McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2002

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

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12/29/02: We are about to order our herbicides for the upcoming year. There are not many new chemistries, only different combinations. It is usually above freezing now. It will still be hard to get any soil samples taken. I have been experimenting adding soil sample points off a hand map to the GPS mapping software. It would have been better to have scanned it in and referenced the points better. I figured it wasn't worth the time because the hand points were approximate anyway. I seem to be able to write a GPS prescription with this.

12/21/02: We are still working on the drywall in the house. I have been working on the fertilizer maps also to have the 11-52-0 dry fertilizer put on sometime. The weather gets a little below freezing at nights now. Monica has been riding the yearling colt Penny a little now without me leading her.

12/15/02: We have been working on a rental house trying to get it dry walled and repaired by the end of the month. AGM is still having a shortage of rail cars. The weather is still fairly warm out. If we get a chance, I would like to do a little soil sampling before it freezes any more.

12/8/02: We finished the harvest Monday. We need to haul a little more corn to Council Bluffs to empty the trucks, but they can't take any wet corn for a few days until they get more rail cars in. Our landlord accidentally burned a few hundred acres of soybean stubble and corn stalks. I have been working on some of the yield maps.

12/1/02: We have about one day left to combine corn. We are running out of bin space and we have to combine a fertilizer test plot that will slow things down some. The weather has held up very well for us this fall. Things have been going fairly well for us this harvest. The yield monitor locked up last night, but we got it going again.

11/28/02: We have four days left of combining the corn. The harvest has been going well. We have been having a lot of corn hauled to town to make room for the rest of the harvest. The cob cleaning system is still working well except for a few problems. We are now close to home and will dump at the pit with the auger wagons after another day.

11/17/02: The corn combining is still going well. I have had several problems with the unloading and cleaning the corn. The moisture is running about 16.5% now. If it doesn't rain much, I am hoping to get done by the end of the month. AGM in Council Bluffs has been having problems getting rail cars to unload in. We have been sending a lot of corn to Bartlett. We have not been having very much aflatoxin show up. They have also been hauling a lot of the cobs away. Some of the 20% corn's cobs were starting to steam and they hauled those away.

11/11/02: We are still combining corn at about 17% moisture. Things are going pretty well except for a few problems unloading the trucks. We had one truck test 24 ppb for aflatoxin.

11/03/02: We combined corn this afternoon. It was still kind of muddy, but we wanted to get going. We combined the non-Bt refuge corn and it was not near as good as the Bt corn. The corn borers were bad this year on the non-Bt corn. The moisture of the corn was 17.2 to 18.4. The new cob cleaning setup is working well so far. We are blowing the cobs into the Quonset.

10/27/02: We finished the soybeans before it snowed about three inches. It has been raining a little for several days as it is now. We have been repairing some equipment and they have been switching the combines over to do corn. We hauled all the soybeans to the Bunge crush plant from the field. I have looked at the soybean yield maps. The edges of the fields are lower yielding, probably because of the grasshoppers.

10/20/02: We have about four days left of the soybean harvest. The harvest has been going well. The yields have varied more than I expected, but are probably higher than I thought they would be. It is expected to rain or snow in a day or two.

10/13/02: The soybean harvest has been going very well. We are about one half done. The moisture has been running 11% to 14%. Most of the loads are testing about 12%. We have been hauling the soybeans from the field to the Bunge crush plant. They have been staying open until 10:00 p.m. We have not had many breakdowns and things seem to be working well.

10/6/02: We combined one load of corn before the rains. It tested 26% moisture. I was hoping that it would be dryer. We will probably switch to soybeans because they are about ready. We are still working out a few bugs on the new cob cleaning system. It seems to be working well. The wet corn is kind of hard to handle. Bill replaced the unloading auger on his combine during the 2 plus inches of rain.

9/29/02: We are getting close to being ready to combine some corn this next week maybe. Robert combined some corn around the shop at 24.5% moisture. We have some dryer corn in other fields. The cob blower is working pretty well now. We have some more minor work to do on the grain system. Bill and Robert are fixing a bracket under the concave on the combine. We would like to combine some corn before the soybeans are ready.

