Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween and Harvest Continues

So everyone knows what today is. And nothing says Halloween like an expertly carved "LIQUID" pumpkin. Don't you agree? For the more traditional pumpkin, here is one made by my artistic daughter Dana. It's scary, yet lovely at the same time. I can't look away.

But before hitting the street for candy, there was a whole day of work to get through first. First job of the day was taking some soil samples in a potassium fertilizer experiment.

On the back of Farm 5 I saw a Posse of turkeys. I get a kick out of animal group names. Other favorites of mine are a Congress of salamanders or a Prickle of porcupines. Some people think Congress is acting like a bunch of Prickles. Or something like that.

Then it was time to start harvesting corn again. Here we see Phil setting the gps monitor for the experiment we are about to harvest. This way we can make sure that we are in the right plot, you know for recording the grain weights and all that sort of thing.

And we're off. Today we started on Farm 7, the only remaining farm with corn plots left. There are eight experiments here. At 40 plots per experiment, that would be....I'll get back to you on that. But it's a few days work.

Recall that we retain grain (hey that rhymes) samples of each plot for moisture and test weight measurements. Stephanie and Ron take a load of samples down from the grain cart and return more empty containers. What a trade.

Below we see Stephanie running the samples through the Dickey-John machine. I am happy to see that she is trying to get on the good side of her boss by wearing the colors of my alma mater Oklahoma State. (Or maybe it's because of Halloween and she has three young trick or treaters waiting at home.)

Back in the field Doug stopped by to check on progress. He is doing some chisel plowing in some fields that were tiled last year and still need some leveling. So much to be done in this complex world of nutrient research.

But that's what we do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Finishing the Week

So Friday we got back into the field for some plot activities. We harvested some more corn plots on Wednesday and finished Farm 5. Now all that remains is the corn on Farm 7. But alas, it is too muddy to get on as of now. Thursday it was rainy again. But Friday was kind of nice out, so we took advantage of it. One thing that was on the fall agenda was making fall strip-till applications. Or as we call it: Nutri-Till. We have demonstrated good results with fall applications of Pro-Germinator and Sure-K. Here we are comparing placement: either in the traditional lower shank placement, about 8 inches under the surface, or in shallow placement in the seed zone. And other stuff too. Here are the strips after application. They will now wait for the planter next spring. (Am I talking about next year already?)Another fall activity is application of (pardon the expression) dry potash on plots for next year. These will be in corn next year and will be compared to planter applications of Sure-K. I show this to prove the validity of the research we do here at the NCRS. But you already know that Sure-K will prove superiority. The applicator here is MSU intern Jeff who is able to help us on Fridays while a student the rest of the week. He assures us that he got a real life education working here on the farm this summer.
Late in the afternoon Doug wanted to harvest some non-plot, or "production" corn on Farm 7. The corn on the west side is kind of hilly and not as heavy of ground as where the plots are. Below Troy checks on Doug while Stephanie offers her advice.

Some of the corn here was planted well after June 1, and needed a grain moisture check. Doug tosses a sample in a container to Stephanie who will check it. Well the news wasn't good there, and so it will have to wait much longer. But there is other earlier planted corn to run. It was tough getting this corn planted last spring with all of the wet weather and having to re-plant some. (Note: if you enlarge your view, you can see lines of Canada Geese overhead. There was wave after wave that evening.)

Coming back into the farm research compound there was a pretty view of the sunset in the clouds.

That's a good sign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Corn Harvest...(What, You Were Expecting Maybe Garbanzo Beans?)

So today we fought the weather and won. It was kind of rainy this morning, but then let up and we knocked out several more corn experiments. Stephanie took the first shift in the grain cart. Here, besides enduring my pestering picture taking, she collects a plot grain sample for moisture and test weight determination. And yes she is wrapped in plastic to preseve freshness...and to keep dry in the rain.
Regular readers will recall this camera placed on the edge of one of our corn experiments to record plot growth. (OK, that's alfalfa behind it, the corn is the other way.) It supposedly takes a picture every 15 minutes. I don't know if that includes night. But it has been there since May. (Someone is going to have a big bill at Walgreens to get all of those pictures developed.) But we harvested that experiment today. So unless they come and shut it down, there are now pictures of harvested corn stalks.

