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Input care and management crucial in a tight farm economy

The economics of the situation looking forward for commodity agriculture will require careful planning and management to maximize yields and profitability while minimizing risks and costs per bushel.

“We have to make a plan to think about how to move forward including a clear business plan that includes goals, timelines, and ‘what ifs,’” said Neil Bentley, director of marketing for BASF. “Break even is in sight. We need to think about how we make smart decisions and make sure you have a stewardship plan in place so you can be successful.”

Key inputs need to be managed with great care to balance return on investment, environmental stewardship and product longevity. BASF has developed strategies for field-to-field planning to protect plant health.

“With plant health, the key thing we are trying to understand is how to put the right plant health application on the right acre,” said Megan Andriankaja, project manager for BASF.… Continue reading

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Late winter nitrogen fertilizer application

The unseasonably warm and dry weather this February has prompted some corn growers to begin applying ammonia, according to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger.

“While we don’t often have the option to apply this early due to frozen or wet soils, late February and early March is an acceptable time to apply ammonia, as long as we do it carefully,” Nafziger said. “Compared to fall application, late winter application introduces nitrogen a little closer to the time the crop will need it, so it’s slightly safer. Still, a warm, wet spring will mean a lot of nitrate present when plant uptake kicks in. So using a nitrification inhibitor with ammonia applied now makes sense.”

After application, ammonia converts to ammonium, which attaches to negative charges on soil and organic matter, and does not move in the soil. When soils warm up, bacteria begin to convert ammonium to nitrate, which can hitch a ride with water moving through the soil.… Continue reading

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Ohio Soybean Association names Kirk Merritt executive director

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has named Kirk Merritt Executive Director of the grassroots policy and member-driven organization to begin March 6. Merritt currently serves as the Executive Director of the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC), which manages soybean checkoff dollars, and will continue in that role.

The announcement follows the departure of Adam Ward, who had served as OSA executive director and OSC director of marketing and outreach since 2010. Ward left the organizations to pursue an opportunity at The Ohio State University (OSU) as the Government Affairs Director for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“We want to thank Adam for his dedication to our organization and his help in raising our level of recognition at the Statehouse and Washington, D.C. We look forward to working with him in his new role,” said Todd Hesterman, OSA president and Henry County soybean farmer. “To build on the progress made, we believe there is no better candidate than Kirk who has already been working with OSA and has done great work for OSC.”

Merritt joined OSC in June 2007 as International Marketing Director and Director of Outreach and Programs for the Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (OSCF).… Continue reading

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Did fake news spark Tuesday’s market rally?

On the last day in February farmers — and the rest of the world for that matter — were anxiously waiting to hear what President Trump was going to say as he addressed Congress for the first time. But what got the attention of producers earlier in the day was a major price move to the upside for corn and soybean trade in Chicago. The spike was caused by a news story about possible changes in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate. That story, like many have in recent weeks, may not have been that reliable.

“At the beginning of the morning on Tuesday, leaked information suggested that there was going to be a significant change to the way the ethanol blender credits are working,” said Jon Scheve, a grain merchandiser with Superior Feed Ingredients. “By midday, the White House would not confirm whether or not that information was real and there might not be a change at all.… Continue reading

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Uniform corn emergence tips

Two aspects of stand establishment often discussed by agronomists are emergence and seed spacing. “Picket fence” spacing in corn helps plants grow efficiently and minimizes competition between them. Uniform spacing is an important part of stand establishment. More importantly, however, is uniform emergence. Plants that are just 1 leaf collar behind (due to uneven emergence) significantly reduce yield. According to Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Extension ag engineer, “When a plant develops ahead of its neighbor, it hurts yield dramatically. It’s going to vary somewhat from year to year, but a plant lagging behind those around it becomes a weed.” To achieve uniform emergence, consistent planting depth is critical.

Field conditions, gauge wheel settings, unit down pressure, and planter speed all affect seeding depth. Set planter depth and check it regularly. A planter may have enough weight to apply the proper down force when full, but what about when it’s almost empty?… Continue reading

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Drone licensing process makes for better, safer farm pilots

For those with high hopes of gaining a new perspective of agriculture, drones are becoming an increasingly popular addition to farming operations. But while the actual flying of the drone can be very fun and informative, the legalities can be daunting and discouraging.

