McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2012

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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12/23/12: It has snowed a little, but they are still able to build terraces. You can see the grand old concrete elevator, Bartlett North in Council Bluffs here. We hauled some of our corn there during harvest. We still have our soybeans to haul. We are ordering supplies for next year.

12/16/12: The boys have one field of lime left to spread that we will wait until it is terraced. You can see a pile of rock at the quarry here. We went to a cover crop conference in Altoona. That is getting to be a popular topic lately.

12/9/12: We finished soil sampling just in time. The ground may be freezing soon. It is cold out tonight and may get down to 10 degrees. We will be having some more terraces built this next week. You can see the tile inlet that is hooked up to an old tile line here.

12/2/12: We have been taking soil samples and applying limestone. The lime is sometimes hard to get without waiting. You can see the floater being loaded here. We are grid sampling on 2.5 acre grids.

11/25/12: Our neighbor finished putting on NH3 for us with a John Deere toolbar. You can see a picture here of a normal knife bar running to the right beside the John Deere pass to the left. We will compare the yields next year, but they both seemed to have sealed very well with the moisture present. We have started to soil sample.

11/18/12: Not a good picture, but you can see the monitor in the drill that I can use to mark what is planted and where I have been here. The weather is fairly warm at around 50 degrees F.

11/11/12: We finished the high amylose corn and are done with our harvest. It rained last night and turned cold. I'm glad we are finished. I drilled some wheat for a cover crop yesterday. You can see the drill here.

11/4/12: We finished the yellow corn and have been combining the high amylose corn. We got rained out tonight with about one day of it left. After that, we will be done with harvest. You can see the auger wagon here.

10/28/12: It rained all week again. We need the rain, but we haven't combined for over two weeks. The forecast looks clear this week now. We might get to combine corn tomorrow or the next day. Our leg is going now on the new grain bin. You can see it here. The ground is muddy around it still. We might have to back the trucks out from the pit this year.

10/21/12: It rained several times this week and we didn't get to combine any corn. We have about one week left to combine. You can see the interesting old train engine at Bartlett that they move the cars with here. It is from the mid 1960's.

10/14/12: We finished the soybeans and started on the corn again. The corn basis is very good now at +.18. The bid even hit $8.00 once. We have been hauling the corn to Council Bluffs from the field. It slows the combines down a little. You can see the corn in the auger wagon here. We have about 1/3 of our corn left to combine. The moisture was 15.5% and the last field was getting 17.5%.

10/07/12: We are within a few days of finishing the soybeans. We had to wait until the last of them dried down some more. I hope that we can combine some more tomorrow. We got into the later maturity soybeans that were not ready yet. Our leg and dump pit is getting close to being ready now. You can see the drag and dump here. We are expecting our corn to be drier after we finish the soybeans.

9/30/12: We got started combining soybeans because the corn started getting wetter with what was still left. We are a little under half done with the corn. We calibrated the combine yield monitors today for the soybeans. The soybeans are very dry at about 8% moisture. Some people have had trouble with the green stems and some green beans. You can see the crane lifting a down spout to the grain bin and to the top of the leg here.

9/23/12: We are still combining corn. It goes a little slow because we are hauling it to the Council Bluffs elevators. Some people are starting to combine soybeans now. You can see the yellow soybeans here when I got to ride in the helicopter while he was spreading a cover crop for us of hairy vetch and rapeseed..

9/16/12: We combined some corn and hauled it to Council Bluffs. One field was dry at 15%. Most of the others are too wet to store without drying. Our new bin will be ready when they get the leg up that they are working on now. You can see the combine here. We won't be able to combine very fast until the corn has dried some more and the bin is finished so we don't have to haul to town.

9/9/12: Robert went out and sampled a field with the combine that tested 24%-27% moisture. I think that we have a drier field than that we can try this week. You can see some hairy vetch that was aerial seeded two weeks ago here. It was too early because the soybean leaves were not yellow and ready to fall yet. It might work with the heavy rain even though the soybeans are still green. The seedlings will need some more light soon.

9/2/12: You can see the scraper here doing dirt work. More people are combining corn, especially what is starting to go down and is drier. We went to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. It was pretty good.

8/26/12: We are doing some dirt work around the new grain bin. We seeded 50 acres of existing soybeans to a cover crop of 12# hairy vetch and 2# rapeseed. It is early yet because the soybeans have not yellowed, but a large rain was coming up so we experimented. We did get over 3” rain. We'll see how it compares to some later planted cover. You can see Gary Johnson's helicopter and spreader here.

