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Repairing the soil after a record-setting 2019

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

It is no secret that 2019 will go down in the history books as one of the most challenging years for production agriculture in much of the country. Flooding and frequent rain events delayed and, in many cases, prevented planting on millions of acres across the Corn Belt.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, this is a year for the record books,” said Joe Nester, a certified crop advisor from Williams County who has worked in agriculture for over 42 years and as an independent consultant at Nester Ag for the past 28 years. “We went into the season already wet, and then had rain every other day. Even the crops that were planted are not going to yield near what farmers typically expect.”

He estimates that of the acres they work on through Nester Ag, at least 65% were not planted. Statewide in Ohio there were 1,485,919 prevented planting acres in 2019, with the bulk of those in the northwestern part of the state, according to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.… Continue reading

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New law bulletin explains the new hemp frontier

By Ellen Essman, Senior Research Associate, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

These days, industrial hemp never seems to leave the news. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to decide a case involving the interstate shipment of hemp between Oregon and Colorado by way of Idaho. Hemp is illegal in Idaho, where the product was seized and the driver was arrested, even though the 2018 Farm Bill allows for the interstate transportation of hemp. The Ninth Circuit, reviewing the case, determined that the state court actions needed to be decided before federal courts could hear the case. Ohio also made news this summer when the state passed a bill legalizing hemp in the state.

All of these developments involving industrial hemp may leave you with many questions. What is hemp? What did the 2018 Farm Bill do? What does Ohio’s new law do? Most importantly, can I grow and process hemp right now?… Continue reading

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Neutral corn and soybean yields, but higher than hoped for by producers

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

USDA estimated the U.S. corn yield at 168.2 bushels and the U.S. soybean yield at 47.9 bushels. Both were lowered but less than expected. Shortly after the noon report release corn was down 3 cents, soybeans up 18 cents, while wheat was up 1 cent. Minutes before the report corn was down one cent, soybeans up 15 cents, and wheat up one cent. Enthusiasm over a potential thaw in U.S./China trade talks had soybeans higher at the 9:30 a.m. grains restart.

Trader estimates for today’s report had corn and soybean yields dropping slightly compared to August. The average trade estimate for the U.S. corn yield is 167.2 bushels compared to 169.5 bushels last month. Meanwhile, the trade estimate for the U.S. soybean yield is 47.2 bushels with the August yield at 48.5 bushels. Any changes in corn or soybean acres will also be scrutinized.

USDA personnel have been in fields the last two weeks doing surveys for ear weights and pod counts.… Continue reading

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Lack of investment in aging U.S waterways threatens $72 billion in GDP growth

U.S. farmers have enjoyed a competitive advantage in accessing the global export market with their products, but continued underinvestment in the aging inland waterways system will limit U.S. agricultural exports, and during the next 25 years, could put more than $72 billion in additional GDP and 77,000 new jobs at risk, a new report from Agribusiness Intelligence found.

That independent report, Importance of Inland Waterways to U.S. Agriculture, was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service earlier in the year from Agribusiness Intelligence.

“The U.S. is in direct competition with Brazil for its agricultural export business, particularly for corn and soybeans — two of our largest exports, therefore, infrastructure investments can have a tremendous impact upon a farmer’s profitability,” said Ken Eriksen, senior vice president of Agribusiness Intelligence’s consulting business and lead author of the study. “Multinational corporations, including Chinese companies, are making significant investments in the Brazilian grain and soybean transportation and handling systems.… Continue reading

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Markets watching the frost and Sept. 12

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Declining grain prices continued that trend into the first week of September. December 2019 CBOT corn made a new contract low of $3.53, over a dollar below the contract high of $4.73 from June 17. Kansas City wheat reached a 14-year low that same week. Chicago December CBOT wheat tumbled to $4.50 ½, well below its summer high reached in June of $5.65 ¾ and its contract high at $6.34 ½ established in August 2018. The contract low for December wheat was reached May 13 at $4.42 ¼. While U.S. corn and soybean production for this year falls below levels seen in 2017 and 2018, plentiful and ever-increasing world stocks of grains continues to keep prices on the defensive. U.S. grain exports face stiff and growing competition from other world suppliers. Early September, South American and Black Sea corn sale values were 15 to 45 cents per bushel below those from the U.S.… Continue reading

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Reminders about pre-harvest herbicide treatment

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension

Information on pre-harvest herbicide treatments for field corn and soybeans can be found in the “Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois” at the end of these crop sections (pages 74 and 141 of the 2019 edition). Products labeled for corn include Aim, glyphosate, and paraquat. Products listed in the guide for soybeans include Aim, paraquat, glyphosate, and Sharpen. Some dicamba products are also approved for preharvest use in all types of soybeans, which escaped our notice until now, so it is not listed in the guide.

