McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2008

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  Email us

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12/28/08: The ice has finally melted mostly. You can see a picture of us combining soybeans in October here. We have one load of soybeans to haul and some white corn.

12/23/08: It has been too icy and cold to do much this week before Christmas. They canceled school yesterday and today. The roads have been icy for several days. You can see a truck unloading corn at harvest here.

12/14/08: We have been hauling soybeans this week. We have some more loads left to haul before we put the separated corn back in the bin. It was above freezing last week, but now it is cold and windy out. It is 1 degree F right now. You can see a picture of the corn cob mix (CCM) pile here. There are about 100 truck loads.

12/7/08: We finished the corn late Tuesday before it snowed a little. The new auger seemed to make a nice pile. It is not as large as last year. We will separate the corn and cobs later. Bill is working on the tree shear. You can see a picture of my scraggly beard before I shaved at the end of harvest here.

11/30/08: We combined corn most of the week. The towers and auger seem to be working well. We received some rain and snow Friday and Saturday. I hope that we can combine in a few days. We have about three days left to finish. You can see 58 pictures off of a power point presentation that I put together here. I'm sorry that the notes are not with it.

11/23/08: The white corn is done and some of it hauled to town. We have been combining yellow corn and cob mix. The new augers seem to be working well. We would like to speed up the drag under the truck. The field that got hailed on is causing some trouble with a higher cob percentage and softer cobs. You can see the tower setup here.

11/16/08: We didn't get to combine any this week because of several rain showers. We have been working on our auger system for the ground pile. We helped the electricians lay the wires out to the pile in the rain. We still need to set up an unloading auger for under the trucks. We should be able to combine the white corn again pretty soon. Here is a picture of the soybean combines.

11/9/08: We have combined over half of the white corn and calibrated the monitor. I think that I accidentally erased some of the yield maps for the soybeans when I erased some of the old soybean calibration loads. I'll see if they can recover some of them. It rained Thursday and will probably rain again tomorrow night. We put up the towers and the auger for the yellow corn cob mix pile. You can see a picture before the auger was raised here.

11/2/08: We finished combining soybeans today. We calibrated the combines for the soybeans last night. We weigh about 6 loads for each combine that is harvested at different rates. We type in the actual weights and it makes an equation for different grain flows. We are working on the Hutchinson Grain Pump for our yellow corn cob mix pile. It is 145' long. You can see it on the ground here. We will combine our white corn next.

10/26/08: We combined a few days of soybeans. At least they were dry when the ground was still wet. We are about 50% done with them. We have had one to two inches of rain this last week. We will probably get to combine some more soybeans pretty soon. The museum moved a log cabin this summer here.

10/19/08: We were able to combine soybeans this afternoon after not being able all week because of the rain. I think that probably all our soybeans could combine now. It is supposed to rain again in a few days. I am not going to shave until harvest is over. I'm looking pretty scraggly now. Here is a picture of an old hand tie wire baler at the museum.

10/12/08: We are about 30% done with the soybeans. It has been hard to find fields that are dry enough. They have been between 11% and 15% moisture. The dock is pretty high above 13%, so we will try to dry them in the bin. We have combined the soybeans that were planted in May, even though they were the later maturities. The early maturities planted in June still have some leaves on them. It is supposed to rain, so maybe they will be dry enough after it drys out. The museum had there thrashing show last month. You can see their Waterloo Boy here.

10/5/08: We started to combine soybeans today. The crops are a week or two later than normal. We are having some problems with the auger, but we'll try to get it going tomorrow. It is supposed to rain starting tomorrow for a day or two. Here is an older picture of soybean combining.

9/28/08: You can see the first tower we are working on here. It will be in the center of the pile. Most of our soybeans are yellowing now. It looks like we may be lucky to not have an early freeze this year. There are a few people combining corn and soybeans now. We are still a little ways off yet from combining.

9/21/08: We are working on the tower for the grain pile auger. It might be hard to get it done in time for harvest. Some of our soybeans are starting to yellow. An early freeze would be hard on our soybeans this year. They may be about 10 days behind normal. You can see the crossing that I repaired with the end loader here. The grain markets have been bouncing up and down this month, especially down.

9/14/08: I went to the BioEconomy Conference in Ames a week ago. I wanted to hear what they had to say about corncobs and cellulose ethanol. That must be why I forgot last weeks journal. We have all the yellow corn hauled and just about all of the white corn. Here is a picture of some weeds in the soybeans when the rains kept us from spraying them on time this spring. They are clean now. There are a lot of soybeans around that are starting to yellow now. Most of ours are green still. We have been getting more rain. We got 1.6" Friday.

