McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2011

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. --

12/26/11: We finished hauling the soybeans to the crush plant. We are preparing for the end of year decisions now. The weather has been good lately. Bud and Steve Brown have been building terraces for us. You can see a picture here. They have been getting a lot done this fall. They will probably finish in a week.

12/18/11: We have been hauling soybeans to the crush plant near Council Bluffs. We have never finished hauling grain before the end of the year, which we might this year. The truck lines are pretty short now. It can be slow for them to get farmers to empty the bins so soon after harvest. You can see a picture of the truck dumping soybeans in our pit at harvest here. This looks like a dusty load.

12/11/11: We were fortunate to finish hauling our soybean contract with some snow moving in. There is still a positive basis on the soybeans as well as the corn for a while. This is an interesting picture of some field headlands planted in April and taken mid October. The oats came up and matured early. The hairy vetch and radish matured late. There are several other species as well. After temperatures in the teens and single digits, some radishes are still green.

12/4/11: We were able to finish picking up the corn pile before it rained and snowed. The basis kept improving and it was a good time to lift the hedges. Because we picked up the pile so soon, we did not cover it with a tarp. You can see a picture here of the auger wagon filling the truck at harvest.

11/27/11: We are about two thirds done hauling our corn pile. You can see a picture of it here. We are hauling the corn to the ethanol plant near Council Bluffs. The weather has stayed fairly warm. It even got up to 72 degrees on Thanksgiving day. It rained Friday night. People are doing a lot of field work now such as NH3 (anhydrous) and chiseling.

11/20/11: We have been hauling corn from the pile. The basis is now up to a positive 13 cents. You can see a picture of our JD 750 drill here. Before the corn harvest, we drilled some cover crops in the soybean stubble. It has been too dry to grow much. It may be too cold now after some rain to grow much. We tried planting some oats, wheat, hairy vetch, red clover, soybeans, rapeseed and a few other crops.

11/13/11: There is not any incentive to store corn right now. The basis is good at a positive seven cents. We are starting to haul the pile and not even cover it. You can see the loader dumping in a truck here. It has finally rained twice lately , but the cover crops may not have much time to grow.

11/6/11: We finished with harvest early for us this year. There were several reasons, one being we didn't save the corncobs. We may have some time to work on some things this fall. We may start hauling corn also. You can see a picture of a great horned owl sitting in the window here.

10/30/11: Our corn harvest is still going well. We don't have very many days left. You can see a truck unloading in our pile here. We plan to pick up the corn as soon as we can after harvest. It will not keep as well without the cobs mixed in. Our cover crops are not growing very much because of the dry soil.

10/23/11: The corn harvest has been going well. The corn is dry at around 14%. We are even able to haul some straight out of the field to Council Bluffs at a premium when the trucks have time. This is the first time in over twenty years that we are not saving the corncobs. You can see our pile here. The corn will not keep as well without the cob in it.

10/16/11: We finished combining the soybeans tonight. We have a few days of work to get ready to combine our corn next. You can see the combine unloading in the truck here. The soybeans were too dry this year. We hope that the corn has dried down also.

10/9/11: We have been going pretty well on the soybeans. They are very dry at around 8% moisture and they shatter sometimes. We are hauling them back to the farm and putting them in a grain bin. You can see the end of the soybean platform here.

10/2/11: We started some on the soybeans today. The seed is dry enough, but the stalks can stay a little green until a frost comes. We still have a lot of things to get ready. We had one field where some of the corn blew down here.

9/25/11: We finishing installing the yield monitors in the combines. We will be using the Ag Leader Integra monitors that we had in the planter tractors. There are a few people combining some wet corn and some soybeans. You can see a headland that we planted in April for the CSP program here. You can see the mature oats, hairy vetch, and radish. There is also some orchard grass, bromegrass, alfalfa, and red clover.

9/18/11: We have been installing the yield monitor on the first combine. We can move the Integra monitor from the planter tractor into the combine. We have been getting a lot of rain this week. You can see the museum threshing wheat here.

9/11/11: The soybeans are starting to turn yellow in a few fields. They may be maturing later this year compared to the corn. You can see a soybean field here.

9/4/11: We just have two hundred bushels of corn left in the bin. We have been trying to help siphon a pond down for the Soil and Water Conservation District here. We are trying to lower it to fix a tube that the beaver have plugged. The six inch pipe was running pretty fast at first.

