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Crop profitability a bleak picture in 2016, 2017

Ohio State’s Barry Ward took a look at possible crop profitability in 2017, and as you may imagine, the picture isn’t too bright.

“It’s not as good of an outlook as what we would like. Obviously the numbers are pretty negative at this point,” Ward said. “We’ve got a cost structure that’s still a legacy of what we had during those real profitable years. And with prices being lower as a result of maybe bumper crops around most of the Midwest, not Ohio necessarily, we’re looking at some very low to negative returns on all of our major row crops.

“If we look at some of the variable costs that we’re expecting for our three major crops — corn for instance — we’re right around $360 an acre for next year, at least our projects right now. And that’s just slightly lower than last year. The only real mover that we’re seeing right now is slightly lower fertilizer prices.”

Rent prices also remain a concern, especially with a lengthy turnaround in reevaluation of tax formulas.… Continue reading

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Moldy corn, kernel sprouting and upright ears

Moldy ear and kernel sprouting problems have been reported in parts of Ohio especially west central and NW Ohio. The title photo by Sam Custer, Extension Educator in Darke County and the photo below by Dr. Pierce Paul is a good illustration of what is being found in some fields:

The moldy ears have been attributed primarily to Diplodia ear rot. As has been the case in past years, the moldy ears and kernel sprouting are often associated with upright ears. Ears that remain erect after physiological maturity (black layer development) are more likely to promote molds and kernel sprouting because they trap water (especially at the base of the ear and slow kernel drying. These ears may also be affected by opportunistic organisms taking advantage of the moist, nutritious environment at the base of the ear.

There are several factors that determine whether a corn ear remains erect or “droops” (points downward) following physiological maturity.… Continue reading

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Is the fall rest period really necessary for alfalfa?

The long-standing recommendation has been to take the last harvest of alfalfa by early September in northern Ohio and mid-September in southern Ohio. Every year I observe that many people do not follow this recommendation, probably for various reasons. Most people taking only three cuttings are finished with the final harvest by early to mid-September. But the fourth cutting is another story. As of the end of last week, only about half of the fourth cutting of alfalfa in Ohio was complete, which reflects the rate of fourth harvest completion going back at least five years.

I have heard some say that the fall rest period is not necessary and fall cutting never harms their stands. This could well be the case in many years on many farms, especially where excellent management is in place…where a good variety is used under excellent fertility and high soil pH, on well-drained soils, etc.… Continue reading

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Diplodia ear rot showing up in corn

Over the last two weeks, we have received several samples of corn ears with symptoms typical of Diplodia ear rot. This is one of the most common ear diseases of corn in Ohio. It is caused by two species of fungi, Stenocarpella maydis and Stenocarpella macropora. The most characteristic symptom and the easiest way to tell Diplodia ear rot apart from other ear diseases such as Gibberella and Fusarium ear rots is the presence of white mycelium of the fungus growing over and between kernels, usually starting from the

base of the ear. Under highly favorable weather conditions, entire ears may become colonized, turn grayish-brown in color and lightweight (mummified), with kernels, cobs, and ear leaves that are rotted and soft. Rotted kernels may germinate prematurely, particularly if the ears remain upright after physiological maturity. Corn is most susceptible to infection at and up to three weeks after silk emergence (R1).… Continue reading

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NCGA’s Soil Health Partnership receives $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant

A $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help spur a groundbreaking effort to optimize farm enterprise profitability, reduce Greenhouse Gases and improve agronomic productivity. The National Corn Growers Association received the grant to develop a system for scalable carbon accounting in agriculture, to be developed through its Soil Health Partnership initiative.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this year’s Conservation Innovation Grant recipients on Sept. 8. The competitive grant “stimulates the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural land.”

Under the NCGA project, the SHP and other project partners will develop a “greenhouse gas insetting framework.” The framework will serve as a model for corporations and other entities to drive conservation adoption and achieve GHG reductions, as well as economic profitability benefits.

Carbon insetting is similar to “offsetting,” in which a third party is paid to plant trees or implement other practices to “offset” carbon emissions.… Continue reading

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Soybean growers can consider expanding options for the 2017 crop

As soybean farmers hit the fields for harvest this fall their thoughts will inevitably drift to variety selection for the 2017 crop. The options for soybeans in 2017 are more diverse than ever in several different ways.

