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Hops production picking up in Ohio

By Matt Reese

Next month more than 75 Ohio hop growers will gather for the 2019 Ohio Hops Conference and Trade Show in Columbus. The Jan. 9 and 10 event is a sign that, as Ohio’s craft beer production has boomed in recent years, agriculture is starting to follow to meet the exploding demand for one of the key ingredients for brewing beer.

Members of the Ohio Hops Growers Guild (OHGG) have more than 70,000 hop plants under cultivation and many craft beer brewers and drinkers put a premium on Ohio-grown ingredients. Ohio’s climate, however, does make hop production challenging.

A century ago, Ohio was home to very robust hop production to match the state’s substantial brewing industry. In subsequent years, though, Ohio’s insect and disease issues pushed the nation’s hop production to the drier climates in the Pacific Northwest. But with the recent brewery boom, many farms are again taking a look at Ohio hop production.

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Market volatility ahead

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Producers across the country are hoping grain prices do better in 2019. Next month, USDA will be releasing their final estimates for 2018 U.S. corn and soybean production and yields as well as quarterly grain stocks as of Dec. 1, 2018. Many are expecting both corn and soybean production and yields to be reduced slightly with the challenging weather in Ohio and South Dakota, which stalled the final harvest of corn and soybeans during the last half of November and into December.

Dec.1 was a big day for producers. On that date during supper, U.S. President Trump and China President Xi sat down to discuss trade issues. Be glad it was not a “quick” meal, as it lasted two hours. It was a meeting months in the making, yielding a tremendous amount of uncertainty on the parts of producers across Ohio and the United States. Following that meeting, we know that several things were agreed upon.

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Greenhouse management workshop

The Ohio State University’s 2019 Greenhouse Management Workshop, set for Jan. 17-18 in Wooster, will dig all around a plant’s roots. The theme is “Root Zone Optimization.”

Peter Ling, associate professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said this year’s program is unique because it will focus exclusively on the root zone.

Ling has organized the annual workshop, which is designed for commercial growers from Ohio and beyond, for each of its now 21 years.

Chieri Kubota, professor in Ohio State’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, said root zone optimization means surrounding a plant’s roots with the best possible chemical, physical and biological conditions — the ideal nutrients, moisture and more.

Doing so, she said, helps plants grow faster and tolerate pests and diseases better, which for a greenhouse grower can translate into lower costs, higher yields and greater income.

Since greenhouse growers typically grow their plants in small containers, troughs or water culture (hydroponics), “managing the root zone is essential,” Kubota said.

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Climate change and no-till

By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)

The federal government released a report on global climate change that predicts, among other disastrous results, that American farmers are doomed to failure. Drought, heavy rain, floods, and hot summers will destroy crop yields.

Farmers aren’t stupid. They know how to adapt to changing conditions. For example, there is a lot more acres of corn grown in Canada and our Northern Plains than 50 years ago.

Good news for the climate. If all cropland in the Midwest and Great Plains switched to continuous no-till (with cover crops) the rate of global warming would be SLOWED because carbon from the air would be sequestered in the soil as organic matter.

Crop yields for corn, soybeans and wheat (and whatever replaces them in localities) might increase despite dry summers and less groundwater for irrigation. The extra organic matter means soils would hold more water, reducing the impact of dry periods.

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New No-Till History book

By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)

Several Ohio folks and organizations are part of a new book by Frank Lessiter, “From Maverick to Mainstream.” Among those prominently featured are Bill Richards, Glover Triplett, David Brandt and Bill Haddad.

Books are for sale at the National No-Till Conference in Indianapolis, Jan. 8-11, or you can order a copy online at: No-TillFarmer.com/ historybook. The cost is $47.95. Can you say “stocking stuffer”?

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Ohio fall weed survey

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Once again your county Extension professionals went to the fields this fall to see what weeds made it through the summer in your soybean fields. There were some surprises and some expected results. It is becoming apparent that with the move to herbicide tolerant crops, we aren’t necessarily getting rid of all of our weeds — only 30% of our fields are weed free. Giant ragweed moved back into first place for worst weed, seen in 34% of fields and overtaking marestail seen in 30% of fields. Volunteer corn is next most common, and it always surprises farmers that a herbicide resistant crop would also resist the same herbicide when it volunteers the next year. Please look over the tables to see if there are familiar names on your worst weed list.

WeedOhio rank% of fields
Giant Ragweed134
Marestail230
Weed free330
Volunteer corn417
Grass/ Giant foxtail515
Waterhemp610
Velvet leaf79
Common ragweed88
Lambsquarters96
Redroot pigweed105

 

I split up the state into regions — the areas of northwest and west central Ohio had the weediest fields, — as they have in the recent past.

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USDA launches second round of trade mitigation payments

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week launched the second and final round of trade mitigation payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. Producers of certain commodities will now be eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for the second half of their 2018 production.

“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorizing the second round of payments to be made in short order. While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year,” Perdue said.

Secretary Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.

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2018 Grain Farmers Symposium highlights

By Matt Reese

Yesterday’s 2018 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium had a strong program that kicked off with a welcome from Lt. Governor-elect Jon Husted.

