McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2000

I'll try to update this journal every Sunday night. I would welcome any comments, suggestions, or general information you might wish to send.

Thank you, Steve McGrew mcgrewbr@netins.net

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1/28/01: Robert and I went to our yearly pesticide training with the extension service. We got around 4 inches of snow today and more is expected tomorrow. The grain markets have continued to go down. We have been working on our tax records also. We took our son Nicholas and two of his friends to look at Iowa State University at Ames. A lot has changed since 1979.

1/21/01: Went to a lot of meetings this week. The grain markets are still down. Corn is about $1.90 and soybeans are $4.44 at Council Bluffs now. Most of the snow has melted. The temperature sometimes gets down to 5 F at night but it is supposed to warm up this week. We ordered our herbicides last week, but we are still thinking about different programs we could use.

1/14/01: We got some more snow and rain this week. The grain markets have lost some ground this week also. We are trying to catch up on a lot of paper work now. There is a lot of work to do on the 10 year buffer strips for contour grass strips. There are a lot of meetings for us to attend also.

1/7/01: It has warmed up and a lot of the snow has melted. We will be getting our seed and fertilizer orders in this week. The soybean prices are starting to see some pressure now because of a possible shift away from corn because of the nitrogen shortage.

12/31/00: The grain prices are still rising. I think corn is at a six month high. It is barely over $2.00 but it was 50 cents lower. The people who applied anhydrous ammonia fertilizer this fall are glad that they avoided the price increase. We will probably still plant all Roundup Ready soybeans and mainly Bt corn. Mainly because of the money savings of buying less pesticides. The soybeans seem to have less concern about the GMO issue than the corn does. I have put some new pictures on our page.

12/24/00: We have tried to do some year-end planning on our purchases and tax records. The herbicides seem to be less expensive and the seed is sometimes more. The nitrogen fertilizer is very high priced because of the natural gas increase. We might have trouble even getting enough next spring. It will sure be a white Christmas with a lot of snow. It is getting a little below 0 degrees "F" most nights now.

12/17/00: We received around nine inches of snow this week during two different storms. We are supposed to get another one tonight. They let school out early one day. The wind was drifting the snow so bad that we had to put up a snow fence to keep the driveway from filling in. We bagged up some weed seed and sent it out.

12/10/00: I have tried to work some more with the yield maps. I think we are going to like the new Ag Leader SMS GPS mapping program. I went to the Farmland annual meeting at Kansas City for a few days. It was around 8 degrees F this evening. It is supposed to stay very cold this week.

12/3/00: They finished hauling most of the cobs out of the building. We saved some of them back. We had a couple of meetings this week. It snowed twice this week and it melted off quickly. I've been starting to work with grain yields and the new GPS mapping program. It is very interesting to see the different yields because of varieties or field conditions.

11/26/00: We finally finished our harvest for the year Wednesday. We have some weed seed that we could still combine if it stays dry out. We had to sell a little more grain to make room for the last of the harvest. The corn basis has improved from $.38 to now $.18 under December futures. The moisture of corn was about 15% at the last. The last few weeks of harvest went the slowest, mainly because of the weather.

11/19/00: We combined corn most of this week. We had a fire in the grain dryer and had to call out the Emerson Fire Department. We saved the dryer but it won't dry any grain this year until it gets repaired. We are just running the grain through it to get to the grain bins now. The moisture discounts are very low now at 1 cent per half point of moisture over 15%. That's not much over the water weight. The grain is testing between 15% and 15.5%. We have about three days left of our harvest.

11/12/00: We combined corn a few days this week also. We had to quit Saturday night because of a few inches of snow. We have a few hours left at a field 12 miles away and then the rest of the corn will be close to the home place. They brought all the machinery back to the barns because the ice froze up the augers last week when it got rained in. We have about nine days left.

11/5/00: We were able to combine corn a few days this week. We are over half done and have less than two weeks left. We still need to haul more corn to Council Bluffs to be able to hold the rest of our harvest. They keep hauling the cobs away as we get a pile separated in the Quonset. The corn moisture is back up to almost 15%.

10/29/00: We hauled most of the corn that we could while the fields were wet. We were able to combine Friday through Sunday morning before it rained again. We are not getting much rain for as long as it is keeping us out of the fields. We will haul some more corn to Council Bluffs for a few days until the fields dry out.

10/22/00: We finished the soybeans in time before the lines started getting longer at the crush plant. I've heard they are about full and unloading trucks as they crush. We have about two weeks of corn left to combine. It rained a little today. Maybe we can haul some corn to make room for the rest of the harvest.

10/15/00: We have one day of soybeans left and most of our corn. It rained 0.5 inches Friday and we hope to finish the beans Monday. The truck lines are starting to get longer. The corn and the soybean basises (difference between futures price and cash grain price) are starting to get much better. It will take us a day to switch the combines back to corn.

