Sunday, March 31, 2013

Farmland Sale Socioeconomics

Blessed Easter Sunday to you all.  I jotted down these notes yesterday and share them with you today.

There was another farm auction today at the Elk's Lodge where LuAnn and I bought our last farm in November.  It was an interesting study of people, farmers, economy and socioeconomics.  I believe that is the word I am looking for but there was a lot of group dynamics involved, too.

It's a nice 106 acre farm 5 miles from us or so near Cuba on old US 68 or Cuba Pike.  It's been one family a long time.  The old house even has the old German wood floors those farmers were famous for.

Someone I know put in a bid for $4000.  It went to $4300 per acre and stopped.  The auctioneer started into his closing chant but we all knew it should bring more than that.  The woman next to me was from Cincinnati and I had just met her and her husband.  I had just told her about the one near me that brought $6,000 an acre. She asked me if $4400 was too much and I said no.  I was sure it would bring between $5-6000 per acre.  She raised her hand and that broke the ice.

The bidding took off to $5,000 per acre quickly and at about $5200 it stopped again.  This time the auctioneer said I would take a $50 bid on this fine spring day and the bidding took off again.  I couldn't see who was bidding but it was coming from the big group of farmers in the back of the room.  I spotted an old friend who bid and kissed his wife.  The auction was slow at this time but kept moving.  The auctioneer got down to $25 per acre bids but confused himself by saying "I have fifty two two fifty" instead of saying $5225.  The bids kept creeping up slowly and finally he got to $5775 per acre and asked for $5800.  The older farmer finally bid that before the sale ended and that stopped the other bidder, whoever that was.

The farm sold for $5800 per acre or just under $620,000 total.  He had to write a check for about $62,000 or ten percent of the purchase price.  The lady I referred to made the auctioneers day when her husband asked what the bidders premium was and the auctioneer said there was none.  "Most of these people think I am overpaid anyway," was his response.

Land in economically depressed southern Ohio has crept higher, still half that of neighboring states.  I had wondered if the 50 cent drop in market price this week would deter anyone and when the bidding died at $4300 I thought maybe it had.

After $5800 per acre, I would say not.  My old friend got a good farm for a high price around here but half what neighboring states bring.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tax Management

I haven't done the best job of record keeping the last nine years but I think I  have done a pretty good job of tax management.  I raised these questions in the Cafe yesterday:

"Does tax management drive you a little crazy? A little insane? I am thankful we didn't have to file until April 15 this year, that's the latest we've filed in a long time.   This year there were government problems relating to 1040-F and associated documents and the deadline for filing for farmers was extended to April 15.

I can tell you we were one happy couple walking out of WTS Tax Services today. All of our laboring over last year's record amount of records resulted in what I consider a fair tax though it's still a hefty tax. I don't think I've ever worked so hard on taxes in one year. Have you?

I know farmers who make buying and selling decisions largely based on tax consequences. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that too much either though they always enter into my decision to buy or sell.

The one thing I have noticed is my daily log is my lifesaver. I got compliments from our tax lady and from my wife. That log shows where I went, who I talked to and what I pretty much spent that day. I got into the habit of doing that as an ag teacher in 1971 to justify my existence to the school board and it has served me well over these many years.

What is the one best thing you have done for tax management? It can drive you nuts or you just pay the tax. It shouldn't rule your life, but in America you've got to have good records to pay your fair share of taxes by law.  What do you think?"

I got some good replies, I will post the one from my friend Eddie in Missouri:  "each year it gets easier once you get a template to follow so you can just fill in the blanks. Start about a month ahead of year end and you can get yourself real close to where you want to be, My dad does ours, works very hard at it, is a very meticulous person, frets over it the last month and always comes out very close to the max number in the tax bracket he wants to be in. It takes work."

It DOES take work.  Is it worth it?  Wouldn't we be better off with a flat tax?  I don't think its worth talking about since everyone who ran for office or brought it up has been shot down.  How would we lay off all those poor federal workers?

One fourth of 2013 taxes are in the record book already!  What can we do today to make things easier come this time next year?  I need a little more time in the woods this year.

A little daily record keeping is essential to my mess.  How about yours?



Friday, March 29, 2013

Miltary Protection Acts on Good Friday

I read Mike Huckabee on Facebook almost every day.  I voted for Mike and wish he was our president.  He made a  post this morning that made me think of all our military people and all of their service to our country over its short history.

"This morning I'd like to do something special for the men and women who are serving in our armed forces away from home this Easter weekend. If you have a loved one or a friend who is serving, please list their name below as a comment to this post. I ask that everyone else thank these men and women by replying to these comments. I will try to thank as many as I can because their sacrifice keeps us free. May God bless you and your families."

We have one military man in our family.  He survived 2 tours to the Middle East to come home permanently injured from his service so he can try and live a normal life with his beautiful family.  I feel very humble with sincere gratitude for his service and for the service of all soldiers.  I can't ever repay their gift but I can give thanks for it this Good Friday and Easter weekend.

What is the meaning of Good Friday?  " The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from "God's Friday" (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English. Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark"

The good in Greek means obedience to God's Will.  God took something horrible that happened on Good Friday into something great for mankind forever beyond that day.  For both, I give thanks!

One old saying is plant crops on Good Friday for good crops.  I think that depends where you live!  Last year was a good day to plant and now that our snow is melting off it looks like we could plant in a few weeks.  Has anyone planted their potatoes or peas?  It's not been fit here but has other places in the US and the world.

I have the freedom to do a lot of things I take for granted.  Today, I honor our soldiers who have kept us free and our Lord who has given us Eternal Freedom.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mosanto Protection Act

President Obama signed into law HB 933 yesterday, the Monsanto Protection Act.  I didn't even know there was one!  I guess our lazy house has been up to something, but is it no good?

"Slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which passed through Congress last week, was a small provision that’s a big deal for Monsanto and its opponents. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks and has thus been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by activists who oppose the biotech giant. President Barack Obama signed the spending bill, including the provision, into law on Tuesday

Since the act’s passing, more than 250,000 people have signed a petition opposing the provision and a rally, consisting largely of farmers organized by the Food Democracy Now network, protested outside the White House Wednesday. Not only has anger been directed at the Monsanto Protection Act’s content, but the way in which the provision was passed through Congress without appropriate review by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The biotech rider instead was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed — little wonder food activists are accusing lobbyists and Congress members of backroom dealings.

The Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food are directing blame at the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. According to reports, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the spending bill, HR 933; they voted in order to avert a government shutdown.

“It sets a terrible precedent,” noted the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”

What do you think?  Does this sound like a few lawmakers slipped another fast one onto their fellow house members and the American People with this bill?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I am behind on my reading.  I just came across a great post in the Cafe on mentors.  It's a great tribute to the mentors the writer gave appreciation for.

Have we all not had great mentors in our life?  I surely have.  Did we use them to their ability to help us?

I have so many areas of interest in my life I've been blessed with many great mentors.

My Sunday school teacher Mrs. Yockey, my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Alexander, my dear dad, so many great mentors in my life who helped me shape my future.  All my school teachers had impact on me as well as all my farming, teaching and spiritual mentors.

I was blessed to have dad for over 50 years so I had him in my life the longest.  He's probably had more effect on me than anyone else.  It's been 11 years now since we last spoke physically but everything I do for the good, I learned from him.

