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More than 4,000 U.S. stations offering E85

Drivers of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can handle higher ethanol blends up to 85%, now have even more places to fuel up. According to E85prices.com, operated by the Renewable Fuels Association, there are now more than 4,000 stations throughout the U.S. offering E85.
There are more than 22 million FFVs on U.S. roads and now consumers have greater access to higher ethanol blends. Minnesota offers the most E85 stations, but states outside the Corn Belt have shown the greatest uptick in recent years. States like California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have demonstrated tremendous growth in offering higher ethanol blends.
Greater consumer access to E85 is due to a combination of factors, including RFA’s overall market development efforts, the past Blend Your Own Ethanol Campaign, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) Program, and the ethanol industry-funded Prime the Pump initiative.
“Reaching this milestone is a tremendous achievement,” said Robert White, RFA Vice President of Industry Relations.
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Updating the Tri-State Fertility Recommendations

!n 2014, the OSU Soil Fertility Lab (soilfertility.osu.edu) started work to update the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations. These recommendations form the basis of our corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa nutrient recommendations, but were last updated in 1995. We have partnered with many OSU extension county educators, private crop consultants and individual farmers to run extensive strip trials across the state over the past four years. To date, we have over 100 P trials, and nearly 100 K trials that have been conducted in 33 Ohio counties (Figure 1). We have also conducted extensive N rate trials, N timing trials and some trials looking at sulfur needs (not included in map below).

Fig 1. Shaded counties denote where P or K on-farm trials were conducted.

At each site, we’ve collected: 1) soil samples for soil test, 2) leaf tissue concentration at flowering, 3) grain nutrient concentration at harvest, 4) grain yields and 5) management history information.

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Grain storage considerations

As producers across the Eastern Corn Belt wrap up harvest, care should be taken to ensure proper handling and storage of grain. Proper storage and grain handling is necessary in maintaining the quality of the harvested crop. This article will discuss a few tips for maintaining the quality of stored grain after harvest. It is critical to start with both a clean bin and handling equipment. Any moldy grain or grain infested by insects from the previous year can contaminate grain harvested this season. Storage facilities and aeration equipment should be clean and in proper working condition.

Harvesting equipment that is adjusted and operated correctly will also preserve the condition of the crop. Combines should be set to clean grain thoroughly to eliminate foreign material/fines and handling equipment should be operated in order to minimize damage to grain. It is also important to use a spreader or distributor as grain enters the bin to evenly spread any fine materials remaining in the grain.

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Environmental and economic rewards of Genome Project still emerging 20 years later

Two decades ago, the corn plant got a huge boost with the announcement of the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI). The historic research effort to map the corn genome has resulted in significant economic and environmental dividends for farmers and society at large.

The gene mapping effort, which ran parallel to the mapping of the human genome, opened up a new frontier for corn that is still being explored today, according to Pam Johnson, a Floyd, Iowa farmer who served as the Chairperson of NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team and later as NCGA president.

“The NPGI didn’t just build a bridge between scientific discovery and real-world solutions for corn, it laid the groundwork for a new interstate highway of discovery,” Johnson said. “Corn continues to be one of the most important crops for our nation and this will likely continue given the vision of early NCGA leaders and the large coalition they helped forge.”

NPGI has funded more than $1.5 billion of genomic research to date and the undertaking continues to send ripples through the scientific community and agriculture.

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Senators propose changes to ARC

Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D – N.D.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bill directing the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to use crop yield data from the Risk Management Agency for yield calculations.
The measure was met with support from the National Corn Growers Association.
“NCGA applauds Senators Heitkamp and Ernst for recognizing the importance of having a strong revenue-based program for farmers and taking this step to strengthen the Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Level (ARC-CO) Safety Net Program in the next Farm Bill,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president . “In this economy, having strong farm bill risk management programs are more important than ever.
“NCGA believes ARC can be updated to improve its effectiveness in this extended low-price environment farmers are facing. NCGA supports a program that utilizes more accurate data to ensure farmers have access to fair and accurate risk management tools.”
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Weed observation and management in Ohio

I hear the neighbor’s combine running and the semi rolling past the house so it’s a good night to harvest late. Hopefully as everyone harvested their soybeans they were observing what weeds are out there. We did have an open canopy for an extended period into the year due to the cool, wet growing conditions. This often leads to an increased number of weeds. Our county educators have been observing soybean fields across the state this fall to see what is out there for our annual fall soybean weed survey. See table 1 for our results.

Table 1. The table below show the number of fields observed in each 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

 

We do have a number of fields across the state that are weed free – a rough estimate from these number is about one third.

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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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