Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Absolutely Gorgeous Weather!

I bet the Little State Fair, the Brown County Fair at Georgetown had record crowds this year.  It was pretty packed by noon last week as many stop there for lunch.  There are so many things going on each day and the tractor pulls draw big crowds at night.

We have had a gorgeous week of weather for such activities.  Corn is drying down as fast as it can but much of it has a long way to go because some of it was planted late and the whole crop had less heat than last year.  Last year wasn't a record breaker for temperatures either, unlike the year before, the drought of 2012.

We spread a lot of gypsum this year and I got my first report this week.  A friend is shelling an old farm he's had for years and it's never produced over 180 bushels per acre before.  This year it broke 220 bushels per acre.  The farm is short in calcium and sulfur and we had enough rain this year to really make the gypsum work deep into the soil.  The roots are thicker and deeper and so are the cobs.

The late soybeans, and there are many in my area, really need a big rain event.  Nothing is forecast for the next week or the next month.  I imagine the yields on them will be disappointing but every year has its pluses and minuses.

One Ohio farmer I know delivered 165,000 bushels of new corn and 60,000 bushels of new soybeans to the market so far!  It is amazing how fast the big operations can harvest and move grain.

It looks like the weather is moderating now with highs in the 60's next week.

It's been a really nice stretch of good weather here in southwest Ohio.

Ed Winkle

Monday, September 29, 2014

Serpent Mound

On one beautiful afternoon recently I took a break from crop scouting and visited Serpent Mound south of Hillsboro.  I took the best pictures I have ever taken and I will share some here.
Serpent Mound in rural Adams County, Ohio, is one of the premier Native American earthworks in the hemisphere. Its pristine flowing form was enhanced by major reconstruction in the 1880s. That reconstruction now appears to have been the second time in its long life that Serpent Mound has shed some of its skin.
Estimates of the age of the earthwork are now radically revised as the result of a new radiocarbon analysis, suggesting that the mound is about 1,400 years older than conventionally thought. The new date of construction is estimated at approximately 321 BCE, one year after the death of Aristotle in Greece.
According to the Ohio Historical Society, the organization that manages the site in rural in southern Ohio, the mound is over 1,300 feet long, and clearly resembles an uncoiling serpent. Their website says the original purpose of the mound is unknown but was probably built by people from the Fort Ancient culture who lived in the area from 1000 to 1500 A.D. Bradley Lepper, archaeologist for the society, reports that the head of Serpent Mound appears to align with the rising sun during the summer solstice, and since the nearby Newark Earthworks have detailed astronomical alignments built into them, it is reasonable to assume that Serpent Mound does as well. Generations of researchers agree with that theory, but the intent of those who built the serpent remains a mystery. Lepper posits that Serpent Mound may have been a shrine to a spiritual power.

The mound is on the National Register of Historic Places and is being considered as a U.S. nominee to the UNESCO World Heritage sites. According to Glenna J. Wallace, chief of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Shawnee consider Serpent Mound a sacred site. The Eastern Shawnee were originally from Ohio but left the area along with several other tribes as part of the federal Indian Removal Act of 1830. Nine tribes removed from Ohio settled on reservations in Oklahoma; by about 1850, most had officially been “removed.” Today, there are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio. “Although we don’t claim that we built Serpent Mound, historically we respected and protected the various mounds and earthworks in Ohio,” says Wallace.

If you are interested in crop circles, you have to read this story about Serpent Mound.

If you get to Hillsboro or for some unknown reason end up in Adams County, visit Serpent Mound!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Praying Hands

I heard this great story today for the second time.

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!
In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.
Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.
One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need a reminder, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Farm Science REVIEW

We enjoyed a real nice Farm Science REVIEW last week.  I capitalized REVIEW because I found this review of what happened at FSR last week.

The biggest change I noticed was moving the antique tractors from the main review area to the demo plots area.  This allowed the Review to sell more commercial spots to exhibitors which means more cash.  The move angered some antique enthusiasts so much that the familiar, excellent Oliver Farm Machinery collection did not participate this year!

The foot traffic was lowest on Tuesday, highest on Wednesday and Thursday was in-between.  All 3 were excellent weather days, though, with no rain and great weather for field demonstrations.

I worked with a synthetic gypsum distributor, explaining the benefits of gypsum and helping farmers figure out how to actually get it applied.  We have the source, we pretty much have the trucks, the problem is we don't have enough spreaders.  I took many pictures of spreaders and talked to several salesmen.

It has become a show for people who don't make their entire living on the farm.  There are so many small tractor, lawn mower, heating and other types of displays.  They do have the big machinery there though so many of the "tractor drivers" attend the show.  I wonder how many full time farmers who operate large farm operations attend?  There are not that many in the whole state so it still could be a major percentage either way.

90% of the commodities or such are produced by only 10% of the farm population so they are very important people, very busy men and women.  Thankfully there are many 100-2000 acre farms left and I feel like a large percentage of them attend.  I noticed more and more people my age though who are retired or semi retired or close to retirement.  That's just the way it is.

Unless your career demands you be at the Review or you just enjoy attending, you might be too busy to visit.  136,000 people is a lot but not compared to the population of Ohio.

I enjoyed the review, just like I did in 1968.

