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Crop rotation and second year soybean yields

As spring approaches and plans for the 2018 crop are finalized, growers will determine what crops to plant and plant crop rotation across their acres. When considering crop rotations and yields, many focus on continuous corn and the yield penalties associated with that practices. However, there is one possibly overlooked benefit of crop rotation: avoiding a soybean yield penalty.

In this recently published article, the University of Kentucky’s John Grove discusses soybean yields for first year and second year soybeans from 2009 to 2016. Grove’s research data shows an average yield penalty of 2.3 bushels per acre across that 7-year period, with some years being showing yield losses greater than 10 bushels per acre. In another article from No-Till Farmer, Greg Roth shows data that predicts a 4 to 6 bu/ac yield penalty for second year soybeans.

Yield loses from continuous soybeans (and other continuous crops) are usually associated with increased disease presence as well as pests.

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Addressing the conundrum of planting into cover crops

Though the acreage of cover crops in Ohio has expanded dramatically in recent years due to their wide array of benefits, cover crop management presents annual conundrums about spring planting.

Should the cover crop be terminated prior to planting corn and soybeans or after? The standard answer for pretty much all things agricultural applies: it depends.

Glenn Harsh, who farms in Delaware County and has worked with cover crops for many years, said there are many factors to consider in this decision.

“The better way to do it is to plant green. There are certainly benefits because the cover crops get bigger and you get more biomass. If you have legumes out there they can fix more nitrogen. It also helps to dry out the soil. The plants are growing and taking up water and storing it for you. We find the

soil is dryer when you plant green than if you kill it a couple of weeks ahead,” Harsh said.

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Winter wheat stand evaluation

Feekes 5 growth stage (leaf sheaths strongly erect) is a good time to evaluate winter wheat stand. Over the past two years, with funding from the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, we evaluated the relationship between wheat stems (main stem + tillers) and yield.

Keep in Mind:

  1. In our research, we counted the number of wheat stems which included both the main stem (main plant) and tillers. For example, in Figure 1, there are two stems.
  2. Make sure to count the number of stems in several areas of the field.
  3. In our research, stem counts at Feekes 5 growth stage predicted wheat yield better than stem counts at Feekes 6 growth stage (first node visible).

The relationship between the number of wheat stems and yield is shown in Table 1 and is based on the data shown in Figure 2.

Table 1. Wheat grain yield and corresponding number of wheat stems.

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Corn acres down nationwide

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the Prospective Plantings report, indicating that farmers will plant 88-million acres, 2.14 million fewer acres of corn, a 2% decrease from 2017. If realized, this will be the lowest total corn planted acreage in the United States since 2015.
“U.S. farmers continue to produce more bushels per acre as new technologies are brought to the marketplace,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes. “American corn supplies remain ample as we have a large carryover crop from 2017. U.S. farmers can react nimbly to market conditions and make decisions that make the most sense for their operation.”
Ohio is expected to increase corn acreage from last year, with record high acreage in Nevada and Oregon. In 33 of the 48 corn producing states, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged. According to the report, compared to 2017, decreases of 300,000 acres or more are expected in Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota.
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Report bullish, traders shocked

Report day before the 31st, really? What happened?

Corn and soybean acres are both bullish and less than expected with soybeans starting with “8.” Corn was 88.0 million acres and soybeans 88.9 million acres. Traders were most surprised as corn was up 11 cents, soybeans up 24 cents and wheat up 4 cents shortly after the report. Corn and soybean stocks were above expected with wheat stocks neutral.

Today’s reports may not be on the minds of all producers today. It’s not that some are forgetting about the planting or grain stocks reports. Today is March 29. Many think of March 31 as a big day with the Planting Intentions Report. This year March 31 is a Saturday and the markets are not trading on March 30 with the Good Friday holiday. So here we are, ready or not.

This report reveals U.S. 2018 planting intentions for major crops and U.S.

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Spring seeding of forages

Late this month (depending on the weather) and on into April provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring vs. summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Probably the 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 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring.

