McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2003

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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12/28/03: It has been warmer out this week. The boys had to haul one load of corn. We are doing some year-end planning for purchasing next year's inputs and also for tax planning. We are trying to decide on herbicide combinations for next year. If it keeps on drying out the fields, we may be able to do some soil sampling and some lime applications.

12/22/03: Much of the snow has melted off. I hope that I can do some soil sampling this winter yet if it dries out. Bill is putting a flatbed box on his pickup. The old box was rusting out. He had to take it off to fix the fuel tank, so it was a good time to put on the flatbed.

12/14/03: It snowed a little more this week. I have been doing some deskwork while it has been snowy out. I went to Ames Friday to take some Ag Leader yield map training.

12/7/03: I have been making some lime prescriptions. We would like to take some soil samples this winter yet if it would dry up some. I really think that it helps to GPS the soil sample test sites and make maps for the spreading. It has snowed and rained a little. The boys have two more loads of corn to haul to fill our contracts at Council Bluffs. We have a truck of corncob mix to unload before we can clean up around the combine.

11/30/03: We finished combining the corn Wednesday night. We have just a little more corn to haul to Council Bluffs. We will start to do some soil sampling and some lime spreading in the next few weeks. They will probably haul out the rest of the corncobs some time also. It was pretty nice weather all fall this year. It may stay warm this week also. The corn moisture stayed around the 14% to 15% range all harvest.

11/23/03: We didn't get to combine corn today because of a little snow and ice last night. We have about three days of combining left. Depending on when we get to start tomorrow, we might not quite get done by Thanksgiving. We need to have more corn and cobs hauled away before we can finish. It is 18 degrees out tonight. The forecast predicted heavy rain and snow last night and today. I'm glad that we just got a little snow and ice.

11/9/03: It rained 2.85 inches this last week. We just started combining the corn again today. It is still difficult to auger the corn and the cob mix this year because of the higher percentage of cob. The moisture is usually 13% to 15%.

11/2/03: We have combined several days of corn and cobs now. The percent of cobs is greater than usual this year and it is causing some problems in plugging the bins. It rained an inch today, so we have stopped combining. The drizzle stopped us last night because of the extra stalks that were getting into the grain. We had a hard time getting the bin to unload. We are going to add an auger in the bin or something like that to help.

10/26/03: We finished combining the soybeans Friday and are getting ready to combine corn. We need a few days to get things switched over and get some other things in shape for corn harvest. The soybean lines at Bunge were long at the end of the day. We took some soybeans to AGM when the lines were long.

10/19/03: We have been combing soybeans still and hauling them to Bunge at Council Bluffs. They are getting full and the lines can sometimes be two to four hours long. We hope to be done with the soybeans late this next week.

10/12/03: We combined soybeans all week until it rained 0.3 to 0.5 inches Saturday morning. We are almost half done with the soybeans. The moisture is now usually under 10% but sometimes 11%. The price is now over $7.00 after going up 19 cents on Friday.

10/05/03: We started combining soybeans Saturday. The moisture has been running 9.5% to 12.5%. The yield is down this year because of the dry weather, but the price is up. The first fields are yielding less than 30 bushels per acre and the price is $6.62.

9/28/03: Many neighbors are doing some corn and even some soybeans. We tested a hand sample of 24.5% corn. We may have some soybeans that could combine in a week of dry weather. It may get cooler this next week. We are getting ready for harvest.

9/21/03: It has rained a little more this week. There was not as much corn combined in the neighborhood this week. It has cooled off some. We shingled the shed and nailed some chipboard on it. I think that the corn will yield better compared to the soybeans, which are short. Our cousin's horse is probably 36 years old. We are trying to get some weight on him by feeding him bag feed and dry beet molasses.

9/14/03: It rained 0.7 to 1.1 inches this last week. It is probably too late to do very much for the crop this year. Several people are combining some early corn. Our corn combining is still a month away probably. Our first planted soybean field is starting to yellow. We worked a little more on the building.

9/7/03: It is still very dry out. The corn is starting to dry down and a few people have combined some. A lot of ours is still barely black layered. We worked some more on the shed.

9/1/03: We have been working on our shed. The weather has been hot and dry until Sunday when we got 0.2 inches of rain. It wasn't very much, but we haven't had anything since the Fourth of July weekend. Some of the corn is starting to dry down now. Some soybeans will be turning yellow soon.

