McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2010

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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-- Click on the blue hyperlink each week to see the picture. --

12/26/10: It snowed about one inch and it is colder now at about 0 F this evening. You can see a comparison of the cover crops before it froze here. The aerial seedings in Sept. were larger than the drilled in October, but the aerial population was maybe 5%-10% of the drill. We haven't figured out how to make either work yet.

12/19/10: We have a little snow on the ground. The fans are still holding the tarp on the corn pile. You can see a picture of us filling the truck with 11-52-0 (MAP) dry fertilizer here. We have all the soybeans hauled that we want to for now.

12/12/10: We finished getting the tarp on the pile. You can see it here. We seeded the terraces with bromegrass before a winter storm came through this weekend. It only snowed a little, but it was windy and got down to around 3 degrees F. We are spreading some dry fertilizer.

12/5/10 We unrolled the tarp over the pile, but it was too windy to finish sewing it together. We are about two thirds done sewing the two pieces together. We will have to cut and fit the tarp around the two towers. We need to find a calm day to finish the job. You can see the rolls of tarp on the pile here. My brothers have been hauling soybeans to the crush plant.

11/28/10: We turned the fans upside down on the pile to hold the tarp down using the air suction. We have not been able to cover it yet, mainly because of the wind. They are building some terraces for us until it freezes too much. You can see a picture here.

11/21/10: The corn pile has dried since the rain and we will cover it with a tarp soon. You can see a picture of a truck unloading at harvest in the modified dump pit here. We are hauling some soybeans and turning the fans upside down to hold the tarp down. It has been getting a little below freezing at nights. It might get down to 15F this week.

11/14/10: We finished the corn harvest just before a heavy rain Friday night. The John Deere dealership brought out a 9670 STS combine to try and save corncobs. He worked two days on it and is pretty close to having an acceptable collection of the cobs. The cobs are so dry and hard that it is difficult to break them up to get them in the grain tank. You can see the corn cob mix pile here. We are planning on covering it with a tarp for the first time this year. We are worried about getting too much snow on it like last year.

11/7/10: The corn harvest is still going well. We have about one week left. You can see some cover crops planted October 6 here. They really need several more weeks to grow for this fall. Several of the species will also grow back next spring. The corn is between 12.5% and 15% moisture.

10/31/10: We are getting about half done with the corn harvest. It is still going well. You can see the combines unloading in a wagon on the go here. The harvest has only been delayed parts of two days because of a little rain. It is unusual to be going this long without a break.

10/24/10 We continue to have excellent harvest weather. We were only stopped part of Saturday by some rain. We are going again and could use a rest if it rains Monday night. We are happy with our changed unloading setup. It unloads the trucks faster. The corn is usually below 15% moisture and the combines are doing well with the dry grain and cobs. You can see our corn and cob mix pile here. Some of the cobs are red and some are white.

10/17/10: We have finished combining the soybeans and we are getting ready to combine the corn. You can see where we are extending the auger down into the unloading pit here. This will get rid of the unloading conveyor that was the slow link in unloading the trucks. It is interesting that this is three pictures stitched together using free Microsoft ICE.

10/10/10: We have had a good run on combining the soybeans for over a week now with no rain. We are about three fourths done with the soybeans. You can see a combine unloading in the truck here. I have seeded some cover crops. I drilled oats, hairy vetch, radish, and rapeseed mainly for erosion control.

9/26/10: It rained a lot this last week. We will be able to combine soybeans soon. They delivered our JD 750 drill that we bought to widen some end rows for the CSP program and also to seed some cover crops. We are still getting ready for harvest.

9/19/10: We had a plane aerial seed some strips of cover crops with help from the Practical Farmers of Iowa. We will compare it to some strips drilled after harvest later on. We missed most of the heavy rains that were forecast. It did eventually rain maybe 0.8" on it. We'll see if it grows. You can see the plane here. We spread 15# hairy vetch, 3# radish, and 2# rapeseed.

9/12/10: The soybeans are almost ready to turn yellow. Some people have a sudden death syndrome where the soybean plants died early and the leaves fell off. It will hurt the yield. We are going to try some cover crops this fall. We may drill some hairy vetch, radish, rapeseed, rye, and oats after the soybean harvest. The Indian Creek Museum had a corn boil this summer and a threshing show and antique tractor pull this weekend. You can see a pile of sweet corn here.

9/5/10: We are still getting ready for harvest. I have heard of a few people combining corn. We plan to combine our soybeans first and then make our corn cob mix pile after that. Our soybeans may not be ready to combine for a few weeks yet. We have two truckloads of cobs left in the building here.