He was the greatest man of patience, I am impatient.  His personality was received everywhere, mine isn't.  He was rarely rejected, I have been all my life and there is good reason for that.  He only embellished a little bit, I mastered that.

It was always an honor to be called "Bucky's boy," but boy where those big shoes to walk in!  I couldn't, so I left my own footprints.  I still keep his principles first though.

He was always happy.  If he wasn't, you couldn't tell unless you pried.  Still you never would have thought much of it.  He just loved to work, be outdoors and farm.  He loved kids and raised us well.  He was just a great big kid, now that is a trait I got a little more honestly.

Paul Reed showed me how to notill.  Keith Schlapkohl showed me how to increase crop growth on a budget.  Dad showed me how to live life.  I struggled at times but that geneology and that kind of living has gotten me through the years.

Who has been the mentors of your life?  If it was your mother or father, you are blessed.  I don't hear that many people say either one was.  Who needs to mentor you on your next problem you are working on?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Finally, I got my MRI scheduled for my knee for later this morning.  It's time to leave in a few minutes, it's over an hour drive to the hospital.

This is my second MRI in 5 years and I  am not looking forward to it.  I will have plenty of time to pray the Rosary.  I wish they had Gregorian Chant on their headphones.  The right chants can mesmerize me into deep meditation.  That's a great time to do that while that machine is clanging back and forth over your head.

I was going to try the mobile lab that comes to Greenfield every Friday but that thing is just too small for this big ole country boy.  I get a little claustrophobic in tight places like that.  A tile hole doesn't bother me nearly as much as you have the big sky over your head.  I can't do either one very well right now, my meniscus has made my knee to stiff to bend very far.

We prayed together at bedtime though so all my petty little worries were carried away to the heavens last night.  We both got a good sleep and we both had difficulty getting up.

I know no suffering like my Saviour did 2000 years ago so my troubles are little.  They are earthly.  Can you imagine how long Eternity is what a blink of the eye our lives are?  I will have plenty of time to meditate on that.

That wasn't so bad at all, much easier than the last one.  They have a new 3 month old machine which they informed me is giving the doctors great pictures of the problems.  My technician was Luke at Adena Hospital on SR 159 just north of Chillicothe and US 23.

I said, Luke is a great name, I wanted to have 4 sons, the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  He said those are my brothers names!  I said he and his parents were quite blessed.

The MRI of my knee only took 20 minutes.  I didn't have much time to pray the Rosary and the Contemporary Christian I chose to hear in the headphones drowned out the MRI machine and my prayers!  My aspirations were much worse than the process actually was.  Much like life, I had all these great anxieties and a few of them actually came true!

I know who wins in the end, it is written and has been foretold more than 2000 years.  I just have to keep up my part for the winning team.

CSI Labs will be a winning team to help farmers.  I can't wait to get my wheat tissue pulled and get the results.  Farming 50 years is a battle.  Life on earth is a battle.

For either one it's no easy battle.

Have a Blessed Holy Week, my friends.

Ed Winkle

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow, Poor Man's Fertilizer

LuAnn and I were watching the NCAA March Madness this afternoon and I said our wheat looks better with every snow.  (crystals, structure, remember?)  She was doing something else but blurted out, snow is poor man's nitrogen.  That triggered this blog.

One writer estimates 2-12 lbs. of nitrogen per acre with a snow or rainfall.  I am thinking the snowflakes pick up more nitrogen than raindrops but they are formed very similarly in the atmosphere.  I can't find any data to back up my thinking.  It just makes sense that snowflakes are more crystalline in structure and combine with chemicals or fertilizer easier.

That is part of nature.  I may get more, I may get less.  How do I figure what I have and put on the right amount for it?  I have seen good results from Green Seeker but that technology has not caught on yet, at least not here.

How can I feed my wheat the best I can with the dollars I have?  The first recipe I gave you intrigues me.  I have never used that system.  I have never used that blend of fertilizer and humate.  I have to be very devoted to get it and spread it on my wheat.  It is not something I can buy from my dealer, though I can come somewhat close.

Somewhat may not be good enough.  Typically, a farmer adds 50-100 lbs of actual nitrogen to his wheat.  Some, many add sulfur.  We tend to over nitrate crops and not feed enough of anything else.

I have had good success adding 100 lbs. AMS, 100 lbs urea.  If you know your soil test or even have a tissue test you need more than that.  We need to feed the wheat that has wintered over, picking up whatever it can.

Add 100 lbs of MAP or DAP if your soil test is as low as mine is, and many are, and provide at least 1 lb. of actual Boron.  If you have soil and/or tissue tested, you probably need more than that to raise a really good crop.

That is my thinking after a few days of reading these posts and emails, what is yours?


Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will The Wheat Freeze?

It's snowing again here in southern Ohio and it's Holy Week.  One poster on Crop Talk asked if his wheat was safe or would it freeze?   It's a good discussion.  Here is a good answer:

Figure 1. Temperatures that cause freeze injury to winter wheat at different growth stages. Winter wheat rapidly loses hardiness during spring growth and is easily injured by late freezes.

Growth Stage-Injurious Temperature(two hours-Primary Symptoms-Yield Effect
Tillering 12 F (-11 C) Leaf chlorosis; burning of leaf tips; silage odor; blue cast to fields Slight to moderate

Jointing 24 F (-4 C) Death of growing point; leaf yellowing or burning; lesions, Moderate to severe
splitting, or bending of lower stem; odor

Boot 28 F (-2 C) Floret sterility; spike trapped in boot; damage to lower stem; leaf Moderate to severe
discoloration; odor

Heading 30 F (-1 C) Floret sterility; white awns or white heads; damage to lower Severe
stem; leaf discoloration

Flowering 32 F (0 C) Floret sterility; white awns or white heads; damage to lower Severe
stem; leaf discoloration

Milk 28 F (-2 C) White awns or white heads; damage to lower stems; leaf Moderate to severe
discoloration; shrunken; roughened, or discolored kernels

Dough 28 F (-2 C) Shriveled, discolored kernels; poor germination Slight to moderate

Wheat has been at the top of discussion this week for us few who grow it.  One farmer posted his tissue test results and asked readers what they would do with it?  The responses were all over the board.

I offered this:
"Good point, Eddie, I should have pointed that out. It has plenty for the growth stage it is in but needs to be topdressed. I was remembering the idea we over nitrate everything and short on everything else deal.

Tissue testing is discussed on my link here farmrn-
One program that worked well last year is:
200 lbs. per acre 17-9-7
Two weeks later
1.5 qts. per acre defender G4
1-2 gallons per acre CaNO3
With 18 gallons RO water per acre

Another program that was discussed here in the program is:
100 # ams
100# k
100# urea
With some 60#NH3 pre plant. three ton litter was spread the fall of 2011.

My standard program for SRWW was
100 lbs AMS
100 lbs dolomitic pel lime
100 MAP or DAP
100-200 potash
pound boron actual, pound zinc actual, pound manganese actual, pound copper sulfate actual, all prelant on typical worn out low testing soils around here which some might call good but low to me.

90-120 pounds N in spring, split shot preferred, more early to promote tillering, more later if needed to promote head growth.

