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Lessons learned from the 2017 growing season

As harvest wraps up and growers look back at the challenging 2017 growing season, there are a few lessons that can be learned. With the challenging spring, delayed planting, wet weather throughout the growing season, periods of stress, and then more wet weather during harvest, there were plenty of challenges to producing a crop.

 

Importance of timely spring field work

In many areas of the eastern Corn Belt there was a window of opportunity for planting around April 20th. Crops planted on or around this date got off to a successful start, more likely to survive the cold wet weather that would arrive about a week later. In some areas where crops weren’t planted weather created delays that kept equipment out of the fields for almost a month. The spring of 2017 reinforced the importance of being prepared to go to the field when conditions are favorable for seed germination and growth.

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Dicamba restrictions added

After statewide bans, multiple lawsuits and countless disgruntled farmers nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required the makers of dicamba, a controversial weed killer, to revise its label.

The label changes and new training requirements shift more responsibility into the hands of farmers to ensure if they apply dicamba, the herbicide does not spread to neighboring fields. The problem is the weed killer has been shown to easily go airborne and move far from its intended area, harming or killing plants and other crops along the way.

“You can do everything right on the day you apply it, then later that day or the next morning, it can still move,” said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist.

Dicamba is typically applied to eliminate weeds in fields of crops that are genetically modified to withstand dicamba such as some varieties of soybeans. The weed killer can kill broadleaf weeds, as opposed to grasses, and can harm or kill any crop that’s not genetically modified to tolerate it.

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The hunt continues

By Matt Reese

A stealthy hunter slowly creeps through an evergreen forest, scanning the surroundings for his prey. A cold November wind whips through the pines, sending a shiver through the hunter’s body. Undaunted he presses on, silent as snow.

Through the cover of some fir branches the hunter stops, keen eyes focused on his quarry — a buck deer warily watching from his spot nestled up beneath the green boughs of the winter landscape. A flash of the bow and the deer slumps. A flick of the knife and the hunter’s task is fulfilled with another successful hunt on the DiVencenzo Family Tree Farm.

The tradition started when an upset too-young-to-deer-hunt four-year-old couldn’t go deer hunting with his dad. To amend the situation, the boy’s grandmother instead took him to pick out a Christmas tree and hunt for a stuffed toy deer hidden in the tree field using a toy bow and plastic hunting knife.

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Bins locked tight waiting for prices to rise

Numerous producers who in recent years had completed corn and soybean harvest by the end of October found their work days stretched late into November. Many continue to be amazed at the huge corn yields of this past growing season. While not everyone had record corn yields this fall, it was a common occurrence across Ohio. It would appear that that were more record corn yields than record soybean yields. Rainfall at my house in Lancaster was six inches last month. No doubt many readers have similar totals.

Grain facilities across the state had storage space stretched to the maximum this fall. While those rainy days of October and November delayed harvest, it did allow grain handlers to get caught up on drying corn this fall. Late November some facilities were open limited days as they wanted to be full at the end of harvest. With basis levels already appreciating for corn and soybeans by the end of November, some producers will be anxious to move grain this month to core their grain bins.

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New malting barley guide highlights potential for a growing market

Farmers who want to tap into the state’s surging craft brew industry now have a guidebook to help them grow a key ingredient: barley for malting.

Since raising barley for beer is considerably different from growing it to feed animals, grain experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University have just published a guide on growing it for malting. In Ohio, winter barley is planted in early fall and harvested in late June, typically avoiding high temperatures that can increase protein content in the grain.

Barley for beer needs to be low in protein and high in carbohydrates. Barley for feed animals, which is what most of the barley grown in Ohio is used for, is the opposite: high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

“We’re looking forward to beer made from Ohio-grown barley,” said Eric Stockinger, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.

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Ohio No-Till Conference draws a crowd

Problems and issues with weeds, slugs or planting into cover crops were all covered at the Ohio No-till Conference on Dec. 6

Steve Groff, Bill Lehmkuhl and Bret Margraf led a discussion covering a broad array of equipment challenges. Attendees learned how to set closing wheels for green covers and how to eliminate hair-pinning (for either green or dead covers). A pusher bar is recommended for tall cover crops. For planting cover crop seed, a planter works best for a single variety. Or with individual hoppers, you can have two varieties in alternate rows, such as Austrian winter pea and oilseed radish. A drill works best for multi-species covers.

