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Some low to negative returns predicted for corn, soybeans and wheat in Ohio for 2018

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management — Ohio State University Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE)

Production costs for Ohio field crops are forecast to be largely unchanged from last year with slightly higher fuel, fertilizer and interest expenses that will increase total costs for some growers. Variable costs for corn in Ohio for 2018 are projected to range from $359 to $452 per acre depending on land productivity.

Variable costs for 2018 Ohio soybeans are projected to range from $210 to $231 per acre. Wheat variable expenses for 2018 are projected to range from $179 to $219 per acre.

Returns will again be low to negative for many producers. Projected returns above variable costs (contribution margin) range from $175 to $348 per acre for corn and $192 to $371 per acre for soybeans. (This is assuming fall cash prices of $4 per bushel for corn and $10 per bushel for soybeans.) Projected returns above variable costs for wheat range from $135 to $249 per acre (assuming $5.20 per bushel summer cash price).

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It’s just $5 an acre…

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

It seems everyone has a “package” that gives an extra yield bump. Many of these packages contain micronutrients. In Ohio, because we generally have clay in our soil and reasonable levels of organic matter, we don’t usually see a yield impact from applying micronutrients. But should we be concerned about micronutrients?

Our soil tests are most reliable for pH, phosphorus and potassium and can work reasonably well for zinc, too. We usually use a combination of soil and tissue tests to determine micronutrient deficiencies. Soil pH can also help us know where to look for deficiencies. See your copy of the Corn, Soybean, Wheat and Alfalfa Field Guide for descriptions and pictures of nutrient deficiencies by crop.

Typically we will see deficiencies occur in small isolated areas of a field first. When these are noted, pull both a soil and a tissue sample out of the “good” area and out of the “poor” area and compare the results.

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Tax or subsidy? How to reduce Lake Erie phosphorus sources

It may not be a popular solution, but a recent study from The Ohio State University shows the least costly way to cut nearly half the phosphorus seeping into Lake Erie is taxing farmers on phosphorous purchases or paying farmers to avoid applying it to their fields.

Doctoral student Shaohui Tang and Brent Sohngen, a professor of agricultural economics, conducted the study in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

At a projected price tag of up to $20 million annually, a phosphorus subsidy to Ohio farmers or a phosphorus tax would be far cheaper than many of the proposed measures being recommended to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie, Sohngen said. These proposals are estimated to cost anywhere from $40 million per year to $290 million per year, in addition to the $32 million spent on current conservation practices.

Phosphorus spurs the growth of harmful algal blooms, which poisoned Toledo’s drinking water in 2014 and impact the lake’s recreation, tourism and real-estate values.

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Kudzu bug monitoring update

By Amy Raudenbush, Chris Bruynis, David Dugan, Cindy Meyer, Andy Michel, Kelley Tilmon, Ed Brown, Marcus McCartney, Kevin Fletcher, Ohio State University Extension

The kudzu bug is currently being monitored for in nine counties in Ohio including Adams, Athens, Butler, Clermont, Madison, Meigs, Montgomery, Ross and Washington. Traps were set in May and will be checked weekly through June. Overall, zero kudzu bugs have been found on traps in the monitoring counties.

Although the kudzu bug has yet to be found in Ohio the distribution has been rapidly expanding. It is now found in Kentucky, and the I-75 corridor connects Ohio to the Southeastern U.S. where it is very prevalent. The kudzu bug is a serious invasive pest of soybean causing a reduction to yield with heavy infestation. Both immature and adult kudzu bugs feed on soybean plants with piercing-sucking mouth parts. Adult kudzu bugs can be identified by their globular shape and greenish-brown color.

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Late planting corn considerations

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

With some “late” planting some folks are concerned already about whether or not we might be caught by a fall frost before maturity without a change in maturity selection. Not to worry. The corn plant has the ability to adapt to the later planting by advancing more rapidly through the growth stages. Work done at Purdue and Ohio State by graduate students of Bob Nielsen and Peter Thomison, show that the number of growing degree days (GDD) needed from planting to maturity decreases by about 7 GDD per day of delayed planting. As a result, a hybrid planted on May 30 needs about 200 less GDDs to achieve maturity than a hybrid planted on May 1.