Ed Winkle

Friday, September 26, 2014

Net Farm Income Down 14%

Here are some things on farmers minds this fall as we start harvest.
  • Net farm income is forecast to be $113.2 billion in 2014, down 13.8 percent from 2013’s forecast of $131.3 billion. If realized, the 2014 forecast would be the lowest since 2010, but would still remain more than $25 billion above the previous 10-year annual average.
  • After adjusting for inflation, 2013’s net farm income is expected to be the highest since 1973; the 2014 net farm income forecast would be the fifth highest. Net cash income is forecast at $123 billion, down 6 percent from the 2013 forecast. Net cash income is projected to decline less than net farm income primarily because it includes the sale of more than $10 billion in carryover stocks from 2013. Net farm income reflects only earnings from current calendar-year production.
  • Total production expenses are forecast to be 4 percent higher in 2014, which would be the fifth consecutive increase since last falling in 2009.
  • Livestock receipts are expected to increase by more than 15 percent in 2014, due to a 21-percent increase in dairy, a 20-percent increase in hog, and a 15-percent increase in cattle receipts.
  • Crop receipts are expected to decrease 7 percent in 2014 ($15.2 billion), led by a $12.8-billion decline in corn receipts.
  • The elimination of direct payments under the Agricultural Act of 2014 is partially offset by higher payments for supplemental disaster assistance, resulting in a 15-percent decline in projected government payments.
  • Farm equity is projected to reach another record, despite an expected slowdown in asset growth and the expectation of higher debt levels.
  • Farm financial risk indicators such as the debt-to-asset ratio are expected to continue at historically low levels, indicating continued financial health for the sector.

Still, we are concerned about paying our bills from this year and how to keep our business profitable next year.  Many farms can weather this cash flow problem we are in but many cannot.

It's going to be an interesting next few years, especially the next few months.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Corn Is Too Wet

This was not the year to plant a full season hybrid.  I almost changed all of my order last spring and in hind sight wished I had.  You can't live in hind sight, though.  Everyone wishes they had sold more at $5.00.

I shelled off some corn and it is way too wet to think about shelling so it is going to be a late fall for that hybrid, right there with the double crop beans.  The worst thing is I found a little diplodia and the corn that flowered the last week of June all has it.  Remember when I said corn doubled in height in one week?

Our last good rain was .4 inches and we have had the dry August we normally have in September this year.  That is not good for the late planted soybeans and there are tons of them in southwest Ohio.

So we did an even better thing, we played with the grand kids all week.  The last group just left and we ought to go visit the few we haven't seen.

Six grand kids had a great time on the old Mule last night, it was a pleasure to watch, making sure no one got hurt and only good, clean fun was had.  That's a full time job for two adults or more when they get into it!

Two lbs of meatloaf later and two packs of Bob Evan's sausage this morning just gave them more energy to do more.

I visited many friends within 10 miles today and we are all in the same boat, wet corn.  Two former students were putting in their remedy, a big SuperB dryer attached to a 7000 bushel wet bin.  That's pretty big out here in the sticks but so few farmers are left, that is what we are down to, big business.  It's on single phase and I told him he was going to dim the lights.  He said yes, that is what we told Kevin down the road with a similar setup.

I think I will drive down to Georgetown tomorrow and visit with some old friends at the Brown County Fair, known as the little state fair around here.

LuAnn read off the list of events going on around here this weekend and I said we would be lucky to make one or two of them!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

History Of The SMV Emblem

I was reminded at Farm Science Review that 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem.  Dr. Ken Harkness, one of my many good agricultural engineering instructors at Ohio State coordinated the development of this triangle that has saved so many lives since it was developed in 1963.

It's a great story and I encourage you to read it.  I know it has saved my life and it also got me a ticket once when I was driving a tractor down the road without it!

Today it seems like such a small piece on a gigantic piece of farm machinery going down the road, lit up better than any Christmas tree.  Still, there are many of us who aren't using that big machinery every time and it can be the difference of someone slowing down in time not to run into the smaller tractors we may be operating on the highways.

Is it still needed?  I think so.  With the advent of better lighting, the lighting will catch a driver's eye first but the SMV is still a valuable piece of safety equipment.

Orion Samuelson has been pointing out the misuse of the SMV on driveways, gates and other things that are NOT moving.  It was designed to be displayed on a tractor and the last piece of machinery attached to it.

The law says it should be displayed on farm machinery with a maximum speed of 25 MPH but we know how that has changed, too.

What are you doing for National Farm Safety Week on your farm?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Our family has been blessed with another lass today and that is what her name is, Colleen.  Colleen is Irish for girl or lass and from I have read was first used in 1828.

That name, lass, spread from Ireland to the states and other English speaking nations as it was pronounced as Colleen and peaked here in the 60's.  I never knew many females named Colleen in my life but I had one in Ag Class in the 80's and she was a fireball!  She was bright and cheerful and wasn't suited well for a room full of farm boys according to her teacher!

I give thanks for another healthy grand child today and wish her God's blessing on her every day of her life.  I know her sister is over joyed with her and her big brother will be "OK" with it.  What a beautiful family!

Our pastor asked this weekend if we are good stewards of our blessings as gratitude's.  I had never heard it said that way but its a very good question.  Do we take good care of our blessings?  I know I try, I know I try hard but its easy to take our blessings for granted.  I don't take them for granted today, I give thanks.

Giving thanks should reflect in my person every day I am alive and should pass down through the family to the last little child and beyond.  I tested my corn at a local elevator today and explained my blessings.  They were talking about chickens and said I have a whole flock!

I am more and more amazed God trusted me with all of this.  It's a big responsibility but He never gives us more than we can handle.  We are to help each other handle it and that's what I try and intend to do.

That's not Colleen in the picture but I am sure to have one soon.

Thank you Lord for your blessings and thank you Lord especially for Colleen today!

