was feeding them properly. Just trying to understand those that don't. Because I seem to encounter more than just an insignificant amount of them. "

I whipped out a sentimental and defensive reply for cowmen and got a lot of good response.  Many farmers understand what I am talking about.  There are many good cowmen who take good care of their soil and raise nutritioius feed but many still don't know boron from biscuits.  I used to tell them boron was 20 Mule Team Borax which they understood but they had no idea how that would make better alfalfa.

As the cowmen are dying off like most small farmers, the big time operators have come in and offered what looks like more cash to the widow than the cowman husband ever showed her.  In a couple of years. that good pasture land is rutted up or washed away.  This is the way it goes but it isn't good for America.

Feeder calves were good property this morning, bringing $1.60/cwt.  I wonder what they are going to feed those critters?  Corn closed around $7.40 so I sure don't see any money in feeding corn to cattle but thankfully someone does.

I would sure like to have the beef and the manure but I don't want to take care of livestock.  I would rather sit in my warm office and blog to you all winter!

Did you see that gasoline is close to $6 in parts of California?  Corn farmers think that's what they get for not wanting ethanol in their state!  I wonder what dad would think about that?

The soybeans nearby made 61 bushels per acre on one farm and 52 on another.  My friends were cutting their Jacob seed soybeans and they were making near 60, too on pretty poor ground.