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Delayed planting effects on corn yield: A “historical” perspective

By Allen Geyer, Peter Thomison, Ohio State University Extension

According to the USDA/NASS, for the week ending May 5, only 2% of Ohio’s projected corn acreage was planted — compared to 20% last year and 27% for the five-year average. Persistent rains and saturated soil conditions have delayed corn planting. The weather forecast this week indicates the likelihood of more rain, so it is probable that many soggy fields may not dry out soon.

Long-term research by universities and seed companies across the Corn Belt gives us a pretty good idea of planting date effects on relative yield potential. The recommended time for planting corn in northern Ohio is April 15 to May 10 and in southern Ohio, April 10 to May 10. In the central Corn Belt, estimated yield loss per day with delayed planting varies from about 0.3% per day early in May to about 1% per day by the end of May, according to Bob Nielsen at Purdue University.

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National Corn Yield Contest entries open for 2019

Farmers have from May 6, through Sunday, July 31, 2019, to enter the National Corn Yield Contest (NCYC). This year marks the 55th year for the contest that began with 20 entries from four states. Last year 7,258 entries from 46 states made NCYC the premier event of its kind in the nation.

“NCGA wants to challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity to explore new ideas and production techniques while gleaning knowledge to enhance your future yield potential,” said Linda Lambur, NCYC manager. “It’s not just about big yields but promoting innovative production methods and sharpening management skills. It’s about being more precise in how we grow each bushel of corn and that ultimately will make corn production more sustainable.”

A farmer must have an NCGA membership number to have an entry in the contest which can only be obtained from NCGA. Please call 636-733-5512 or email ncyc@ncga.com to obtain your membership number or to create a new membership number.

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No need to switch hybrid maturities yet

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

In many areas of the Eastern Corn belt planting has been delayed due to wet spring weather. With the continued planting delays some growers may begin to wonder if they should switch to earlier maturing hybrids.

When considering late-planted corn, it is important to keep in mind that hybrids can adjust the amount of Growing Degree Days required to reach maturity. In this C.O.R.N Newsletter Article, Ohio State’s Peter Thomison states: “In Ohio and Indiana, we’ve observed decreases in required heat units from planting to kernel black layer which average about 6.8 growing degree days (GDDs) per day of delayed planting. Therefore a hybrid rated at 2800 GDDs with normal planting dates (i.e. late April or early May) may require slightly less than 2600 GDDs when planted in late May or early June, i.e. a 30 day delay in planting may result in a hybrid maturing in 204 fewer GDDs (30 days multiplied by 6.8 GDDs per day).” Because hybrids can adjust their required GDDs, late-planted hybrids can still reach physiological maturity before first killing frost in the fall.

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Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought

Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016.

The study found that during some years, excessive rainfall reduced U.S. corn yield by as much as 34% relative to the expected yield. Data suggest that drought and excessive heat caused a yield loss of up to 37% during some years. The findings are published in the journal Global Change Biology.

“We linked county-level U.S. Department of Agriculture insurance data for corn loss with historical weather data, letting us quantify the impact of excessive rainfall on yield loss at a continental scale,” said Kaiyu Guan, a natural resources and environmental sciences professor and the study’s principal investigator.

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Switching from alfalfa to soybean…Should I inoculate?

By Laura Lindsey and Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

Alfalfa stands were negatively affected by this winter’s weather. Some farmers may be converting their alfalfa fields to soybean. Does the soybean seed need to be inoculated?

While there is very little information on this topic, we believe yes. You should inoculate soybean with Rhizobia when converting an alfalfa field to soybean. Here’s why… Both alfalfa and soybean plants have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in which the bacteria fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into a plant-available form of nitrogen. However, different species are associated with alfalfa and soybean. In soybean, nitrogen fixation is associated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum. While in alfalfa, nitrogen fixation is associated with Sinorhizobium meliloti (also called Ensifer meliloti). The bacteria associated with nitrogen fixation in alfalfa will not form the same association with soybean.
Generally, fields with a history of soybean production have a large population density of Bradyrhizobium japonicum.

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Push continues for E15 as June looms

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to allow year-round sales of 15% ethanol blends, or E15, by eliminating the outdated barrier that currently requires retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15 during the summer months.

“By allowing E15 to receive the same summer volatility adjustment EPA permits for E10, retailers will be able to offer drivers E15 year-round, providing choice to their customers without an interruption in sales between June and September,” NCGA President Lynn Chrisp wrote in the submitted comments. “Corn growers have advocated for this change for several years, and we agree with EPA’s assessment that the conditions that led EPA to provide the original volatility adjustment for E10, at a time when 10% was the highest ethanol blend available, are ‘equally applicable to E15 today.’”

In addition to being beneficial for farmers, higher blends of renewable fuels such as E15 also lower fuel prices for drivers and reduce emissions, improving air quality and providing greater greenhouse gas reductions.

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USDA releases report on rural broadband’s role in precision agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a report, A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies. The report finds that deployment of both broadband e-Connectivity and next generation precision agriculture technology on farms and ranches throughout the U.S. could result in at least $47 billion in national economic benefits every year.