Ed Winkle

Monday, September 22, 2014

A History Of Treating Wheat Seed

Some of the biggest success stories in plant disease control involve the use of seed treatments, particularly of small grain cereals, e.g., wheat, barley, and oats. These seed treatments are composed of fungicides that have a variety of chemistries. They generally are low in toxicity to plant and animal life, and because they are applied in low doses, they have little environmental impact. In some cases these doses are as low as 1 g of active ingredient per hectare (0.4 g per acre). As a result of these low doses, the cost per hectare to a grower tends to be fairly low, usually less than $5 per hectare and often less than $2.50 per hectare ($1/acre). Regardless of the yield potential of the planted crop, application of seed treatment is one of the least expensive choices a grower can make. Often, growers who farm in areas of low productivity may be tempted to forgo application of a seed treatment. This is usually a mistake since it is these very growers who cannot afford any yield or quality losses due to a plant disease.
Another major impact that seed treatments have had on the small grain industry is their effect on plant breeding. In the early part of the 20th Century, many wheat breeders spent a considerable portion of their effort on breeding for resistance to common bunt. Today, with this disease controllable with seed treatment they are able to spend their efforts on breeding for other attributes, i.e. grain quality.
This lesson will introduce you to the history of small grain seed treatments, the diseases they are capable of controlling, the various chemistries used, and their mode of action.

Historical Aspects

The history of seed treatment goes back over 300 years (1, 8). In 1670 a ship carrying wheat grain went down off the coast of England near the city of Bristol. Evidently, the ship was close enough to shore that nearby farmers were able to retrieve some of the grain. Having been soaked in sea water, the grain was not fit for processing into flour, but some farmers planted it. The crop that resulted was remarkably free of "smut", whereas most of the fields planted with grain that had not been soaked in seawater showed heavy smut infestation.  ( I bet it goes back to Biblical times but have not looked for evidence.)
Over the next 100 years, various people tried treating wheat seed with salt, lye, urine, etc. to see if they could reduce the amount of smut that developed. Use of a salt/brine mixture was known in various parts of Europe. The French botanist Tillet published an article on this in 1770 indicating that treating seed with such materials would reduce the amount of smut. In 1807, the Swiss scientist Prevost showed that treating smut spores with a liquid solution of copper sulfate inhibited their germination. Over the next 100 years, recommendations were issued to treat wheat seed with copper sulfate to reduce the infection with common bunt. However, this compound is a general biocide and much injury to seed germination was noted. In 1895, the use of formaldehyde was suggested by the Germans. It gained in popularity due to its effectiveness and low cost but certainly was not pleasant nor safe to use for the person treating the seed.
In 1912, organic mercury compounds were tried in Germany and found to be quite effective in controlling common bunt. However, initially they were too expensive to use and also had to be applied as a liquid that left the grain too wet to use without drying. By 1917, research on other compounds showed that copper carbonate was safer to use than copper sulfate and could be applied as a dry powder formulation. This treatment was first used in Australia and was soon adopted in the United States. However, one disadvantage of the dry treatment was the dust problem that developed put the person treating the seed at risk. This soon led to tests with "slurries", whereby the dust formulation was mixed with a small amount of water and added to the seed. This helped increase the "coverage" of the seed without wetting it too much.

Thankfully, we have come a long way in the development of seed treatments available to farmers and seedsmen this fall.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Incredible Farmer

My friend Carol sent this.  You have to watch it all the way through!

If this doesn't make you feel thankful, I don't know what possibly could!

This video says it all, so I will just fill in with a few recent pictures I've taken.  I did not get a picture of my friends taking off their beautiful 93Y05 soybeans this week.

Thank you Lord for the blessings and we pray for all the sick and suffering.

We give thanks for all our blessings!

Here is one perspective on Gratitude from another friend this morning.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ginseng Heist!

BECKLEY -- West Virginia natural resources police say they have made 11 arrests and seized 190 pounds of dry ginseng that was illegally harvested.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources estimates the market value of the native herb at $180,000.

The department said Wednesday the arrests followed a year-long investigation in southern West Virginia. Besides the ginseng, they said they also seized stolen guns, illegal drugs and $30,000 in cash.

West Virginia has a ginseng digging season. It begins Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

The department says the seized ginseng was harvested before the digging season began.

Ginseng long has been coveted in many Asian cultures because the plant's gnarly, multipronged root is believed to have medicinal properties.

Natural resources officials say demand has spurred illegal harvesting."

Dad used to hunt ginseng when he was young but I never learned how to do it.

"American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is native to deciduous forests (forests that lose their leaves every year) of the United States from the Midwest to Maine, primarily in the Appalachian and Ozark regions, and also in eastern Canada.  It is also grown on ginseng farms. It has long been used for medicine, originally harvested by many different Native American tribes and used in Asian medicinal products.

Ginseng root is exported in larger volumes than any other native CITES plant species.  The majority of American ginseng harvested is exported to China. In the United States, the harvest of wild American ginseng for international trade began in the mid-1700s.  Today, the harvest continues to have strong economic and cultural importance to many communities in the United States and to American Indian tribes."

Do you produce, hunt or use ginseng?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Starting Farming From Scratch

There is always discussion on New Ag Talk about how to start farming.  "Just wondering how many people have started farming with zero outside help? No family deals. No help with land, machinery, or free labor. I don't know of anyone who has started from scratch in the last decade. If you have good for you and how did you do it? Have a safe harvest!"

Here is a friends reply:  "I did. Had 0. Started when I was in high school when I had 2 ac. of sweet corn. I ended up with a full time job and farmed on the side.

Company was sold 15+ years ago and out the door we all went. I was farming about 400 ac. on the side then. It has been at times a very rough road. Have farmed full time since lost job. Got my CDL and drive off/on with friend and his 2 dump trucks. Do whatever it takes. When I lost my job I had 22+ years with 4 weeks vacation, medical and so on. Would still be there if they were in business. That pay check every week sure helps.

I love farming though and feel good about what I can leave when I'm gone. We farm all no-till and I am learning about cover crops. Hope I leave ground much better than when I got it. At this point, we have never received one dime from anyone. Everything we have bought has come from us.

