Saturday, June 30, 2012

No Power!

Might be out for days.

Ed

Friday, June 29, 2012

What is this?

what is this?

It isn't rust, I don't think it is an egg mass, but I don't think it is disease. It doesn't smear like rust and it is too small for me to tell what is inside it.

What is it?

Thanks,

Ed Winkle

Today In History

June 28, 2012 will go down as an important day in history. Here we are at the start of a tremendous, perhaps record drought in the United States and our eyes were turned to the Supreme Court.

Most people I talk to are stunned or shocked. Some think our country as we knew it is gone. One friend thinks Justice Roberts has been tempted by the devil himself. Others think the stance he took was brilliant.

No matter which one is right, yesterday will go down in history, no doubt. One doctor told me this morning that the ruling basically raises medical employees salary by $2.00 per hour. We will all pay that.

"What does the ruling mean to me?

The Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama’s health care law affects nearly every American. The law tells almost everyone they must have health coverage and guarantees it will be available to them even if they are already ill or need hugely expensive care. It helps the poor and many middle-class people afford coverage.

What the justices said: The high court upheld almost all of the law, including the most disputed part — the mandate that virtually all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine. The court said that fine is essentially a tax, and that is why the government has the power to impose it.

The ruling limited the law’s plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, a joint effort of the federal government and states. It says the U.S. government can’t withhold a state’s entire Medicaid allotment if it doesn’t participate in the expansion.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — to form the 5-4 majority."

Yesterday's ruling has huge implications for our future. What we do in America does affect the entire world in one way or another.

I have no idea how this will all shake out, but I think you have to agree June 28, 2012 will go down in history as a day of great change in the United States of America.

Ed



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Email Friends


I have spent the last two days with email friends. Yesterday, my friend John Haggard, a consultant in North Central Ohio invited me and another consultant to look over the fields of a new client. John was taught the Albrecht Method of balancing soil fertility and uses it with several clients in that area.

The program is all based on dry fertilizer with no liquids, no foliars, no insecticide or fungicide, and no inoculants. These clients have built dry storage and purchase dry fertilizer by the semi load.

They use ammnonium sulfate and urea as nitrogen sources and MAP or DAP or potash for phosphorous and potassium food sources. The soils area also balanced in zinc, manganese, born and copper but calcium is key to making the whole thing work.

The crops all looked very good and were superior to the neighbor's fields across the fence. Using dry fertilizer the farmer can concentrate on seeding properly without worrying or messing with and other crop inputs. The whole concept is based around what I taught for 40 years and that is healthy soil, healthy plant, healthy livestock, healthy humans. The circle is working quite well for these farmers and they are obviously very pleased and happy.

Today another email friend from Oklahoma stopped by and we toured local farms all day. He is in charge of the animal feedstuffs laboratory at the University of Arkansas and and farms/ranches across the state line in Oklahoma. We have talked about everything under the sun and today he got to see where and how Ed and family lives and works.

We went by every house I ever owned and the home farm. We talked about old barns and barn quilts but didn't see any like the picture. We looked at March planted corn, April and May. We dug up soybeans and pulled leaves. We found red eggs on some corn I need to investigate and find out what it is.

Email and Internet has multiplied my writing at least ten fold. Maybe 100 fold. I have worn out several keyboards. It's all been for the good because I talk to my closest friends and families this way and you, my valued readers.

The heat has now set in with the drought and crops will struggle and wither across the country. I have my email friends to share my joys and frustrations with.

It's quicker than snail mail.

Ed

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bobby Grief's Drought History

I just found this in the Cafe and it is too good not to share. I have never met Robert from Dallas Center, Iowa but I feel like we are old friends. My friend Dave Morgan has been to his place and insures me we would be good friends.

"There is a thread over at Marketing Talk about past droughts. Going way back to 1983.
I think I will go back a bit further.

The first one I will bring up is the two bad years of the 1930s. This was before I was born, but I used to hear so much talk about 34 and 36. And by the heat records that are still on the books for 36, it was bad.

1934 was also a dry year, probably not as bad as 1936.
Big thing I have heard about 34 was the cinch bugs [sp]
And the hot and dry summer of 1936 followed a real hard winter. Both for low temps and snowfall amounts.
And these two bad years were during the just plain hard times of the 1930s.
But there sure were a lot of new tractors sold in 1937.
I was born in 1943.

1947 was a poor crop year, but I am pretty sure it was not the lack of rain as the cause. Too little to remember.

The first drought I remember was the 1955 to 1957 period. Prices were not very good during this time. We were milking cows then. Folks worried about the well so darn much. One of my jobs then was hauling water to hogs out on pasture. Every day, two, three, or sometimes more trips. 280 gallon steel tank, pulled it with a Ford 9N, later a 8N.

The Soil Bank. I believe 1957, the USDA said farmers could still sign up for the Soil Bank after the crop was planted, had come up, and was looking pretty poor.

It was more money than the crop was probably going to gross, so farmers signed up right and left.

Then because of the dry conditions, the USDA said the Soil Bank acres could be grazed.
Some farmers had already turned the corn under with there plows. I remember the talk that green corn was worth $10- per acre in fertilizer. $10- per acre of fertilizer doesn't seem like much today, but it was a whole bunch of money in 1957.

Dad didn't want to turn the cows into the standing corn, so he was going to use the Allis-Chalmers chopper and Green Chop it and bring it to the cattle.

ASC man told him no way he could do that. No baling, no filling silos, no green chop.

For those of you who are wondering what Green Chop is: Instead of turning cattle into a field to graze, you chop it and haul it to the cattle. Generally a big crude self feeder on a wagon gear.

Also that was the time of sowing rye. Dad drove a endgate seeder thru the standing corn. Sure made a lot of feed later in the fall and winter. And way too much in the spring.
And it was not much fun to plow under in the spring. That stuff would be taller than a tractor.
Dad keep sowing rye for years. On land that the corn had been chopped for silage, also early way too wet corn for feed.

1958 was a good crop year, and the prices were also much better.

I don't remember any droughts in Dallas County Iowa in the 1960s. Maybe I was more interested in Hot Cars, Hot Women and Cold Beer?

1977 was the next bad dry year. Not to bad here. We had 65 to 100+ bushel corn. But just 15 miles or so north there was corn that didn't make 5 bpa. Even the better yields were not much better.
Both 1978 and 1979 were very good crop years here.

1983: Times were not the best. High debt, high interest etc: Throw in poor crops and you have Trouble with a big capital T.
Way too much old crop on hand, some goverment held, some under ASCS loan, some in the Reserve.

So the USDA came up with the PIK program - Payment In Kind. Take land out of production and receive USDA owned grain instead of a check. Good for the goverment because they got rid of the stuff and could quit paying storage.

The normal planned set aside was to be 20% I think.
You could sign up 50% of your corn acres.
And then you could bid the other 50%.
So being in the farm supply business was not very good in 1983. I remember people taking already paid for seed corn back, and getting there money back. Also keeping the high priced gifts the seed dealer gave in those days.

But the lack of rain in 83 caused a real short crop, and on far fewer acres planted.
The USDA needed corn!! Corn to give to farmers for not raising corn.
So you got to bid your goverment corn to the USDA.
I think if you had a 5000 bushel deal, and you bid 80%, you could pay off the 5000 bu loan by delivering 4000 bu.

And then the fall of 1983 was a real muddy mess. Not much fun combining what crop we had.

Side note: The price of grain took a pretty good jump during all of this. Us farmers went out and purchased farm machinery we didn't need. Used our cash for the down payment, the rest to XX Credit Corp. Just don't want to pay the IRS.
Most of those payments were pretty hard to make a couple years later.

Then 1988. Those of use who were still staying a couple steps ahead of the bankers, had a pretty dry year in 1988. I think it was a shorter crop than 83, not sure.

I really don't remember a real bad dry year in the 1990s. 1993 was a short crop, but it was too much rain.

Back to 1936: I heard so much about 1936 years ago, I almost feel I was there.
But many/most of those folks are gone now.
So many things I wish I had asked them.

Illinois John Dappert, How is my memory? Anything too correct or add.
Things may have been different in East Illinois than Central Iowa."

