McGrew Brothers Farm Journal 1999

Journal by Steve (usually updated Sunday night)

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12/26/99: We have been working on ordering seed, chemicals, and fertilizer for next year. We have also been trying to figure out our year-end tax situation. I got the card reader to work on another computer so I finally downloaded the files from the yield monitor. I haven't spent a lot of time yet looking at the maps from this harvest. It takes a little time to set up the yield map legends the way I want them.

12/19/99: We got most of our fields soil sampled when it started snowing several inches Wednesday. It snowed a lot today. We need to do some year-end tax planning and ordering seed, fertilizer, and chemicals. We may haul some grain this month, but our next contract is the white corn going to Council Bluffs in January. It finally got cold. It has been in the lower 20's F and may get down to 0 this week. We need to get some weed seed cleaned.

12/12/99: I have started to GPS mark the points of our soil sampling by the soil type and contour instead of a standard grid. We are still taking 12 probes in one spot for a sample about every 3.3 acres. I hope we can finish what we need to sample this week. The Monsanto Concept farm came out to place some test strips of deep placement fertilizer. We will plant on top of the strips next spring and check yields of strips with fertilizer, strips without fertilizer, and no strips. I went to a Kruger seed meeting at Red Oak.

12/5/99: We have started to take some soil samples. I'm trying to use the yield monitor to mark the sites in a grid to keep track of each sample. This will allow us to make a map of the fertilizer recommendations and come back later to sample the same spot. It is difficult because unlike the commercial models, it is hard to skip grid numbers to sample within a terrace circle. It wants you to run east and west in order. It is close to freezing most mornings now, which is still warmer than normal. The geese and the ducks aren't flying south over our fields yet.

11/28/99: It rained an inch Tuesday. It has been very dry this fall. I have heard we are 5 inches short of rain now. Our pond had lost six inches of water this harvest and gained 1.5 inches back after the rain. I have been working on our fertilizer and lime application maps. If we get around to it, we could still seed down our buffer strips this fall. They have staked out about half of them. We traced the lines with the GPS unit in case the flags get lost over the winter. We have calculated that a buffer strip would hold the soil loss to about twice that of what a terrace would.

11/21/99: The county conservation office (NRCS) has been marking some contour buffer strips on our hills to seed down with grass for erosion control. These will be enrolled in the 10-year CRP program. We still need to decide on using cool season (brome, orchard grass, & clover) or warm season (Indiangrass, big & little bluestem, or sideoats grama). David has been running the road grader cleaning out some old terraces. Robert got the weeds combined. We have the harvest finished, grain and cobs separated, and bins filled now.

11/14/99: We finished our harvest except for some weed seed that is windrowed. It is still very warm for this time of the year. It got up to 89 degrees the other day. We have not had hardly any rain this fall. It was nice to get the crops harvested, but it is unusually dry out. We have many jobs to catch up on now, but we don't have any grain to haul until January. Most of the cobs have been hauled out of the building now. We took two trucks of cobs to put around the playground equipment at the school.

11/8/99: The harvest is starting to wind down. We have had several breakdowns this week. I'm hoping we get done Tuesday night. There are about 150 acres of white corn left. The cobs are so dry and hard that we are losing some because they don't break up into smaller pieces. The weather is unusually hot and dry out for November. It gets up to the middle 70's and today might reach 80 degrees.

10/31/99: We finished the rest of the yellow corn and now we have about 10 days of white corn to harvest. It may take a little longer if we have to shut down to haul out the yellow corn to make room for the white. It rained 0.55 inches Friday. They have been hauling out the cobs about as fast as we clean them.

10/24/99: We finished the soybeans. We had to put the last 10,000 bushels in a bin because the bean plant was getting full. We have combined some more corn this week also. We should finish the yellow corn this next week and we will have to haul it all to Council Bluffs before we can fill the bin with white corn. We are having some problems with the grain terminals closing because of the rail car shortage.

10/18/99: There are 340 acres left of soybeans for us to combine. This should take less than four days. The soybean crush plant is getting full and the grain terminals in Council Bluffs are getting full of corn. AGM is piling corn on the ground. It hasn't rained hardly any during our soybean harvest. We still have most of our corn to combine after the soybeans.

