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Honeybees pick up “astonishing” number of agricultural, urban pesticides via non-crop plants

A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.

Christian Krupke, professor of entomology, and then-postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Long collected pollen from Indiana honeybee hives at three sites over 16 weeks to learn which pollen sources honeybees use throughout the season and whether they are contaminated with pesticides.

The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids — common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, insecticides typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.

“Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected,” Krupke said.

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Frustrating early spring gives way to rapid late planting progress

It has been a very frustrating planting season for Adam Kirian and his brother on their Hancock County farm.

The cool, moist conditions from March through mid-May were great for the wheat, but not for much of anything else on the corn, soybean, hay, fresh produce, and cattle operation.

“I made a joke a couple of days ago and said that I wished we had planted everything to wheat because it looks excellent. We had a cool damp spring and it was favorable for the wheat. There is a lot of fungicide going on right now as we get closer to filling grain. I would say we are 40 or 45 days at least away from wheat harvest. It is starting to warm up right now,” said Adam Kirian on May 26. “We didn’t get any corn in the ground until May 20. We started working ground the day before on the well-drained stuff.

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Soy-based replacement for BPA receives innovation award

A new coating technology, Soy-PK Reactive Oligomer Cross-Linker, which could be used to replace Bisphenol A (BPA) in a wide variety of applications has been awarded second place in the Bio-Based Chemical Innovation of the Year category during the 2016 Bio-Based Innovation Awards. This award follows recognition of the product during the 2015 European Coatings Innovation event as one of the top 10 innovative technologies of the year.

The soy-based alternative was created by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff in partnership with researchers at Battelle in Columbus.

“We’re very happy to receive this level of recognition and interest in Soy-PK,” said Barry McGraw, OSC Director of Product Development and Commercialization. “It’s great timing with respect to market trends and consumer demands. We have the potential to fill that gap for food production, such as food, beer or soda companies.”

Many food packaging companies have been working to find alternatives to BPA since research has proven its potential to release chemical toxins over time.

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Adjusting for late planted soybeans

Warmer temperatures and drying fields mean more farmers are taking advantage of the mild weather to catch up on planting after delays earlier in the season kept many out of their fields.

But those growers who still aren’t able to get their soybean crops in before June may need to make slight adjustments to their management plans, says a field crops expert in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

After weather fluctuations during the growing season this year that have included freezing temperatures and snow flurries to sunny, 80-degree days to excess rain and cooler conditions that have left fields too wet to plant, many farmers need to catch up to get their crops in the ground, said Laura Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

Across Ohio, as of the week ended May 22, only 22% of soybeans were planted, according to the U.S.

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EPA going after atrazine, again

Many in agriculture are not pleased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency release of its draft report for the ecological risk assessment of atrazine.

Here is the abstract from the EPA draft report released yesterday.

“This refined assessment presents the ecological risks posed by the use of the herbicide atrazine. Based on the results from hundreds of toxicity studies on the effects of atrazine on plants and animals, over 20 years of surface water monitoring data, and higher tier aquatic exposure models, this risk assessment concludes that aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates in these same locations. In the terrestrial environment, there are risk concerns for mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and plant communities across the country for many of the atrazine uses. EPA levels of concern for chronic risk are exceeded by as much as 22, 198, and 62 times for birds, mammals, and fish, respectively.

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Be sure hay is dry enough to reduce fire risk

The rainy weather this spring has made harvesting and drying hay for safe storage more difficult, potentially raising the risk of barn fires, a Purdue Extension forage specialist said.

Storing hay with a moisture content of more than 20% without using a preservative could allow the growth of bacteria that release heat and cause mold formation, said Keith Johnson, professor of agronomy. This process increases the inner temperature of the bales, sometimes high enough to cause spontaneous combustion.

Johnson said it can take three to four weeks for temperatures to reach critical levels. He advised farmers to check stored hay regularly for warning signs of moisture or heating, including checking the temperature within stored bales and touching bales to see if they are hot.

Farmers should also be alert for steam rising from bales, condensation on the walls or ceiling of the barn, mold on the outer surface of the hay or an acrid odor.

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Fact sheet could help producers keep specialty crops safe from herbicide drift

Ohio’s corn and soybean growers could soon be spraying a lot more of two powerful herbicides on their fields. That’s why experts from Ohio State University Extension are offering tips on how to keep those herbicides from getting on other crops, especially valuable specialty crops such as grapes.

Doug Doohan and Roger Downer, both of the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, are the authors of “Reducing 2,4-D and Dicamba Drift Risk to Fruits, Vegetables and Landscape Plants,” a new fact sheet that explains how herbicide sprays can drift onto nontarget fields, the special concerns about the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, and how to prevent unwanted damage to crops.

The fact sheet is also intended, Doohan said, to raise awareness of Ohio’s specialty crops, which include not just grapes but apples, berries, peaches, herbs, hops, pumpkins, tomatoes and nursery-grown trees, to name a few. The grape and wine industry alone, according to recent figures, contributes some $786 million to the state’s economy.

