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Learn strategies & tips on ECO farming at Conservation Tillage Conference

Ohio crop growers looking to increase the organic matter content in their soil to the tune of $900 per unit increase in organic matter, may want to consider a move to ECO Farming, advises an Ohio State University Extension educator, who says that switching to the technique could result in raising soil organic matter levels by several percentage points depending on soil type.

ECO Farming, which stands for Ecological Farming and includes using eternal no-till, continuous living cover and other best management practices, is not only economically viable, it is also ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable, said Jim Hoorman, an assistant professor studying cover crops and water quality issues, who is based in Mercer County.

It uses a combination of cover crops and no-till worked into a corn/soybean/wheat rotation to more efficiently use the inputs farmers add to their soil, “reducing the amount of nutrients they may need to buy in the future,” he said.… Continue reading

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Learn strategies & tips on ECO farming at Conservation Tillage Conference

Ohio crop growers looking to increase the organic matter content in their soil to the tune of $900 per unit increase in organic matter, may want to consider a move to ECO Farming, advises an Ohio State University Extension educator, who says that switching to the technique could result in raising soil organic matter levels by several percentage points depending on soil type.

ECO Farming, which stands for Ecological Farming and includes using eternal no-till, continuous living cover and other best management practices, is not only economically viable, it is also ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable, said Jim Hoorman, an assistant professor studying cover crops and water quality issues, who is based in Mercer County.

It uses a combination of cover crops and no-till worked into a corn/soybean/wheat rotation to more efficiently use the inputs farmers add to their soil, “reducing the amount of nutrients they may need to buy in the future,” he said.… Continue reading

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White mold and other diseases a concern after mild winter

By Matt Reese

While there were some run-ins with the full wrath of Old Man Winter in the past few months, by in large, it has been a mild season. The wet and warm weather through much of the winter has plant pathologists concerned about the possibility of diseases this growing season.

“Ohio is known as the replant state and that is not going away. As these soils have remained saturated, all of those soil borne organisms are there primed and ready to go,” said Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist. “When we try to extract these pathogens from the field, we have them incubated in cool temperatures. The longer we incubate, the better disease we get. We have had a winter that has mimicked exactly what we do in the greenhouse to recover these pathogens from the soil.”

Understanding the disease history in the field will be important this season.… Continue reading

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Should you use starter fertilizer?

By Dave Nanda, Director of Genetics and Technology for
Seed Consultants, Inc.

Why is starter fertilizer becoming more important than in the past? When we plant early, the growing conditions for germination and early growth of the seedlings are very harsh. The soils are cold and wet and anything we can do to help the little seedlings will give them a head start. In addition, planting in no-till or reduced tillage ground is becoming more prevalent. For applying starter fertilizer, you may have to modify your planter. It is important to have the nutrients, especially, nitrogen available immediately after germination to the young seedlings where little roots are developing. What are benefits of starter fertilizer?

• I have seen better stand establishment where starter was used as compared to the check rows.

• Corn is more robust and healthier. The canopy formation is slightly faster and corn seedlings are ahead of the early weeds.… Continue reading

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RMA proceeding with crop insurance premium reductions

By Matt Reese

Those who use crop insurance in Ohio should see some welcome changes in their premiums this year and in following years. Late last year, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced that Ohio would have some of the biggest proposed decreases in the nation resulting from updated methodology to set crop insurance premiums.  

The RMA announced that many states, including Ohio, would see significant decreases in crop insurance premiums based on the decreasing risk levels due to a number of factors. The federally supported crop insurance system was designed to have a loss ratio of 1.0. In theory, farmer-paid premiums paired with USDA-paid premiums, should result in an equal number of dollars paid in claims throughout time. However, the rating methodology has not kept up with yield increases and other factors resulting in increased insurance premiums.