10/10/99: We combined 160 acres of corn and have been on soybeans for three days. The corn seems to be yielding average and some of the soybeans are below an average yield. Some of the soybeans were planted late and some flooded out. We have been hauling the soybeans directly from the field to the Bunge crush plant near Council Bluffs. Green Products has been hauling some of our corncobs out. I forgot to mention that we stocked the fishpond last week with bluegill and catfish. The state will give us large mouth bass next spring.

10/3/99: We just started to harvest our corn. We have one farm that is 18% moisture, but most are quite a bit wetter. A little shower stopped us today, but we'll be able to go again tomorrow. The new yield monitor (Ag Leader 3000 Pro) is interesting to look at. It makes a map of the fields on the go. It is recording the yield and moisture at each 3-second location. Our soybeans should be ready to combine in less than a week. We will switch to combining them as soon as they are ready.

9/26/99: Most people are starting their corn harvest now. Our corn is still 25% to 30% moisture and is not dry enough to combine, especially trying to save the cobs. I was hoping to combine this next week, but it probably won't be ready. It is raining tonight. We still have a lot of work to do on the augers. We have a few more loads of corn to haul to empty the grain bin. Our pond is 25 inches from the tube. We pick up our (1000) Bluegill and (150) Channel Catfish minnows this week. We get the Largemouth Bass next spring.

9/19/99: We got the roof auger down and put in new flighting. The crane waited and got it back up the same day. We are working on the long auger going to the large bin. Most of the corn is still in the middle to upper 20 percent moisture. The grain terminals in Council Bluffs are already full of old corn. They are having trouble getting enough rail cars. It is raining a little today.

9/12/99: We got another 0.8 inches of rain this week in two showers. I went to a meeting at Malvern about grain loan deficiency payments. It can get complicated. We drove the John Deere 1928 GP tractor and the 1949 GMC truck in the parade at the Emerson Fall Festival. The corn is drying down fast. Some neighbors have combined some high moisture corn. The soybeans are starting to yellow now. The Indian Creek Historical Society had an oats trashing demonstration today. (Sunday)

9/5/99: The grain prices have risen quite a bit this week. They are still very low, but this week has helped. We sold most of what little corn we had left. We are concerned about the uncertainty of the genetically modified grain sales for this harvest. I think we will be okay except for the 80 acres of Roundup Ready corn. We will keep it separate from the rest. We need to repair some of our grain augers. We will have to hire a crane to reach the roof auger on the large grain bin. We got almost 0.7 inches of rain Saturday. We seeded around the pond. It has 39 inches left to reach the tube.

8/30/99: We finished hauling our corn contract. The basis is 2 cents better to wait until September to empty the bin, but the general price is working down. We've done a little more finishing work on the pond. David has hauled sand from Shenandoah for the beach. We have an old gravel trailer that the semi truck can pull. We put some fabric under the sand. The pond has 46 inches left to rise to the tube.

8/22/99: David and Robert hauled more corn this week. We have had to treat some of the loads for insects with Actellic. They need to haul another day or so to finish the contract. They did not have to wait in line very much to unload. I had several meetings this week. The bulldozers are done at the pond now. The pond really turned out quite well. It was hard to get it deep enough because of the spring water. They had to dig some ditches to drain it. We need to haul a little more dirt to the dam. The water is 1 to 5 feet deep and needs to rise another 5 feet to the tube level. We will seed the area down with brome grass pretty soon.

8/16/99: My brothers hauled some grain last week. The truck lines at Council Bluffs were pretty long. I'm concerned that they will still be pretty full of grain even when harvest starts. The crops are looking good still. The grain prices have been under more pressure. They finished the pond dam Sunday and it is filling up now with water now. The pond is turning out well. We worked on the dock today.

8/8/99: It rained very hard at the farm Friday night (6.3 inches & 0.4 the day before). The creeks flooded some of the fields and I'm sure the rain broke through some of the terraces. Many of the roads were closed. We may have been lucky that the new pond dam wasn't closed or it may have broken. Robert combined some bromegrass seed and we put it in the drying bin. The grain prices rose again this week. I went to a Kruger soybean seed meeting.

8/3/99: Robert is getting the combine ready to do some bromegrass seed. We will probably plant some grass buffer strips to put in the 10 year reserve to reduce erosion. We have started to do some more mowing around the fields. The grain prices are starting to rise again because of the dry weather in the east part of the country. We sold some old crop corn and some new crop soybeans. The crops look very good. The corn is in the roasting ear stage and the soybeans have been flowering for quite a while. They are around two feet tall. Since they were planted late they won't get as tall as usual. They didn't have quite enough time to plug the dam Sunday so they will try for this next weekend. They need the track hoe operator to come out on the weekend.