9/22/02: We have been working some more on the cob blower. We have the tube running into the Quonset now. It sounds loud in the empty building. The cobs can blow 60 foot from the end of the 14-inch tube. We will probably add another length of pipe to fill the whole building if needed. Some people are combining some 19% to 23% moisture corn. Ours is probably not that dry yet. The moisture discounts are not bad now, so it might be wise to combine some of the corn that is not standing good.

9/15/02: We are working some more towards harvest. We have been cutting a few more sunflowers around the fields. Some people have been combining high moisture corn for feeding this week. A lot of soybeans are starting to yellow now. Most of our beans are still green and the corn is still high in moisture. We usually plant pretty late maturing varieties. You would think that we would know better.

9/8/02: We are starting to get ready for harvest now. Robert has brought his combine out. We will try to finish the new cob cleaning system. It needs some more tubes bolted on. The whole system needs a few weeks of work yet. The electrical system needs some minor repair on the converter. The Indian Creek Museum had their threshing show today.

9/1/02: We have been looking at the crops some. The corn still has not black-layered. The soybeans are still filling the pods. A lot of the corn has two inches of cob at the tip that aborted the kernels when it got so hot and dry. We finished most of the mowing for now. The grasshoppers are still causing damage to the crops, especially the soybeans.

8/25/02: More bad luck on the tractor when it dropped a valve on the piston. We have run this tractor over 15 years without hardly touching it. It has been hard to keep up on the mowing because of this. We also lost a seal on the mower gearbox. We have received two more rains again. A few fields of soybeans are starting to yellow in the neighborhood. The corn is about finished, the soybeans still need to fill the pods.

8/19/02: We have received some rain lately. We are still having some problems with the mower. We had them do a "bottom end job" on the engine of the JD 4450. It had 9000 hours on it and was over due for some rod bearings and such. I mowed a little with the 7-foot mower. David has been spraying some sunflowers around the field edges. The grain prices are on a wild ride up and down, but mostly up.

8/11/02: They are calling for rain tomorrow. It is very dry out now. The soybeans are trying to fill the pods and they can't. Bill has been having trouble with the mower. The grasshoppers are still eating the crops. The grain prices are working up and sometimes down with the uncertainty about the supply.

8/1/02: My computer crashed and I've had trouble getting this journal updated. I'm on the old machine now. We finished spraying the soybeans and also the terraces. The crops look better now after we got two rains of a total of 2.7 inches. The soybeans are very clean now with no weeds. The corn that was also post-sprayed is free of weeds also. The grasshoppers are getting bad now. I guess the rains didn't kill them off. They are eating the crops around the edges of the fields. We got the sprayer ready to put away today by cleaning and winterizing it. Bill has been mowing the CRP acres around the creeks and buffer strips. The JD 4450 tractor got antifreeze in the oil, but they think that it is probably the water pump. We hauled it to town.

7/14/02: We have one day left to spray Roundup on the soybeans. The weeds got larger than I would have liked to let them get, but they seemed to die okay. We got 0.8 to 1.2 inches of rain. I hope that this will reduce the grasshoppers. Much of the corn is tasseling now. It has cooled down some the last several days.

7/2/02: We waited a week on the spraying to let some more weeds come up. We will probably start tomorrow. We will spray a field for grasshoppers in the soybeans that were planted after some rye. It is very hot and dry out now. The grain markets are going up because of the drought concern.

6/23/02: We got caught up spraying everything now except the last Roundup on the soybeans. We will probably start that this week. We had resprayed some more corn last week with Option/Hornet and just Hornet. It has been hot out. We would like another rain. The corn is getting three to four feet high.

6/16/02: The corn soil tests showed some samples in every side dress field needing 112 pounds of nitrogen. I was hoping for less. We are waiting a while before we spray the soybeans with the final dose of Roundup. The partial rate of Turbo is holding back most of the weeds for a while. The corn is filling in pretty well now. The soybeans are one to three trifoliate leaves now.