Here we are on Farm 5 harvesting the continuous corn plots where manure has been applied to some plots for over 10 years. (For those annoying idiots on Ag Talk, this is the ONLY test that receives manure. Not the whole farm.)

The grain trailer fills up fast on corn harvest days. Fortunately we don't have to go too far to unload it at the elevator. In fact, Tim came over to the other side to drive the grain cart tractor while Ron drove the corn to market.

So there will be more of the same for days to come. This may be it for awhile unless somethng newsworthy happens. If so, I am quickdraw with the camera.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's Harvest Corn!

So today was a very nice day here at the good ol' NCRS. A bit windy, but comfortable in the 50's. We got a couple inches of rain from last weeks storms, and it even rained some last night. But we were able to get into the fields having lighter soil today, and knocked out three corn experiments. Grain moisture was pretty good, from 20% in one experiment to 17% in another. Below we see the combine making the rounds on Farm 3. To speed things up we harvest the middle four rows of the plot, and take to border rows later. Weighing the grain from each plot is the same as with beans. But we fill up the grain cart and truck much faster.
We had very strong winds last week which stripped leaves from many of the trees. But there is still some nice fall color around.

This wheat on Farm 3 was planted on October 5 and was looking bright in the late afternoon sun. Recall that we leave tram lines for the sprayer to make topdress and other applications.

Quiz question for the day: What is this unusual crop that we baled up today? Troy gives his inspection.

Answer: It is baled up drip tape from plots. After years of collecting the drip tape in various ways, for the past couple years we found that the quickest and easiest way is to pull it out of the plots and run it up in the round baler. Then we will haul it to the dump in a compact bale. Anyway, we hope to continue harvesting corn plots tomorrow. But sadly, the rain man looks to return. Hopefully we can get something done before he does.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest, Then Rain Delay

So it was kind of wet on Monday, and we switched to the corn head and harvested some corn. Not plots, but got some production corn out of the way and got the combine ready. Then yesterday it kind of dried up some and we switched back to soybeans to harvest our last two plots which were on Farm 3. Unlike last week when it felt like summer, it was cool and cloudy. Below we see Phil taking off the border rows to get ready to run the plots. On the left is one of our recently planted winter wheat plots that is looking good. Round and round as usual.
We were anxious to get done as rain was on the way. In fact the weather guy on the local weather channel said that heavy rain was possible over the next two days.

Looks like he was right based on this picture taken after lunch today.

So we will use this time to summarize results, work on equipment, and get ready to start corn harvest. Being cold and rainy out makes this a good day to eat up a big, steaming bowl of Butt Squash. Dive on in!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pay Your Bet

So you know that there was a bet made between Tim and Stephanie/me on the outcome of the football game between Michigan State and Michigan. The picture below tells that the winner was the Spartans (of course.) The bet was to hold a decorated pumpkin (designed by Stephanie), and Tim added the facial expression himself. I don't know if he is referring to his having to hold a Spartan pumpkin, or to the way the Wolverines played. Well, better luck next year. You'll need it!

Friday, October 14, 2011


So I mentioned yesterday that tomorrow is the big game in the state of Michigan. It's Michigan (booo) vs. Michigan State (Go Green...Go White). The line is drawn and the bets are made here at the NCRS. Tim thinks the Wolverines will prevail while Stephanie and I are confident the Spartans will continue the dominance of the past three years. Tune in Monday to find out what the bet was and watch the loser (not losers) pay off.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recruiting Trip

So today Stephanie and I did something different. We attended the Michigan State University College of Agriculture Job Fair. It was nice to get away from the farm for a day, although we do not understand why they have an agriculture job fair during harvest, but that is beyond our control. It was kind of damp today anyway. The event was held at the MSU Spartan Football Stadium, in fact in the same spot that we had our PLFP dealer meeting last year. But after our table set up, they gave us vendors a meal prior to the 4 pm start, and it was up in the press box of the stadium. (Notice our "Alumni" ribbons.) It is quite a view. Here is a view of the stadium from the press box. This weekend is the big rivalry game between the MSU Spartans and that team from Ann Arbor. It will be here at Spartan Stadium in front of over 76,000 fans. They had it covered, I guess due to the threat of rain. They had big blowers at either end to keep air flow over the turf. Did you know that MSU has beaten the lowly Wolverines the past three years? Well they have and hopefully it will be four straight on Saturday.Here is a view from the other side. This is the pool that I used to swim in many (ok, an extra "many") years ago. And I even dove off of that 10 meter tower on the left. Foolish youth. And that building on top is where MSU plays hockey. They were NCAA champions as recently as 2007.