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – May 31st, 2016

Producers spent the week planting significant amounts of corn and soybeans as the weather was conducive to fieldwork, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 29th. Corn and soybean planting has caught up to the five-year average, though emergence is still behind due to the previous planting delays. Some growers replanted corn that had been stunted by the cold temperatures after early planting. Some soybeans will also need to be replanted, due to frost damage and pythium incidence. There were reports of wheat rust that may lead to diverting fields to forage. Producers were cutting and baling hay as the moisture surplus was no longer an issue. Some areas are even beginning to become too dry, particularly in the northern part of the state. Vegetable producers were also planting their crops. Other activities included side-dressing, hauling manure, and spraying, though high wind hampered spraying in some areas.

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Keeping hay in the rotation

The challenges of making good hay are many.

It requires season-long hour-by-hour weather watching, extensive time management skills, the equivalent of a PhD in engineering required to make even routine in-field repairs, and the patience under pressure of the most skilled surgeons when making said repairs with a rain cloud looming. Those making hay also need to know a good bit about chemistry, biology, agronomy, physics, and have the people skills of a top waiter at a white tablecloth restaurant to deal with an often fickle customer base trying to feed livestock worth more than most homes.

At any rate, it ain’t easy making hay, but somebody has to do it. One of those somebodys is Mike Lutmer from Warren County. Mike and his brother Chris have been working with hay since they were young.

“Currently, we have around 200 acres of hay. We also do some custom work. A majority of our hay customers have been with us for over 15 years.

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It seems everyone has a “package” that gives an extra bump in yield. Many of these packages contain micronutrients. In Ohio, because we generally have clay in our soil and reasonable levels of organic matter, we don’t regularly see a yield impact from applying micronutrients. So should we be concerned about micronutrients?

Our soil tests are most reliable for pH, phosphorus and potassium. We usually use a combination of soil and tissue tests to determine micronutrient deficiencies. Soil pH can also help us know where to look for deficiencies. Table 1 outlines some situations in which to watch for these deficiencies.


Table 1 Crop and soil conditions under which micronutrient deficiencies may occur. This taken from Table 23 of the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations.


Boron (B)Sandy soils or highly weathered soils low in organic matterAlfalfa and clover
Copper (Cu)Acid peats or mucks with pH < 5.3 and black sandsWheat, oats, corn
Manganese (Mn)Peats and mucks with pH > 5.8, black sands and lakebed/depressional soils with pH > 6.2Soybeans, wheat, oats, sugar beets, corn
Zinc (Zn)Peats, mucks and mineral soils with pH > 6.5Corn and soybeans
Molybdenum(Mo)Acid prairie soilsSoybeans


Typically we will see deficiencies occurring in small isolated areas of a field first.

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Late soybean planting (and replanting)

Wet weather has kept many farmers (and us) out of the field.  According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of May 15, 10% of the soybean acres were planted.  At the same time last year, 46% of soybean planting was complete.  On average, in Ohio, the majority of soybean acres are planted mid to late May (Table 1).  Although, it is not uncommon for soybean planting to creep into June.  In general, we don’t recommend altering soybean management until planting in June.  Below are some guidelines to consider if planting soybeans in June.

soybean yield by date

Row spacing.  Regardless of planting date, we recommend planting soybean in narrow rows (7.5 to 15 inches).  The goal is to have row widths narrow enough for soybean canopy closure by the time flowering occurs in late June/early July.  This becomes even more important as soybean planting is delayed.  The later in the growing season soybeans are planted, the greater the yield increase due to narrow rows. 

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Weeds have been slow to grow, but they are at it 24 hours a day

With the frequent rains, we missed proper burndown timing. Now we must totally rely upon pre-emergent herbicide application and now are working on missing the proper timing for post applications. Consider adding a second component to that glyphosate application when you post- spray your corn or soybeans. The idea is to have a second method of attack on those weeds that may be resistant, have grown a little larger than planned or in areas where you have had problems with in the past.

The Ohio & Indiana Weed Control Guide is a great resource for getting management tips on how best to apply glyphosate — see page 13 in the guide. Also see the corn tables starting on page 55 and the soybean tables starting on page 119 to choose a potential partner for post applications. The Guide is sold out for this year but is available free on-line from Mark at https://u.osu.edu/osuweeds/files/2015/11/2016_Weed_Control_Guide-17h5o2i.pdf.

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Planter Field Day May 31

Weather conditions have delayed some farmers from getting into their fields to plant this spring, so more growers are looking to new technologies to help them speed up the planting process.

With each day growers aren’t able to get into their fields to plant due to cold or wet soil conditions, more questions are arising as to how the planting delays will impact yields, said Mary Griffith, an Ohio State University Extension educator.

“While growers always are focused on getting their crops in on time, this year many farmers are especially concerned about how a narrow planting season such as this will impact yields,” Griffith said. “Some growers who planted early were negatively impacted by late frost and have had to replant some fields — in some cases some of those farmers hadn’t even gotten all their fields planted the first round before they had to replant.

“As a result, many growers are looking at planters, new technologies and yield impact.