  1. 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 to 6.8.
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My wandering thoughts on facial recognition software for dairy cows

Recently I read the headline: “Cargill, Cainthus partner to bring facial recognition technology to dairy farms” (Feedstuffs, Jan. 31, 2018). Wow! Reading a cow’s face? I can think of nothing more stoic or poker-faced than a cow. That must be some software.

Then I read further and learned that this new software — machine vision software — recognizes each cow’s hide pattern and facial shape. Cainthus, the Dublin, Ireland-based developer of the software, has developed algorithms to track cows’ key data traits such as ruminations, water and feed intake, time spent lying, standing or walking, and body temperature to flag exactly how each cow in a herd is doing.

The software also predicts when a cow is in heat, even if she has no visible signs. Combine this information with milk production data and voila! Everything a dairyman needs to know about his herd is available on his smartphone or computer.

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Calculating the forgotten costs of farming

When spring rolls around, there are many unpredictable forces farmers have to deal with, including the weather and the markets. The one thing that should not be in that unpredictable category as planting season approaches is a farmer’s cost of production.

“A lot of times a ‘ballpark’ figure may be used to figure out what a farms breakeven point it,” said Carrie Johnson, product line leader for Cargill Ag Marketing Services. “In these markets, if you are off a few cents that can really affect your profitability.”

As farmers start thinking about this year’s farm revenue, they should consider some of the hidden or forgotten costs of farming. Factors such as equipment loan payments, insurance costs and even farmers paying themselves a salary should be calculated when determining the cost of production.

Some farmers may be waiting to see what USDA has to say about 2018 corn and soybean acres on Thursday and then see how the markets respond before putting pen to paper to calculate profitability.

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Spring nitrogen requirements for winter wheat

Application timing and amount are key factors in achieving high winter wheat yields. While the amount of nitrogen required in the fall is relatively small, it is critical to promoting early development and tillering. With spring weather around the corner, winter wheat producers will be gearing up for spring topdress of their wheat crop. Timing and rates are critical in the spring as to maintain the high yield potential of winter wheat varieties.

Spring applications of N should be made after the plants break dormancy. Although in some situations field conditions may be favorable, nitrogen applied in the late winter before plants have broken dormancy is more likely to be lost before plants can utilize it. Spring N applications should not be made before wheat has broken dormancy and begins to green up. The University of Kentucky publication “A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky” recommends: “When making a single N fertilizer application the best time is when the crop growth stage is Feekes 4-5, (Zadoks 30, usually mid-March) just before the first joint appears on the main stem and when wheat starts growing rapidly.” The UK publication goes on to say that “The rate of N fertilizer for a single application should be between 60 and 90 lb N/acre for fields with a yield potential less than 70 bu/acre and 90 to 100 lb N/acre for fields with greater yield potential.”

Wheat plants begin a period of rapid growth and stem elongation once they reach Feekes Stage 6 (first node visible).

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Planting depth important for getting a good start on corn in 2018

The huge risk of planting a corn crop in 2018 gets even riskier when the seed is not planted deep enough in the spring. As more work is being done on the importance of proper seeding depth, there is more evidence that much of Ohio’s corn crop is being planted too shallow to maximize performance.

“A lot of people just aren’t planting deep enough. We are checking yields at 1-, 2- and 3-inch planting depths. We need to get the planting depths down where they need to be to get yields up. We are seeing more guys planting too shallow. We see a lot of inch-deep corn and we need to be at a minimum of 1.5 inches preferably even 2.5 inches. We are seeing that seeding depth doing extremely well with emergence,” said Mike Earley, a Seed Consultants, Inc. agronomist. “I like to see seed at least at 1.75-inches deep or even down to 2.25 inches.

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Virtual field trips to soybean farms offered to students

Starting this spring, students who have never had a chance to investigate a soybean field will get the chance to do it — all without having to leave the comfort of their own classroom.

With just an internet-connected computer, webcam and microphone, students of all ages can join their classes on a Virtual Field Trip to an Ohio Soybean Farm, and ride along with a farmer during planting and harvesting. They can see what it takes to produce one of Ohio’s most abundant and versatile crops.

Using live video conferencing technology, these one-of-a-kind virtual field trips, provided through the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC), allow students to interact and have real conversations with soybean farmers while the farmer is actually working in the field.