John Dappert farmed near Robinson, Illinois and I have met him and been to his farm. I thought this was the best drought history I have read and thought I would share it on my blog today.

Take a hard look at today's picture. I bet you can't guess what happened. Everything is the same but the corn on the left was side dressed with anhydrous ammonia and the corn on the right was side dressed with 28. I wonder if that farmer will ever use 28% UAN again? This was THE year for anhydrouse ammonia to warm up those cold, compacted soils we had.

Now they are fried to a crisp.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trip Report

"Over the weekend I toured Indiana, northwest Ohio, and eastern Illinois with the
following observations:

Eastern Illinois
• Eastern Illinois has a few locations where the crops caught a shower or two and they look
OK, but most locations are in desperate need of a good soaking rain.
• The tassels are starting to appear in a few corn fields, but most fields will be tasseling
later this week or next week.
• The height of the earlier planted corn is normal and the earlier planted corn is doing
better and the later planted corn.
• The later planted corn is suffering the most from the moisture stress. Its height ranges
from thigh high to chest high and I think a lot of the later planted corn is going to end up
being shorter than average in height.
• In the area I traveled in eastern Illinois (Champaign County to Chicago), approximately
75% of the corn was in some level of moisture stress from mild to very severe. I did notsee any corn that was dying, but the worst fields are going to be very low yielding.
• The plant populations looked normal to me.
• The height of the crop was very uneven and a few of the worst spots like the hill tops or
the corners of the fields may not produce any ears if the weather does not improve
quickly.
• Illinois is definitely in the below-trend category on corn yields and there is a big
downside risk for the crop.
• The Illinois corn crop was a little worse than I expected.
• The soybeans are generally small and growing very slowly. The tallest soybeans I saw
were just short of knee high and the smallest soybeans were just emerging. The average
height was approximately 8”.
• A lot of the soybean fields are showing stress in the form of light green color and wilting
plants. Without additional rainfall, the crop is going to end up shorter than normal.
• Unless the weather pattern changes quickly, the yield of the Illinois soybean crop will
definitely be below trend.
• The Illinois soybean crop was about as I expected.
• Most lawns in eastern Illinois are brown or yellow and the grass has gone dormant.
June 26, 2012 Page 2
Indiana
• In Indiana the crops vary tremendously depending if they caught a rain or not.
• Northern and eastern Indiana are the worst, around Fort Wayne in northeastern Indiana
the crops are really bad.
• The corn is short, uneven, yellowish green, and under severe moisture stress.
• There are many spots in the fields where the plant population is poor.
• It appeared that the later the corn was planted the more severely it has been impacted by
the dry conditions.
• In western Indiana around Lafayette the corn looks OK, its tall, dark green, healthy, not
under any noticeable moisture stress, and the yields could be Ok if it doesn’t get too hot
and dry.
• In eastern Indiana the corn height ranges from knee high to shoulder high. In western
Indiana the corn appears to be normal in height with tassels appearing in a few fields.
• Of what I saw of Indiana, I would estimate that no more than 30% of the corn would be
rated in the good to excellent category.
• There are a lot of foliar diseases starting to appear on the corn that is under stress.
• Eastern Indiana was much worse than I expected while western Indiana was better than I
expected.
• The Indiana corn crop has a lot of downside risk and it will end up below trend.
• The Indiana soybeans look worse than the corn.
• In eastern Indiana many fields have baron spots where the soybeans did not germinate.
In some fields, the plant population is maybe 75% to 80% of normal.
• The soybeans are very uneven and their height is in the range of just emerging to 6-8” tall. The crop is not growing, the color is pale green, and many soybeans were wilting.
• The soybeans in western Indiana looked much better. They were dark green in color, had
a uniform stand, and looked like a normal field of soybeans for the last week of June.
• The soybeans in eastern Indiana were terrible and much worse than I expected. The
soybeans in western Indiana were a pleasant surprise and they were better than I
expected.
• Even with an area of normal soybeans in western Indiana, the statewide soybean crop is
going to be below trend in yield.
• In northern and eastern Indiana the lawns are about the same color as the wheat – a
beautiful golden yellow, but there were a few green lawns in western Indiana and that
was the only place I saw green lawns on the entire trip.
Northwestern Ohio
• Most of the crops that I saw in northwestern Ohio were very bad.
• The corn was short, greenish yellow, poor plant populations, very uneven in height, and
under severe moisture stress.
• There were many corn fields where the tallest corn in the field was chest high and the
shortest corn was knee high with many skips in the row where there no plants at all.
• In general, the corn population was less than desirable.
• Most of the corn in northwest Ohio will pollinate next week or the second week of July.
June 26, 2012 Page 3
• The corn crop in northwestern Ohio was much worse than I expected and needless to say,
the crop is in big trouble and there is a large downside risk for the crop. I had the corn
crop in Ohio in the at-trend category up until this week and I moved it down to the below
trend category.
• The soybeans are worse than the corn. The plant populations are very spotty and there
are many fields where whole sections of the field are devoid of plants.
• There are fields where only 15% to 20% of the soybeans have germinated and I saw other
fields that had been planted, but the soybeans had not yet emerged.
• The soybeans were very short and uneven from just emerging to maybe 6-8” tall.
• The soybeans are very slow growing, pale green in color, and under severe stress. I did
not see any soybeans that were dying but that will change without additional moisture
very soon.
• The soybeans in northwestern Ohio were much worse than I expected and the crop
looked even worse than the corn. The soybean crop in Ohio is definitely below trend.
• The lawns were the same color as the wheat – golden yellow.
Trip Summary – Eastern Corn Belt
If you traveled through the eastern Corn Belt without looking at the calendar date or the crops in the field, you would have thought it was late August. Some of the sycamore andcottonwood trees are dropping leaves while other trees are turning that brownish color you see late in the summer. The area looks, feels, and smells like its late summer instead of the end of June. I did not sense any of the “green and growing” smell that is normally associated with late spring and early summer.

In general, the situation in the eastern Corn Belt was worse than I expected. There are a few pockets where the crops are good, but they are the exception. Most of the crops have already suffered yield losses and those losses will continue to mount quickly if the current hotand dry pattern continues."

This is a very good report and one I concur with. I have travelled from Maryland to Eastern Illinois in the past two weeks and this pretty well describes what I saw. I would not say it is worse than I expected, but it is definitely noteworthy.

Ed

Market Movers


Yesterday showed the extreme volatility in agriculture and the world.  Any little thing can disrupt a plan or a market and yesterday that happened.  The buzz since the USDA Quarterly Stocks report came out is shy of trader thinking so the new 22 hour CME trading schedule got stacked with buyers and sellers.  There were more buyers than sellers yesterday so local corn closed up 40 cents per bushel and so did soybeans.  Fall soybeans went up 50 cents per bushel.

It affected me as I had in some bids that were almost struck quicker than I could react to.  They are good bids now but may not be in a week.  They are a dollar above the low so far so I don't feel bad about them but it looks like the crop condition and weather forecast is really going to make this market run.

We had a cool reprieve last night with the windows open and 55 degrees when I got up this morning.  You could see the sun hitting the new tassles of the corn below.  That is quite unusual in the month of June but everything has been a month ahead this spring and summer follows that pace.

The big question in my mind today is how low can our final average yield go?  Can we go to 100 bushel corn nationally?  I have friends who think so but past data doesn't indicate that.  Our national corn yield was 70 bushels in 1970 but we were raising about double that here.  It has trended up to the record crops of 166 bushels in recent years but a trendline of 150 should be quite obtainable.  Is 100 bushel national yield average even possible on 95 million acres this year?

No one knows, but we are about to find out!  Every day we endure this hot weather with no rain lowers the US corn potential.  The buyers and sellers will have to make their best guess.  98 degrees Thursday will get everyone's attention here when it is much worse in Kansas or Southern Illinois.

Yesterday's report was  a big market mover.  For me, what is my final yield going to be and what price am I willing to take for it?  How do I achieve that?

On a personal note, congratulations to Will and Becky on their baby girl!  That makes 7 girls and 4 boys.  Now isn't that just monkey fun?

