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EPA registration approval for the Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack

Syngenta in North America announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted registration approval for the Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack, which offers corn growers dual modes of action against above-ground (lepidopteran) insect pests.

“With this approval, Syngenta offers growers more control of above-ground insects with a reduced five% structured refuge,” said David Morgan, Syngenta region director of North America and president of Syngenta Seeds, Inc. “Not only do growers enjoy greater productivity through reduced refuge, they also will get more yield benefits from the Agrisure Viptera trait and its superior control of the multi-pest complex.”

The revolutionary Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack includes the breakthrough Agrisure Viptera trait, a completely new mode of action in corn as the first Vip3A insect control protein. In 2010 Syngenta trials, triple stack hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera trait outyielded competitive triple stack hybrids by more than 9 bushels per acre on average.

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Focus remains on corn demand

The USDA’s March 1 Grain Stocks report revealed a surprisingly small inventory of corn, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural economist.
“The smaller-than-expected inventory implies that consumption during the second quarter of the 2010-11 marketing year was larger than expected. It appears that consumption is progressing at a rate that cannot be sustained by available supplies,” said Darrel Good.
At 6.523 billion bushels, the estimate of March 1 inventories was 1.171 billion bushels smaller than stocks of a year earlier and 165 to 170 million bushels smaller than the average trade guess, he said.
The ease of originating grain from producers at generally normal basis levels had led some to believe that March 1 stocks would be much larger. The report revealed that on-farm stocks were 1.164 billion bushels smaller than those of a year earlier. Off-farm stocks were only 7 million bushels smaller, he said.
“Producers have moved larger quantities of corn to market than they did last year in response to higher prices, not a stronger basis.
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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan unveils first products that consumers can purchase with new BioPreferred label

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the first 60 products that consumers will soon see in stores throughout the country bearing the new USDA BioPreferred product label for certified biobased products.

The new BioPreferred label designates biobased products that are composed wholly or significantly of agricultural ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. This new label indicates that the product has been independently certified to meet USDA BioPreferred program standards for biobased content. Biobased products help add value to commodities, create jobs in rural communities, increase U.S. energy independence by reducing the use of petroleum in manufactured products and may also reduce the introduction of fossil carbon into the atmosphere, thus mitigating potential climate change impacts.

“When consumers see the BioPreferred label in a store, they’ll know that the product or its packaging is made from renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials,” said Deputy Secretary Merrigan. “From bioplastics to plant-based cleaners, from industrial lubricants and construction products to personal care items, this ever-growing list of biobased products helps create jobs in rural communities by adding value to agricultural commodities and can reduce our dependence on imported oil.”

Merrigan made the announcement during a biobased product meeting held at Hoover, Inc.

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Between the Rows-March 25, 2011

“We installed about 40 acres of tile last fall and we bladed down those tile lines this morning when there was a little frost. The ground is in pretty good shape. It isn’t fit to work or anything like that, but it worked very well on top of those tile lines. We think that a week form now we could be chiseling some other ground that we tiled. All of our soybeans are no-tilled and we no-till about half of our corn. We have very heavy clay soils and we’re big on installing some tile every year.

“The earliest I ever planted corn was April 6 and it was the best corn we had that year. The second earliest was April 10 and it was our worst corn that year. Every year is different. We had a late spring in 1998 and we had some of the best crops we ever had.

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USDA releases planting intentions for 2011

With commodity prices significantly higher than last spring, U.S. farmers plan to plant 3.99 million (4.5%) more corn acres, 3.89 million (8.2%) more wheat acres, and 1.59 million (15%) cotton acres than last year according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In all, farmers reported intentions of planting 323.8 million acres across the 21 major crops surveyed for this report, a 7.09 million (2.2%) increase from 2010 but still 1.21 million acres below the 2008 total.

