McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 2013

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. --

12/29/13: We are doing some year end supply purchases. The wind turbine has been pretty reliable. It iced up last weekend, probably because it wasn't turning much at the time. We couldn't figure out why it wouldn't keep turning. The weight and more importantly, the ice changed the air flow so it wouldn't turn up to speed. It melted in a few days and started working. You can't see much in the picture, but here is a shot.

12/22/13: It is still pretty cold out. We have been doing some odd jobs. We looked at a demo Ag Synergy NH3 bar here. It is interesting how the rubber holds the ground in place while the knife goes over it.

12/15/13: We hauled corn this week. It was cold and we had to be careful not to gel up the diesel fuel in the trucks. They put the temperature and moisture cables in the bin before we started emptying it. You can see the snow and wind turbine here.

12/8/13: We hauled some soybeans and spread some ag lime. Sometimes people try to haul lime with a grain trailer. We tried a few loads and it was not dry enough to flow out very well. You can see a picture inside the hopper here. It snowed a few inches today.

12/1/13: It still gets below freezing at night. We may not get any NH3 put on this fall. The boys have been hauling some soybeans. You can see a picture of the combines doing corn a few weeks ago here.

11/24/13: It is cold out now, even in the single digits in the mornings. It snowed and rained just a little bit. I hope that it warms up in the next few weeks so we can do some work in the fields. You can see some of the earlier planted cover crops here of oats, hairy vetch, and rapeseed.

11/17/13: We were able to finish the corn today. We are all done with harvest now. The grains yielded well. We were not expecting the soybeans to do as well as they did. I woke up a few days ago with no water. I found where the deer had severed my well electricity here.

11/10/13: We have been combining corn for a few more days now. We are getting along well, but the grain is wet (17%-19%). I had to climb the top of the grain leg. You can see the bins below here.

11/3/13: We started back on corn today after a large rain. It may rain again Tuesday. You can see the combine doing corn in this window shot here.

10/27/13: We finished combining the soybeans yesterday. We had a large repair most of the day on one of the combines. It is supposed to rain tomorrow night. We may be able to do a little corn before that. You can see the combine doing soybeans here.

10/20/13: We were able to start combining soybeans again Friday. You can see the combine loading the wagon here. We haven't calibrated the combines yet, but they seem to be yielding well.

10/13/13: We are having several good days of harvesting soybeans. Some of them are ready and we keep moving around trying to find those that are. I was able to drill some cover crops. You can see the drill here. We are planting hairy vetch, oats, and rapeseed. I am also adding some sweet clover, crimson clover, winter peas and kale,

10/6/13: We having been getting more rain this week also. Our son Nicholas and Rachel were married this week. You can see our family picture here.

9/29/13: We received more rain this week. Some of our soybeans will combine in a week or so. We finished putting bentonite clay around our well. It will get tested again tomorrow for bacteria. We have been working on machinery and other things getting ready for harvest. You can click here to see me pulling the library float in the Emerson Days parade.

9/22/13: We keep getting rain. It is amazing after a dry summer to get this much. Most of the soybeans are yellow. Much of the corn has black layered also. We visited a donkey rescue east of Malvern called Lusco Farms Rescue. I was impressed. You can click here to see some of the many donkeys they have for adoption.

9/15/13: We had an airplane fly on some wheat seed on four fields for a cover crop Friday. We were lucky to receive a good rain last night of 0.45” to 1.1” on it. You can see the plane loading here. He could hold about 2,000 pounds of seed. Bob Pettis is out of Shenandoah and Atlantic. We will try to also drill some other types of cover crop seed after harvest.

9/8/13: Some corn on the poor hillsides are turning yellow. I went to a cover crop field day around Bedford. Here is a picture of a six week old cover of a mix of sorghum, radish, and other things.

9/1/13: We had a great rain last night of 0.9 to 1.5”. That will really help the soybeans fill the pods. It was getting very dry out. I had to dig out our pit-less well head here to put some bentonite clay around it. That should keep the surface water out.

8/25/13: We went to the Iowa State Fair. You can see a picture here. We then took our daughter Stephanie to college at Ames (ISU). We were and are getting dry, but the week before we received 1.7” of rain. That was huge for especially the soybeans. They are filling the pods now.

8/11/13: Here is a picture of a late planted soybean field that we did the foliar fertilizer test on. We have been getting our cover crop seed ready. The harvest could be late this year because of the later planting and the cooler weather this summer.

8/4/13: We had to clean the last load of high amylose corn to get some fines out here. Did the foliar fertilizer test on some soybeans. The corn is looking good. The roots may be shallow and it is getting a little dry, but they should be okay. The soybeans are a little behind because of the late planting.

7/21/13: The boys are baling some hay and we are cleaning up the last of the grain bin. We bought a 15” spacing air seeder for soybeans next year and for some cover crops this fall. We took it out to replant some soybeans as a test. It is pretty late for that. You can see the John Deere 1690 here. We had to alter a hydraulic valve to make it work.

7/14/13 We finished spraying the soybeans except for a foliar fertilizer test that will be done when they are blooming. You can see a neighbor's cereal rye field that he is combining and will then bale the straw here. The corn is looking good. The soybeans that were planted late are still behind.

7/7/13: We are still spraying the soybeans. You can see a picture of some of them here. The corn is starting to get tall and green now that the roots are established.

6/30/13: We are starting to spray the soybeans with glyphosate (Roundup). We also decided to add some more nitrogen to the corn. We feel because of several tests that we are short because of all the spring rains. You can see the Blu-Jet nitrogen applicator here.

6/23/13: We had a few more days this week in the field and are pretty much caught up with the field work. We will be spraying the soybeans with glyphosate next. You can see a field here. It has about one trifolitate leaf.

