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Strickland Secures Federal Assistance for Ohio Farmers

Governor Ted Strickland today announced that farmers in 79 counties are now eligible to receive disaster assistance after U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack declared 41 Ohio counties to be primary natural disaster areas and the additional 38 as contiguous disaster counties.

Strickland requested a disaster designation from the USDA due to state agricultural losses caused by several natural disasters in 2010.

“Ohio farmers faced economic losses and personal hardship as a result of these weather disasters, and I saw how important it was to help secure available aid,” said Strickland. “I am grateful for Secretary Vilsack’s decision to provide some relief for the members of our agriculture community. This assistance will help our farmers make Ohio’s $98 billion food and agriculture industry even stronger.”

The available assistance includes Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program. Farmers in these eligible counties have eight months from the date of this disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance.

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What can we learn for next year by analyzing potential 2010 corn crop losses?

By Eric Anderson, Syngenta agronomist, CPAg

With summer over and fall in full swing, most growers have turned their attention toward harvest, which has started in earnest in some areas throughout the Great Lakes District. Looking back, spring planting was ideal (at least early on) and environmental conditions were mostly satisfactory, leading the USDA to predict near-record yields for much of the area. However, some growers who have begun harvest are finding a little different story, with lower than expected yields, especially for corn. Let’s look at the year and examine probable causes for potential corn yield loss in 2010 as well as possible solutions for future reference.

2010 Corn Crop

1.) Too much rain – One obvious cause for overall yield loss in 2010 was too much rain early on. Most areas had an over abundance of rainfall from mid-May through mid-July. Many growers experienced some flooding, at least in low-lying areas, and consequently had drowned out areas where corn was completely killed.

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VeraSun attorneys retract demands for farmer payments

Corn growers who faced a legal deadline to repay money from corn sold in 2008 to the bankrupt ethanol producer VeraSun received some good news — the attorneys are dropping their questionable claims for payment.

“This is great news for farmers at a time when we need to focus on bringing in our crops,” said National Corn Growers Association President Darrin Ihnen. “We’re glad the lawyers saw the light and realized they had no legal justification to go after us. We had an excellent team working on this to make sure we had the right information, and to present our case.”

Because of bankruptcy law, attorneys representing VeraSun creditors were able to seek repayment from farmers and others who received money from VeraSun within 90 days prior to the bankruptcy filing.

In late August, hundreds of corn farmers received letters from attorneys threatening legal action. The letters offered to settle the matter with a payment equal to 80% of what the farmers received for their corn sales to VeraSun.

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Seed Consultants celebrates 20 years since “crazy” start

By Matt Reese

Sometimes, being a little crazy can be a good thing.

People in the seed business and on the farm thought Chris Jeffries and Dan Fox were a little crazy 20 years ago when they started a seed company from scratch.

“Nobody really knew what the heck we were doing. No one does that,” Fox said. “Everybody thought we were crazy. No one just starts up a seed company.”

No one except the founders of Seed Consultants, Inc., that is.

“Chris and I worked together at Super Crost Seeds. They did not have a line of beans and Chris actually started a line of beans and he called it ‘Seed Consultants,’” said Fox, the vice president of Seed Consultants. “In 1989, ICI bought Super Crost Seeds and Chris had always said that if something happened, he wanted to go on his own and start his own company. I told him that if he ever did that, I wanted to go with him.

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Winter wheat needs a clean seedbed

The most important thing farmers can do to control weeds in the 2011 wheat crop is to provide a clean, weed-free seedbed before planting, Purdue Extension weed scientist Bill Johnson says. Few herbicides are available for wheat, so getting rid of weeds before the seed hits the ground will help eliminate crop injury and problems with yields. “If wheat seedlings are emerging and they are competing with standing, live weeds in the fall, we run the risk of wheat not tillering,” Johnson said. “If wheat doesn’t tiller as well in the fall, we will have fewer plants in the spring to crowd out other weeds and ultimately fewer grain heads for production.” Minimizing or eliminating the competition from weeds in the fall will give wheat the chance to take up moisture and soil nutrients and to absorb as much sunlight as possible, Johnson said. In addition to a clean seedbed, Johnson said wheat farmers should wait to plant wheat until after the average Hessian fly-free date for their area.