Better markets and better weather to you,

Ed Winkle

Monday, June 25, 2012

The drought's effect on soybeans will become a concern soon here and across the United States.  If you have a good stand, the big impact will be at pod fill if we don't get timely rain.  Most fields around here have decent stands but some are lacking and there is no moisture to sprout double crop soybeans.  Those acres are minimal in Ohio this year and not too important unless you are the one depending on that income.

"Soybean is susceptible to yield loss from water deficit, drought stress, at two key developmental stages, germination and reproduction-seed development. Soybean must imbibe about 50 percent of its weight in water to germinate and begin to develop the radicle and hypocotyl, the primary root and shoot tissues. Seed planted into dry soil, or not placed into the soil, will be unable to imbibe water at all until adequate precipitation has occurred. Soybean can respond to water deficit as early as two days after germination. Water deficit at this time results in poor hypocotyl elongation, while root elongation may be unaffected.

Drought stress at later vegetative stages of development has similar results: shoot growth is decreased or stopped, but roots can continue to grow. This evolutionary response in soybean allows the plant to search for additional soil water while having an overall low water use rate. Assuming adequate rainfall occurs again, soybean have the ability to reinitiate shoot growth, and shoot growth rate may be greater than that observed prior to the onset of drought stress. This is called compensatory growth.

Short-term, moderate drought stress during vegetative growth stages generally does not impact soybean yield. Conversely, longer-term severe drought stress can cause irreversible plant cell death causing low growth yield.

Soybean yield is most sensitive to water deficits during reproduction. Soil water deficits during reproductive growth phase results in increased flower abortion, reduced pod number, reduced seed per pod, and small seed. Nitrogen fixation is a key biochemical pathway for soybean yield and nitrogen fixation can be severely limited or completely halted by even moderate drought stress. Once nitrogen fixation has been stopped, substantial precipitation and soil water accumulation is required to reinitiate the process. Compensatory reproductive growth rarely will occur in soybean under moderate drought stress at reproductive growth phases.

Management practices that leave low amounts of residue on the soil surface or cause compaction can reduce soil water infiltration rate. Excessive or poorly timed tillage can cause soil compaction and increase water runoff from high intensity storm events. Reduced compaction and increased water infiltration rate can increase soil water content, nitrogen fixation, and soybean yield, particularly during growing seasons with less than adequate precipitation."

Nitrogen fixation seems to be limited at this time.  Soybeans are too yellow to suit me this year.  They probably needed some supplemental nitrogen at planting time to get them going good.  We saw one black green soybean field northeast of Paris, Illinois Saturday and I would assume the farmer knifed on anhydrous, got rained out and planted soybeans later.  Everything else from Maryland to Illinois have been less green, most are accetably green but many are too yellow.

Mother Nature once again has the upper hand on soybean yields.  It will take water after flowering to make an acceptable yield.

The picture shows what my beans looked like two years ago. It never rained much after the picture that year and they made a tremendous yield but we don't have anything that looks like that this year.

Ed

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Corn Google

We just may get to price our corn above the crop insurance guarantee of $5.69 per bushel.  This major drought occuring across the United States has the market reeling.  I have cancelled some bids and put in higher ones as I don't want to market to blow by my lower bids on its way up.

I have been from Maryland to eastern Illinois in the past two weeks and there is no way this country is going to harvest the USDA's predicted 166 bushels per acre.  It is inching closer and closer to my lowball 150 bushel estimate each day.

There probably is 10-20% of the hundreds of fields I have seen that will make 166 bu per acre.  Most are closer to the 150 bushel mark and many will struggle to make 125 so I think my average won't be that far off.

The best corn I have seen is in Franklin County Pennsylvania and right behind my house.  The corn in Illinois looks very good and consistent but it really needs a drink.  Nothing is predicted for the next few weeks, right during critical pollination.  That 3 inch rain we got last weekend out of nowhere may be the last one we get until our corn ears are formed.

Big money will trade hands over this.  I need to position myself the best I can because so many factors make the market go too high and too low.  I want to sell on the too high side!

Weather is definitely the talk in agriculture today, more than the new farm bill or any other topic. I titled this Corn Google today because that is where corn is to me. Google used to mean big eyed like google eyes and now its the name of a major company I am using while I type.

I don't know how much longer I will keep using them if I keep blogging at all. I love to write a little each day and even come up with some things that amazes myself but Google is no fun anymore. My editor has changed again and now it takes many more steps to title, upload a picture and post this blog.

Have a great coming week and I hope you get some rain! July is almost here!

Ed Winkle

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nashville

We are in Nashville, Indiana for our wedding anniversary. The weather is beautiful!

We were invited to a young friend's wedding two months ago so we decided make the trip to Illinois and find something along the way for our anniversary. Nashville was it! I have always liked Brown County Indiana and LuAnn fell in love with it too.

Nashville is a neat little town with lots of neat little shops. I did the most Grandpa shopping I have done for awhile and I think the grand kids will be happily surprised!

LuAnn had sent me the menu from the Artist Colony Inn she had booked a couple of weeks ago and it looked good. I am happy to report it was excellent! I had homemade meat loaf and mashed potatoes and one of the neatest little salads I ever ate with almond slices on top and a dressing that looked like light molasses but tasted wonderful.

The buffet breakfast we had there had the best quiche in it you can imagine, bacon crumbs on top of the crust and under the cheesy baked eggs. Mmm mmm good.

I told the lady in the Toy Shop that if I had my 9 nine grandchildren with me it would take a good hundred dollar bill a piece to get started. She laughed and really liked that comment.

LuAnn found a book she had read to her children about the history of maize. It is called Corn Is Maize-The Gift of the Indians, written and illustrated by Aliki. I sat on a bench and read the whole thing. It is excellent. I can't wait to read it to the little ones.

Saturday noon we headed to the wedding in Paris, Illinois. The crop really needs a drink but I thought it looked very good. The color and stand is better than Ohio's. We got to the St. Mary's Catholic Church and enjoyed the sacrement of marriage between Stefanie and Chris. It was a beautiful wedding and I am sure it will represent a beautiful marriage between the two. All should be humbly proud.

The reception was held down the road at St. Mary's in the Woods College in Indiana. We past the famous Allis Chalmers museum east of Paris off SR 150. I didn't have time to stop this time but I know where it is now.

Shirley, Stefanie's mom, had bought big white stone pitchers from all over and filled them with fresh flowers. Someone had peonies in bloom and the displays were just beautiful. Those were the prettiest table centers I believe I have ever seen. They had burlap sack cloth for the table settings to bring out the farm theme that had come in the invitation months ago. It all tied together like their wedding.

It was a pleasant 250 miles from Paris to Martinsville with a few side trips on top of that. It was another great weekend of our busy summer of 2012.

The front porch is where we had dinner and breakfast. It was a good place to people watch with the big white horse pulling the carriage beside it and the little train ride we took to look over the community.

Ed

Friday, June 22, 2012

Farming Isn't Fun Anymore

Farming isn't fun anymore.  They have taken all of the fun out of it.  I hear this often now and feel it myself.  Why is that?

Farming has become a very techical, highly staged business now.  We are dealing with numbers that are 3-4 times larger per acre than just 8 years ago when we bought this farm.

The first thing that "technified" farming for me was genetically modified seed.  What is it, what does it do, is that what I should plant?  "They" lured us in with "one pass" weed control, no insecticide needed in the corn planter and a whole bunch of ways.

Really that was falsehood right up front.  We quickly learned you should never give up your residueal herbicide with a genetically modified system.  That failed within 10 years here.  Bt corn is similar, you can't put all that insect pressure on a corn gene.  It can't handle it.

Then economies went crazy.  We saw land double in price which doubled the rents, too.  Soon farmers like me had to go to the bank for operating loans who never had before.  I am not sure we were ready for the big numbers farming requires today.

"$800 per acre to raise an acre of corn" hit the news this spring.  That is a lot of money to raise corn.  Yes, you can do it a little cheaper but not much.  You throw in a record screwy April like we had in Ohio and this widespread drought across the cornbelt and suddenly we have more money on the table on every farm than the biggest gamblers in Las Vegas.