My dad didn't farm nor any other close family members. Just grew up in the country. Would I do it again? I'd say yes. But having that full time job still would have really helped."

How did you start farming?  If you didn't, why didn't you?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Effect Of Air Temperature On Plant Growth

Today the high temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit with the night time low of 46.  Did we really have 20 growing degrees today using the Growing Degree Day formula of 86 minus 50 equals GDD units?  I have been wondering about this all summer because it's been record cool here and in many places.

Dr. Elwynn Taylor Tweeted one day it takes at least 75 degrees for a high to do much good for plant growth.  Right now only our double crop soybeans need water and heat because the earlier planted crops are maturing.

"Thermoperiod refers to daily temperature change. Plants produce maximum growth when exposed to a day temperature that is about 10 to 15°F higher than the night temperature. This allows the plant to photosynthesize (build up) and respire (break down) during an optimum daytime temperature, and to curtail the rate of respiration during a cooler night. High temperatures cause increased respiration, sometimes above the rate of photosynthesis. This means that the products of photosynthesis are being used more rapidly than they are being produced. For growth to occur, photosynthesis must be greater than respiration.

Low temperatures can result in poor growth. Photosynthesis is slowed down at low temperatures. Since photosynthesis is slowed, growth is slowed, and this results in lower yields. Not all plants grow best in the same temperature range. For example, snapdragons grow best when night time temperatures are 55°F, while the poinsettia grows best at 62°F. Florist cyclamen does well under very cool conditions, while many bedding plants grow best at a higher temperature.
Buds of many plants require exposure to a certain number of days below a critical temperature (chilling hours) before they will resume growth in the spring. Peaches are a prime example; most cultivars require 700 to 1,000 hours below 45°F and above 32°F before they break their rest period and begin growth. This time period varies for different plants. The flower buds of forsythia require a relatively short rest period and will grow at the first sign of warm weather. During dormancy, buds can withstand very low temperatures, but after the rest period is satisfied, buds become more susceptible to weather conditions, and can be damaged easily by cold temperatures or frost."
I guess the question is how much different is the requirement for corn and soybeans compared to these examples?
Ed Winkle

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sprayer Screw Ups

I hope this doesn't get into the wrong hands but anyone who sprays, the home owner, land owner, farmer, professional spray business all have sprayer screw ups.  Somewhere along in the process of selecting the pesticide, following the label and getting that done went wrong.

The picture shows one of these screw ups.  The operator intended to put on 2.5 quarts of product and accidentally put 2.5 gallons of product on instead.  You can see what it did to his corn.  His 200 bushel corn suddenly became 100 bushel corn in places!  But he has no weeds!

The sad thing is the sweet corn patch got the same recipe and sweet corn is weaker than field corn.  It smoked the sweet corn and this is what was left of the field corn.

Actually, when I get too much herbicide on I see it not killing the target weeds and even other specie come in.  If I get too good a kill on my weed spectrum to the point it hurts the crop, I see late grasses pop in because they have no competition when the pesticide "wears off" or is absorbed and moved away from the soil.

I've suffered through one all summer.  It has pained my soul.  The spray operator got about 2 ounces too many of a strong corn herbicide on my prize corn field and it has not looked right since the day it was sprayed.  I suffered all year because of one mistake and I take great pride on how my crop looks.  LuAnn and I will both suffer in the pocketbook from this operator error.

The job of spraying is a big one.  There are so many chemicals and labels and different machines.

I don't complain when I have $8 an acre invested in a great spray job.  $8 and 20 less bushels per acre, I complain.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Farm Science Review 1968

I got my first glimpse of the Ohio State Farm Science Review in 1968.  I was a freshman at the university in the University College.  That means I didn't know what to study.  I didn't claim a major until 1970.

I don't remember much about it.  I had a busy class load and a job.  I always had a job for a source of income while in college.  We were "poor white farm folk" as one of my friends always said but I don't think we understood how rich we were to get the opportunities we had.

Roy M. Kottman, a former dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (known as the College of Agriculture at the time) is credited for launching Farm Science Review. At the time, the college was looking for a replacement to "Farm and Home Week," a 46-year-old program that came to its end in 1959. In 1961, Kottman was approached by M.R. Maxon, regional branch sales manager for International Harvester Corporation. Maxon wanted to know if Ohio State was interested in sponsoring a farm machinery show that would include field demonstrations and educational displays.

Meetings between Kottman and Maxon soon involved Ray Mattson of the Columbus Tractor Club, Thomas Wonderling of OSU Extension, and Robert P. Worral from the College of Agriculture. In March 1962, the group finalized a "Memorandum of Agreement" among the Ohio Expositions Commission, the Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (known as the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station at that time). Later that year, Ohio State President Novice G. Fawcett signed the memorandum. Kottman signed for the College of Agriculture and Rowland Bishop signed for the Ohio Expositions Commission. Farm Science Review was officially born.
The first show was held in 1963 at the Ohio State University Don Scott Airport in northwest Columbus, Ohio.  That was a pretty good hike to a farm kid from Sardinia with a busy schedule. 