RMA periodically reviews premium rates and makes necessary adjustments for actuarial soundness, aiming to establish the most appropriate premium rates.… Continue reading

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South American seed production offers challenges, benefits

By Steve Woodall, production, Production Contract Administrator, AgReliant Genetics

Producing seed corn in South America for U.S. corn growers offers some unique benefits and challenges. AgReliant produces seed in Argentina and Chile for several reasons. Genetics and traits in the seed industry are moving ahead faster now than they ever have. Having a second production cycle each year offers the opportunity to provide our customers with a better supply of the newest products and also gives the chance to increase supply of our best products. Parent seed is also produced in South America in order to bring new products up to commercial production levels faster.

A common practice for winter production is for parent seed produced in the U.S. to be harvested, conditioned, quality tested, shipped to South America and planted in a matter of a few weeks. The parent seed traveling to South America is flown down on commercial passenger flights and regular air freight lines.… Continue reading

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Marestail resistance a growing problem

Ohio grain farmers are likely to find more glyphosate-resistant marestail in their fields this year because of the wet fall and warm winter, says an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist.

Marestail is the most abundant, herbicide-resistant weed Ohio growers deal with, and according to Mark Loux, a combination of herbicide applications can provide the most consistent, effective control.

Resistant populations were traditionally found in southwestern Ohio, but now essentially all of the marestail statewide is glyphosate-resistant. Twenty-five percent of marestail also is resistant to ALS inhibitors, meaning postemergence herbicide applications are often the least effective, Loux said.

“The situation takes on even more significance this spring as crop growers were hampered from fall applications due to the lack of time and good weather last fall to get herbicide applied,” he said.

Loux offers several approaches growers can take to deal with increasingly difficult weed control scenarios:

* Apply burndown plus residual herbicides in late March or early April, which is applying early enough that burndown of emerged crops is not an issue.… Continue reading

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OCWGA members provide farm bill shot in the ARRM

By Matt Reese

Last fall, the National Corn Growers Association unveiled their Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program (ADAP), a commodity title proposal for the 2012 farm bill designed to modify and replace the existing Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE) and provide a more effective and responsive safety net for

growers.

Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association member Anthony Bush, from Morrow County, serves as the chair of NCGA’s public policy action team and oversaw the national effort. With the NCGA’s farm bill option that cut more than $20 billion in spending over 10 years and transitioned away from the increasingly hard to justify direct payments, politicians took notice.

After some near miraculous political maneuvering by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and his staff, a version of the NCGA proposal found its way into the congressional spotlight with unusual bipartisan sponsorship and support in the Senate. This Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management Program (ARRM) program is now the focus of farm policy in the U.S.… Continue reading

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Working on a farm bill in a “different” town

By Matt Reese

Things are different in Washington, D.C. these days.

“It’s a different town since the last election. The right is further right and the left is further left,” said Jon Doggett, the National Corn Growers Association vice president of public policy. “The Tea Party is pushing Republicans further right. The same thing, but maybe not to the same degree, is happening with the left. Things are really changing. This is the biggest change I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been in Washington.”

The budget is the bottom line and has polarized the opposing sides of the debate.

“We have deficit spending out as far as the eye can see. Forty-two cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed and that is only going up. The Republicans are going to push hard to get Bush tax cuts extended,” Doggett said. “The rhetoric is going to be tax and spend Democrats verses ‘kill grandma by cutting social security’ Republicans.… Continue reading

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Working on a farm bill in a "different" town

By Matt Reese

Things are different in Washington, D.C. these days.

“It’s a different town since the last election. The right is further right and the left is further left,” said Jon Doggett, the National Corn Growers Association vice president of public policy. “The Tea Party is pushing Republicans further right. The same thing, but maybe not to the same degree, is happening with the left. Things are really changing. This is the biggest change I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been in Washington.”

The budget is the bottom line and has polarized the opposing sides of the debate.

“We have deficit spending out as far as the eye can see. Forty-two cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed and that is only going up. The Republicans are going to push hard to get Bush tax cuts extended,” Doggett said. “The rhetoric is going to be tax and spend Democrats verses ‘kill grandma by cutting social security’ Republicans.… Continue reading

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Margrafs caring for the soil with no-till

By Matt Reese

The 1,110 Seneca County farm of Bret and Gene Margraf has long history of making no-till work on the diverse soil types and rolling land. The Margrafs were the Ohio No-Till Council Outstanding No-Till Farmers of the Year for their dedication to the land.

