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Use of corn as an acceptable feedstock clarified by the Department of Energy

An important step forward to driving demand for corn was recently achieved, thanks to the work of state and national corn growers staff and members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Market Development Action Team (MDAT).

In the most recent Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) clarified that corn grain is an acceptable feedstock. This means that starch derived sugars, specifically starches from field/feed corn, were clarified as acceptable.

“This is an important evolution in how DOE interprets legislative intent,” said NCGA Market Development Director Sarah McKay. “Given U.S. corn growers’ ability to efficiently produce, it is clear that corn can not only meet the needs of existing markets but can enable exciting new markets for renewable materials. We are excited to continue working with BETO and other government agencies to lay the groundwork and develop a solid foundation for future markets for corn.”

“We really appreciate the time that the senior leadership at DOE took to discuss policy with us, and we are looking forward to seeing new research focused on corn renewable chemicals,” said Dan Wesely, Chair of the Market Development Action Team.… Continue reading

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Scouting is worth the August effort

By Roy A. Ulrich, technical agronomist for DEKALB/Asgrow in Southern Ohio

This is the time of year when growers can learn a lot about the crop, the growing season, weather, and the impact of some of the management decisions made earlier in the year. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year that most people despise scouting fields. It is August. It is hot in the Eastern Corn Belt, pollen maybe still shedding in corn fields, early morning dew drenches your clothes 12 rows into the first field, etc. — I’ve heard all the excuses from growers, dealers and interns. However, the knowledge and insights gained this time of year can be invaluable as we head into harvest and for future growing seasons and management decisions.

In this age of technology, do we really need to scout fields? There are satellites constantly circling the globe sending images of fields. Drones can capture information from fields with incredible resolution.… Continue reading

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Yield check…

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

I think this is a year of “I’ll take what I can get” on yield, but still it’s good to know so you can plan ahead for grain sales or feed supplies. By Aug. 10 or so we should be far enough along in the crop season to get a reasonable yield estimate for corn and maybe some inkling for soybean. So how do we check crop yield?

For corn, this from the Corn, Soybean, Wheat and Forages Field Guide page 14, by Peter Thomison retired OSU state corn specialist.

There are several techniques for estimating corn grain yield prior to harvest. A numerical constant for average kernel weight is figured into the equation. Weight per kernel will vary depending on hybrid and environment; yield will be overestimated in a year with poor grain fill conditions and underestimated in a good year.

Step 1.… Continue reading

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Big yield potential tempering soybean demand news

By Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

The prospect of an above-trend soybean yield in 2020 appears high and creates headwinds for soybean prices. USDA projected the national soybean yield at 49.8 bushels per acre in July. Better crop ratings point to significant improvements in this year’s crop.

Cooler and wetter weather across large areas of the Corn Belt holds the potential for ratings improving even more as we move into the critical period for soybeans in early August. While many areas saw advances in ratings, some key states show greater than 15% of acres in various levels of drought conditions. Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio all meet this criterion.

An August soybean yield above current trend projections seems likely and only the magnitude remains in question. Personal yield forecasting models currently project national soybean yield at 51 bushels per acre. If a yield of this magnitude came to fruition, 2020-21 marketing year ending stocks move well above 500 million bushels under current USDA consumption and acreage projections.… Continue reading

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Drought conditions expand but there is some relief

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

As of the Thursday July 30, 2020 release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, 37% of the state was covered by D1- moderate drought conditions. Hot and mostly dry conditions continued through much of June and July, with only scattered areas of heavy rain throughout the state. This has depleted soil moisture and lowered stream flows. If you are seeing drought impacts in your area, consider submitting a report to the Drought Impact Reporter.

