Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29

Today we add in that quarter of a day that didn't fit into the calendar every four years. There are plenty of stories and tales about February 29. What about all the babies born or funerals today? I have two friends who are celebrating their wedding anniversary. I wonder if they do anything special?

I met a funeral procession on SR 28 yesterday. Our line of traffic pulled off the road for the long procession like you are supposed to honor the dead. Many times you don't see that some places anymore we everyone scurrying on like it doesn't affect THEM. They aren't the one in the hearse, either.

I woke up to thunder and lightning at 5 AM. I am sure there are weather tales about leap year day. I was telling the two young men in the truck about how rare this weather is in my 62 years of life as we drove across the field to move piles of fence row wood.

Sprayers out yesterday applying 28 to wheat and early herbicide programs going to corn. That is quite unusual the last 14 months as it seems like it rained every other day like it is today. Other farmers were out working fence rows like we were and a few were getting out their last corn or soybeans in Ohio.

Monsanto is hosting one of their three Weed Resistance meetings in Ohio today. It will be interesting to see what they say that they didn't say or wasn't heard the last 15 years. I think too many farmers skipped residual chemicals and tried to use Round Up to control weeds that were too big. That's why we are having weed resistance meetings today.

It looks like Mitt Romney passed a hurdle, winning Arizona and his "home" state of Michigan yesterday. Mike Huckabee is bringing his show to Wilmington Saturday with Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.

For my farmer friends, we had a discussion on potassium thiosulfate insteas of ammonium thiosulfate for corn starter. There is lots of discussions about dry versus liquid fertilizer on Crop Talk as we get ready for 2012 planting.

Have a great day and I will chat with you tomorrow!

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Cover Crops Suppress Weeds

I saw farmers chisel plowing soybean stubble on Farmers Road and Panhandle Road yesterday and thought wow, what a waste of soil, fuel, time and machinery. If he could have sown a cover crop there after last years harvest, at least he would have green manure to plow in. Anything would help, wheat, oats, barley, rye. Anything would be better than chisel plowing eroded, compacted soybean stubble.

Here is a good review how cover crops suppress weeds.

A growing cover crop can suppress weeds in several ways:

•Direct competition
•Allelopathy—the release of plant growth–inhibiting substances
•Blocking stimuli for weed seed germination
•Altering soil microbial communities to put certain weeds at a disadvantage
After a cover crop is tilled in, mowed, rolled, or otherwise terminated, its residues can prolong weed suppression by:

•Physically hindering seedling emergence (if residues are left on the surface as mulch)
•Releasing allelopathic substances during decomposition
•Promoting fungi that are pathogenic to weed seedlings
•Tying up nitrogen (N) (when low-N residues are incorporated into soil)
A vigorous, fast-growing cover crop competes strongly with weeds for space, light, nutrients, and moisture, and can thereby reduce weed growth by 80–100% for the duration of the cover crop’s life cycle. Timely cover crop plantings occupy the empty niches that occur in vegetable production systems:

•After vegetable harvest
•Over winter
•Before planting a late-spring or summer vegetable
•Between wide-spaced rows of an established crop
Buckwheat (Fig. 1, left), soybean, and cowpea planted in warm soil can cover the ground within two or three weeks. This “canopy closure” puts tiny, emerging weeds in the shade and hinders their growth. Summer or winter annual grasses like sorghum–sudangrass, various millets (Fig. 1, right), oats, rye, and wheat form dense, fibrous root systems that appropriate soil moisture and nutrients, leaving less for the weeds. Combining a grass with a legume or other broad leaf crop is often more effective than growing either alone.

Fast-growing millets, forage soybeans, and sorghum–sudangrass can attain heights of four to seven feet, and above ground dry biomass of four tons per acre within 65–70 days after planting (DAP). The grasses can mop up 100–150 lb N per acre in that time, and soybeans can fix up to 200 lb N per acre. Winter cereal grains, especially rye, can grow at temperatures just a few degrees above freezing, and thereby get a jump on early spring weeds. Oats and field peas planted in early spring can reach three to four feet and three tons per acre by the summer solstice.

Watch this video clip for an excellent example of the use of sorghum–sudangrass ("sudex") to produce a high biomass, weed-suppressive cover crop (Grubinger, 2004).
Clovers get off to a slow start and are not initially good competitors. However, clover seedlings, especially red clover, are quite shade-tolerant; thus clovers can be interplanted or overseeded into standing vegetable crops. When the vegetable is harvested and cleared off, the established clover seedlings grow rapidly, and taller varieties—such as mammoth red, crimson, berseem, and ladino clovers—can compete well against post harvest weeds.

Competition from a strong cover crop can virtually shut down the growth of many annual weeds emerging from seed. Perennial weeds that emerge or regenerate from roots, rhizomes, or tubers are more difficult to suppress, but even their growth and reproduction can be substantially reduced by the most aggressive cover crops.

As long as the cover crop is actively growing, intercepting light, and utilizing soil moisture and nutrients, later-emerging weeds have little opportunity to grow. Tilling the cover crop into the soil as a green manure terminates the competitive effect, leaving an open niche which should be occupied by planting a subsequent crop as soon as practical.

All plants give off various substances that can affect the growth of other plants. Active compounds may be exuded by living plant roots, washed off the leaves and shoots into the soil by rainfall, or released from decaying residues. These allelochemicals, some of which are potent enough to be considered nature’s herbicides, have the greatest impact on germinating seeds, seedlings, and young plants, retarding their growth, causing visible damage to roots or shoots, or even killing them outright. Allelopathic effects strong enough to contribute significantly to weed control in field conditions have been documented for rye and other winter cereal grains, sorghum and sorghum–sudangrass hybrids, lablab bean, rapeseed, buckwheat, and subterranean clover (Putnam and Tang, 1986; Rice, 1995; Boydston and Hang, 1995), as well as forage and daikon radishes (Fig. 3).

