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OCWGA sets sights on a bright future

A conversation with Tadd Nicholson, the new executive director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA).

 

A conversation with Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association

OCJ: How do you see OCWGA evolving in the next few years to better serve Ohio’s grain farmers?

Tadd: As the industry organization for corn and wheat farmers, OCWGA is counted on to head off problems and create new opportunities for grain farmers. To accomplish this we will need to become even more proactive and visionary in our work. We will need to become creative in the ways we arm our members with information and tools to better represent themselves and our industry as a whole on very complex issues.

 

OCJ: Ohio’s grain farmers are facing a number of crucial challenges right now, including the battle over ethanol and the RFS. What are the key points corn growers need to remember on this issue and how will OCWGA be involved in this debate moving forward?

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Fear of frost looms large for fruit and veggie growers

Ohio fruit and vegetable crops are at risk for freeze or frost injuries, but according to an Ohio State University horticulture specialist, growers do have some options to protect them.

An extended period of unseasonably warm weather in March led vegetation to reach growth stages more than a month earlier than normal.

From row covers to wind turbines, growers are weighing their options because they still have several weeks to deal with the potential of a frost or freeze event. Fruit crops are in various stages of bloom and freezing temperatures are a concern, said Brad Bergefurd, noting that the temperature at which fruit buds are injured depends primarily on their stage of development.

“One really cold night could do many growers in,” Bergefurd said. “A lot of our fruit growers aren’t sleeping well and are a little edgy until we get through April and through the bloom period.

“Being as far advanced as we are now in the growing stages, the potential for freeze injury exists, which could result in misshapen fruit or low-quality fruit or the total death of the blossom.

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Spring insects of concern

By Ron Hammond and Andy Michel, OSU Extension entomologists

Black cutworm – We have had heavier weed growth because of earlier warm weather, especially chickweed growth.With this extra growth comes the potential for greater black cutworms problems. Added to this is that adult cutworms are already being collected in the Midwest. When corn gets planted and starts to emerge, cutworms might already be at damaging stages. Thus, there is a greater need to pay extra attention in those fields conducive to cutworms problems, namely no-till and/or weedy fields.

Slugs – Warmer weather and soil temperatures will be causing slugs to hatch earlier and will result in slugs beginning their heavier feeding earlier. If planting times are normal, slugs will be a bigger and larger threat than normal. If planting early, perhaps the slug feeding will be more similar to normal conditions. If planting is late, slugs will be relatively larger and capable of even heavier feeding.

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USDA reports put corn on the defensive

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile 

The monthly supply and demand report on April 10 estimated corn ending stocks at 801 million bushels. That is unchanged from last month. The trade was looking for a drop to 721 million bushels. Soybean ending stocks dropped to 250 million bushels, down from last months 275 million bushels. Both soybean exports and crush were increased with the April report.

The trade is pretty disappointed with the corn numbers. With the lower than expected March 1 stocks that came out on March 30, traders were looking for higher numbers fed to livestock. China is probably getting ready to send their “thank you” note to USDA for not changing the ending stocks number, effectively stalling the corn rally at this time. Some are already suggesting July corn could trade back down to the $6.20 level after reaching $6.59 ¾ following the bullish March 30 stocks report.

Early grain calls following today’s report have corn and wheat 5-7 cents lower, with soybeans 3-5 cents higher.

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DDGs gain foothold in Saudi Arabia

In a country largely dependent on oil exports, the ethanol industry is often maligned and a large target of contention and discomfort in Saudi Arabia. However, as Venezuela overtook Saudi Arabia to become the owner of the largest share of the world’s known oil reserves in 2011, Saudis are now focusing on the need to diversify their economy, with agriculture garnering significant interest as a new revenue stream.

Already home to the largest dairy integrations in the world, the country once opposed to ethanol now cooperates with the U.S. ethanol industry to satisfy feed demand with ethanol co-product distiller’s dried grains.

The U.S. Grains Council, which has operated in Saudi Arabia for decades, recently undertook a unique challenge as it launched efforts to expand market access for U.S. DDGS, which are derived from the prohibited alcohol production industry. While initial efforts were met with trepidation, the Council persevered, successfully gaining placement for distiller’s dried grains with solubles on the much desirable “feed ingredient subsidy list.” Inclusion on this list entails financial support for importers to aid them in bringing foreign feed ingredients to the market in order to reduce water consumption.

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Mark Thomas, April 9, 2012

“I look around me and there are lot of guys ready to plant, but I have not seen anybody plant anything other than oats and alfalfa. Now it is 54 degrees and they are calling for snow tomorrow, so that is slowing some guys down a little bit.

“We’re just getting caught up on hauling manure. Now we have a good handle on that and we’re getting out and doing some tillage. We were extremely wet for a long time and now the tops of the fields have dried out nicely. It is sprinkling right now and the soils are in good shape. If it rains a little, it won’t break my heart. They are calling for a chance of snow tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday and then temperatures in the 70s by the end of the week.

“It is hard for a lot of guys to keep themselves under control, but the crop insurance date for replant was the sixth and things are wide open now.

