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Ag producers say financials stronger than 2016 but predict missed financial targets in 2017

U.S. agricultural producers indicated their farm operations’ financial positions are stronger than at this time in 2016, but expressed concerns that they might not meet their 2017 financial targets, according to a monthly producer survey conducted as part of the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer.

The barometer, which is based on a survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, read 131 for the month of June — virtually unchanged from the April and May readings of 130.

“Although the Ag Economy Barometer has not changed appreciably the last couple of months, it’s important to note that it remains well above levels recorded prior to November 2016,” said Jim Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

In June 2017, 13% of survey respondents indicated that their operations were financially better off than a year before — the highest reading since Purdue researchers first started surveying producers in October 2015.… Continue reading

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Markets watching weather and pollination

Wheat prices the last week of June finally brought smiles to producers. It has been a long wait as wheat prices earlier this year sunk to 10-year lows. World supplies have been building for years, not helping prices at all. Commodity funds have been short wheat since mid 2016 as they built a huge short position. Several new records were set along the way as that short position reached 151,000 contracts last October. This year, U.S. wheat acres are at the lowest level in over 100 years. Many producers have taken the extreme step of removing wheat from their rotation and instead planting just corn and soybeans. Wheat had the biggest price movement for several months when looking at the three major grains: corn, soybeans, and wheat.

For several weeks producers have been watching the drought conditions in the Dakotas as spring wheat acres were less than expected. Those drought conditions were huge as wheat prices rose 30 cents on June 30 with two USDA reports.… Continue reading

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Japanese beetle in corn and soybeans

We have been hearing reports of Japanese beetles in corn and soybean.  These beetles are large with a shiny copper and green color.  Foliage feeding in corn is almost never economic, though economic damage from silk clipping is possible (though rare).  Consider a rescue treatment when  silks are clipped to less than half inch and, fewer than 50% of the plants have been pollinated, and the beetles are still numerous and feeding in the field.

Japanese beetles will also feed on soybean foliage.  http://cropwatch.unl.edu/documents/soybean%20defoliation.png

Defoliation guide for soybean (University of Nebraska)

While the damage might look startling, it is very rare that this reaches economic levels from Japanese beetle.  A rescue treatment is advised when defoliation levels reach 30% in pre-bloom stages, and 20% in bloom to pod fill.  These defoliation levels apply to the plant as a whole, not just certain leaves.   A visual guide to defoliation is useful because it is very easy to over-estimate defoliation in soybean. … Continue reading

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Shedding some light on corn tassels

Tasseling is just around the corner for most corn fields. The acres of green will soon be topped with shades of yellow, green or purple. What an exciting time in the life of a corn plant. The emergence of tassels not only marks the halfway point of the corn’s plant life but also signifies a major change within the corn plant.

A major shift of priorities occurs once a corn plant tassels. Prior to tasseling, the corn plant is in a vegetative growth stage. The corn plant is focused on producing vegetation such as stalks, leaves and roots and maintaining a healthy defense system. Soon after tasseling the corn plant no longer is concerned about growth or maintaining a strong defense system, but the sole purpose of the corn plant becomes producing grain. All of the plants resources are redirected from plant growth to the formation of the largest ear possible.… Continue reading

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Maturity and population for double-crop soybeans

Many of our customers find it profitable to double-crop soybeans. A reoccurring question many of our growers ask is, “What is the right population and which maturity should I plant?” As many of you know, many factors contribute to yield potential such as planting date, final stand populations, varietal selection, soil fertility, rain fall, planting conditions, etc.

According to Jim Beuerlein (now retired OSU Extension Specialist), “late planting reduces our cultural practice options for row spacing, seeding rate and variety maturity. For the last half of June, 225,000 to 250,000 seeds per acre are recommended, and in early July drop 250,000 to 275,000 seeds per acre.”