“Battling slugs, voles and other varmints that love no-till and cover crops” kicked off the day and attendees learned from the experiences of consultant Mike Daley and Neil Badenhop with Valent. Slugs, voles and other pests can become problematic in the cover of long-term no-till fields with cover crops.

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Update on required dicamba training for 2018

Following a summer of many instances of off-target movement of dicamba across the country from use in Xtend soybeans, the labels for Engenia, XtendiMax, and FeXapan were modified in an attempt to reduce future problems. These products became restricted use pesticides, and an additional requirement is that anyone applying these products must attend annual dicamba or group 4 herbicide-specific training, and have proof that they did so.

Details are still being worked out on this training for Ohio, but it will not be conducted by OSU Extension, or accomplished through OSU winter agronomy or pesticide recertification meetings. At this point, as far as we know it appears that it will be conducted by Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont at meetings held specifically by them for this purpose, and also possibly through an online training module. Final details and meeting schedules are not likely to be in place until after the first of the year.

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Selecting corn hybrids for 2018: Some considerations

Hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions a corn grower makes each year. It’s a decision that warrants a careful comparison of performance data. It should not be made in haste or based on limited data. Planting a marginal hybrid, or one not suitable for a particular production environment, imposes a ceiling on the yield potential of a field before it has been planted.

In the Ohio Corn Performance Test (OCPT) it is not unusual for hybrid entries of similar maturity to differ in yield by 50 bushels per acre or more, depending on test site. Another consideration in hybrid selection which has received more attention recently as commodity prices have dropped are seed costs which increased an average of 11% per year from 2006 and 2014, much higher than the rates for fertilizers and pesticides. Since 2014, per acre seed costs have decreased slightly (USDA Economic Research Service), from $102 per acre in 2015 to $99 per acre in 2016, a decrease of $3 per acre.

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Scheve to speak Dec. 7 in Paulding County

Paulding County Extension is pleased to host Jon Scheve as he presents a grain marketing meeting. Risk has always been a part of agriculture. One of the riskiest, most stressful, and ignored issues of critical importance to ranch and farm families is grain marketing. With the grain market outlook for the next couple of years not looking very positive, farmers need to treat their on-farm storage like a commercial elevator.

OSU Extension of Paulding County is hosting a workshop on Grain Marketing on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. With corn and soybean prices trading at values near or below breakeven points, it’s important to develop a marketing plan that allows farmers the ability to try and capture potential profits while minimizing risk. Jon Scheve of Superior Feed Ingredients will be talking about what can influence markets in the upcoming year and how to better prepare your operation for the opportunities and challenges you will be facing.

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Are soybeans responsive to nitrogen fertilizer?

Soybean plants have a high demand for nitrogen as soybean grain contains a large amount of protein. An 80-bushel per acre soybean crop requires approximately 302 pounds of N per acre. As soybean yield increases, many farmers question if nitrogen supplied through fixation and the soil is adequate to maximize yield.

With funding from the Ohio Soybean Council, the soybean and small grain production lab at The Ohio State University evaluated nitrogen fertilizer application to soybean in eight Ohio counties in 20 separate trials. Various nitrogen sources (urea, slow-release nitrogen, and foliar nitrogen) and application timings (pre-plant, at planting, and R3 soybean growth stage) were evaluated. Overall, four out of 20 trials resulted in a soybean yield increase with nitrogen application. At today’s soybean price, nitrogen application to soybean had a positive economic return at one location out of 20.

Recently, these results from Ohio State were included in a synthesis analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to determine soybean response to nitrogen application across the United States.

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New website addresses and outlines best management practices

A new website (agbmps.osu.edu/) has been launched that is designed to help landowners and operators use visual clues in the landscape or management records to identify fields or stream/ditches where targeted practices can reduce erosion and nutrient losses that impair Ohio watersheds.

