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New report helps farmers with food safety planning

A publication released by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will help produce farmers understand what it means to develop a farm food safety plan and meet new federal food safety rules.

Food Safety Planning Down on the Farm: Examples from Ohio Certified Organic Farms” features eight vegetable and fruit farms of various scales and serving diverse markets.

“Our hope is that farmers, whether or not they are certified organic, will see themselves in these profiles,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA Education Program Director. “We want these case studies to give produce growers ideas of what they can do and make food safety planning less intimidating.”

Produce farmers face new regulations with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While the law exempts the smallest farms (those selling less than $25,000 in Covered Produce, such as lettuce, strawberries, and radishes), some buyers may require those operations meet FSMA standards as well.

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Completing NASS survey can help bottom line for farms

The National Corn Growers Association urges growers to respond to surveys distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Statistics Service. Responses to recent surveys from USDA have reached historical lows, and this can impact farmers’ bottom lines.

“There seem to be county-to-county differences that are unaccounted for and, when you look at it, some counties did not have enough information from responses to the National Agricultural Statistics Service for them to publish data,” said Steve Ebke, NCGA Risk Management Action Team Chair, who farms in Nebraska. “Farm Service Agency uses that data to calculate ARC payments. So, if NASS does not have the data, they will have to look elsewhere for it.

“This has resulted in a great deal of concern in the countryside. We urge everyone to complete their NASS surveys so that each county has a sufficient amount of data for FSA to calculate the payments based upon what actually happened in that county.”

Farmers can either complete the survey manually with the booklet that they receive and mail that back in, or they can complete it online.

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Late fall herbicide treatment for cover crops?

A fairly common question this time of year — where I have planted cover crops, do I still need a fall herbicide treatment to help manage marestail? The underlying premise here is that where a cover crop develops enough biomass to adequately cover the ground by late fall, it can contribute substantial suppression/control of marestail. Grass covers seem to be most effective at suppressing marestail, as long as they are planted early enough in fall to develop this type of biomass. Grass covers can also be treated postemergence in the fall with several broadleaf herbicides, while this is not possible in covers that contain broadleaf crops – legumes, radish, etc. There are no hard and fast rules with regard to this situation but here are some things to think about:

– Herbicide options for cereal rye and wheat covers generally include all of the typical postemergence herbicides that are labeled for fall use in small grains — 2,4-D, dicamba, 2,4-D/dicamba premix, Huskie, etc.

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Odd pumpkins showing up for Halloween

The light pink, round seasonal decoration shaped a lot like a pumpkin that sits on a neighbor’s porch just might be one.

Pumpkins have really changed. They’re white, red, green, beige, gray, even blue and light pink. They’re warty, striped, monster-sized for county fairs and miniaturized, fitting in the palm of your hand.

And to think a decade ago, pumpkins were mostly just — round and orange.

“Consumers want these specialty pumpkins: weird, warty, blue, brown, pink pumpkins,” said Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture expert with Ohio State University Extension.

Pumpkins are constantly crossbred, so new colors and features are always coming into being —and eventually into vogue.

Bergefurd helps lead OSU Extension’s research testing pumpkin seeds from all over the world, to ensure the new varieties hold up in different climates and fend off diseases.

One of the varieties being grown and tested is tan, and several have a lot of bumps, resembling warts on a witch’s nose.

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Malting barley acres on the rise

The number of acres planted to malting barley in Ohio this fall is at an all-time high and will likely continue to increase over the next few years. Although barley is not new to Ohio, raising it for malt is new to us and considerably different from raising it for feed or raising wheat for grain. In particular, the grain quality requirements for malting barley are different from the requirements for feed or grain, and as such there are a few differences in terms of how the crop is managed during the growing season. However, in spite of these differences, there are several key fall management guidelines for wheat and feed barley that would apply equally well to malting barley. For instance, variety selection, planting date, weed, disease, and pest control are just as important for malting barley as they are for wheat. See the links below from Ohio State and Cornell Universities for helpful tips on how to manage barley for malt in Ohio and the eastern U.S.

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The Xenia Effect in corn

The Xenia Effect refers to the effect of foreign pollen on kernel characteristics. Cross-pollination

occurs in corn because it is a monecious, which means that it has both male (the tassel) and female (the ear) flowers on a single plant.

The Xenia effect occurs when pollen from the tassel of one corn variety moves from one field to another, landing on the silks of another variety which fertilizes and produces. The picture above is an example of the Xenia effect, found by Seed Consultants agronomists this fall. Flint (also known as “Indian” corn) was planted a short distance from a field of hybrid dent corn. Both the flint corn and dent corn were flowering at the same time, allowing the flint corn to pollinate some kernels on the dent ears. The cross-pollination exhibited by the Xenia Effect can influence testing procedures and production of specialty corn crops.

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RFS reductions being considered

The Environmental Protection Agency is again considering the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets that have been a crucial part of the success of the U.S. biofuels industry. The EPA is considering lowering required volume levels.

