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Strike a blow for energy independence this Fourth of July

Two hundred and forty years ago, America declared her independence, and every Fourth of July we come together to celebrate the occasion with a well-earned celebration of national pride. Ironically, it’s a tradition that — as often as not — involves fireworks made in China, flags made in Mexico, and parade floats fueled by Middle Eastern oil. Flags and fireworks may not threaten our independence, but America’s reliance on foreign oil certainly does. Fortunately, there is a homegrown alternative, if we have the will to use it.
This country has a long and storied history with ethanol, a biofuel made from corn and other non-grain feedstocks. In fact, in 1908, Henry Ford designed his Model T to operate on ethanol. In the 1920s, Standard Oil began adding ethanol to gasoline to increase octane and reduce engine knocking. In the 1940s, the U.S. Army built and operated the first U.S. fuel ethanol plant in Omaha, Nebraska to produce fuel for American fighters in World War II.

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Soybean diseases to watch for

I’ve scouted a number of fields and driven by many acres in the past two weeks and the crop looks great.  A bit behind in some areas, but soybeans can compensate fairly well.  With that comes the question what do we need to watch out for next?

  1. Frogeye leaf spot– particularly in those fields where it was present at high levels last year and the field is in soybean this year.  I will assume that this practice was done due to the late planting date and not a continuous soybean practice.  In these fields there is a higher probability that frogeye leaf spot will start early.  If you do find spots, gray lesions with purple borders, look on the underside to see if there are whiskers (spores) on the bottom of the lesion.
  2. There is lots of noise about soybean rust this year.  This is the first year that levels are high in the very deep south:  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 
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Ohio soybean fields showing signs of Phytophthora Root Rot

Over the last few days, many farmers in Ohio have noticed some patches or large areas that appear to be wilting, turning yellow or brown, and dying. Below are just a few photos of the symptoms we are seeing.

 

All of these symptoms are being found in areas of Ohio where large amounts of rain occurred over a short period of time. The map below highlights where these areas can be found (the tan, orange, and red spots).

The plants are dying from Phytophthora root rot, which is a fungus that infects plants under saturated conditions. Some varieties may show more symptoms than others based on the race specific gene and the field tolerance of the variety, but no variety is resistant. We have noticed that the vast majority of damage is showing up in low lying areas and areas that are not compacted.
Compacted areas of the field are showing little symptomology.
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Wheat yields and quality looking good so far

As of June 27, Ohio’s wheat crop was drying-down and being harvested in some parts of the state. Thanks in part to cool spring conditions followed by relatively dry weather during early grain-fill, head scab and other disease levels were generally low in most areas. Low disease severity often means very good grain yield and quality. Stripe rust was our biggest disease problem this year, but outbreaks only occurred in pockets within and across fields. Moreover, several of the affected fields were treated with a fungicide which helped to keep this and other later-season diseases in check.

The first set of harvest numbers are showing yields above 80 bushels per acre and test weight in the upper 50s. While we expect these numbers to vary from field to field, once the rain stays away as harvest continues, we expect to continue seeing very good grain yield and quality. Lodging is being reported in some fields, but unless it becomes very windy and rainy over the next few weeks, this will likely not be a major problem.

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Berry field night July 7

Growers wanting to know more about production of a variety of berries not traditionally grown in Ohio can learn more about how these crops can add income to your farm during an upcoming workshop conducted by horticulture and viticulture experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

A Super Berry Field Night will be offered July 7 to help new and experienced growers learn more about black goji berries and other so-called “super fruits,” including blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, aronia and red goji berries, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon.

Super berries or super fruits are fruit crops that are known to have high antioxidant content and many health benefits, Gao said. The fruits’ health benefits have created a strong market for local growers who can increase farm incomes thanks to increased consumer demand for more Ohio-grown super fruits, he said.

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Ohio farmland values continue gradual decline

Due to a swing in commodity prices, there has been a softening of the farmland market in this region. The average prices paid per acre for high quality land in Ohio declined by $500 from June of 2015 to June of 2016.

In comparison, during that same time an acre of high quality farmland in Michigan declined $100. The price decline was $500 in Indiana, $600 Illinois and $100 Mississippi. Missouri saw a slight uptick of $200 per acre and Tennessee saw a $150 increase. Prices paid per acre in Kentucky and Arkansas remained steady from last June.

“There remained buyers with residual income from those high commodity price years with a continuous need for cropland acres, so the purchasing of land was led by their profitable years,” said Roger Hayworth, area sales manager for Farmers National Company. “Today, there remain buyers, but they’re cautious.”

While commodity prices have had a significant impact on land values, location and quality remain major influencers on land values.

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Cicada invasion is the pits for Ohio peach grower, every 17 years

What is usually a quiet time on Apple Hill orchard as the apple, peach, cherry and pear crops develop had an eerie hum to it in June.

Russ Joudrey and his wife, Barbara, were at their orchard the last time the 17-year cicadas made an appearance, so they knew a little bit about what to expect.

“They were quite active the last time they were here,” Joudrey said. “Because of their life cycle we were expecting them to be active again this year and they certainly are.”