Over 18,000 visitors paid 50 cents a ticket to view 116 commercial exhibits and be the first to witness no-till corn demonstrations. For the next decade, visitors were treated to such programs as research on 20-inch (510 mm) and 30-inch (760 mm) corn rows, the introduction of big farm equipment, solid-row soybean planting, conservation exhibits, fertilizer application by airplane, and research to fight corn blight.
At least I had some contact with the Ag College that eventually helped me to decide to major in Agricultural Education after all of my other college requirements were satisfied by the next year in 1969.
I took my first class of agricultural students to the same site in 1971 and that alone is a pretty wild story.  Blanchester schools sent us on a old bus that didn't make it to the review.  Mr. Shilts, our driver said this bus is junk and we won't make it.  We didn't.  I had 60 students sitting unsafely along Interstate 71 near the US 62 Grove City exit until the school sent us a better bus to pick us up and tow the old blown up bus back to Blanchester.
I know the young students learned a lot that day but their barely older ag teacher learned a whole lot more.  That day started a many decade interest and connection to the Ohio State Farm Science Review.
I hope you who are going have a much less stressful trip to the Review this week.
Ed Winkle


Monday, September 15, 2014

Iowa and ANF

"ANF. America Needs Farmers.
All of you Hawk fans see it on helmets, or on some T-shirt promoted by Iowa Farm Bureau, and think - man that's a pretty cool lightning bolt, but I wonder what it stands for?
Back in 1985, Hayden Fry started "America Needs Farmers" as a promotion to help our agricultural producers through the Farm Crisis. That was 29 years ago.
To help out our farmers during the crisis, the government provided direct payments, no matter whether they had a profitable or non-profitable crop. This past year, direct payments were taken away. Just because something made sense then, doesn't mean it makes sense now.
As a farmer myself, I find it a great misrepresentation that the University of Iowa is the primary supporter of this program. If you were to Google "Does the University of Iowa help Farmers?," your first two links would be - you guessed it - Iowa State University!
ISU is widely known as one of the premier agricultural colleges in the world. It offers majors ranging from Agronomy to Animal Science, and Ag Systems Technology to International Ag. What does Iowa offer its yearning farmers? They offer programs in Ag medicine and Occupational and Environmental Health. Sounds a lot like more medicine to me."
I ran across this on Crop Talk and thought it was interesting.
When I was a kid, I didn't even know where Iowa was.  It seemed like a far off place to me.  I wanted to study agriculture at Purdue which was a very far off place from Sardinia, Ohio where I grew up.  I didn't do all the steps it took to get there and ended up at Ohio State like my aunts and uncle.  They grew up in harder times than 1985 or today so I count my blessings.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thank You Lord For Rain

Our friend John sent this sad but laughable article about how desperate the drought has made the rich people in California.

After seeing Michael's super double crop soybeans this week I have to say thank you Lord for rain.  We have had more rain than normal in this part of Ohio this year.  I told you some fields never even got planted near me.  We are looking at one of the best corn and soybean crops in history and many had their best wheat crop ever here in July.

Some farmers aren't thanking the good Lord for the cold, though.  Many posts are popping up about frosted beans in Iowa to the north this morning.  My friend took this picture in Minnesota.

It is 48 here and that is below our normal but things always average out.  I knew the days we planted double crop soybeans behind our wonderful wheat harvest this could be the year those double crops are a cover crop.  That's the risk we take planting soybeans in late June or July.

The double crops need another month of warm weather and we normally get that.  We might not this year, we just do not know.  We do know it's cool here today and colder west and north so the trend is not favorable.

Al Gore sure has made people talk about weather and climate change.  I figure those cycles were set in motion a long long time ago so I need not worry, I just need to cope.

I am thankful for everything I have this morning.  I am thankful for a very good week, we had some beautiful weather with this cold front that came through.

Thank you Lord for rain.  It makes everything grow but people still complain.

I send my blessings to all my good readers this beautiful Sunday morning.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Catching Up

Thanks to a lot of good help, I am catching up!  Next week is Farm Science Review though, so I am sure to get behind again.

I promised the guys at AgroSoil to help explain how gypsum works from my experience here on the farm after taking every opportunity to learn about it the last 20-30 years.  I've seen it take farms up a notch, especially if they are no-till and or use cover crops.  The physical, chemical and biological properties come together well.

Water infiltration is a major problem on many soils, particularly here in Ohio.  Soil erosion and farm economics are such that many no-till farms are out performing others who don't.  Gypsum fits right into that scenario with all of the properties that calcium sulfate brings to soil.  Many soils are lacking calcium or sulfur to the point that users often see benefits from one application.  I wonder how much it would help the tight soils I saw at the Farm City Field Day yesterday.  I bet it would help a bunch.

I am going to go talk to my neighbor who spreads litter each and see if I can interest him in learning how to spread gypsum.  The field behind the house ought to be one of the first fields to come off in this neighborhood since it was the first planted.  720 lbs of calcium and sulfur for $6 is the best purchase I will make in 2015.  It will make the little bit of fertilizer I apply go farther.

I did see a farmer friend at the Pioneer field day who has spread 3 years and claims he has not see any benefit.  Soil test?  Tissue test?  Yield?  Grain quality?  Ponding water?  All his answers were Nope, maybe better water movement he said.  Are you spreading this fall?  Yep?  Why, I wondered?  I just walked away and scratched my head.

Bin 3 has one more load to be delivered then we start with 65,000 bushels of clean storage for 2014 crop.  The experts say we are going to need it.  I admit it has been a big crop since the day it was planted.

Thank you Lord for a really good day yesterday and an amazing week.

Ed Winkle

Friday, September 12, 2014

Farm City Field Day

I took the time to go support my family yesterday at the Farm City Field Day held in Jackson County near Gallia County.  It was a good excuse to see my sister's family busy schedule and visit with them a bit.

The first thing I came across was Michael's soybean plots on the way to the main farm.  They are very eye catching and there was his seed man pounding in stakes to mark the different varieties.  I stopped and introduced myself and walked the plots. 

I got humbled in a hurry because there was 60 bushel beans planted into wheat stubble!  Those are probably the best double crop soybeans I've ever seen.  Jeff, the seed rep told me they were planted July 1, about the same time mine were planted.

