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Tough phosphorus problem has no easy solutions

By Matt Reese

At the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada this week, attendees were bombarded with photos charts and graphs illustrating the water quality problems in Ohio. A glass full of green ooze scooped out of Lake Erie, an algae

filled spray behind a jet ski, countless charts showing a steady drop then a sharp rise in phosphorus levels in Ohio’s waterways – there is no shortage of evidence that there is a problem. There is, however, a shortage of viable an across-the-board solutions to the problem.

“We know what the issue is, but we don’t know how to solve it. We need research on this. Environmental groups are just saying, ‘Well, stop using phosphorus.’ We know we can’t do that,” said Glen Arnold, with Ohio State University Extension. “We had the worst algal bloom in 40 years in Lake Erie that provides 5 million people with drinking water it and contributes $10 billion to the economy.”

The numbers though, have many scratching their heads.

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4Rs: A simple concept and challenging reality

By Matt Reese

With regard to managing phosphorus, the 4Rs are easy to talk about, but it is much harder to actually implement the right source, at the right rate, in the right place at the right time.

“No matter what you do, there are times where there will be run-off and enough water to lose dissolved phosphorus,” said Tom Bruulsema, with the International Plant Nutrition Institute. “Even with great practices like waterways and buffer strips, if water is flowing right through, the dissolved phosphorus is moving right along with the water. The 4Rs are very simple to say and a lot harder to do. What is ‘right?’ The 4Rs take place in the context of the cropping system.”

Right source

“Science has shown that all plants require 17 essential nutrients and we need to apply plant available forms in the amounts needed. We need to credit nutrients from composts and manure for phosphorus and choose a source that you can get placed in the soil rather than on top of the soil,” Bruulsema said.

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Biobased initiative announced

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced an initiative to boost the biobased products industry to expand markets and create jobs. The “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative would increase access to capital for biobased manufacturers, improve marketing of biobased products, and further the commercialization of new agricultural innovations to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and create jobs.

“We all know that Ohio farmers put food on tables, grow feed for livestock, and fill the tanks of vehicles across the nation. But increasingly, Ohio farmers grow products that are turned into plastics, lubricants and chemicals,” Brown said. “Ohio already has what it takes to lead the nation in this emerging field: a skilled workforce, strong agricultural sector, and culture of manufacturing and innovation. The ‘Grow it Here, Make it Here’ initiative will give Ohio’s small towns and agricultural communities an unprecedented opportunity to develop new jobs and promote economic growth though the biobased industry.”

With nearly 130 Ohio companies already producing biobased products, Brown’s bill, introduced earlier this week, would support Ohio’s emerging biobased-manufacturing industry and encourage the development and manufacturing of new biobased products.

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Control weeds early in wheat crop

Winter wheat growers need to start scouting their fields and planning to control weeds that have survived the mild Midwest winter, say two Purdue Extension weed scientists.

If not controlled early, common broadleaf weeds, such as dandelion, purple deadnettle, henbit, chickweed, Canada thistle and wild garlic can cause problems for the wheat crop as it comes out of winter dormancy.

“These winter annual species that emerge in the fall can remain relatively inconspicuous through the winter but become competitive and troublesome during spring, if they are not controlled early,” Bill Johnson said.

The severity of infestation will determine whether herbicide application is necessary and, if so, what type of herbicide should be used. Johnson and Travis Legleiter said producers need to scout entire fields and identify problem areas before making those decisions.

“Wheat fields that contain uniform infestations of at least one broadleaf weed or three grass weeds per square foot should be taken into consideration for a herbicide application, to avoid yield loss and harvest interference problems,” Legleiter said.

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Nutrient management important for future of ag

By Matt Reese

The monumental problem of phosphorus fed algal blooms in Lake Erie creates conflict between two powerful forces: food and agriculture versus drinking water

for 5 million people and a $10 billion recreation industry. Ohio agriculture continues to sit and wait (maybe somewhat nervously) on the inevitable announcement from Governor John Kasich concerning the 35-page summary resulting from the Phosphorus Task Force investigation into the recent surge of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

“The Phosphorus Task Force started back in August. The Governor wanted a panel on this issue and there were 125 different groups represented,” said Karl Gebhardt, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Resources at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference (CTTC) in Ada. “The report has been submitted to the Governor and we feel pretty certain that he will be accepting most of the components of that plan.