Here is our table. We are talking to students about being an intern at the NCRS next summer. And who should stop by but Jeff and Amanda. They are doing well but certainly miss the farm. They are standing by their posters of their internship this past year. They should both be graduating next year, so if you are looking for some top notch workers, they would be an asset for your business. (Really! Contact me for more information.) Over the course of the evening we talked to a number of intern candidates, although they would have some big shoes to fill.

It is the first time we have been to this job fair, but it was pretty busy. There were 66 businesses and agencies there talking to students about internships and full time employment. It was fun to participate and see the students so full of hope and optimism. I was like that once...and still am as the future of agiculture is very promising. No matter what, people have to eat.

Now that was a day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Progress

So yesterday we harvested this soybean test on Farm 5 and this morning we planted another winter wheat experiment. This one will evaluate timing of application of Pro-Germinator and Sure-K. Here is Phil running the drill. And here is a picture from my familiar spot in the Hagie making broadcast applications. The main fall-applied wheat fertilizer around these parts is none, even though we have demonstrated significant yield increases with Liquid. Many growers are too busy with harvest to spend time with fertilizing wheat. But we will keep trying to spread the word. Also few drills are set up with liquid attachments. Anyway, a challenge with broadcasting liquid fertilizer is all of the crop residue on the soil surface.
Then this afternoon it was back to soybean harvest. We harvested three soybean tests on Farm 7 today. There are only two more soybean tests to harvest, and those are on Farm 3.

On my way home, I stopped by the wheat field that we planted this morning and was happy to see that it was up already.

Oh wait, I think I was looking at another field. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Thing After Another

So harvesting continues. Yesterday we harvested our Black Bean plot. As you can see, it was great fun. Black beans are unloaded into the trailer as they begin their journey to market. Hope they aren't disappointed.
Here is Doug late in the day harvesting one of our "production", or non-test plot fields. Pretty, isn't it.

Then today we established a winter wheat experiment after the black beans were harvested yesterday. It is an interesting array of treatments, some drill-applied, and some broadcast. That's Doug running the drill and your author in the sprayer, in this pic taken by Stephanie.

Here we see Doug and Stephanie mixing another treatment for the drill to apply during planting. Generally we find that drill-applied fertilizer works the best. But we have also had good results with sprayed planter-time fertilizer.

After planting wheat this morning, it was back to harvesting soybean plots this afternoon. We have made good progress with bean harvest in this stretch of warm weather. The end of soybean plot harvest is in sight. But rain is forecast for later in the week, and we have one more wheat plot to plant tomorrow. So the rain will be good for that.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Beautiful Day Out...Let's Harvest Soybeans!

So this incredible summer weather continues. It got up to 81 degrees today. But today the trees are really starting to show fall color. This is on the Road to Farm 7, where our adventure begins. We started harvesting there yesterday. Below is what an unharvested soybean experiment looks like when we arrive. Each experiment usually has 10 treatments with 4 replications. Let's see....that would be...(just checking)....40 plots to be harvested. Each plot is 265 feet long. It takes about an hour and a half to harvest one experiment. Today we harvested two, so that would be...let's see.....(just checking).....ok, about 3 hours. Not too bad for a Saturday afternoon.
Phil opens up the experiment by harvesting off the border rows. It is plenty dusty, as beans usually are. And they were dry, less than 13% moisture. Don't worry Mom, I have a dust mask when in the dust trails.

And the familiar site of the weigh cart chasing the combine from plot to plot.

When the cart got full, it was dumped into the grain trailer. Note the word Research on the side.

We also like the company theme "Research Driven, Farmer Trusted" on the fender. We do the "Research" part, and are glad when the "Farmer Trusted" part follows.

Haven't had a chance to see how the treatments in the experiments are doing so far, but we are pretty happy with the yields considering the year. But the results will be coming. All that is hidden will be made clear. Happy harvesting yourself.