Cover crops in the brassica family, including rapeseed, mustards, and radishes, contain a number of compounds called glucosinolates, which break down into powerful volatile allelochemicals called isothiocyanates during residue decomposition. In field trials, brassica cover crops have suppressed weed growth for several weeks or months after the cover crop was tilled in (Al-Katib et al., 1997; Boydston and Hang, 1995) or winter-killed.

Because each plant species gives off a unique combination of potentially allelopathic substances, and is itself sensitive to some allelochemicals and tolerant to others, allelopathic interactions are often species specific. For example, winter rye and its residues are quite active against pigweeds, lambsquarters, purslane, and crabgrass, and far less so against ragweeds, sicklepod, and morning glories. Sunflower and subclover suppress morning glories, ande sorghum can inhibit purple nutsedge and Bermuda grass as well as many small-seeded annuals.

Cover crop allelopathy can hurt some vegetables as well, particularly small seeded crops that are direct sown too soon after the cover crop. Lettuce seedlings are especially sensitive to allelochemicals, while large-seeded and transplanted vegetables are generally more tolerant. Tomatoes and other solanaceous vegetables thrive when transplanted through recently-killed residues of rye and/or hairy vetch (Smeda and Weller, 1996). Winter grain cover crop residues have been reported to reduce growth of cabbage, but to stimulate peas, beans, and cucumbers (Putnam and DeFrank, 1983; Putnam et al., 1983).

Unlike direct competition, allelopathic weed suppression can persist for a few weeks after a cover crop is terminated. Tilling the top growth in as a green manure causes an intense but relatively brief burst of allelopathic activity throughout the till depth. Leaving the residues on the surface as an in situ mulch creates a shallow (less than one inch) but more persistent allelopathic zone that can last for three to ten weeks depending on weather conditions. Thus no-till cover crop management offers a potential for selective suppression of small-seeded annual weeds in transplanted and large-seeded vegetables, whose roots grow mostly below the allelopathic zone.

In addition to this "selectivity by position," some allelochemicals may be inherently selective toward larger seeds. In petri dish germination tests, green pea seeds (large) were far more tolerant to low (1–5 ppm) concentrations of various isothiocyanates than redroot pigweed seeds (small), with barnyard grass seeds (medium) showing intermediate sensitivity (Al-Khatib et al., 1997). Similar selectivity has been observed in field studies, on vegetables grown after brassica cover crops. Whereas the weed suppressive effects of the cover crops persisted for at least part of the vegetable growing season, yields were either unaffected or improved in potatoes (Boydston and Hang, 1995), peas, spinach (direct-sown), onions (from sets), and transplanted lettuce (Al-Khatib et al., 1997; Schonbeck, 2007).

Weed Seed Germination
While a brief flash of unfiltered daylight, or even a few minutes of full moonlight, can trigger germination of many small-seeded weeds, the green light that reaches the soil beneath a closed canopy of plant foliage tends to inhibit germination (Fig. 4). This is because many seeds sense the quality of light by means of a special compound called phytochrome that works as a molecular switch. Red light (abundant in daylight) flips the switch to “germinate now” whereas light that is poor in red and rich in far-red (a wavelength between red and infrared, barely visible to the human eye) flips the switch to “go dormant”. The chlorophyll in green leaves absorbs most of the red light and transmits the far-red, and the phytochrome in weed seeds senses the filtered light as a signal that a shading canopy is present, rendering conditions unfavorable to weed growth. Part of the weed-suppressive effects of hairy vetch cover crops have been attributed to this light quality effect (Teasdale and Daughtry, 1993). This phenomenon may also contribute to the weed suppression sometimes observed after other dense-canopy cover crops like buckwheat (Fig. 1) or radish (Fig. 3).

Effects on Soil Microbial Communities
Each plant species exudes through its roots a characteristic mix of substances, including carbohydrates, amino acids, organic acids, and other “microbial food”, as well as its particular set of allelochemicals. This biochemical mix elicits and supports a specific microflora (community of fungi, bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms) in the plant’s rhizosphere (the soil immediately adjacent to the plant roots); to a lesser degree, it also influences the microflora of the bulk soil. The microbes fostered by one plant species can help, hinder, or even sicken another plant species.

A vigorous cover crop with an extensive root system that harbors microorganisms harmful to certain weeds can thereby provide an added measure of control of those weeds. For example, most grain and legume cover crops are strong hosts for mycorrhizal fungi which live as root symbionts and enhance crop growth. Several major weeds, including pigweeds, lambsquarters, nutsedges, purslane, and weeds in the buckwheat family, are nonhosts that do not benefit from mycorrhizae, and may exhibit reduced vigor if their roots are invaded by mycorrhizal fungi (Francis and Read, 1995; Muthukumar et al., 1997). Several researchers have begun to explore the potential of mycorrhizal fungi as a weed management tool (Jordan et al., 2000; Vatovec et al., 2005).

Plant root exudates and plant-microbe interactions can also influence certain species or classes of microorganisms in the soil as a whole, with subsequent effects on other plants. For example, the glucosinolates and isothiocyanates released by crops and weeds in the crucifer family (such as brassica crops, wild mustards, and yellow rocket) can inhibit soil fungi, including some pathogens (Haramoto and Gallandt, 2004). Crucifers and other nonmycorrhizal host plants, while not directly toxic to mycorrhizae, do not support the high populations of active mycorrhizal fungi often found in the soil after strong-host species such as most legumes.

Crop–weed–soil–microbe interactions are one of the cutting edges in organic weed management research. Scientists are searching for specific microbial species or floras that thrive in the root zone of widely-used cover crops, and that attack or suppress major weed species without posing a serious threat to the desired vegetable crops. These relationships are complex, and practical applications are some years or decades away.