I hope I can show you some pictures because I am having some problem with my camera interface right now.  The pictures clearly show what I am talking about.

Farm City days are a great time to get together and like Dave Samples from Extension said, farmers take pride in their place so it becomes a lot of work to clean up the place.  You could see Michael and others have doing that for the last month or more.  It reminded me of the 300 people eating in our front yard last summer and all of the American Farmer Degree visits we prepared for.

They prepared several stops on the 90 minute wagon tour.  They did a good job showing the diversity of a cattle and grain farm and all the things that have to happen to make it work.

They celebrated the day with old fashioned ox roast where they cook a whole beef in a pit for 24 hours.  That takes a lot of work itself to prepare.

Everyone did a great job to make a great day.  I attribute most of that to Michael who oversees much of the farm's operation.

That's what it takes to keep a farm running today and the visitors could easily see the results.  

It's good to share good results.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pioneer Field Day

After driving north of LaRue, Ohio Tuesday, we made it to the Bruce Goodwin Field Day on SR 28 west of Blanchester.  It's a field day I don't want to miss, not because of his great crop production but because of his friendship.

I first met Bruce back in the 70's when I was the agricultural education instructor at Blanchester.  He did not live in the school district but was close enough I tried to recruit him for our Young and Adult Farmer program I was trying to build on top of my daily classroom instruction.  He and his neighbors participated and we became good friends.

We had a common interest in machinery.  He lived near McHenry Equipment, the local Oliver farm equipment dealer.  As that brand faded away, our shared passion for farming never faded.

I became his county agricultural educator in 1987 and we set out to prove Pioneer wheat was better or not better than the other available wheat varieties.  My picks won a few times but Pioneer has always had such a strong soft red winter wheat breeding program that I usually ended up proving that Pioneer was better.

Tuesday was no failure either.  His corn plot showed some 230 bushel yields on my first counts.  It is outstanding corn, especially for Clermont Silt Loam.  I often said if you can farm there you can farm anywhere.  The soil is old and weathered and tight and the rainfall is frequent.

He planted one hybrid at 42,000 plants per acre and 36,000 plants per acre.  He had 43 ears on the higher population and 35 on the lower one but the yield calculated the same.  The 43 ears had one ear with Diplodia which shows the increased disease pressure with the higher population.

It's one of the best field days a person could ever attend if you are in the agricultural business.  Many of his suppliers and even his competitors were in attendance.

Bruce's farming operation and Pioneer seed business is a class act.

No wonder so many want to keep an eye on Bruce Goodwin.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blessing Of The Combines

A friend from Missouri sent this piece about the blessing of the combines.  As it points out, it's not about blessing a combine but giving thanks for a good harvest and keeping all the people safe that operate the combine and take the commodity from the field to our plates.  There are a lot of people involved in this trail of food!

"Some combines are already rolling through Missouri corn fields signaling the beginning of the 2014 harvest season. However, this year farmers are riding in the field on blessed wheels.

Roughly 50 people gathered around two combines parked in the Central Missouri Events Center arena last month to take part in the inaugural Blessing of the Combines.

"The Blessing of the Combines service isn't really about blessing a combine, but it is about using them as symbols of the harvest," Fran Schnarre explains. "We were praying in thanksgiving to God for the harvest so far. We were praying for a safe harvest for farmers this fall and that our hearts be opened to people the world that don't have the abundance we have. That is how we say thanks to God by feeding our brothers and sisters."

I think this is a neat idea.  Many churches are praying for a safe harvest this fall.  One year a local priest blessed the soil the farmers brought in and they reported a successful year in response.  So for us believers, this makes perfect sense.

Are you a believer?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ohio No-Till Field Day

It was great to see some of my readers today at the Ohio No-Till Field Day north of LaRue, Ohio.  I haven't been there much since we had tractor pulls there back in the 70's.

Hans Kok and Barry Fisher from Indiana did a great job explaining how to use cover crops and what they do for your soil.  I tried to show what happens if you do cover crop and how farmers can profit from them.

First I talked about soil and tissue testing which is only the chemical part of soil.  No-Till and cover crops improve soil structure and biology which is the physics and biological aspects of soil quality.  They all work in harmony and any missing piece can give less than desired results.

I told them that calcium and sulfur was my two cheapest inputs next year and that they are two very important elements of the 17 crops need.  I reminded them we tend to over nitrate fields and underfeed everything else.

The barn got lighter by noon and it was getting hard to see my last few pictures.

It wasn't my best presentation and it wasn't my worst.  I forgot to talk about accidentally sowing radish with wheat plantings.  My main point on the last few pictures was, if they can do this 800 miles north of here, every acre in Ohio will respond to it.

I did enjoy the opportunity and hope I persuaded one person in the audience to try the ideas and encouraged the rest to keep doing what they are doing.

Ed Winkle

Monday, September 8, 2014

Plant Science Breathrough

"Plants grow through cell division, cell elongation and differentiation of cells within tissues. These processes provide the structure of the plant. At the same time, plants can react very quickly to stimuli: the shoot bends towards light, and roots respond to gravity. “For the first time, we begin to understand how those quick responses can combine with the processes that preserve the structure of the plant, in an interplay between the hormone auxin and regulatory proteins”, says Professor Ben Scheres of Wageningen University. The breakthrough was published in the prestigious journal Nature.

The plant hormone auxin is a jack of all trades: it has a multitude of tasks in the plant. “It influences the development of stem cells into differentiated tissues, but also plays a role in rapid responses to changes in the environment. How can a signal molecule control such very different processes? That is the topic of our research”, explains Scheres. He has been studying plant growth regulation for 20 years, initially at Utrecht University, and now at the Plant Developmental Biology Group of Wageningen University. One of his postdoctoral researchers has continued the published work as group leader in Finland.