7/25/99: We finished spraying all the soybeans. I may spray the terraces with 2,4-D, but it is getting late. It has been quite hot and humid out (temperatures in the upper 90's). The grain prices went up a lot this week but they are still unusually low. They worked on the pond some more. Two bulldozers and the track hoe. David has been digging with the soil scrapper and hauling to the dam also. The site is 3 to 5 feet deep so far and it is getting too muddy to dig much more. They dug a trench around some more of the perimeter to try and drain some water out today. The dam is about three fourths complete and there will be extra dirt to haul out.

7/18/99: We finished spraying the Roundup Ready soybeans with Roundup today. We have about two days of spraying conventional soybeans left. The corn is tasseling now and the soybeans are about knee high. The soybean fields that haven't been sprayed yet are getting pretty weedy. Our county fair at Malvern started Saturday. I've spent a little time there helping out. They dug some more drainage ditches at the pond site today.

7/14/99: We've been spraying the soybeans with Roundup (on the Roundup Ready varieties) or FirstRate, Fusion, & Status on the rest. The weeds are getting large and I'd like to finish soon. I have about four days left but the last few days have been too windy. The Patriot sprayer is working out well. I was spraying Sunday and forgot to update this journal. They have the tube put in the pond site now. They may dig a trench around the outside to dry the pond out for digging.

7/4/99: We've been catching up on a few things this week. It's been raining and windy out and sometimes hot (mid 90's and humid). There hasn't been much fieldwork done this week. The corn is about chest high now and the soybeans are 6 to 8 inches tall. Bill got an old livestock trailer that we might use to haul fuel, air, tools, and parts with. We sold the last of the cobs to put in a park playground. We got our digitized soil maps from the N.R.C.S. We can rate the productivity of the different farms.

6/27/99: We finished spraying the Buctril / Sencor and also the Roundup on the Roundup Ready corn. It rained 1.8 inches this morning. I am glad we are done spraying the corn hopefully. I like the Patriot sprayer pretty well. I slide the wheels out to 152 inches so I straddle 5 - 30 inch rows. It is really wide but it rides better. We put the combine GPS unit in the sprayer to try it out. It is interesting to see the maps being made, but without controlling a rate or logging harvest data, I don't know how useful it will be. It would show me if I missed a spot. They carried the overflow tubes down to the pond site and burned the willow trees.

6/20/99: We bought and have started using a different sprayer. It is a 1995 Tyler Patriot XT. It has a John Deere 175 hp. diesel engine in it with a hydrostatic drive. It has a 750 gallon sphere tank with 75 foot wide booms. I sprayed some of the corn with Accent to kill the giant foxtail and will wait 3 days to spray for the waterhemp with Buctril / Sencor. The soybeans will be ready to spray in a week or so. We will be mowing around the fields soon. They may be starting to dig on the pond soon. Unfortunately it is really wet at the site.

6/13/99: The floater engine has spun a main bearing. It would be cheaper to buy a new engine than to overhaul it. I think we'll buy a row crop sprayer and take our time trying to find a way to fix the floater. A floater isn't a very good way to spray the crops after they are up. It keeps raining and the corn is starting to get weedy. We may have to rescue some of it. We will try and combine some brome seed this year and have the neighbors bale some of the rest.

6/8/99: (Tuesday) We finished planting the soybeans last night. The grain markets are starting to worry that the Midwest may be getting dry now. We have good subsoil moisture in our area. The floater (sprayer) has engine trouble. A mechanic is going to drop the oil pan and look at it this morning. It has a 555 Cummings diesel with 5800 hours on it. We're getting the tractor sprayer (Hardi) ready to finish spraying the post corn. They dropped off the 18-inch gas pipe for the pond. They will probably start working on it pretty soon.

5/30/99: We were able to work most of the week in the fields until we got rained out this Sunday. The corn is all planted and the soybeans are less than half planted. The soybeans are supposed to be planted by May 20. I have a short day of spraying the soybean fields with Roundup and Turbo left. I'll come back with Roundup on the Roundup Ready soybeans and FirstRate & Status on the conventional soybeans next month. The corn is getting close to needing post sprayed with Basis with the floater. We ran the nitrogen injector on 160 acres of corn that was already up. It seemed to work pretty well. We left the tool bar 45 feet wide, but removed four coulters to make it 30 feet wide like the 12 row planters.

