McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2009

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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12/27/09: We had another 12" of snow Christmas eve. The roads are still barely clear. We usually don't get 2 foot of snow in December. We hauled some more soybeans before it snowed. You can see the truck being loaded by the 12" auger here.

12/20/09: We hauled some soybeans this week. The roads are just barely getting okay to haul on since the snow. Because there are snow drifts in the fields, it might be a while before we can spread dry fertilizer and lime. Bill scraped some of the snow off of the bottom of the corn pile. You can see it here.

12/13/09: It was a hard snowstorm this week. We got around 14" and it blew into drifts. They called school off for three days because of the drifting roads. You can see the tractor and snowblower here. I believe the nation still has about 12% of the corn left to harvest. It may be a while before some get back into the fields because of the snowdrifts.

12/06/09: We finished all the corn Monday. We turned the fans on the pile now that we are done with the auger. You can see the corn dumping in the conveyor here. It is snowing out now and we may get several inches.

11/29/09: We combined a little corn this week. We should get done tomorrow. There are about 247 truck loads on the pile now. I want to turn on the fans as soon as we are done with the auger. Most of the corn is between 17% to 19% moisture. You can see a recent airplane picture of the pile from my brother here.

11/22/09: The corn harvest went pretty well this week. We had a few slow days with heavy fog and some break-downs. You can see a picture of the combine unloading in a wagon here. We have about three days left to combine. There is a 90% chance of rain tomorrow night, so we may have to wait for a while after that.

11/15/09: We had very good weather all week to combine corn. We are almost half done with the yellow corn. It is drier than we expected at around 16% - 17%. We are making a pile on the ground of corn cob mix. You can see a picture of it here. We use the auger when needed to help the grain pump catch up.

11/8/09: We finished the soybeans and the white corn. We will start on our yellow corn very soon. We need to redo the dump site. We were finally able to get a good stretch of dry and warm weather to combine the soybeans. You can see a truck unloading white corn in the bin here.

11/1/09: We had two good days of combining before we got rained out. They finally got down to 13.6%. We are trying to dry them in the bin. We sold our 1976 truck and trailer here. The truck went to Kentucky and the trailer went to Oklahoma.

10/25/09: We were able to combine soybeans only one day this last week because of the rain and high humidity. We may have to switch over to white corn if this keeps up. We put up some larger down tubes (14") on the tower so they won't plug up with the cob mix as easy. We are mostly finished with the air tubes. You can see the tower here.

10/18/09: We were able to combine soybeans this afternoon. It has been five days since we got rained out. The soybeans are wet at 14.1 to 14.5%. We worked on the tower this morning. You can see the air tube brackets we made and painted here.

10/11/09: We combined a few soybeans this week again. It has rained and even snowed a little. It is unusual to get snow in October here. You can see the combine from the tower here. We are almost finished with the air tubes on the tower.

10/04/09: We started to combine some soybeans before it rained. It has been wet for several days now. We are working on putting up aeration tubes (click here) for our outdoor grain pile. The fans will be on top of the tower and run down and out in the pile. We rented a crane to lift the tubes upright on the tower. We still need to finish welding the tubes to the tower brackets.

9/27/09: They delivered the aeration tubes this week. You can see a picture of them here. We have been working on them. It is difficult to make a 90 degree bend in them. We are also trying to get ready for harvest with the bins and combines. There are several people that have combined some corn and soybeans.

9/20/09: We did some more welding for our aeration tube brackets this week. We had some radish and rapeseed flown on for a cover crop in a yellowing soybean field today. They will both grow this fall and the rapeseed will also grow next spring if it gets rained on pretty soon. There is a picture of the end loader cleaning out the building of cobs last winter here.

9/13/09: We are working on the grain aeration setup. Something burned an old barn down in our rented field. It was probably lightning. You can see the remains here.

9/6/09: Some of the neighbor's soybean fields have started to turn yellow with age. This summer has been unusually cool. It may delay the harvest, but the crops look very good. We got the house painted and used the man lift to fix a grain bin roof. You can see the house here.

8/30/09: We have been working on getting some aeration tubing to put under our corn pile. We will mount the fans up high on the tower. You can see a picture here of the man lift that we rented to paint the house and buildings.

8/23/09: We went to the state fair in Des Moines today. We finished painting the house and the out buildings the day before. Some of the corn is starting to yellow at the top. Maybe it is some recent diseases. You can see an aerial picture of the corn in July here. The light areas are where the rye cover crop in the ditches hurt the corn by taking up too much nitrogen.