“Mike DeWine and I are working very diligently to put our administration together. We are putting the right people in place so we can get our agenda accomplished. That is our focus now in preparation for our inauguration on Jan. 14,” Husted said. “We want to make sure

workforce and training opportunities are available to everybody in rural Ohio and we also want to extend broadband to make sure that no matter where you live in Ohio you have access to the technology highway that broadband presents and creates for everybody. Those will be some of the top priorities for rural Ohio over the next few years.”

Attendees also heard updates on edge of field research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, gained insights into the farm economy, and heard from Cathann Kress, Dean of the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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2019 Precision University: Ag tech for in-season management

By Trey Colley, John Fulton, Jenna Lee, and Elizabeth Hawkins

Digital agriculture technologies, connected devices, and sensor networks have enabled data-based decision making to be implemented at the farm level. The farm of the future will have increasing access to data and real-time analyses, allowing new insights related to in-season crop protection and nutrition management. Farmers of today already have many of these data sources at their fingertips through the use of connected smart phones.

Implementation of these digital tools and services during the growing season can potentially reduce the time needed to assess crop health, scout for disease, and evaluate cropping system performance. A recent infusion of in-field sensor systems are beginning to change the game for such in-season decisions through irrigation management, real-time soil nutrient assessment, and site-specific application of cropping inputs. Additionally, advanced scouting tools such as apps with geo-location features, and aerial imagery are being adopted to assist in crop nutrition and crop protection applications.

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NCGA announces 2018 Yield Contest winners

With improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices, corn growers achieved impressive yields despite weather-related adversity in the National Corn Growers Association 2018 National Corn Yield Contest.

The National Corn Yield Contest is now in its 54th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members.

“While participating in friendly competition, yield contest participants create and share information that shapes the future of the industry,” said Roger Zylstra, chair of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “Contest winners, at the state and national levels, find innovative ways to help their fellow farmers excel in a variety of situations. Emphasizing innovation both from growers and technology providers, our contest enables us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 349 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 178.9 bushels per acre in 2018.

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The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018: Initial review

By Jonathan Coppess, Gary Schnitkey, Nick Paulson, Benjamin Gramig, Krista Swanson, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics University of Illinois and Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University

On Monday Dec. 10, 2018, the House and Senate conference committee released the conference report for the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018; the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, the Senate moved quickly to pass the conference report with a final vote in favor of the farm bill of 87 to 13. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass the farm by 369 to 47 (16 not voting). Given that it passed by veto-proof majorities, it is likely that the President will sign it and the Agricultural Act of 2018 will soon become law.

From the beginning of the debate, the outlook for a farm bill in 2018 was clouded by concerns about relatively lower crop prices, the restricting parameters of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline and the political landscape in Congress.

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Aerial crop disease drone project receives Gates Foundation grant

Aerial drones will scout, track, and hopefully prevent crop diseases in a study conducted by The Ohio State University and supported by a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study will include a system of plant disease surveillance drones that will be developed to monitor rice blast and maize dwarf mosaic, two devastating diseases in many countries like Tanzania, plant pathologist and principal investigator Enrico Bonello said.

The drones will be mounted with spectral sensors capable of identifying plant pathogens from the air. It is hoped that the technology could allow crop managers to control the spread of disease even before plants show visual symptoms, said Bonello, professor of molecular and chemical ecology of trees in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Department of Plant Pathology.

“This is a very novel, out-of-the-box, high-risk, high-payoff approach to a very significant problem, in a globalized world in which plant diseases are constantly being moved around by human activity,” he said.

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Central Ohio Precision Ag Symposium

By John Barker, Ohio State University Extension

The Central Ohio Precision Ag Symposium will be held on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at All Occasions Catering, 6986 Waldo-Delaware Road, Waldo, Ohio from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s program will feature the most current technologies available in precision agriculture. These topics will be shared by some of the leading university and industry Precision Ag experts.

This year’s program opens with a discussion regarding where we are in Precision Ag today – “The Adoption of Precision Ag Technologies” – Jack Zemlicka, Ag Division Content Director Lessiter Media and ends with a look into the crystal ball – “The Future of Precision Ag” – Dr. Scott Shearer, The Ohio State University.

Data management is a “hot topic” in today precision agriculture. Dr. John Fulton will share his insights on “Data Considerations in Today’s Crop Production.” You will learn about data security and who can/has access to your data at afternoon breakout sessions from Climate-Fieldview, Agleader–Agfinity, and My JohnDeere.

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2018 Ohio Corn Performance Test: Regional overviews

By Rich Minyo, Allen Geyer, David Lohnes, and Peter Thomison

In 2018, 192 corn hybrids representing 24 commercial brands were evaluated in the Ohio Corn Performance Test (OCPT). Four tests were established in the Southwestern/West Central/Central (SW/WC/C) region and three tests were established in the Northwestern (NW) and North Central/Northeastern (NC/NE) regions (for a total of ten test sites statewide). Hybrid entries in the regional tests were planted in either an early or a full season maturity trial. These test sites provided a range of growing conditions and production environments.