5/23/99: We were only able to work 1.5 days in the field this week. We got three different rains totaling about 2.5 inches. We have one day of corn to plant and also about that to spray the pre-emerged corn. I would really like to get the old cornstalks sprayed before the weeds get any taller. I will also need to spray some of the corn post-emerge pretty soon with the floater. If we get a chance we might put the combine GPS monitor in one of the planters to map the different varieties of seed planted. I installed a (PCMCIA) card reader in the computer the other day.

5/16/99: We ran again starting Sunday when it was a little wet and it rained again. It rained 0.5 inches Friday and 0.3 inches Saturday night. We are around 80% planted on our corn and about the same with the herbicide spraying. We have less nitrogen injected but I think we will side-dress the nitrogen where the planter got ahead of it. We haven't side dressed nitrogen before, but it should be possible with the new nitrogen injector. That's what it is really made for. We broadcasted 50 acres of nitrogen on top with the floater. We will probably take off four coulters and make it match the 12 row planters.

5/9/99: We planted some corn and ran the nitrogen injector before it rained again. We also ran today (Sunday). There is a good chance of rain tomorrow. We are still trying to adjust the nitrogen injector so it doesn't throw the dirt. I sprayed some of the creeks with a non-atrazine herbicide (Dual + Sencor). Our neighbor is running the injector so I can spray. We try to have all our corn planted by May 10th. It won't happen this year.

5/2/99: It rained over an inch Tuesday. We ran the nitrogen injector Saturday and today. I'm only running it 1.5 inches deep and it isn't tearing up the ground as bad for the no-till planters. It seems to be a better way to put on the 32% nitrogen instead of broadcasting it on top with the herbicides. It is an extra trip unfortunately. Robert has been hauling the nitrogen from La Platte with the semi. He then parks it at the field to fill the injector. It can hold enough for 125 acres. Bill and David are about ready to plant now. The fields are getting dryer out.

4/25/99: It rained several inches more again Thursday. We ran the nitrogen injector a little before that. It seems to work okay except it is tearing up the damp fields more than I thought it would. I raised it out of the ground more and that helps. The nitrogen trailer is almost ready to haul. We shipped out a lot of weed seed this week. The sales are later this year. There are only about six trailers of cobs left now. The weeds are starting to get big in the fields. We have done a little work on the JD 4640 tractor now. The front tires may not last the spring.

4/18/99: It rained another few inches this week. It seemed like we were going to be in the fields early this year but now it doesn't look like it. The JD 4430 is almost ready. We are finally getting some more of the cobs hauled out. They will probably empty the Quonset out in a week or two. We plan on buying a tanker trailer for the semi to get our 32% nitrogen about 50 miles away. We bought a two - inch pump and 5 HP Honda engine to mount on the trailer. Bill went up to Dike, IA to pick up the first load of soybean seed at Kruger's.

4/11/99: We got around 4 inches of rain this week. We got some more weed seed cleaned. My brothers have been working on the John Deere 4430 1973 tractor. They have really fixed it up by putting in a new seat, cab foam, replacing the dual wheels and radiator screens and many other things. We will use it in the field to pull the nitrogen injector. The co-op has a little more lime to apply. We brought the floater and the 4640 tractor out of the shed and put away the old combine (6620).

4/4/99: I ran the nitrogen injector over 22 acres to test it out using 32% nitrogen. We calibrated it with water and figured out the ratio of the truck hubometer Bill put on it. The machine works pretty good but I hope that it doesn't tear the field up as much after it dries up. It rained 0.4 inches Friday night. We got the rest of the waterhemp and the redroot pigweed seed cleaned. We got the soil tests back. We need to apply some more lime but not phosphate. A lot of anhydrous ammonia has been applied the last two weeks and some disking has been done.

3/28/99: We test ran the nitrogen injector in the field without fertilizer. I hope that it is less disturbing to the soil when it dries up and the coulters shine up. A welder from Blu-Jet came out to reweld the jack stand. Bill drove to Verdigre, NE to get some Jimsonweed. I drove to Council Bluffs today to get some pigweed. Robert and I took more soil samples at two farms. It is starting to get drier out, although it rained a little Saturday.

3/21/99:  We ran the rest of the waterhemp wagon through the fanning mill the first time. We'll get a lot of seed from it. The nitrogen injector is getting put together. My brothers are ready to run the hoses and plumb the tank and pump. It is starting to dry up now. Some people are fertilizing and plowing pastures. We would like to take some additional soil samples on some new land. With the low grain prices, we plan on reducing some input expenses.