Mulch Effect
When a cover crop is killed by temperature extremes, mowing, or rolling, residues left on the soil surface as a mulch can continue to hinder weed growth for some time. By keeping the soil surface shaded and cool, and by reducing daily fluctuations in soil temperature, the organic mulch reduces the number of weed seeds that are triggered to germinate. Small-seeded broadleaf weeds that do sprout are often effectively blocked by a 2–3 inch thick layer of cover crop residues. Larger-seeded broadleaf seedlings, grass seedlings, and perennial weed shoots from buried rhizomes and tubers will eventually get through, though even their growth may be delayed by residues of a high biomass cover crop.

The mulch effect can be enhanced by the release of allelopathic substances from the decaying residues, as noted earlier. In addition, organic mulch provides habitat for ground beetles and other predators of weed seeds, as well as microorganisms that can attack and kill weed seedlings.

Weed suppression by cover crop residue can vary from negligible to highly effective for anywhere from two weeks to several months (Fig. 5), depending on cover crop biomass and nitrogen (N) content, season, weather, and soil conditions. Warm, moist weather combined with high soil biological activity accelerates decomposition of cover crop residues and their allelochemicals, thus shortening the weed control period. Strawy, low-N residues last longer than succulent, high-N residues. In dry climates, the weed suppressive effect of even a legume cover crop mulch can be substantial (Hutchinson and McGiffen, 2000).

Green Manure Effects
Tilling a cover crop into the soil as a green manure stimulates a flush of microbial activity that can make the soil temporarily inhospitable to most weeds and crops. The tillage itself stimulates weed seed germination, but the incorporated residues may promote damping-off fungi and other pathogens that then attack the weed seedlings (Kumar et al., 2008). If the residues are rich in carbon (C) relative to N (C:N ratios of 30 or higher), soil microbes will immobilize (tie up) plant-available soil N while consuming the C-rich organic matter, and thereby slow the growth of weed seedlings. These effects—combined with the brief intense flush of allelochemicals from certain cover crops, especially radish and other brassicas—can help clean up a weedy field.

On the other hand, leguminous or young, succulent green manures (vetch, peas, soybeans etc.) provide plenty of N and other nutrients that can stimulate a burst of weed emergence and growth, thereby negating earlier weed-suppressive effects of the cover crop.

Note that cash crops are also subject to green manure effects. Vegetables should not be planted during the microbial flush after soil incorporation of a green manure. Careful timing is essential to avoid adverse effects of green manure on vegetables, yet take advantage of temporary weed-suppressive effects that can give the vegetable a head start on the weeds.


Monday, February 27, 2012


That's a deep subject! The weather is more spring than winter this morning so I am anxious to get back outside. My contacts have already ranged from Nova Scotia to Indiana to Missouri this morning and my head hurts already.

One of the many subjects we talked about this morning was about acidifying spray tank water. I try to do that with glyphosate and glufosinate and had good results doing that with Gramoxone last spring. Last spring was almost summer as our planting time came in June with 90 degree heat and wind drying out the soggy ground quickly.

I put 50 lbs of dry citric acid into each 1250 or so gallon spray tank of water on the semi trailer that will be pumped into the sprayer. A bag of citric acid is under ten dollars, my cost. Then we add the 17 lbs per gallon of AMS per label directions, then the chemicals last. Many pesticides like Round Up and most insecticides work best in water of around 5 pH. Farmers lose a lot of efficiency when they don't follow these simple recommendations for water tank chemistry.

Pesticides that work best in acidified water are neutralized when they are added to high pH water. The amount of reduction of efficiency goes up with the water pH. This You Tube intoduces you to what I am talking about in the first link above.. Warning, that first link is a 9 MB PDF download from Purdue University.

I need to send samples from my various water sources to the lab so I can get a handle on what pH and mineral content my water has and how much I am affecting them with my practices. Most county or municipal labs will do that for you without charge but be careful you don't get your drinking well water barred from use! Here is another big link to water testing results from the Ohio River Watershed.

Today's picture is an abondoned well on one of our farms. It would make a good place to develop a spray water source but I have no idea about how deep the well is or how much it produced. Probably not a good idea but you know me, I am curious.


Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday we had a good day celebrating Aunt Jane's 90th birthday and spending time with five of my cousins and their families. Today it was too cool to be spring and too warm to be winter so I called it sprinter. Part spring, part winter, the last 3 months have been this way. It's so warm our friend Steve Groff even got cover crop planted last month to come up.

How much time do you spend on education? I am talking about continuing education for those of us out of high school or college. Many courses are offered in most communities and I wondered how many of you take continuing education?

Continuing education has been important to me. If you are a public school teacher, your pay is based on the amount of hours you have completed and the number of years of experience you have. Most schools "max out" at Master's Degree plus 30 hours here and 10 or 12 years of experience.

I earned my real estate license 35 years ago and it took extensive continuing education, passing a test and going back for "refresher courses" to maintain my license. Many certifications are done this way including my Certified Crop Advisor and Ohio Commercial Pesticide license.

I take 30 hours of course work over two years to maintain my CCA and 6 hours per year to maintain my pesticide license. LuAnn is taking a course for work that will certify her as a trainer in helping people change "their walk of life." It is so intensive this month and June it qualifies for 6 semester hours of graduate credit.

Do you take continuing education? Do you think all farmers should? Every farmer really ought to have at least a private pesticide license and that takes training, testing, and recertification. I think it is worth it just for the legal aspects of spraying your crops or what might happen when your crops are sprayed and potential damage occurs to neighbors, passers by, or someone down the food chain.