8/24/03: We have been mowing and cutting sunflowers. We are building a 12 by 18-foot shed over some equipment. It is still very hot and dry out. The grain markets are going higher. The crops are hurting because of the drought.

8/10/03: It is still very dry out. I took this week off for some meetings and vacation at Okoboji. The grasshoppers are still very bad in the fields. We are delighted to have a foreign exchange student Juanito from Honduras staying with us for the next school year.

8/3/03: It is getting dry out in the fields. The corn could use a rain now that it is starting to fill the ears. The soybeans will be shorter this year because of the later planting dates and the cooler spring. The crops are still looking pretty clean as far as the weeds are concerned.

7/27/03: The county fair started this week. My daughter Monica showed her two-year-old filly in the halter showmanship and the walk-trot class. We put some new tires on the semi grain trailer. We use a modified air tank to seat the beads on the tires instead of ether.

7/20/03: We sprayed for some grasshoppers around the field edges. I hope that we are done spraying Roundup on the soybeans. There may be a few waterhemp weeds trying to emerge. We watched the bike riders from RAGBRAI drive by our house. We set a water sprinkler by the road and many drove through as it was about 90 degrees and humid.

7/13/03: We are still spraying soybeans. We are also baling some small square bales of hale and spraying for thistles and sunflowers. Several of us went to Snohomish Washington for our aunt's funeral. We spent five days with my cousin Richard and his wife Cheryl. We caught some dungeoness crabs and even some 24-inch dogfish.

7/06/03: We finished spraying the post corn and have been spraying some Roundup Ultra Max on the soybeans.

6/22/03: We have been spraying corn this week. It has been windy with some rain also. I have about three days of corn left to spray. We have side-dressed some of the corn with nitrogen that wasn't applied yet.

6/15/03: We finished planting the soybeans this week with the help of some neighbors. It will be interesting to compare the 15 and the 30-inch rows. I have started to spray the corn with Steadfast - Calisto. I will also have to rescue some of the one pass Cinch - Hornet. It hasn't rained for several days now. Most of the corn and soybeans were planted under wet conditions.

6/8/03: We were only able to plant soybeans a few hours on two different days. It keeps raining every few days. We usually get a few tenths of rain up to 0.75 inches each shower. The fields that have not been sprayed yet are getting weedy. Some of the planned one pass corn fields will need to be sprayed again because of the giant foxtail that is coming through. I suppose the extra rain has diluted the herbicide.

6/1/03: We got our corn planted this last week. The soybean planting has been going well. We still need to apply nitrogen to some of the fields that got planted before it was applied. I have about 65% of the cornstalks sprayed with Authority and Roundup. It is supposed to rain tonight again.

5/25/03: We have a short week left to plant of corn. I have the first pass of herbicide sprayed on the corn and I will be spraying the first pass on the soybeans tomorrow. It rained a few times again this week. We have over half of the nitrogen applied. Some of it will need to be put on after the corn is planted because the planters have gone ahead of it.

5/18/03: We got back into the field Saturday afternoon. It is still kind of wet and the tires leave tracks in the field. It is supposed to rain again Monday. Some of the earlier corn is coming up. It is yellow because it hasn't had very much sun or warmth. I have about 75% of the corn sprayed for the first time.

5/11/03: We did not work in the fields at all this week because of more rain. We finished emptying the bins of corn. It was nice to get that job done while we couldn't be out in the fields. It is starting to get a little on the late side for us to not have the corn planted. It will be dry in a day or two, but there are still some chances of rain all week.

5/4/03: We keep getting a little rain. We need more moisture to catch up, but we haven't gotten a lot of fieldwork done. We got another inch of rain today. We worked a few afternoons when it was almost too wet. We hauled some corn that was starting to heat up. I was surprised how little the fans had dried it the past months. I think the starch content was high because of the unusual weather last year.

4/27/03: We have injected some 32% nitrogen and have sprayed some herbicide as well. We have just started planting corn. I am spraying atrazine and this will be followed by Steadfast after the corn is up. Steadfast is similar to the Basis Gold that we sprayed last year.

4/20/03: We almost finished liming the last field that we are going to do for a while. We had about eight acres left and it rained. We may leave it and get a yield test on the strip. We may do some more later if there is time. We ran the nitrogen rig on a field to put on the 32% UAN. It has been raining this last week and we have been working on the equipment.