6/09/02: We have been post spraying the corn with Basis Gold and Callisto. We sprayed some of the smaller corn with the old Basis and Callisto. We took some soil nitrate samples to see what rate of nitrogen would be recommended for the fields that we have not applied nitrogen to yet. It should be around 25 PPM with 8 pounds of N for every PPM under that.

6/02/02: We have one day of planting soybeans left. We have been spraying some of the corn with Basis Gold and Callisto. The wetland is only 11 inches from being full now. The NRCS was hired to drill the filter strips around two of our creeks. We planted Big Bluestem, Indian Grass, Switchgrass, and Red Clover in one mix and some Little Bluestem in another mix.

5/26/02: We have about one week of soybean planting left. It might be dry enough to work tomorrow. I am barely ahead of the planters in spraying the burn down of Roundup and a little Turbo. We have had some pretty nice rains lately. It has been so cool this month that most of the corn is only a few inches tall. Most soybeans have not emerged yet or are only an inch tall.

5/12/02: We have planted much of our corn. I'm guessing that maybe we have three more days of it to plant. I have about one day left of corn to spray. We have sprayed some Degree extra earlier and had switched to Fieldmaster, which contains Roundup. Some days it has been too windy for me to spray. It rained 1.5 to 2.0 inches over the weekend. We have two or three days left for the nitrogen injector.

4/28/02: We sprayed and planted some corn for a day or two before it rained 0.55 to 0.85 inches Friday and Saturday. The rain was welcome because the subsoil is so dry. It was a little wet to be out, but we thought that with a 90% chance of rain, we would get a little more fieldwork done. The grass is starting to green up now and most yards have been mowed.

4/21/02: We have about 1/3 of our nitrogen on. Robert has been hauling it from Pacific Junction. We sprayed some corn stalks going to soybeans with Turbo, which will be followed by Roundup later. We are starting to spray some of the corn ground with some discount Extrazine, which will be followed by Basis Gold. It rained 0.3 to .45 inches Saturday. It had been too windy earlier in the week to spray. Our planters have just started to get out in the field. We had a fire get out into the barnyard lot Thursday at 3:00 a.m. We had been burning a deep pile in the pit 10 days before. The wind came up very strong (60-70 mph) and started the old fire going again. It jumped 50 feet over to some plywood grain bulkheads. It didn't cause very much damage. Both Emerson and Henderson fire departments came out.

4/14/02: It has been very warm out this week. We will start to put on the nitrogen and some herbicides. We have tested out the nitrogen injector and it is not leaving as bad a furrow as the last two years. The sprayer will probably run in a day or two. I may spray some soybean acres before I start on the corn herbicides.

4/7/02: We have been getting equipment ready for spring work. Some of the neighbors have been putting on NH3 and doing some fieldwork. A few corn test plots have been planted. The soil is still on 37 degrees. We did a fertilizer test plot to compare injecting fertilizer or broadcasting it. We also will test the response due to tillage compared to no-till. The sprayer is almost ready to go. We will be working on the 32% N injector soon. David took off the fuel pump on the JD 4010 to get it repaired.

3/23/02: We have three more loads left to haul up to Council Bluffs. One of the main hydraulic pumps on the sprayer needs to be repaired. At least it is the easier outer one and it is still before the spraying season begins. Monica led the colt down to the pond and there were hundreds of ducks and snow geese. The colt was startled by the noise.

3/17/02: My brothers have been hauling corn this week. I've been able to make some progress on creating some fertilizer GPS prescription maps for the lime and MAP (phosphate). The price of corn continues to struggle at around $1.87 in Council Bluffs. We got the Patriot sprayer out to have some repairs done this week on it.

3/10/02: Robert and I went to the chemical company presentations for the co-op at Iowa Western. There have not been a lot of new herbicides the past few years. I went to the Triumph of Agriculture show in Omaha at the Civic auditorium. I was able to get a few things that I wanted. My brothers were able to haul more corn this week. We will need to move some augers around to empty out two more bins.