Saturday, February 25, 2012


Fuel prices have been going up at such a rate they are getting lots of press, especially in this weak economy. Gas went up 40 cents a gallon in most locations around here Thursday morning. Diesel prices are hitting truckers hard and one of my friends just posted a $735 bill he paid to fill his truck. It will hit farmers hard in a month or two when we start planting.

Ethanol and biodiesel has expanded supplies of fuel in the US and kept grain prices at a profitable level for the farmers growing them. The livestock farmers consuming them feel the pinch, too. It's a cutting edge sword if you grow grain and livestock as to which is making you the most money but beef and pork are record high prices, too.

It looks like we have a chance at E-15 becoming standard from what I am reading. I think that is a good thing for the country. We are producing enough oil now in North America that is being exported and staying at E-10 won't prevent that. We need all the fuel and good jobs in North America we can muster.

We found that article on The Coming Jobs War and it makes good sense. Author Jim Clifton believes it is the key to peace and happiness versus misery and war. He says we have plenty of inventions that needs to be sold and that we need more "intrapreneurs" than entrepreneurs or innovators. It makes sense to me. The more small and middle sized companies we have up and growing the better off we all will be.

Indivisible is a popular new book written by a protestant and a catholic. It talks about how Christians need to join together against new laws that affect our founding religious beliefs. Farmers are talking about The Sociopath Next Door in the Cafe today. Both add fuel to the fire!

We need to look at electric rates too as they are going up. American Electric Power just stirred up a hornets nest when they raised rates to the east of us so much they got questioned and PUCO found too many errors in meter readings and billing. DP&L sent us a letter where we could lock in 6.9 cents per KWH until 2014 and I think we better do that.

More and more companies are having to scrub coal burning stacks with lime due to their schedule on the Clean Air Act. That costs them more money but starts new sources of synthetic gypsum we farmers can spread on our fields to increase air and water movement in our soils.

Happy birthday to Aunt Jane who is 90 today. That is quite a feat. I was sad to learn I have lost 3 former coworkers recently, all in their 60's.

Life is quick and as precious as fuel.


Friday, February 24, 2012

White Front Cafe

I stayed at the White Front Cafe Bed and Breakfast Wednesday night, thanks to the Jennings County SWCD and NRCS. It's an historic, remodeled railroad era building from the 1800's. The owners have done a very good job at remodeling it. The room was quiet and beautiful, the food and service was excellent.

My breakfast yesterday was one of the best omelets I ever ate, a western type omelet called the Pony Express. It had cheese, onions, peppers and diced ham. The service from Brittany was even better. If I were a young single farmer, I think I would be eating there quite often!

North Vernon is a neat little town about the same distance west of Cincinnati as Martinsville is east. At 6500 populations, it is about half the size of our county seat, Wilmington. The soil types are similar as they were formed in the same glacial age, the Illinoian Glacial Era. There is a town named Butlerville about the same distance east and west of Cincinnati and they look much the same to me.

The predominant soils are Clermont, Avonburg, and Rossmoyne Silt Loams. These soils are known as "crawl dad soils" as you often find crayfish mounds where crayfish live. I have noticed few mounds in recent years so I think the critters are disappearing as well as the soil description. The soils are moderately to very poorly drained and have discoloration from lack of oxygen in the top 20 inches or so.

There is a large area of "government ground" east of town and north of US 50. Purdue's SEAPAC station is about 800 acres, DNR has 3800 acres and Mascatuck Army base takes about 1000 acres. I got lost trying to find one of the farm shops I was to present in and OnStar took me on a back road where I met 100 or so Army trainees running a march up a steep hill. There was barely enough room for the Buick, let alone them.

They were training for urban warfare and many urban simulation sites have been built among the old buildings from the WPA work of the 30's. They gave me permission to drive through as they do farmers with any farm equipment during farming operations around the site.

It was a nice stay at White Front Cafe and I highly recommend it if you are passing through North Vernon, Indiana on SR 3 or US 50.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day Two

Today we held the second clinic on the east side of Jennings County at the T&S Farm. We had 50 people yesterday and 40 today.

I didn't speak today, God did. I asked for His intercession and it just flowed out. Yesterday it was me talking and two old farmers challenged everything I said. I explained that to the sponsors and one said, "well you did something right yesterday because those two write bad comments on every evaluation and they both said it was the best meeting they had been to! I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself. We talked about that at church, in fact, be kind to others and be gentle on yourself. I have to remember that.

Using the Martin row unit on a Deere frame, I explained what every part does from front to back. The row cleaner cleans a level path for the double disk openers on conventional tillage or notill so the openers can make the true Vee where the seed will be placed. Worn out disk openers is a major problem in corn planters as farmers try to see how many acres they can get on them before they fall off. That is the WRONG thing to do. I said scrap is high so throw them away and install new ones.

The Keeton seed firmer tucks each seed at the bottom of a perfect Vee, about 1 1/2 inches deep then the weight of the row unit, about 400 lbs push the RID or reduced inside diameter gauge wheel tires so the dimple lifts the sidewall above the seed to increase germination in notill. I don't think any of them had ever heard that before.

The spading closing wheels gently till like a garden tiller, bringing loose, crumbly soil over the seed trench and the 40 inch drag chain pulls a cup of soil per foot to level and slightly crown the seed trench. As usual they asked about one spiked wheel with one spading wheel and I always say whatever you like but I like two.

I always tell them if you need down pressure springs to push the row unit down even harder then your ground is too hard! That always opens eyeballs and gets them talking. Then we talk about early planting, high calcium lime, gypsum, cover crops, years in notill and all the things that make the surface softer.

Today was mostly young farmers, eager to learn, yesterday was crusty old seasoned farmers from the Show Me State. I guess both went well but today was as good as I could explain it. I showed them the advantage of the new 16 row Deere sitting beside them in total row unit length and how the owner's planter was overhauled to factory specs, both ready to go to the field.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planter Clinics

I am heading west to speak at two planter clinics today and tomorrow in Jennings County, Indiana. I hope I am up to speed but I don't think I quite am. The jet lag has me a bit befuddled. We just left Honolulu 5 AM Monday our time. Arthritis has been nagging terribly the past few months although I have tried many things to cope with it.