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Will Goss’s Wilt be a challenge in 2012?

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold Regional Agronomist

Goss’s Wilt is one of the most devastating and feared leaf diseases a corn grower can experience.

There have been several “reports” of finding Goss’s wilt in Ohio corn fields in 2011, but no confirmed cases to AgriGold’s knowledge. All the cases have been a case of misidentification. Even though there are no cases of Goss’ Wilt in Ohio, nor does AgriGold believe there will be for several years, some background information and how to identify the pathogen should help extinguish any false rumors and/or fears.

Goss’s Wilt was first observed in Nebraska more than 40 years ago. For much of that time, the disease seemed to be content in Nebraska but beginning in 2008 it began to march eastward into Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since that time Goss’s Wilt has continued to grow exponentially in the I-states, most notably Iowa and Illinois.

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Will Goss's Wilt be a challenge in 2012?

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold Regional Agronomist

Goss’s Wilt is one of the most devastating and feared leaf diseases a corn grower can experience.

There have been several “reports” of finding Goss’s wilt in Ohio corn fields in 2011, but no confirmed cases to AgriGold’s knowledge. All the cases have been a case of misidentification. Even though there are no cases of Goss’ Wilt in Ohio, nor does AgriGold believe there will be for several years, some background information and how to identify the pathogen should help extinguish any false rumors and/or fears.

Goss’s Wilt was first observed in Nebraska more than 40 years ago. For much of that time, the disease seemed to be content in Nebraska but beginning in 2008 it began to march eastward into Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since that time Goss’s Wilt has continued to grow exponentially in the I-states, most notably Iowa and Illinois.

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Crop insurance deadline approaching

Farmers have until March 15 to purchase or modify crop insurance policies for 2012. The deadline applies to most spring-planted field crops, including corn and soybeans.  The projected prices established for crop insurance are:

• Corn is $5.68 / bushel

• Soybeans are $12.55 / bushel


Higher prices and higher premiums means policies must be accurate

“This year’s crop prices have provided record-high guarantees for farmers, but with the higher prices, comes higher premiums,” said Tom Sloma, assistant vice president – crop insurance for Farm Credit Services of Mid-America.

Sloma encourages farmers to review their coverage options with their crop insurance agents to make sure their 2012 policy needs are meet.

“It’s equally important for farmers to make sure their policies will cover their needs in the event of a production or revenue loss,” he said.

Sloma said that crop insurance specialists are reviewing customers’ coverage plans and working with them to verify the accuracy of their policies, including items that are sometimes easily overlooked, such as entity type, social security number, tax ID and marital status.

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Ohio FSA and RMA streamlines common acreage reporting dates

Steve Maurer, the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, announced that FSA and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) have established common acreage reporting dates for producers participating in FSA and RMA programs.

“For Ohio producers, this means the number of acreage reporting dates will decrease from five to four,” Maurer said.

Beginning in 2012, burley tobacco, spring cabbage (planted 3/15-5/31), corn, grain sorghum, hybrid corn seed, spring oats, popcorn, potatoes, soybeans, sugar beets, tomatoes, and all other crops not listed elsewhere will have a July 15 acreage reporting date.  Summer cabbage (planted 6/01-7/20) will have an August 15 acreage reporting date.

Beginning in 2013, January 15 will be the acreage reporting date for apples and grapes. December 15 will be the acreage reporting date for fall barley, fall wheat, and any other fall-seeded small grains.

“These common dates between FSA and RMA will reduce some of the reporting burden on producers and allow USDA agencies to share similar data. 

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Farmers find plenty to discuss at Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

David Miller from Fairfield County and his son, Jon, got their seats early for the general session at Commodity Classic held in Nashville this year. The then half-empty auditorium sprawled out in every direction from their seats near the center of the room.
“I can remember when this was just the corn growers and we’d only need a quarter of this room for everyone to sit in,” David said. “This event has really grown since those days.”