Regulatory proteins
Besides auxin, four regulatory proteins (transcription factors) – under the collective name PLETHORA (PLT) – are involved. These proteins turn genes on or off. Auxin itself appears to control the rapid responses of the plant directly. Within only a few minutes, a root changes direction to follow a change in the direction of gravity.

The regulatory proteins in turn affect the location and growth of the zones in which cell division, cell elongation and differentiation take place. These processes are much slower. The location and growth of the zones depends on the gradient of the PLTs. “Previously, we thought that the PLT gradient was linked directly to the auxin gradient. But this does not explain the stable formation of structures under rapidly changing conditions.

Many feedback loops and dependencies appear to be involved in these processes. The growth affects the gradients, and the gradients in turn affect the growth. We already understood many components, but now our understanding of the complete picture is much better”, says Scheres.

The study is a good example of what systems biology can do: an interplay between simulations within mathematical models and focused experiments."

Ed Winkle

Sunday, September 7, 2014

No-Till Innovators

I missed this piece written almost three years ago.  It was interesting to see how many of these people influenced me and who had the most impact on me over the years.  The picture shows Rick Kettley of Illinois on the left, Keith Schalpkohl of Stockton, Iowa in the center and me on the right.

Rick is a farmer that I follow for soybean production.  Keith is too but his corn and soybean yields are above mine.  Both understand crop rotation and soil fertility similarly and yet differently than I do.  We are on the "same page" yet we like to discuss the differences.

I have met most of these people in the article but I will cite a few.

Howard Martin, Elkton, Ky.  He started no-tilling to earn a decent living from poor-quality land and developed specialized no-till equipment, such as planter row cleaners, in his farm shop. Martin’s success led to the formation of Martin Industries, among today’s leaders in producing no-till planter and drill accessories.

I didn't know Howard until I met my no-till mentor, Paul Reed of Washington, Iowa.  His cousin David Moeller and he had a great impact on my farming practices and what I have shared with others since.

A trip to Washington, Iowa or Elkton, Kentucky is still valuable to any farmer interested in making more from less.  That's the key to the Martin Till System, planting in a furrow that is as good or better than a minimum or full tillage series of passes.  Dwayne Beck and Ernie Behn also had a big impact on me and led me to continuous no-till.

Eugene Keeton, Clarksville, Tenn. He is a farmer turned inventor who came up with innovative planter ideas from his Kentucky farm shop that were later adapted by Kinze and John Deere. He invented the Keeton seed firmer to improve no-till seed-to-soil contact, as well as the finger pickup corn meter and the brush meter for soybeans

I would not be farming if it were not for these people, I am sure.  Our trip to Quebec recently refreshed my belief in no-till.  Improved soil structure enhanced with cover crops that improve soil quality release a lot of nutrient.

Farmers are trying to figure out how to survive the next couple of years and the farmers who have already learned how to do these things have a leg up on the competition.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

I Can't Keep Up

It's the first week of September and I can't keep up!  We are guilty of loading too much on our plate.  Every day of this month is packed to over flowing.  The popular Corn Festival starts tonight and the Highland County Fair ends Saturday night.

I just noticed my Ohio No-Till Field Day and my friend Bruce Goodwin's Pioneer Field Day are on the same day next week.  Tuesday, September 9 is too busy.

It's over 2 hours to New Bloomington Ohio each way, plus the talks and the field day.  I was hoping to meet Matthew at Bruce's at 5:30 pm but it's going to be close.  Bruce hosts the best local field day each year and many people come I've known for 40 years.

Bruce always has a good looking plot and I would think this might be his best.  We've had a really good growing season with plenty of rain.

It's been challenging just to keep the lawn mowed this summer.  I have been across it at least 40 times.  The 5 acre lot is getting to be a lot for grandpa to manage unless he drops some other things from his schedule.

I really enjoy scouting fields but I've had difficulty getting across all of them the past two summers.  I took on some plots for a company that has made it very challenging to get it all done.  I have been saying all summer "if I can just get through tomorrow or next week, things will get better.  Things have not gotten better, they just keep piling up.

I am thankful for everything but don't want a catastrophic event to happen to make me drop the things I like to do.

Am I getting too old to do them?

Ed Winkle

Friday, September 5, 2014

Best Places To Farm

Farm Futures regularly calculates financial ratios and performance for more than 3,000 counties across the country. To develop our latest rankings of Best Places to Farm, we analyzed ag census data from 2002, 2007 and 2012 to calculate countywide financial performance, including return on assets, profit margin, asset turnover and average net farm income. Our rankings are based on the same measures used in other industries: profitability, financial efficiency, and growth.

What did we learn? To be sure, the Midwest has long been the cornerstone of food production in this country. But as our study points out, profits can be found from sea to shining sea. In fact, the most profitable places to farm in the U.S. rose to the top, often despite adversity. Drought, soaring input costs and political interference didn’t keep these growers from returns that would make even the high-fliers in Silicon Valley blush. Profit margins topping 35% and 15% to 20% return on assets make these farms look like the stuff of blue chip dreams.
We dig through three USDA Census of Agriculture reports to generate this latest list of Best Places to Farm.
We dig through three USDA Census of Agriculture reports to generate this latest list of Best Places to Farm.
Being a mature industry didn’t keep farmers in our top regions from reinventing their operations with new technology and new enterprises. Whether they were figuring out how to grow corn and soybeans on the frozen fields of North Dakota, or creating a wine industry outside of Cleveland, Ohio, The Best Places To Farm made something old very new again.