The young lady in charge was able to procure a Martin row unit for me to speak from, one I am very familiar with. I know it's going to look a whole lot different from the farmer's planter in the two shops compared to the new Deere planter sitting outside at both farms. This should be interesting.

I have done this many times since I first learned of it in 1995 when I was ready to quit notill. The spring was so wet I felt I had to wait too long to make the typical planter setup work properly. I had starting surfing the Internet in January so I put my delemma on Crop Scouting on Paul Reed in Iowa answered my post and told me to take the notill coulter off. I thought how in the world are you supposed to plant without a notill coulter! I did it and raised a good crop by not having to wait for the soil to dry out and the rest is history as they say.

It is amazing to find farmers today where I was in 1995. Even if the farmers planter doesn't have a notill coulter on it, I bet you a dollar the double disk openers and gauge wheel tire assemblies are worn out.

I have written about it here many times and I should link you back to original articles. I am in the process of updating many older blogs so I can print books I can leave to the grandchildren.

Maybe then they will know a little more about Papaw Winkle when they are older.

Today I need to focus on helping farmers to get their planters ready for April and how to make no-till work better.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pearl Harbor

Visiting Pearl Harbor is one of the most indescribably, touching moments an American can do. We have all heard so much about it, we each will have our own feeling and opinion about it but it will be changed and enhanced when you visit it.

We got our opportunity to do so this month and LuAnn spotted a gentleman sitting on a bench with Pearl Harbor Survivor written on his cap. She struck up a conversation with him and found out he was a medic stationed there the day of the attack, December 7, 1941. He treated the many burn victims he came in contact with that infamous day. Can you imagine?

He turned out to be Richard, "Dick" Waring, one of the survivors left in Oregon and introduced LuAnn to his wife of 67 years. Their daughter was there and told us he has only been able to talk about the day the last 6 or 7 years. Think about that for awhile, that is even harder to imagine.

It turned out his daughter had worked at Meade Paper in Chillicothe, Ohio and knew our area well. This impromptu meeting changed the experience for LuAnn as it did me and everyone one who visits the memorial.

The half a million gallons of diesel fuel on the loaded ship has been seeping out into the bay ever since the sinking of the Arizona and is said to be the tears of the dead that will stop once peace is for evermore.

I thought about my uncle in the Navy headed for Guam on a crowded ship and what it must have been like. I thought about dad and his family at home in Sardinia, 26 years old and farming with grandpa, huddled around the big radio in the old house I was raised in, listening to the news of the event.

The attack changed the face of America and the world that day as every man, woman and child worked towards the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The memorial is very well done and a very special place that will have a special impact on each person who visits it.

I am so glad we finally got to visit her.


Sunday, February 19, 2012


The native Hawaiian people have a wonderful spirituality. They are very friendly and helpful. The parish we attended church at last night took ib $14,000 last week so someone is very giving people here, too.

We commented that our nation could learn a lot from Hawaiian, Alaskan and other Native Americans we have met.

Father Damian and his followers helped settle Oahu. The lepers were sent to one island named Molokai and he cared for them and became one of them. He died with leprosy himself. Men like him had a big influence on the islanders and I imagine were a big part of Hawaii becoming our 50th state.

Leprosy isn't near the problem it was hundreds and thousands of years ago since we know what causes it, Mycobacteria leprae. Even the rare blue skined people have been explained.

"In ancient Hawaii the kahuna were far more than the priests of a religious order. They were experts, trained in a variety of skills and occupations, the learned and professional men and women of their time. On them rested the responsibility of preserving and advancing knowledge within their specific discipline. They arrived at their positions only after more than two decades of training.

L. R. Mcbride collected information about the kahuna for many years through extensive research in 19th century writings and interviews with Hawaiian people. In this fascinating account he gives an accurate and unsensational account of what the kahuna really meant in the Hawaiian culture of long ago. McBride includes fascinating legends and stories concerning individual kahuna. Illusrated with reproductions of historic prints, photographs and drawings by the author and others, The Kahuna presents a readable introduction to a fascinating aspect of ancient Hawaiian culture."

This gives you some idea of the spirituality of the native people and how it has changed but remained basically the same over time.


Saturday, February 18, 2012


Where has February gone? Eleven days and it's March! I had forgotten this is leap year.

First thing to do when I get home is vote in the Super Tuesday election. Hopefully wewill have some nice weather to work on fence rows. The last two years of work will feel good when we get home. If things get tough, we have our woodstove and our canned food.

This week I will be teaching two planter clinics in Indiana. I have been trying to outline in my head what I will say but it will be easier once I get in front of a row unit. I have taught it so many times, it just starts to flow after awhile.

Here is one link that caught my eye, Finger Lakes Sustainable Farming. That's up near LuAnn's mom. Here is Sjored Duiker's list.

Here is my list:

Go through each row unit piece by piece.
Go through the seeding mechanism, and match the planter to the seed size you are getting.
Go over all stress parts, as well as the frame, wheels and bearings. “You think the part isn’t worn out, but it is. Replace it. You can’t afford to stretch parts too far anymore.”
Go through hydraulics with books and gauges.
Go through 12-volt system front to back.
Go through electronics, including GPS-related modules and monitors.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Morning Has Broken...

Many of my friends are in Louisville for the National Farm Machinery Show. I just postted Fun Tractor Pull Names on Facebook from AgWeb. New York Minute would be my tractor's name.

I have been to that show so many times since 1970 it just isn't that big a deal to me anymore. Taking busloads of students and farmers was a big responsibility. I wouldn't mind going with my son and grandson though.