3/14/99: We got more snow this week. We cleaned some more weed seed and bagged it up. We especially needed some more waterhemp. My brothers have been putting the nitrogen injector together. It has a ground driven pump that works to apply the correct rate at varying speeds. It has a 1400-gallon tank and 15-30 inch spaced coulters. There are two large 12 X 46-inch rim tires on it. We went to the farm show at Omaha. They had a lot of equipment and miscellaneous displays. I saw an 1100 bushel auger wagon that had rubber tracks for wheels.

3/7/99: We cleaned two more wagons of weed seed this week of giant foxtail, waterhemp, and lambsquarters.  We mainly used the fanning mill, but we also ran the waterhemp through the spiral cleaner. I had the chance to look at some of the yield maps. It may raise more questions than answers. There is especially one field that I would like to know why there are such obvious yield differences in different areas. This field happened to be soil sampled in grids and I still can't see a correlation. My brothers have started to put together the nitrogen injector. There have been some people hunting snow geese in the fields.

2/28/99: Bill went out in Nebraska to pick up a nitrogen injector (Blu-Jet AT4000). It digs a small trench with a coulter and then sprays the 32% nitrogen in the slot with a high-pressure stream. It seems a shame to have to make an additional trip over all the corn acres, but we have been uncomfortable spraying the nitrogen on top with the herbicide application. When the nitrogen used to stay on top for too long without a rain we probably lost too much, especially spraying on top of the residue. We got some waterhemp, velvetleaf, and giant foxtail cleaned. We had to finish up some more of our tax work. I downloaded the demo yield-mapping program again from Ag Leader but I haven't got it working very well yet.

2/21/99: We hired a trackhoe to bury an old barn and silo. He also dug out some willow trees to start a farm pond until it snowed. It snowed around 4 inches twice. It is supposed to have another chance tomorrow. The ground was fairly dry before it snowed. We went to a chemical information meeting in Council Bluffs. We started cleaning some waterhemp seed. We have three wagons of different seed to clean.

2/14/99: My brothers hauled some yellow corn to Council Bluffs. We finished the fertilizer and lime application maps. It will have to either freeze or dry up to put it on now. Because we don't till the fields, we probably are not supposed to put on much more than 2500 lbs. of lime per acre per year. We ordered the Blue Jet nitrogen injector. We had a quick blizzard Thursday. They sent the kids home from school, but it cleared up by 2:00.

 2/7/99: We emptied the white corn bin. We still have some yellow corn in the bins. We're not sure whether to sell any more or not. It has been fairly warm out this week and it is muddy out in the fields. We are going to have the fertilizer put on variable rate (phosphate) on the fields that were grid sampled. The rest we will have to broadcast general rates. We are looking at a high-pressure nitrogen injector to put on our nitrogen (32% UAN) this spring.

1/31/99: We finished the white corn contract and still have 5 loads left in the bin. We'll probably sell it for February delivery. I've been trying to spend some time getting the programs installed back on the computer. I had only just started looking at the GPS data. If it freezes up the next few weeks maybe we'll have some dry fertilizer and lime applied. We can have it spread for $1 an acre the normal way or pay $2.75 to have it spread by a variable rate according to the computer contoured map on the fields that we had grid sampled.

1/25/99: We got most of the white corn contract delivered. It rained Friday so we didn't haul. There is probably still 9000 bushels in the bin to empty out. The white corn seems to auger harder. The auger center shaft broke the first load of the second bin. We welded it in place and reinforced it with angle iron. We had to work on our taxes Thursday at the lawyers. It is getting above freezing most days now.

1/17/99: We need to wait until next week to haul our white corn to Council Bluffs. We loaded up the truck and found out they're waiting on some rail cars. We got our electric meter box replaced. It had been hit by lighting sometime last year. We've been working on our bank projections and we also need to be getting our taxes ready for this next week. Most of the snow has melted. The hard drive crashed on the computer and the company is going to send another one out.

1/3/1999: We got about six inches of snow this week. It is getting down close to 0 F at night. We have been ordering seed, fertilizer, and herbicides for next year. It's nice that a lot of university yield data is on the Internet now. We will haul our white corn when some of the snow clears out and when it warms up maybe. We've been looking at some of the yield data maps.