Biofuels supporters, including the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to pull back on the further reductions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contemplates in the Oct. 4, 2017 Notice of Data Availability (NODA).

In the NODA, EPA requested additional comments on potential reductions in volume requirements under the RFS. While EPA proposed no direct changes to the implied 15 billion gallon volume for conventional ethanol, NCGA believes the volume reductions EPA is exploring are inconsistent with the law and with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s July 28, 2017 decision in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA.

“As one of the petitioners comprising Americans for Clean Energy, NCGA is concerned with EPA’s attempt to incorrectly apply the Agency’s waiver authority in order to justify further reductions in volumes,” Kevin Skunes, NCGA President wrote in comments submitted today to the Agency. 

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Insect allies: How the enemies of corn may someday save it

A new technology could make it possible to save a growing crop from imminent widespread disaster — whether drought, pest or disease.

And it doesn’t come in a pesticide sprayer.

Rather, scientists from The Ohio State University and partner institutions are using cutting-edge technologies from three scientific fields and combining them to provide an insect-delivered antidote, of sorts, to whatever ails a growing plant.

Dubbed “Insect Allies,” the project is being supported by a $10 million cooperative agreement with the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Guo-Liang Wang, a molecular geneticist in the Department of Plant Pathology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and Peg Redinbaugh, a geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and an adjunct professor of plant pathology at Ohio State in Wooster, are co-leading the effort that includes scientists from ARS, North Carolina State University and Oklahoma State University.

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Fire safety during harvest season

Knowing what to do during an emergency is important year round. However, during fall activities on the farm it is especially important to be prepared for fires. Fires are common in the fields and around the grain bins. Dried plant material and crop dust are highly combustible. Even the slightest heat source can cause ignition.


Training begins with all employees

It is important for all employees and family members to know where fire extinguishers are placed and how to use them. While it may be intuitive for supervisors to assume everyone know how to properly use an extinguisher in an emergency, when panic sets in, logical minds can check out.


Training helps workers know how to hold the extinguisher and use the PASS technique to extinguish the flame. The acronym PASS is a 4-step process:

P — Pull the Pin

A — Aim the canister at the base of the fire

S — Squeeze the trigger

S — Sweep the product from side to side over the flames to extinguish


Make fire extinguishers available

Being prepared to handle small fires before they get out of control is important for farm workers and transport drivers.

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Bearish reports “almost” forgotten

Fall corn and soybean harvest for the U.S. and Ohio as of early October continues to lag behind past years. As of Oct. 8, the U.S. corn harvest was 22% complete and the U.S. soybean harvest was 36% done. The Ohio corn harvest was only 13% while the Ohio soybean harvest was 45% done. Ohio rains that fell during October 6 to 8 were major as rainfall totals ranged from 2 inches to nearly 3.5 inches for much of the state. The resulting harvest halt allowed for rest and the opportunity to complete those repairs, which had been on the back burner. The rains were enthusiastically welcomed by those producers who had been able to plant wheat in early October and then saw emergence quickly take place.

The mood among producers quickly shifted once soils dried out and harvest was underway again. It is now mid-October and daylight hours are shrinking with the passage of each day.

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Budget management crucial in times of tight farm margins

The Ohio corn and soybean harvest is full throttle and, in general, yields are at least fair to good, though prices have plenty of room for improvement.

A great farm is more than just great yields — it is also about the details of balancing the budget. It is often in times of tight margins and low prices that successful farms are forged.

Matt Davis, vice president of agribusiness at Farm Credit Mid-America, has seen plenty of examples of farms that manage those tight margins well, and those that do not. So what are the traits for success?

“It starts with developing a crop production plan that fits the farm — putting together the right crop mix, selecting the right crop inputs, determining the appropriate rates and then applying them at the right time. We also want to know what the market is offering so we can determine our best chance for success and achieving a satisfactory return on investment,” Davis said.

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Minimizing harvest losses

As harvest continues to progress across the state, there are two factors that can negatively impact an operation’s overall return per acre. Minimizing harvest losses and maintaining stored grain quality until time of sale can have a major impact on the number of bushels for sale and the price received for those bushels.

Timely harvest is the first management decision that can reduce the amount of yield left in the field. While above average temperatures over the in late September and early October helped close the growing degree gap that we were facing at the beginning of September, we are still about 300 growing degree units behind the 10-year average. This deficit, coupled with the reluctance to spend money on drying a crop with depressed grain prices, may encourage growers to delay corn harvest. However, many of the stresses on Ohio’s corn crop this year have created stalk integrity concerns within many fields.

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Use plot data to make sound decisions

As harvest progresses across the Eastern Corn Belt, seed companies, universities, and growers will have the chance to compile and analyze data from yield testing. One of the most important decisions a farmer will face all year is deciding what variety to plant and in which field to plant it. To ensure that the best possible decision is made next spring, it is important to spend some time looking at yield data. While reviewing data is critical, knowing how to determine whether it is accurate and useful is equally important. Below are some tips for using data to make sound planting decisions next spring.