10/8/00: We received a 0.5 to 0.7-inch rain Thursday. We got started combining the soybeans again today. We are about one half done with them. Today the moisture is back up in the upper 12%. I had to wait almost five hours in the corn line to auger in the pile at Council Bluffs Friday. They will probably get some rail cars in today.

10/3/00: We have been combining soybeans this last week. The moisture has been dropping from 12% to 8%. We could use a rain. We are probably 20% done on corn and a third done on our soybeans. The dry days have allowed them to run late at night. We are hauling the soybeans to the Bunge plant at Council Bluffs.

9/24/00: We combined corn several days this week between rain showers. We started on the farm that got hail damage. The moisture has been mostly between 13.5% and 16%. We were expecting a yield of about on half but it is closer to two thirds. David has been combining some early soybeans between the rains.

9/17/00: We are almost ready to start the corn harvest. I sampled some ears from every field Tuesday and got a moisture range from 16% to 36%. The corn has dried a lot since then. We have one field of soybeans that will be ready to combine pretty soon. We should be ready in a few days. It is so dry out that I wish we could get a rain.

9/10/00: The crops are drying very fast in this hot and dry weather. With the low corn price and the high propane price, I had thought we should wait a while to combine the corn. Some of the stalks are hollow because of stalk rots, so we will probably start in a week or two. Some of the corn is going down now. I tested one field at 19.8% and you can add about 2% for the combine. A few people are combining some corn now.

9/3/00: My brothers finished hauling the white corn to Council Bluffs. We helped a little at the high school by helping set up some new playground equipment. We had to also spread pea gravel and wood chips underneath. Bill has been working on the combine cob cleaner. I have been hauling some trees out of the creek. The crops are still drying down very fast.

8/27/00: We worked at the salvage yard at Audubon for two days getting the combine cob cleaner torn apart and hauled back. It was a hot week to work on it. We hauled some white corn to Bunge at Council Bluffs. We had a little left in a bin to get rid of. We have started the process of building a wetlands for waterfowl hunting. We have had some interest in leasing the site. We need to wait six weeks for a design and permit. It could be finished late this fall or next spring.

8/21/00: We found a JD 8820 combine at the salvage yard to replace our older cob cleaning 7700. It would be hard to get it going for this harvest, but I think we will try. Things were starting to get dry again, but it rained an inch late this week. The tile lines had dried up again. We sprayed for some Indian meal moths in a bin. It seemed to get rid of them.

8/6/00: We took the Patriot sprayer up to the John Deere dealer to have the engine looked at. It has 2000 hours on it and it smokes just a little. Some of the soybeans are starting to get some late weeds in them. Most of the soybeans were sprayed earlier when it was dry. We have received most of our rain after that, so some weeds have grown since. I am afraid that some of our fields have suffered substantial hail damage.

7/30/00: Bill and I went to St. Joseph MO to an Ag Leader training class. I was especially glad to learn about their new mapping software. The old program was pretty simple, but this new program can layer different maps. It has a lot of other improvements also. It has rained three times this last week. We received some very damaging hail on two of our farms Thursday night. Some of the corn and soybeans have 75%-90% of the leaves stripped off. I don't know how much the yield and quality of the grain will drop.

I'm sorry that I had trouble posting the journal this week. Our server has changed the web address and password. I had a little trouble understanding the change. Notice that the URL has changed, but you will still be redirected to the new address.

7/24/00: My brothers have been mowing weeds and the first year strips of the ten-year reserves. The corn has been tasseling during some cool favorable weather. The sweet corn is unusually good this year also. The Roundup Ready soybeans are weed free again this year. It is nice to drive around the fields and not see any weeds. Our cousin from the state of Washington and his wife visited us this week. We are working on another strange project. I'll talk about it later.

7/18/00: We finished spraying the Roundup on the soybeans last week. The last field we sprayed had over four foot tall sunflowers. I think it will kill them. The kid's hay brought a very small amount at the auction. It has continued to rain. The county fair at Malvern started Saturday. It rained fairly hard during the cattle show today. We have seen our first snapping turtles in the pond. They are not good to have because they eat the fish.

7/10/00: It rained most of this week so we didn't get to finish our spraying. We have a day or so left to get done. The crops are growing pretty fast right now. The soybeans are about 18 inches tall and some of the corn is starting to tassel now. The pond is still rising every day. It is very hot and humid out.

7/3/00: We have sprayed about 70% of our soybeans so far with one quart of Roundup. The pre-emergent herbicides didn't work very well this year because of the early dry weather and then finally a lot of rain. The Roundup is working pretty fast in this heat (lower 90's). The state gave us about 120 large mouth bass to put in the pond. They were about an inch long. Last fall they gave us bluegill and channel catfish. The pond has risen over a foot the past few weeks.