“Despite increased plantings for most major field crops as reported in today’s Prospective Plantings report, the March 1 Grain Stocks report indicates continued strong demand and usage for these commodities. This suggests the current tight supply situation will continue into 2011 and 2012,” said Joseph Glauber, USDA Chief Economist.

The largest increase in corn-planted acreage in 2011 is expected in South Dakota where growers intend to plant an additional 850,000 acres compared to last year when wet field conditions during planting prevented many from getting all of their intended acreage seeded.

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Seven wonders – A ranking of the top seven factors that determine corn yields

By Fred E. Below, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

To help farmers better understand the value of their crop management decisions, I developed the “Seven Wonders of the Corn Yield World.” This is a tool to teach farmers (and students) the relative importance of management factors that can impact corn productivity.

The Seven Wonders ranks the top seven factors that can positively impact corn yields. It assigns an average bushel-per-acre value to each wonder. It’s based on a compilation of research conducted by the Crop Physiology Laboratory at the University of Illinois over the last 10 years.

Because the bushel-values are averages of ranges, farmers could experience different values. The research for this ranking was conducted mostly in Illinois, so the relative ranking or value of a particular wonder could change slightly with geography.

Defining a wonder
Some practices are clearly important, but I don’t consider them as yield wonders because they are either one-time improvements (tile drainage), they protect rather than increase yield (weed or pest control) or they involve decisions that don’t need to be made every year (soil pH and nutrient levels).

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New beginnings for the new Farm Bill

By Fred Yoder, Plain City corn grower who recently testified before the full Senate Ag Committee

As I reflect over the years as to what agriculture has meant to my state as well as my own family operation, I am reminded of that old commercial that used the phrase, “you’ve come a long way, baby.” Today’s agriculture is not my father’s agriculture. We have come through the years of excess production, using programs to curtail carryovers by limiting acres planted, to Freedom to Farm in 1996, which gave us full utilization of the potential our lands offered. However, we did not develop the demand for all of that volume, and soon had to rely once again on our government to help us dispose of that excess production through deficiency payments and market clearing measures.

Today, we have new technologies, and new markets, especially for corn. While traditionally we have always used corn for livestock feed, today we use roughly a third of our production to produce biofuels, without reducing the total bushels of corn and corn equivalent for the feed and export markets.

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Online Tool to Select Cover Crops in Ohio

Have you ever thought of having a cover crop on your field, but didn’t have the tools to figure out which crop would work best for your needs?

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) teamed up to release an online tool that assists farmers in deciding what cover crops will benefit their row crop rotation.

“The MCCC hopes the cover crop selector tool will encourage the use of cover crops by providing the information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully use cover crops in their cropping systems,” says Dean Baas, of the MSU Extension/W. K. Kellogg Biological Station Land and Water Unit.

The MCCC Cover Crop Decision Tool is an initiative by the MCCC to consolidate cover crop information by state or province to help farmers make cover crop selections at the county level. A team of cover crop experts including university researchers, Extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, state departments of agriculture department personnel, crop advisors, seed suppliers and farmers develop information for each state or province.

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Obama's energy security plan includes ethanol

President Barrack Obama spoke at Georgetown University outlining a four-part “Plan for American’s Energy Security.” With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, the plan incorporates many elements, including biofuels such as ethanol, and offers concrete measures to curb the rapidly rising energy prices affecting every American.

“We are pleased to see that the president has chosen to incorporate ethanol, a proven renewable fuel source, in his energy plan,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “With rising fuel prices hitting farmers, as well as consumers, U.S. corn growers are proud to be part of the solution.”

Noting that sharp increases in gasoline prices have been felt by everyone from farmers to suburban families, the president stressed the importance of creating a more secure tomorrow by taking tangible measures to improve our energy independence today. He proposes a three-part strategy that would reduce dependence upon foreign oil by developing domestic supplies of oil and gas, leveraging these supplies with cleaner, alternative fuels like ethanol, and increasing energy efficiency.

