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New weight limit for trucking containers levels the playing field for Ohio ag

By Matt Reese

As a result of its central location, access to major waterways and plenty of railways, Ohio has an abundance of empty shipping containers sitting around. More stuff comes in to be distributed than there is stuff that is going out.

Along with all of the empty shipping containers, Ohio is also blessed with abundant agricultural commodities including corn and soybeans that are in demand around the world. It is only logical that Ohio’s top commodity crops, especially high-end food-grade non-GMO crops, be shipped to the world via empty containers.

“A lot of the premium specialty soybean market is transported in containers. And when freight rates go up for overseas shipping, we start to see more of the commodity grains going into containers,” said Kirk Merritt, executive director of the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC). “We also see export buyers that do not want to buy in bulk, but are interested in a small number of containers instead of buying a tanker load.”

There are several businesses in Ohio that have taken on the challenges of container shipping soybeans in particular, but this state has an inherent disadvantage when it comes to container shipping on the highways.

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Elections favor continued federal commodity payments

Farmers who favor continuation of federal commodity payments should come away from Tuesday’s (Nov. 2) election feeling good, a Purdue University agricultural economist said.

While Republicans regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats held onto the majority in the Senate, the new agricultural committees in each chamber aren’t likely to touch farm subsidy programs, said Otto Doering, a farm policy specialist. There’s even a good chance both committees will abandon attempts by current House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson to eliminate direct payments, he said.

“Congressman Peterson’s desire is to back off direct payments and, instead, strengthen counter-cyclical payments to make agricultural subsidies more reasonable and fair to the public,” Doering said. “I think that’s dead meat at this point as farm groups rally again to preserve the direct payment, particularly in this time of high commodity prices.”

Counter-cyclical payments date back to 1933 and are traditional price support subsidies provided to qualifying crop farmers when the prices for their crops are lower than a specified level.

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2010 corn harvest wrap-up

By Matt Reese

Stark County farmer Earl Wolf got an early start with harvest and finished early — Oct. 25, specifically. Wolf was not alone in his early finish. It was downright spooky with most of Ohio’s corn and soybean crop out of the fields before Halloween this year.

By Nov. 1, Ohio corn harvest was 91% complete, compared to the five-year average of 50%, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Soybeans were 97% harvested, with a five-year average for early November of 85%. Winter wheat emerged in Ohio was at 80%, with the average normally at 67%. The winter wheat crop rating for Ohio is 65% good to excellent, better than last year’s 61%.

Nationally, corn harvest was 91% complete compared to 24% last year and the 61% average, according to NASS. Soybeans were almost wrapped up at 96% harvested. Last year, soybeans were just half done by the same time.

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Great opportunity for fall fertilizer applications

With corn and soybean harvest ahead of schedule in Ohio, farmers are encouraged to make their fertilizer applications now.

“This is a rare opportunity for farmers,” said Robert Mullen, an Ohio State University Extension fertility specialist. “With harvest about two weeks early, on average, they can get quite a bit of fertilizer applications down this fall and avoid that frozen ground application in the winter.”

Mullen, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, said that phosphorus and nitrogen are the two main fertilizer inputs made to the soil and extra care should be taken with how both are managed.

“Soil test, soil test, soil test,” said Mullen. “Know what your nutrient status is. If you don’t need phosphorus, don’t apply it. Point blank. End of story. There is no agronomic benefit to applying more phosphorus than is needed.”

If a phosphorus application is required, specifically as an input from manure, Mullen encourages farmers to follow best management practice recommendations on application amounts.

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Syngenta Agrisure Viptera Trait wins Agrow Awards “Best Novel Agricultural Biotechnology” honors

Syngenta has received a prestigious Agrow Award in recognition of the company’s new Agrisure Viptera corn trait in the Best Novel Agricultural Biotechnology category. The award was presented at the annual 2010 Agrow Awards ceremony in London, England, on Nov. 2. Agrow is a leading provider of news, analysis and data for the global crop protection industry.