8/16/09: We scraped and power washered the house. Several days of light rains have kept me from painting the house. It is interesting that the original painter signed one of the pillar tops here. It says Teddy Tucker, Emerson, painter and decorator, 1913 August. We rented a man lift that has helped out a lot.

8/9/09: We replaced 14 wood pillars on our house with 8" PVC pipe. It seemed to work well. We primed it and will also paint it to keep the sunlight off. You can see a picture here. The year has been fairly cool so far. We would expect the grain to mature later than normal and be wet. The yields of especially the corn seem to be looking very good.

8/2/09: We have been working on some projects this week. We had two corn fields sprayed last week with a fungicide using a helicopter. They were a more susceptible variety and it was highly infected with gray leaf spot. You can see a picture of the helicopter here.

7/26/09: We finished spraying the soybeans. I hope that we don't have to do any fields over again. We have to spray at least two fields of corn with a fungicide (Headline). We will hire a helicopter. You can see the soybeans growing through the now dead rye that was seeded in the ditch here. It didn't seem to hurt the soybeans like it did the corn. The rye had matured and died before I got it sprayed.

7/19/09: We still have some soybeans to spray with Glyphosate (Roundup). It keeps raining some or it is windy. We have our county fair this week. Some of the sweet corn has been ready to eat. You can see another picture of the sprayer here.

7/12/09: We didn't get to spray very much this week again because of a few rains. We put a Norac boom height controller on the sprayer. It uses a sensor to control the height of the boom automatically most of the time. I'm hoping it will do a better job setting the height of the boom. I might be able to get a little more spraying done each day also. I fixed my pickup fender with insulating spray foam and ground it off with a metal grinder. I painted it with a spray can. It probably won't last long, but it is interesting. Click here to see it.

7/5/09: It has rained again this week. We were waiting to spray some of the soybeans. Some of the corn is starting to tassel in the country now. We need to decide how much of it to spray with a fungicide. Here is a picture of our soybean field in the cornstalks.

6/28/09: We have started to spray some soybeans for the second and hopefully the last time. The field that was hailed on last year is pretty weedy this year, so I sprayed that. We would like to wait for the soybeans to get more canopy before we spray all of them. You can see a picture of the soybeans where the planter automatically shut off in sets of two rows here.

6/21/09: We got the last of the corn sprayed last night before it rained again. The Liberty-Callisto seems to be working well in the warm humid weather. You can see a picture of the 18" rye grain in the corn ditches right before I sprayed it here.

6/14/09: I didn't get very much corn sprayed this week either because of the rain. I sprayed a day and a half. A few fields are getting close to the maximum labeled height to spray them with Liberty (V7). The corn emergence is very good and the soybean fields are looking clean. The Seed Command worked well on the planters this year. You can see where the rows shut off in this picture here. It is set up to shut off the rows automatically in pairs of two rows.

6/7/09: It has been raining often this last week. I have sprayed some of the corn with a post treatment of Liberty-Callisto. I am now also spraying over the rye that has been seeded in the ditches. I hope that it has added some organic matter to the eroded ditch. The rye is about 6 inches tall. You can see a picture of it in the corn here.

5/31/09: I am waiting just a little while to spray the corn a second trip this time with Liberty and Callisto. You can see Bill filling the planter with soybean seed out of the wagon here. We are just about done side dressing the nitrogen on the acres we are side dressing.

5/24/09: We finished planting soybeans at the farm, but the other planter got rained out to the south with a little left. I finished spraying the soybean ground for the first time and may wait a little while before I spray the corn for a second time. You can see the old cornstalk field going to soybeans here. The beavers haven't gained much on the cottonwood tree when I looked at it the other day.

5/17/09: We got another rain that stopped us for several days (1.2"). We could have finished the corn that day. We may get back in the field tomorrow or the next day. We are having a field tiled that has been wet along the creek bottom. You can see the picture here. We had some lightning damage at the house. A phone line and a temperature alarm were burned. It was fortunate that we had unplugged the computers.

5/10/09: We finished spraying the corn today. The wild mustard was getting pretty tall in the last field here. I should have sprayed that field sooner. We have had some small rains that kept us out of the fields. The water pump went out of the sprayer. I had to drive 75 miles to get a part. We are about done planting the corn.

5/3/09: It rained two to three inches last week. It washed some more ditches in the fields again. We fixed some of the terraces that broke last year with the end loader. I was able to spray a little today. You can see a little fan that we put in front of the big fan to pull the dust down backwards when we cleaned the bin out here.

