Done with fertilizer… until spring

Monday, November 13, 2017

Last Saturday, it was a mostly sunny but cool day.  CPS finished up with the application of the fertilizer for 2018.   This was mostly phosphorus and potassium, (P & K) with some micronutrients.  These are applied according to a map-based prescription,  The spreader truck varies the rate of application of the nutrients as it moves across the hills and flat parts of the fields.  The maps are developed using the results of sampling the soils, overlaid with maps of the previous year’s yields–accounting for the nutrient removal by the previous crop.

Here, the spreader truck moves across the hill at the Dunn farm. Some people look at this field, and ask if we farm in the ‘mountains’. Note the cover crop oats planted to protect the valley from erosion.


Applying P & K and micronutrients to the flat field at Dunn. Can you see in the background, across Roberson Ditch, the blackened remains of our neighbor’s combine? It rolled out smoke for 5 days until it finally burned out.

This concludes the application of granular fertilizers for the 2018-crop corn and soybeans.  The next nitrogen application will come on the wheat crop in late winter-early spring.   In late March or early April (depending on current conditions) we will apply the nitrogen for the 2018 corn crop, in the form of anhydrous ammonia.  It will be knifed into the soil, ahead of planting time, and applied according to a variable-rate prescription map.  Those prescription maps will be written this winter.  It’s a good office task on a cold, blustery day.

Have a blessed week.



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Cooler week

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day.  It’s also our son Philip’s 35th birthday!  So, we have several reasons to celebrate.

It has been a quieter week.  As the temperatures have cooled down considerably to below-average numbers this week, it has limited our outdoor activity to afternoons.  It takes us a while to adjust to lower temps.   Nights have been in the 20s.

Brandon did deliver some loads of corn to GPC.  And I took the opportunity of a warmer (55ºF, 13C) sunny afternoon to cut some woody sprouts in one of the ditches at the Huey farm.

It seems that we have seen the peak of fall leaf color earlier this week, but by today, some tree branches are bare.

Nice fall color


Some are losing their leaves

We are making arrangements to upgrade our JD GPS receivers.  The current Starfire 3000 ‘globes’ are gonna be traded in for Starfire 6000 models.  The new ones will have a more accurate signal, and they will boot up (acquire their connection to the satellites) faster.

These receivers will be swapped for the new model SF6000.

John’s paint and repair job on the oldest hopper trailer was a success.  It looks much better now, and the fresh paint will protect those wheels for years.

Here are the wheels in the process of being painted. John also repaired the hub-caps, so that you can once again see the oil level in the wheels’ hubs.

There goes our oldest truck and trailer, but it still works well and looks pretty good.

The fall installment of our 2017 property taxes went into the mail yesterday.   In Indiana, property taxes are collected twice a year, on May 10 and November 10.   I used to go to the County Treasurer’s office on the due date, but now I just mail them in…. no standing in long lines!

We are approaching Thanksgiving, and we trust your preparations are going well.   No matter what the circumstances of your day, you can always find a reason to be thankful.  Let’s resolve to make that a habit… not just one day a year.

Have a great weekend.  College basketball has begun!











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Good Start

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The wheat crop is off to a good start.  I checked out each field yesterday, and found a nice, thick stand, with a healthy green color.  It’s ready to face the winter’s chill.  We have discussed with our CPS consultant, Greg Anthis, the plan for managing this wheat crop.  We will be stepping up our management, with a view to increasing the yield.  It will receive a fungicide treatment at flowering, a nitrogen boost in late winter, and a herbicide application in very early spring.  Conditions will tell us if an insecticide treatment is required.   The nitrogen will be an extended-release urea form that will feed the wheat over a longer period of time.  No, this is not as intensive as European wheat producers, but it is a step up for us.

Here is the wheat at the Steen Hill field.

And here the two fields at the Ross farm are looking nice.

Our cover crop strips have all emerged and are beginning to perform their erosion protection task.  It was a relief yesterday to see the latest-planted strips of oats coming up on the Steen farm.  I was concerned that the cooler weather would not let that get started, and we would not achieve the results we wanted.  But, now, it appears that it’s going to be okay.

John is busy in the shop repainting the white wheels on one of our older grain trailers.  He keeps things in tip-top shape.

It’s a wet and gray day in SWIN today.  It’s the kind of day that makes you happy that harvesting is complete, and the grain is in the bins.  Harvest is pretty much wrapped up all across SWIN, but we hear reports that in other areas, there is still much to bring in.  Our hearts go out to those farmers.  We know what it’s like to have to work in the mud or on the freeze.  You do what you gotta do.