Growing conditions were very favorable for corn production across most of Ohio in 2018. The growing season was characterized by well above average rainfall and heat unit accumulation (growing degree-days). Precipitation and heat unit accumulation were generally greater at OCPT sites in the SW/WC/C region (with rainfall ranging from 23.3 to 26.3 inches and heat unit accumulation ranging from 3270 to 3520 GDDs) than at sites in the NW and NC/NE regions.

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Ohio No-Till Conference highlights equipment innovation

By Matt Reese

As more farmers are thinking outside the box to get better results for the environment and their bottom line, innovations with equipment have to keep up. Award winners were recognized, a wide range of topics was highlighted and the evolution of equipment was a part of much of the discussion at this week’s Ohio No-Till Conference in Plain City.

Gary Fennig of Fennig Equipment talked about the continual innovation with equipment for no-till, nutrient management and cover crops.

“We specialize in hand-crafting special requests. Cover crop is one application. Nutrient placement is another. In the next 3 to 5 years, a lot of guys will be taking a hard look at inter-seeding cover crops, nutrient placement, and banding fertilizer. There are a lot of studies out there showing benefits to these farming practices. It is beginning to gain traction,” Fennig said. “We have a corn head cover crop seeder — the seeder fits on the back of the corn head.

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Neutral report from USDA

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Today’s USDA report in typical fashion has been a pretty typical report for the month of December. It is being called a neutral report with very small changes in ending stocks. Corn ending stocks went up 45 million bushels, soybean ending stocks unchanged at 955 million bushels, and wheat ending stocks were up 25 million bushels.

Production and yields do not change with the December report. The market continues to glean for further details on how and when China comes back to the U.S. with their buying shoes on. Prior to the report, corn, soybeans, and wheat were each down one cent. Just following the report corn was unchanged, soybeans up one cent, and wheat was down 2 cents.

The January report will detail final yields and production for corn and soybeans. It will also have U.S. grain stocks as of Dec. 1, 2018.

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Bret Davis elected secretary of American Soybean Association

The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently elected executive committee members to lead its organization in 2019. Bret Davis, Ohio soybean farmer and Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) board member from Delaware County, was elected as Secretary.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) represents U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international policy issues important to the soybean industry. ASA has 26 affiliated state associations representing 30 soybean producing states and more than 300,000 soybean farmers.

“We are happy to see Bret elected to this leadership position,” said Kirk Merritt, OSA executive director. “Bret has a passion for soybean advocacy and is a leader at both the state and national levels. He will make Ohio proud.”

Bret previously served as an At-Large Member on ASA’s Governing Committee and as OSA President, Chairman, Vice President and Treasurer. He grows 3,400 acres of soybeans and corn on his family farm in Delaware County. In addition to his work with ASA and OSA, Bret holds a designation as a Certified Crop Advisor and is a past president of both the FSA Board and the Delaware County Farm Bureau.

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Harvest delays, tariffs and China all influencing markets

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

The last half of November continued the weather trend of summer: wet. As I write this there are still many producers across Ohio who want to be done harvesting corn and soybeans. Unfortunately, it is not going according to plan for those producers. As I talk with customers along with other Ohio producers, many have hundreds of acres of corn or soybeans still remaining in the fields. Rains in central Ohio the weekend following Thanksgiving reached one-half inch or more in many locations. Some of our customers went on to report that one-half looked like three inches in many areas. On the lighter side, one customer who farms with his brother jokingly relayed that he could still be harvesting in May with his brother following immediately behind planting 2019 crops. He went on to say he needed a head start in the combine as the planter covered twice the footprint compared to the combine.

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Soil Health Partnership expands new program to grow network and data

Just in time for World Soil Day on Dec. 5, the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is expanding a pilot project to give more farmers access to the soil health network.

As the organization launches phase 2 of its pilot Associate Program, it will invite 75 farmers across the country to enroll in 2019. This will enable more farmers to join SHP in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.

The economic component of soil health has taken on an increasing level of urgency during a difficult farm economy, said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership.

“We’ve seen increasing demand from farmers who would like to join our network,” Mehta said. “Expanding the pilot phase of our Associate Program provides a great number of farmers with access to a scientific platform to evaluate soil health as part of a comprehensive management strategy.”

Joining the Associate Program during the pilot phase will give farmers access to no-cost soil health sampling and results.

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Helpful tips for reducing soil erosion

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

Soil erosion is an annual problem throughout the Eastern Corn Belt. Recent research estimates that farmland across the Corn Belt loses close to four tons of soil per acre each year due to erosion. In addition, even under the best conditions topsoil buildup is very slow, if it occurs at all. Soil particles can be detached and moved out of a field by both wind and water. Wind can pick up small soil particles, transporting them long distances. Water moving along the ground surface can remove a thin sheet of soil, create small channels, or wash out large gullies.

 

Factors that contribute to erosion

1.Rainfall — soil erosion increases as length or intensity of rainfall increases
2.Slope length/grade — soil erosion is worse on longer/steeper slopes because water moves faster across the soil
3.Vegetation/residue — growing plants and residue protect the soil from rain impact, slow down flowing water and increase infiltration of water into the soil, as well as protecting the soil from wind erosion.
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