So, will the wheat crop freeze in places this spring?  How far widespread will that be?  It looks like a cool, damp spring here in southern Ohio.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sable Ticked The Birds Off

We have had to park on the west side of the house thanks to all of the construction trucks in our driveway.  As you know, Sable loves to chase birds.  She thinks she is protecting us by keeping them away.  She really made them mad during the last chase.

She finally came to the house out of breath and rested a bit.  Later, I went to go to town in my shiny "purple plum," and it wasn't shiny anymore!  Those angry birds plastered it good!

Sable has been quite confused with all of the people and all of the noise of construction.  There must be 10 different people in and out of here in a week.  I will put her out and she will follow another worker in the front door with his hands full of work.

Fortunately, Sable earns her keep as a watch dog.  Most people are afraid of her until I come to greet them.  If they are just a little bit questionable, she picks right up on that and won't leave them alone.

LuAnn wants to keep her out of the living room.  She has learned bad habits following these workers in the front door.  We need a good dog gate at the kitchen entrance and her office entrance.  She has done her business in the wrong part of the house a few too many times when we didn't get up to let her out.

Sable is the best scouting dog I ever had.  She loves to scout fields with me and protects me from anything she sees or hears.

Sable is the most stay by your side, protective dog I've ever owned.  She is not happy if she is not with one of us.  That is good but can be bad.  We just can't be by her side all the time and when we aren't she can get into mischief.

She sure did today.  She cost me a wash job on the purple plum.  What's worse, I saw a big, fat and surely sick skunk wondering all over the waterway in the field across from the house.  I should have plugged it right there and put it out of its misery.  Instead, I forgot about it and we decided to take a walk that direction after dinner.  You guessed it, it hadn't wandered very far and poor Sable got skunked before we could notice.  LuAnn saw the vapor cloud, I didn't.  She is quick though and she just got enough on her to have to sleep outside last night.

She paid us back by barking at the coyotes in the moonlight last night.  She rarely sleeps outside, maybe 5-10 nights in 4 years?  I feel sorry for her.  If I had just shot that nasty beast.

I have plenty more Sable stories but she hit the headlines today.  What's your favorite dog story today?

Ed Winkle

Friday, March 22, 2013

Who Will Be My 100th Follower?

I saw this week I have 99 followers.  What is a follower?  In Google terms, it is whoever took the time to go through the process of following a blog spot.  It used to be easy, now it is more complicated.  Who wants to take the time to become a follower of HyMark Blogspot?

I know I earned 99 followers one person at a time.  Someone saw something I wrote that they agreed with enough that they were willing to take the steps to follow this blog.  I salute you!  The list of blogs I try to follow is under my profile on this blog.  You can become my 100th follower by logging into Google or another account.

Being a follower doesn't really mean much.  It is fun for me to see the numbers rise since I started blogging over 4 years ago when LuAnn challenged me to write my own blog.  Now it has become challenging yet still enjoyable,  just to write this.

I have a great story I heard yesterday.  There were 235 prime farm acres for sale near our new farm.  The grandson had farmed it all his life and now he is a middle aged farmer with a Suburban full of little blond kids.  I have known his dad since my early days of tractor pulling.  I remember when he proudly showed his beautiful black steer 25 years ago or so in his Wilmington FFA jacket.  I could never get my students to that on a hot day but he did it.

The family decided to sell it while capital gains were still known before the first of the year.  He couldn't get financing in time so a neighbor stepped in and paid cash for the farm until he could get his financing!  I told that to LuAnn and she said that man will go straight to heaven!  It's a heart warming story that I hope influences our ag community to stick together.  That is hard to do when you are running a farm business and land prices have doubled in just a few years.

A reader asked yesterday after reading my blog, how do you calculate the salt load of liquid fertilizer so you know how much of what to put on?  That's a great question we could dedicate a blog to but I will answer his question with this good link from Spectrum Analytic, who I use to test fertilizers with.

Take time to read the link.  It makes me wonder how we got by loading so much salt beside the row with heavy loads of nitrate fertilizer.  At 10 gallons or so it isn't so bad but when you double that, here is where the structured RO water makes a better solution for the baby plants to take from the soil.

I would love to have a spreader like my friend to "spread my salt load" out evenly.

I hope this all makes sense.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Calcium Nitrate

I am getting tons of questions on calcium nitrate and structured water.  Today we will focus on calcium nitrate.

"Calcium nitrate, also called Norgessalpeter (Norwegian saltpeter), is the inorganic compound with the formula Ca(NO3)2. This colorless salt absorbs moisture from the air and is commonly found as a tetrahydrate. It is mainly used as a component in fertilizers but has other applications. Nitro-calcite is the name for a mineral which is a hydrated calcium nitrate that forms as an efflorescence where manure contacts concrete or limestone in a dry environment as in stables or caverns. A variety of related salts are known including calcium ammonium nitrate decahydrate and calcium potassium nitrate decahydrate."

Calcium nitrate is used as a fertilizer, typically for fruits and vegetables.  It's hard to find at your local supplier unless they supply large fruit and vegetable growers.  It can be dry or liquid.  Let's discuss the dry formulation first.  It is usually sold as 15-0-0-19Ca or something similar.  Ca(N03)2 Calcium nitrate Ca2+ NO3’.  It has 2 Ca cations and 3 Nitrate anions.  This California curriculum discusses basic fertilizers for the farmer like I've seen nowhere else.  Another reference is the Western Fertilizer Handbook.

"Calcium nitrate, chemically known as ammonium calcium nitrate decahydrate (5Ca(NO3)2*NH4NO3*10H2O), is a white, hygroscopic, dry water-soluble material. It is 15.5% nitrogen and 19% calcium (15.5-0-0-19Ca). It is produced by reacting nitric acid with crushed phosphate ore and then neutralized with ammonia.

It is considered a 'double growth' fertilizer, since both the calcium and the nitrate contribute to plant growth. It is highly hygroscopic, and needs to be stored in a cool, dry location. Some formulations are coated to help retard moisture absorption during storage.

Compared to other nitrogen fertilizers such as urea or ammonium nitrate, it receives little attention. Many of the discussions I have heard about it originated from biological farmers, and they gave excellent reviews of its attributes. Several commented that using calcium nitrate, and calcium sulfate (SuperCal SO4 e.g.) together produced some great results."

Here is a common question this month:
"On AgTalk you where saying 5 gallon 28% mixed with 5 ATS, 5 Calcium Nitrate, and 5 water is a good mix. Why the water instead of 5 gallon more of 28? I was going to run 10gallon 28, 3 ATS, and 2 calcium nitrate. 14-15 gallon to the acre works well with adding 1 bag per row of seed at the same time as liquid filling. Should I back the 28 down and apply more of the other products? I applied 1 ton of gypsum last fall but want to run some ATS to give it a little boost. This is in NW Ohio clay soils.

Can calcium nitrate be ran through the Keetons and applied in furrow? If so I can run 6-7 gallon through there as well."

Answer is you can't put calcium nitrate through the Keetons or in furrow because the salt load is too high and will injure the seedlings.  Should be applied off the side like the U trough principle and structured water to activate the loaded fertilizer, near the root zone, not in it.

What questions do you have?  I am learning right beside you.  To my casual readers, find some calcium nitrate and start experimenting on your precious plants.  It is good fertilizer for fruits and vegetables.