Iran and five dollar gas is looming in the news today. Me, I have hopes of seven dollar corn again, even though farm income is expected to be down this year.

Who knows? Drew Hastings, new mayor of Hillsboro facebooked that "morning has broken, now I am trying to fix it." All of the politicians say that, don't they?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Our ship, the Pride of America, is docking. No tender boats today! Tendering is not fun with so many people aboard. LuAnn had her best calamari ever yesterday at the Kona Restaurant. Tonight will be dinner at the Tappanyaki, an NCL favorite. Today will be exploration of Kau'i.

The Pride of America is the only American registered cruise ship. Its crew is almost all American. We wondered how that would compare to all of the ships that hire crew from other nations but we really haven't noticed much difference. Americans just might be a little slower and a little lazier but that is to be expected!

They are not able to hire all Americans even though we have high unemployment. Some people just aren't cut out for working on cruise ships for 3, 6 or 9 month contracts away from home.

The Hawaiian people are very laid back and take life at life's pace. They don't try to speed it up and they don't seem to slow it down.

Dr. Beach ranked the Marriott Duke Kamayamaya beach the third best in the USA.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Kona coffee is good! It is even better in Kona. This trip is going too fast and soon it will be time to come home. Thereis so much to tell you, I hope I can remember it all. The islanders are not happy with the economic situation. Gas is going up a nickel a week and is already 4.50 per gallon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Volcanoes National Park

Out of the 50 or so National Parks we have seen, this one of the most unusual. Does the moon look this way? Call 808-217-9285 and dial 10 for more information.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Maui onions

Today we searched for Maui onion fields. all we found was sugarcane! we drove our first Jeep Wrangler. That could be my new scouting vehicle. This place is awesome but out of our price range!

Road to Hana

Too tired to text!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Viewing the USS Arizona is a spiritual experience. It is a very humbling and moving time of reflection.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Santorum is striking a chord with me. I woke up with a strong feeling God wants His country back. This texting is not my thing! Morse code is easier for me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Diamond Head

with our biological clocks being off, we woke up at four am. We got dressed and had breakfast at the twenty four hour diner. We caught a Charley's cab to diamond head. We hiked the three thousand steps tothe top to photograph the seven am sunrise. It was beautiful!


We finally made it to Hawaii and are looking at Waikiki Beach! The whole idea has seemed sureal since the day I found out a group of farmer friends were coming.

It is great to post with LuAnn's new Xyboard but I quickly learned I am not a texter! Texting seems to a very primitive way to commumicate, more so than Morse Code. I could talk to you much easier via Morse if you could recieve! Remember when the two older CW guys beat the young texters?

This is why these blogs are so short. It took me as long to text these blogs as I could sit at a keyboard and type out a typical blog! So I am updating the past two weeks blogs and adding pictures. I hope you like them.

Hawaii is a beautiful state and like Alaska, added a lot of history and resources to our great country. It's a great place to stop on your way from the states to New Zealand or Australia!

Waikiki is a very special place. It's not too far from Pearl Harbor and the big hotels have sprung up here since the second world war. We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for a few days and I can highly recommend it to you. The price was as good as any and the resort is spotlessly beautiful. I highly commend the workers here, you won't meet one you don't like!

Thankfully there is a good, affordable 24 hour diner right around the corner, the Wailainu Coffee House. We ate there several times and the food was cheap but very good quality with excellent service. Those people really know what they are doing!

The native island people are all nice and really intrigue me.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Resistant Pests

Finally catching up on my farm magazine browsing a bit, I saw at least 10 articles on resistant pests in the various February editions of farm magazines I receive. Maybe you are tired of reading or talking about them but this one caught my eye and if I could read it aloud to you right now, I would.

"It’s time to steward agriculture technology. There’s a resistance movement going on in America’s crop fields. Weeds, insects and diseases that were once no match for modern chemistry are fighting back, and winning.

Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie hopes that farmers are paying attention to the resistance scoreboard. "This isn’t the 1970s and 1980s when we had new products coming through the pipelines on a yearly basis," Ferrie says.

The good news is that there are paths to stave off resistance through management and stewardship.

Resistance is not new, nor unique to the U.S. The first report of insect resistance came in 1908. Plant pathogens started fighting back against fungicides in 1940, and the first reports of weed resistance were confirmed in the late 1950s. The difference today is that the products at risk, such as glyphosate, Bt and strobilurin, are widely used across the agricultural landscape.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service says insect-tolerant crops containing Bt traits were planted on 73% of cotton acres and 65% of corn acres the past year. While multiple Bt proteins and a non-Bt protein are being employed in insect-tolerant trait strategies, the most recent Bt resistance case involves Cry3Bb1, a critical component of some current pyramided products.

Less than a decade ago, fungicides were mostly a way to protect fruits and vegetables. In 2011, more than 20 million acres of corn and soybean received at least one application of fungicide, with strobilurin-based products among the most popular yield protectors.

Of all these challenges, nothing has galvanized the industry quite like weeds that no longer succumb to glyphosate. In 2011, U.S. farmers planted 94% of their soybean acres, 75% of their cotton acres and 72% of their corn acres with herbicide-resistant varieties. The majority of these acres are glyphosate-resistant and many received multiple applications. Since 2000, there have been 21 weed species confirmed resistant to glyphosate.
Ferrie says reversing the trend will require changing a mindset. "Growers look at weed control as a cost," he says. "As a result, they attempt to kill weeds in the cheapest, easiest way. If an herbicide program is working, there hasn’t been a lot of incentive for them to change the system. Unfortunately, it’s usually the guy in trouble that’s typically looking for options," he says.