The basic information for pre-harvest dicamba (for 4 pounds per gallon products) is: apply 8 to 32 ounces per acre as a broadcast or spot treatment after soybean pods have reached mature brown color and at least 75% leaf drop has occurred. Soybeans may be harvested 14 days or more after a pre-harvest application. Do not use pre-harvest-treated soybean for seed unless a germination test is performed on the seed with an acceptable result of 95% germination or better; do not feed soybean fodder or hay following a preharvest application of this product.… Continue reading

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The worst planting season has lasting ripple effects

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

In what would normally be a productive and exciting time of year on the Hesterman farm in Henry County, mid- to late-summer of 2019 was largely spent watching the weeds die in otherwise barren fields.

“Every morning I set out on my front porch and have a cup of coffee and watch the ragweed dry up in the fields from the chemical applications we made. It’s not the farming practices I am used to,” said Todd Hesterman, a fourth generation farmer in Henry County. “This year we have been served a big slice of humble pie. I see fields that were never planted, and then one corn field in the distance that is way behind. I don’t feel good about either one.”

While some farms in the county were able to get a portion of their crops planted, albeit late, Todd and a handful of his neighbors were in a pocket that was inundated by regular and overabundant rainfall and elected to go 100% prevented planting.… Continue reading

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High Lake Erie water levels creating unique challenges for farmers

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

Reaching the “high water mark” in someone’s career is something most folks love to talk about, but for Mike Gonya from Sandusky County, this year’s record high Lake Erie water mark is not a good thing. This year it appears along with concern about the nutrients running off the fields into the lakes, the problem is the lake running into the fields.

The Lake Erie water levels resulted flooded fields and no crops on some of his farms. Mike farms with his father and his son, Marcus. The family raises field corn and soybeans, along with sweet corn in the fertile lakebed soils north of Fremont along the Sandusky and Erie county line. For over 75 years, the Gonya family has brought in the harvest. Mike’s dad remembers from his youth when he was told about a time they never got to plant the crops.… Continue reading

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Will September bring more bearish numbers?

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Once again, producers and traders are waiting for a USDA report. The previous two reports for grains were bearish. Producers don’t want to see that repeated in the upcoming Sept. 12 reports. With harvest still weeks away for Ohio and the Corn Belt, it appears it will take several weeks of poor harvest yield reports to break out of the price slide seen during July and August.

End of August weather forecasts lacked concerns of frost or freeze into Sept. 15. You likely noticed many areas of Ohio had over a week in late August with cooler temperatures as daily highs did not reach the 80s. It certainly makes you think fall is just around the corner. Calendar or temperatures, it is almost here. Numerous Ohio producers are not expecting much corn to be harvested until the month of October. Some parts of Ohio during August experienced drought-like conditions, which seemed an impossibility recalling the wettest spring in 125 years.… Continue reading

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Time to take a last cutting

By Mark Sulc and Rory Lewandowski, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

The best time to take a last harvest of forages is this week and next in Ohio, for the least risk to the long-term health of the stand. This is especially true for alfalfa and other legumes that need the fall period to replenish carbohydrate and protein reserves in the taproots that are used for winter survival and regrowth next spring. This fall rest period is particularly important this year, because our surviving stands have suffered a great deal of wet soil stress this year. Adding the stress of fall cutting will be like adding insult to injury, in our opinion carrying a higher degree of risk this year than normal.

Unfortunately, many fields this year may not be at a reasonable harvest stage during the next two weeks, because the rainy weather early this season blew apart our normal harvest schedules.… Continue reading

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Attracting more farmers to participate in water quality efforts

Skepticism, more than anything else, is keeping farmers from changing how they apply fertilizer to their fields, according to a behavioral scientist at The Ohio State University.