Is there a reason to plant shorter season hybrids in Ohio? Yes, maybe. Peter Thomison has been looking at early maturing hybrids in Ohio as a way to get corn off early, maybe to have dry corn for early markets, or to harvest early to have a place for late fall forages.

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Progress with planting, Chinese trade and prices

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

What a difference a year makes! This year producers were unfortunately treated to cool, wet weather for much of April, following an extended winter. Corn and soybean planting progress for Ohio was virtually nil at the end of April. While producers were not pleased with weather conditions they certainly had time to get planters and tillage equipment even better prepared for the push that finally came in early May. The two-week delayed start, in a weird twist, seems to have improved producers’ attitudes compared to last year. Gone were the major frustrations of last spring that brought the unwelcome task of replanting corn and soybeans to reach desired plant population levels for optimum yields. Gone were the added stress levels brought about by replanting two or even three times as nagging rains continued to come out of nowhere. Instead, this year there was unexpected overall efficient planting progress made during the first two weeks of May.

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Novel photosynthesis trait to improve corn yield and sustainability

Benson Hill Biosystems, a crop improvement company unlocking the natural genetic diversity of plants, and Beck’s  are partnering to bring to market the first photosynthetic efficiency trait, enabling corn farmers to increase the yield, sustainability and profitability of their farms.

Sunlight is the critical natural input for food production, capturing and storing carbon as a source for all energy, but photosynthesis is highly inefficient. Increasing carbon capture by improving photosynthesis efficiency is recognized as an important opportunity to improve crop productivity and sustainability.

“For years, trait innovation has been largely limited to only the largest multinational companies. The goal of our product development and testing programs has always been to help farmers succeed by bringing them more choice and profitability,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, Director of Research at Beck’s. “We have been working with Benson Hill now for years and are convinced that this collaboration will allow us to open new channels for innovation and greater opportunity for our customers.”

Benson Hill has developed a robust pipeline of trait product candidates that improve crop photosynthetic efficiency, one of which has demonstrated significant yield increases in hybrid corn across three years of field trials in a broad range of environments and genetic backgrounds.

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Cutting height in hay fields: How low can you go?

By Dwane Miller, Extension Educator, Agronomy, Penn State University

While many parts of Pennsylvania have yet to take a cutting of hay in 2018, I was on a farm in Chester County in mid-May where first cutting alfalfa/orchardgrass was made the previous week. As you head to the field this year, it’s important to pay attention to cutting height in your hay crop. One of our goals as farmers is to maximize our yield; however, cutting a hay crop too low can lead to several negative issues.

The introduction of the disk-type mowers (discbines) allows for cutting very close to the ground. I’ve seen many fields that have been “scalped” right to ground level. This differs considerably from the older sickle bar mowers (haybines), whose technology required some level of stubble height remain. Stand longevity can be compromised when the crop is cut too low. As a general rule, alfalfa can be cut closer to the ground than our grass hay crops.

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Ohio Crop Progress — May 14, 2018

Warmer, drier conditions in many parts of the State allowed for significant planting progress, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending May 13. Field conditions generally were ideal for planting and other activities. Planting progress for both corn and soybeans jumped ahead of the five-year average following a delayed start to the planting season. High temperatures with moist soil conditions also helped to promote corn emergence. Producers also were busy spraying herbicides, and spreading manure, chopping rye for silage, cutting and baling alfalfa, and tillage work. Wheat and pasture conditions improved from last week, while livestock were reported in good condition. In northern counties, however, scattered showers throughout the week followed by heavy rainfall during the weekend limited fieldwork opportunities. There were reports of flooding concerns, ponding in fields, leeching of fertilizers, and drowning of emerged crops.

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Seed Consultants named Eastern Regional Seed Brand for Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont

Seed Consultants, Inc. will expand its regional presence and become the Eastern Corn Belt regional brand for Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. As part of the change, some staff from Doebler’s Pennsylvania Hybrids will join Seed Consultants, along with several Eastern Corn Belt experts from Brodbeck and NuTech.

