Ty Higgins takes a look back at the first day of the Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour’s eastern leg.
There were some good reasons to grow wheat again this year. Many farmers I spoke with said 2017 produced another excellent crop. Cool conditions and adequate moisture in early May and a dry late May and early June helped. What else goes into making the farm more profit?
• Crop rotation — wheat adds a third crop to our rotation. Generally we get a 10% yield bump to the next crop in the rotation. And with a three crop rotation we reduce disease and insect pressure for all crops.
• Cover crop — wheat can be a good cover crop. We can plant it after soybean harvest, unlike other cover crops. Even plant after corn, but be aware that Fusarium head blight will likely be much worse if you are planning on grain harvest.
• Wheat, like oats and cereal rye will help hold onto nitrates. If we want we can graze wheat, or if we get a good stand and have good prospects we can keep it to harvest as grain — this may be our perfect cover crop.
After an extremely wet growing season for Ohio we were not sure quite what to expect in the 2017 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour. We had heard about dry weather, but were surprised how dry some fields were, especially in the northwestern part of the state.
There were certainly some examples that showed up in fields on the 2017 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour displaying evidence of those challenging conditions. We found some corn still pollinating to dented after the spread out planting season for many this spring. But, at the same time, we saw many more examples of how solid farm management practices made the most of some challenging weather situations and others capitalized on timely rains. The Tour was sponsored by AgroLiquid.
In the West, the I-75 group had an average corn yield of 169 bushels on Day 1 and 183 bushels on Day 2. The Eastern leg of the Ohio Crop Tour averaged 180 bushels on Day 1 and 166 bushels on Day 2.
Farmers of all types face challenges everyday as they work hard to get higher yields and greater profits. Inputs throughout the growing season can help with reaching those goals, but only if those inputs are utilized to their full potential.
Heavy rains in Ohio during the spring and early summer may have washed away some key nutrients and with them went top-end yield and profits.
“Just traveling up and down the road I’ll see corn that’s definitely been nitrogen deficient sometime in its growth stage early on in the growing season,” said Brett Barton, Sales Manager in Ohio for AgXplore. “I wish that more farmers would protect their nitrogen. For the price of that input and adding a small cost to keep them where they are needed would’ve added a lot of bushels.”
A nitrogen stabilizer, like N-Zone from AgXplore, is one solution.
“We see two to seven bushels better across the board by using N-Zone and the cost is minimal,” Barton said.
Ohio cropland values and cash rental rates are projected to decrease in 2017. According to the Western Ohio Cropland Values and Cash Rents Survey, bare cropland values in western Ohio are expected to decrease from 4.4 to 8.2% in 2017 depending on the region and land class. Cash rents are expected to decline from 1.4% to 4.2% depending on the region and land class.
Ohio cropland values and cash rent
Ohio cropland varies significantly in its production capabilities, and consequently cropland values and cash rents vary widely throughout the state. Generally speaking, western Ohio cropland values and cash rents differ from much of southern and eastern Ohio cropland values and cash rents. The primary factors affecting these values and rates are land productivity and potential crop return and the variability of those crop returns. Soils and drainage capabilities are the two factors that most influence land productivity, crop return and variability of those crop returns.
We have heard reports of growers spotting a few soybean aphids in their fields. Finding aphids at this time of year is consistent in the past—we have seen them arrive later and later. We do have a lot of late-planted soybean that are in R4 or R5 stage soybean.
Remember that our economic threshold to treat soybean aphids is a rising population of 250 aphids per plant. But also remember that, at higher growth stages (>R6) the threshold increases dramatically. At this point it is important to note that none of the fields in Ohio have reached treatable levels. Given the aphids’ arrival, the growth stage of soybean and the oncoming onslaught of natural enemies, it may be unlikely that we see any significant impact from soybean aphids this year, but we should monitor our fields. An additional word of caution—many of you have heard that insecticide resistant soybean aphids have been found out West (especially Minnesota and Iowa).