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Wheat scab update for late May

Wheat is now flowering in parts of central Ohio and will continue to flower in more northern counties later this week and into next week. According to the FHB forecasting system (http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu/), the risk for scab was low in central and northern Ohio for fields flowering earlier this week.

Although it rained fairly consistently in mid May, conditions were relatively cool last week, which likely reduced the risk of the scab fungus infecting the wheat spikes. Scab develops best under moderate to warm temperatures and humid conditions. Continue to keep your eyes on the weather and the forecasting system over the next week or so as there is rain in the forecast and warmer temperatures.

Fields flowering at the end of this week or early next week (May 25-30) may still be at risk for scab. Prosaro and Caramba are the two fungicides recommended for head scab control. Stay away from the strobilurins when the risk for scab is high as they have been linked to higher grain contamination with vomitoxin.

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Is it time to switch hybrids yet?

Cooler temperatures and wet fields across the region have delayed planting and have many growers wondering if they should swap out their full-season seeds with hybrids that will produce corn sooner.

Not necessarily, says an agronomist in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

In most cases, full-season corn hybrids will mature or develop a “black layer” before a killing frost even when planted as late as May 25, said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

And depending on where they are grown, some full-season hybrids can be planted even later and still typically reach maturity before a killing frost, Thomison said.

Adjusted growth rates

“In studies that look at how hybrids respond to later planting dates, results have shown that hybrids of varying maturity can adjust their growth and development rates in response to a shortened growing season,” he said. “Some growers are getting worried that the shorter growing season due to delayed planting means fewer Growing Degree Days to mature their crop and a greater risk of frost damage.

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Documenting the relationship between corn emergence and yield

One very important aspect of corn plant development and yield is emergence. While evenly spaced “picket fence” stands are often discussed, agronomists and university experts stress the more important aspect of emergence-uniform emergence. 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.”

In order to achieve high yields, uniform emergence is essential.

As part of Seed Consultants testing in 2016, our agronomic team has planted a test plot in Fayette County that will be observed twice daily (morning and evening) during the emergence process. This study will observe 1/1000 acre sections of rows for 5 different hybrids. Approximately every 12 hours an agronomist will walk through the plot and place garden stakes next to plants as they emerge (as pictured above).

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ODA honors top Ohio wines

Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels honored the Director’s Choice recipients at an event held at the Statehouse for retailers, distributors, restaurateurs and winery owners.

More than 20 wines were evaluated by a panel of judges, on behalf of Director Daniels, for the highly coveted award. The 2016 award recipients are:

White Wine: 2014 Firelands Gewurztraminer, Firelands Winery, Sandusky

Red Wine: 2012 Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve,
Valley Vineyards, Morrow

Specialty Wine:  Gervasi Sognata Ice Wine, Gervasi Vineyard, Canton

All of the Director’s Choice award recipients are eligible for the Ohio Quality Wine designation. It was created in 2007 by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee and is assigned to wines made from at least 90% Ohio-grown grapes. These wines must also achieve at least 15 of 20 points on a sensory evaluation and pass a chemical analysis before receiving the quality seal.

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – May 23rd, 2016

While some growers in the northern part of the State were able to begin planting due to warmer weather, most growers throughout the rest of the State continued to delay planting as their fields were too wet for planting activities, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 2.8 day suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 22nd. While corn and soybean planting progress moved somewhat, both are behind the five year averages. There were frosts early in the week, which raised concern about damage to wheat, fruit, and vegetables, as well as the emerged early planted corn and soybeans. Emerged corn is looking yellow and stressed, and some will need to be replanted if the weather cooperates. Hay fields were being chopped across the state, though much of it for haylage, as conditions made it too difficult for dry hay baling.

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Slow crop progress gives pests more time

Rainy, cooler weather experienced recently throughout the region means slugs may be on the rise in some field crops, says an entomologist with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

The rains combined with colder temperatures are ideal slug weather, said Kelley Tilmon, a field crop entomologist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Because slugs love these cooler, wetter conditions, Tilmon said growers need to be on the lookout in their corn and soybean fields for slug feeding damage, which can sometimes be heavy.

“During crop emergence, farmers should scout their fields for slugs, especially in fields with a history of slug damage,” Tilmon said. “As plants emerge, these young slugs will be hungry and feed on corn and soybean, with no-till fields with high residue at a higher risk.

“Wheat fields at this point are less likely to experience economic feeding damage from slugs – the wheat is much further along and the larger plants are less susceptible than little seedlings.”

The adverse conditions that are making fields appealing to slugs will, however, have varying impacts other cops from other insect pests, she said.

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Late planted corn can still yield well

Growers worried about delayed planting, take heart — late-planted corn sometimes has reaped better yields than early planted corn, said an agronomist in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

It’s true that the optimal time to get corn planted in southern Ohio is between April 10 and May 10 and in northern Ohio between April 15 and May 10, based on historical crop data, said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

But this season’s cooler temperatures and wet field conditions have delayed many growers across the region from getting their corn crops completely planted, Thomison said.

Across Ohio, as of the week ended May 15, only 34% of corn was planted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That compares to 71% that had been planted by the same time last year and 54% that had been planted on average during the same time period over the past five years, the agency said.

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