Soybeans are not like corn because they are photo period sensitive. The amount of daylight the plant receives triggers its reproductive cycle. The date and timing of physiological maturity are affected by day length and the stage of seed development in the uppermost pods on the plants.… Continue reading

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Watch for mid-season pests

Corn insects we may see in July are European corn borer and new to northern Ohio the Western bean cutworm. See your Corn, Soybean, Wheat and Alfalfa Field Guide for images and scouting suggestions.

If you are in continuous corn, watch for Western corn rootworm. This pest has reappeared in areas of the central Corn Belt in continuous corn situations, apparently overcoming the Bt insect protection trait. Let us know if you see unexpectedly lodged corn later this summer.

Last year we had Northern corn leaf blight and Gray leaf spot appear later than normal and then get slowed by dry weather. With our wet weather, I think I am seeing gray leaf spot already on susceptible hybrids. The watch in soybeans is Frogeye leaf spot. We have too many bean-on-bean acres so look for this disease and read these comments from Anne Dorrance: http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AC-53.

Watch the Crop Observation & Recommendation Network newsletter for reports of disease and insect appearance across the state: http://corn.osu.edu.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension and OARDC agronomy field days

It has been an interesting spring. Have questions? We may have the answers; we certainly want to have the discussion. Come to one or all three of our field days in July. Put these dates on your calendar and plan to attend.

  • OSU Weed Day, South Charleston: July 12
  • Western ARS Agronomy Field Day, South Charleston: July 19
  • Northwest Ag Research Station Field Day, Custar: July 27

The OSU Weed Science Field Day will be held on July 12 at OARDC Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston. As in previous years, it’s a mostly self-directed event and a chance to look at all of our research. The day runs from 9 to noon, followed by lunch for those who preregister. Feel free to bring anyone you like and to tell others, but please send an email to Bruce Ackley to preregister at ackley.19@osu.edu telling him how many are coming so we can plan.… Continue reading

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First generation corn borer management in non-Bt corn

European corn borer (ECB) was once our most important corn insect, but its population has decreased over the past 20 years, likely due to Bt-corn that provides excellent protection. For this and other various reasons, many farms have switched to corn that does not contain Bt proteins to control ECB and other caterpillar pests. Keep in mind that ECB is not an extinct species — we can find ECB still flying around. This year, we have seen ECB feeding in conventional corn.

ECB has two generations per year. Currently, we are seeing larval feeding on the leaves and in the whorl. Soon, and if not already, these larvae will tunnel through the stalk where they will usually continue to feed and pupate. Adults will emerge in late July-early August.

Growers of conventional corn should inspect their fields for the characteristic shot hole damage (see figure). If found, you may see larvae feeding in the whorl—you may need to pull the whorl out of a couple of damaged plants to check.… Continue reading

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It’s almost July and we are all done with our soybean herbicide applications. Right?

Got weeds? Did you use a burndown, and apply a pre-emergent herbicide at the same time? Then you did well. That has gotten you off to a good start.

As I drive around today however, I still find soybean (and corn) fields that have weeds taller than the crop. That means we missed something. And yes I know we now have Extend soybeans labeled (and just recently the Enlist bean). But we still need a good burndown and those pre- herbicides. Partly our goal is to slow down weed emergence so they are shorter when we do spray our post application as well as to remove weeds so we start the season with a clean slate. Oh and yes, to get high yields.


You know the drill so I won’t go into that again. But it continues to be our number one weed in soybeans, and yet it is manageable — even in conventional soybeans.… Continue reading

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Soybean rust study will allow breeders to tailor resistant varieties to local pathogens

Midwestern growers don’t worry much about soybean rust

The fungal disease has been popping up at the end of the growing season nearly every year since 2006, but because the fungus can’t survive winter without a host plant, it’s not much of a threat to Midwest crops under current conditions.

Right now, the disease only impacts U.S. soybean growers in the frost-free south, and only over-winters in parts of the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean basin.

“But if the frost-free zone were to expand northward sometime in the future, there would be a greater potential for soybean rust to impact Midwestern growers,” said Glen Hartman, plant pathologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and crop pathologist for USDA-ARS.