8/19/12: Nancy and I took our youngest daughter Stephanie to her first year of college at ISU (Ames). Some people are combining corn that was planted very early or matured quickly. Here is a picture I took of Gary Johnson's helicopter at a cover crop field day by Stanton. They just spread a small amount of seed for the crowd to watch.

8/12/12: We have received some minor showers. You can see where the soybeans have died down under the three natural gas pipelines that cross near and through our fields here. We sprayed our high Amylose corn for insects.

8/5/12: It continues to be hot except for the last two days. The corn is starting to dry down. There will be clay areas in the fields that won't have much grain. The soybeans don't have a lot of pods on them. There are still blooms that could turn into pods if we get cooler weather and rain. You can see the fields from the turbine tower here.

7/29/12: We got 0.7” rain and another 0.04” this last week. We hope to get more. Still haven't gotten the wind turbine to go. There is something electrical that is wrong. I helped cook pancakes at the county fair. I made about five pancakes worth for the last one for myself at about 12” across here. That is a sausage in the middle.

7/22/12: It has not rained since the last week of June. We are getting dry, but not as bad as the east part of the state and further. We were lucky to get some earlier rains this spring. Some of the corn ears did not pollinate to the tip. The soybeans will need some rain as they are blooming or they will abort flowers. They tried to commission our wind turbine this week, but we need to wait on a small part until this next week. You can see the computer panel at the base here.

7/15/12: Nancy and I chaperoned several school kids to a FCCLA contest in Orlando. You can see a tomato tree here that can live for several years we saw at Epcot. It is getting very dry out. We are luckier than the eastern corn belt. We had some rain a few weeks ago that they didn't as much. The corn has fully tasseled and silked. I hope that the heat didn't hurt the pollen very bad.

7/1/12: I finished spraying the soybeans with glyphosate (Roundup). Things are starting to grow, but it is very hot out now (95-98 degrees). That makes it harder to get good control with the spray when the weeds are hardened off in the heat. You can see a picture here of some of our 15” soybeans. Most of the fields have more weeds than this. We had some marestail that didn't get killed the first spray. They finished most of the grain bin. They still need to do the loading system.

6/24/12: We got a little more rain this week. The crops are growing very fast. The soybeans are finally growing. I need to spray them a second time. They finished the last ring on the bin here. They will put in the auger and floor next.

6/17/12: We have had an amazing 3.5” to 4.0” rain this week in three different times. We really needed it. The corn and the soybeans were struggling to get a stand and grow. The crew is up to nine rings on the bin here. You can see the mud from the rain.

6/10/12: Finished spraying the corn a second time. It is very dry out. The corn population has had some low areas and the soybeans have not grown very much out of the ground. They have been working on the grain bin steel here. They will finish the roof and then jack it up a ring at a time until there are 14 rings.

6/3/12: I have been spraying the corn that was planted in May. We are using glyphosate and Callisto herbicide. We got 0.30 to 0.37” rain this week. We would like more, but this was the first rain since the first week of May. You can see a picture of the wind turbine tower being grounded for lightning here. I believe there are eight ground rods and they used what is called CAD welded joints.

5/27/12: They put up the tower, nacelle, and the blades with a crane for our wind turbine Friday. It will take a week to wire it and we may have to wait to reorder an electric meter. You can see it here. It has not rained for three weeks. The soybeans are probably the most in need of a rain. I have caught up to spraying the older corn.

5/20/12: We finished planting the soybeans also. We finally had a good run with the weather holding off the rain until we finished planting. Some of the fields are dry and we wish it would rain now. I have started to spray the corn for the second time now that it is up. You can see the corn here. They finished pouring the foundation for the grain bin.

5/13/12 We finished planting the corn. They will start on the soybeans next. They poured the concrete for the grain bin floor here. I have been spraying Envieve and other herbicides on the corn stalks going to soybeans. We have finally been able to work in the fields.

5/6/12: I was able to spray one half a day this week and then it rained again. I terminated the last of our hairy vetch cover crop. It was getting some size to it and it was time to spray before it got too big for the corn to be planted in it. You can see a picture of the vetch and the check without here. It will be interesting to check the corn yield there and also against the wheat.