8/28/11: We have been cleaning out the last bin of corn. We traded combines, here is one of the 2009 models we got. It will be more difficult to save corncobs. We are still deciding on that. The wind and hail damage around seems to be looking worse than people feared. We have continued to receive a lot of rain. That will especially help the soybeans.

8/21/11: We had wind and some minor hail damage Thursday night. 20 miles all around us had major storm damage. Some farmers may lose half or more of their crop. We finished cleaning out the small bin of corn and cob mix here.

8/14/11: A truck overturned in front of our house here. It had 35,000 pounds of frozen onion pieces in it. They had to haul them to the landfill. We have had several good rains this week. That will help the crops. The heat caused a little damage to them.

8/7/11: We finally got some rain (1”-1.5”) after more heat. The experts are lowering the yield potentials of the corn because of the past several weeks of heat, but in the end the government surveys are not. Click here to see a soybean field that was drilled in 7.5” rows. They are slowly reducing the flow in the Missouri river.

7/31/11: The sweet corn is doing well this year. Click here. It has been hot and dry for several weeks. The soybeans haven't grown much lately. The corn pollinated during some very hot weather, which is hard on it.

7/17/11: We finished spraying the soybeans for weeds last week. I hope that we don't have to spray for aphids or anything else. We have been hauling some corn to the ethanol plant. Here is a picture of some soybeans planted no-till in a bromegrass buffer that was killed last month. That is easier than plowing the strip.

7/3/11: We sprayed some soybeans with glyphosate and it rained again this morning. Some of the companies including some grain elevators on the Missouri bottom are at risk or worse from the flooding. The dams up north are having to release record amounts of water because of the heavy rains and snow pack. We had to finally remove the old buckeye tree. Here is a piece of it. We used to give away the buckeyes at school. They probably aren't good for anything.

6/26/11: It rained too much this week to get started spraying the soybeans for the last time. Here is a picture of the drill backed up to the wagon to fill with seed. It is raining out again now. The corn is growing fast and the soybeans are still small.

6/19/11: Nancy and I just got back from chaperoning a group of 4H members to Washington DC. It was well done and I hope that they learned a lot. I had finished spraying the corn a second time before we left. The last spraying job I hope will be to spray the soybeans a second time with a Roundup type herbicide. Here is a picture of one of the last corn fields we sprayed. It is now maybe twice that tall.

6/5/11: We are just about done planting the soybeans. I have less than two days of spraying the corn the second time. It was hot today and probably tomorrow at middle to upper 90's. We sprayed some fall herbicide for the corn last November. It worked pretty well except for a few spots of large weeds like this.

5/29/11: Still more rain. I barely finished spraying the last soybean field before it rained again last night. The eastern corn belt and many other places are having a hard time getting the crops planted. This picture from a month ago shows a patch of henbit growing in the field before I sprayed it.

5/22/11: We have been getting more rain. We are planting soybeans. I have one day left of spraying the soybeans for the first time. It is getting a little late compared to average years. Here is a picture of some weeds in the cornstalks. The weeds would be taller if it had been warmer. We are having some more terraces built this spring to add to the ones from last fall.

5/15/11: We finished planting the corn and it has been raining for most of the week. We may get back in the field Tuesday. You can see the JD 750 drill that I was seeding some end rows down with bromegrass and some other mixtures. There have been a few warm days, but it has been fairly cool this spring. There has been some corn that had to be replanted because it rotted before it could grow.

5/8/11: We finally have been able to do more fieldwork. They should be done planting corn in a few days. I have been spraying the cornstalks to get them ready to plant soybeans. You can see the Patriot sprayer here.

5/1/11: I sprayed some corn herbicide today (Atrazine and Basis). It was cold today at around 40 this morning and colder tonight. People have been working in the fields for a few days. You can see a picture from a month ago when the tarp was blowing off the corn pile after we cut some off. The camera is on top of the tower looking down.

4/24/11: It has still been raining too often to work in the fields this last week. It is supposed to rain again tomorrow. It has been cold so far this spring and the cover crops have not grown very much. Here is a picture of some hairy vetch and some weeds growing in the field. It is a little unusual to not have more fieldwork than this done . I haven't sprayed any herbicides yet.