By comparison, insect and disease control tend to be viewed more as a way to improve profits and tack on extra yield. "Our pest thresholds haven’t changed, but crop prices have, and that triggers treatment at lower infestation levels. Growth of insecticide and fungicide use is a result of growers willing to throw more money at the crop to protect or boost yield," Ferrie says.

The result is the same: Constantly using more of the same product with more frequency is a recipe that leads to resistance. In general, pests develop a resistance to a chemical through natural selection. The most resistant weeds, pests and diseases survive and pass on their genetic ability to survive to their offspring."

That old saying of "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" sure applies to resistant pests! Farmers often repeat what they did that worked last year and that was from the year before.

Sometimes, many times you have to think "out of the box" to correct a problem and even more importantly, avoid one. Many farmers have resistant pests ready to "eat their lunch" right now, this year!

What will you do differently that will make a positive difference in your operation?

Ed Winkle

Note: We will be traveling in the coming days and I have no idea how frequent or infrequent this blog will be until we return.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Do You Farm?

Cottonhauler asked a very poignant question in the Cafe last night. Why do you farm?

I thought Thud aka Paul from Essex County Ontario had a good reply. "Well I wanted to be the POPE, but that job was taken so I took up farming :-) I think its a combination of things, freedom to make your own decisions, freedom to do what YOU want, freedom to set your own schedule ( within limits of course). In a nut shell I think most farmers are independently minded, I have worked a couple of off farm jobs over the years and I can honestly say that if I had to work in an assembly plant , or an office , or even drive truck EVERY DAY.. 5 days a week all year long I wouldn't make it past the first year.

Farming offers a variety of jobs, some hard, some easy, some mentally draining and even others mentally stimulating all of which are ultimately very rewarding. Life isn't always about getting rich and having all the toys that the neighbour has, sometimes life is just about enjoying what you do. Its very rewarding to plant a crop, watch it grow and harvest in the fall, its even more rewarding when nature and the markets co-operate and you get a big crop and a good price. :-) I think I'll pass on the POPE job if it ever comes up again :-p"

I farm because I always wanted to and always have, just more some years than others. I farmed heavily with my dad and brother in the 70's until I suffered my retinal detachment, then I slowed down awhile but I have planted something every year.

The Blanchester FFA Farm was my main farm for 16 years and the Clermont Northeastern FFA Farm was until I retired from public service in 2002. I farmed the home farm for one year until we bought this place in 2004. We went from 50 acres to 1125 harvested in 2010 in a very short period of time.

There is something very special about farming that you can't explain. Farming ground you own or are paying for is even more special. I was thinking I like those open fields now just to keep distance from me and the neighbor but that's selfish and very honest.

A farm is a place I can take all my curiosity and knowledge about life and creation to work every day, from cutting firewood out of the fence rows to planting and harvesting a good corn crop. Everyone says it's hard and it's risky but really anyone can do it. It might take you a lifetime but I guarantee you there is an old couple somewhere right now who would welcome the right person to help them while you learn. Do you have the qualities to learn about farming?

I was raised with them so that's an unfair advantage I may have. The first time I dug in soil or saw a seed sprout and grow, my curiosity about life and nature was unleashed. "How things work" in farming is a lifelong learning endeavor for me. I am still learning.

So why do you farm? More importantly why don't you if you are reading this? This blog all revolves around my farming activities. I couldn't wait to get up and share them with you this morning.

The coffee is hot and the sun is rising as another beautiful day unfolds, "down on the farm."


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Southeast Iowa

Clay in Southeast Iowa posted some pictures in the Cafe that stirred my interest and my memories.

I love southeast Iowa. It has beautiful rolling hills of rich loams with lots of trees, creeks and corn. I love corn. My love for corn started when I had my first bite of sweetcorn as a child and watched dad shock big bundles of corn that looked like giant Tee Pee's to me.

My first journey to southeast Iowa was on our honeymoon in late June, 2001. We camped at Paul Reed's house on our way out west. When I asked LuAnn what she wanted to do for our honeymoon, she said "I want to buy a pickup camper and head west." That's exactly what we did.

Now I go to Iowa each year for more than the beauty of the scenery or the friendship we always find there, but to learn more about growing crops. Some of the smartest farmers I ever met farm in Iowa and I go to their farms to learn more. They always keep me on the edge of agriculture technology.

I learned how to properly set up a corn planter for notill there. I learned the value of gypsum there as a soil amendment. I learned more about the value of manure and soil livestock there, especially earthworms. Doing so, I built a love for Iowa I can't really explain to other people.

Our first trip was like living how we did as children with the small towns full of shops and friendly people. Our last trip there in September was no different. We looked at property there but our children would soon marry and start their own families and our roots in Ohio sunk deeper.

I can remember something about every trip we have made to the great state of Iowa. Iowa people often take their gift for granted. If only grandpa would have went just a little bit farther! is often exclaimed by my friends in Iowa east.

Iowa, you have a great state of land and people. I hope you will always stay that way. I am thankful I can see it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week In Review

What a week! I got to work outdoors all week, it was beautiful! I kept thinking, I wonder what it will be like six months from now? Hopefully the corn will be tasseled and the ears forming well. Every farmer hopes it won't be too hot or too dry for improved development.

Corn has really built this nation. We learned how to grow maize from the Native Americans who were here when we moved in. There are many interesting stories in these links but I am privileged to learn from the master story teller, Neeake, aka Reverend Fred Shaw who married LuAnn and I, June 22, 2001 at the church we were attending and he was pastoring near Milford, Ohio.

As I was walking and working this week, I took 40 pictures of what I saw. I shared them with my friends and got responses from I always love your pictures and observations to why in the world did you send these?

I told you about the resistant bluegrass that won't die. That brought up lots of question of resistant ryegrass this week. Some use fear not to do something but a few try it and make it work. I noticed that on radishes again this morning. Mace Bauer showed his big radish in Florida and Chuck in Wisconsin mentioned he heard Steve Groff speak.