Soybean seed went from ten dollars a bag to $40 plus in the time I have been here.  I am 8 years older and trying to enjoy grandpahood and I feel like I am gambling my family income on my passion for a nice crop.  Maybe it is just the times, maybe it is just my age, but "they" have really taken the fun out of farming.

"They" is all of us but I guess I am pointing the finger at every person and company and government and organization with their dreams, demands and dogged attitudes. If I am pointing fingers, some are pointing at me, too.

Everything the farmer needs had turned into gold from land to machinery to seed to fertilizer.  It is all big stakes now and many of us spend enough in one year for a nice retirement, just to try and make a 5% return on our money.

I am not crying and I am whining.  I am just stating a fact.

Farming has always been an important business, the very basis of society and now it is very high stakes.

It is not for the weak of heart or the impoverished, for sure. The beautiful Massey combine from Canada represents the high cost of farming to me. It cost half that farm I wrote about last week.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Barnstorming



I recorded a documentary on Public Television called Barnstorming.  I watched last night and really enjoyed it.

"Barnstorming is the true story of an unexpected friendship that developed between a farm family and two pilots who literally dropped out of the sky. Their friendship has created a new tradition out of an old one long gone: barnstorming.

Barnstorming captures their annual gathering: the visceral exhilaration of flight, the anticipation of the barnstormers’ arrival, and celebration of the reunion. Shot in real time, and told in the participants' voices, the film immerses the viewer in the innocence of earlier times, the fleeting nature of childhood, and the joy of friendship. It is a testament to our ability to connect as human beings, no matter where we come from, or how we get there."

I highly recommend the film, it was very entertaining.  I could imagine my friend Rick Kettley buzzing over here from Illinois and landing at Barnett's Air Strip right down the road.  The story of how the two pilots landed in the alfalfa field of Indiana dairy farmer Matt Dierksen is really good.  How it developed into an annual neighborhood event is even better.

Pilot Frank accidentally cuts the guy wire on the electric line nearby with his propeller on one landing and lives to tell about it.  The look in the kids faces when they see the sparks fly is beyond description.  I know their dad thought "Oh No, he hit the electric line!"

The pilots around here are older now and don't fly much anymore.  We used to see little planes quite often when we moved here but not often anymore.  The skies have really gotten quiet here since DHL closed a few years ago.

If I went up now, I know I would see every hole in every field.  They are full of them from the cold weather after planting and the heavy spring rains.

I will probably keep my feet on land and take pictures.  My pickup bed is high enough for me these days.

Ed

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Field Day



Yesterday I drove over to Rushville, Indiana for a First Choice Seeds get together.  It was their wheat field day with some plots out on a local farm.  Before I left, I tried something new.  I put a pork loin in the slow cooker seasoned very well and poured a 2 liter bottle of root beer over it.  I left it on low all day expecting some pulled pork when I got home for dinner.

By the time I got to Rushville it was almost time to eat.  I loaded my Tillage Radish I had ordered and got in line to eat.  Joyce Denzler had also prepared pulled pork for sandwiches!  She had "crock pot beans" with hamburger in it and cole slaw so it really went well together.

Then her husband Mark talked about the changes in their company and the seed industry after lunch.  He pointed out that one cross of corn could be presented to the farmer 80 different ways!  That is how complex the seed industry is today for the farmer and the seedsman.

Then we looked at the wheat lineup while the combine was harvesting.  The wheat was very clean with good yields and test weight.  I am curious to what the numbers will be like but it looked like 70 bushel wheat on the rolling land with test weights near 60 lbs.  Wheat has become a minor crop again with last year's rain, lack of interest, lack of time to plant and the competing higher corn and soybean prices.

It was a good trip and I gave thanks for the rain we got.  We obviously got more than anyone else in the 100 mile drive and most crops did not look as good or any better than my own.  Some areas were hurt with late planting and no rain since planting.  My corn is as good as I have seen since I was in Franklin County Pennsylvania last week but some around here are every bit as good with better stands.

My pulled pork turned out excellent with LuAnn's brocolli salad and green beans I picked from the garden cooked for an hour with a couple of strips of turkey bacon in it.  I know some people use root beer on their ribs but it is the first time I ever cooked a pork loin in it.  It turned out very well!

Ed

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

College



Who should go to college? College is one of those things I think everyone should experience for at least one day.  I can't imagine where I would be if I hadn't gone to college.  It was my chance to broaden my horizons beyond my little town and the tenant farm I was raised on.  I will give credit to my parents and teachers as they worked together to make sure all 3 of us kids would go.  We all graduated, too.

I started college this month in 1968.  That seems like a long, long time ago.  It was my ticket to "freedom" and a whole new life.  I heard someone in an interview saying something like only 10 or 15% of students went to college in those days and 25% do now.  He was pointing out that we are not doing all that bad in education and some numbers have improved.  Unfortunately, high school and college graduation rates haven't improved that much in some areas of the country.

I always encouraged my students to go to college but probably half or better were never suited for or prepared to go to college.  It was difficult to teach to both type of students but I did the best I could.  Some classes had a majority of college able students but most didn't.  You end up "teaching to the class" in those types of situations.

Learning starts before birth and there are many studies that prove that.  The child's environment from the womb help sets the tone for learning and education through the childs life.  The early years are very important and we have placed an appropriate high level environment for early childhood development in this country.  Again, that is not true in all places but it is moreso than when I was a child overall.  Preschool was unheard of then and now it is commonplace.

Did you go to college?  How important was it in your development?  It was crucial to mine or I wouldn't be sitting here typing this early this morning.  My education has affected every day of my life, where I am, what I am doing and who I hang around.  With the lack of employment opportunity in this country today, my education reigns high on my ability to work for a decent wage.

My college education has served me well.  I am a big advocate for higher education because I know what it has done for me and for others.

What about you?

This would be a great place for a picture of me in my college years.  I wish I had one to share with you!  At least I can share this picture from the Ohio State Michigan game.  I was there!

Ed

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time For Root Digs


"Root growth is a gravitropic response, i.e., roots naturally develop downward in response to gravity as long as conditions are conducive for continued development. Conducive conditions are primarily adequate moisture and temperature but also obviously include soil tilth. Generally, wet soils early in the season result in shallower rooting primarily because wet soils warm more slowly. If upper soil layers warm slowly, deeper soil layers warm even more slowly (less heat conductance). If deeper soil temperatures are limiting (i.e., less than 50 degrees F), roots will tend to proliferate in the warmer, upper soil layers. Conversely, drier than normal periods following corn planting tend to encourage deeper rooting because the deeper soil layers warm more quickly. Roots do not grow toward water. They proliferate where conditions are conducive."

It's time for root digs in corn to see how we are doing.  I have been digging plants since emergence but now is a good time to see what is going on under the surface soil.

Conditions were not conducive for root growth in April so we have just about every root problem symptom in someone's corn field this year.  I hope it is not yours!  It sure is in mine so if you want to see some unusual condtions, come on over!

These problems have resulted in fields with very uneven plant heighth and growth.  Farmers have been sharing pictures of fields on Crop Talk with newly emerged or stunted plants beside plants ten times its size.  I have some of those.

Many farmers and most agronomists, scouts or consultants carry a spade in their pickup for root digs.  If you got some rain like we did, you dig as far as you can and gently lift up, saving all the root hairs you can.  Some dig easy, some dig hard.  Some break off, others stay intact.  Some conditions on some days dig eaier than others.

Look for actively growing, healthy roots.  I have found yellow, brown and black spots on root crows and those are signs of sick plants.  They may not make an ear.  Find out how and why you got them.  There are many causes.

It is also a good time to pull tissue, one large leaf per acre for lab analysis.  Nutrient imbalance and micronutrient deficiency are easily discovered this way.  You may want to pull a soil sample at the area of the pulled plant tissue if you want more thorough information.

It's time to do root digs, so get digging!

Ed

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Picnic



We are heading down to Fort Salem Indian Mounds for a picnic. We were headed to the tractor pull in our county seat of Wilmington, Ohio last night when the storms came through and cancelled the pull. Too bad for Grandpa, Corbin and Matt but there will be another day so we had ribs at Damon's. It wasn't worth $43 but it was good. We were too tired to cook and it takes a lot of work to make ribs. I rarely have a taste for them but I did last night.