Even though the major soybean-producing region in the United States is currently safe, Hartman and his collaborators aren’t willing to let the ball drop on soybean rust.

“We’d like to stay ahead of the game by knowing more about the pathogen and whether strains of the fungus can overcome soybean rust resistance genes,” he said.… Continue reading

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Peering into the future of agricultural change

USGS scientists led by Terry Sohl at the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center have created a crystal ball to better depict future agricultural land change and project outcomes. Sohl and his colleagues have modified the Forecasting Scenarios of Land-Use Change model to project agricultural change by parcel across a large region in the U.S. Great Plains.

The new FORE-SCE model is unique in that instead of using small pixels, it uses ownership and land management boundaries from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So scientists can mimic how farmers make decisions on the use of individual parcels of land, and then scale that up to regional and national levels.

So, let’s say growing switchgrass to produce ethanol becomes more profitable for North Dakota farmers in the future. Or non-agricultural lands north of the Twin Cities prove advantageous for growing potatoes. The new FORE-SCE model can portray a broader geographic extent, higher spatial resolution at 30 meters, and higher thematic resolution with 28 land cover classes—including 14 different crop types—to project more realistic landscape pattern scenarios and better assess the ecological, economic, and climate outcomes from agricultural changes.… Continue reading

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Rapid growth syndrome in corn

While scouting corn fields this spring, some farmers in the eastern Corn Belt may have noticed strange looking corn plants with new growth that was yellow and leaves that were wrinkled randomly spread throughout their field. This a phenomenon is referred to as “Rapid Growth Syndrome.” In many areas of our sales footprint weather conditions were such that our agronomists and sales staff observed plants affected by Rapid Growth Syndrome. Corn plants are usually affected by this issue is in the V5 to V6 stages of growth. This phenomenon is usually associated with an abrupt change in weather. Twisted whorls can appear when corn plants shift from a period of slow growth (in cool, cloudy weather) to more rapid growth (warm, sunny weather).

Symptoms of Rapid Growth Syndrome include bent-over plants and tightly wrapped whorls that keep younger leaves from emerging. Once younger leaves emerge, they are often yellow but turn green after a few days.… Continue reading

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Analysis of the impact of the RFS

More than a decade after the original renewable fuel standard (RFS) was signed into law, progress has been made toward its goals of energy security, clean air and boosting local economies, according to a new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association, “RFS Impacts: By the Numbers.” The analysis comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to soon issue its proposed 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the RFS.

Congress adopted the RFS in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022.

The analysis looked at data on how the world has changed since adoption of the RFS. Specifically, the analysis compares key data points and indicators from 2005 and 2007 to data from 2016.

Among the highlights:

  • The number of operational U.S. ethanol plants has grown from 81 in 2005 to 213 in 2016, while ethanol production has grown from 3.9 billion gallons to 15.3 billion gallons, a nearly 300% increase;
  • U.S.
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NCGA providing farmer perspective for biotech regulations

The National Corn Growers Association brought the voice of farmers into important conversations on U.S. biotechnology regulations during the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service public comment meeting held at the University of California, Davis last week. This session, which was the second of three, offered the opportunity to personally provide input on the part 340 proposed rule that would modify the science-based federal regulatory framework that regulates genetically engineered organisms use in agriculture.
NCGA Past president Leon Corzine and Freedom to Operate Action Team Vice Chair Brandon Hunnicutt both spoke during the meeting, providing insight into the impact such regulations have upon farmers. Drawing upon firsthand experience with the importance of biotech tools, they stressed the value farmers place on regulatory efficiency and transparency in a system based solidly in science. The farmer leaders then urged officials present to refine the proposal so that USDA can chart a path forward for agricultural biotechnology and products derived from other precision breeding tools that offers regulatory relief and consistency.
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Water quality meeting investigates next wave of sustainability initiatives

Farmers’ continuous commitment to adopting more sustainable agricultural practices is reaping significant benefits such as healthier soil and cleaner water. But, despite these successes, there is more work ahead to juggle the science and economic factors that must be blended and balanced as the speed of change increases.