4/17/11: We finished picking up the pile of corn just before it started raining for several days. We have been applying some 32% nitrogen (UAN). We still have some of the mix in the bin that needs to be cleaned after we get some room in the Quonset by hauling some more cobs out. We put a cheap security camera in the corn and cob mix bin to see when the grain was about to bury the gravity spreader. We have to wipe the dust off one or two times a day. You can see a picture of it here.

4/10/11: We are still picking up the corn cob mix pile. You can see a picture here. We have been hauling the corn to Council Bluffs to two different places. We are starting to get the machinery ready for spring when we have time. A few people have even planted a little corn.

4/03/11: We are still picking up the corn pile. Someone has been hauling away the cobs and we are hauling the corn. You can see a picture of the pile a few weeks ago here. I saw a disc in the field today. It was very warm.

3/27/11: We have about one third of the corn pile left to pick up. We had three inches of snow a few days ago and are waiting for it to dry a little. We had to replace the flighting on the pit auger after just a year and a half of using it. The cobs tend to wear it out faster. We mounted an inexpensive security camera in the holding bin to see how full it is getting without climbing up the ladder. We sometimes have to run the fan to suck the dust down to see for a moment. Here is a picture of the auger wagon unloading in the pit. Bill mounted a hydraulic cylinder to the door on the wagon so we don't have to open and shut it manually all day.

3/20/11: The separating of the corn and cob is still going well. We have to splice a belt on the conveyor auger tomorrow. Here is a picture of the loader filling the auger wagon from a view on top of the tower. We are still hauling the corn to Council Bluffs. There are some people who would like to start some field work when it drys a little more.

3/13/11: We may be over half done picking up our corn pile. The elevators sometimes get full and close early or sometimes all day. We have loaded out a few semi trailers of corncobs also. You can see the snow geese flying over the shop here. The grain prices were unusually high and have been going down fast this last week.

3/6/11: We have been separating a lot of corn and cobs this week. The snow has dried off and things are running pretty fast now. It is supposed to snow and rain this week. We load the corn/cob mix into the auger wagon at the pile and haul it to our pit. It is dumped and augered to a holding bin. The mix is fed into a combine and separated. The cobs are blown into the quonset and the corn is augered into the large bin. We have cut one quarter of the tarp off so far to get at the corn. Click here to see.

2/27/11: We have been separating corn from the cobs for a few days now. It was going pretty good until the snow slowed us down. The corn is about 14% moisture. The tarp has kept the snow off the corn except for where we opened it up. My uncle found an old rifle in his barn. Please write if you know anything about it. Click here.

2/20/11: We uncovered the corn pit. Two days later we had three skunks and a rabbit in the bottom 20' deep. We got them out, but I got a warning shot of three drops on my coveralls. I had to let them air in the sun for several days. I took a bath and didn't smell after that. You can see one of the skunks in the pit here. We got some more snow and then it melted in the warm weather this week.

2/13/11: I turned another fan off that sucks the tarp down on the corn pile. There is only one fan running now to hold it down. If you shut them all off, a strong wind could blow the tarp off. The snow is starting to melt. We are getting ready to start picking up the corn pile. All the soybeans are hauled. Here is a picture of a radish root that broke off at about 16 inches. For the most part, we did not get enough rain this fall for the cover crops to be successful.

1/30/11: We about have the soybeans hauled. You can see the sweep auger in the white corn bin here. We attended our private pesticide training this week.

1/23/11: We finished unloading a bin of corn here, and started on some soybeans. The price of grain is very high now. Corn is around $6.31 per bushel and soybeans are $13.67. It has been snowing sometimes, but not as heavy as last year. Two running fans are holding our tarp down on the corn pile now.

1/16/11: We haven't started picking up the corn cob mix pile yet because of the snow. We also need to empty some bins first. You can see the cobs in the rotary combine tank here. They are not broken up nearly as much as the conventional combines. That is probably why it is harder to not lose as many out the back. It might make it easier to separate them from the grain though.

1/9/11: We are doing some maintenance around the farm. The frost is about 8 inches thick in the ground. It doesn't dig very well. You can see a picture of the cover crop mixture in November that was 3"-4" tall before it froze here. It is snowing out now. We may get 8".

1/2/11: We are doing year end work now in ordering seed, chemical, and fertilizer. It is usually cold out. One day it was 65 F and then dropped to 18 that night and then colder yet during the day. Here is a picture of the demo rotary combine after a power shut down going 5.8 mph. The rotor was too full and you can see some of the cobs that will go out the rear of the combine. Slowing down to 3 mph seemed to help a lot.