Paul Ralston of Hardin County decided to face the legalities head on by registering his drone and becoming a licensed pilot.

“It was a lot more than what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t know what to expect. I went through a class at Indiana State. They went through traffic patterns at airports, different airport classifications, knowing how to read a coded weather briefing, and learning how to use the degrees on a compass — all kinds of things,” Ralston said.  “The course was two days — one whole day and three fourths of another day. The instructor was great. They taught you what you needed to know to pass the test for your license and how to resource information on continuing your education.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training to end soon

We are still getting a lot of questions about Fertilizer Certification from farmers.

  • Yes, this new regulation applies to you. You, being almost every farmer in Ohio. You have until Sept. 30, 2017 to become certified to apply fertilizer. And you all tell me you won’t go to meetings after about March 15—so this means get this done now.
  • While there are exceptions, most of these exceptions would only apply to a very small farmer such as one who has 50 acres or less.
  • This site gives more details on the legal issues: http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog-tags/agricultural-nutrient-management.
  • And “fertilizer” means anything with an N-P-K analysis — meaning yes this includes nitrogen if your retailer applies everything else and you only apply sidedress N.
  • And if you take manure from a concentrated animal feeding facility — a great opportunity by the way — then yes you too need to be certified to apply that manure.
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Steps to keep palmer amaranth out of your operation

As of the end of 2016, Palmer amaranth had been found in 18 Ohio counties, and the majority of it is resistant to both glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides (site 2) based on OSU greenhouse screening.

Not all of these “finds” represent problem infestations, and in some cases the potential for a few plants to become an established patch was remedied by timely removal and subsequent monitoring. There are however a number of fields where Palmer became well-established and effective control has since required extremely comprehensive herbicide programs combined with removal be hand. This past growing season, three soybean fields were so densely infested with Palmer that they had to be mowed down in early August. At that point, the only recommendation we could make was mowing to prevent the production of massive amounts of additional seed, in order to at least limit somewhat how bad future infestations were going to be (photos of this on our blog at u.osu.edu/osuweeds).… Continue reading

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Nematode resistance in soybeans beneficial even at low rates of infestation

Each spring, tiny roundworms hatch and wriggle over to the nearest soybean root to feed. Before farmers are even aware of the belowground infestation, the soybean cyst nematode silently begins to wreak havoc on soybean yield.

Fortunately, breeders have identified soybean varieties with genetic resistance to the nematodes and have used them to create new resistant varieties. As you might expect, resistant varieties yield more than susceptible ones when SCN is in the soil. But, until now, it wasn’t clear whether that yield advantage held up at low SCN infestation rates.

“The University of Illinois has been organizing a regional testing program of university-developed experimental soybean lines through funding from the United Soybean Board. In the last decade, we have collected data on agronomic performance, including yield, but also data on the resistance of the lines as well as on SCN pressure in the field. We’ve built up a massive dataset from these tests,” said Brian Diers, University of Illinois soybean breeder.… Continue reading

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Considerations for the 2017 planting season

With another spring planting season upon us, there are a few planter considerations before heading to the field. Seed costs remain a significant investment today with planting being a critical if not most important for maximizing yield potential. Maximum yield exists when the seed is in the bag but is influenced by the ability of the planter to create a suitable seedbed, while providing good soil-to-seed contact at the proper depth without sidewall compaction. Mistakes made at planting only reduce yield potential. Variations in seed metering and seed depth placement can impact uniformity of emergence and final stand counts. While some precision technology can be costly and prove difficult to determine ROI, here are some thoughts on technologies that can quickly, in most cases less than one year, pay off on your farm. First, we will provide some comments about planter and meter setup.

A key maintenance step is to have all your meters evaluated on a test stand annually.… Continue reading

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Guide on newly approved herbicides

The Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) has published a set of guidelines for soybean farmers who are considering the use of newly approved dicamba-based herbicide products.

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered Monsanto’s XtendiMax and BASF’s Engenia herbicides for pre-emergence and post-emergence use on dicamba-tolerant (DT) soybeans.

The dicamba outreach publication was developed by pesticide program administrator Dave Scott of OISC and Purdue Extension weed specialist Bill Johnson to explain how to legally and effectively use dicamba-based herbicides on DT crops.