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New option for multi-pest control available for 2011

Every year there are a host of pests that reduce the yield of Ohio’s corn crop. In the past however, many of these pests never received much attention simply because there was just not much that could be done about them.

Among the most damaging of these pests is the corn earworm. Damage from corn earworm (CEW) is caused by the larvae as they feed on leaves, silks and developing kernels. The pest was present in higher numbers than usual in some parts of Ohio this year and damage varied significantly throughout the state, according to Syngenta agronomists.

“CEW is a serious pest that is present in Ohio every year. The pest overwinters in some parts of Ohio and is present throughout the state on many crops including field corn, sweet corn, popcorn and many vegetable crops. Trapping data from Ohio State University indicates that while 2008 and 2009 were relatively low years for CEW, 2006 and 2007 were strong peak years in moth trapping programs,” said Jason Fettig, a Syngenta agronomist.

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Wineries work together for individual success

By Matt Reese

From sweet corn to pumpkins, farms that market directly to customers have long competed with their products for consumer dollars. The result of such competition, more often than not, tends to be detrimental for the farms involved and beneficial for the consumer.

The wine industry, however, has done quite the opposite. As the number of wineries around Ohio has exploded like an uncorked bottle of Champagne in recent years, many of the individual businesses have thrived rather than suffered from the increased competition

“The only way this industry got off of the ground in Ohio was all of the cooperation,” said Lee Wyse, who owns Rainbow Hills Winery in Coshocton County with his wife, Joy.

Wyse was the 36th licensed winery in the state and the first one in his region of the state when he started his business 23 years ago. As new wineries have come to the area, his business has benefited significantly.

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Hot dry weather pushes fast 2010 harvest even faster

The week ending Sept. 26 was unseasonably hot and dry throughout the state. The National Agricultural Statistics Service report said that 85 percent of corn was mature, compared to 23% last year and 52% for the five-year average. Corn harvest was 24% complete in Ohio compared to 1% last year and 5% for the five-year average. Corn silage was 95% harvested, compared to 66% last year and 80% for the five-year average. Eighty-eight percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, compared to 73% last year and 80% for the five-year average. Soybeans were 66% mature, which was 40% ahead of last year and 29% ahead of the five-year average. Soybeans harvested were reported at 29%, up 24 percent from last year and up 20% for the five-year average. Winter Wheat planted was at 8%, compared to 1% last year and 5% for the five-year average. The 4th cutting of alfalfa hay was 77% complete, compared to 54% last year and 65% for the five-year average.

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Weekly Crop Progress Report Sept. 27

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS WEEK ENDING SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 26, 2010

This week has been unseasonably hot and dry throughout the state. Producer’s main activities for the week were planting of winter wheat and harvest of corn and soybeans. Tobacco producers report that 95% of the tobacco crop is in the barn. Excessive hot and dry weather has caused the crop to dry rather than cure. Southern livestock producers report that they have begun feeding winter hay stocks, due to poor pasture conditions.

As of Sunday September 26, 85 percent of corn was mature, compared to 23 percent last year and 52 percent for the five-year average. Twenty-four percent of corn for grain has been harvested in the State, compared to 1 percent last year and 5 percent for the five-year average. Corn silage was 95 percent harvested, compared to 66 percent last year and 80 percent for the five-year average.

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Don’t jump the gun on fall N

After last year, no producer wanted to be late getting into the fields this fall. While it’s great to get the crop out early, collect soil samples while it’s still nice outside, and perform tillage while soil conditions are adequate, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said no one should be applying nitrogen yet.

“Last year’s harvest made it nearly impossible for many to properly fertilize their fields,” Fernandez said.

Every fall, producers who apply nitrogen worry that if they wait too long for temperatures to drop sufficiently, soils might become too wet to do the application. While the window of opportunity is small, it’s important to exercise good judgment to realize the benefit of such application.”

The management of nitrogen is important because this nutrient is both one of the most expensive inputs in today’s farming operations and one that can pose environmental concerns.