The move toward conservation started with Gene’s experimentation with a JD 7000 planter for no-till farming in the late 1970s. The soil types on the farm range from blow sand to silt loam and heavy clay, sometimes all in the same field. The first attempts with no-till started on the best-drained ground that was the most conducive to the new type of farming.

“We started with no-till beans in the sandier farms,” Gene said. “Then we got a little braver and tried it on some other soils. There might have been a yield drop at first in the corn depending on the soil type.… Continue reading

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Wheat research still a priority

By Matt Reese

Private industry has taken corn and soybean breeding efforts and run with them, but the same trend

has not taken place with wheat. While private interest in wheat is on the rise, public efforts such as the wheat breeding program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster are still crucial to wheat variety improvement.

“We are seeing the USDA Agricultural Research Service dramatically cutting facilities and funding,” said Dana Peterson, with the National Association of Wheat Growers.

And, with the tight federal budgets, the funding situation does not look great for the necessary expanded continued research efforts in the future, but NAWG is speaking up for the nation’s wheat farmers about the continued importance of public wheat research in Washington, D.C.

“The message for the Hill on wheat research is that how vitally important these efforts are,” Peterson said. “It is hard for the staff people in Washington to connect the dots with this.”

Along with general improvement of wheat varieties, there are some key challenges with Fusarium, evolving insect problems and a virulent rust strain that is spreading around the world.… Continue reading

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RFS a top priority for U.S. ethanol and corn industries

By Matt Reese

The oft-maligned Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that mandates increasing levels of renewable fuel use in the U.S. is the topic of hot debate between some livestock and crop organizations.

Livestock and poultry organizations claim the RFS drives up feed costs, but Bob Dinneen, the CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, does not mince words about the value of the RFS and the ethanol industry’s contributions to the economy and the livestock industry.

“We produced almost 40 million tons of DDGs last year, that is a significant portion of the total feed demand in this country,” Dinneen said. “The RFS has been a tremendously successful program. People have invested in the RFS. The worst thing in the world would be for the government to come in and change the game. Business cannot create jobs if Congress comes in and changes things all the time. We have to make sure that RFS stays in place.… Continue reading

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White mold poses significant threat to soybean and dry bean yields

Soybean and dry bean growers across the Midwest and North Central United States need to prioritize white mold when evaluating their ‘disease watch list’ for 2012.

White mold, also known as Sclerotinia stem rot, was first discovered in the United States in the late 1800s on tomatoes. Since then, the pathogen has been found on hundreds of other crops and by 1992 it had established itself as a wide-spread problem in geographies where climate provided optimum condition for disease proliferation.

When left untreated, white mold can cause yield loss or total crop loss depending on the infected crop, with the added challenge of lingering in the soil for up to 10 years.

The reason behind the rapid increase of white mold has yet to be determined, but it is thought to be related to changes in cultural practices that promote a greater canopy density. The increase in white mold also is believed to be influenced by changes in the genetic base of current soybean and dry bean varieties, or changes in the white mold pathogen.… Continue reading

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Corn market still unsettled

The 2011-12 corn marketing year is approaching the halfway point.

“At this  time of year,” said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel  Good, “prospects for marketing-year  consumption and ending stocks are often fairly clear and the market begins to  focus more on new crop prospects. This  year, consumption, stocks, and price prospects are far from clear.”

Good continued, “There is considerable uncertainty about the pace of consumption for the rest of year in each of the major categories. If anything, the uncertainty outlined two weeks ago has intensified.”

The surprisingly small estimates of feed and residual use during the last half of the 2010-11 and first quarter of the 2011-12 marketing years had created expectations of a “correction” to be revealed in upcoming USDA Grain Stocks reports. Now, the on-going year-over-year decline in broiler production, prospects for fewer numbers of cattle on feed later in the year, and the relatively mild winter weather to date point to some slowdown in feed use, whatever the pace actually is, he said.… Continue reading

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Why early planting usually pays

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics & Technology 
Seed Consultants, Inc.