It has huge implications on how we grow corn, soybeans and wheat.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

83 Degrees A Year Ago

I heard on my morning meditation radio channel it was 83 degrees F. a year ago in Cincinnati.  I remember we were planting corn and wondering if we were crazy.  We had record early sweet corn in June and the field corn made more bushels than the same hybrids planted a month later in April and another month later in May.  Many farmers said their May corn was best but ours was not.

There is a lot to put together in a farming plan.  We were not set to go a  year ago, it caught us off guard.  We planted enough to know whether it was right or wrong.  April was better but most of our acres were planted in May and that was the lowest yielding of the 3 plantings.  We had enough good early yields to offset the lower yielding late planted.

You have to know when it is right to plant or not.  Most plant when the planter is ready or the seed comes in or its the time they traditionally plant and the conditions are right.  I never could do that.  I have always in my life wanted to plant seed the first day it seemed feasible.  I can honestly say my hunch has never been far off.  It pays to be ready.

It looks like we have prolonged winter in the east this year.  That is good for me.  Last year was partially emotional turmoil and that is not good.  I can second guess myself too easily.

I am getting more email on subjects like this, structured water, and a whole bunch of things.  I can barely keep up.  It is fit to plant in a few areas of the country and a few farmers are asking me if it is right or not.  I can only offer my experience.  That falls short in other locations but I have learned to ask good questions.

What is your major goal this year?  It's always to raise better crops and make more money but how do you do that?  We discuss that every day on HyMark Highspots.  Go look at past readings.  There is some really good some stuff in there I am a little proud of.  Gypsum, cover crops, even no till is new to many readers.  Add in Calcium nitrate, SAP testing and we get complicated rather quickly.  Keep posting your comments and sending your email.

We answer them one farmer at a time.

I love this picture at Myron Verdier's in Shelby County 7 years ago.  The planter is set up correctly for no tilling corn into soybeans and the soil is right.  I would like to do that month earlier to catch more sunshine if conditions are right.

I have pictures to share of the brick room underneath the kitchen where they hid the slaves coming through when I get time.  I wish I could afford to build a stairway into there, it is blocked off from the rest of this old house.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Table Of Saint Joseph

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph and National Agriculture Day.  Normally I would write a blog about the importance of agriculture and recognizing that fact but today I will talk about Saint Joesph.

I've known LuAnn almost 14 years now but I never heard her mention the Table of St. Joseph.  We were discussing our day last night and it came up.  I drove to Indiana for a meeting about the seed industry and listened about preparations for the Feast of St. Joseph on the radio.

The table story is a neat one.  There was a famine in Sicily many centuries ago.  They stopped what they were doing and prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Holy Family.  The famine ended and they prepared a great table for all, the poor, the sick, the suffering, the rich and the wealthy.  They all shared the bounty together.  I thought wow, that goes great with National Agriculture Week.  Today is National Agriculture Day!

I woke up with great peace this morning.  LuAnn and I have been praying together before we go to sleep and our prayer intentions are being answered quickly day by day.  We miss our TV to watch something inspiring before we go to sleep so she has been bringing her Xyboard or new smart phone to bed and we listen to inspiring messages of faith.  Last night was from Coming Home and how an Episcopal priest came to the Catholic Church in a position in power.

I took the position of Joseph in a large blended family.  We've had our struggles no doubt but now we have grandchildren who call each other cousin and can play together like no body's business.  It is truly inspiring to watch.

We have this farm now for them to meet and make memories.  We wanted that for ourselves and for our family just like so many millions have over the generations.  We are blessed to have it and be able to teach the basics of life, food, family, and farming.

It would be neat to have a table of St. Joseph here on this farm today.  Long tables of food representing different foods of the harvest and our struggles to provide them.  All would be invited.  No one would be left out intentionally.

American Agriculture leaves no one out intentionally.  That is part of our great heritage, the land of bounty and the land of opportunity.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Must Be Close

Easter is almost here, the bulbs are sending up shoots for the spring flowers and Saint Patrick's Day is over.  We have a thunderstorm rumbling through, the dog is scared and the house is muddy.  We were trying to catch the weather radar on TV when one bolt made the lights flash and the TV screen turned pink.  Thankfully it was not a permanent color.

We carried on our little tradition of a green dinner with some of the grand kids last night.  We had corned beef and roast lamb and green everything else but the potatoes.  The peas turned them green easily enough.  This tradition was started some years ago when one family member had his jaw wired and all the food ran through the blender ended up looking green.  In respect of his green dinner, we all ate green.

Funny how that green from chlorophyll activated by sunlight is our thread of life, isn't it?  Farmers actually plant millions of little green factories we prod and poke and pump to produce good food and a profitable yield.

Just a year ago the planters were rolling in hopes of a good year with record early planting.  That early spring just happened to be the start of a very hot, dry year, one for for the record books.  I learned lessons dad and grandpa taught about the 30's, which they were very happy to survive and watch pass by them.

Today it's 33 degrees here, pouring down rain and it snowed just south of us ahead of this storm.  That's weird, snow south of us.  I am really glad a little nitrogen got spread on my wheat now as most fields haven't and are starting to look nitrogen deficient.

I need to go pull tissue and send half to Midwest Labs and half to CSI Labs.  That's a good modern name, isn't it?  CSI, Crop Science Investigation or diagnosing the smoking, dead plant.  Actually the SAP test should help me observe plant health before it gets so sick it dies.  I should be able to learn what I am doing or wrong or what I can do to keep those little factories perking longer at higher efficiency.

It's too muddy to walk fields now so that will have to wait a week or so but you will be the first to learn of my results here on HyMark High Spots.

Maybe I will be able to learn how to help you grow better crops and gardens.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it?  Today's picture was taken on the South Island just over a month ago.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Next Advancement in Corn Yield?

A farmer asked this question on Crop Talk:

"What's the next step in taking my corn yields up? Currently have about 80acres that are all VH in P&K due to manure history. Have been yielding in the 200-220 on normal years. What is the next step in increasing yields? I Have high fertility, try to push the population with the right hybrids, using a fungicide/insecticide at VT. I would just like to know what everyone is doing to get to the next yield level. Seems like there is 100's of products that all give 5-7bu increases. Would like to try some different things on part of the farm this year. Long time reader and finally first post, located in eastern Iowa."

My reply:  "From my travels the past few years I would say the answer is 5 gallons of calcium nitrate applied with 5 gallons of structured water mixed with the 28 and sulfur. It is the next big advancement in corn yields. The U trough uses a very homogeneous, complete 17-9-7 on the other side of the row of 100-150 pounds of dry material. This all creates a huge burst of energy for the emerging corn, makes corn on corn look like corn on beans.

I am trying to apply calcium nitrate to my wheat right now. The yield trials showed 19 bu advantage over a bunch of farms and trials just putting the calcium and nitrate in with the 28 on corn. I called it 20 bushel eyeball in what I saw compared to the rows beside it that did not get that treatment. It's one small step in a bunch of steps to increase corn yields."

I've talked about the power of the Ca, S and Nitrate ions here.  When we address these nutrients in such a concentrated blend near the corn plant, great things happen.  I have also been reporting what I've see regarding that the past two years.