Private and public dollars available to address erosion and nutrient loss concerns from agricultural production fields are limited. The intent of this website is to empower farmers/landowners with the knowledge necessary to identify the high risk situations that exist in their farm fields and the ability to know when to seek professional help for implementing cost effective conservation. This website provides a summary of “Critical Concerns” found in the landscape and in agronomic farm plans, a review of potential “Best Management Practices (BMPs)”, and a list of resources and people/agencies to contact.

Website pages include:

Critical Concerns — Pictures and descriptions of critical resource concerns to use in identification plus links to potential BMP’s that address those concerns.

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Huron County man indicted for stealing grain

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a Huron County Grand Jury has indicted a Monroeville man on charges of aggravated and grand theft.

Richard J. Schwan, 78, of Monroeville, was arrested Monday evening after being indicted on November 17. The indictment became public. A bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 10 a.m.

The indictment includes 41 counts, including 32 felony charges:

  • Aggravated theft, first degree felony (seven counts)
  • Grand theft, fourth degree felony (six counts)
  • Theft from elderly, third degree felony (six counts)
  • Falsification in a theft offense, third degree felony (nine counts)
  • Insolvent handler not to accept deposits, fourth degree felony (three counts)
  • Delayed price agreement, fifth degree felony (one count)
  • Falsification, first degree misdemeanor (nine counts)

Schwan was doing business as Schwan Grain Inc. and was registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a grain handler. He is accused of selling grain on behalf of 35 farmers and keeping $3.5 million profits from the sales. 

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What will dicamba changes mean for farmers?

This fall, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont to change dicamba registration and labeling beginning with the 2018 growing season. EPA reports that the agreement was a voluntary measure taken by the manufacturers to minimize the potential of dicamba drift from “over the top” applications on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton, a recurring problem that has led to a host of regulatory and litigation issues across the Midwest and South. The upcoming changes might alleviate dicamba drift issues, but they also raise new concerns for farmers who will have more responsibility for dicamba applications.

The following registration and labeling changes for dicamba use on GE soybeans and cotton will occur in 2018 as a result of the agreement:

▪   Dicamba products will be classified as “restricted use” products for over the top applications. Only those who are certified through the state pesticide certification program or operating under the supervision of a certified applicator may apply the product.

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Stink bug damage in soybean fields

Stink bug damage is becoming a greater concern in Eastern Corn Belt soybean fields, especially with the presence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), a species that has moved into our sales footprint in recent years. While other stink bugs cause damage, the BMSB is of special concern because it is an invasive species from Asia that was introduced into the United States within the last 15 years.

First discovered in Allentown PA in 2001, the BMSB has continued to move west. Over the last few years, university experts and company agronomists have heard more reports of stink bug damage to soybeans. Pictured left is damage that was found by Seed Consultant’s seedsmen in a central Ohio field, Growers scouting their soybean fields around harvest time may have seen some pods that were shriveled and/or soybean seed that was very small or appeared to be missing. This damage may have been a result of stink bug feeding.

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Corn yields a pleasant surprise for many in 2017

There have been pockets of lower than expected corn yields around the state where the full force of 2017’s broad challenges came to fruition, but corn has generally been a pleasant surprise for many farms, said Peter Thomison, Ohio State University Extension corn specialist.

“Planting progress curves showed planting at about the five-year average this spring. If you just looked at that it would suggest there were not problems as far as the planting, but the National Agricultural Statistics Service doesn’t factor in replanting,” Thomison said. “Some counties had 20% or more of the corn replanted. Seed company reps said that this was the most replanting they had experienced on record in some areas. In northwest Ohio there were people I heard from that replanted three times with corn. When I hear a report about issues like this from more than two or three people, I suspect it is the tip of the iceberg and there is much more of that going on.”

The extreme variability (even in fairly uniform fields) led to variable environments for a number of yield limiting factors.

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New method analyzes corn kernel characteristics

An ear of corn averages about 800 kernels. A traditional field method to estimate the number of kernels on the ear is to manually count the number of rows and multiply by the number of kernels in one length of the ear. With the help of a new imaging machine developed at the University of Illinois breeders can learn the number of kernels per ear, plus a lot more information than can be manually observed.