The change is part of the newly announced Corteva Agriscience multi-channel, multi-brand seed strategy for the U.S., which will expand access to the company’s genetics, technology and traits.

“Eastern farmers have different needs,” said Daniel Call, Seed Consultants General Manager. “They have different environments, different weather, and we’ve always focused our germplasm and our traits to fulfill those customer needs. As the eastern regional brand for Corteva Agriscience, we get to home in on that even more and be more laser-focused.”

Popular Doebler’s products, as well as some Brodbeck and NuTech products, will be available through Seed Consultants. Seed Consultants will also have access to a growing pipeline of products from Corteva Agriscience.

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Pro-ethanol progress in White house meeting, but questions remain

Ethanol supporters were pleased with the long-awaited progress made on a couple of significant obstacles in a White House meeting last month focused on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the system of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

“President Trump…reaffirmed his commitment to our nation’s farmers by approving year-round sales of E15 without a RIN cap. This is a positive step because we know a RIN price cap would have been damaging to farmers,” said Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). “We appreciate the agreement on eliminating the outdated regulation on higher blends such as E15, a barrier that has long needed removal, and thank Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley for their tireless efforts on behalf of agriculture.”

But as a possible concession for fuel refiners who continue to oppose the system of RINs that are part of the RFS, small refiners could gain biofuel credits through ethanol exports.

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Social cause meets food production business at Waterfields

By Matt Reese

Clad in jeans that were torn when she bought them and neon pink rubber work boots, Erica Byrd does not necessarily match the typical idea of a farmer from Ohio. But, she never intended to be a typical farmer.

Byrd works at Waterfields LLC — a hydroponic supplier of premium microgreens based in Cincinnati to provide jobs and quality products to the community.

“I had no money for real. I was living from paycheck to paycheck. Then Waterfields called me. I never had heard of Waterfields but I knew I wanted to work here. I went to the interview and was amazed. I had to work here. I bugged them every day and I got the job. And from then, everything has gone up from there,” Byrd said. “I was just calling them plants for the first couple of months and I had to keep saying microgreens, microgreens, microgreens.

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The war begins at planting

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Upon planting a seed into the medium called the soil, one could assume that it is tucked into a warm and inviting environment, where nothing bad can happen to it. If a grower had that assumption, they would be WRONG!

When a grower plants a seed into the soil, the war begins. The war is between the seed and the “bugs” that are present in the soil. The seed’s goal is to sprout and grow, while the bug’s goal in today’s discussion is to decompose the seed along with any other organic matter, making it nonviable. Both sides are ready to wage war, but how do they plan on winning?

 

The bugs: Who are they and how do they win?

The bugs in this story are the fungi found in all soils. The fungi that battles corn seeds and seedlings are Pythium and Fusarium. The reason the bugs battle corn seeds and seedling is due to their role in the soil cycle.

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Corn planting date considerations

For much of the Eastern Corn Belt it is widely understood that the optimal planting period is between April 20 and May 10. Research has proven that corn loses yield potential daily when planted after the beginning of May. For the Central Corn Belt, the declines in yield potential due to planting delays vary from about 0.3% per day early in May to about 1% per day by the end of May (Nielsen, 2013).

Knowing that this is true, it can be frustrating during a wet spring or when field work is delayed for one reason or another. Planting is a critical component of a successful crop as it sets the stage for the entire growing season. However, it is important to keep in mind that early planting is just one of many factors that contribute to high yield potential. Planting early favors high yields, but it does not guarantee them and growers should not focus entirely on the calendar.

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When to begin alfalfa weevil scouting

The larvae of alfalfa weevil can cause considerable damage, especially when alfalfa is just starting its growth in the spring. When temperatures are greater than 48oF, the adults become active and start to lay eggs. After hatch, the plump and green larvae (which resemble little worms) feed, with 3rd instar (mid-aged) larvae being the hungriest. The heaviest feeding can occur between 325 and 500 heat units. Right now, the heat units (base 48oF) for the Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston are 98, and for the South Station in Piketon is 175. Scouting for larvae should begin at around 250 heat units.