We can take our corn crop to the next level.  We don't have to be in this 3 year downhill trend like soybeans.

What did Francis have that no one else did?  He had a soil pit, rhizosphere, corn roots and corn yields like no one else I've ever seen.  We can do better.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Mustard Seed

We've all probably heard the Parable of the Mustard Seed but one of my email friends posed this worthy question for today:

"The Brassica comes in many forms but all touted for their value as a cover crop.

The many forms of the Radish and the Turnip are almost obvious. My question is about the Mustard plant. What is it's redeeming qualities? Does our common wild mustard weed have any redeeming features?

We usually see wild mustard growing in a road right of way, equipment yards, or in wheat.

If all are allowed go to seed would they cross resulting in some kind of wild mustard with a humongous root and side spreading, ground shading leaf style?

Would this produce viable seed resulting in a problem feral Brassica?

Maybe a Vegetable version of a mule?"   I must admit I have not played with mustard as a cover crop.  My friends in New Zealand have tried it to some success but I am not aware of any in my neighborhood.   "Mustards are a good cover crop for a variety of reasons. One of the main benefits is that they have high levels of glucosinolates. According to Cornell University …”The practice of using mustard cover crops to manage soil-borne pathogens is known as biofumigation. Biofumigation is simply the suppression of various soil-borne pests and diseases through naturally occurring compounds.

All brassicas such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, mustard, and turnips naturally produce glucosinolates, the compounds that make certain brassicas “hot”.   Brassicas sold as cover crops have been identified or specifically developed to contain very high levels of these glucosinolates. The higher the levels of glucosinolates present, the better the biofumigant effect. The process works as so: when plant cells are damaged such as by chopping, glucosinolates are released and come in contact with an enzyme (myrosinase). In the presence of water, the reaction produces the natural gas isothiocyanate (ITC).

ITC is responsible for the suppressive effects of the practice. ITC is similar to the active ingredient in Metham Sodium or the conventional fumigant Vapam (a.i. Methyl ITC). In addition to the soil biofumigation benefits, brassica cover crops are ideal for adding organic matter to the soil and improving many soil health related characteristics due to the large quantity of “green” or fresh biomass produced and incorporated into the system.”  

So far I have had no ill effects from any cover crop I've planted getting out of hand.  One reader is dead set against annual ryegrass because of the threat of Italian ryegrass but I have not seen that either.  Actually, stray vetch, clover, alfalfa, rye, wheat, radish and other once cover crop plants make me smile.  I know I planted it. 

Anyone have comments they would like to send or post about mustard as a cover?  



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Buyer's Remorse Blues

Have you ever had the buyer's remorse blues?  I was starting to get them this morning when the silly thought ran through my head that we were paying for this new bathroom what we paid for our new second hand home in 1974!  It was a nice 10 year old 3 bedroom brick with full basement on 2 acres near a creek and a little bridge.  It was a great place to have 3 babies and start to raise them up.  Those bathrooms were new compared to these!

I overheard LuAnn talking to one of the children last night about whether to buy a certain vehicle or not.  They were trying to avoid buyer's remorse blues.  I've had them and I am sure all of you readers have, too.

I buy so few new things or slightly used things that I just hate buyer's remorse blues.  Fortunately, I was poor enough I learned to shop for a bargain at a young age.  I could list a huge book or chapter of good buys in my life.  I learned from every "bad buy" I made.  I just should have made more good buys when I was younger as they were all good buys compared to today.  I have to Laugh Out Loud about that, that's a part of living through inflation in one lifetime.  I think dad and grandpa lived through the same thing!

What is your buyer's remorse?  I hope you don't have one.  I've never had one concerning land or houses.  They were all good buys and I wish I could have bought more.  I saw so many young men my age buy $200 land when I was young and lose it all in the farm crises of the 80's.  I never took the chance to try.  Which is worse?

Land and rent is too high today compared to the prices offered.  You can't pencil $10,000 per acre land or $400 rent on the $4 corn the experts want to beat this corn price down to.  It could happen.  I have explained to you why I don't think it will.

What I needed early on was a good farmland investor who believed in my ability to produce and make us both money.  One who is fair.  That's pretty hard to find in this old world!

There is a lot going on in my life today and I am sure it is in yours too.  Thanks for taking time to read my thought for the day.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


This question was raised about soil magnesium levels:

"Would there be any benefit of adding chelated Mg in a popup with 10-34-0 and zinc? Soil test levels of Mg are 150 with base saturation of 4 to 8%. Was thinking of this or broadcasting Kmag.:  

I would agree those levels are low and some magnesium might be beneficial.  I have used dolomitic pellet lime to provide a little magnesium but not KMag.  I had good results with pellet lime but my magnesium levels are rarely low and not as low as those in the post.   Here was my reply which expands away from the question.  I thought it was interesting.   ""What Do The Weeds Really Tell Us?

"Weeds shouldn't be a plague or a market(plant?) to eradicate. They should be viewed as what they are meant to be, an indicator of your soil conditions. Weeds can tell you more about your soil fertility than most standard soil analysis, if you know how to read them. Thes e unwanted guests have many benefits, foremost is to rearrange the soil to allow other plant and soil microbial life to repopulate and restore nature's balance.

Low calcium levels tend to favor many weed types, mostly the grasses like foxtail and quackgrass. Broadleaf weeds are an indicator of a phosphorous to potassium imbalance. They also act as a detoxifier of chemicals in the soil. Theoretically, the more toxic chemicals you apply, the more broadleaf weeds you will be favoring. Succulents are an indicator of poor drainage (anaerobic conditions) and low carbonate ions.

Certain weeds obtain specific nutrients from the soil at various depths . And in various circumstances, e.g., compacted soil, water logged soil, chemically contaminated soil, and high-salt soil. In turn, they manufacture certain metabolites, which they excrete into the soil rhizosphere to be processed by specific microbes. Likewise, these microbes uniquely obtain and metabolize certain nutrients from the soil, which they, in turn, alter and re-excrete into the rhizosphere for use by plants and other microbes. Left to operate naturally, this process regenerates a "sterile" or "toxic" soil to the point where the plant and microbe populations change again and again, eventually to support whatever crop and microbe group we desire. An organism will survive and thrive only if the proper conditions have been established for it to do so. (From Science in Agriculture, Arden Andersen).

Calcium & Magnesium
An imbalance of magnesium to calcium can lead to tight soils and anaerobic conditions. Calcium causes soil particles to move apart and provides good drainage and oxygen movement. Magnesium allows soil particles to stick together, limiting oxygen, which does not permit beneficial microorganisms to flourish. This does not allow organic matter to decompose properly and promotes fermentation that favors by products like alcohol and formaldehyde. These conditions also favor soil diseases such as pythium and phytophora. An ideal Ca:Mg ratio would be 7:1. Weeds that indicate a Ca:Mg imbalance leading to a tight and poorly drained soil would be: Creeping buttercup, curled dock, giant sorrel, broad-leaved meadowsweet, field bindweed, and quackgrass.