My friend Jeff Littrell posted as Foliardud, I think he means foliardude. He and friend Keith Schlapkohl use foliar sprays to cause crop effects they are after. I have talked about Keith in previous blogs and showed pictures of his 30 inch row soybeans that have roots crossing in the row middles.

Jeff made a good post about Managed Inputs this morning when a farmer in South Dakota asked what to do about his soil test results. There is some amazing stuff posted on Crop Talk if you take time to read it and explore it and discuss it. The levels of knowledge of readers and posters vary greatly, so beware.

It was a great week and I really enjoyed the sunshine outside this unusually warm winter. It was fantastic!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Non GMO Premiums

The Asian and other markets are bidding up premiums for non Genetically Modified Organism grain again. We have had to get the calculator back out after teaching the resistant weed message all winter.

Currently, local farmers are able to contract non GMO corn for 50-70 cents per bushel premium and $1 to $1.80 for soybeans. Since we have to use a residual anyway, this makes non GMO crop production more attractive.

A friend put it this way, if I can sell 150 bushel corn for the same gross income as higher yielding, higher input corn, it is less risk for me to plant non GMO this year. I see what he is thinking. We can't always hit 200 bushel corn or 70 bushel soybeans like we did this year and if we can do it with less inputs, it is more profitable, as simple as that.

A business contact wants me to put together a group of local farmers to meet with his non GMO soybean buyer face to face so they have some comfort in considering this option before they sign the contracts. Today it looks like February 24 may work in Wilmington, Ohio after teaching planter setups in Indiana the two days before that.

The problem is we know how well the RR and LL soybeans we have been planting will perform and not as sure about the new soybean varieties he is promoting to fill the contracts. Fortunately, I did test his seed in 2010 and I couldn't find less performance than the non GMO Jacob variety I tested them against.

Jacob is a high yielding local non GMO variety from the cross of Ohio Stressland with a Delta Pine and Land variety. I know what it is and scout it every summer for seed.

I am already non GMO corn and not concerned about yield on it. I know what I am dealing with but bringing other farmers in the fold on the soybean deal changes things.

I don't want to mislead anyone. We are only looking at the opportunity.

What are you planting in your fields and gardens this year?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Atrazine In Drinking Water

Atrazine is in our local news again. A routine EPA water analysis of the Blanchester Pubic Affairs drinking water revealed a rolling average of 4 PPB, over the maximum 3 PPB. Is one part per billion going to kill you or make a difference?

They have to set the benchmark somewhere. Scientists looked at toxicology tests over a period of time determined that anything over 3 PPB was excessive, not 4 or 5 or whatever.

The first thing I thought was, that's what happens when corn goes to $6. The land in the watershed is usually planted to soybeans more than corn. But with the increased price of corn being offered, farmers planted more corn and applied more atrazine to control the weeds.

Then I thought, look at the record rainfall the area has received in the last 13 months. Most farms have received around 70 inches of rainfall in that time period. Atrazine easily attaches to water and gets moved off target.

Probably both had something to do with this finding. The big thing is we do need to protect our water supply and we normally do a good job. The finding isn't big enough to say we are dong a poor job or did the wrong thing in our agricultural practices. It just happened, and we need to take precaution to not let it happen again.

There are lots of alternatives to atrazine, but it is still the cheapest and easiest way to kill grass and other weeds in corn for 50 years. Nothing controls weeds as cheaply, safely and effectively as atrazine.

A sister chemical is cyanazine. It was the best weed killer in corn we have ever had in this region. It moved even more than atrazine and DuPont gave up fighting to relabel it over 10 years ago. It breaks down into cyanide and atrazine a little too easily. I think we could have safely kept it with more regulation but DuPont decided it wasn't worth it.

So what's in your drinking water? I am sure I am drinking a part per billion of atrazine and other chemicals in my Highland County Water but I can safely produce enough food for 155 people like every other farmer in this country does.

Atrazine is a great herbicide but it won't kill the wild bluegrass or poa annua in the fields like this picture. That grass is resistant to every herbicide I have applied to it including Round Up, Ignite, and Gramoxone.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Community Service

This may be a big assumption, but I assume every one of you have participated in community service sometime in your life. I don't mean the kind the judge makes you serve for a criminal act but one for the greater good of mankind and to give back some of what you have been given.

As a teacher and a parent I take pride in seeing my children and my students performs acts of community service. I noticed one last Saturday when I attended the auction in Clermont County and enjoyed the Farmers Share Breakfast with former students.

I posted his picture as Farm Bureau president on Facebook where many of his classmates are my so-called "friends." Not a one of them pushed the Like button or left a comment! That kind of befuddled me. Are they jealous or too lazy to perform community service like him? Has the days of giving back turned to me, me, me?

I gave all I had and trying to pay forward before my death. I can't do too much for all the good that has been done for me. I served on the school board like my dad and grandpa did. Like them, I was asked to run, did so, got elected and served. It wasn't easy. In fact it was very hard balancing work and family and community service. My family suffered for it some, I don't know how much. But, working together we accomplished great things. Three of my former students now serve on that same board.

I do take great pride in their accomplishments and tell them so. One building was just recognized as one of the very best schools in the United States at a ceremony with the President. I remember fighting for the choice of principals and two of my board members did not agree with my support for him. It was petty politics in my mind but better minds prevailed and look what happened many years later from doing the right thing.

In FFA, advisors train students to think and perform "the right way." FFA will always be one of my favorite charities for all the great work they do. I like working with those kids from picking up trash along the road to seeing them win a trophy at the Annual Parent Member Banquet.

I always took John F. Kennedy's challenge, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," very seriously. These young people dying in our military with no declared war take it extremely seriously.

Are we afraid of a little community service?

Ed Winkle