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Jim Herring, April 9, 2012

“We’ve got a lot projects going on. We haven’t started planting yet, but some guys in the area have. We’re going to start this week if the weather cooperates. But for now, it is the last opportunity to catch up on all of the little things before planting season starts. We have all of our anhydrous on until sidedressing.  We got the spraying done last week. We’re ready to plant and just watching what the weather will do. The forecast says it will be cool for the next few days, but it looks like we have some warmer weather coming later in the week. Then we’ll get the seed in the ground and see what happens.

“We ‘re going to start with corn. I’ve heard about a few guys planting beans but I think I’ll wait another week or so for them. I am not in a big hurry to start the beans because of the risk of frost, but we will maybe get the beans started next week if the conditions are right.

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Mark Dowden- April 9, 2012

“We’re planting corn and beans. Last week, people started early and then everybody backed off a little. We planted couple hundred acres of soybeans last week and now we’re planting corn. We planted beans on Friday and Saturday and switched over and planted one field of corn on Saturday. If conditions are right, we’ll just keep planting until we’re done.

“It is going in really well. We have dry conditions and we’re putting seed down into the moisture. By the end of the week, it is supposed to warm up and hopefully it will really take off. Guys in the area were working ground last week and the majority of the burndown has been done around here. Today they are ready to go and guys are getting on it. I think some guys were a little gun-shy last week to get going because last year, the later planted crops did so well.

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Bill Pontius- April 9th, 2012

“I planted 200 acres there last week. It went in beautifully. It has been better than everything we planted last year. I planted about 50 acres a day last week starting Wednesday and just did it here and there and got the bugs worked out on some of our smaller fields. We didn’t plant anything this weekend.

“We ‘ve been missing a lot of rains and it is getting pretty dry here. Soil temps are 52 in the morning to 58 late in the day. The corn is starting to sprout.  I didn’t have one wet spot in any of my fields and I just kept planting because it was dry. There is enough moisture underneath for it to germinate, though. If it was going to be wet, I wouldn’t have planted. It looks like a couple of cool days this week and then it is supposed to be in the 70s toward the weekend.

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Addressing early weed management issues

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist

The warm and relatively dry weather has many growers chomping at the bit to apply herbicides now, whereas this might have been more likely to occur in several weeks in a more typical spring weather pattern. It probably makes sense to apply burndown herbicides now in many no-till fields based on the size of the weeds that are present.

Vegetation in no-till fields is larger than usual for this time of the year due to the warm weather, and lack of fall herbicide application in all but a few fields. Waiting several weeks to apply herbicides will only result in an even more challenging burndown situation. It can make sense to apply burndown herbicides now even where a field will be tilled later, in fields where there is enough vegetation to interfere with spring seedbed preparation.

This is probably the ideal situation for the use of the higher rates of 2,4-D ester in burndown treatments.

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Growth regulator herbicides for burndown applications

Weeds can be controlled prior to planting corn or soybean by using preplant tillage, herbicides, or both, according to Aaron Hager, associate professor of weed science at the University of Illinois.

Weed control may be improved when more than one active herbicide ingredient is included in the burndown application. Burndown applications often include growth-regulator herbicides, such as 2,4-D. Both amine and ester formulations of 2,4-D are labeled for preplanting burndown applications, but the ester formulation is usually preferred over the amine formulation.

“The low water solubility of an ester makes it less likely to be moved into the soil by precipitation, where it could injure germinating crop seeds,” he said.

Also, esters are better able to penetrate the waxy surfaces of weed leaves, so they provide better control of large weeds, especially when air temperatures are cool. Some 2,4-D ester formulations can be applied without a waiting period before planting corn, while a seven-day wait is recommended for others.

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Multiple verses effective modes of action

Interest in using multiple modes of herbicide action in weed management programs is increasing, according to Aaron Hager, University of Illinois associate professor of weed science.

However, each component of a herbicide premix or tankmix with multiple modes of action is not necessarily effective for every weed or under all application conditions. For example, giant ragweed, a large-seeded, summer annual, broadleaf weed species, can be difficult to control with a single herbicide. Because of its extended germination and emergence characteristics, farmers may have to use more than one herbicide or multiple herbicide applications.

While herbicide resistance has been found in giant ragweed populations, it is not as common or widespread as herbicide resistance in other weed species. Many soil-residual herbicide premixes containing two or more active ingredients are available to farmers who want to be proactive and use multiple modes of action to reduce the selection for herbicide resistance in giant ragweed.

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Warm winter leaves stored corn at risk for mold

Before farmers go full throttle into the 2012 planting season, they would be wise to inspect what’s left of their 2011 corn crop for signs of mold, says a Purdue University agricultural engineer.

Richard Stroshine said he has heard scattered reports of farmers finding higher-than-normal percentages of moldy, discolored kernels when they’ve removed corn from storage facilities. Elevators and other buyers of corn pay less for mold-contaminated grain, if they buy it at all.

Corn stored in bins since the fall harvest could be at a heightened threat for mold, Stroshine said. The reason? A winter that wasn’t cold enough for long enough to protect the grain from fungal infection.

Moldy corn can contain toxins harmful — even fatal — to livestock.