“These new trips help students learn more about soybean production: how they are planted, how they grow, what benefits they provide, and the challenges Ohio soybean farmers face and the decisions they must make,” said Tom Fontana, OSC’s director of research and education.

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Non-GMO corn production and purity concerns

Many corn growers in the Eastern Corn Belt produce NON-GMO corn attempting to capture an additional premium. Depending on the contracting elevator, standard GMO contamination allowances are typically from 0% to 1%. Producing NON-GMO corn within the acceptable tolerances of GMO contamination is possible; however, there are several challenges and potential pitfalls that make production of 100% pure NON-GMO corn a tremendous undertaking and can keep growers from capturing a premium for their corn. Planting NON-GMO seed does not necessarily mean the harvested shelled corn will be NON-GMO free. Tests used by elevators to determine if GMO’s are present may not be 100% accurate, but they are a determining factor as to whether a load will be accepted.

If a grower plants NON-GMO corn, what could cause GMO contamination?
• Contaminated planting equipment and seed tenders
• Contaminated seed
• Mistakes made in record keeping where hybrids were not correctly identified at planting and/or harvest, leading to contamination
• Adventitious pollen from GMO corn fields can cause cross-pollination of NON-GMO corn
• Contaminated combines at harvest
• Contaminated grain carts, wagons, trucks, augers, grain legs, and grain bins
What steps can be taken in an attempt to produce grain that meets GMO tolerances?

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Get your fertilizer certification…Before planting begins

Ohio is now seeing full implementation of Ohio’s Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification regulation. The regulation was result of Senate Bill 150, which can be found at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/905.322 and http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/905.321. The 2014 regulation required farmers to complete a fertilizer certification program if they applied fertilizer to more than 50 acres of land in agricultural production primarily for sale. Exemptions included fertilizer applied through a planter, individuals whose crops remained on the farm for their livestock and not sold, or fertilizer applied by a commercial applicator.

Farmers were given three years to complete the certification training. Training included a two-hour program if a farmer already had a Private Pesticide Applicator License, otherwise, a farmer had to complete a three-hour program. Key components of the training were to know the potential causes for algal blooms and management practices to reduce phosphorus losses from farm fields. Training was provided primarily by County Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educators of the Ohio State University.

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The 2018 soybean planting season has begun in Ohio!

Some soybeans were planted in Ohio Monday! Jakob Wilson from JCW Farms Partnership in Madison County wrote on Facebook:

“Everyone keeps preaching we need to plant beans earlier and earlier! Well here’s our test trial in the ground on 3-19-18. Will be interesting to see how this 7.5 acres turns out! #plant18

This field was corn last year and stalks were hit with a Joker last fall. One pass was planted at 150k and one was variable rate (from 130 to 165k).

The beans were fully treated and also had ilevo on them. Soil temps were 40 degrees at 2 inches and 42 degrees at 4 inches.

We will follow this field throughout the season to see how things turn out!

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Deciphering preplant dicamba labels and tank mixtures

Dicamba can have a good fit in spring preplant burndown programs, especially for control of overwintered marestail in fields not treated the previous fall. We typically recommend a preplant burndown that includes at least two herbicides with substantial activity on marestail in this situation, such as Sharpen + 2,4-D or Gramoxone + 2,4-D + metribuzin. Dicamba is the most effective burndown herbicide on glyphosate-resistant marestail in the spring though, and in our research has usually killed or at least stopped emerged marestail in their tracks without help from other herbicides. We have occasionally observed larger marestail plants escape complete control, due partly to what appears to be antagonism from other herbicides in the mix. Low rates of dicamba added to other less than effective burndown mixtures can also improve control to adequate levels.

With regard to use of dicamba in burndown programs, there are distinctly different situations which define how it can be used and what can be mixed with it.

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ARC-CO and PLC payments for this fall likely to decrease

The tight economics of row crop production in 2017 will have many producers looking for some cash flow from farm bill programs when those payments are released this fall.

Higher yields in 2017, however, will likely mean smaller payments in October of 2018 compared to last fall.