“Broadband and Next Generation Precision Agriculture are critical components for creating vital access to world-class resources, tools and opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers,” Secretary Perdue said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to doing our part to clear the way for nationwide broadband connectivity that will allow the next generation of precision agriculture technologies to thrive and expand.”

The report also finds that if broadband infrastructure and digital technologies at scale were available at a level that meets estimated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18% of total agriculture production.

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OSU’s eFields program looking to expand on farm research further in 2019

By Matt Reese

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the challenges of agricultural crop research. Different soil types, constantly changing weather patterns, different plant hybrids and varieties, and human/equipment error are just a handful of the vast number of variables in agricultural research that can make it difficult to find real, reliable answers to important crop production questions.

Replicated trials on small plots help account for the variability, but every farmer knows there is nothing more relevant than research conducted at the field scale on their farms, in their management systems, with their weather, and their soil types. Researchers know the value of these on-farm research efforts as well, and they are looking to do more in Ohio.

Paul Ralston in Hardin County has conducted his own research on his farm for several years to hone his production practices and was quick to start working with Ohio State University Extension researchers when he had the opportunity to participate in the eFields program.

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Adapting burndown herbicide programs to wet weather delays

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist

The wet soils and weather have limited field work and questions about how to deal with burndown herbicide treatments in delayed planting situations are rolling in. One of the most common ones, predictably, is how to kill glyphosate-resistant marestail and giant ragweed and generally big weeds in soybeans when it’s not possible to delay planting long enough to use 2,4-D ester (Enlist soybeans excluded). While marestail populations may on the decline, this does not mean it’s gone by any means. Overwintered marestail plants become tougher to kill in May, and the fact that fall weather was not conducive for herbicide applications makes the situation worse in some fields. The good news is that we have some additional herbicide/trait options for help with burndown since the last time we wrote an article covering this in 2016, although our experience is that nothing we suggest here is infallible on large marestail.

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Improve yields with uniform emergence

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Two aspects of stand establishment in corn often discussed by agronomists are emergence and seed spacing. “Picket fence” spacing in corn allows plants to grow efficiently while minimizing competition between them. More importantly to achieving high yields, however, is uniform emergence. Plants that are just one leaf collar behind (due to uneven emergence) significantly reduce yield. According to Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Extension ag engineer, “When a plant develops ahead of its neighbor, it hurts yield dramatically. It’s going to vary somewhat from year to year, but a plant lagging behind those around it becomes a weed.”

Uniform emergence is critical to maximizing yield potential. To achieve uniform emergence, several factors must be taken into consideration.

 

Soil moisture

Soil moisture at planting is an important part in ensuring uniform emergence. Seed should be planted into enough moisture to allow for germination.

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USDA extends deadline for producers to certify 2018 crop production for Market Facilitation Program payments

USDA extended the deadline to May 17 from May 1 for agricultural producers to certify 2018 crop production for payments through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which helps producers who have been significantly affected by foreign tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional exports. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) extended the deadline because heavy rainfall and snowfall have delayed harvests in many parts of the country, preventing producers from certifying acres.

Payments will be issued only if eligible producers certify before the updated May 17 deadline. The MFP provides payments to producers of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, dairy, hogs, fresh sweet cherries and shelled almonds. FSA will issue payments based on the producer’s certified total production of the MFP commodity multiplied by the MFP rate for that specific commodity.

“Trade issues, coupled with low commodity prices and recovery from natural disasters, have definitely impacted the bottom line for many agricultural producers,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA administrator.

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Wheat disease monitoring

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

We are monitoring wheat disease in an effort led by OSU Extension wheat specialist, Pierce Paul.

We follow growth stages of wheat to know when to apply herbicides safely but also to know when, or if, we should apply fungicides. Growers who rely on the height of the crop as an indicator of crop development may miss Feekes Growth Stage 6, a critical growth stage for herbicide application, and Feekes GS 8, a critical stage for managing foliar diseases with fungicides. Do not rely on the height of the plants or calendar dates alone (especially this year) to make your management decisions. Walk fields, pull tillers from multiple places, remove the lower leaves, and examine these tillers for the presence of nodes and the emergence of the flag leaf. At Feekes GS 8 the tip of the flag leaf, the fourth leaf above the first node, is visible.

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Growing degree days and emergence timing

Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

A great deal of field work has been done over the past few weeks. As corn is being planted across the eastern Corn Belt and another growing season has begun, it will be time to walk and scout fields. Once corn is planted, the next critical event will be uniform emergence. Many producers have read or heard that it takes about 100 to 120 Growing Degree Days (GDDs) for corn to emerge, but what does that mean?

A GDD (also referred to as Growing Degree Units) is a calculation based on daily high and low temperatures. This calculation helps to predict stages of growth in corn based on an accumulation of heat units or GDDs. The basic formula for calculating GDDs is: add the daily maximum temperature to the daily minimum, divide by 2, then subtract 50. The value calculated by this formula is the total number of GDDs accumulated in one day.

