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Marestail, oh my!

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County

Several years ago I attended a Montgomery County Extension Weed Tour and saw the marestail problem there. I saw their plots, saw the attempts to clean up the weed with glyphosate in Roundup Ready soybeans and recognized that it was virtually impossible.

Today our soybean fields look as bad in Champaign County (and surrounding areas in western Ohio) as I remember those Montgomery County fields. What our Extension weed specialists, Mark Loux, Jeff Stachler (was still here then), and Tony Dobbels learned was that once you have glyphosate resistant marestail plants, we can only kill about 50% or less with a glyphosate application. Other post products that once upon a time worked on marestail, such as First Rate or Classic lost their effectiveness in the mid-1990s for the most part. So a planned post program today to kill marestail in soybeans is foolish.

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OEFFA Advanced Season Extension Workshop

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy are offering a four day, two session workshop, “Raising the Salad Bar: Advanced Techniques and Season Extension for the Established Specialty Crop Grower.”

“This workshop is designed especially for experienced crop producers and will give them the tools needed to improve efficiency, utilize season extension, engage in sophisticated planning, and improve growing practices,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director. “We have a number of growers currently doing an excellent job and producing at a high level.  These workshops are to help them take their skills to the next level,” said Beth Knorr of the Countryside Conservancy.

Session 1 (“Advanced Growing Techniques”) will take place on Saturday, November 5 and Sunday, November 6, and feature Josh Volk, a vegetable production expert, lecturer, and regular contributor to Growing for Market. Volk’s Slow Hand Farm in Oregon is home to his CSA, where he implements strategies for consistent yields of specialty crops.

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Late start for soybeans increases the need for scouting

With the significance of Ohio’s wet spring fresh in farmers’ minds, Ohio State University experts recommend extra vigilance when scouting fields for soybean pests and diseases this summer.

The late start could increase the chances of yield losses from soybean rust, though early conditions in the south were not particularly favorable for the disease.

“The cold winter temperatures and hot dry spring prevented soybean rust from surviving in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In Florida, soybean rust is in a kudzu patch just south of the panhandle. This low level of inoculum and hot dry conditions in the south indicate that it is going to take quite a bit of time to reach Ohio,” said Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist. “The next time we should look at this is in early August. At this time we will take a look at how many counties in the south are red, how much inoculum is there in those locations, and what the growth stage, canopy closure, and general health of the Ohio soybean crop is.

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Determining the actual nutrient value of wheat straw

The question that is often asked is just how much nutrient is being removed with that baling of straw around the state?

From a pure fertilizer standpoint, wheat straw contains very little in terms of phosphorus (P2O5) but moderate amounts of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K2O), said Robert Mullen, director of agronomy, Potash Corp/PCS Sales. The actual amounts of N, P2O5, and K2O contained in a ton of wheat straw are 11, 3, and 20 pounds, respectively (or an analysis of 0.6-0.2-1 if it were printed on a fertilizer bag).

“These removal rates are based upon average nutrient removal estimates from various publications,” Mullen said.

Some estimates of nutrient removal can be based upon grain yield, but those estimates have an underlying assumption, he said. The Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations have a K2O removal of 0.91 pounds per bushel of grain.

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AFBF pushes for biofuels bill

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging members of the Senate to support a bipartisan bill that would continue America’s transition to home-grown biofuels.

In a letter sent to senators, AFBF President Bob Stallman  called for passage of S. 1185, the Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act, sponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would end the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC).  Thune and Klobuchar, along with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), recently reached an agreement to end the VEETC on July 31, instead of the current date of Dec. 31.

“One-third of the savings resulting from this change would be used toward providing tax credits for cellulosic biofuel production and building blender pumps—efforts that should result in better security for our nation and lower prices at the pump for consumers,” Stallman wrote.

“Farm Bureau believes that our nation should be focused on energy independence. We support transitioning from the VEETC to a program that builds biofuel infrastructure, including blender pumps and biofuel pipelines.” Stallman wrote.