The Agrisure Viptera trait is a novel insect management tool that protects corn crops against a variety of harmful pests, including corn earworm, black cutworm and Western bean cutworm. With this ability, the trait can help U.S. corn growers recoup an estimated 238 million bushels of corn and $1.1 billion in annual yield and grain quality losses due to damage from these pests(1). The trait is available in hybrids from Garst®, Golden Harvest® and NK® Seeds and will also be made available through licensing agreements.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor and is another validation of the global recognition of Syngenta’s success in delivering leading edge biotechnology solutions for growers’ problems,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, head of Syngenta Biotechnology R&D.

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Soybean aphids could be a threat in 2011

While 2010 was not a significant year for aphid infestation, that doesn’t mean growers can or should ignore this yield-robbing pest in 2011, according to experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. 


After 2009 presented a very widespread, severe year for aphid infestation, the 2010 growing season was more limited, with only pockets of serious aphid problems, largely in Minnesota. 


That said, researchers like Jessie Alt don’t see the problem lessening. 


“There’s no crystal ball, but aphids have gone from being an every-other-year threat to becoming a challenge every season,” says Alt, Pioneer research scientist. “So the probability is high that aphids will be an issue again in 2011.” 


As growers consider seed selection for next season, Pioneer experts suggest growers leverage antibiosis ratings and select soybean varieties with native tolerance as the first line of defense. Antibiosis refers to natural characteristics that discourage aphids from feeding and reproducing, and it provides some general protection from all biotypes.

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Requests for Stink Bug Information Met With Overwhelming Response

With the help of homeowners, Ohio State University Extension entomologists have compiled plenty of statewide data on the brown marmorated stink bug, a relatively new pest to Ohio that not only damages crops but takes up overwintering residence in homes.

“From the data we’ve received so far, we know that Ohio is inundated with the stink bug,” said OSU Extension entomologist Ron Hammond. “At this time, we have enough data to work with, so we no longer need assistance. But we greatly appreciate the help we’ve received from homeowners in our research efforts.”

OSU Extension county offices have been overwhelmed with phone calls and e-mails the past week from homeowners reporting the presence of the brown marmorated stink bug in their homes.

Researchers are interested in tracking the range of the pest in order to develop ways to control the insect and prevent it from damaging crops or populating homes.

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How high will corn go?

December 2010 corn futures moved above $5.00 in mid-September, moderated in early October, and then moved sharply higher following the USDA’s October Crop Production report. The month of November started with new highs for that contract, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

“Even though prices are at the highest level since July 2008, some analysts are projecting even higher prices, with $7.00 being a favorite target. The obvious question is: Why are higher prices needed?” he said.

The role of the corn market is twofold. First, corn has to be priced so that current supplies last until the next harvest. Second, corn prices have to motivate sufficient production in 2011 to meet needs during the 2011-12 marketing year, he said.

The second objective is met primarily by directing acreage decisions in 2011. Corn prices continue to adjust as the market’s assessment of the “right” price needed to meet these objectives changes.

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Nov. 20 NAP crop deadline


Steve Maurer, the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, would like to remind producers that they have until November 20, 2010 to sign-up for the 2011 Non-insured Assistance Program (NAP) crop coverage.  This deadline applies to the following crops: Apples, Asparagus, Blueberries, Caneberries, Cherries, Chestnuts, Forage for Hay and Pasture, Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Strawberries, Honey and Maple Syrup.
NAP covers losses caused by damaging weather conditions.  Producers receive a payment when the loss is in excess of 50 percent.  Losses are generally determined by the percentage of loss compared to the producer’s actual yield history.  Eligible production losses are paid at 55 percent of the established value for the crop.
The service fee is $250 per crop per county or $750 per producer per county.  The fee cannot exceed a total of $1875 per producer with farming interest in multiple counties.  Limited resource producers may request a waiver of service fees.
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Pioneer Hi-Bred introduces 29 new soybean varieties for 2011

With the total package of improved agronomic, defensive and yield-boosting traits in mind, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is adding 29 new soybean varieties to its 2011 lineup.