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Uniformity – Setting the stage for high corn yields

By Kyle Poling, Pioneer Hi-Bred Field Agronomist

“Variability” is not a word any farmer wants to use to describe one of their corn fields. While uniformity during the periods of germination, emergence, and nodal root formation is the goal, there are many management practices and environmental conditions that can impact this objective.

Corn germination is triggered by absorption of water. Corn kernels must absorb approximately 30% of their weight in water before the germination process begins. A seeding depth of 2 inches has often been found to provide the most consistent combination of moisture, temperature, and seed-to-soil contact for uniform germination and emergence. Inadequate seed-to-soil contact, a dry seedbed, or a rapidly drying seed zone may provide less than optimum absorption of water, causing the germination process to slow or stop completely. Additionally, corn kernels that absorb excessively cold water (less than 50 degrees F) during the first 24 to 48 hours of germination may experience serious injury or death, resulting in erratic emergence.

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Establishing new forage stands

By Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring.

  • Make sure soil pH and fertility are in the recommended ranges.  Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations (https://forages.osu.edu/forage-management/soil-fertility-forages).  Forages are more productive where soil pH is above 6.0, but for alfalfa it should be 6.5 – 6.8. Soil phosphorus should be at least 15 ppm for grasses and 25 ppm for legumes, while minimum soil potassium in ppm should be 75 plus 2.5 x soil CEC. If seedings are to include alfalfa, and soil pH is not at least 6.5, it would be best to apply lime now and delay establishing alfalfa until late summer (plant an annual grass forage in the interim).
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The PLFA soil health test

By Alan Sundermeier, CCA, Ohio State University Extension and Vinayak Shedekar, postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University

A diverse and active pool of micro and macro organisms is essential for a healthy soil. While the soil biology plays a key role in building healthy soils, it can also provide nutrients to crops and naturally control some soil-borne pests and diseases. However, it is difficult to assess the soil biological properties in a lab compared to traditional chemical soil testing.

Identifying and quantifying different soil organisms requires a range of sophisticated methods and instruments that most soil labs do not have. However, some labs offer a PLFA test that serves as a very good indicator of soil microbial communities.

PLFA are Phospholipid fatty acids found in the membranes of all active organisms. Certain fatty acids are used to indicate the bacteria, fungi, or other types of microbes, so quantifying the fatty acid content in a soil sample can indicate the size of a specific microbial group as well as the size of the entire microbial biomass.

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Work on year round E15 continues

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works towards allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline, ethanol proponents are watching closely with summer sales ban approaching.

“Farmers stand ready to work with the Administration to clear obstacles to higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and ensure a final rule works for the full ethanol and fuel supply chain,” said Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association first vice president. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1.”

Ross’s comments came during a hearing held as part of the rulemaking that would remove regulations requiring retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol approved for all vehicles 2001 and newer, during the summer months.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol.

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Pioneer Field Report: Wet fall, spring poses unique planting considerations

Pioneer Field Agronomist for southwest Ohio Brad Ott joins Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood for this week’s Pioneer Field Report. The wet fall and wet spring have brought some unique considerations for planting season, with farmers having to get a lot of catch-up work done in the fields in a short time.

“We didn’t have a very conducive fall to do much of anything last year,” said Ott. “So there’s a lot that has to get done this spring and maybe some changes to what our normal practices are due to not having that ability last fall.

“A lot of places didn’t get tillage done,” he said. A need to look at the right planting techniques could be the answer, according to Ott.

Seed quality is also an industry-wide concern this year.

“The big thing you need to have a discussion with your seed supplier about is what does that really mean.

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Plenty to ponder as planting progresses

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Fieldwork for much of Ohio finally returned the second week of April. Producers were aggressively applying fertilizer and spraying herbicides for corn and soybeans. In addition, repairing dreaded tile blowouts as well as installing new tile were in the mix of work being completed. Corn and soybean planting was taking place in very small amounts as evidenced by the April 9 weekly Crop Progress Report as it detailed planting progress across the country. This report had U.S. corn planted at just 2%, matching the five-year average. To no surprise, this report had zero corn planted in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The European and American weather models were in huge disagreement in their weather forecasts for the last half of April. The American model indicates a warmer and drier outlook. In sharp contrast, the European model has showers continuing for that timeframe for the Delta, central Midwest, and eastern Midwest.

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2019 Cab Cam | A unique kind of fieldwork in Logan County

Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood catches up with Skyler Foos of Integrated Ag Services as he’s out in the field doing some soil sampling in a Logan County field, near Rushsylvania. The two talk the unique equipment and the current status of Ohio farm fields in this video, sponsored by Homan Inc.

“We are doing a high density soil sampling. We are out here in the field doing half acre grids,” said Foos.

He also contributed some thoughts as far as fieldwork progress.

“Down around where we’re from, the Urbana area, guys are getting out in the fields. I know they’ve been working a lot of ground and I even heard somebody planting some beans last week. Things are starting to come around — it’s going to get busy pretty soon.”

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