Phosphorous and Potassium
Phosphorous is important to the manufacture of sugars and is a key factor in the transport and translocation of nutrients and metabolites within the plant. Too much potassium will have a tendency to replace calcium in the cell resulting in weak cells and black spots on the leaves. An improper phosphorous (P) to potassium (K) ratio will favor the broadleaf weeds like: ragweed, eastern bracken, yarrow, velvet leaf, and lamb's quarter. A proper P:K ratio is 2:1 for most row crops and 4:1 for alfalfa and grasses. "

Excess Magnesium does lead to to tight soils and anerobic conditions.  That is a major symptom of crop production in southern Ohio and most places I travel.  The addition of calcitic ag lime and gypsum has slowly taken these symptoms away where applied, sometimes quickly, usually slowly.

Dr. George suggested magnesium for some of my ailments.  I told him that was funny, I took dolomite for years at Rhude Road to address the same symptoms.  Limestone is absorbed poorly by single stomach animals though like pigs and humans and now there is a much better way to supplement Magnesium.

I noticed brown limestone is coming out of the quarry on Stone Road northeast of me.  I have not spread much brown lime but have used brown limestone gravel.  It is a different analysis.

Does your soil need mangesium?  Probably not, mine doesn't.  Does your body need magnesium?  Possibly so, there is limited magnesium in most diets.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ca, N, S

Calcium, Nitrate, Sulfur.  Is this CaNS?

Calcium is the King and Queen of nutrients?

"What is Ideal Soil?

Soils must be considered as a living system - an interface between soil biology, chemistry, and physics. Healthy soils have billions of microbes per tablespoon. Calcium is the predominate nutrient (ion ~ atom) in soil chemistry. Manage the soil's chemistry and physics, and the biology naturally follows.
5% Organic Matter - Decaying trash-organic matter - made into humic acid by microbes

•Humus, humic acid (organic complex molecules) protein enzymes, carbon, vitamins, growth regulators, sugars and amino adds to name a few.

•Natural chelater & greatly reduces leaching.

•You want all your nitrogen (ammonia) and sulfur in this form.

•You want microbes to feed on organic trash (carbon) and assimilate nutrients such as calcium, phosphate. and metals.

45% Rock Minerals - Volcanic in origin - rock minerals

•Calcium carbonate (lime), calcium phosphate, gypsum, and shells.

•Clay- expanding and non expanding which microbes find nutrients & produce sugar. High ability to keep nutrients from leaching.

•You want all your nitrogen (ammonia) and sulfur in this form.

•This chemistry fraction of the soil is responsible for the beginning of the whole growth process.

•70% - 80% of the soil needs to be calcium dominated.

•Want 7 parts calcium to one part magnesium.

•Calcium is the queen and king of nutrients.

•Rock Phosphate and bone meal (Ca3P2O5).

•Gypsum (CaSO4).

25% - Air

25% - Water

Building healthy soil takes time and inputs. In time, erosion will be virtually eliminated, and water needs will be dramatically reduced. Insect and disease problems will be all but eliminated. After your soils arc built (healthy) inputs will only be needed in order to maintain fertility. Nitrogen is the number one cause of insect and disease problems. Optimum soil pH 6.2 - 6.4.

•Healthy soil will not stick to your shoes or hands.

•Healthy soil smells like the earth (forest).

•Quality fruit will not rot."


Monday, March 11, 2013

Soil Rhizobium Counts

A young poster held me to my word this morning on Crop Talk.

"Ed, Where do you send your soil to test for Rhizobia counts? We are talking here in EKS about the low counts from the last 2 hot dry years. but would like to test soil to know for sure. What caused your low counts? heat, low moisture ?

Thanks Robert

My detailed reply:  "Good morning, Robert.

I have 2 friends that look at soil for me on the side who don't do this as a business. I made friends with a couple of lab people and their time is limited. I saw enough to say what I did. I got some spadefuls of soil in my travels of farms where the soil was pretty biologically dead.

Your inoculant supplier might have a lab where they can do this, it is not easy or cheap work. I can't name you a lab that does, maybe someone can.

I found my quote from last fall in my blog but the link doesn't take me to the article!

"Soybean rhizobia bacterial cells survive best when they are in a moist soil environment and an ambient soil temperature of 40-80 degrees F. The drought throughout the Ohio in 2012 has resulted in the top six inches of soil becoming extremely dry and very hot in many fields. Either a very dry soil environment or a very hot soil environment causes the rapid death of rhizobia cells and the combination is lethal. Therefore, we would expect a reduction in the population of residual soil rhizobia cells in many Midwestern soybean fields in 2012 due to those soil conditions.

Although many cells will survive the extreme environmental conditions, those cells will have evolved into survival mode and will have lost much of their potential to provide nitrogen to soybean plants in 2013. That means the surviving rhizobia population will likely be less productive next year than in previous years. That reduced productivity should translate into increased yield responses to inoculating soybeans and other legume seeds in the spring of 2013."

This link says BDS labs in Saskatchewan do counts for $30.

I would think someone near Kansas can peform the test you need? The lab needs to be able to culture and estimate soil rhizobium counts but it could be a needle in a haystack!

I hope this helps, Robert.

What caused my low counts? Continuous corn, lack of soybeans, 3 years of hard weather, lack of cover crops from newly acquired farms or farms I have not farmed and probably various other reasons.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bible Bee

I met one of my new neighbors beside the new farm.  Becky is the mother of six children she is home schooling like our neighbors and one of our children does.  I explained who I was and what I hoped to do with our shared property line in the future.  You never know how that is going to turn out but this one started good.

We walked along our fence line and shared how we would like most of those trees cut out.  I told her that bulldozing the line isn't in the budget but it turned out she has a 16 year old son who is learning to cut wood and they have a new wood stove.  I asked her about cut that fence row on the halves and she thought that would be good for both of us.  We have more trees than me and 100 people could burn in a lifetime with 30 acres of overgrown trees.

She mentioned they would be getting another boy this year through the "Bible Bee."  I had never heard of the Bible Bee but it is like a spelling be but instead you memorize Bible verses.

"What is the Bible Bee? The Bible Bee helps families to establish a life-long pattern of discipleship in God’s Word. All of the materials and events are designed to be enjoyable and family-centered as they encourage, recognize, and reward diligence in Bible study, Scripture memorization and prayer.

The National Bible Bee begins June 1st as contestants learn to inductively study a designated book of the Bible through the Bible Bee’s exclusive “Sword Studies” and memorize Scripture with the help of their Bible Memory cards. Local Hosts provide encouragement, support and family activities for socializing and studying.

At the end of August, contestant families gather for the Local Contest, a time of demonstrating diligence, proclaiming God’s Word and celebrating together in Christ. The competition challenges both Bible Memory and Bible Knowledge through Oral and Written Test rounds. The 300 top-scoring contestants from around the nation are then invited to compete in the National Competition which is held in the fall. Winners at Nationals take home $260,000 in cash prizes as well as other awards."

It will be interesting to see how this works out.  Thanks to our new neighbor, something tells me we are going to learn more about people through the Bible Bee!

What is your favorite verse?  I think I have a different one each time I am exposed to it.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kitchen Sink Study

This week in crop talk a fellow posted the link the Minnesota United Soybean Board's Kitchen Sink Study results.  In another thread, Stockholm asked if I believed in that study?

"I have looked over it but not in depth. Maybe you can tell me more? I do respect the work of Palle Pedersen, PhD. Perhaps I take a different view or method of "high inputs?"