8/31/08: The weather has cooled somewhat. We got 0.4 to 1.0 inches of rain Wednesday. It has been a long time since the last rain. Some of the corn is getting yellow and the soybeans could really use a rain during the pod fill. You can see a picture of Billy J. baling here.

8/24/08: We finished spraying all the soybean fields for aphids except for one that is maybe mature enough to leave. You can see a picture of the little green aphids on the underside of the soybean leaf in the picture here. They suck the juice out of the soybeans and your pant legs can get sticky if you walk in the fields.

8/18/08: We are spraying almost all of the soybean fields for aphids. We are spraying most of them with our ground sprayer. We hired some of the taller soybean fields to be sprayed by air. The aphids are coming down from the north and doubling their populations in this 85 degree weather almost every 3 to 5 days. We are spraying when they average 250 insects per plant. We went to the state fair Sunday. You can see one of our wet fields from the air that was taken June 14.

8/10/08: Some people are starting to spray for aphids in their soybean fields. We have some in the fields that I have checked so far. I hope that they don't get much worse. We are having an airplane spray our white corn fields with mainly a fungicide. This is a picture of our nitrogen test plot. The field is in the northwest corner of the map. You can see the yellow strips of 0, 50, and 90 pounds of nitrogen per acre. The higher rates don't show a difference.

8/3/08: The boys are baling hay. We finished spraying the soybeans except for a little patch of replanted ones. The corn is catching up but the soybeans seem behind. It has been hot this last week. It is supposed to get up to 99 degrees tomorrow. The humidity is very high at 80% to 90% in the afternoon. The dew point can be as high as 75 degrees. This shows a corn field down on the bottom that had some areas drown out. David replanted them with soybeans. The very high price of corn has dropped over $2 the last three weeks.

7/27/08: We got a little more rain this week so I didn't get to spray very much. Most of the corn is tasseling now. We will probably spray the white corn with a fungicide. There is some disease on it now. The soybeans are behind more than the corn is. This pickup is actually pushing my brother's army truck.

7/20/08: I am still spraying the soybeans the second pass with Roundup. The weeds have gotten tall. Our Mills county fair is this week. We hired a track hoe to dig up the willow trees that were plugging up the tile lines with their roots. Some of the late planted soybeans haven't grown very well.

7/13/08: The corn is growing fast now. I am still trying to catch up on the spraying. We are probably done trying to plant any more wet spots. I tried to fix a creek crossing with the end loader. You can see a picture of the river when it flooded a few weeks ago here.

7/6/08: We have finished planting the soybeans except for going back and filling in some wet areas and replanting a few spots. I am trying to catch up on spraying. You can see the storm front that hailed on us here. Some of the soybean fields north of here had to be replanted.

6/29/08: I think that we were in the field one day this week (Monday) and some today. We may have a few days this week before it rains again. We had some hail on a few fields Friday. You can see the corn damage here. At least it hailed on the soybean field that wasn't planted yet.

6/22/08: We were in the field one day and two half days this week. We were in the field some today and it might rain tomorrow night again. We saw a tornado over Carson Friday night here. It touched down later at Griswold. The fields that haven't been sprayed yet are getting pretty weedy.

6/15/08: We almost got back in the field today but it rained 0.2 inches this morning. It looks dry for the rest of the week. It has been 12 days since we we in the field the day of the tornado. You can see a rough picture of the three corn rows that were automatically shut off by the Ag Leader SeedCommand here. It uses GPS. It shuts off two, three, or four rows at a time depending on the planter and the setup. The corn is still small and yellow.

6/8/08: It rained much of the week again. We were in the field about two days. It rained another two to three inches last night and today. The crops are still emerging slow. The corn seems to have a good population at least. We still have a few days of soybean planting left. We had two or three days of tornadoes this week. A tornado hit the house one half mile north of us here. It did very little damage to our house. We have had eight inches of rain since the tornado Wednesday.

6/1/08: We haven't been in the field since May 21 because of the rain. It has rained about 10 inches this spring. The corn is emerging slow but okay. We may get back into the field tomorrow, but there is a 50% chance of rain again. We had trouble pulling the well out of the pit less connection so we used some jacks here.

5/25/08: We finished planting the corn and have planted several days of soybeans. It has rained several times this last week and will probably again tonight. Some of the weeds are starting to get tall in the unsprayed fields. We are spraying Prowl and Roundup on the cornstalks going to soybeans. We are logging the corn varieties as they get planted. You can see a map here.