I had the baby back ribs instead of the St. Louis style they serve. They were meaty and tasty with just the right amount of cooking and glaze on them. The baked potato wasn't that twice baked taste I like but it did top of the ribs. The salad was decent but not big enough for my appetite so I munched on fruit the rest of the evening to satisfy my hunger.

We have had 2 inches here so far and another farm got an inch and another got 2.3 so it depends where you were. 25 miles east got zero so we were blessed. I wish I had a measuring stick on my corn because I know the corn behind the house grew 6 inches overnight. I don't have to water the garden now either and the sweet corn will soon be in tassle. We have a mess of green beans ready to pick.

The week went quickly with the work in Pennsylvania and trying to catch up when we got home. I can mow the grass now, too as I was protesting. No rain, no mowing but now I can mow before the 92 degree days predicted this week.

Farmers are wanting rain and the ones that got it in this series of storms are happy.

The picnic was great. It is so peaceful there, all we could hear was the birds and all we could see was the deer munching on soybeans down in the bottom. It was only 22 miles there so I hope to go more often.

I didn't see Bill Bare, the man who reclaimed the mounds, but I am sure I will if I go often enough.

It's a beautiful place to visit and so close to where I was raised and where I live now.

I got a new one row garden planter for Father's Day so it's time to go plant the fall garden!
Ed

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sold


The 191 acre farm up on Dade and Panhandle Roads sold last night. I thought Rick Williams did a good job procuring buyers and handling the auction. Everyone got a hot dog, drink, chip and cookie if they wanted it.

I figured you needed to be prepared to spend nearly a million dollars if you wanted the whole farm. It was sold in 3 tracts then sold in its entirety and then you could raise your parcel bid if you were out of the money. It worked pretty well for this sale.

LuAnn and I estimated the value at $900,000 and it was at $870,000 when we left so we have new owners and new neighbors this morning. It eventually brought $941,000 or $4902 per acre and was split 3 ways. You had to write a good check for 10% of purchase price and close within 30 days as the owners will be in Idaho.

The big thing to sweeten the deal was the buyer gets the 140 acre bean crop with the purchase. That should add nearly $100,000 income to the sale this fall. They said it made 55 bushels last year but I don't think it will break 50 bushels this year as it is dry, the beans are small and there are some resistant marestail on the farm, the worst is near the house.

I didn't like the muddy pond beside the house either but the pasture land had brand new high tensile wire on it. The bins and buildings are all gray galvanized paint on the way out the drive but are in good shape. It has a nice shop and storage building and bins on it.

All in all I think it was a good buy in today's market but it brought all it is worth around here. We don't command the big prices like north of here or across the midwest. A young friend said he had just bought 170 acres and another farm had brought $7650 per acre in his area 30 miles north.

The house would be ideal for a family or older couple like us. It is brand new and built right with two by six inch walls. I wouldn't build a new house much differently and it had the big open basement to the east like LuAnn likes.

The new line of six row machinery sells here in a little bit so I am going to the sale as an on-looker.

I really like this Gleaner picture harvesting wheat in Kansas I saw on Machinery Talk last night.

Ed

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Spatial Rainfall

Most of you know I get my rainfall data from Bill Northcutt's Spatial Rainfall Consulting LLC. I see he has helped others do the same thing for their customers and there is a good article here.

We all are suffering from a lack of rainfall to record right now. It is dry! Better yet, we are in a 10 day dry spell that will really test this crop. The whining and moaning is picking up intensity in coffee shops and ag forums.

There isn't a thing you can do about it unless you have irrigation and that's another 1000 dollars an acre or so most of us cannot justify. So we will talk about the good wheat crop today.

A friend called and said his yield monitor hit 109 bu on Soft Red Winter Wheat and I told him his monitor was broken. It must have got hit by lightning or something. The best thing is that is about what the field averaged as it was just about all that good.

It is the best wheat he has ever raised in his life and I am really happy for him. I think I could have done it if I would have planted a field but I was happy to get everything sowed in rye in November. One patch of wheat would have been fun to play with as no one expected the open winter we had.

I asked him what variety it was because I knew the answer. It came out of his bin. It was two year old certified seed. He couldn't find cheaper seed than that and in his case he probably couldn't have bought any better seed, either. That's the way we all did it before Certified Seed and the plant variety protection laws have discouraged us from saving anything now.

One neighbor made only a couple of rounds on his so it must be wet and heavy. It is good to get delayed on harvest because the wheat is wet and heavy because that means more yield. 100 bushel wheat at $7 will be the best return farmers have had in years if not ever. It takes that much money to pay all the input costs these days.

It is too dry to plant double crop soybeans in some places so that will be a good place to plant cover crops later this summer when it does finally rain. It looks to me like we are getting our August or July dry spell a month early just like everything else this year.

Should have planted corn and soybeans in March and wheat in November. I tell you this weather is all screwed up!

Ed

Thursday, June 14, 2012

IRM


I just got back from doing IRM spot checks in Pennsylvania. The corn looks better with each sunny day and heat but it has a lot of problems in it. The best corn I saw was around Franklin County, Pennsylvania. They have good stands, the corn has good color and is growing well.

Anyone who had problems like I did this spring doesn't have as good a corn crop. I was surprised to see mine looking good this evening when I got home but I know all the problems in it as I walk it every week.

My tissue tests are all coming back low in Potassium and deficient in boron and manganese after applying a lot of those nutrients. Even corn with 200 lbs potash on it is low in K so I assume I have taken off quite a bit in the past years. I think the flow of potassium in the soil solution has not been good this spring and I will pulling more tissue at ear leaf in a few weeks to see how it stands.

Nurturing a crop is no easy task if you take it seriously and I do. I want to do the best with the land I have been entrusted with I can. Most farmers seem to feel this way and there is so much to do in running a farm operation there never seems to be enough time or money at this time of the year.

Some farmers are already asking when do I quit spending money on this crop? It is time to have it "laid by" for the year and we want to address the problems that will make us money. I don't know of one farmer who will turn down a rain right now so that one is out of our hands.

If we have the weeds controlled and the side dress on, then it is time to say enough. Some are looking at a crop so poor they are giving up on it and not wanting to spend another dime on it. That is a hard decsion and a personal one for each field.

Almost every field I have seen will be "knee high by the fourth of July," so if it gets rain we have done about all we can do for it. Late sileage corn in Pennsylvania is a different ballgame than corn going for grain in Ohio.

I met a lot of good people this week and they made my task a lot easier. That was a blessing as each inspector has to fill out the report on computer in front of the farmer and we both sign off on a electronic pen pad. My new laptop spent a lot of time in dairy parlors this week.

That's all I have for tonight so I am looking forward to the big farm auction nearby tomorrow night at 6. A lot of people is wondering how that farm will sell. Having met the couple, I hope they get every dollar it is worth. That is a very personal decision, too.

I wish my corn looked as good as it did in this picture two years ago but it doesn't.

Ed

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Check Your Corn

I am getting calls and email to check your corn. Dig some plants and split them up the middle at the crown. Farmers and scouts are finding too many dark lesions on the corn across the country. We might have a sick crop, sicker than we think it is.

Goss's Wilt has been confirmed from Nebraska to the east coast and around the globe. It sounds like the idea that last year's seed is contaminated is fact. If it is, don't go spraying a fungicide on it trying to make it healthier because you will strip off the protective wax and open the cuticles up to future bacteria blowing by.

I have seen a lot of corn this week and I have seen a lot of sick corn and quite a bit of good healthy looking corn. It is all over the board.

I will try to catch up on my blogging tomorrow so until then or whenever, have a great day!

Ed

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Headlines

I picked up a newspaper this morning and the first line summarizes everything. It said "Family Income Down 39% in 3 Years." That says it all right there, I did not need to read or hear another thing. This is the problem, this is what we have to fix. The news started and ended right there for me.

Ed

Monday, June 11, 2012

IRM


I will be working on Insect Resistance Management with farmers this week so the blog may be a little slow for a few days! Remember that IRM stands for Insect Resistance Management. Knowledge of a seed's traits is important when you purchase and plant seed. Refuges of non geneticically modified seed is important to keep the traits working properly. It is the seedsman and farmers responsibility to understand these traits and plant the refuge within the recommendations.