I don't see how they didn't get better results for one thing. That has not been my experience. The methods they used to test generates more income than the method costs for me, in general.

I guess my talk at NNTC supports the high inputs and would guide the listener that way. I would be happy to share it with you and send you the slides that I showed with the talk.

For one thing, they didn't test calcium, nitrate and sulfur in the way I see it being used on high yield farms. Another thing, soybean inoculant is a no--brainer every place I've seen it used, even beans after beans. It seems they validate the methods that are generating the typical 40 bu beans raised in America and what was last year's yield, 36? 70 bu was the high yield beans here last year and I saw 100 bu beans in the drought by using the high yield methods I talked about at NNTC.

A big thing is they don't study the effect of high yield beans on the next crop. I always have better corn, wheat and cover crops that lead to better crops after high yield beans. I have seen double inoculated soybeans vs typical inoculation vs no inoculation in and wheat planted after it yields in that order, highest on double inoculated beans as one example.

Maybe you are right, maybe the study is a waste compared to the way I raise soybeans or think they should be raised.

Soybeans are the number one gross and net producing crop for me the past nine years but my highest was 191 bu corn last year sold at $8.30. I left 60 bu on the table and should have been able to raise 250 bu corn but I made some mistakes and I know what they are. That farm produced 80 bu wheat and 52 bu double crop soybeans the year before, all about above the local or county average.

I don't want to produce lower yielding beans if the money I spend generates more than it costs."

What did I miss?  Have you read the study?  Maybe you can see more in it than I did.  Maybe I look at soybeans in a different realm than most researchers do.  I do know that Palle Pederesen has studied soybeans in Iowa as much as anyone but I don't think he has been to the farms I learn from.

Maybe we are on two different pages.


Friday, March 8, 2013

My Email Warmed Up

Pilgrim made this post in Market Talk yesterday.  Take the time to read it and some of the responses if you dare.  At least study the chart on the link.

Did you know this is happening?  Many farmers are blind to it.  Thankfully I had a friend who told me to go look for pink leaves on corn three years ago when corn was still green.  Sure enough I found it right up the road.  The farm has been in GMO corn and soybeans and had lots of glyphosate sprayed on it.  Once I saw the premature, pink leaves I started finding it everywhere.  I found it in non GMO corn following RR soybeans.

I don't read Market Talk every day so it took an email or two to get me to that post.  I even asked the poster why he decided to post that in that particular spot.  He explained why and it made sense.

The big point is we are raising nutrient dense-less crops.  I have been talking about this since the day I started writing this blog over four years ago.  As we look at these occurrences the first time it's rather scary.  I am past the scary part.  Now, how do we educate farmers one at a time?

Notice how high the formaldehyde level is on the chart.  It is said the Chinese already know this.  I am sure many do, as you and I are learning.  What causes this high formaldehyde level and the lack of major and minor nutrients?  Is it by planting GMO seed and spraying glyphosate on it?

Is that foodstuff deadly?  It is to some people.  I can't stop this from happening as a nation but I can stop it from happening on my farm.

How do I do that?  I can do that by planting non GMO seed and fertilizing it the way I have been alluding to here for the last four years.  More calcium, less nitrate but applied at just the right time.  Feed the male part of the crop growth process but be sure to feed the female or reproductive part of this process.  "It's not rocket science, it's much more difficult than that!"

You still have time to find some good source of non GMO seed.  You still have time to get the gypsum and lime your soil needs.  You still have time to figure out how to place calcium nitrate beside your seed row and harvest more yield than you imagined.

My email is warmed up and waiting.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I found a discussion in the Cafe about what would be your next big thing?  Immediately the wheels started turning so I am pondering.  What would be my next big thing?

One friend wrote simply, "a cemetery plot!"  Whoops, well haven't done that yet either but not really wanting to think about that today.  I must be feeling better!  I quit drinking water from recycled plastic bottles I have a bad habit of doing and my lungs cleared and my coughing has almost stopped!  Do you think that could be it?

I'd really like to restore one of my 3 nice old tractors.  I would love to pull one in a local 7000 lb out of the field stock class if we had one.  My mind kept going back to fixing up that new farm as a place to play, make money and spend some of it.

I would really like to get the main tile at the entrance replaced or repaired and build a half mile gravel road back to the woods.  Then I could go back there easily even on a day like today.  There is so much to see in the back of that parcel of land.

I thought about Living In Your Fields and walking among crops and CRP and woods just looking around, sampling things and thinking out loud with the grand kids.  This isn't exactly "The Edge of Farming," like the video series shows, but it kind of is to me.

The next big thing in agriculture is going to be much bigger than any of us.  We are going to have to agree what that is.  Our country is so divided now we can't agree on who to elect to get us where we need to be.  We don't agree where we need to be.

Agriculture is much the same way.  I can't see the need for genetically modified seed on my farm and I see perils for all of us if we follow the 90% who do.  I am in that 10% minority.  We can't even agree on what the best way to farm is, let alone who should lead our country.

All we can do is study the issues and find what's best for ourselves.  If others want to come that way, we lead them one step at a time.

Right now I am involved in so many next big things I need to take that one step at a time myself.

How about you?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Those Crystals!

Waking up to one of the bigger snows we've had in years, I was curious to what benefit this is to my wheat and cover crops and to the fertilizer I just put down 5 weeks ago.  The fertilizer has crystal structures in it, too.

The structured water comparison got me to thinking about this.  I always knew there was great power in crystalline structure from a snowflake to a crystal radio to the fertilizer crystal shapes to the beautiful stones used to adorn women.

"As compared to rapid progress achieved since 1912 in the analysis of crystal structure, et was only after 1930 that the understanding of crystal growth mechanisms at atomistic level started. However, both have their roots in the curiosity in the 17th Century on a wide variety of forms that crystals exhibited.

Most people will imagine from the word of crystal growth, semiconductor crystals like silicon and gallium arsenide or synthetic gemstones. The success in these industries has been achieved through deep understanding of atomistic process of crystal growth and defect formation. We should however remember that the recent days achievement in obtaining and utilizing highly perfect single crystalline materials to improve the quality of our life has its root in pure curiosity on the origin of various forms of crystals.

This curiosity creates another new curiosity in the present days, even after three centuries. Problems relating to forms of crystals are closely related problems to biological activities, formation and changes of solid materials in the Earth and Planets. We may decipher letters sent from the depth of the Earth or from the Space, and also written in the living bodies, by properly understanding the origin of forms and their variations of crystals. No more pages, regretably, are left to discuss these problems. So I shall conclude this article by citing two phrases by the late Sir Charles Frank.

“If one could understand enough about the morphology of crystals, he understood essential points of fundamentals of crystal growth”. 

“Diamonds are letters sent from the depth of the Earth. They are letters conveying more interesting information than snow flakes which are sent from the sky. We can not reach the depth of the Earth”.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

High Yield Soybeans

High yield soybeans are being discussed again today.  I want high yields as much as anyone, but what about quality, and what about profit?  Shouldn't we be discussing high profit soybeans?

The easiest way to increase profit is to increase yield more than it costs to produce that yield.  At what point does cost overtake the yield increase?

Personally, I have never raised a good crop that didn't make a profit.  That's probably just the frugalness bred and cultivated in me.  Dad and grandpa never had excess money to produce yield and I never have either.