To scout for larvae, collect a series of three, 10-stem samples randomly selected from various locations in a field. Place the stem tip down in a bucket. After 10 stems have been collected, vigorously shake the stems in the bucket and count the number of larvae that dislodge.

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A look at soil health in the farm bill

By Matt Reese

Bill Richards has been concerned with the health of his soil for a long time.

For more than 40 years, Richards and his family have used no-till to reduce costs and limit soil and nutrient runoff on their Pickaway County farm. Richards has also spent countless hours educating his fellow farmers about the importance of managing their land in a productive way while still protecting the environment. He served as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service from 1990 to 1993 as well.

“In the late 1950s the agronomists were telling us there was no reason to till other than weed control. Ohio is the cradle of no-till because at Wooster we had Dr. [Glover] Triplett and Dr. [David] Van Doren who started the original no-till research. There was a group that got started and I was sort of the ring-leader, trying these things to make them work on a farm level,” Richards said.

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A look at soil health in the farm bill

Bill Richards has been concerned with the health of his soil for a long time.

For more than 40 years, Richards and his family have used no-till to reduce costs and limit soil and nutrient runoff on their Pickaway County farm. Richards has also spent countless hours educating his fellow farmers about the importance of managing their land in a productive way while still protecting the environment. He served as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service from 1990 to 1993 as well.

“In the late 1950s the agronomists were telling us there was no reason to till other than weed control. Ohio is the cradle of no-till because at Wooster we had Dr. [Glover] Triplett and Dr. [David] Van Doren who started the original no-till research. There was a group that got started and I was sort of the ring-leader, trying these things to make them work on a farm level,” Richards said.

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Marijuana legalization petition rejected

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office rejected the petition for a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution to legalize marijuana in Ohio.

On April 9, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition to amend the Ohio Constitution, titled the “Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment” from the attorney representing the petitioning committee. The summary was rejected for several reasons, including:

  • The summary language giving the General Assembly authority to regulate “marijuana commerce” does not accurately reflect the actual amendment language.
  • The summary omits references in the amendment that “Marijuana businesses shall be lawful only in those voting precincts in which the majority of the voters approved this section.”
  • The summary omits references in the amendment that “The General Assembly shall within 240 days after the effective date enact and enable laws, rules, and regulations consistent with this section.”

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated in his letter rejecting the petition.

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Seed is precious

We are off to a rough start again. I saw the pictures on Facebook of replanting.  So I thought I should chime in here about how precious this seed is and what a seed treatment can and cannot do.  In this Eastern Soybean Belt we have a lot of poorly drained soil.  More importantly, we also have a lot of inoculum and a great diversity of watermolds, Pythium and Phytophthora, that can infect both corn and soybeans.  When soils are saturated (like this week), these watermolds will form swimming spores that are attracted to the young seeds and seedlings. Based on the past 10 years of research we only see a benefit of the seed treatments when there is soil saturation, typically 2 inches of rain within 2 weeks of planting.  Sometimes it only takes an inch of rain if the soils are “just fit” and it rains again immediately after planting.

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What is the chance of herbicide resistance in Buckeye Gold — the rubber dandelion industrial crop — jumping over to common dandelion?

Buckeye Gold (Taraxacum kok-saghyz, also known as rubber dandelion, and rubber root) is a species of dandelion that is of commercial interest for the high quality rubber produced in its roots. However, it is a slow growing species that competes poorly with Ohio weeds in field plantings, and chemical broadleaf herbicides also kill most of the plants. In order to overcome these agronomic shortcomings, scientists are developing herbicide-resistant varieties by a number of methods, including selection, transgene insertion, and gene editing. However, the release of such germplasm raises the question of gene flow between Buckeye Gold and its ubiquitous weedy cousin, the common dandelion (T. officinale). Could herbicide resistance in Buckeye Gold transfer to common dandelion?

 

Can Buckeye Gold and common dandelion interbreed?

We have surveyed common dandelions around the world. In North America, we have found only triploid obligate apomictic common dandelion plants. These produce clonal seed with exactly the same chromosomes as the mother dandelions.

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