6/25/00: We have received more rain again this week. We have over 2 inches so far today. I sprayed some soybeans this week with Roundup before I got rained out Friday. The soybeans and the weeds have really grown now with this rain. We need to get more of the fields sprayed. The kids baled some more hay but didn't get any to the auction. The grain prices have fallen a lot this week because of the rain.

6/18/00: We received a lot of rain this week. We got around 3.5 inches at my house. The kids got $1.50 - $1.80 per bale of brome last week and got $2.80 - $3.10 this Saturday. Auctions are hard to figure out. You would think that the hay market would be high this winter. The crops are finally starting to grow. The corn is less than waist high and the soybeans are in the third to fourth trifoliate leaf stage. The grain markets are falling.

6/11/00: We did some minor repairs on the sprayer this week while we wait a while to spray the soybeans post-emerge. I had to solder in some new boom control buttons and weld in different places to attach to the booms for spraying terraces. The kids are baling up some of the bromegrass around the fields in small square bales to sell. They put some in the barn to sell this winter and took a load to the auction in Red Oak Saturday. It is still very dry in our part of the state.

6/04/00: We finished spraying the corn post emerge. We did about a half of it this way to help with shattercane and sunflowers. We need to modify the sprayer now so the boom will raise high enough to spray some of the terraces. In a few weeks we will need to spray the soybeans with Roundup. Bill is mowing around the fields now. We got another 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain last night. The rain is very welcome but we could use a lot more of it.

5/28/00: We sprayed some of the earlier planted corn and are waiting a little for the rest to grow. We finally got a 0.9-inch rain. It was very welcomed as some of the fields were getting pretty dry. I hope this reduces some of the insect problems also. My brother Kevin took some pictures so I'll finally add some new ones to our site.

5/21/00: We finished planting the soybeans Friday. We finished spraying the soybean burndown and will start spraying the corn post-emerge tomorrow with Basis & Clarity. The soybean ground had gotten weedy for only the middle of May. We had to quit spraying several times during the week because of the wind, but we have been pretty lucky most of this spring.

5/14/00: Our soybean planting has been coming along pretty good. The northern half of our farms had over an inch of rain, so we have been planting at the south end. We have been spraying the soybean ground, but I need to get done and spray some corn for flea beetles. We have never found these before. The co-op scouts found these in our southern most field. We were going to post spray it anyway, so we will add 2.5 oz. of Warrior.

5/7/00: My brothers finished planting the corn today. Most people have already been planting their soybeans. We have finished spraying the corn pre-emergent herbicides and have started spraying the soybean ground with Roundup and Boundary (a form of Dual and Sencor). My sprayer boom cut a hydraulic hose today and I had to replace it. The boys will change the planters over now to do soybeans.

4/30/00: We have been planting corn and spraying it with pre-emerge herbicides. We have been spraying atrazine, Axiom, and Hornet. On fields with shattercane, we spray atrazine and will come back later with Basis or Basis Gold. We have been planting mainly Bt corn with a 20% refuge area required. It showered this Sunday driving us out of the field. I hope we get some more rain tonight.

4/26/00: We have been planting corn and spraying atrazine for a few days this last week and a half. It was fairly dry out until it showered a little today. Our neighbor is running the nitrogen injector for us now. We got our giant foxtail to break its dormancy by soaking it in water for a few days and then drying it out. The oats are growing in our buffer strips already.

4/16/00: I'm glad that it rained twice this week. We were able to put nitrogen on for a couple days. We seeded down our buffer strips in the hills for the 10-year reserve. They look pretty impressive running around the hills on the contour. They are 30 foot wide. We used the Pheasants Forever's no-till drill and seeded down oats, brome, orchardgrass, red clover, and alfalfa.

4/9/00: We have been applying nitrogen all week. Robert has been hauling with the semi tanker from Atlantic and I have been putting it on with the JD 4430 pulling the high-pressure injector. It is unusually dry out still. The grain prices rallied last week but settled down this week. Bill and David have been filling in ditches and doing general spring work. We had some tile work done this week.

4/2/00: We have run the nitrogen injector for a few days. It has been working fairly well except that it still seems to tear up the no-till fields too much. Robert has been hauling the 32% UAN from Atlantic. We have been using the dirt scraper and the road grader to repair some waterways. There has been a lot of anhydrous ammonia put on by others.

3/26/00: We got the high-pressure nitrogen injector out. I think we can start putting on 32% as soon as it gets a little dryer. They shut down the nitrogen production plant where we got it last year at La Platte NE. There are storage tanks 45 miles away we can get it at. I went to a grain marketing meeting at Council Bluffs. We just have some new ground left to apply some 11-52-0 fertilizer on. We are cleaning up a rental house some. We are running some waterhemp through the spiral cleaner.