4/26/09: We have planted some corn and have sprayed some herbicide. We have been running the UAN (32% liquid nitrogen) injector also. All of these are being helped with GPS monitors. My sprayer monitor quit so we had to use a loaner unit. We are switching the one planter to shut off the rows automatically in sets of two instead of the three rows last year. The GPS receiver seems to be working well enough to handle that. It is raining out now. You can see a large gully that we had to fill in here.

4/19/09: We almost have all the ditches filled and seeded down. You can see the floater being filled with rye with the lime conveyor here. Several people are planting corn now. We still have some work to do before we are ready. We finished separating all the corn from the cobs.

4/12/09: We have been seeding the ditches with some grain rye with the floater dry box spreader. It seems to be working pretty well. The monitor even makes a map of where it has been spread to turn into the NRCS. We slowed down the spinners to spread about 25 foot. I drove by a big 4' diameter cottonwood tree that the beavers are trying to chew down. You can see it here.

4/5/09: The boys have almost finished spreading the lime. You can see a picture here. I hate to admit it, but we are plowing and discing in some ditches that have gotten out of hand, especially the last two years. I hope that they can hold with normal rainfall now. We still have a few fields to do. Several people are running anhydrous ammonia now. It rained and snowed today so we will be waiting again.

3/29/09: We were able to spread a little more lime this week. It has been windy and a little wet. We have been hauling corn to the ethanol plant. Many of the corn buyers are getting full. You can see a picture of the inside of the combine cleaning cobs here.

3/22/09: We got the last few loads of corn cob mix picked up before it rained tonight. At least it is in the holding bin. The frost is almost out of the ground now. We spread a little more lime the last few days. It is barely dry enough to be out in the fields. You can see a picture here of Bill loading a truck with cobs. He can put a forklift rail on the loader to raise the bucket high enough for the truck.

3/15/09: We are going to let the last of the pile dry a little more before we pick it up. It is pretty muddy out anyway. The temperature is supposed to get in the 70's the next few days. There is still a lot of frost in the ground. Here is a picture of a truck unloading in the 12 inch auger instead of the pit. Robert has been hauling corn to Council Bluffs as we clean it.

3/8/09: We almost got the pile picked up before it rained late Friday. There are only about three trucks left. The moisture of the grain was starting to come down after the last snow to 16.5%. We'll have to wait a little while now to pick it up. The pit auger was getting too worn when the corn was wet so we set up the 12 inch auger and unloaded the trucks into the holding bin for the combine cleaner. You can see when we started digging into the pile here.

3/1/09: The cleaning on the pile went pretty good this week and then we got 4" of snow Friday night. We are a little over half done. The corn quality is good, but the moisture is over 17%. We may have to wait a while to start cleaning after it warms up this week and melts the snow. Here is a picture of the combine cleaner.

2/22/09: We started cleaning on the CCM pile this week. The quality of the corn seems to be very good. I suppose that there are several reasons why. The pile hasn't had much rain on it and it stayed cool early on. We have a few days left to spread the dry fertilizer. They had to pull the head off of the 3208 Cat engine to replace some O rings on a coolant pipe.

2/15/09: We received 4 to 5 inches of snow. We haven't had very much snow this year so far. We are still working on getting ready to separate the corn cob mix. We sold our older JD 7000 12-row planter. We loaded it on a truck here.

2/8/09: We have put the auger for the corn cob mix (CCM) back in the holding bin. You can see it here. The long tail is to keep the cobs from bridging over. We bought 3/8" flighting and a 10 gauge tube. We are having some problems with the floater engine. We may have to fix a difficult coolant leak.

2/1/09: The boys have started to spread some dry fertilizer (11-52-0). We are using the Insight monitor again this year hooked up to the Raven controller. We are still working on the bin auger. You can see the floater being loaded here.

1/25/09: We are working on the auger that dumps the corn cob mix into the combine. The cobs wear out the flighting faster than the corn does. We bought some heavy flighting and tube to replace it with. Here is a field that got weedy last year before we planted it. We had some fall herbicide (Basis) applied last October to avoid this.

1/18/09: It has been cold this week. Bill tried this tree branch chipper out. It does well, but it still takes some time to do many trees.

1/11/09: The boys have been hauling white corn this last week. Bill cut some trees out of the terraces. You can see a picture of the wagon unloading white corn at harvest here.

1/4/09: We hope to be able to haul the white corn this next week if they can take it. We have had some bad weather also. You can see another picture of our (temporary?) dump pit made of railroad ties and rails here.