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Refuge-in-the-bag saved precious time in 2011 planting season

By Matt Reese

This spring, farmers around Ohio experienced one of the most delayed plating seasons in history. With such a limited planting window, farmers had to make every minute count. A few farmers around the state got to save some time and experience the convenience of the refuge-in-the-bag of Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn. Robert Earl, who farms in Huron County, was among them. He planted around 260 acres of the Channel Brand corn this spring.

“We started planting corn on June 2 and finished on June 7. I called in family members to help drive tractor,” he said. “The SmartStax made it easier. We didn’t have to worry about where we were planting the refuge. It was one thing we didn’t have to think about when we were busier than heck. We didn’t have to haul two different varieties out to the field, we just loaded it.”

The refuge-in-the-bag is also beneficial for preserving the insect resistance technology.

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WASDE keeps supplies tight

U.S. wheat supplies are up, feed grain and corn supplies are up and soybeans are lower. Ethanol use predictions are up too, though, and supplies remain tight in the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. Here are some excerpts from the July 12 report.

WHEAT: U.S. wheat supplies for 2011/12 are raised 90 million bushels as higher carryin and production more than offset reductions in imports and higher use. Beginning stocks are raised 52 million bushels mostly reflecting higher estimated carryout for 2010/11 as reported in the June 30 Grain Stocks report. Production for 2011/12 is forecast at 2,106 million bushels, up 48 million from last month as higher winter wheat production and higher forecast yields for durum and other spring wheat more than offset lower area as estimated in the June 30 Acreage report. Partly offsetting is a 10 million bushel reduction in projected imports with lower expected supplies in Canada.

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Corn market waiting on August production report

Corn prices have made a modest recovery following the sharp declines stemming from the USDA reports released on June 30, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“The recovery has reflected a combination of continued strong corn demand and a few concerns about yield potential,” he said.

Good said that July 2011 corn futures reached a high just below $8.00 on June 10 and declined to a low of $6.15 on June 30. The price of that contract moved about 55 cents higher in the first week of July.

Similarly, December 2011 futures reached a high near $7.23 on June 9, declined to $5.75 on July 1, and then moved about 60 cents higher by the close on July 8, he said.

“Corn prices continue to react to a number of factors, including general economic and financial developments. Much of the price strength in July, however, has been associated with indications of continued strong demand and some ongoing concerns about potential yield and production,” he noted.

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SURE disaster program deadline approaches for 2009 crops

Steven Maurer, the State Executive Director for the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) would like to remind producers that they have until Friday, July 29, 2011, to apply for assistance for 2009 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program. The program provides crop disaster assistance payments to eligible producers on farms that have incurred crop production or quality losses.


“FSA wants to ensure that all eligible producers are aware of the approaching deadline,” said Maurer. “SURE covers producers on farms in disaster counties that incurred crop production, crop-quality losses or both, but in order to qualify, you need to file in a timely manner.  I encourage anyone with questions to visit their local FSA office.”

A producer interested in signing up for SURE for their 2009 crops must do so before close of business July 29, 2011, at the county FSA office servicing the producer. The sign-up for the SURE program for the 2010 crops will be announced at a later date.

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The Ohio Crop Progress Report – July 11th, 2011

Temperatures across the state were slightly above average for this time of year, and precipitation was below normal. Most field activities included winter wheat harvest, cutting and baling hay, spraying herbicide, and side-dressing corn. Vomitoxin does not seem to be a problem in the majority of State wheat fields, producers have actively scouted for this ailment in fields. Reporters have indicated that late planted corn fields need rain, these fields did not develop root systems deep enough to withstand periods of time without frequent rain fall. Vegetable producers in the South East district have begun harvesting of tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers and sweet corn. Sweet corn producers are late at getting products to roadside stands, because spring planting was delayed due to an extremely wet spring.

As of Sunday July 10th, 1 percent of corn was silked (tasseled), 39 percent behind last year and behind the five-year average by 16 percent.

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OSA pushing for free trade agreements

Ohio soybean farmers benefit greatly from international markets, and thousands of Ohio jobs depend on soybean exports. The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) supports the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Panama, South Korea and Colombia, and urges their immediate passage and implementation. These trade agreements will result in increased exports of Ohio soy and soy-fed meat and poultry, and will benefit soybean farmers and rural economies.