5/18/08: We have less than two days of corn planting left. It is later than usual. We still have our soybeans to plant. I will get done spraying the corn tomorrow and then will start on the soybeans. You can see the 16 row JD 7000 planter here.

5/11/08: We have a little corn planted, nitrogen applied, and herbicide sprayed. It would have been nice to have had all the corn in by now. It keeps raining. We may get some dry weather this week. You can see the 32% liquid nitrogen applicator after we set it up to variable rate and to shut off sections automatically here.

5/4/08: We have been spreading ag lime. We may not get any more put on this year so we can do other field work. You can see us loading the floater here. It is starting to get later than we would like to not have very much corn planted. It keeps raining and the ground is still cool.

4/27/08: More rain again this week. We have been hauling white corn and we have been working on the field equipment. We are still adding the auto row shutoffs to the planters and the nitrogen rig. We have spread a little lime. You can see a picture of that here. There has been very little corn planted in the area. It is still pretty cold.

4/20/08: It has rained more this last week. It will be muddy for a while. We are still working on the nitrogen applicator. We were able to only spread one load of lime a week or two ago. We ground five trucks of corncobs. You can see part of the full cob building here. We hauled some white corn to town.

4/13/08: We had to replace the smaller eight inch augers on the bin. You can see us replacing the truck auger here. We spread one load of lime to calibrate the machine and then it rained the rest of the week. It snowed just a little bit yesterday. We are working on the nitrogen Blu Jet applicator. We are setting it up to vary the rates and automatically shut off the rows.

4/6/08: We have been working on some grain bin augers. We would still like to spread some lime this spring. You can see us loading the truck with yellow corn here. We may haul some white corn soon.

3/30/08: We finished picking up the rest of the corn cob mix pile. We had a few spots in the pile with some damage, but not too much. We are going to try to put on some lime next. There have been a lot of snow geese this year. You can see some in the field here.

3/23/08: We have less than a week left to clean up the pile of corn cob mix. The building is getting pretty full of cobs. We were surprised how much more the building held when Bill started packing them in with the end loader. We added a little more air tube to blow them further into the building. You can see a picture here of the building when it was not so full. The grain markets have been dropping in price severely. Soybeans have dropped $3 this month. Corn has dropped also.

3/16/08: We are about 75% done with picking up the corn pile. The grain has picked up a point or two of moisture at 15% to 17% total. The moisture docks are mainly the water weight this year. The elevators often get full because of the wait for trains. Here is a picture out the window of a hummingbird last September.

3/9/08: We are about one half done with the corn cob mix (CCM) pile. The quality seems to be better now that we have the south half gone. The east pile seems to clean faster. It might change with the moisture of the cobs. You can see the pile here. The hydraulic pump quit on the end loader so we have to rent a tele-handler this week.

3/2/08: We are about one third done picking up the pile. You can see the loader and wagon here. It is starting to get muddy out. The frost is still in the ground and the rain and snow can't drain away. The grain prices continue to go up. Corn is about $5.32 and soybeans are $14.35 in Council Bluffs.

2/24/08: We have been separating the corn from the cobs this week. There are a few bad spots of grain, but most of it is okay. It is warming up and starting to get a little muddy. The boys are hauling the corn to Council Bluffs. You can see a picture of the corn pile here.

2/17/08: We are getting closer to start working on the corn pile. We are working on getting some more GPS equipment for the planters and nitrogen rig. You can see a picture of the old cob wall standing here. It started falling off after a few days.

2/10/08: We are working on the bin, augers, and cleaner. It has snowed again and it has been cold. We put a DMC gravity spreader in the corn cob mix holding bin to try and keep the cobs from accumulating on the walls. You can see the museum's 1929 Marmon car here. It is a model 68 with a straight eight cylinder engine.

2/3/08: We are still trying to work in the shop when we can. It got down to -14 F last week. We are almost done with the combine cob cleaner. You can see a flock of Canadian geese on the corn pile here.

1/20/08: It snowed a little more this week and got cold. It got a little below 0 degrees F. We are still working in the shop. You can see the loader in the cob building here.

1/13/08: We are working on the combine cob cleaner. We would like to start cleaning corn cob mix in a few weeks. The grain prices are very high now. Corn in around $4.69 and soybeans are $11.99 a bushel. Input expenses have also risen a lot. We have about 20 cats in the barn that we feed here.

1/6/08: We ground more cobs this week. You can see a picture here. We are working in the shop some. The ground is still covered with ice and snow.