3/19/00: We'll probably have a little more drainage tile dug in this spring. We have had two other spots added to where a neighbor was tiling below us. I put the combine monitor in the pickup and marked some of the tile lines and a buffer strip using GPS. I had several meetings this week. I went to the state capital with the county Farm Bureau to talk to our legislators. It is still warm and dry out, but we are getting a shower this weekend. I finally added some more farm pictures to this web site. We helped move an old country schoolhouse about eight miles for the museum on a semi trailer.

3/12/00: I went to the Triumph of Ag show in Omaha. The attendance was pretty low. We got some more soil samples back. There is a farm that we haven't farmed yet that has the co-ops record low ph of 4.7. We ran some field borders with the GPS unit to outline some more fields.

3/5/00: We cleaned out the rest of the soybean bin at Bills house. The soybeans were dry and dusty. Two of the trucks are still loaded. We'll have to find a day where the price and the government L.D.P. are so we can empty the trucks. We shipped out some giant foxtail seed. The pond is 48.5 inches down from the tube. This is 25 inches lower than it was in October.

2/27/00: Robert and I went to the chemical representative meetings at the Co-op. We listened to about 11 different presentations. Just when you think you have a good herbicide program figured out, the next guy gets a hold of you. We shipped out some Waterhemp seed. We had three days of good rains. Bill got another load of soybean seed.

2/20/00: I went to Ames, Iowa Tuesday for some training on our Patriot sprayer. It was very worthwhile. They had training on the spray monitors, foam markers, general maintenance, and overhauling the product pump. It snowed about 4 inches Thursday night and Friday. My brothers are fixing the radiator in the 1960 JD 4010 tractor. The co-op grid soil sampled some more fields.

2/13/00: The bulldozer cleaned out 75% of the ditch before he had to do another job. It snowed an inch today so it may have to dry out some before he finishes. We need to decide whether to tile the ditch or not. Looking at the yield map shows that it would probably pay. We didn't get the dirt scraper going this week. I made up some phosphate fertilizer application maps for a few fields.

2/6/00: Bill drove the truck up to Dike, IA to get the first load of soybean seed. They won't be ready for the second load for a few weeks. We buy our seed in 2500 pound tote bags on pallets. We're having a bulldozer clean out a grass waterway that has silted in. We may be able to help haul some dirt with the tractor scraper. It is almost dry enough out to take some more soil samples.

1/30/00: We finished our January white corn contract. The price of white corn is pretty soft now for maybe a few weeks because of political reasons in Mexico. We'll wait for a while to empty the bin. I went to the Conservation Expo. in Shenandoah. They had some good speakers on the weather and P & K fertility. We also attended a meeting on precision agriculture by the co-op in Council Bluffs. We finally tied 12 Christmas trees together in 3 piles with concrete blocks on the pond ice. It will provide cover for the fish when the ice melts. The ice was over 3" thick but it seemed to barely be enough for us. When three of us porkers were standing in one spot, the ice started to crack and we ran. Robert and I attended our yearly pesticide training in Malvern.

1/23/00: We have a day or two left of white corn to haul on our January contract. We emptied and cleaned out two grain bins and are on the last one now. We didn't order any white corn seed for next year. The 18 cent premium doesn't seem to be enough to make it pay. We are planning on raising 80% BT corn (Genetically modified to resist Corn Borer insects) with a 20% conventional buffer. The grain markets are rallying from drought concerns in South America. We have been enticed to buy different herbicides from the same company to get rebates for the last few years. Now we are encouraged to buy herbicides from the company that owns the seed we buy.

1/16/00: My brothers hauled a lot of white corn to Council Bluffs this week. I ordered our seed, chemicals, and fertilizer. I was invited to tour Monsanto's Life Sciences facilities at St. Louis, MO. We looked at the seed GMO research mainly. It was extremely interesting. It is still unseasonably warm out. I read in the newspapers that they are now calling it a drought, even though it is winter. We really haven't had any rain or snow all month.

1/9/00: We have started to haul our white corn to AGM at Council Bluffs. We cleaned and shipped an order of research seed of giant foxtail, common waterhemp, and lambsquarters. I'm still working on our orders of seed, herbicides, and fertilizer. I drove around some of the fields a few weeks ago with the yield monitor in the pickup and created boundaries for the fields so it would show the terraces at harvest.

1/2/2000: We hauled some soybeans to the Bunge crush plant. It was frozen enough in the first part of the week that we got the five truckloads hauled before it got muddy. We cleaned most of the wagonload of giant foxtail. I also ran some common waterhemp through the spiral cleaner. We plan on growing 100% GMO (Roundup Ready) soybeans next year. I am still wondering about the BT corn. We had a little concern selling the GMO corn this harvest and I don't know if it paid for the extra $15 per bag. We have to have a 20% buffer area in each farm of non-BT corn this year. We may grow some of each corn, but I hope we don't have to segregate it.