Dicamba-based herbicides are best used to treat giant ragweed, marestail, waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, lambsquarters and morning glories.

“This product is a sorely needed tool in controlling glyphosate, ALS, and PPO resistant broadleaf weeds in soybeans,” Johnson said. “It’s very effective if used correctly.”

Using dicamba-based herbicides requires more caution than other more commonly used herbicides, Johnson said.

“This is a new tool for controlling weeds in soybeans, but it has more restrictions than any other herbicide I have encountered in my life,” he said.… Continue reading

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Biologicals are here to stay in agriculture, but what are they?

It seems there are ever increasing amounts of products for agricultural use that are considered “biologicals” in this rapidly advancing field of research and product development. Biological products can serve as natural pesticides and biostimulants that lead to growth enhancement, disease control, soil health improvement, and plant nutrient uptake enhancement, among numerous other uses.

According to R.J. Rant of Nutrilink Biosystems based in Michigan, biologicals are a diverse group of products derived from naturally occurring microorganisms, plant extracts, or other organic matter. They fall into two main categories: microbials (live organisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa and viruses) and biochemicals (naturally occurring compounds including plant and insect growth regulators, organic acids, plant extracts, minerals, and pheromones). Microbials are fairly well understood, but there is still much to learn about biochemicals, Rant said.

Biologicals that have been in use for a while in agriculture include: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), Bacillus subtilis, seaweed extract, humic and fulvic acid, sugar (molasses), compost teas, and fermentation extracts.… Continue reading

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Don’t get in a hurry to apply N to wheat

Normally we would be concerned about producers applying nitrogen to wheat on frozen ground this time of year. The recent wave of abnormally warm temperatures has removed any frost that was in the ground and suggests that green-up may come sooner than recent years.

Even if wheat comes out of winter earlier, the crop still does not require large amounts of nitrogen until stem elongation/jointing (Feekes Growth Stage 6), which is generally the middle or the end of April depending on the location in the state and spring temperatures. Ohio research has shown no yield benefit from applications made prior to this time period. Soil organic matter and/or N applied at planting generally provide sufficient N for early growth until stem elongation.

Nitrogen applied prior to rapid utilization has the potential to be lost and unavailable for the crop. Nitrogen source will also affect the potential for loss. Urea-ammonium nitrate (28%) has the greatest potential for loss, ammonium sulfate the least, and urea would be somewhere between the two other sources.… Continue reading

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Handy Bt trait table for U.S. corn

Most corn hybrids planted in the U.S. contain one or more transgenic traits for weed or insect management.  There are many different available traits, which can sometimes cause confusion about a hybrid’s spectrum of control or refuge requirements. The Handy Bt Trait Table provides a helpful list of trait names and details of trait packages to make it easier to select and understand products and their refuge requirements, and read company seed guides, sales materials, and bag tags.  This year’s table was authored by Dr. Chris DiFonzo at Michigan State University with contributions by Drs. Kelley Tilmon (OSU) and Pat Porter (Texas A&M).

A new column has been added to the table in 2017 to address local or regional performance issues in cases where there are documented

field-level insect populations which are less susceptible to or resistant to a given Bt protein.  An insect is listed in this column only if ALL of the Bt proteins which should control it in a product are ‘ineffective’ somewhere in the US or Canada.… Continue reading

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Collecting farm data for profit and sustainability

Historical farm data is nice to have, but it can’t make money or improve the operation when it’s sitting in a file cabinet.

Keith Kemp, a checkoff farmer-leader from West Manchester, is using all of that data from his farm to continue  improving.

“Each year we grid sample, soil test and do the mapping at planting and harvest time,” Kemp said. “During the winter months we take all of that data we’ve collected for the year and overlap that with data from years past. We’ll analyze those results and come up with our best decisions on population seeding, along with setting up our variable rate fertilizer and nitrogen plans.”

Kemp will take an ever more centralized approach to his data this year by surveying his farm on half-acre grids. This long-term data collecting strategy is helping Kemp not only improve the outcome of a crop in a certain field; it is also helping him better the soil health where he sees issues pop up year after year.… Continue reading

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Surfacing new uses for corn critical to long-term viability of farmers

Increasing demand for corn and corn farmer profitability is key to the National Corn Growers Association’s mission, and this was clearly evident at the recent meeting of NCGA’s Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team (CPQAT).