When these trade agreements are passed and implemented, they will present the opportunity for $3 billion in additional U.S. exports, economic development and jobs.

“OSA asks our elected officials to support efforts to open new markets and allow America’s farmers to fairly compete for business from countries needing agriculture products, including soybeans and soybean products,” said Jeff Wuebker, OSA President and Darke County farmer.  “Inaction regarding these trade agreements has resulted in the loss of U.S. market share and slower economic growth.”

How Ohio’s soybean farmers will benefit:

• Soybeans imported into South Korea for use in cooking oil and livestock feed will enter duty-free.

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Does foliar fungicide increase yield?

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

Plant breeders try to develop new varieties with highest yield potential and select for disease resistance at the same time. However, it is almost impossible to develop resistance to all of the prevalent diseases while developing new varieties or hybrids. We have created some excellent genetic traits for insect tolerance but disease organisms are constantly changing and by the time breeders develop varieties resistant to certain disease organism, the pathogen changes. Nature has its own “breeding program” for the survival of its species. In order to maximize the potential yield of our crops, we need to protect them from diseases also and use of fungicides is one way.

Different disease organisms become more prevalent in certain growing conditions, for example, gray leaf spot likes high humidity and high temperature. Conservation tillage has also increased the incidence of many diseases.

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Soybeans aphids on the move to Ohio

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

Back in April of this year, we wrote an article where we predicted that Ohio would see soybean aphids this summer, albeit that we could not say if any part of the state would actually experience outbreak conditions. We can report that the prediction of having aphids might become true. States and provinces to our north and northeast (Michigan, New York, Ontario) are starting to report seeing soybean aphids in numerous fields at low levels, and we can report that we know of at least a field each in Wayne and Wood Counties in Ohio (early planted soybean fields), that have small aphid populations.

Because we feel that most of Ohio’s problems in later summer come from aphids that migrate from northern areas, conditions are beginning to occur that might provide us with larger populations in a month or so. 

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Managing corn diseases

By Jerron Schmoll, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer

The practice of managing diseases with fungicides in corn has increased significantly in the last few years as commodity prices have made this practice more economically viable. As we approach tasseling, many growers will be considering whether or not to spray their acres. Let’s review what we have learned from previous seasons, and what is different about 2011 that might help guide our decisions.

Before we dig into the data, let’s review the primary diseases that we are managing with fungicides: gray leaf spot (GLS) and northern corn leaf blight (NCLB). GLS causes rectangular shaped lesions that turn gray as the disease progresses, while NCLB causes gray-green elliptical or cigar-shaped lesions. Both diseases are favored by prolonged periods of leaf wetness in the form of prolonged dews and high humidity, and both can produce substantial yield losses, particularly on susceptible hybrids. Increased stalk lodging can occur with both diseases as the plant “cannibalizes” carbohydrates in the stalk to fill the ear instead of relying on green tissue to photosynthesize carbohydrates.

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Are higher commodity prices here to stay?

Higher commodity prices might be the rule rather than the exception in the coming years, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

While prices regularly rise and fall, they have trended upward in a way that suggests they’ve reached a plateau, said Mike Boehlje. He attributed much of the price movement to bullish export markets, weather-shortened supplies and the effect monetary policies have had on interest rates and investors.

“This higher level may be the new normal,” Boehlje said. “But volatility has increased significantly for agricultural prices, as well as for agricultural inputs. In terms of corn, for example, it’s not unusual in the futures markets to see prices moving 30 cents or more on a daily basis. And although prices may be higher, so are costs to producers. So margins are not likely to stay unusually high.”

Corn and wheat in recent weeks have been trading in the range of $6-$7 per bushel and soybeans above $13 a bushel, about double the prices five years ago.

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Cover crops and prevented planting

Farmers who were unable to plant their corn and soybeans because of bad weather might consider planting cover crops this summer to build soil quality and prevent erosion, a Purdue University Extension specialist says.