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Don't jump the gun on fall N

After last year, no producer wanted to be late getting into the fields this fall. While it’s great to get the crop out early, collect soil samples while it’s still nice outside, and perform tillage while soil conditions are adequate, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said no one should be applying nitrogen yet.

“Last year’s harvest made it nearly impossible for many to properly fertilize their fields,” Fernandez said.

Every fall, producers who apply nitrogen worry that if they wait too long for temperatures to drop sufficiently, soils might become too wet to do the application. While the window of opportunity is small, it’s important to exercise good judgment to realize the benefit of such application.”

The management of nitrogen is important because this nutrient is both one of the most expensive inputs in today’s farming operations and one that can pose environmental concerns.

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Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program to provide funding to Ohio grape producers

Ohio grape producers can now apply for their share of $40,000 through the Vineyard Expansion Assistance Program, which is made available by monies secured by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The program allows for a more stable source of high-quality, high-value grapes for Ohio’s wineries, farmers markets and other retail outlets. It also enables more Ohio wines to qualify for the Ohio Quality Wine Program, which identifies the best wines in Ohio made with 90 percent or more Ohio-grown grapes.

Reimbursement is offered to encourage growers to establish new grape vineyards or expand existing vineyards in Ohio. Growers may apply for up to $2,000 per acre, for a maximum of three acres. Applications must be completed and postmarked by Oct. 22, 2010.

The Ohio Grape Industries Committee, created in 1982 and operated in-part through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, provides marketing and research opportunities to Ohio’s wineries and vineyards.

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The Hessian fly-safe date is not only about Hessian fly

By Pierce Paul, Ron Hammond, Ohio State University Extension

For years, a very standard recommendation for profitable wheat production in Ohio has been to plant wheat after the Hessian fly-safe date. This recommendation is based on the fact that at the dates indicated on the map, Hessian fly adults would no longer be alive.   Adults emerge in later summer, mate, and then oviposit in different types of grasses.   Adult life span is extremely short, perhaps only a week, during which time they do not even feed.  After this short time span, adults die off.   The fly-free date is set at a time when it is expected that the adults have died and are no longer around the area.  As a result, damage caused by this insect will likely much less if wheat if planted after the specific date fly-free date in your area.

However, in Ohio the Hessian fly-safe date is not only about the Hessian fly.

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Monitor corn fields for stalk lodging and late season “intactness”

By Peter Thomison, Pierce Paul, Ohio State University Extension

Recent storms accompanied by strong winds have resulted in stalk lodging in localized areas across the state. Late season water stress in parts of Ohio may have predisposed corn to greater potential for stalk rots and lodging. The rapid maturation and dry down of corn this year may affect crop “intactness” and we’ve received reports of kernels falling off ears, reduced shank strength, ears dropping, lose husk coverage and exposed ears in some corn hybrids

For a corn plant to remain healthy and free of stalk rot, the plant must produce enough carbohydrates by photosynthesis to keep root cells and pith cells in the stalk alive and enough to meet demands for grain fill. When corn is subjected to drought stress during grainfill, photosynthetic activity is reduced. As a result, the carbohydrate levels available for the developing ear are insufficient. The corn plant responds to this situation by removing carbohydrates from the leaves, stalk, and roots to the developing ear.

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USDA Report highlights Increased Energy Efficiency for Corn-based Ethanol

Harry Baumes, Acting Director of USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, says a report that surveyed corn growers in 2005 and ethanol plants in 2008 indicates the net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency. Titled “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry,” the report surveyed ethanol producers about ethanol yield (undenatured) per bushel of corn and energy used in ethanol plants.

This report measured all conventional fossil fuel energy, 53,785 BTU used in the production of 1 gallon of corn ethanol. For every British Thermal Unit (BTU) (unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere) of energy required to make ethanol, 2.3 BTUs of energy are produced (energy output/energy input). The ratio is somewhat higher for some firms that are partially substituting biomass energy in processing energy (thermal and electrical energy required in the plant to convert corn to one gallon of ethanol).

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