Western bean cutworm (WBCW) populations decreased for all monitoring counties in Ohio for week ending August 4. A total of 72 traps were monitored in 23 counties. Overall, 653 WBCW adults were captured. The state average per trap decreased from 21 WBCW (week ending July 28) to 9 WBCW (week ending July 28).
Amy Raudenbush, Kelley Tilmon, Andy Michel, Mark Badertscher, Amanda Bennett, Lee Beers, JD Bethel, Bruce Clevenger, Sam Custer, Thomas Dehaas, Allen Gahler, Mike Gastier, Jason Hartschuh, Ed Lentz, Rory Lewandowski, David Marrison, Sarah Noggle, Les Ober, Adrian Pekarcik, Eric Richer, Garth Ruff, John Schoenhals, Jeff Stachler, Alan Sundermeier, and Chris Zoller monitored the western bean cutworm traps.
Figure 2. Overall average number of western bean cutworm adults captured in traps in Ohio.
Dicamba, a weed killer notorious in some states for spreading well beyond where it’s sprayed, harming other plants along the way, is affecting growers in Ohio.
The state has received only 19 official complaints of dicamba damage to fields this year. However, there are likely three to four times as many instances of harm because people are reluctant to report their neighbors, said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist.
Most often, farmers don’t fault their neighbor who applied the dicamba — they fault the dicamba itself because of how extensively it can spread beyond a targeted field, even when applied correctly, Loux said.
“The sense I get from people here is, ‘This is not acceptable.’ What’s not acceptable is this movement with no ability to control it,” he said.
Missouri and Arkansas have banned the use and sale of dicamba. In Tennessee, restrictions have been imposed on how and when dicamba is applied.
We began this season with the best-laid plans for our corn crop. April weather provided us with the optimism we were all looking for, but since then, it’s been difficult to keep our head above water — literally. As you know, 2017 has proven to be one of the wettest growing seasons on record for Ohio, with some areas receiving over 20 inches of rain throughout the month of June and similar amounts in July as well. The saturated growing season has resulted in much of our corn experiencing shallow and weak root systems, nitrogen (N) loss, and even impacted pollination in some areas. While some well-drained fields may have had sufficient nitrogen available to the plant, excessive rainfall moved the nitrate nitrogen below the concentration of roots — making it inaccessible as well.
Stalk strength will likely be a concern for some fields as we head into harvest. Not only has the wet weather led to significant N loss due to leaching in lighter soils and DE nitrification in heavier soils, but corn hybrids are also changing.
The Ohio State Precision Ag team continues to tally up megabytes as the effort to gather a world record setting amount of data for a single corn plant (named Terra Byte). The project is also seeking out which data is most valuable for making agronomic decisions.
The effort includes a partnership with Integrated Ag Services (IAS) that develops seeding and fertility management zones called common production units (CPUs). CPUs were created to help make farming more predictable and, therefore, more profitable.
The CPU process starts with the IAS automated precision soil sampler that slices nearly seven inches deep for 30 feet in length, allowing for a soil sample that represents the entire soil profile. The soil samples are placed in cups where they receive a QR code and then sent to the lab. The automated sampler designed by IAS collects samples across fields much faster than standard testing and can complete the task in wider range of soil conditions.
Considerations for planting cover crops after wheat in grain crop rotations are common this point in the season. With any cover crop, it is advisable to select a species with a given target in mind (surface erosion prevention, nutrient scavenging, N fixation, soil coverage, etc.).
Grass species, like oats or ryegrass, are typically fast to establish and can provide soil coverage to reduce erosion. Some species (like oats) will typically winterkill, whereas other species are more hardy and may need to be controlled in the spring before or shortly after planting. Additionally, some grass species may be alternate hosts for some corn pests (fungal diseases, nematodes) and may not be the best choice to follow wheat and precede corn in the rotation.
Some legume species (like vetches and crimson clover) may be able to tolerate August weather well if temperatures stay on the cooler side of average. These could provide N to corn next year if inoculated with rhizobia prior to planting, but may serve as an alternate host for soybean cyst nematode and should be avoided if soybeans are planned for next year.