IRM audits are rather easy to complete if you follow the recommendations. Most farmers don't have a problem but some don't read the recommendations or improvise on their own. This is why audits are done to see if there is understanding from the seed company to the farmer actually planting the seed.

I encourage you to pull out your seed purchase records and your field maps to make sure you understand the refuge requirements and have followed the recommendations. If you do, seed audits are easy to complete. If not, you can do a better job next year of selecting the traits you need at a price you feel you can afford and plant the recommended refuge.

RIB or Refuse in a Bag corn is not perfect as farmers found out this year. With the cold spring, some farmers found that the refuge seed in the bag did not emerge like the rest of the seed or perhaps did not emerge at all in some cases. If you are such a case, I hope you have or will notify your seed dealer to let him see what happened and report it to his higher ups.

Together, we can do a better job and keep these traits as needed and planned for.

Ed

Sunday, June 10, 2012

St. Martin

This morning we attended the last Mass at little Saint Martin Chapel in St. Martin, Brown County Ohio. It is said to be the oldest chapel in the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

St. Martin is important in the early Christian settlement of the area we call home. I found it in the 70's when I took my Ohio Real Estate Licenseure Class at Chatfield College on the St. Ursuline Academy grounds. It is a beautiful old convent built in the early history of Ohio.

"The Archdiocese of Cincinnati (Cincinnatiensis) comprises that part of the State of Ohio lying south of 40 degrees, 41 minutes, being the counties south of the northern line of Mercer, Auglaize, Hardin, all west of the eastern line of Marion, Union, and Madison counties, and all west of the Scioto River to the Ohio River, an area of 12,043 square miles. The see was erected 19 June, 1821; the archdiocese created 19 July, 1850.

Early missionary life
As early as 1749 a Jesuit, Joseph de Bonnecamp, had traversed Northern and Eastern Ohio with De Blainville, who at the time was taking possession of the Valley of the Ohio in the name of France. In 1751 another Jesuit, Armand de la Richardie, established a mission station at Sandusky. In 1795 Rev. Edmund Burke (afterwards first Bishop of Halifax) spent a short time among the Indians along the Maumee, but with little success. In 1790 a colony of French settlers located at Gallipolis on the Ohio, and Dom Peter Joseph Didier, a Benedictine monk, built a church, but growing discouraged left after a few years. The Rev. Stephen T. Badin visited Gallipolis in 1796. Bishop Flaget of Bardstown had charge at this time of Kentucky and Tennessee and the territory divided today into the States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. In company with Father Badin he made a tour of Northern Ohio, passing through Chilicothe, Lancaster, and Somerset.

The country was nothing but primeval forest. He met the first Catholics at what is today known as Somerset, and in response to their earnest appeal he asked the Dominicans to come to their spiritual aid. In this way Father Fenwick, in later years the first Bishop of Cincinnati, was commissioned to take charge. It was here that he met John Fink, and in the latter's house, on the spot now occupied by the Somerset High School, the Sacrifice of the Mass was first offered for the asembled thirteen families. Some two years later Father Fenwick visited Somerset a second time, and secured from the Dittoe family a tract of three hundred acres for the Dominican Order on condition that a church and monastery be erected as early as possible.

The buildings, at first small and primitive, have since been replaced by the more beautiful and commodious structure of St. Joseph's Priory. It was early in 1811 that the first attempt was made to organize a congregation in Cincinnati. The Catholics interested in the work met on 13 December in the house of Joseph Fabler, but no definite action was taken. Bishop Flaget was passing through Cincinnati in 1814 on one of his episcopal visitations. The city, which today numbers within its corporate limits 400,000 people, and is one of the great centres of art, commerce, education, and religion, was at the time practically a wilderness dotted here and there with a small number of log-cabins reared by the sturdy settlers. On this occasion he met the representatives of the Catholic families of Cincinnati. Their names, recorded in the early annals of the church, were Michael Scott, Patrick Reilly, Edward Lynch, Patrick Gohegan, John McMahon, John White, P. Walsh, and Robert Ward.

Mr. Scott was one of the earliest Catholic settlers in Ohio, coming from Baltimore in 1805 and eventually moving to Cincinnati. It was in his house that Bishop Flaget, on the occasion of his first visit, celebrated the first Mass in Cincinnati; on this occasion the bishop urged the erection of a church as soon as means would permit. Their faith, courage, and spirit of sacrifice can be truly appreciated when one remembers the obstacles which confronted them, and the spirit of religious bigotry with which they were obliged to contend.

A city ordinance forbade the erection of a Catholic church within the city limits. An appeal for assistance to the Catholics in the East met with a ready and generous response, property was secured on the north-west corner of Vine and Liberty Streets, and with logs cut in the timberland of William Reilly, in Mayslick, Ky., rafted to Cincinnati, and carted by oxen to the site outside the corporate limits, they constructed in 1822 the first Catholic Church in Cincinnati, a plain, barn-like structure. On the recommendation of Bishop Flaget, Ohio was made a diocese 19 June, 1821, with Cincinnati as the see."

I find this history fascinating. I prayed for the little church today that will only be used for weddings and funerals from now on. We went there often in the past ten years but now it will be a memory.

Thank you little St. Martin for being a part of my church home. As Father Hank said this morning, thanks for teaching us "for being valued who you are, not what you do."

Ed Winkle

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eight Steps



The Center for Rural Affairs sent me an interesting piece yesterday. It is called "Eight Steps to Help Small Town Grocery Stores." This is important to me because I understand the importance of a healthy grocery store nearby. It doesn't need to be big but in our big American way of wanting everything now and more than I need, the little grocer has been pushed aside.

Is your town's grocery struggling? Heck no, it is long gone! Actually a few are left. The once very popular Bob and Carl's Grocery Store on the south side of Wilmington became Community Markets but that didn't work and now it is Pack and Save. The once very popular Blanchester IGA is now Save A Lot. I know they are both struggling to hang on but they will never be that complete grocery store I liked to shop in 20 years ago.

The Center's plan is pretty interesting:
1. Get Folks Together. Get leaders together to support your smaller grocery.
2. Listen. What does your community need?
3. Consider all ownership operations. There are many different successful models. Which one is best for your town?
4. Stack enterprises. Brown's "Martinsville Mall" is good at this. They have more enterprises stacked in one little building than you will find anywhere.
5. Control energy costs. We all need to do this! The refridgeration and lighting in any food enterprise is a large burden of cost.
6. Best customer service. You have to love to work with people no matter their quirkiness and no matter how low the pay is! This is not a high return enterprise, it is like farming, a risky 5% return on investment at best!
7. Involve everyone! Every community member has to have small stake in any local enterprise for it to succeed!
8. Share stories. This is what we do on HyMark High Spot, share stories! What works or failed in your town? Share your stories with Steph Larsen at StephL@cfra.org or call her at 402-687-2100.

I will at least send this story to Steph and hope to call her anc chat with her a bit. This article caught my eye in one of those newsletters that too easily hits the circular file!

I have always wanted to own a successful small business and the closest thing I came to with is my turbocharger dealership in the 70's. I got into a very new, lucrative business at the right time and made sone money but never cultured it into s full time business. I could have because I knew all of the tractor pullers and their friends, the end users of my specialty product. I preferred my teachers paycheck over the risk of the business.

Farming has been my most successful business after teaching. I generate more income with it than I do consulting because "I can't sell, I can't negotiate and I keep less than acceptable records."

How about you?

Ed

Friday, June 8, 2012

Eye Doctor

Today was our annual eye exam with Dr. Bednarczuk in Lebanon. Any of you local readers who are not satisfied with your eye doctor, or don't have one, I can highly recommend him. He has helped increas my vision though I inherited retinitis, which is typical in my Winkle family genes. He has improved the vision in many of my friends whom I have recommended him to.

I am typing this with still englarged pupils as I like for him to see my retinas. Like most people I do not like dilation of my pupils but know it is important for him to see inside my eyes. My retinas have maintained and even slightly improved over the past few years. I credit that to the handling of stress and watching my diet more closely.