Many farmers question whether the conservation measures they are being asked to do, such as applying fertilizer underground rather than on the surfaces of fields, will actually improve water quality in Lake Erie, said Robyn Wilson, a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

And they also question whether they can carry out those measures on their farms, particularly small farms that typically have less equipment and fewer workers and financial resources than larger farms have, Wilson said.

So, offering farmers more evidence about the link between fertilizer runoff and the degraded water quality in Lake Erie — or even offering them funding to help pay for conservation measures — doesn’t necessary inspire more farmers to change their ways, Wilson said.… Continue reading

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Exercise in a combine?

With all the bending, lifting, and repetitive moves that farming demands, the career can exact a toll on a person’s body — young or old.

Pain might seem unavoidable, the inevitable cost of cultivating the land. However, there are ways to prevent long- and short-term injuries, in part through exercises that can be done while sitting in a tractor or a combine.

More exercise?

“When you’ve already worked 14 hours a day, you don’t want to work out. But there is a way to fit some exercises and stretching into your routine without having to go to the gym,” said Laura Akgerman, disability services coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility.

The program, which is offered by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), offers free assessments for people with disabilities, to help determine which kinds of assistive technology they might need.

When farmers sit idle in a tractor or other vehicle, they can use that time to stretch, just like people who work in offices can do from their desks, Akgerman said.… Continue reading

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Axis and Meristem team up on crop inputs

Axis Seed of Ohio, LLC and Meristem Crop Performance, LLC announced today a strategic alliance agreement that will disrupt traditional inefficient marketing channels by bringing more crop input options to Ohio farmers. Axis is an independent direct-to-farm genetics company that has the unique ability to bring corn hybrids and soybean varieties to market that deliver exceptional performance in soil types specific to key Ohio counties. Meristem is a direct-to-farm supplier of micronutrients, seed treatments, nitrogen stabilizers, spray adjuvants and plant growth regulators widely used across the corn belt with proven results.

“The farmers that I have served in Ohio over the last 20 years are aggressively seeking solutions to produce more output per unit input,” said Nathan Louiso, Axis of Ohio president. “The Meristem leadership team and proven product portfolio will allow farmers and organizations in Ohio that choose to align with Axis to remove costly inefficiencies in their operations.”

In late 2018, Meristem and Axis established a preliminary co-marketing agreement to put select Meristem products to work in Ohio farm fields.… Continue reading

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Take time to address challenges from spring this fall

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

The 2019 growing season has been one of the most challenging in recent memory and as harvest approaches this fall, Ohio’s farmers will continue to deal with the impacts of these challenges. Delayed planting, extreme rain events, and saturated field work performed in saturated soils are some of the challenges from spring of 2019 that will impact the crop as the growing season winds up.

For much of the eastern Corn Belt, soils were excessively wet this spring and crops were planted into less than idea soil conditions. Compounded with continued wet weather throughout the growing season, the early wet conditions have resulted in restricted root development. Growers and agronomists who have spent time digging up plants this year have observed shallow root systems, poor soil penetration due to shallow compaction, and narrow, flat root systems that followed the seed furrow because they could not penetrate the compacted sidewalls of the seed trench.… Continue reading

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Mobile hop dryer developed in Ohio

In a state that boasts 300 craft breweries, David Volkman is one of many craft beer enthusiasts in Ohio. But Volkman, with 12 acres of land in Warren County, is not only supporting Ohio’s craft brewing industry through consumption; he’s also contributing to its production. In 2012, he and his wife, Nina, started transitioning some of their small acreage to grow hops. Today, they grow 1,400 plants on about 1.5 acres and they’ve named their business Ohio Valley Hops. Hops are in demand in Ohio and U.S. hop acreage has increased by 72% since 2012. In Ohio, less than 2% of the hops used to brew a whopping 1.09 million barrels of craft beer are grown locally.

“There was a large demand in Ohio, but no local supply,” said David Volkman. “As a fan of craft brewing, I attended a few field days and we decided to give it a go.”