Hop farming requires a substantial investment in capital, time and management. A business and marketing plan is essential to developing a successful hops operation. A new factsheet has been released by OSU Extension to outline the pre-planning points that should be addressed to create a financially successful hops operation.
Economic considerations and site preparation are two important points for a successful hops operation and integral to a business and marketing plan. Planning in these two areas is essential, and the business and marketing plan should be developed at least one year prior to planting the first hop plants.
New hop growers are also encouraged to consider the details in this fact sheet before making an investment. Production budgets indicate at least $25,000 per acre may be needed to establish a high trellis hop planting and at least a $100,000 investment for a small-scale hop processing, drying, pelletizing, cooling, packaging and freezing facility built to federal and state food safety regulatory standards.
I don’t think too many people in the state will deny that Ohio’s planting conditions were tough. We had a mix of saturated soils and cool temperatures. We have several soil borne pathogens that love these conditions, among them is sudden death syndrome, which is caused by Fusarium virguliforme. In Ohio, this disease tends to occur with greater frequency in fields that have higher populations of soybean cyst nematode. With the environmental conditions we had earlier this spring, extensive flooding injury, I would not be surprised to see a much wider distribution of this disease in the state.
The most common symptom occurring at this time, as soybeans reach growth stage R5, as they start to fill out the pods are patches of soybean with yellowing in the leaves. This yellow will expand on the leaf and the centers will turn brown or necrotic. This fungus produces a toxin as it colonizes the crown (base of the plant).
Markets were shocked at both the higher than expected corn and soybean yields and production. Corn and soybeans fell quickly on the bearish news. Shortly after the report corn is down 10 cents, soybeans down 24 cents, and wheat is down 10 cents.
Finally, report day! The August USDA Supply and Demand Report has been anticipated for weeks. Weather across the Midwest this summer has been extremely variable and certainly volatile with too much or too little often taking place. Ohio, Indiana, and other areas have seen numerous, heavy rain this summer as some Ohio areas received over 10 inches in just the month of July alone. Other areas, especially in the Dakotas and the plains have been hampered with persistent drought conditions for several months.
U.S. corn production was estimated at 14.153 billion bushels, a yield of 169.5 bushels per acre, and ending stocks of 2.273 billion bushels. Traders had estimated corn production at an average of 13.855 billion bushels with a range of 13.59 to 14.07 billion bushels.
Resembling rust on a pickup, a fungal disease that can afflict corn has been confirmed in a higher than usual number of cornfields in southern Ohio.
Every year, some Ohio farmers find southern or common rust on their corn plants, but this year both diseases have been more prevalent, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension corn and small grain specialist. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.
Typically, rust fungi arrive late in the growing stage and do limited damage. However, this year farmers had to replant several times, and the younger corn plants are at greater risk for damage, Paul said. Common and southern rusts are most problematic when they infect the plant before it produces silk or a tassel.
Southern and common rusts form orangish and brownish raised spots, respectively, on the leaves of corn plants and can cause as much as 30 to 40% yield losses, particularly on susceptible corn varieties, Paul said.
Frogeye leaf spot is a disease that has been observed in soybeans across this eastern Corn Belt during the 2017 growing season. Typically, more prevalent in the southern growing regions, the disease can occur farther north as a result of weather favorable to its development.
The fungus that causes Frogeye leaf spot (Cercospora sojina) survives in infected plant debris and can cause infections in growing plants when weather conditions are favorable. Frogeye leaf spot lesions produce spores that are easily transported by wind, acting as inoculum for leaf infections on other plants. The disease is promoted by warm, humid weather and will continue to develop on infected plants during patterns of favorable weather. With the warm and wet weather patterns that have existed in the eastern Corn Belt during 2017, it is expected that frogeye would be observed in some fields.
Frogeye leaf spot symptoms begin as small yellow spots that become larger lesions with gray centers and dark reddish-purple or brown borders.