Over the last two weeks, the frequency and coverage of showers and storms have increased. West central, north central, and areas near the Ohio River have picked up widespread 2 inches to 4 inches over the last 14 days, with some local amounts greater than 5 inches. Coupled with cooler temperatures this past week, drought conditions have relaxed in these areas of Ohio. For more information on recent climate conditions and impacts, check out the latest Hydro-Climate Assessment from the State Climate Office of Ohio.… Continue reading

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It’s in the science: court allows Enlist Duo registration but requires closer look at monarch butterflies

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

In a decision that turns largely on scientific methodology and reliable data, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed continued registration of the Enlist Duo herbicide developed by Dow AgroScience (Corteva). Unlike the June decision that vacated registrations of three dicamba herbicides, the two-judge majority on the court held that substantial evidence supported the EPA’s decision to register the herbicide. Even so, the court sent one petition back to the EPA to further consider the impact of Enlist Duo on monarch butterflies in application areas. One dissenting judge would have held that the science used to support the Enlist Duo registration violates the Endangered Species Act.

The case began in 2014, when the same organizations that challenged the dicamba registrations (National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network North America) and the Natural Resources Defense Council each filed petitions challenging the EPA’s registration of Enlist Duo.… Continue reading

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Research seeks to reduce breeding time for Miscanthus

Scientists are working to diversify and improve alternatives to fossil-fuel-based energy. Renewable bioenergy crops, such as the perennial grass Miscanthus, show promise for cellulosic ethanol production and other uses, but current hybrids are limited by environmental conditions and susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Breeders have been working to develop new Miscanthus hybrids for years, but the clonal crop’s sterility, complex genome, and long time to maturity make conventional breeding difficult. In a new study, University of Illinois researchers mine the crop’s vast genomic potential in an effort to speed up the breeding process and maximize its most desirable traits.

“The method we’re using, genomic selection, can shorten the time it takes to breed a new hybrid by at least half,” says Marcus Olatoye, lead author on the study and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois. “That’s the overall goal.”

In conventional breeding, one typical approach is for researchers to grow individuals from a diverse set of populations and select those with the best traits for mating.… Continue reading

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Rain, cooler weather improve crop conditions

Timely rain events and cooler weather continued to help improve crop conditions throughout the state, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Approximately 85 percent of the state was abnormally dry or worse, according to the most recent Drought Monitor, but rain later in the week provided much-needed moisture for crops. Topsoil moisture increased from 46 percent adequate or surplus last week to 64 percent adequate or surplus this week. Weeds, including ironweed, marestail, milkweeds, wild carrot, and teasel, were still visible on fields. Average temperatures for the week were 2 degrees above historical normals, and the entire state averaged slightly under 1 inch of precipitation. There were 5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 2.

Farmers applied fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides to crops while also harvesting hay. Soybeans blooming was at 88 percent, 11 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Corn silking was 7 percentage points ahead of the five-year average at 85 percent.

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It’s another weird year

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Where to start? Rain delays, dry weather following — that is the most common reason for our not so great crop appearance. These issues led to:

  • Compaction — you worked the ground too wet: or for no-tillers, you planted too wet. And then we had little chance for recovery.
  • Potassium deficiency — this problem continues, again it is probably compaction causing the temporary deficiency.
  • Nitrogen and placement — this will take a little longer to discuss.

Potassium — possible reasons for deficiencies

  • Low soil potassium test. The coming update to the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations suggest that we ought to target 120 ppm K or above for our potassium test. If below that you are more likely to see a benefit to adding potassium fertilizer.
  • Fertilizer applications are made today with high-speed broadcast spreaders, that may not deliver a full rate to the outside of the field.
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Can you dig it?

By Andy Westhoven, AgriGold Regional Agronomist, CPAg, CCA

Just when you thought 2019 was challenging…the year of 2020 has laughed in the face of last year! So far, this season is shaping up as the have and have nots in terms of moisture. At a recent training, attendees brought in samples showing our growth stages ranging from V5 (or shin-high) to pollinated corn from around the state. The variability is evident in the sizes of corn plants, but what we are also seeing below ground. Let us take a journey to investigate the variability of the corn roots and what stories we might learn.