Look for replicated data

Don’t rely on yield results from one strip plot on a farm or from a single plot location. Look for data from randomized tests that are repeated multiple times and across multiple locations. Replications in testing increase the reliability of the data and helps to remove variables that can skew results.

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USDA funds participatory organic corn breeding and testing network initiative at Illinois with $2 million

The United States Department of Agriculture announced that it will invest nearly $2 million toward a University of Illinois project that will allow farmers, researchers, and consumers to participate in breeding corn optimized for organic production. Farmers will help test maize germplasm developed at U of I and the Mandaamin Institute in Wisconsin, and consumers will give their opinions on the quality of the grain and products made with each line of organic corn.

“The project is unique because it integrates all the components of the food chain, from the field to table, connecting researchers, producers, and consumers,” said Carmen Ugarte, research specialist in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at U of I, and the lead investigator on the project. “Traditionally, farmers stop worrying about what happens to their corn after it is delivered to the grain elevator. But we’re trying to breed with the end product in mind, and we are keen to connect producers and consumers.”

Martin Bohn, corn breeder and geneticist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I and co-principal investigator, notes this project will provide the scientific insights needed to design cutting-edge breeding strategies for the development of cultivars wanted in the organic market.

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Ohio Soybean Association to elect five trustees

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) Board of Trustee elections are open in five districts. To be eligible for a district position, you must live in a county in the districts listed below.

Districts up for election include:

  • District 3 – Ashland, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit, Trumbull
  • District 4 – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert
  • District 5 – Allen, Hancock, Putnam
  • District 11 – Clark, Greene, Madison
  • District 14 – Athens, Fayette, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Pike,  Ross, Scioto, Vinton, Washington

​If interested, contact Kirk Merritt at 614-476-3100 or kmerritt@soyohio.org by November 1st, 2017.

Elections will take place at the OSA Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 2017 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium on December 19th at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in Columbus.

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Carving is the last step on the long road to autumn terror

The short, crisp blue-sky days and the long haunting nights mean it is the season for ghoulish, candle-lit grins from jack-o’-lanterns leering at passersby and trick-or-treaters alike. This autumn-favorite decoration requires a significant amount of time, effort and artistry to create, but carving a jack-o’-lantern is just the final step in what has been a long growing season for the pumpkin. That large pumpkin perfectly suited for carving to inspire some autumn terror is only possible with the hard work of farmers.

Cameron Way is the president of the Southern Ohio Growers Cooperative that produces locally grown pumpkins for large retail outlets in Ohio. The cooperative was formed in 2016 in response to growing interest from large retailers.

“I was on the fence at first, but more opportunities opened up and we are now selling to a grocery store chain in Columbus and a distribution center in southern Ohio,” Way said.

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Farmers squashed by labor shortage

Without access to an adequate and stable workforce, many farmers are being forced to leave fresh produce to rot in the fields. Farmers and ranchers across the country are calling for long-overdue reform to the current guest worker visa program that would create flexibility and provide stability in the agricultural workforce.

As Washington state farmers Burr and Rosella Mosby explain in a new video from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the farm workforce is dwindling, and even with higher wages, it’s hard to find enough workers for harvest. The Mosbys were forced to abandon a field of zucchini squash on their farm just south of Seattle when their workforce came up 25 percent short this season.

“I think we need more options,” Rosella Mosby said in talking about the guest worker visa program. She said there is an availability of foreign workers ready to come work in agriculture, but the current system does not give farmers or workers the flexibility needed to fill farm jobs.

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Bullish reaction on corn and soybeans

USDA put the corn yield at 171.8 bushels per acre, up from last month’s 169.9. Yet, corn is not falling apart. It is 2 cents higher shortly after the report. Before the report corn was down 3 cents. USDA lowered the soybean yield to 49.5, last month it was 49.9. The corn and wheat ending stocks were higher than expected. Soybean ending stocks were lowered to 430 million bushels, last month it was 475 million bushels. Soybean ending stocks less than expected looks to be the driving force for higher soybean and corn prices shortly after the report.

It is also most surprising to see corn rally with the 171.8 bushel yield. We could see the funds short position in jeopardy with the price action in the first 15 minutes.

Headed into this report this is much fear of seeing a bearish yield report with yields climbing even more than what USDA has estimated for corn and soybeans.

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Minimize the risk of harvest fires

Dry corn and soybean fields have put farmers at greater risk of their combines catching on fire while harvesting crops.

At least three combine fires were sparked across Ohio in one week this fall. Two happened during the recent week-long heatwave: one in Crawford County on Sept. 22, another in Miami County on Sept. 24. A third combine fire happened Sept. 28 in Shelby County leaving a man with serious burns, according to news reports.

Combines can catch fire when the dry plant material or grain dust mix with heat generated by the combine’s motor, belts or exhaust system or by the static electricity produced as the combine is driven through a field, said Rory Lewandowski. He is an agricultural and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Every year, harvest comes with some risk of combine fires, but this year was especially dry so the risk is higher than usual, Lewandowski said.

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