“We saw yields that were pretty high for corn above trend line for some counties for the fourth year in a row in 2017. So looking forward to October of 2018,  I am expecting smaller to no payments for most counties for corn. A couple of counties in western Ohio may trigger a soybean payment but the payments are expected to be a lot less,” said Ben Brown, Ohio State University Farm Management Program
manager. “If you are counting on the money in October for cash flow, I don’t know that we will see as much. Both farmers and ag lenders need to prepare for that.

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Preparing for high yield soybeans

Weather permitting; planters will start rolling across the Eastern Corn Belt in a few weeks. Soybeans, just like corn, will benefit from careful planning and attention to detail. Today’s soybean varieties have the potential to achieve yields of more than 70 bushels/acre when managed intensively. As growers head to the fields this spring, they should start planning management programs to harvest top-end yields this fall.

Planting Date and Field Conditions

Planting date is an important factor determining soybean yields. Purdue research demonstrates that optimum planting dates for soybeans are from late April to mid-May. Ohio State University planting date studies show a .6 bushel per day loss in yield potential when soybeans are planted after mid-May. Just like corn, delayed soybean planting can result in significant yield losses. Earlier planting will benefit soybean fields in several ways. In a recent C.O.R.N newsletter (link: https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2015-09/soybean-planting-date-seeding-rate-and-row-width ), Ohio State University’s Laura Lindsey wrote: “The greatest benefit of planting May 1 to mid-May is canopy closure which increases light interception, improves weed control by shading out weeds, and helps retain soil moisture.” Soybeans should be planted at a depth of 1-1.5 inches when soils are at least 50 degrees F and and dry enough to perform field work.

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Study shows most farmers are in compliance with fertilizer recommendations in Western Lake Erie region

As farmers prepare for their 2018 crop, newly released research shows that a large majority of those whose fields drain into western Lake Erie are adhering to ag experts’ guidelines for fertilizer rates and application practices. The study concludes, however, that the recommendations themselves should be re-examined to better protect western Lake Erie from pollution resulting from agricultural runoff.

The findings are presented in a special issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation published by the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).

“Our surveys found that up to 80% of farmers are following the most up-to-date guidelines available regarding fertilizer application and general stewardship practices,” said Doug Smith, USDA soil scientist, who co-authored an article in the Journal detailing the research. “But even though the vast majority of growers are applying nutrients at or below recommended levels, the reality is that roughly 70% of the phosphorous entering Lake Erie is from streams and rivers, where agriculture is often the dominant land use.

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National leaders, RINs and RFS

Trump Administration officials planned to meet leaders from biofuel and oil companies today to end the current impasse over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The meeting, however, was cancelled.

One proposal being floated by oil company representatives would put a cap on prices for Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, which are required to comply with the RFS. The proposal stands to undermine growth in the biofuels industry.

“Corn farmers have fought hard the past ten years, within Congress, with the last Administration, and in the Courts to protect the opportunity for renewable fuels to continue to grow as an option for consumers,” said Kevin Skunes, National Corn Growers Association president. “Today, the President is considering a proposal from the oil industry that could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years.  It is a deal that American farmers cannot afford.”

NCGA is opposed to an oil industry proposal that would cap the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). 

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New herbicide resistance management tool launched

UPI, a global leader in the production of high quality crop protection products, is pleased to announce the launch of new TRIPZIN ZC herbicide in the U.S.

TRIPZIN ZC is a unique, patented pre-mix that combines the strength of two powerful active ingredients, metribuzin and pendimethalin. TRIPZIN ZC will provide pre-emergent control of a wide spectrum of broadleaf and annual grass weeds, including Palmer pigweed and other pigweed species, ragweed species, lambsquarters and velvetleaf. Crops on the TRIPZIN ZC label include soybeans, alfalfa, field corn, garbanzo beans, lentils, peas, potatoes and sugarcane. As it is applied prior to crop emergence in soybeans, it is compatible with all herbicide tolerant trait varieties as well as conventional beans.

“TRIPZIN ZC represents another example of innovation from UPI. The combination of metribuzin and pendimethalin, in one product, gives growers two modes of action and, therefore, a viable resistance management tool to help them protect their crop” said Chris Bowley, Senior Product Manager.

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