We both got the best compliment since the last annual visit. He could not believe how much healthier and younger we both look. That is quite a compliment after a devoted year of effort on our part to improve our spiritual and physical nature. The mental improvement is anecdotal at best but everyone says we are doing well.

We take our vision for granted. For many of you, your vision is your strongest sense. You are blessed! For me, my hearing is my strongest sense and I turn of the radio and roll down the windows when making a left turn because my hearing can pick up speed and velocity and direction of a vehicle as well as my eyes can, especially in a "blind spot."

Today I urge you to make those appointments and get your annual physical, dental and eye examinations made. Mine has increased my health by knowledge of what I need to do to maintain my health and even improve it in some cases. Don't take your health for granted! It's so easy to do in this face paced busy life we live. We are lucky to have it and don't want a necessary major change from a "wake up call." Baby steps are a lot easier than major changes than seem impossible and often are.

One 90 year old woman recently turned in front of a motorcycle and changed their lives forever. The two motorcyclists were killed, leaving the family in a mess. Another 90 year old woman caused an accident that killed two professional truck drivers. All of their lives are changed forever, permanently and you can't go back and change it to what it was.

I have a "good report" for today and hope you get them, too. Be careful out there and take your life a little more seriously because it changes all too quickly when something big crops up.

Speaking of crops, they are really growing in southwest Ohio but like most farmers I have heard from, they sure could use a rain.

Have a great weekend,

Ed

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Food Health Survey

Neil, my hog farmer neigbor friend sent me some links to read and this piece was in it and I thought I would share it here. The International Food Information Council Foundation 2012 Food & Health Survey was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates of Washington, D.C. This 25 minute, web-based survey was fielded in early April 2012. The survey respondents were reflective of the demographics of the U.S. population, and while the sample was very close to the target demographics, the data was weighted so it matched the demographics of the sample matched U.S. population targets exactly. This year, the weighting adjustments were very minor.

"Quick Facts
Nine out of ten Americans describe their health as good or better, a significant increase from previous years. The majority (60%) report that their health is either excellent or very good, and only nine percent report that they are in fair or poor health.

More than half of Americans (55%) report that they are trying to lose weight, while 22 percent indicate they are trying to maintain their weight. Only 20 percent report that they are not doing anything regarding their weight.

While the majority of Americans (71%) estimated their daily calorie needs, 64 percent of them estimated incorrectly with nearly half (49%) under estimating. Only about one in seven Americans (15%) accurately estimates the number of calories they need to maintain their weight.

Two-thirds of Americans report that they have given some thought to whether foods and beverages they purchase or consume are produced in a sustainable way.

Nearly six out of ten Americans consider protein when making a decision about buying packaged food or beverages, and most people report that they are trying to consume more. More consumers (47%) try to eat protein during an evening meal than during other meals or snacks; however, more than half (52%) of Americans simply try to get enough protein over the course of the day or week than focus too much on specific meal times.

Three out of four consumers (76%) feel that changes in nutritional guidance make it hard to know what to believe.

Nearly six in ten Americans (57%) believe that online and mobile tools can help them live healthier lifestyles.

Packaging information most commonly used by American consumers includes the expiration date (76%) and the Nutrition Facts panel (66%). Half of consumers report that they look at the ingredients list, the serving size and amount per container, and calorie or nutrition information icons displayed on the front of the package.

Similar to past years, taste and price continue to drive food and beverage choices (87% and 73% respectively) more than healthfulness (61%), convenience (53%) or sustainability (35%).

Nearly nine in ten parents believe that it is good for their health to sit down and eat meals with their family, with fifty-seven percent strongly agreeing to that point. Two-thirds of parents worry more about the healthfulness of their children’s diets than their own.
The initial benchmark Food and Health Survey was conducted in 2006 and subsequent trending Surveys were conducted in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012."

This survey makes a lot of sense to me and reflects what we have seen in ourselves and the people we talk to. LuAnn and I have watched what we eat a lot more in the past year and we both feel and look better for it.

How about you? What do you think of the survey?

Some Machine Shed Pork Medallions would really hit the spot tonight.

Ed

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Cover Crops Don't Pay"

This was posted on Crop Talk yesterday. I looked it up and even posted to it.

It does make you think. Do cover crops pay? I spent several thousand dollars in cover crop seed last year. Did I get my money back? The only way to know is do your own research and most farmers don't have time for that. The rely on someone else to do the testing and either accept it or reject it.

I have written and talked about cover crops quite often the past three years. I see the benefit of crop rotation and cover cropping helps me speed that up by planting a live grass crop ahead of legume soybeans or a brassica crop ahead of grass corn. I never did like bare fields in winter as much as green ones so I have raised wheat all my life. That is one winter cover crop we can sell in June and still have time to plant a soybean crop here. Otherwise I would sure put some radish and other covers into the wheat straw for the next spring's crop.

If I don't plant a cover crop, mother nature will provide one for me. Around here it is chickweed, purple dead nettle and cressleaf groundsel. They do cover the soil but they have to be sprayed or worked into the ground for the new crop seedbed. Since I don't have time to till and want to plant the first day I think it is ready, I have to kill the weeds. I would rather kill a crop I planted that will be a better selection ahead of the crop I intend to grow.

The fellow is in western Kansas where moisture is known to be short. Can cover crops hold moisture for the next crop without giving up yield? I think so. Perhaps he and others have not found that right mix yet to make it work for them. I would point them to Dr. Dwayne Beck whom I have heard speak of this many times and he proved to me you can enhance the dryland crop with cover cropping.

I think many farmers just don't want to mess with a cover crop. That is understandable and their choice. In today's farming that just seems like a lack of stewardship to me if I really want to leave the ground in better shape than I found it.

So what do you think? Do you think cover cropping pays?

Ed

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remodel or Build?

Lots of farmers and non-farmers get into situations like this:

"We have a beautiful brick 2 story 4 square farm house. It has a very nice setting and with nice landscaping around the outside. The former owners did pretty good maintance on the house and it is in great shape. It has 4 bedrooms and 1 very small bath, with a very,very small half bath downstairs. From what I can tell the house was built in the 1800s and got a major overhaul in the 1940s which included electic and indoor plumbing.

Nothing has been done to upgrade the house since then.Over the last couple years I have been pondering the best way to remodle the home. Best I can figure is to remove the back stairway to allow the bathroom to be enlarged and go out onto the 2nd story of the summer porch and put in a master bath. The house really should have new windows, new plumbing and new electic installed. My wife has to go down stairs each morning to blow dry her hair because the outlets upstairs can't handle it.

On top of that all the wood floors could use a refinshing. I have not gotten any prices yet but I am thinking all this would probally cost over 100k. Maybe 150k. So I was thinking the other night, I have the right to take a lot off my farm. Why not do that and build a new house. Just from looking on the internet it looks like I could probally build a 2500 sq foot house for arund 250000. Built nice. I am pretty handy, I could act as the general contractor.

So for 250k I could have a new house, and rent out the old farm house for about 1400 a mo. Then I would own 2 houses ad the rent from the old one would help pay the mortgage on the new one. Plus we could have just what we wanted. And we would have a house on its own lot that will probally go up in value with time. But fixing up the farm house is not really going to increase the value of my farm. Just me rambling on. Any thoughts?"

I have never built new. I never planned to, never had the money, and there is always so much property for sale. Especially today! Most houses I ever lived were older than me so I never had the dream out living a house.

Remodeling is not for the weak of heart or pocketbook either, but you can pay as you go and remodel as you go. That is what we have done here. LuAnn has built new in her life and her and everyone I hear who has done it reaffirms why I don't want to do it. I guess I like finding a nice place and making it better, leaving my own touch to it.

Bobby Grief posted a picture of what I believe to be his house near Dallasburg, Iowa. Like me, he remodeled.

I guess it's just a matter of style, personal preference. Which would you do or what have you done?

Ed

Monday, June 4, 2012

3 Cents Per Stalk

This farmer posted his calculation on Crop Talk: "I've been doing some scouting and thought I would put some math to the value of each corn plant. Here is my math. 33 ears per acre with a yield goal of 210. $5 for fall price and figuring a conservative 16X35 ear and 90,000 kernels/bu. What do you think?