3/3/02: We were able to get about 35 soil samples before it got cold and snowed two inches again. It was a little difficult to keep the moist soil from sticking to the cold steel probe. We marked the location of the samples with the IPAQ GPS. We got ready for a 12-inch snow that the weatherman was predicting, but it didn't amount to much. We got the soil survey maps to work by entering the correct geographic projection and datum.

2/24/02: We have been doing mainly paperwork this week. It is warm and almost dry out now. I'm wondering if maybe we will be able to get some more soil samples this week or next. People are starting to hunt some snow geese on our hill now. They are starting to fly around in large flocks.

2/17/02: It is muddy out now. We have been working on the taxes and some paperwork this week. We sold some corn, but have to wait until March to get two cents extra. We cleaned and sold some giant ragweed seed. I am trying to get some bugs out of the yield-mapping program. I was able to download some soil survey maps, but they seem to be 2700 miles off.

2/10/02: We hauled some corn to Council Bluffs this week. We have the last load of the contract on the truck. It rained (0.4") and snowed a little this weekend. The grain market is still struggling with contract lows. The co-op put on our dry 11-52-0 fertilizer last week.

2/3/02: We worked on our income taxes this week. It snowed about 10 inches Thursday. This has been the only large snow we have had this week. Bill went around with the tractor and blade and plowed out driveways. David figured out where the cat sound was coming from. A wild cat had climbed up the belt auger and jumped in the grain bin. He got it to jump into a sack and carried it down.

1/27/02: Robert and I sat in on our pesticide training this week. We are putting new rubber on the steering tires on the 76 International truck. It has been record breaking warm this week. It was over 60 degrees the last two days. I still can't take any soil samples though because of the frost.  Monica has been working with the colt some.

1/20/02: We fixed the auger going to the dryer and so we were able to unload all the trucks and both wagons. It wouldn't take many days to get the new cob cleaning system going. I would like to then test clean the grain bin of corn and cob mix. We need to figure out a good way to completely fill the Quonset building with one air tube. We will try to finish the new system this winter when we can. We would like to sell some more corn, but the price keeps struggling.

1/13/02: It has warmed up again some (40's & 50's). We had to break up a small crust of grain in the top of some grain bins. We need to air or unload some of the corn to help it out. The fields are not really muddy and the ice on the ponds is weak now.

1/6/02: There is over one load of cobs left in the building. They will get it this week. We will clean some more mix later from the grain bin. It has been cold all week. The ice on the pond is about six or seven inches thick. I am trying to catch up on some records.



12/30/01: They have hauled most of the cobs out of the building except for about four loads. I think we won't be able to take any more soil samples this year because of the frost. We have been doing some year-end planning and buying. It is still pretty cold out this last week. There is barely any snow on the ground.

12/23/01: It is starting to get colder out now. It is getting below 20 F at night. I am trying to catch up on paperwork now. I am also looking at the yield maps. The antenna seems to be working well on the IPAQ. It is supposed to be 2-5 meters accurate.

12/16/01: We took it easy this week. The weather is still warm but humid. We moved the horses up to the barn. They are going to start hauling the cobs out of the building. We haven't decided if we will sell any more corn this month. The basis is narrow, but it keeps getting better. I have been working on the yield maps. I ordered an inexpensive GPS antenna from Farmworks to put on the IPAQ. I'm very interested to see how it works.

12/09/01: I'm sorry that I'm having trouble posting these last two weeks of journal entries. Our ISP has made some changes that I haven't figured out yet. We finished the corn harvest Monday. The auger broke coming out of the wet holding bin with a few hours of harvest left. We filled the trucks, auger wagons, and combines up to hold the rest of it. The weather is still warm for the season (in the 50's). I went to the Farmland annual meeting in Kansas City.

12/02/01: We have a little over a day left to combine the last of our corn. We have been tight on corn bin space and cob space. They will get two more trucks of cobs tomorrow and four trucks will haul corn to Council Bluffs. The weather has been very generous to us with warm temperatures and little rain. Only about three days this week were very cold. We are finishing up the fields around our farm.