4/6/03: We had a pretty good week of spreading lime until it rained 0.25 inches Thursday night. It is now raining, sleeting, and snowing on Sunday. It may be a while before we get to finish the last two days of our lime. We had some problems with the stalks plugging the floater when we dumped the lime in one field in the corn stalks. We have two loads sitting in the field now.

3/30/03: We spread about 150 acres of lime. It is working fairly well. The two trucks can almost keep up to the floater if they don't have to wait at the quarry very long. We sometimes dump on the ground and sometimes the straight truck backs up to the conveyor and dumps into it. We are also hauling with the old gravel trailer and dumping that on the ground. The quarry dumps a truckload of lime about every 20 minutes. Sometimes the lime dust is so thick that you can't see where you are driving in the field.

3/23/03: My brothers have been hauling corn this week. I cleaned some cobs out of some of the mix that is still left. It is drying up in the fields now. We hope to spread some lime this next week. The frost is probably almost gone now.

3/17/03: We were able to try out spreading some lime one frozen morning. I would like to do some more soon but it is muddy out now. It will probably rain for a few days. Everything seemed to work out okay. We were able to calibrate it on the truck scales. The rate seems to change where it is supposed to on the prescription. I am using the IPAQ to help me see where to drive. We are hauling some more grain this week. We are emptying out the bin of corncob mix now that we have room for the clean grain.

3/9/03: We have been working on the floater some more. We had to clean some giant foxtail seed. We are about all out of seed now. We haven't grown any for a while. Bill went to Dike and picked up some soybean seed on the flatbed trailer. We get our seed in 2500 pound tote bags on pallets.

3/2/03: Robert has been hauling some corn to Red Oak. They will run out of rail cars again, maybe because of the military demand. We are working on a lime conveyor that we want to try out. It folds up to go down the road and it has a 24-horsepower Onan engine on it. We have most of the work done on selecting an option for the new farm program. Some of the computer programs were helpful in deciding this.

2/23/03: The yield monitor hooked up to the floater controller actually works changing the lime rate on a dry run going down the road. I was kind of not expecting it to work. I have several lime prescriptions made that we can spread with. Most of the snow has melted off, but it is snowing again today. We still might be able to spread soon. We are waiting to haul some corn to Red Oak as soon as they get some more rail cars.

2/16/03: We received a big snowstorm Friday. They called off school activities that night. We probably got about 6 or 8 inches worth. We have been working on the dry floater some. We are pretty close to being able to use it when it freezes or dries up some. We just about have the GPS hooked up to control the variable rate.

2/9/03: It has gotten cold again into the teens at night or colder. We have about finished the tax work on the farm. I am redoing the phosphate prescription maps to show a better application at the lower rates. I went to the Iowa Institute for co-ops training at Amana for a few days.

2/2/03: We purchased a 1992 Mertz floater with a dry box that has the lime belt in it. We will try to hook up the yield monitor to the controller to vary the lime and fertilizer rate by GPS. It has a cat 3208 engine in it. We will need to figure out a better way to haul and load lime into it. We are about finished working on the rental house. We are still working on taxes also. We helped put a stainless steel liner down my chimney. The new boiler was putting condensation through the old bricks. We raised the old elevator up to the roof and ran a ladder to the top. I fixed a few shingles while the elevator was up.

1/26/03: We have been doing tax work and yield mapping work and fertilizing prescriptions for 11-52-0 and lime. We have been doing some more work at the rental house. We got a little more snow and it has been cold out. It has been below 0 degrees a few nights. The ground is so dry that several pipes are freezing around the area. The church plastic water pipe froze and broke. We are still working on taxes.

1/19/03: We finally got 5 inches of snow this week. It has been cold also most of the week. We have been doing some work in the house on the floor. We are also working on our income taxes and yield maps. I went to a training session at Ames on the Ag Leader yield mapping software. I had to drive in the snow the last hour getting home.

1/12/03: We finished some more soil samples. It turned cold again and we may not be able to do any more. The last few days we would probe down about three inches and sometimes hit just a little frost and then go through that. Sometimes we would have a little frost at the top of the ground. I put some new pictures on our web page a few weeks ago.

1/5/03: We have been doing more work on the drywall. We are almost ready to prime the new drywall. We aren't very skilled in doing the kitchen and bathroom, but I think it will turn out okay. We have taken some more soil samples also. We ran into a little frost sometimes. I'd like to get some more samples taken when it warms up this week.