6/16/13: We got in the field parts of two days again this last week. It sounds like it should be dry this next week. I have a few more days to post spray the corn. You can see more corn here.

6/9/13: We were only in the field parts of two days this week because of the rain. I was able to spray some corn post emerge. You can see a picture here. You can see the nitrogen strips running across the rows. The corn roots have not had enough time and warm weather to reach or be provided enough nitrogen yet.

6/2/13: We were not able to get in the field again this week because of multiple rains. We would like to finish up, but they are still talking about the chance for a dryer than normal summer. We should be happy that we are getting a lot of rain this spring I guess. You can see some young soybeans coming up here. The seed pushes out and actually becomes the first cotyledon leaves. Edible green beans do not do this.

5/26/13: It rained again after we are over half done planting the soybeans. Our planter doesn't have shut off air clutches on the 15” splitter rows so they plant all the time when the planter is going on soybeans. We wired up some relays here so that when all the 30” rows are shut off automatically on that half of the planter, the relays shut off the planter's clutch on that side for the splitter rows also. Air clutches would cost about $4300, so this was inexpensive.

5/19/13: We got the corn planted and they started on the soybeans. It is raining today. I have a few days left to spray the corn stalks . You can see a picture of the sprayer being filled here.

5/12/13: More rain this week and it is considered later than normal to be planting corn. We are just starting now. We have a little more corn ground to spray and then I need to spray the corn stalks going to soybeans with Authority XL, Touchdown, and 2,4-D. We helped some guys burn our filter strips along the pond. The native grasses are 12 years old and should have been burned before now. It helps the grass and kills some of the young thorny locust trees. You can see a picture here.

5/5/13: We got a few days of spraying in before it rained and snowed a few inches. I blew a hydraulic steering hose, but we got it fixed and back to the farm before the storm. It is still muddy out. The rain will help our dry conditions that we were concerned about. You can see the meter in our wind turbine here. It is supposed to be rated at 66 KW, but it can gust up to the 86 KW for a few seconds like shown.

4/28/13: I was able to spray herbicide today on ground going to corn. I am spraying Bullet and will come back later with Halex. We bought some used dual tractor tires to put on the sprayer. We will have to take them off when the crop comes up because they will be too wide. You can see them here. It seems to ride better especially over ditches.

4/21/13: It rained 1.8” more this week and is starting to rain tonight and tomorrow also. We are getting ready to spray and plant when it dries up. You can see our wheat cover crop here. The cereal rye that people planted earlier last fall is much taller.

4/14/13: It has been rainy and cold out this week and maybe next also. We cleaned some fines out of the high amylose corn here. You can see the wagon on the left where we auger wagon the corn into. The fines go into the wagon on the right. The clean corn goes up the belt tube in the middle to our truck.

4/7/13: It is starting to get warmer and dryer out. There has been some fieldwork in the area. A few people planted some corn before the rain coming tonight and the next few days. It would still be considered early. We finished spreading the lime. You can see the end loader loading the spreader here.

3/31/13: I will put a picture of a market in Manila here. This is a table of fresh fish. There are also grocery stores, but many people buy direct from the markets. They have fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit. It is trying to warm up here some days and then we get some snow or rain. We may get some tonight.

3/24/13: We hosted Genie as a Philippine foreign exchange student for the school year seven years ago. Nancy and I had the chance to go visit her recently. We were gone for 12 days. We landed in Manila and toured the country where we visited her village near Banaue. The country is a beautiful developing tropical nation. The people are friendly and generous. We saw many places where the people don't seem to have or need much. I was very interested in the rice terraces in the valleys in the mountains. You can see a picture of some near her village here. We spent several days in Manila on tour with her adviser and neighbors. It was a fascinating trip.

3/3/13: You can see a picture here of the crane putting up the leg last year. The snow is somewhat melted now.

2/24/13: We got over 6” of snow Thursday and Friday. You can see a picture out my back yard here. We can spread some dry fertilizer when some of the snow melts.

2/17/13: Mike Paulsen finished wiring the electrical panel on the bin for the unloading augers. You can see it here. We loaded some trucks with the high amylose corn, but we need to dry it some more and run it through the cleaner.

2/10/13: It has been pretty muddy out this week. We may get to send some high amylose corn to Kansas City this next week. Click here to see a short 10 second video of our wind turbine. It actually runs about a constant 58 RPM. If your browser asks which program to open it with, I used Quick Time Player. You could probably use Windows Media Player also.

2/3/13: A few days were cold, but we are back above freezing during the day usually. Practical Farmers of Iowa has a farminar (webinar) every few weeks here. If you go down to January 22, you can hear another farmer and myself showing some slides about cover crops. You will have to excuse my first several minutes of being kind of slow. It runs about 45 minutes plus another 45 minutes of answering questions. You can now go to the Farminar Archives near the top right to see this.

1/27/13: It is rainy and wet out today. It is also foggy and a little above freezing. You can see where a beaver cut down a small tree by a pond and carried it away here.

1/20/13: We finished hauling the soybeans. It may get down to 7 degrees F tonight. They were working to get the new bin to unload into the grain leg also this week. They set up the unloading spout to the trucks. You can see some work around the leg dump before harvest here.

1/13/13: We have been hauling soybeans to the Bunge plant in Council Bluffs. There is an unusually good positive 35 cent basis (above Chicago) now. You can see the truck loading here. It has been pretty muddy out, but is now frozen.

1/06/13: It has been getting colder out. Here is a picture of the bulldozer building terraces a few weeks ago. The ground has been frozen too much lately to work on them. Maybe it will thaw out before the winter gets colder.Unable to create directory: No such file or directory