“Each year Pioneer is focused on raising the bar for its soybean products, bolstering benefits to growers,” says Don Schafer, Pioneer senior marketing manager – soybeans. “That means not only providing varieties with broad agronomic and defensive traits, but also making sure yield potential is there as well. With this year’s new products, we’ve done just that.” 


These new Pioneer® brand soybean varieties, which range from Group 00 through mid-Group V, include 20 varieties with soybean cyst nematode resistance (three of which offer the Peking source of resistance), four non-glyphosate resistant varieties and one new low linolenic product. 


Key products in this year’s lineup include the following:

900Y71 – This is a new leader product well-suited for the northern Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota, and into Manitoba, Canada.

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Study demonstrates Ohioans eating more wheat

A September study demonstrates that Ohio consumers are making a conscious effort to include more wheat and wheat products in their diets.

A notable 55% of the 200 citizens surveyed are deliberately consuming wheat on a day-to-day basis.

Wheat is America’s most consumed grain and is also the principal ingredient of flour.

“Ohio’s wheat farmers have an ample supply to meet demand,” said Mark Wachtman, president of the Ohio Wheat Growers Association (OWGA). “Ohio produced 46 million bushels this year. Wheat has already been planted this fall and we are optimistic that production will increase in 2011.”

All grains begin as whole grains. If all three parts of the original grain — the germ, bran and endosperm — remain in their original proportions after milling, the end product still qualifies as a whole grain.

Wheat contains large amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Research has shown its influence in reducing the risk of diabetes, breast cancer, gallstones, inflammation and several cardiovascular conditions.

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Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association is set to launch in 2011

Throughout the past year, grower leaders have participated in the Structure Task Force to represent the interests of Ohio producers of corn and wheat to build the identity of a new organization — the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.

The new organization is a result of an ongoing relationship between the Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA) and the Ohio Wheat Growers Association (OWGA), which was formalized six years ago. The relationship began with shared staff, but grew throughout the years with joint membership meetings, legislative visits, public campaigns and policy-development synergies.

“From my perspective, the process to explore a new organization just made sense,” said OWGA President Mark Wachtman. “In Ohio, many of the issues we face are not as a grower of one crop, but as a producer of grains and oilseeds that allow us to successfully manage our farm. I grow a variety of crops on my farm, including corn, soybeans and wheat, and this is often the case in Ohio.

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Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association is set to launch in 2011

Throughout the past year, grower leaders have participated in the Structure Task Force to represent the interests of Ohio producers of corn and wheat to build the identity of a new organization — the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.

The new organization is a result of an ongoing relationship between the Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA) and the Ohio Wheat Growers Association (OWGA), which was formalized six years ago. The relationship began with shared staff, but grew throughout the years with joint membership meetings, legislative visits, public campaigns and policy-development synergies.

“From my perspective, the process to explore a new organization just made sense,” said OWGA President Mark Wachtman. “In Ohio, many of the issues we face are not as a grower of one crop, but as a producer of grains and oilseeds that allow us to successfully manage our farm. I grow a variety of crops on my farm, including corn, soybeans and wheat, and this is often the case in Ohio.

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The science of pumpkin production

Ohio is one of the top producers of pumpkins in the U.S. Last year, the state’s farmers harvested 1.24 billion pounds of the fruit from 7,500 acres, with a farm value of $22.5 million.

To make sure Ohio remains a great pumpkin state, growers thrive, and consumers get a high-quality product, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are constantly involved in research and outreach activities that cover various aspect of pumpkin production.

“I would not be anywhere where I am now without the information I get from Ohio State,” said Jon Branstrator, owner of Branstrator Farms in Clarksville, halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. “I grow very good quality product, and that helps me sell it a lot better.”

Like many other growers around the state, Branstrator — who farms 250 acres, 60 of them dedicated to pumpkins and other specialty crops — has come to rely on the work of Ohio State experts to make important decisions that impact his operation.

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Soil testing still important in dry conditions

Farmers shouldn’t stop analyzing soil samples to determine lime and fertilizer needs despite the effects drought and low soil moisture might have on the results, a Purdue University agronomist says.