Farmer team members from across the U.S. discussed several potential avenues for finding new uses for corn to drive demand. Potential areas of focus are new food uses for corn, new plant-based chemicals from corn and more specifically using corn as a feedstock to replace chemicals currently manufactured from petroleum.

“Developing new uses for corn is nothing novel. It has always been important. Within the last 20 years, fuel ethanol went from being a new use for corn to our second largest market.  And look at the impact that has had on farmer profitability,” said Larry Hoffmann, chairman of the CPQAT. “But trying to keep corn use ahead of our growing productive capacity is a never-ending challenge.… Continue reading

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Take action on weeds

With approval of dicamba resistant soybeans and now the products to spray on them, we need to plan to avoid the problems we had develop with excessive use of glyphosate as we move toward higher use of dicamba products.

The United Soybean Board has developed some very nice materials to fight resistant weeds. It involves using broad-spectrum pre-emergent herbicides as the basis for your weed control program. Mark Loux our Extension Weed Specialist supplemented and printed these packets for Ohio — they have been very popular at our pesticide re-certification training programs this winter. The campaign to manage resistant weeds is called “Take Action” against herbicide resistant weeds. The website to get more information is http://takeactiononweeds.com. I especially like the Site of Action chart: http://takeactiononweeds.com/understanding-herbicides/site-of-action-lookup/.

“There are no new herbicides” is not quite a true statement, as there are many new names, but it is the active ingredient that is important, the rest is about marketing of a brand name.… Continue reading

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NE Ohio winter agronomy school

Join OSU Extension as we host our annual Agronomy School for crop farmers in Northeast Ohio. With profit margins decreasing it will be vital for crop producers to get the biggest bang from the dollars they invest in land rental, seed and fertilizer, technology, chemicals, and crop protection. This workshop is sponsored by the OSU Extension offices in Ashtabula, Trumbull & Geauga Counties with support from W.I. Miller & Sons & the Ohio Soybean Council.

Speakers include David Marrison, Les Ober, Russ Coltman, Anne Dorrance, Pierce Paul, Andy Michel, and Glen Arnold. 

Cost is $10/person and include refreshments, lunch, and handouts. Lunch is sponsored by W.I. Miller & Sons. Contact David Marrison (440-576-9008) or Lee Beers (330-638-6783) for more information.

March 15th, 2017, 9:30am to 3:30pm, Williamsfield Community Center, 5920 State Route 322 Williamsfield, OH 44093.… Continue reading

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GLS and NCLB in 2017

During the previous several growing seasons Gray Leaf Spot (GLS) and Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) developed in some corn fields, affecting yield and stalk quality. You might ask; “Will these diseases be a problem next year?” The answer to this question depends on several factors.

The fungi that cause the development of these diseases overwinter on crop residue. If GLS and NCLB developed in 2016, the fungus will be present on residue in 2017. The development of these diseases also depends on environmental factors. Warm, humid weather favors growth of GLS and NCLB. Periods of heavy due, fog, or light rain will provide the needed conditions for these leaf diseases to develop. For either GLS or NCLB to become a problem in 20127, the fungi need to be present in the field in addition to favorable weather conditions. Fortunately, producers can make some management decisions to hinder the growth of GLS and NCLB and lessen their impact should they develop:

‪1.… Continue reading

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No change in soybeans, bearish surprise

U.S. soybean ending stocks were unchanged, that was a bearish surprise. At 12:10 pm corn is down 2 cents, soybeans down 11 cents, wheat up 1 cent. Before the report corn was unchanged, soybeans up 1 cent, while wheat was up 2 cents.

There were minor changes in the world grain ending stocks. No surprise there.

U.S. corn ending stocks were estimated at 2.320 billion bushels, down 35 million bushels. US soybean ending stocks were 420 million bushels, no change. Seeing no change was bearish. Brazil soybean production was estimated at 104    million tons, no change. Soybean production in Argentina was estimated at 55.5 million tons, down 1.5 million tons. Brazil’s corn production was pegged at 85.6 million tons with Argentina corn production at 36.5 million tons. Both were unchanged.

Traders were expecting this report to be pretty boring with little changes compared to the January report. They expected U.S. corn and U.S.… Continue reading

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