One critical point is that it takes 5 to 6 lbs of nitrogen to produce a bushel of soybeans.  On 100 bushel yield, that is 500 lbs of nitrogen.  How do I get that much nitrogen without killing the beans?

I have been interested in inoculation all my life because I was taught its value as a child.  We always inoculated legumes in order to encourage them to produce all the free nitrogen from our nitrogen laden atmosphere as possible.  Big, healthy pink to reddish nodules is my goal in every legume I raise.  Inoculation always paid for me but can it produce 5-6 lbs of nitrogen per bushel?

NO.  I must build a soil environment where nodules abound and it takes a lot of atmospheric air in the soil to do that.  That means a very healthy soil is necessary for high yields.  That takes time and that takes money.  I don't think we are going to get there the way we produce soybeans today.  Not every farmer inoculates and even less apply enough food to their soybeans.

Our country is built around the principles of 40 bushel beans and 160 bushel corn.  Now we hit some hard weather years and we can't even hit those averages nationally.  I can't follow the crowd on this one, I must think outside the box and be in the upper third of production while keeping costs profitable.

So how do you produce more profitable, higher yielding beans this year?  First, apply a half a ton of gypsum and be sure you have your pH in the upper 6's, 7.0 is not too high.  Apply calcium nitrate beside the row at planting to maximize nitrogen production in the crop.  100 lbs of AMS provides a nice environment for my microbes to be ready to feed my crop.

Plant a grass cover ahead of the beans.  This cover helps control weeds and provides nutrient to the new crop as it dies and the new crop emerges.  Control the weeds.  Add a little foliar nitrogen with whatever else your crop needs throughout the season.  Remember there are 17 known nutrients and we tend to over nitrate our crops and underfeed everything else.

Inoculate.  This year we are treating our seed with fungicide, insecticide, rhizobia and trichoderma.  We will add more rhizobia and trichoderma to the seed box.  Soil bacterial cell counts are record low across the US this year after the stresses of last year.

I am doing these simple things and my goal for net profit is $400 per acre.  I have done this before and can do it again this year.

If I can't do this, don't call me a farmer.

Ed Winkle

Monday, March 4, 2013

Heavy Frost

There is another heavy frost on the ground this morning.  I wonder how much variation there is from field to field depending on vegetation to limited vegetation or fall plowing?  That would be an interesting study today.

Jules and I have been emailing back and forth about what I have put on already and how it has affected my wheat growth.  Master Mix said they applied 150 lbs of urea on January 26.  We noticed our wheat was thick when we got home but it was very brown.  I assume the new tender leaves have been frosted off as fast as they grow.

My stand was a bit thin in a few places and the urea has seemed to thicken it up as planned.  There was more lush growth on the better stand and it frosted off as fast as it grew.  I can't dig into the ground this morning but I expect if I could, I would find very healthy, thick, roots.  I don't see the burning off of leaf tissue as fast at grows as a bad thing.  Some of the best crops I ever grew were frosted in the early stages/  Frosting causes the plant to work harder to stay alive and that is a good thing until it causes senescence or death.

What I am doing is not exact science.  It seems like the older I get the more I depend on biology instead of some chemistry formulation.  I do think I have my wheat in pretty good shape physically and chemically and the dead radish are giving off some good exudates as they slowly die.  Maybe that is finished and I don't know it.

I feel like I should be sowing a clover or other legume this cold and frosty morning.  The more I plant the more I seem to reap.  I don't own a nice rig for sowing other than the Mule.  It would be a nice project for a grandchild!

I have been watching a few YouTube videos on cover crops this morning.  There are so many of these videos but each one of them makes me think.

I need to get out behind the house and pull some wheat tissue and dig some soil this week.  I know I should be frost seeding a clover right now.


Sunday, March 3, 2013


I woke up today with gratitude, thankfulness and I will say overall, general happiness.  Are you happy today?

My Sunday Morning Sunshine Group discussed God's Will this morning.   What is God's Will and how can you discern it?

Everyone is born with the innate sense there is someone in this world bigger than we are.  They come to know who that is, reject it or say, OK, maybe?

I fought turning 60 like crazy.  I didn't want to be old but did I want to die?  If I didn't change my ways, I was destined to die at an age earlier than I decided I wanted to.  My fight started in my 50's when I couldn't keep up with all of my crazy ideas anymore.  My body kept saying slow down and rest and my self will said you can do more.  HA, as my good sister says.

Someone asked how does God speak to you?  Most of us agreed that God speaks to us through other people, through every one we meet.  Some speak the truth and many don't.  Many people are more lost than we are but every one of them has a message for us to heed or discard.  How many times have we said later in the day or that week, wow, so that is what that meant!

I don't claim to be an expert on this or anything but this I know for sure.  God speaks to me and if I am quiet enough I can hear Him.  I learned to pray for His Will when I was 40 and the kids were little but growing up.  I learned beside them at church and at Sunday School.  I started praying for God's Will for me and whom I pray for, not mine.

When I quit fighting for my own will, things became simpler.  The last two years I have slept in a normal pattern for the first time of my life so I am better rested and even able to think or work.  I often wake up with a clear sense now of I am to do and what is right or wrong.  Life is much simpler and easier for me to tackle.  Things that don't get done aren't such a big deal now though certain things have to happen for any expected positive outcome, especially in farming.

I will be ready to plant when God tells me it's time to plant.  That could be this month or that could be in May but I will know when the time is right.  If I am off a little, I will pay for it but if I do it right I always get a positive outcome.

This the best advice this old timer can give you today.  I am not ancient but I am getting there.

Either way, God's Will Be Done, not mine.

Thanks to the fellow who posted this neat picture on Machinery Talk.


Saturday, March 2, 2013


WOSU AM 820 kilohertz was the oldest AM station in the Columbus area.  It was started way back in 1922.  Being a fan of AM radio all of my life I listened to it as a child and followed it off and on until it was sold in 2011.  It's funny, I still listen to it since I love to hear the truth of Catholic Radio so I listen to 820 AM now more than I did in the past when it was basically NPR Radio.

"St Gabriel Catholic radio has purchased WOSU-AM from Ohio State University.  I mentioned to St. Gabriel Catholic Radio that WOSU-AM 820 was for sale last January and it would be a much better signal then 1580 AM.

It just made sense that St. Gabriel Catholic Radio would cover much more of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus with this frequency. After all, that has been the goal of St. Gabriel Catholic Radio, to cover as much of it with a network of stations and WOSU-AM will be a great flagship station.

Little was said about any interest in 820 AM so this sale was somewhat of a surprise to me and a remark was made on a thread that St. Gabriel Catholic Radio was having problems LMAing WKKO-AM so they didn't even have $1.5 million dollars to buy WVKO-AM.

WOSU-AM at $2 million dollars is a better deal then WVKO-AM at 1.5 million in my opinion."

WVSG is a powerful voice for us few who still listen to AM radio and even Catholic Radio.  I like it.  It's quite a story of the transition it has made over the years.

Today we had another snow flurry that almost covered the ground.  I like that little bit of insulation and those water crystals that will slowly melt into the ground when the temperature creeps over 32 degrees at soil level.  It feels cold outside and we are burning plenty of wood.  I am making room for more fence rows in my stack this cold winter!