8/29/10: We made a stand to hold up the end of the auger here. We will add the tube and chain to the bottom. The corn is quickly drying down. Some nearby fields are almost brown. The soybeans are not as mature as the corn for some reason. We are considering buying a plastic cover for the pile this year.

8/22/10: We are working on the auger going to the corn pile. We will lengthen it 10' to run under the trucks. You can see a picture of them grinding corn cobs and loading a semi trailer here. I have compared the vegetative health index (NDVI) of the corn fields to a high nitrogen rate strip in each field. Most of the fields do not show a response to the higher rate.

8/15/10: We stopped at the bridge over I-80 by Kearney NE. We went inside the recently built Pawnee Indian earth lodge here. Some of the corn is starting to turn a little yellow because of the heavy rains that leached nitrogen down into the ground this year.

8/8/10: We had to weld a permanent boom on top of the grain tower to lower a fan down to get repaired. We used a winch on the pickup to run a cable over a block and tackle here. It ended up that we didn't have to spray any of our corn for fungus. They were specks from earlier disease that didn't fill the chlorophyll back in. The corn is maturing very fast for some reason, maybe too fast. It may not be a late harvest even after a late spring, unlike last year.

7/25/10: I resprayed the few acres that got rained on right after I sprayed them. Not all the waxy weeds, especially waterhemp, died that were sprayed 40 minutes before the rain. We were going to have some corn aerial sprayed for a fungus. We are holding off until we find out if maybe it is just a genetic speckling on the leaves of one variety. You can see the leaf here. It is hot some days and it keeps raining the other days.

7/18/10: It rained us out of the field with only 20 acres of soybeans left to spray for the year with Roundup. I might be able to get that tomorrow. We have the county fair going at Malvern now. That is taking some of our time also. Our cousin flew us over the fields and we took some pictures. It was a little cloudy. You can see a wet field here. I would like to compare the normal nitrogen rates on the corn fields to an acre of a high rate using the infrared color ratios.

7/11/10: It rained hard again last night, about 1.6". We only have a half day left of spraying the soybeans and I will hopefully be done for the year. It has been a long slow process this year because of all the rain. You can see a picture of the Ag Leader Insight GPS monitor here. It is opening and shutting off the six boom sections automatically as it needs to. It makes spraying easier and it saves chemical also. We also have a similar version on the planters. The white strip on the right is a terrace that doesn't get sprayed.

7/5/10: We have about half of the soybeans sprayed for the second and last time. They look like this here. It rained around 2.5" the last two days. Some of the corn will be tasseling soon. There are some yellow spots of corn where the nitrogen was leached away. Some call the yellow and green fields - John Deere corn.

6/27/10: We have a half day of spraying the corn left. It is getting big. It rained .3"-.4" again last night. You can see us loading the sprayer from the truck here. We will spray the soybeans again next.

6/20/10: We were able to get in the field a few days this week. We may go back and fill in some wet spots with soybeans later that didn't get planted. It is raining out now again. You can see some of the corn that I am spraying here. It is getting bigger than I would like at 6 or 7 collars.

6/13/10: I think that we were in the field only one day this week again. I sprayed some corn one day and got rained out another day. You can see our corn cob mix pile from last year here. It has been picked up now. Some people are spraying by helicopter and airplane.

6/6/10: It has been hard getting days in the fields because of the rain. We have not been in the field since last Sunday and it will probably rain tomorrow. We would like to get some dry weather to catch up on the field work. The corn needs to be sprayed also. We were able to change the front tires on the sprayer here. The corn is really starting to grow fast now.

5/31/10: We have a few days left to plant soybeans. We got around an inch of rain Sunday. We finished spraying the cornstalks going to soybeans for the first time. I will spray the emerged corn later this week maybe when it dries. I picked up a couple loads of 32% nitrogen UAN this week here.

5/23/10: We worked a few days this week before it rained again. We went out again late today. I blew a hydraulic hose on the sprayer and had to quit tonight. I saw five turkey vultures flying above the sprayer here.

5/16/10: Today was the first day since last Sunday that we were able to get back in the field because of rain. It is still wetter than I would like. I sprayed some cornstalks going to soybeans today with Cornerstone (like Roundup) and Envive. We got the rest of our yellow corn and some of the white corn hauled. Here is a picture of us pulling the pit auger out last fall while we had the crane rented.

5/9/10: It was muddy much of the week. I was able to finish spraying the corn ground today for the first of two passes. It is supposed to rain again tomorrow. We have several days left to plant corn. We put some catfish in the pond this week here. They usually don't reproduce in most farm ponds.

5/2/10: We were not able to do very much field work this week because of the rain. The planters worked a little and I sprayed a half a day when it was pretty windy. I brought the sprayer back to the farm today where it will be dryer for tomorrow. Here is a picture of a snake by Bill's house. I think that it was a bull snake pretending to be a rattlesnake by vibrating its tail and hissing. David moved it out to the barn. We have sometimes seen small timber rattlesnakes on the lower fields.