“Accurate analysis of representative soil samples to determine lime and fertilizer needs is fundamental to crop production,” said Jim Camberato. “Unfortunately, persistent, dry weather resulting in prolonged periods of low soil moisture can affect potassium and pH, resulting in somewhat misleading results.”

Soil tests can be useful in dry weather if farmers understand the way low moisture can affect potassium and pH test results.

In a dry fall, soil test potassium levels often are lower than expected because most of the potassium the crop had taken up during the growing season remained in the crop residue. There wasn’t enough rainfall to return it to the soil.

“This is a larger issue with corn than soybeans because corn stover contains much more potassium than soybean straw,” Camberato said.

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Winter wheat is off to a good start

With nearly all of Ohio’s winter wheat planted, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers are on track for a potentially successful crop.

“This year, corn and soybeans have come off in a timely manner, so most of our wheat has been planted under decent conditions. Reports from across the state indicate that wheat so far is looking good,” said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University wheat specialist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Paul said that because of the early harvest of corn and soybeans, farmers got a jump on good wheat establishment. In some cases, this included planting before the Hessian fly free date, which could potentially lead to some disease problems in the spring due to fall establishment of some pathogens.

“Farmers are saying that they plant before the Hessian fly free date because they don’t recall ever seeing the Hessian fly,” said Paul. “Not only is the Hessian fly free date about the Hessian fly, it’s also about planting at a time when you can get adequate tiller development without excessive early disease development.”

The Hessian fly free date – ranging from September 22 in northern Ohio to October 5 in southern Ohio – is designed to prevent the development and spread of the Hessian fly, which can cause significant damage to wheat.

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Tips for evaluating sales information

By Robert Mullen, Ohio State University Extension

Now that crop harvest is winding down, many companies that conduct field experimentation will be getting out and sharing their success stories, so how can you weed through the information to find the truth?

The first thing I often say as it relates to fertilizer products (but this likely extends to other agronomic products/practices) is “if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.”  The first thing to look for when evaluating yield data from field trials is to look for some information regarding how field experimentation was done.  This does not require you to have a statistical background.  Simple questions like – “Was the study replicated?”, “How many locations were utilized?”, “Were there any locations that did not respond positively (environmental interactions)?”  To my knowledge, no agronomic practice (within reason) results in a yield increase every time it is evaluated.  So if someone states, “we conducted field research on 50 fields, and we saw a yield increase every time,” be suspicious.

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Ohio farms pay heavy toll for clean water violations

Last month, an Ohio pork producer received stiff fines and prison time, and a dairy owner and manure applicator also agreed to a heavy financial toll as a result of water pollution violations.

On Oct. 19, William H. Ringler, the owner and operator of Steamtown Farm, a 2,500-head pig-feeding operation in Ashley (Morrow and Delaware counties), was sentenced in U.S. District Court to three months imprisonment, three months of electronic monitoring, a fine of $51,750 and a restitution payment of $17,250 to Ohio EPA for allowing an unpermitted discharge that killed more than 36,700 fish and other small aquatic animals in June 2007.

Thousands of gallons of liquid whey, a dairy by-product used as a feed supplement for the pigs, leaked twice in eight days from a 26,000-gallon tank on Ringler’s farm, which is recognized as a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and monitored by the state. The whey entered the farm’s drainage system and flowed into the west branch of

Alum Creek where it reduced dissolved oxygen levels.

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The competition for 2011 acres has started for corn and soybeans

There are three issues that are important for corn and soybeans as they compete for acreage in 2011, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“First, there’s the question of how many acres of these crops are needed to meet consumption needs at ‘reasonable’ prices. Second, how many acres are available for planting of all crops in 2011? Third, what is the likely strength of competition from other crops?” he said.

According to Good, planted acreage of corn in 2010 in the United States totaled 88.222 million acres, 1.74 million more than planted in 2009, but 5.305 million fewer than planted in 2007.  Planted acreage of soybeans in 2010 was a record 77.714 million, 263,000 more than planted in 2009.

“Acreage of all crops was about 2 million less than planted in 2009. Although the mix of crops changed from 2009 to 2010, the overall decline reflected a reduction of about 2.3 million acres of double-cropped soybeans.

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