20160626_135030 (1024x632)Apple Hill orchard sits just off of a heavily wooded area in Lexington, Ohio and as the cicadas worked their way out of the soil in the woods, they were immediately drawn to the closest trees on the farm — the peach trees. They use the fruit tree’s branches to begin the next generation of cicadas, as they cut a small sliver into them to lay eggs.

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report — June 27th, 2016

Much Needed Rain Helped Crop Conditions

Rain throughout the state brought relief to many areas while pockets of dryness persisted, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.0 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending June 26th. Storms passed through the state midweek, boosting soil moisture levels on average, but farmers observed everything from parched ground to standing water, sometimes within the same county. Some wind damage was reported, and other local instances of severe weather was reported throughout the state. Producers are largely finished with planting, though some double crop soybeans will be planted after wheat harvest. Crop emergence is steady, and conditions improved with the much needed rain. With the planting finished, growers are focusing on applying nitrogen to corn, spraying herbicide, starting wheat harvest, and cutting hay.

Read the full report here

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Quality wheat adds value every step of the way

There is no doubt that wheat has benefits in a crop rotation, but in recent years profitability, quality issues, added workload, and other factors have diminished wheat acres in Ohio. Adding to the frustration with wheat has been the dockage at the elevator.

Adam Kirian in Hancock County accepts that it can be a frustrating crop sometimes, but still appreciates the importance of wheat in his rotation for the great value it brings to his farm.

“You have to think about the fact that wheat is closer to going directly to the consumer when we take it out of the field as compared to corn and soybeans. It is going to be turned into a food product right away. That is what it is for. You have to understand what they are looking for as a food product. Wheat has turned into the redheaded stepchild of the three crops and it hasn’t gotten the treatment it needs to be a viable option.

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Heritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op announce possible merger

In a Wednesday press release, agricultural incorporations Heritage Cooperative and Agland Co-op said they are pleased to announce that they have entered into negotiations to consider a possible merger of the two cooperatives. The boards of directors of both cooperatives Tuesday entered into a letter of intent to work toward an agreement of merger.

The release stated boards of directors of both cooperatives believe a merger provides increased opportunities to diversify risks and expand member benefits.

The announcement comes on the heels of an action earlier this year by Trupointe Cooperative and Sunrise Cooperative to merge their two member-owned businesses.

 About Heritage

Heritage Cooperative, Inc. is a member-owned cooperative founded in 2009 by the consolidation of Champaign Landmark, Inc. of Urbana and The Farmers Commission Company of Upper Sandusky. Heritage serves the agricultural needs of farmers and residents in a 20 county area in central Ohio, extending from Hardin and Wyandot counties to the North, and Pickaway and Madison counties to the South.

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What is the value of wheat straw?

Wheat harvest will soon be underway; we often get questions about the nutrient value of straw. The nutrient value of wheat straw is influenced by several factors including weather, variety, and cultural practices. Thus, the most accurate values require sending a sample of the straw to an analytical laboratory. However, “book values” can be used to estimate the nutrient values of wheat straw.

In previous newsletters, we reported that typically a ton of wheat straw would provide approximately 11 pounds of N, 3 pounds of P2O5, and 20 pounds of K2O. Michigan State University reports similar numbers for a ton of wheat straw: 13 pounds of N, 3.3 pounds of P2O5 and 23 pound of K2O. A 2013 analysis of wheat straw collected at the OARDC farm in Wooster contained 14-18 pounds of N, 3-4 pounds of P2O5, and 20-23 pounds of K2O. These values were across four wheat varieties and three spring nitrogen application rates (60, 90, and 120 lb N/acre).

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National Genotyping Center open

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center officially opens its doors with representatives from government and industry on hand for the grand opening of the new facility. Together North Dakota Ag Commissioner Goehring, Fargo Mayor Mahoney, legislative staff and agricultural association leadership discussed the center’s possibilities while touring the state-of-the-art laboratories.

“This facility is the first of its kind for a farmer-led association, giving growers more influence on research agendas,” said Larry Hoffmann, chair of the Research and Business Development Action Team for the National Corn Growers Association. “NAGC will help growers increase production and lower costs. With so many stakeholders on hand and actively expressing interest, it was apparent to all present that the exciting potential for innovation is enormous and will lead to concrete results that can strengthen the bottom line for U.S. farmers.”

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center will translate scientific discoveries, such as the information from the maize genome project, into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

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Watch for white wheat heads

We’ve received a few reports of white (or bleached) wheat heads which can be a result of freeze damage or disease.

Freeze damage

In mid-May temperatures dipped to high 20s/low 30s in several parts of the state. At heading-flowering growth stages, wheat should be able to withstand temperatures of 28°F for two\ hours. Figure 1 shows two bleached wheat heads found in a field on May 20 after cool temperatures on May 16.

Freeze damage at the heading and flowering stages can severely impact wheat yield by causing sterility. To check for sterility (caused by the freezing temperatures in May), now is a good time to look for grain development (wheat kernels). Depending on where flowering was occurring at the time of the freeze, wheat kernels may be absent in the center, top, and/or bottom of the wheat head.