Ears/Acre Bu/acre Bu/Acre Value/Plant
33000 210 $5.00 $0.03"

I thought that is a pretty good analysis. I am missing a lot of 3 cent stalks in my fields. How about you? Even in our sweet corn patch, we are missing plants. I figured up I am missing 100,000 critical corn plants in my field behind the house so you can see that adds up to real dollars in a hurry. April just wasn't a good month to plant in Ohio.

Now, flex earred hybrids will fill in some of that gap and Mother Nature has the final say on yield but you have to have plants to make yield. Farmers all over the midwest have seen their corn populations disasppear over April and May. It's June 4 and we don't need to lose any more and take good care of the ones we have.

Another farmer asked the dreaded question, "An irate neighbor called last night and said I killed his garden." Neighbor relations are a big deal and become tested we when apply crop protection chemicals to our fields.

We have to be very careful about spray drift and what is growing in our neighborhood when we apply certain chemicals. 2,-4-D and Banvel or dicamba chemically are great against resistant weeds for burndown but are horrible on sensitive plants. Those products "can get up and move" a long distance, even miles in the right conditions.

We can prevent these situations with a little planning and whole lot of good relations. Good relations can be hurt in one bad accident that isn't taken cared for properly. This is where education and training come in and I see Ohio State is looking at starting an agriculture stem shcool just north of us in Springfield, Ohio. I think that is a great idea.

Here is a link to a Poison Hemlock, growing faster than ever this year.

"The transit of Venus" is happening tomorrow, very rare!

It's a new week so back to the to do list.

Have a great week!

Ed

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday

It's been a good week and a great weekend with some of the family. The little boys and I had a great time yesterday and I sure slept well last night. Little ones sure are busy! We threw June drop apples into the corn field, at the bat nest but tried not to hit each other. We pedal tractored, romped in the grass, watch a little Power Ranger and ate most of the red raspberries as usual.

They brought their favorite stuffed bird that had a electronic call inside it just like it sings. An Oriole and a Robin got left so grandpa may have to sneak back up to Cleveland this week since the outrageus shipping price would pay some of the gas bill. I think you get my drift.

Bob Streit in Iowa released his newsletter and it's a good one. You can read it here. He brings up several good topics and one is floppy corn syndrome I have written about recently and shared on Facebook and Twitter.

My bleached out corn field with the bleacher herbicides look especially floppy today. They didn't need another stress but it was getting late to control the weeds. I waited as long as I could. At least the V7-8 plants have a good deep root on them. They all lack brace roots and Bob talks about that.

One thing he brings up I have talked about for 20 years now; that is the importance of balancing the 17 needed plant nutrients. He mentions finding manganese and copper low or marginal in most floppy corn fields. I often find manganese deficiency since farmers went to using so much glyphosate. a strong chelator. With weather stress like this year floppy corn and other symptoms show up.

The corn is old enough and tall enough to start tissue ssmpling this week and I encourage all readers to sample your plants, even gardeners, especially if you have never done it before. Our sweet corn has the floppy syndrome too and I imagine it is short of micronutrients also. Several shots of Miracle Gro or other planter fertilizers can help the plant grown and reproduce. In our fields, we can spray foliar micronutrients and I just got info sheets from Porter Hybrids if anyone is interested in seeing what a good product looks like on paper.

So this week I hope to get more corn side dressed, soil and tissue samples taken and plan my trip to Pennsylvania. I will have to sneak off to Cleveland for a day, too so someone special doesn't miss their birdies. I think Sable liked them to and one was on the front porch and the other was placed on the back one.

I hope you had a great weekend, it was beautiful weather here and here's to a great week for all of us this week. I saw some awesome March corn on a friend's farm in Clermont County, I need to get a picture and show you.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grandparenting


"Grand parenting" is the grandest thing you can imagine! I love children but interacting with our children's children is the grandest thing I have come across in life. Like the word grand, it is larger than life!

Last night we went to Madison's ballet recital. I wish I had a video to show you. Those children all spiffed up for ballet were the prettiest and happiest little kids you ever saw. The teacher and helped did a really good job putting on a "grand show." It was well worth the $6 for a ticket to support the program.

Madison has a friend who looks a lot like her also named Madison so I called it the Madison to Madison Show. They did great! The oldest student did a dance to Wizards of Winter, one of my favorite songs and group of older children danced to Edelweiss from the Sound of Music. They were both excellent for children that age.

We all went for ice cream after the program, it was a "grand time." Even grandchild number 10 got to go and number 11 wasn't too far away. I will get to hug number 11 today when the baby's brothers come by while the girls all go to number 10's baby shower. It all makes for a happy time!

The Canadian cold front blew the hot weather away and brought some nice moisture with it. Local farmers ought to be really happy to have that on their newly planted soybeans this week! Mother Nature really tricked a lot of us this year and we have corn in V-10 to just coming out of the ground and soybeans shin high to not emerged yet in southern Ohio! Wheat harvest will be next and has already started just souoth of here in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, record early for that crop.

We were discussing "bleacher" herbicides on Crop Talk this morning. One of my long time friends in Western Ohio asked if Impact herbicide would take out the grass and broadleaf weeds in his corn so we started discussing the different pigment inhibitors called bleacher herbicides.

Capreno by Bayer is one of the most broad spectrum products that can be safely sprayed on corn. Status by BASF is a different one that is also safe on corn but harder on difficult to control perennial weeds like bindweed, and that is why I sprayed both behind our house. The corn all looked about the same color of green before spraying but the day after spraying you can distinctly see the two different hybrids I planted.

Another popular observation this year is "why does my corn look better planted into cereal rye cover crop?" I thought that was supposed to be a no-no? It is good to see farmers discover the benefits and challenges of cover cropping. I really need to get down to Pleasant Plain and see how those crops look in all those radishes that were planted last summer.

Next week I want to get everything side dressed, tissue and soil samples pulled and keep addressing each little problem that "crops up." Lots of problems crop up in crops and life in general but that rain sure helped some of the crop "problems."

As our good friend and blog reader Bill says, "have a grand and glorius day" as I will be doing that with my "grands!"

Ed Winkle

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rain

Forget the protests, we got rain! I wonder how many million farmers would like what I have right now? I just got my rain report from Bill Northcutt at Spatial Rain Consulting and we got .81 inches here last night and it is raining this morning! It couldn't come at a better time!

Rain is better than tillage but they both hide a lot of flaws in the field. I was embarrassed to have to young agronomists "in that old fella's field" yesterday because it has symptoms of just about every problem a corn stand can have.

spots with no corn
poor stand with 3 sizes of plants in the same row
excellent stand
cold inhibition
pythium
seed treatment washing off the seed
good root development and poor in the same row
cover crop that never got killed
wireworm
cutworm
armyworm
grass weeds
broadleafs including perennials

The list is long than that. The worst is the clay knob right outside the patio we love to sit at. This is my best field, my show field that "everyone and his brother" drives by. None of the problems are bad enough to cause a failure but they are all there. My out of sync with nature blog explains the whole thing but there is a little more to it than that.

This morning I don't care as much about these things because it got a rain after a powerful herbicide application yesterday. What I put on is enough to kill the sickly plants but the good plants wouldn't have a chance if I didn't control the weeds.

Now if I can get it side dressed next week with nitrogen, ammonium thiosulfate and corn syrup, I can send this funny field to maturity and see how bad I really did in October. It's all history in the making right now and all I can do is try to do better next year.

I am already planning to seed cereal rye in it again for a soybean crop next year. I am not going to plant wheat after corn because even though I can do it and have done it, it complicates things. Wheat would work better for me with early beans taken off in September so the notill wheat would get a better start.

I could go back to corn but I have never had second year corn beat first year corn. This would be the time because I think there is no way I could start off worse next year than I did this year! I better not say that because I might make that happen!

Today I give thanks for rain so many farmers across this country and around the world would trade for. We weren't even that desperate for a rain, rain just makes things work better.

Every farmer wants rain until they get too much! At least I got the "resistant weed message" unlike the fellow in the picture!

Ed