While our findings were weighted with results from the most recent count, 2012 wasn’t exactly a boom time for many sectors. Record high corn and soybean prices and long-term drought devastated livestock producers. Nursery and greenhouse operations remain depressed by the housing bust and lingering effects of the financial collapse. Yet, areas with a strong presence in both, from the Bacon Belt of the South to urban counties selling shrubs in the suburbs, were among the top-earning counties on our list.

The map of our best places shows five distinct regions of profitability across the country, some of them headquartered in surprising places. Like the desert, home to the top county on our list, Yuma, AZ. Irrigation makes the self-described “winter vegetable capital of the world” a powerhouse. If you enjoy a salad In January, odds are the lettuce was grown there. Water and labor issues continue to pose challenges across the West, but high-value crops keep financial performance strong.

States with a strong livestock industry did well, and the top four – Alabama, Delaware, Arkansas and Georgia – are leading producers of poultry, which made the most of expensive grain thanks to high feed conversion rates. But the region with premium protein, home to the cattle feedlots on the western Plains, also stood out, despite its own hurdles.

Where does your county stand? Check out our listing of nearly 3,000 counties, along with a special video that gives you an in-depth look at our latest report.

I wouldn't have Lake County, Ohio in my top five but that shows I don't know the economics of the various counties and regions mentioned!

Ed Winkle

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Bachelor

"New way to find a farm wife?? Iowa Farmer Chris Soules has been named the latest star of TV show "The Bachelor".


Good luck Chris! I hope she can drive a tractor!!"

Our friend Suey in Illinois gave a great reply,

"Have to appear with no makeup.
Dirt under their  manicured fingernails.
Sort livestock together.
Catch corn on the go.  While trying to decipher hand signals.
Fix supper and wait for him to show up.    Or try to find the right field to deliver the meal to.
Send her on a parts run.   So much easier with cell phones.
Small town church.
Attendance at high school football or basketball game.
Wash and wax  a tractor or truck  and clean out the cab.
Scoop corn.
Pick the one that can understand the gps and autosteer  and help fix them. "

Now, I don't believe in choosing your life's mate like they do on this program but I doubt it's any worse than what many of us did.  It's too glamorous and public but it sure is a drawing card!

The young man does remind me of my Iowa farmer friends and I wish him luck.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Feeding 9 Billion People

I found this piece that I think originated from Ray Archuleta in the Grazing News.  It goes right with what I am working on and have seen on various farms this summer.

With improved soil health, production will increase. Not all at once, but within 3-5 years, soils that had been farmed with heavy use of chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides) will be more productive with fewer inputs, cycling nutrients more effectively, and protecting crops against pests and diseases.
Here are seven, simple steps we can take to increasing production by farming for soil health instead of yields.
Root Exudates
This enlarged picture shows all the creatures living in the soil with the roots. Plant roots send exudates (sugars and other polysaccharides) into the soil to feed microorganisms. Root material and cover crop residues also feed worms.
1. Keep the soil covered.
Cover crops are a must. Only a small percentage of farmers use them, and that’s a shame. Cover crops’ roots provide exudates that feed microbes, and microbes keep the soil alive. Not to mention that cover crops lead to increased yields and reduced fertilizer costs.  It’s a win-win, we might say.
Here are some On Pasture articles about cover crops:
•  Science Backs Profits from Grazing Cover Crops•  The $200 Cover Crop Bump
2. Avoid Tilling.
Tillage provides some benefits, and is sometimes needed. But although it may aerate lower soils, it reduces aggregation, speeds up organic matter decomposition, and reduces microbial populations in the surface, where most of the action is.
Here’s what we’ve found about the results of one form of pasture tilling:
Keyline Plowing:  What Is It? Does It Work?Keyline Plowing Gets You 522,270 Worms for $280
3. Inoculate.
Another idea may be to inoculate your soil with biological inoculants to increase the number and diversity of soil organisms present. Be careful, though, because there is plenty of snake oil out there. Make sure that you are reaching for biologically-based products, and try them out on a small area first to see if they are worth the money and time.
Inoculation is good when you’re introducing a new plant/crop and can be as easy as adding a cupful of inoculant to a whole bag of seed.
4. Reduce Toxicity
Avoid applying all chemicals that might kill microbes. This may include chemicals designed to target one pest species, but may unintentionally harm other species as well. Prophylactic use of antibiotics can mean that livestock are excreting antibiotics that then harm soil organisms if they don’t break down completely.
Here's a well-managed, diverse pasture courtesy of UVM.
Here’s a well-managed, diverse pasture courtesy of UVM.
5. Avoid Monocultures
Diversity is key for soil biology. Diverse crops mean that you are feeding the soil organisms a diverse menu of carbon. Diversify your hayfields, your pasture, your cover crops. Your soil will be healthier and your operation will be more resilient in the face of drought, or other weather problems. Have fun with it, and try new things.
6. Practice Better Grazing Management
Avoid overgrazing (and increase diversity). Jeff and Ray do a lot of traveling across the US, and both have seen so many pastures that are straight tall fescue, and so many places where the herd should have been moved- last week! Overgrazing can mean waiting a year to recover, or five years or more in more brittle environments. Manage grazing efficiently, to take what is there, and to give land time to recover. Try seeding in some crops for fall or spring grazing to add diversity, legumes for nitrogen, and to provide a grazing option that might not have been there.
7. Innovate
There are so many things to try. Read about them, or ask your NRCS, Conservation District or Extension staff about what’s new on the horizon. Find out about about overseeding with new plants, try new cover crops. Try out chicory, radishes, clover, turnips. Add peas to the mix. There are many new hybrids with valuable traits that might be worth the extra cost of the seed. Keep on trying new things, and keep adding diversity, pay attention to outcomes and keep notes so you can figure out what works best, and you’ll find new ways to be successful.

It works!

Ed Winkle