Now, the Commodity Classic is shattering attendance records with more than 6,000 participants gathering for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the American Soybean Association (ASA), the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), and the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) meeting to set policy and learn at a wide array of sessions and events. And, soon enough, the wisdom of the Millers finding seats early was revealed as the steady crowd filtered in to fill the chairs.

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ASA sets policy priorities for 2012

Ohio Soybean producers gathered at Commodity Classic in Nashville with other producers from around the country to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). There were 133 producers from ASA’s 26 state affiliates who served as Voting Delegates in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.

The voting delegates session was held on Saturday, March 3, following conclusion of the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show that drew a record 6,014 attendees. What follows are some of the most significant additions and modifications covering a variety of important soybean issues.

Trade

ASA supports legislation that would graduate Russia from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in order to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia.

ASA opposes any proposal to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with other trade agencies. ASA believes that USTR should remain an independent agency within the Executive Office of the President, focusing on trade negotiations, trade agreements and trade enforcement.

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Transferring seed technology after patents expire

Farmers from across the United States learned about the nuts and bolts of the transition from patented to generic biotech events at the 2012 Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn.

In 2014, the first widely grown plant biotechnology event will lose patent protection with more to follow in the coming years.

“This creates a challenge for the industry,” said Bernice Slutsky, American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) vice president of science and international affairs. “Even though an event comes off patent here in the United States, it’s still highly regulated around the world.”

A mechanism needed to be developed to ensure that international regulatory approvals and proper product stewardship is maintained so that U.S. commodity exports are not impeded.

Working closely with its stakeholders, ASTA and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) decided to take a proactive approach to help address this challenge.

The two organizations put together a joint working group comprised of seed companies big and small, trait providers and those who license traits.

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Weed resistance solutions a hot topic at Commodity Classic

If farmers in Ohio were not aware of the problems associated with weeds that have developed resistance going into the last month or so of late winter meetings, they probably are now. Resistant weeds were the clear theme and

the dominant discussion topic at the Commodity Classic trade show.

Driving much of the discussion was an unlikely pairing of former chemical giant rivals Monsanto and BASF who have teamed up on this daunting problem.  BASF innovation in development, Engenia herbicide, an advanced dicamba formulation with low-volatility characteristics for improved on-target application. Engenia will help control more than 100 of the annual broadleaf weeds that farmers are battling in their crops, including glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and marestail.

“As the industry leader, BASF is dedicated to providing solutions, technical support and educational tools to help growers implement a weed management program based on herbicide best practices,” said Paul Rea, Vice President, U.S.

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Early spring nitrogen likely won't increase yields for wheat

Despite the fact that an unusually wet fall and planting delays kept many wheat farmers from applying starter nitrogen, an Ohio State University Extension educator says they shouldn’t rush to apply spring nitrogen earlier than needed.

Even though wheat has had less time to grow and tiller, applying nitrogen too early in the spring could not only cause farmers to lose money, but also present environmental concerns – and it isn’t likely to increase yields, said Ed Lentz, associate professor who specializes in crop production and agronomy.

Instead of applying nitrogen early, Lentz said farmers should wait until green-up, at the earliest, to maximize yield potential, save money and guard the environment.

“Producers have asked if applying nitrogen earlier would offset the low fall tiller numbers and would tiller number and growth benefit from a split application,” said Lentz, who also is an OSU Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.

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Early spring nitrogen likely won’t increase yields for wheat

Despite the fact that an unusually wet fall and planting delays kept many wheat farmers from applying starter nitrogen, an Ohio State University Extension educator says they shouldn’t rush to apply spring nitrogen earlier than needed.

Even though wheat has had less time to grow and tiller, applying nitrogen too early in the spring could not only cause farmers to lose money, but also present environmental concerns – and it isn’t likely to increase yields, said Ed Lentz, associate professor who specializes in crop production and agronomy.

Instead of applying nitrogen early, Lentz said farmers should wait until green-up, at the earliest, to maximize yield potential, save money and guard the environment.

“Producers have asked if applying nitrogen earlier would offset the low fall tiller numbers and would tiller number and growth benefit from a split application,” said Lentz, who also is an OSU Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.