In years of dry weather, I have a belief that subtle variations are exaggerated. What might only be a bushel swing never noticed on a yield monitor becomes a 10+ bushel swing (and usually blamed on the hybrid). Our own farm can provide a perfect example.… Continue reading

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Pollinator protection efforts continue

Throughout the growing season, farmers utilize stewardship practices for proper pesticide use while protecting crops from insect pests and also protecting pollinators. NCGA supports the BeSure! campaign as one way to support farmers protect bees and other wildlife. Some of the other groups we work with include:
• Honey Bee Health Coalition
• Farmers for Monarchs
• EDF Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange
• Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund
You can find a wealth of information on protecting pollinators in NCGA’s publication Best Management Practices for Pollinator Protection in Field Corn at https://cdn.ncga.com/file/133/HBHC_Corn_030119.pdf.

Keystone Monarch Collaborative also offers an excellent resource called the Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship guide. Knowing and following label instructions is a key step to protect all pollinators. Farmers and applicators know that reading and following labels are the first and most important consideration when handling any pesticide. Cooperation and communication among farmers, landowners, applicators, crop advisors, and local officials greatly increase successfully protecting insect pollinators and habitats.… Continue reading

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Waste management really not that different for the city and the farm

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Ever since the harmful algal bloom (HAB) of 2014 developed in the Maumee Bay of Western Lake Erie and impacted the water intake and treatment plant for the City of Toledo, the question of who is to blame has been center stage. Unfortunately, as multiple sources contributing phosphorus (P) have been identified, the blame game continued.

Agricultural run-off, industrial waste water, municipal waste water, and residential septic systems are the commonly identified sources of phosphorus entering the water. Many farmers feel like they have caught the most scrutiny because they are considered a non-point source compared to the industrial and municipal waste water sources, which are point sources. Municipalities will point to the strict regulations they must follow from the EPA for any application or discharge in comparison to agriculture.

Point sources typically have a single discharge point or multiple points that can be identified and monitored, whereas non-point sources cannot be measured as easily, and are typically a catch-all for what is left.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension releases new crop staging videos

By Alexander Lindsey and Amanda Douridas, Ohio State University Extension

A new suite of crop staging videos have been built by faculty at The Ohio State University that highlight corn, soybean, and alfalfa. The videos highlight some common staging methods for each crop, and connect the staging guidelines to practice using live plants in the field. The videos can be found in the “Crop Growth Stages” playlist on the AgCrops YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbqpb60QXN3UJIBa5is6kHw/playlists. These compliment some of the wheat staging videos previously posted on the AgCrops YouTube channel as well. As the crops progress through the reproductive stages, expect some more videos to be posted.

Accurate crop staging is important to time management practices in the field. Many pesticides may have stage limitations for applications in addition to a height restriction. Growing conditions may also affect how stage and height interact, in that turgor pressure and water availability may affect stem elongation.… Continue reading

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ODA asks public to not plant any unsolicited packages of seeds

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been notified that several Ohio residents have received unsolicited packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are currently unknown and may contain invasive plant species. Similar seed packets have been received recently in several other locations across the United States.

Those who receive a package of this type, should NOT plant these seeds. If they are in sealed packaging, do not open the sealed package. Ohioans can report the seeds to ODA online here or you may contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Anti-smuggling Hotline by calling 800-877-3835 or by emailing SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. Also, if possible, please retain the original packaging, as that information may be useful to trade compliance officers as they work through this issue.

Unsolicited seeds could be invasive species, contain noxious weeds, could introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock.… Continue reading

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Late summer early fall cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Late summer and early fall are great opportunities to plant cover crops and improve soil health. Days are shorter,  but with ample sunshine left and a little rain, cover crops grow quickly.  Both summer annuals which die with the first frost and winter annuals can be grown.  Legumes and clover which add soil nitrogen, all types of grasses for carbon, and brassicas to reduce soil compaction and reduce weeds all grow well at this time.

After wheat, either bale or chop the straw and spray the weeds.  Baling straw makes you more money than chopping straw. The high carbon content in wheat straw can reduce cover crop establishment and the by-products upon decomposition may be toxic to germinating cover crop seedlings.  If possible, spray weeds with gramoxone (a dessicant) rather than glyphosate.  Glyphosate reduces soil health and biology for several weeks and causes oxidizing microbes to make manganese unavailable while promoting Fusarium root diseases and weed resistance. 