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Obama’s energy security plan includes ethanol

President Barrack Obama spoke at Georgetown University outlining a four-part “Plan for American’s Energy Security.” With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, the plan incorporates many elements, including biofuels such as ethanol, and offers concrete measures to curb the rapidly rising energy prices affecting every American.

“We are pleased to see that the president has chosen to incorporate ethanol, a proven renewable fuel source, in his energy plan,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “With rising fuel prices hitting farmers, as well as consumers, U.S. corn growers are proud to be part of the solution.”

Noting that sharp increases in gasoline prices have been felt by everyone from farmers to suburban families, the president stressed the importance of creating a more secure tomorrow by taking tangible measures to improve our energy independence today. He proposes a three-part strategy that would reduce dependence upon foreign oil by developing domestic supplies of oil and gas, leveraging these supplies with cleaner, alternative fuels like ethanol, and increasing energy efficiency.

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Suit filed against Monsanto challenging patents on GMO seed

On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations, including the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit against Monsanto to challenge patents on genetically modified seed.

The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald.

Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses, and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.

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AFBF intervenes in pesticide lawsuit

The American Farm Bureau Federation, along with other agriculture groups, has filed a motion to intervene in federal court in a lawsuit aimed at imposing needless restrictions or bans on pesticide use.

AFBF filed in Center for Biological Diversity v. Environmental Protection Agency, a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) lawsuit alleges that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing the use of nearly 400 pesticides without conducting consultations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) regarding potential impacts on 214 listed species.

“This case aims to use the Endangered Species Act to impose restrictions, if not outright bans, on hundreds of pesticides,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “To protect the interests of growers nationwide who rely on the availability of safe, affordable and effective pesticides, we have sought to intervene in the lawsuit in order to participate fully in how the case is resolved.”

America’s farmers, said Stallman, are committed to conserving and protecting endangered species in and around farmland and use pesticides in an environmentally sound manner, as authorized by EPA.

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Corn growers respond to attacks from Nestle chairman

Remarks made by the chairman of Nestle about the use of corn for biofuels production were not only wrong but dangerous, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said.  At a time of economic struggle for millions of Americans, any proposal that will kill jobs, damage the environment and raise energy prices needs to be opposed vehemently.

“It is scandalous, ludicrous and highly irresponsible for the chairman of a global conglomerate that tripled its profits last year to talk about higher corn prices forcing millions into starvation,” said NCGA President Bart Schott.  “Perhaps if Nestle is so concerned about food prices, its board will consider putting more of their $35.7 billion in 2010 profits back into poor communities. Just their profits alone represent more than half the entire farm value of the 2010 U.S. corn crop.”

Schott was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a March 22 meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Two Produce Safety Education Programs next week

Ohio State University will offer its Produce Safety Education Program twice next week: on April 4 in Clayton near Dayton and on April 7 in Piketon south of Chillicothe. It’s a workshop for growers on reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses from fresh fruits and vegetables. The program will be the same at both locations.

Among the topics: Water issues, soil amendments, traceability, consumer perceptions, Good Handling Practices and Good Agricultural Practices.

Registration costs $40 and is paid at the door, but a spot can be reserved in advance (guaranteeing both space and the program materials) by calling Ohio State’s Ashley Kulhanek, 330-202-3555, ext. 2918. Attendance at each location is limited to 50.

The April 4 program goes from 6-9 p.m. at Northmont High School, 4916 National Rd., Clayton.

On April 7, attend from 1-4 p.m. in room 160 of the Endeavor Center at the OSU South Centers, 1862 Shyville Rd., Piketon.

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Fungicide use on the rise

Crop prices coupled with demand and a growing population requires growers to examine how they can maximize the yield and quality of each acre. Often that requires additional inputs. Until a few years ago, the crop protection category dominated these inputs, absorbing nearly half of all costs paid by growers. But in recent years, other crop inputs, such as fertilizers, have been gaining ground in the production aides market.