4/25/10: We have been rained out since Tuesday night. We have some corn planted and sprayed. The dry fertilizer is all on. You can see the auger filling the floater here. We are hooking up the planter seed sensors to read from the Ag Leader Insight monitor. That should work better and clean up the cab of the old monitors. So far the spring work has gone well for a few weeks.

4/18/10: We are just starting to spray and test the planters out now. We have a little dry fertilizer left to spread. Most of the rapeseed cover crop did not grow back this spring. Here is a plant that did. There has been good weather lately.

4/11/10: We finished the corn pile and have started to spread dry fertilizer (11-52-0, MAP). There are several people applying ammonia now. We will start getting our other field equipment ready. Here is a rare picture of a red fox on our porch. I opened the door and she was gone in a flash. I could tell she is nursing.

4/4/10: We have a few days left to finish the corn pile. You can see it here. It rained again and may rain again tomorrow night. We filled the grain bin and have to wait to haul Monday. Some people are starting to do a little fieldwork.

3/28/10: We are still cleaning corn between the rains. We have less than a quarter of the pile left. The building is getting pretty full when the cob hauling trucks get behind. Bill is trying to make room in the building by pushing and packing the cobs. You can see the end loader pushing the cobs in the Quonset here.

3/22/10: We got snowed out with 3 inches Friday, but are going again today. The pile is about two thirds gone. You can see a picture my brother Kevin took here. The corn is still in pretty good shape except for some areas. It gets dryer until it snows and rains again.

3/14/10: We didn't get a lot of corn cleaned this week because of the rain and mud. You can see our combine cleaner made from a JD 8820 here. The boys caught up hauling the corn that we have cleaned so far to Council Bluffs. The rain has melted most of the snow in the fields. It was surprising how fast it went. It will be hard for us to finish picking up the corn and getting all the fieldwork done before planting.

3/7/10: Partly because of the mud, we have been using the tractor and auger wagon to haul the corn mix to the pit instead of the trucks. Click here to see. We replaced the pit 10" tube with a 1/4" thick gas pipe that should last a long time. We are almost half done with the pile. The 30 hp motor on the cob blowing fan burned up and we had to replace it. It has rained again.

2/28/10: We have been having some more auger troubles with the 12" auger and also the dump pit. We will have to work on them again. We may have about one fourth of the pile picked up. The corn is too wet to sell to the ethanol plants above 18%. You can see some white corn being augered here.

2/21/10: We finally got the auger apart and didn't really find what was plugging it up. It may have been the ice. It keeps snowing and we have only been able to clean the corn a few days this last week. Bill bought a bucket and had it converted to shift out the frozen corn and cob chunks (click here). It seems to work pretty good.

2/14/10: The auger broke a shear bolt and we couldn't get it to turn. Maybe it was ice or wet corn in the freezing auger. We finally got the flighting pulled out after a lot of trouble. You can see a picture here. It is snowing again and the wind is blowing badly. We have picked up some of the corn pile.

2/7/10: We have started to pick up the corn cob mix pile. We are working on a corner that was starting to get hot. The snow makes it hard. There are frozen clumps that have to be broken. We have been getting more snow the last few days also. You can see the grain dump pit that we made last year out of railroad ties and railroad rails here. We put a rubber belt conveyor in it this harvest, but it did not speed up the unloading time very much. We will try something else next year.

1/31/10: We are getting ready to pick up the corn and cob mix pile. There are a lot of things to fix. It may snow again tomorrow. You can see a picture from this harvest of the combine unloading in the truck here. There is still too much snow on the fields to spread dry fertilizer.

1/24/10: We finished hauling the soybeans this last week. It has gotten very muddy out with all the snow melting. The roads are very soft. We are working on getting ready to pick up the corn pile. It would be hard to haul with the trucks on the gravel roads now. You can see a picture of the aeration tubes on the tower before harvest by clicking here.

1/17/10: We were able to haul soybeans this last week. They were paying up to $0.25 extra to get them hauled by last week. It finally got above freezing this week and melted some of the snow. The rear end in the end loader lost a bearing. You can see part of it here.

1/10/10: We received a fourth snow of the winter this week. It blew so bad that we had to dig everything out again. They called school off for two and a half days. The cover crop of radish and rapeseed only grew two or three inches before the freeze. The rapeseed can come back this spring. You can see them here.

1/3/2010: We received a few more inches of snow last night. It has been hard to get much work done outside with all the snow. We have been ordering inputs for next year and pushing snow. You can see a picture of our corn pile in the distance here.