Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do We Nip It In The Bud?

My friend Ray Archuleta, pretty well known soil health guru for NRCS sent me this interesting YouTube video of a school girl's science experiment.  Watch the video.  Are we nipping the potential of our food crops in the bud?

I don't farm certified organic but I think I am closer to it than most of my neighbors and peers.  Soil health and quality are extremely important to me because I am farming for profit.  I am farming for quality, too.  Our family consumes some of the crop we grow, though 99% of it goes into the open commodity markets.

I re-learned this the first year we moved to Martinsville Road.  I planted five acres of no-till sweet corn and enjoyed over 200 visitors who bought dozens of our sweet corn, green beans and tomatoes.  They told their friends and kept coming back all summer.  It was a lot of hard work but people really enjoyed our quality food crops.  I apply the same principles to my cash crops.

My first RR soybeans was in 1999 and one of the worst crops I ever grew.  They made 20 bushels per acre and had no defense against the dry weather that year.  They only had defense against weeds when glyphosate was sprayed on them.  The rest of my beans were Ohio Public Stressland soybeans and they made between 40-50 bushel in the same dry year.  I never tried RR soybeans again.

My whole farm was a test plot in 2004.  I had 30 corn hybrids across our main 50 acre field.  None of the GMO hybrids out yielded the non GMO hybrids.  I tried two other plots in later years with the same results.  That convinced me to stay all non GMO.

When the Asians pulled out of the US soybean market five years ago, I tried LL soybeans.  They yielded very well and I had excellent weed control but my non GMO beans for specific markets made more money, even with the extra chemicals I used.  On our farm, it takes the same amount of chemical to control weeds even if we are in RR or LL so non GMO is a no brainer for me.

The more I worked with other farmers, the more I saw the same thing.  Most of them don't want to give up their GMO and that's OK but those who produce higher yields or are simply satisfied with what they have.  If they make more money and are satisfied with what they have, great.  Many are not and I hear from more and more of you each year.

Are we nipping more than quality with GMO?  Are we nipping our profit too?

Ed Winkle


  1. I must be doing something wrong then. My results are the opposite of yours. Why is that?

  2. My RR canola yields better and is cleaner than any conventional canola I ever grew. Unfortunately the consumer is often brainwashed into believing that any GM crop is poison. We are finally emerging from the Triffid (GM flax) fiasco but now Monsanto is trying to introduce GM wheat.

  3. I don't know the answer. I think our soil and location and management varies enough we each find what works best for us. No one way is better than another. We are challenged to find what works best for us.

    What did you think of the video? Was it pertinent to the discussion? I can see where it is and where some would say it isn't.


  4. The "science" in that video is so bad as to not deserve discussion. The greater crime is the use of an impressionable child to further some manipulative parent's agenda.

  5. Cute girl, she can be very proud of her sweet potato experiment, and discovered bud nip, one among many other chemicals that most people don't know is introduced in their food, and that I am pretty sure that if they were asked, they would rather not have it, organic yam or not.

    This is why I support organic and wholesome home cooked food, especially for kids. We are introducing hundreds of chemicals in our bodies from food, food containers and the air, and we have really no idea how they combine and what long term effects they have together.

    Of course, the video should not be used to make a generic point about organics, store bought produce is not meant to be used for growing, you may find garlic that's irradiated to prevent germination or some other treatments with effects similar to bud nip, but it does illustrate a point about food.

    I hope she continues discovering these facts about farming and the food industry that are basic but not very well known by the public, and makes more videos!

  6. GMO farming may take a while to master, and those you tried may not just be suitable for your soil and climate. But it does seem that we are not getting rid of the technology any time soon. So far, it's been used only to produce some proteins with limited effects, such as herbicide resistance or insecticide effect, but as genetic science progresses, we will probably add other traits that effect how the plant looks like more visibly, for instance doubling the number of soybean pods or the number of beans in them, or genes that affect nutrition, for instance introducing B12 vitamin into plants (the one that vegans miss from their diet.) The vitamin A in Golden Rice is probably a bad way to address the health issue it's supposed to fix though, but we'll probably see food engineered to specific nutrition requirements in the future, maybe not even traditional crops, but the vats of yeast and algae mentioned in science-fiction books may not be too far away...

  7. The GMO corporation folks couldn't care less about YOUR profits, Ed.

    1. I really don't think that is a real issue. Making a comment like that is nothing but an easy out. Any business model supports profitability of the customer and that is their sustainable goal or long term they are not going to make it.

  8. We're not nipping quality with gmo technology. Maybe profit in some situations, but not quality. That's bs

    David Seck

  9. Here is some fast math....

    $20 less a bag for nongmo grower seed vrs rr2

    If your field yielded 50bu, 20% clean out, and $2 premium.
    50x20%x$2= $80/acre

    So $80 in premium and $20 less in seed is $100 acre.....

    Then there's those pesky resistant you put a pre down for rr2's and mix flexstar and select with your rup post spray. Hmm generic classic is only a couple bucks an acre more then roundup.

  10. Brad here is my reality.

    The soybean seed we've purchased for next year is not $20 more expensive, in fact after this year you will be able to save some varieties of RR 1 seed to plant on the farm. This will actually make some gmo seed options cheaper than non.

    There is no premium available in our area.

    For us profitably boils down to yield and yield alone.

    I'm glad that you have an opportunity to see increased profits with non gmo soybean production. We don't have that opportunity.

    David Seck

    1. If you save rr1 seed your goning to be in trouble. You have to buy the variety and the breeder fee is just a little less then the tech fee. All your neighbor has to do is rat you out.

      Here that is the spread on price of seed. I know as I work in the seed business. Several nongmo seed co are way high on their seed as that's how there making money. We are making our money exporting the bu that is grown the following year.

      We are exporting beans from mo, northern ia, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois and have bought beans in Ohio too before.

      So it can work almost anywhere if you want it to. You just have to have storage and be flexable. Networking with people and learn how the nongmo market works.

      I prefer ROI vrs yield and so does your accountant.

      Think about this, Southern Pacific use to transport people all across the they just haul freight. They are in the train business, not the transportation business.

    2. So your talking soybeans. Here in Northern IL we have no nongmo premiums. So all of your math is not applicable. Don't know where your based at but not everyone has what you claim. All of my corn goes to ethanol plant. We are not fighting resistant weeds. You may have bought those beans but I bet they weren't as profitable as you claim. Contracts south of me are full and they are not taking any more. Giving half the premium to trucking them is not a good ROI. Thinking you are dealing with international truths for everyone else is not a good networking skill. Using the railroad is a joke at best. Been there and done that.

  11. Leon, I see your point but I didn't interpret it that way. I watched again and saw the organic vs other types of farming part.

    Chimel, I think it's more does GMO really pay for you or not? Many just followed that path whether they compared it themselves or not. Many are finding that is not paying now like it was or they thought it was.

    I am simply pointing out my own experience and those I work with and talk to. That is a very small group compared to the whole and we are still only10% of the corn and soybean market.

    Thank you all for your insightful comments,


    Ed Winkle