“If you take that same ear of corn into a lab, you can take the same approach but use an imaging system to get a more accurate measure of the total number of kernels,” said Tony Grift, lead scientist on the project. “But you can go a lot further than that. By pinning the ear on a spike and turning it automatically, we can present each row individually to a camera. This allows us to determine up to 16 morphological characteristics of each kernel, including kernel area, circumference, and circularity, a measure for how close the kernel shape is to a circle.

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Weed Survey thoughts. Did you spray a fall burndown?

Most of us have marestail across Ohio. And pretty much all of us have resistant marestail, likely resistant to glyphosate and also likely resistant to the ALS herbicides. And if we all switch to Xtend beans then it will likely also soon be resistant to dicamba. Uh-oh, this is starting to sound bad for the future of soybean weed control.

 

Table 1. The table below shows the number of fields observed in the Ohio Fall Soybean Weed Survey by region, the percent of fields without weeds and weeds observed ranked by appearance.

Region of Ohio

Number of fields observed

% of fields without weeds

Appearance by weed; ranked in order

Northeast

296

26

Marestail; grasses; Common lambsquarters; Volunteer corn; and pigweeds

East central

71

35

Marestail; Giant ragweed; Common ragweed; and Redroot pigweed

Central

206

45

Giant ragweed; Marestail

Northwest

755

46

Marestail; Giant ragweed; Common ragweed; grasses; pigweeds

West central

716

22

Giant ragweed; Marestail; Tall waterhemp; Volunteer corn; grasses

Southwest

270

33

Marestail; Giant ragweed; Volunteer corn; common ragweed; pigweeds

 

I take this information below from an article by Mark Loux, from October 2011 regarding Fall Herbicide Treatments.

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Long 2017 crop year not yet over

It has been a very long planting season, which set the stage for a long 2017 for Zach Profit and his family on their Van Wert County farm.

“I’m 29 and in my short career, 2017 was the most challenging spring I have ever been a part of, my dad said so too. It was a year of small windows. We got a lot of 3- and 4-inch rains early. Then we got 6 to 7 inches in 24 hours when the crops were very small. It was devastating. We finally finished planting the first week of June. This was the most replanting we ever had. We had places replanted two and three times. Our insurance agent said it was the most replanting he had ever seen. Once we got the crops in and established, they were all over the place in development and the field work all ran together,” Profit said.

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New map of worldwide croplands supports food and water security

A new map was released U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) detailing croplands worldwide in the highest resolution yet, helping to ensure global food and water security in a sustainable way.

The map establishes that there are 1.87 billion hectares of croplands in the world, which is 15 to 20% — or 250 to 350 million hectares (Mha) — higher than former assessments. The change is due to more detailed understanding of large areas that were never mapped before or were inaccurately mapped as non-croplands.

Earlier studies showed either China or the United States as having the highest net cropland area, but this study shows that India ranks first, with 179.8 Mha (9.6% of the global net cropland area). Second is the United States with 167.8 Mha (8.9%), China with 165.2 Mha (8.8%) and Russia with 155.8 Mha (8.3%). Statistics of every country in the world can be viewed in an interactive map.

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Comparing ARC-CO and PLC payments from 2014 to 2016

Here are county level comparisons for the ARC-CO and PLC program payments for 2016 for corn and wheat over the first three years of the current Farm Bill, 2014 to 2016, for corn, soybeans, and wheat.

This article compares average annual payments per base acre that have been triggered by the ARC-CO and PLC programs since 2014 differs across corn, soybeans, and wheat. For all three crops, prices have been below 86% of the ARC-CO benchmark price in all three years, but yields have been sufficiently high in some counties to reduce, partially or fully, the size of ARC-CO payment levels. Corn and wheat prices have been low enough in 2015 and 2016 to trigger payments on base acreage enrolled in the PLC program, but soybean prices have remained above the PLC reference price in all three years.

In general, the majority of corn base acres enrolled in the ARC-CO program would have received a greater level of support from that program when compared to the average payment, which would have been received through the PLC program.

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