The relative decline in overall crop protection spending hasn’t equally affected each segment of the arena. Whereas spending on herbicides — no doubt due to weed resistance concerns — and insecticides has dropped, the fungicide market share has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s.

“Commodity prices have put more focus on maximizing yield,” says Rex Wichert, fungicide brand manager at Syngenta. “As more producers participate in fungicide trials on their farms, they not only see the yield benefits, but they also see things like improved plant responses to stressful conditions and improved harvestability.”

Research published by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign confirms foliar fungicides were sprayed on 10 to 14 million acres of corn in the Midwest in both 2007 and 2008, when commodity prices peaked.

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Nitrogen recommendations for wheat

By Ed Lentz, Robert Mullen, Ohio State University Extension

Wheat is already at greenup in the southern two-thirds of the state and is beginning to greenup in the northern third. We would recommend applying nitrogen between greenup and Feekes Growth Stage 6 (early stem elongation), which is generally the latter part of April. The potential for nitrogen loss will decrease by waiting to apply closer to Feekes 6; however, since we are at greenup, a common sense approach would recommend applying as soon as field conditions allow application equipment, particularly since days available for field activities may be limited between now and Feekes 6.

We would still recommend the Tri-State guide for N rates in wheat. This system relies on yield potential of a field. As a producer, you can greatly increase or reduce your N rate by changing the value for yield potential. Thus, a realistic yield potential is needed to determine the optimum nitrogen rate.

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Producing corn to feed the world

By Matt Reese

There has been much talk in recent years about the exploding world population. To feed all of these people, food production will have to increase dramatically and the world will be looking to the U.S. to shoulder much of the burden. In terms of corn production, experts think an ambitious, but maybe necessary goal is a national average yield of 300 bushels per acre by 2030.

“We know 300 bushels is an achievable yield, so maybe increasing the national yield to 300 bushels by 2030 is not so pie in the sky,” said Bob Nielson, Purdue Extension corn specialist. “To get 300 bushels, you need ears with 1,000-plus kernels — that is 18 rows by 60 kernels long. At only a modest 30,000 plants per acre and a modest 85,000 kernels per bushel, it equals 381 bushels per acre.”

Unfortunately, at the current rate of average gain in yield increases each year, the national average would only be at about 200 bushels per acre by 2030, far short of what the hungry world will be demanding.

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Sulfur for corn?

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold regional agronomist

Common knowledge for corn growers is that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are essential macronutrients in grain production. Crop health and yield gains have long been observed by providing plants with adequate amounts of the macronutrients. Sulfur is another important but often overlooked nutrient required by plants in adequate amounts.

Recent yield responses of supplemental sulfur applications in some areas of the corn belt continues to gain attention by many industry experts and growers. Sulfur is a component of several enzymes that regulate photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. When sulfur is limiting, chlorophyll production is reduced causing younger leaves at the upper part of a plant to appear yellow.

Sulfur is different from nitrogen in that sulfur is not mobile in the plant while nitrogen is mobile. Nitrogen deficiency will be observed on lower leaves first. Typically, sulfur deficiency is not uniform across fields. Often times sulfur deficiency occurs in spots or streaks often associated with residue cover, organic matter content, compaction and/or drainage.

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Commodity prices back on the rise

Commodity prices are back on the rise after they fell quickly in reaction to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.



Corn fell 10% in the first few days after the earthquake and tsunami, and soybeans and lean hogs were down 6%.



“However, markets have recovered those early losses as the effects aren’t nearly as negative as we initially thought,” he said. “That’s due in part to the fact that Japan is a wealthy nation and its people will continue to consume their normal products.”



The impact on food likely will center on a reduction in Japan’s production. But Hurt said it likely will be small and mostly can be replaced by importing processed goods from other countries.


Japan is the fourth-largest buyer of agricultural products from the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Japan will spend $13 billion on U.S.

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