Cover crops usually are planted in the fall to protect soil over the winter and replaced with corn and soybeans in the spring. But an exceptionally cool and wet spring kept many farmers from planting, leaving fields fallow.

Because many fields were left bare by prevented planting, Purdue Extension soil scientist Eileen Kladivko recommended planting a cover crop to avoid soil erosion and build soil quality. Cover crops can increase a farm’s long-term productivity by loosening soil structure, reducing nitrate leaching and adding organic matter, Kladivko said. 



“There is no reason not to do something in the summer,” she said. “Soil quality increases by growing things in it.”



Ohio State University cover crop specialist Jim Hoorman said cover crop roots might create pore space, increasing the soil’s water storage capacity.

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Wheat yield and quality update

By Matt Reese

Dan Wagner farms in Hardin and Hancock Counties and started harvesting his wheat crop last week. He feared that both quality and yields would be poor this year. Though he is still disappointed with his wheat crop, it was not as bad as he initially feared.

“The wheat was off last year and this year the disease levels seem to be better, but the yields are worse,” Wagner said. “Wheat looked great coming into May, but then we started seeing the tile lines and I knew it was too wet. The water killed it in the low areas and in other places there was a head, but there was nothing in it. The yield monitor spiked up to 72 bushels in areas where it should’ve been 100.”

This year, fungicide again proved itself, but application at the proper time was also very challenging.

“We sprayed Prosaro, but I think we missed the ideal timing by about three days,” Wagner said.

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The Ohio Crop Progress Report – July 5th, 2011

Temperatures across the state were slightly above average for this time of year, and precipitation was below normal. Most field activities included winter wheat harvest, cutting hay, spraying herbicide and side-dressing corn. As expected, late planted corn is showing better stand counts than that of early planted acres. Reporters in the South Central district report that some stands of winter wheat are showing signs of head scab, the infection rate is low to moderate. Vegetable producers in the South East district have begun harvesting of tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers and sweet corn.

As of Sunday July 3rd, 95 percent of soybeans were emerged, two percent behind last year and four percent behind the five-year average. One percent of the soybeans were blooming, compared to 16 percent for both last year and the five-year average. Fifty-six percent of the winter wheat was ripe, 34 percent behind last year and 4 percent behind the five-year average.

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NightCrawler Gardens growing from love of growing

By Matt Reese

The love of growing plants is at the root of a growing business in Fairfield County.

“Whether it is corn, soybeans, or tomatoes, I love to grow things,” said Jason England, who owns and operates NightCrawler Gardens in Fairfield County with his wife, Sheri. “I just like sowing seeds and watching them come up.”

England grew up in Fairfield County growing strawberries on his family’s small farm and his love of plants led him to study plant biology at Ohio University in Athens. There he met his future wife Sheri, an artist, who found she had a knack for arranging the flowers that England loved to grow.

NightCrawler Gardens started with the young couple renting four acres for the production of field grown fresh-cut flowers near his parents’ home back in Fairfield County in the mid-1990s. They would make the trip up from Athens after classes on Friday to pick the flowers in the glow of their headlights to sell at the Worthington Farmers Market the next morning.

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Increase in corn acres a surprise to everyone

This year’s planting estimate numbers released by the USDA on June 30 show the dynamic capabilities of Ohio farmers. It also demonstrates the need for modern farming technology to get crops in the ground in record time.

Most Ohio farmers were delayed in planting due to one of the wettest springs in history.

Yet the USDA estimates farmers planted more corn this year than last year, with figures showing that Ohio’s farmers put 3.5 million acres of corn in the ground in 2011, up from last year’s 3.45 million planted corn acres.

“Thirty years ago this would not have been an option,” said Mark Wachtman, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers (OCWGA) president and Henry County farmer. “Technology such as using GPS to guide in planting, allows us to plant quickly and do it right the first time. Also, biotech seeds make it possible to have a shorter growing season under adverse weather conditions.”

But, OCWGA CEO Dwayne Siekman says keep in mind the figures are still estimates.

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