Finding the best path and striking that balance was the central theme of a water quality and ag nutrient meeting being held in Bloomington, Illinois last week. The meeting brings together National Corn Growers Association staff and state corn staff representing Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

The nuts and bolts portion of the meeting covered topics such as: assessing current water quality initiatives; costs and benefits of current practices; educating key thought leaders and the public; and farm bill proposals.

One reoccurring theme was finding ways to keep farmers focused and motivated to continue making these positive changes in the current weak agricultural economy.… Continue reading

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Wheat harvest kicking off for for 2017

Combines started rolling in southern Ohio last week where the start of wheat harvest was running a week or so ahead of schedule.

Scott Metzger in Pickaway County got started mid-week and the moisture was around 18% and yields were looking promising. Metzger has some frost damage, though, particularly in the low areas, but he is still hopeful for strong yields in his high management wheat.

“Our goal is to be done cutting wheat and finish planting double-crop beans on the same day — by July 1. We plant a couple hundred acres of seed wheat and we’ll cut that wet and dry it down, then go into the rest of the wheat. That gives us a jumpstart,” Metzger said. “We’ll double-crop every acre of our wheat.”

The odd winter and unusual spring of 2017 has led to many potential challenges for wheat.

“Extreme cold weather caused freeze damage to wheat heads, which has resulted in blank heads and could significantly impact yields,” said Matt Hutchison, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.… Continue reading

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Is SCN impacting your soybean yields?

Typically, soybeans may begin to show symptoms of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) damage by July 1st. SCN is a parasitic roundworm that feeds on the soybean root system. The cyst stage of the nematode’s life cycle is when the female nematode is filled with eggs. Cysts are visible throughout the summer on soybean roots and will appear as small, white, and lemon-shaped. After the female matures, these cysts are hard to see. When trying to identify SCN presence on soybean roots, it is important not to confuse cysts with Rhizobium nodules (where N fixation takes place).

How can you determine if SCN is causing damage and yield loss to your soybeans? Injury symptoms include yellowing and stunting of plants. These symptoms may appear in patches of a field. These patches may grow from year to year; especially in the direction a field is tilled. Symptoms may become worse when plants are under other stresses in addition to SCN injury and can be confused with other issues, such as nutrient deficiencies.… Continue reading

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U.S policy with Cuba important for trade

In response to the Trump Administration announcement on the U.S. not lifting sanctions with Cuba, the National Corn Growers Association wants to emphasize the potential importance of Cuba as a trading partner.

Cuba should be an easy market for U.S. corn farmers. Instead, that market has gone to our competitors — costing us an estimated $125 million in lost opportunity each year. If trade with Cuba were normalized, it would represent our 11th largest market for corn. Instead, we have just 11% market share in a country only 90 miles from our border. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we ask our leaders in Washington not to close doors on market opportunities for American agriculture.… Continue reading

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Kill the SMALL weeds

Everyone remembers the challenges of 2016 as it relates to controlling Giant Ragweed and Waterhemp, unfortunately the volumes of seed returned to the seed bank.

We planned and prepared sound effective Resistance Fighter recommendations for our customers during the winter months to avoid repeating 2016.

We committed to the use of overlapping residual herbicides, with proper application timing and using multiple effective modes of action in those plans.  The weather has challenged us again in 2017 to the extent some of those residuals were applied after planting.  As we move into the early post season think about 2016 and remember the other monumental challenge we faced, which was applying herbicides to off-label weeds.  The target weed height is less than 4-6” weeds.  As temperature and moisture is adequate for growth, applications targeting Giant Ragweed and Waterhemp need to occur well in advance of the 4-6” height.


I implore you to be diligent to those plans created in the winter to avoid the reoccurrence of history. … Continue reading

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