Diseases

Freeze damage should not be confused with diseases that result in bleached, discolored heads.

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Western Ohio cropland values and cash rents 2015-16

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. This is due to a number of factors including land productivity and potential crop return, the variability of those crop returns, field size and shape, drainage, population density, ease of access, market access, local market prices, potential for wildlife damage, field perimeter characteristics and competition for rented cropland in a region.

Western Ohio cropland values and cash rental rates are projected to decrease in 2016 due in large part to continued low to negative profit margin prospects for Ohio’s three major row crops (corn, soybeans and wheat). According to the Western Ohio Cropland Values and Cash Rents Survey, bare cropland values are expected to decrease from 4.8% to 11.1% in 2016 depending on the region and land class.

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Corn plants appreciate a stress-free summer

Over the next several weeks the upper canopy in Ohio corn fields will look much different, as tassels begin to emerge and extend beyond the top leaves of the plant. This visual change signifies that the corn crop will soon be shifting from vegetative into reproductive growth. The first reproductive growth stage (R1) begins when silks extends outside of the husk leaves and typically occurs two to three days after tassel emergence.

The two basic processes that occur during corn reproduction are pollination (transfer of pollen grains from the tassel to the silks) and fertilization (joining of the pollen grain and ovary to create an embryo). Though these processes seem very simple, there is a lot riding on their success. Approximately 85% of the variability in grain yield is related to the number of kernels produced per acre while the remaining 15% of the variability in grain yield is related to the weight of these kernels.

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – June 20th, 2016

Continued dry weather aided fieldwork, but too little soil moisture is beginning to become a hindrance to crop emergence and conditions, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending June 19th. Far Western and Northeast Ohio were reported as abnormally dry on the US Drought Monitor released Thursday. Sporadic storms passed from Cincinnati to Akron on Wednesday and Thursday, dropping localized heavy amounts and causing minor flooding. Some hail was reported. Producers are largely finished with planting, though some double crop soybeans will be planted after wheat harvest. Crop emergence is steady but uneven in quality, as the lack of available moisture is hurting some fields. Producers are worried that if the dry weather continues, crop damage will result. With the planting finished, growers are focusing on applying nitrogen to corn, spraying herbicide, and cutting hay.

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Disclosure, use and sale limitations with Big Data

Have you ever wondered why your recent web searches for items or information show up on other websites you visit? Frequently, these recent searches appear in the form of advertisements along an edge of another webpage you are viewing. These advertisements are typically provided by third party data aggregators. These third party data aggregators play a crucial role in target advertising if a “data” company does not already have in-house capabilities to capture this type of data.

Third party data aggregation is specifically addressed in “The Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data” published by the America Farm Bureau Federation with their policy about Disclosure, Use and Sale Limitation:

An (Agriculture Technology Provider) ATP will not sell and/or disclose non-aggregated farm data to a third party without first securing a legally binding commitment to be bound by the same terms and conditions as the ATP has with the farmer.

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Barley weed control the subject of OSU research

Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are conducting studies to determine the best weed control strategies for spring barley, a crop that is now getting more attention from farmers due to growth of the craft beer industry in Ohio and neighboring states.

“We are currently in our first year of research to determine the safest and most effective herbicide programs for spring barley in Ohio,” said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist. “Summer annual weeds such as ragweeds, lambsquarters, pigweeds and foxtails are the primary weed problem in spring-planted crops, and the competitiveness of the crop with weeds will be affected by planting date and stand density, among other things.”

The spring barley weed control study is taking place at the college’s Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston. It includes two different planting dates and different types of herbicide treatments, designed to determine what kind of weed control treatments are needed and what the crop responses and yield are.

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Farmers have the chance to comment on atrazine assessment

The National Corn Growers Association this week urged farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency’s draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA’s recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S.
“Atrazine is a safe and effect crop management tool. If EPA succeeds in taking away this option, it will be sending farming practices back decades – and hurt the environment in the process,” said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, President of NCGA. “As a farmer and a conservationist, I can’t let this go unanswered. That’s why I’m urging farmers to contact the EPA and make their voices heard.”
Atrazine is a widely used herbicide proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats.
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OSU Extension tour highlights diversified Fairfield County farm

Farmers Josh and Lynne Schultz put more than eggs in their basket.

They put greens, sweet corn, cabbages, carrots, eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes in it, too – to name just a few.

Then they sell them directly to consumers through farmers markets and their own community supported agriculture program, or CSA.

The Schultzes run Schultz Valley Farms in Lancaster in southeast Ohio, a 200-acre family farm that yields a virtual smorgasbord. Not just fresh vegetables but beef, oats, herbs, baked goods and maple syrup are some of its wares.

“Josh and Lynne Shultz are amazing young producers,” said Jerry Iles, agriculture and natural resources educator with Ohio State University Extension’s Fairfield County office, also in Lancaster. “They have three young children, work off-farm jobs, and grow and sell a huge variety of products.

“Their farm shows how diversified a direct marketing operation has to be to generate enough income to sustain a family business.”

A tour of the farm on June 14 will feature its big range of products.

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