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End of a busy week

Friday, November 3, 2017

We’ve had some pretty cold nights, down into the high 20s.  But towards the end of the week, a warm-up has been happening.  It is gray and drizzly this morning, but not so cold.  In fact, some temps in the 70s are predicted for the weekend!   Probably not good to be that warm in November.

The sprayer is now winterized and placed into an unheated storage building.  Other maintenance is taking place, too.

John rigged up a barrel full of winterizing fluid to place in the sprayer. He then circulated this juice through the spray system and boom.

Also in the shop, Brandon and John put a coat of paint on our fuel/service trailer. It’s not a Thunder Creek, but it does the job.

The office has been a busy place.   There is another meeting today in which we will discuss our herbicide plan and soybean fertility plan for 2018.  Grain deliveries are now ‘caught up’, but Ross has been making some new contract sales which will happen later this month and in December.

There was one big “oops” moment yesterday.  As I was working with compiling the corn harvest results, I had several Excel sheets open at one time.  I was finishing the transferring of the unload information from the yellow pad where each load is recorded.  I had just completed it, and I was very satisfied that the final bushel total was congruent with the to-date sales and the November 1 inventory.   But the unthinkable happened!  That sheet disappeared!  Oh, my!  And to my consternation, I had not hit the ‘save’ button.   I’m not sure how that got away without being saved… Well, I spent the afternoon, 4 1/2 hours, to re-build that spreadsheet.  Needless to say, I clicked ‘save’ frequently during that re-build!

Lesson learned… again.

Have a nice weekend.  Hope your preparations for Thanksgiving are going well.


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Another end of the month

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Here’s a memory of October 31st.  On this date in 1994, we received a 4″ snow.  I can recall that, because on the previous night, as we were harvesting corn at Huey, we had a small combine fire.  As the grain cart driver was pulling up behind me to catch a hopper of corn, he said on the radio, “What’s that red glow up there on the back of your combine?”  There had been a very small fuel leak that ignited some dust.  We exhausted our extinguishers, and then pulled the machine close to a ditch.  We did a “bucket brigade” with water from that ditch to finally get the fire out.  As we left the field that night (very late), you could see the first flakes begin to fall.  When we returned to the corn field the next morning, we arrived to a field with a white blanket.  By the way, the extent of the fire damage was minimal… we had to replace a wiring harness on the left rear of that CIH 1680 combine.  Sure could have been worse.  Memories.

We continue to deliver corn to GPC this week, concluding today with the final delivery to fill our October contracts.

Brandon heads out in the Pete with the last October load bound for GPC

John has been working to winterize the sprayer.  It cannot sit in our relatively small, heated shop all winter, so this treatment must be made.  He has also taken this opportunity to thoroughly wash and wax the sprayer, getting it ready for the crush of work that will begin early next spring.

John washes the JD 4730 sprayer again. He keeps it looking like new.

We continue with our year-end tax planning, and with refining our cash flow projections and crop budgets for 2018.  There is a federal form for the trucks called a UCR filing that must be made tomorrow.  Seems like there’s always something that needs attention in this office!

But now, we are at a time of year when we can have a more regular life.  The busy harvest season is behind us.  There is still much work to be done, but does not require the longer hours of planting or harvest.  We can be home for supper!

The weather has cooled down quite a bit, and the temperatures have been below average for a week or so.  It’s 29 out there this morning, and supposed to warm to the low 40s today.  Average for this week would be daytime low 60s and nighttime high 30s.   With these temps, it is pleasant to know that the harvest is complete.  I read recently that across Indiana, about 40% of the corn remains in the field, but that’s not true in SWIN… it seems like everyone here is done.

Next year’s wheat crop is off to a good start.  There is a good, uniform stand of wheat in each field.

The young wheat at the Roberson farm looks healthy. This was planted 29 days ago on October 2.

We will all flip another calendar page tomorrow morning, and on Saturday night, set our clocks back an hour.   HS Basketball season begins this week (for girls), and to be sure, it ‘feels’ like basketball weather.  Time flies.





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Busy day

Friday, October 27, 2017

Rain is coming today, but yesterday was a good, sunny day…even if it only got up to 65ºF (18C).  It was a busy day at Carnahan & Sons:  Lime and fertilizer going down.  Shop work.  And a long meeting with seed suppliers.  A typical post-harvest fall day.

It took us about 3 hours to study, hear recommendations, and finalize our seed choices yesterday afternoon.  There are many options, and each variety or hybrid has characteristics that make the planting location important.  We settled on 3 corn hybrids, balancing cost per unit against traits and performance.  We settled on 3 soybean varieties: two for early planting, one for DCB (double-crop soybeans after wheat).