“Farmers should constantly be checking their grain for mold growth,” Stroshine said. “If they find mold, they’ve got to get that corn out of the bin as soon as possible so that it doesn’t spread to other grain in the bin.”

A typical winter with air temperatures regularly near or below freezing allows corn to be cooled to temperatures near freezing, inhibiting mold development.

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Did market moves make soybeans more profitable?

In the days following last week’s USDA reports for intended crop acreage this spring and corn and soybean stocks, the markets responded.

“In the reports last Friday, the USDA predicted a bean acreage that was lower than many expected and a higher corn acreage. This caused soybean prices to shoot up. At the same time, stocks were low for corn and beans, which added strength to cash prices of both,” said Jeff Reese, a grain buyer for Blanchard Valley Farmers Co-op. “The biggest thing is that beans went up so far, that corn had to increase a little to keep up. The report on Friday really changed the marketing game.”

It also may have changed the most profitable options for planting this spring. The resulting change in prices, and the steep input costs for corn, may make soybeans a better fit on some acres.

“It really is a matter of when you locked in your inputs, how much corn you have contracted and your yield potential.

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More pesticide concerns with bees

By Ron Hammond and Andy Michel, Ohio State University Extension entomologists

Over the past decade we have discussed the need for growers to be careful when applying foliar insecticides to their crops because of the potential for harming bees that might be foraging for nectar if the crop or nearby plants are in bloom, and to manage their applications carefully to reduce the possibility of drift.

Recent articles in the popular press and newspapers, including Saturday in the Columbus Dispatch, bring up another possible concern, that being the use of a relatively new class of insecticides, neonicotinoids, which are related to nicotine found in tobacco.  In field crops, their main use is as seed treatments, and includes the insecticides clothianidin (Poncho), thiamethoxam (Cruiser), and imidacloprid. Recent studies out of Purdue and labs in Europe suggest that the use of clothianidin as a seed treatment might impact bees, either by causing mortality or more likely affecting their behavior and preventing bees from returning to their hives.

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E15 takes the next step

At a time when gas prices are on the rise, the approval today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of E15 blended fuel, with 15% ethanol, is a good milestone of progress for the industry and a boon to the U.S. economy, according to the National Corn Growers Association. EPA approved the first applications for registering ethanol for use in making E15; however, there are other steps that must be taken at the federal, state and local levels before it will be seen in gas stations.

“We’ve been working for a long time to make E15 a real choice for drivers, and we’re happy to see this step forward,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “We hope that within a matter of months we can get this important blend into vehicles to help decrease our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and help bring gas prices down.”

Click here for information from the EPA on E15 and an explanation of the thorough registration process.

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Ohio Crop Progess Report for April 2nd

OHIO CROP WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

The average temperature for the State was 48.6 degrees, 2.9 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, April 1, 2012. Precipitation averaged 0.30 inches, 0.46 inches below normal. There were 43 modified growing degree days, 11 days above normal.

Reporters rated 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, March 30, 2012. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 29 percent surplus.

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS WEEK ENDING SUNDAY APRIL 1st, 2012

Temperatures were above normal and precipitation below normal throughout the state; however a heavy freeze during the night of March 27 may negatively impact this year’s apple and peach crop. Other field activities for the week include field application of manure, anhydrous, and fertilizers. Fields are much drier than normal for this time of year, which allowed operators much earlier access to fields with farm machinery.

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Cover crops worth considering

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Associate Agronomist, Seed Consultants, Inc.

At a recent Conservation Tillage Conference, Dave Robison gave an interesting presentation about legume cover crops. While farmers are beginning to work with and see the benefits of cover crops, they may want to consider adding legumes into their mix of cover crops.

Legumes will fix N, can have a deep fibrous root system, and will cause an increase in soil biological activity. As one speaker at the conference said, cover crops can be like “giving your earthworms Red Bull.” For interesting information on the benefits of no-till and cover crops check out this article on Robison’s website.

Some legumes you may want to consider for cover crops are medium red clover, crimson clover, Austrian winter pea, cowpea, and hairy vetch. It is important for producers to select the right cover crops that will benefit their specific management practices. Below are some possible benefits of growing legume cover crops:

  • · Some legume cover crops can fix 90+ units of N
  • · Small top growth can still result in 20 to 30 in of root growth
  • · Deep fibrous root systems will improve soil quality and promote biological activity
  • · Other cover crops (such as radishes) will have better growth when planted along with a legume cover crop.
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Tips to maximize planting

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Planting corn is a race against time — trying to cover all of the acres in a very narrow window. Because of the time crunch, planting is often seen as just another operation that needs to be completed quickly, when in all actuality, planting is the single most important operation to achieve a bumper corn crop. Planting is not just about putting seed into the ground, planting is about providing the proper conditions to achieve an even stand with a quick and uniform emergence. The key to planting success is the corn planter.

Why is so much emphasis put on the planter? Because once a corn seed is planted, there is very little to nothing that can be done to fix the errors of planting. Therefore, properly planting the crop the first time is essential. The following is a list of some last minute tips to help get the corn crop off to a great start.

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