Volkman says that with improved quality and increasing quantity, growing hops sustainably as an alternate crop can provide additional income for small farmers in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Nitrogen deficiency issues in corn

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Due to heavy rainfall and saturated soils during the 2019 growing season, it is not surprising to see some signs of nitrogen deficiency showing up in corn fields across the eastern Corn Belt. Whether applied preplant or sidedress, patterns of heavy rainfall and wet soils increase the likelihood of nitrogen being lost. Because nitrogen is an essential nutrient for corn plant development and ultimately yield, losses will impact final yields this fall.

When saturated conditions persist, nitrogen can be lost though leaching or denitrification. Leaching (more likely to occur in course-textured soils) is the process where nitrogen is moved down through the soil profile and out of the root zone where it is not available to plants. The severity of nitrogen loss due to leaching is impacted the intensity and duration of rainfall. Denitrification is the process where soil nitrogen is biologically converted to gaseous nitrogen and lost to the atmosphere.… Continue reading

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Stage set for more market access in Japan

The National Corn Growers Association welcomed the announcement that the United States and Japan have reached an agreement in principle that sets the stage for increased market access for American agriculture products in Japan.

“This is very encouraging news,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “Japan is the second-largest purchaser of U.S. corn and has been an important, longstanding trading partner with America’s corn farmers. We hope the next stage of negotiations are successful in enhancing rules of trade and building on this strong relationship.”

Chrisp said NCGA is continuing conversations with the Trump Administration to learn more details on what specifically this announcement will mean for America’s corn farmers.

The U.S.-Japan announcement follows recent Administrative actions that have added to growing economic concerns across rural America. Last week, the Chinese government announced it would levy an additional 10% tariff on U.S. products, including corn and ethanol, in response to President Trump’s recent increase in tariffs on Chinese products.… Continue reading

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Rains supportive as Ohio crop progress continues

Timely rains helped some corn and soybean fields last week, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 5.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 25. The perimeter of the State received much of the rainfall while counties across the middle of the State received fewer showers. Overall, the State received slightly higher than normal amounts of rainfall. Temperatures and base 50 growing degree days were slightly higher than normal levels as well. Topsoil moisture rated adequate and surplus saw a 2 percentage point increase from the previous week while subsoil moisture rated adequate and surplus saw a 3 point decrease. Corn, soybeans, oats, and hay all continued to lag behind the 5-year average progress in all categories listed. Rainfall was a blessing as 52 percent of corn was in dough stage and 70 percent of soybeans were setting pods. Even with the timely rains, corn rated in good to excellent condition was 31 percentage points below the 5-year average rating and soybeans rated in good to excellent condition was 29 points below the 5-year average rating.… Continue reading

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Ohio grain farmers invite Toledo mayor to visit

Recent comments by the mayor of Toledo have prompted corn, soybean and wheat farmers throughout Ohio to invite him to witness for himself their hard work and significant investments to protect water quality.

For example, last month, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz told WTOL 11 that Toledo’s water has been “polluted for us” by Ohio farmers. Realizing that the mayor has not been educated about farmers’ leadership on conservation issues, Farmers are using the hashtag #WadeIsWelcome to extend the invitation for a farm tour.

Last week, Mayor Kapszukiewicz told the Toledo Blade, “At some point, facts and research have to matter.” Ohio grain farmers couldn’t agree more. That’s why they are calling, tweeting, and emailing the mayor to invite him to their farms and see exactly how much investment and work has been done to find and implement science-based, long term solutions.

“Ohio’s agricultural community has worked very hard to address water quality,” said Jon Miller, Fairfield grain farmer and president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.… Continue reading

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POET lowering ethanol production

POET has reduced ethanol production at half of its biorefineries, with the largest drops taking place in Iowa and Ohio. As a result, numerous jobs will be consolidated across POET’s 28 biorefineries and corn processing will drop by an additional 100 million bushels across Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri.

In addition, POET will idle production at its bioprocessing facility in Cloverdale, Ind. The process to idle the plant will take several weeks, after which the plant will cease processing of over 30 million bushels of corn annually.

While there are certainly numerous market factors at play, POET blames the undermining of the Renewable Fuel Standard by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was designed to increase the use of clean, renewable biofuels and generate grain demand for farmers. Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.… Continue reading

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