Before (and after) the seed meeting, John and Brandon had one of the trailers in the shop, doing some painting on the frame and undercarriage.  There had been some welding done on this particular trailer during the harvest rush, and now they are adding the paint protection it needs.

Brandon and John (in red) paint the trailer suspension. Sure looks nice after, and will protect the trailer for several years.

After the paint work, the sprayer came inside to be ‘winterized’.

Also occurring yesterday was lime and fertilizer applications.  I caught up with the lime spreaders at the Huey farm.  It was a beehive of activity there, for there was one loader at the spot where the delivery trucks had piled the lime, and two spreaders operating in the fields.

Here is a paper version of this field’s digital lime application map. You can see the various application rates, from zero to 6000 pounds per acre in this 215 acre field. What do you think of the shape of this field? A good candidate for point rows, no doubt.

Here is Dakota from CPS, in one of the lime spreader rigs. You can see his guidance/control device on the cab post.

The lime was stockpiled by the delivery trucks near the quonset building at Huey. From there, they load the spreader trucks.

There goes the GPS-controlled application.

CPS was also spreading next year’s corn fertilizer here at the home farm.  They had three tender trucks shuttling between here and the plant (2.5 miles away), a double-hopper loader on site, and two spreader trucks applying the blend.  The fertilizer is applied according to the results of soil samples taken in a grid pattern across the fields, with a map developed showing location-specific application rates.  (similar to the lime map above).  The application trucks are GPS-enabled, and adjust on-the-fly to apply the specific amount required on the map!  It’s often called ‘precision agriculture’.

Applying the food for next year’s corn.

This is the outfit that loads the spreader trucks in the field. Tender trucks bring fertilizer blends to this rig from the CPS plant.

After the long seed meeting, I fired up the lawn mower to get the yard mowed on the not-quite-warm evening, and before the cold rain predicted for today.  It was nearly dark when I finished!   It’s weird to have to wear a heavy sweatshirt to mow the yard!

Will this be the last time to mow the yard for 2017?

It’s good to see most of our cover crops up and growing.  We think this will do a good job protecting the soil from erosion over winter.  As an experiment this year, we planted oats that will ‘winter-kill’, allowing more flexibility for the spring herbicide application.

Here on the steep hillside at the Huey farm, the cover crop oats are looking good.

The application of next  year’s corn fertilizer will continue through today until they get done or the rain stops them.

Have a good weekend.  Girls HS basketball begins next week!  How did that get here so fast?






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‘nother meeting

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This afternoon will be another lengthy meeting.  (we’ve had a lot of those lately!)  We will be sitting down around the conference table with our seed dealer and the Monsanto regional rep to iron out our seed selections for corn and soybeans for 2018.  We have the harvest results from this year, and the acres and field locations chosen.  So, we will try to match the proper hybrid/variety to each location.  We use our experience over the past few years, and the recommendations of the dealer and his regional rep on any new numbers.  We try to use established genetics with which we have experience, but also we try to experiment a little with something new.  We can evaluate our previous years’ results by soil type and by variety/hybrid.  (Variety is a soybean term, hybrid is a corn term)  With the way we capture harvest information nowadays, it’s as if our entire farm is a test plot!   We believe this information helps us make better, more accurate seed selection decisions.

There are many options for seeds.  There are dozens of reputable vendors/companies in the seed business.  We have focused our purchases on Monsanto’s products for a few years now, based on our experience.  The yield performance of their hybrids and varieties, along with the exceptional service from the dealer and rep, coupled with competitive pricing have built our trust with Monsanto’s DeKalb corn and Asgrow soybeans.

This will be another milestone in the preparation for #plant18.

We are grateful for our comfortable and convenient office (now 10 years old!) that facilitates meetings like the one today in a better and more professional way.

With all the record-keeping needs for a modern farm, I spend a lot of time at the computer desk here in the office. It is a pleasant place to work.

Before the office was built, these types of meetings took place in our shop, standing around, and papers were spread out on our often-dirty workbench.  Not anymore!

We have completed one soil conservation construction project at the Shake farm this fall, and we have one in the works at the Steen farm.  We have identified two more for next spring, just ahead of the planters.

Concerning the upgrade replacement of our 45-year-old grain leg, we have made our decision, and now have a plan in place for that project.  We began with consultations with vendors at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL back in August.  After harvest, we formally met with 3 vendors, one local and some from the region.  We decided to utilize the folks from Montgomery Welding in Montgomery, IN.  Actual construction will begin late March/early April 2018.  It should take about 4-5 weeks to remove the aging structure and build the new in its place.

It seems we always have an improvement project on our plate… some big (like the grain leg) and some little, but always something!




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