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Seed Selection Key to Managing Soybean Disease, Achieving High Yields

As spring planting season approaches, soybean growers should be aware that one of the best ways to manage soybean disease is to make sure they plant the right varieties for their fields, said an Ohio State University Extension soybean expert.

In fact, seed selection is one of the most important decisions Ohio soybean farmers can make to ensure the best yield outcomes, said Anne Dorrance, a plant pathologist with joint appointments with OSU Extension and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

“Growers have got to make sure they have the right resistance package, which is one of the best ways to manage soybean disease,” she said. “Growers should make sure that the variety they select has the right resistance package for their field, because soybean diseases can severely reduce yields.

“In the rush to plant last season, we had some fields where growers put in the wrong varieties. But now is the time to plan for spring planting in case we have a similar season this year as we did last season.”

Of particular concern for the 2012 planting season is soybean cyst nematode (SCN).

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Ruts, weeds, and bugs: The challenges of a wet, warm winter

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

The 2011 growing season offered many challenges. While that difficult season is behind us, 2012 could also be challenging due to lingering effects of 2011, and an unusually warm winter. Some of the challenges farmers may face this year include ruts, compaction, early weed growth, insects, and disease.

As a result of 2011’s wet harvest, farmers may be facing ruts and compaction this spring. In no-till fields, management options will vary depending on the severity of ruts. Light tillage should be used for ruts that must be filled before planting. No-till farmers should perform tillage only where ruts are present, not disturbing the rest of the field. Performing unnecessary tillage to an entire field will be detrimental to the long-term benefits of continuous no-till. Tillage should be performed only when soil conditions are favorable. Tillage under wet or “marginal” conditions will only make compaction problems worse.

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Managing grain in storage

By John M. Smith, OSU Extension Educator, Auglaize County Agriculture and Natural Resources

If you had $20,000 to $50,000 in cash sitting in a grain bin, would you check it often? You know you would. Even though grain went into storage in excellent condition why not check your grain that is worth that much? Check it at least once a week.

With the wet fall harvest and high humidity in many areas, much of the grain that went into the bins in poor condition could be headed for trouble; especially when the weather warms up and stays warm.

Properly managing grain in your storage bins is important to maintain quality. Factors that can cause grain to go out of condition are:

• Presence of insects;

• The amount of fines and foreign-material left in the stored grain;

• Initial quality of grain going into storage;

• Grain moisture content;

• Grain temperature.

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Be proactive to manage weed resistance

By Matt Reese

Devastating stands of suffocating weeds, $100 per acre in weed control costs to avoid significant yield loss, and hand chopping weeds for clean fields are just some of the herbicide resistance horror stories from the southern U.S.

Ohio farmer Mark Dowden, from Champaign County, got to see these challenges first hand on a recent trip to Tennessee.

“In the south, they couldn’t kill weeds that were taller than a couple of inches tall. After being down there and seeing it, I wanted to come back and tell people, ‘Hey look, we have got to start using these residuals to control this problem in Ohio,’” Dowden said. “We’ve all got to work together on this because, even if I’m doing things right, if the guy down the road is not doing things right, it is all coming our way. It is just a matter of time. We just don’t want this problem.

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In 2012, farmers can get more crop insurance coverage for less

As crop insurance purchase deadlines approach for the majority of the Corn Belt on March 15, the National Corn Growers Association urges farmers to explore how changes in policies can make coverage more affordable. With lower insurance premiums being offered for most coverage levels this year and adjustments to historical-yield trend calculations, many growers can take advantage of lower rates and increases in coverage.

“At NCGA, we constantly strive to improve the safety net for farmers and hope that in 2012 many will take advantage of the improved options that we have achieved,” said Garry Niemeyer, NCGA President. “We faced difficult weather conditions across much of the Corn Belt in 2010 and again in 2011. By reexamining crop insurance options, many growers may find that increased coverage is more affordable and will better guard against losses in 2012.”

Lower premiums are the result of adjustments that the Risk Management Agency made based on updated crop insurance actuarial data and partial implementation of proposed changes to the program’s rating methodology.

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