4/29/12: We have been planting corn. I have about two more days of spraying corn acres before I do the soybeans for the first time. You can see some wheat cover crop two weeks ago that was terminated here. It is now quite yellow and planted to corn. It did seem to help on the erosion. It has been raining this weekend.

4/22/12: We are getting the planters ready. You can see the tractor and planter we bought here. The tractor is a 1998 JD 8400. The planter is 16 row by 30” with the 15” inter-plant rows for soybeans in between. Many people are starting to plant now. Some of the much earlier planting in the state may need to be replanted because of the frost. I got to spray some more corn ground today.

4/15/12: I have done some spraying of herbicides on the corn. We got 0.5” and 2.5” rain this week. They are pouring the foundation for our grain bin here. It will be a 60' bin. A 16” by 3'-9” stem wall will be poured over this 12” by 6' foundation.

4/8/12: I am getting close to spraying some herbicide. It has been unseasonably warm all winter. The weeds are a month ahead of normal. I will terminate the wheat cover crop soon here. Among other things the cover on the left is wheat and hairy vetch. The very far right is oats and hairy vetch. All of this was drilled last fall. The oats did not germinate in the dry weather very well. The hairy vetch has not grown very much yet.

4/1/12: We had 2.9” rain this week. You can almost see where the new terraces held the water and 12 hours later it has soaked in here. We are having the rest of our nitrogen custom NH3 because the cost is so much lower this year. It is about $20 per acre less than UAN 32%. We still have some more trees to pull out of our buffer strips.

3/18/12: I cut some trees out of the terraces, fences, and creeks with the tree shear. It has been unusually warm for March as well as all winter. It has even reached 80 degrees several days. Our next job will be to apply dry fertilizer.

3/11/12: I have been writing some GPS prescriptions for our fertilizer. You can see a map here for some dry fertilizer (MAP). It is 11% N, 52% P, and 0% K (11-52-0). It is warming up now and some people are starting to do a little field work.

3/4/12: Here is a picture of heavy frost on the trees last month. The snow was hard on them also with it breaking a lot of branches. The corn market has gone down some this week and the soybean market has gone up a lot. Old and new crop corn is $6.60 and $5.55. Old and new crop soybeans are $13.06 and $12.60.

2/26/12: Here is a picture of the bulldozer making a terrace last fall. I'm glad that we got them seeded with bromegrass before it snowed and froze. All the snow has just about melted now.

2/19/12: Here is a picture of the lower section of the wind turbine tower legs. The snow has slowed them down the last few weeks. It gets cold sometimes, but this winter has been very warm for us. It will be muddy for a while until the snow melts and the ground drys out.

2/12/12: You can see a picture of our wind generator and gear box unit here. It is called the nacelle. They have been working on the tower. They might do some more work on the project this week or next.

2/5/12: They worked on the tower for the wind turbine. You can see the start of the tower here. It might take them awhile to start again because it snowed 6” this weekend. The area had to cancel some activities because of the roads.

1/29/12: You can see a picture last month of us loading corn into our truck here. The grain market is very volatile with the price going up and down every week. Old crop corn is $6.50 and new crop is $5.46. Old crop soybeans are $12.02 and new crop is $11.62. These are still pretty high prices.

1/22/12: It has become cold and the ground is frozen now. It will snow 1-2 inches tonight. They poured our foundation two weeks ago for a farm sized wind turbine. You can see one of the leg forms here. The four holes are 48” in diameter and 15' deep. The bolts are 2” by 4'. The turbine will be 84' tall and be 65 KW rated. It is a re-manufactured WindMatic 15S.

1/15/12: We hired some NH3 applied with a John Deere toolbar to experiment with the planting. We have not liked planting after spring applied NH3 in the past. It is unusual that we had a few days in January that it could be applied. He finished what we wanted before it froze again. You can see a picture here. It tends to disturb the residue less than a knife would. We will use the liquid 32% UAN for the rest as usual.

1/8/12: You can see a picture of me seeding bromegrass on a terrace here. We borrowed a tractor livestock fan that you can pour the seed into and it blows it on the terrace. It works very well especially when the wind is not blowing much. It is still unseasonably warm out most days.

1/1/12: They finished terracing and tiling our field. There has been some very good weather this fall for field work. You can see the tiling machine here. We unfortunately hit the well electric wire and pipe several times because they ran separately and unpredictably. It has been above freezing most of the week.

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.

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