It has been proven by many tests conducted by the universities and seed companies over the years that earlier planted corn typically yields more than the later plantings. It has been demonstrated that in the central Corn Belt, you can lose about one bushel per acre per day if you plant corn after May 10th. However, they seldom explain why. The reasons are as follows:

North of the equator, June 21st is the longest day of the year. Plants can trap most sun light during May 21st to July 20th period. Earlier planted corn has more time to capture solar radiation. That’s the main reason for higher yield potential.

Is heat more important than light for yield and maturity? You can’t grow crops without either heat or light. Fortunately, both come from the sun. Heat provides the energy and light is required for photosynthesis, a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, starches and proteins.… Continue reading

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Tips for preparing for a "normal" growing season

There may be no such thing as the “normal” growing conditions of old that many corn farmers have been longing for after enduring extreme weather in recent years, a Purdue Extension agronomist says.

Instead, Bob Nielsen suggested that corn growers should look at a variety of management techniques to give crops the best chance at success — regardless of the weather.

“Many of us have a nostalgic memory of growing seasons where the crops emerged quickly, grew vigorously and uniformly, pollinated successfully, filled out grain completely, and stood strong until harvested in the warm, sunny days of early fall,” Nielsen said. “I would suggest that maybe we have all been delusional with our nostalgia and that perhaps a more accurate definition of a ‘normal’ growing season is one that involves an unpredictable number of unpredictable extreme weather events, each occurring unpredictably with unpredictable severity.”

The first way farmers can deal with uncertainty is to identify what influences yield — both positive and negative — and manage it accordingly.… Continue reading

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Tips for preparing for a “normal” growing season

There may be no such thing as the “normal” growing conditions of old that many corn farmers have been longing for after enduring extreme weather in recent years, a Purdue Extension agronomist says.

Instead, Bob Nielsen suggested that corn growers should look at a variety of management techniques to give crops the best chance at success — regardless of the weather.

“Many of us have a nostalgic memory of growing seasons where the crops emerged quickly, grew vigorously and uniformly, pollinated successfully, filled out grain completely, and stood strong until harvested in the warm, sunny days of early fall,” Nielsen said. “I would suggest that maybe we have all been delusional with our nostalgia and that perhaps a more accurate definition of a ‘normal’ growing season is one that involves an unpredictable number of unpredictable extreme weather events, each occurring unpredictably with unpredictable severity.”

The first way farmers can deal with uncertainty is to identify what influences yield — both positive and negative — and manage it accordingly.… Continue reading

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ASA pushing two critical measures for biodiesel

Now is a critical time for two American Soybean Association (ASA) biodiesel policy priorities. ASA is asking members to contact their members of Congress and urge them to support the retroactive reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit.

The biodiesel tax credit lapsed on December 31, 2011.  Retroactive extension of the biodiesel credit is a top priority for the ASA for continued development of the biodiesel industry. We urge enactment of a tax extenders package as soon as possible, including as part of the payroll tax relief package currently being negotiated by a Senate-House Conference Committee.

Also in December, Congress passed a short term extension of the payroll tax reduction.  That extension expires on February 29, 2012 and a formal House-Senate Conference Committee has been convened to negotiate a longer-term extension. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and other Members have called for the Conference Committee to add the expired tax provisions, including the biodiesel tax credit, to the package.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance change coming in 2012

By Matt Reese

The crop insurance industry is letting farmers know well ahead of time to expect an important change this year in the payment deadline.

“For years, the crop insurance bill was sent out on Oct. 1 and as long as it was paid in 30 days, there was no interest attached. For 2012, the billing date has been moved up to Aug. 15,” said Jason Williamson, with Williamson Insurance Agency. “With the Aug. 15 date, the bill is still due within 30 days. So, by Sept. 15 that bill will be due. We have gotten it to where, until Oct. 1, there will be interest attached. This change was a result of the 2008 Farm Bill and it is now taking effect in 2012.”

The concern is that a late harvest could create a cash flow crunch when the payment is due for crop insurance. Williamson does not want any surprises this fall when the crop insurance bill comes.… Continue reading

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