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Southwest Ohio Corn Growers Agronomy Field Day Aug. 18

The 9 a.m. kickoff session for the Southwest Ohio Corn Growers Agronomy Field Day features  Keynote Speaker Aaron Wilson,from Ohio State University with a Climate and Weather Update and Sakthi Subburayalu from Central State University talking about Water Quality and Edge of Field Research. Ryan LeGrand, the CEO of the U.S. Grains Council is another featured speaker for the field day and the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a “Business After Hours” event as well.

The event is at the Fayette County Airport and Demonstration Farm at 2770 Route 38 Washington C.H. Admission is free and lunch is included. There will be large equipment and table top displays.

For more information, contact Ken Ford, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County at 937-335-1150 or ford.70@osu.edu.… Continue reading

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What is soil health?

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Soil health is a term that everyone seems to be confused about or have their own opinion. Soil health is about three things: soil organic matter (SOM), soil microbes and organisms, and plants. Good soil and soil health are dependent upon the interaction of these three things. Active short-term organic matter are the root exudates, root carbohydrates (sugars) and microbial bi-products which produces good soil structure and is missing from most of our tilled soils. Soil microbes process nutrients to make them plant available and produce humus which is the long-term SOM. Plants and live roots supply the carbon, nitrogen and energy from sunlight to feed the microbes and to produce SOM. The end result is a rich fully functioning soil producing healthy dense food to feed livestock, humans and wildlife.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

What is the difference between good soil health and degraded soil health?

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Late summer establishment of perennial forages

By Mark Sulc, Ohio State University forage specialist

The month of August provides the second window of opportunity for establishing perennial forage stands this year. The primary risk with late summer forage seedings is having sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment, which is a significant risk this summer given the low soil moisture status across many areas.

The decision to plant or not will have to be made for each individual field, considering soil moisture and the rain forecast. Rainfall/soil moisture in the few weeks immediately after seeding is the primary factor affecting successful establishment.

No-till seeding in August is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for good germination. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till seed because you will have to live with any field roughness for several years of harvesting operations.

Sclerotinia crown and stem rot is a concern with no-till seedings of alfalfa in late summer and especially where clover has been present in the past.… Continue reading

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Court allows Enlist Duo registration but requires closer look at monarch butterflies

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

In a decision that turns largely on scientific methodology and reliable data, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed continued registration of the Enlist Duo herbicide developed by Dow AgroScience (Corteva). Unlike last month’s decision that vacated registrations of three dicamba herbicides, the two-judge majority on the court held that substantial evidence supported the EPA’s decision to register the herbicide. Even so, the court sent one petition back to the EPA to further consider the impact of Enlist Duo on monarch butterflies in application areas. One dissenting judge would have held that the science used to support the Enlist Duo registration violates the Endangered Species Act.

The case began in 2014, when the same organizations that challenged the dicamba registrations (National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network North America) and the Natural Resources Defense Council each filed petitions challenging the EPA’s registration of Enlist Duo.… Continue reading

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It is time to scout for insects

By Kelley Tilmon, Andy Michel, Ohio State University Extension

As the summer progresses we are receiving reports of insect problems often encouraged by hot, dry weather. Last week we reported on spider mites and especially if you are in an area of continued dry weather we recommend scouting your soybeans and corn. For more visit https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2020-22/watch-spider-mites-dry-areas.

Some areas are also reporting increases in young grasshoppers in soybeans, another insect favored by dry weather. Grasshoppers of often start on field edges so early scouting may allow for an edge treatment. Japanese beetles are another common defoliator of soybean that are starting to appear. Both of these pests fall into a general defoliation measurement, and we recommend treatment if defoliation is approaching 20% on the majority of plants in post-flowering beans. Download our guide to estimating defoliation in soybean at https://aginsects.osu.edu/sites/aginsects/files/imce/Leaf%20Defoliators%20PDF_0.pdf.

A weird problem being reported not just in Ohio but in parts of the Midwest as far-flung as Minnesota is the red headed flea beetle, which is being found in corn and soybean.… Continue reading

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