High oleic

There is expanding interest in planting high oleic soybeans. Ohio soybean farmers were the first to plant high oleic soybeans more than five years ago and this summer they took their message to the streets of Findlay. To showcase the many attributes of high oleic, the event featured local restaurants offering foods cooked in high oleic soybean oil and gave farmers the opportunity to learn more about adding high oleic varieties to their 2017 plans.

The key message of the day was that the end result of using high oleic soybean oil is a higher quality product for consumers and a premium for farmers.

“It certainly made an impact on the edible oil market and the market share that soybeans will continue to have,” said John Motter, a Hancock County soybean grower who was among the first farmers to grow high oleic soybeans.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – September 19th, 2016

Late Rains Bring Limited Benefit

Rains throughout the state delayed harvest for many as crops rapidly matured, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.6 days available for fieldwork for the week ending September 18th. Sporadic rainfall later in the week hasn’t done much to improve pasture conditions, and livestock producers continued to feed hay in many areas. Hay conditions showed little change as well. Corn and Soybean conditions were practically unchanged as harvest got underway for both. Planting also got underway for the 2017 wheat crop.

Click here to read the full reportContinue reading

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Liquid fertilizer can often be the right product

While each of the 4Rs —the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time and the right place — are important to consider individually to improve water quality, they also must be looked at as an interconnected system. Each of the Rs impacts the others.

The right source, for example, depends on the rate required, the timing and placement. John Fritz , precision specialist for The Andersons, Inc., has found that liquid fertilizers are often the right source because of the advantages they offer the other Rs.

“Liquid product is often the right product because you can put it in the right place. If you put the right product in the wrong place it won’t do any good,” Fritz said. “Liquid products benefit the economics, agronomics and the environment by combining the right product with the right rate in the right place at the right time. Any of the products we are selling are only successful based on the way they are placed.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – September 12th, 2016

Producers are seeing the long term effect of early season drought despite sporadic rainfall received lately, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.7 days available for fieldwork for the week ending September 11th. The week began hot and dry, but many areas accumulated well over two inches of rain by the weekend. However, with Corn maturing rapidly, precipitation brought more disease and pest pressure as well as obstacles to harvest. Soybeans were better able to benefit from recent rains and are progressing on pace with the five year average. Rains have not fully revived pastures in many areas.

Get the complete report for the week ending September 11th, 2016Continue reading

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Atrazine again targeted by EPA

A recent report from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is highly critical of atrazine. EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for atrazine in June 2016, as part of the re-registration process for the herbicide. If the recommendation in the assessment stands, it will effectively ban atrazine, which plays an important role in conservation cropping systems.

The introduction of atrazine and other herbicides significantly changed conservation tillage practices, said Bob Hartzler, professor of weed science at Iowa State University.

“Atrazine was one of the first products used on a large acreage because it is broad spectrum and has a wide margin of safety. Prior to that tillage was the primary means of weed control. Atrazine makes it possible to reduce trips across the field,” Hartzler said. “The extra two or three trips farmers were making across the field to control weeds loosened the soil and made it prone to erosion.”

Farmers have made significant progress adopting reduced tillage and no-till methods of growing a crop, and atrazine plays a key role in making these more sustainable practices possible, Hartzler said.… Continue reading

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Understanding soil biology offers a competitive advantage on the farm

Much of the oft-touted American Dream is based upon businesses developing competitive advantages over their competition.

“If Ford and GM are competing to make the best car for the least amount of money and one of them has a technological innovation that gives them an advantage, the other is scurrying rapidly to one-up them and get back on top,” said Dan DeSutter, who farms 5,000 acres near Attica, Ind. and recently spoke at the Ohio No-Till Summer Field Day. “In farming there is a blissful adherence to tradition to want to do things the way grandpa did it. There are good things that can came out of that but we need to understand science better as farmers.”

For DeSutter, an understanding of the science of soil biology is the competitive advantage for his farm. He admits there is still much to learn in this area, but cover crops combined with livestock manure and no-till are important biological steps to transitioning modern agriculture from degenerative to regenerative.… Continue reading

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The cloud and the changing face of agriculture

Enterprises, non-profits, and startups around the world are using the cloud to accelerate innovations that are changing the face of agriculture.

In support of The Ohio State University’s Discovery Themes initiative, and in tandem with the 2016 Farm Science Review, Amazon Web Services and experts from around the country will demonstrate how massive public data sets of satellite photos and other earth-observation data can be used in precision agriculture. Coupled with advanced sensor technology and the Internet of Things, these data sets can be used specifically to increase crop yield, conserve natural resources, create a safer and more resilient food-supply chain and fight hunger.

Ohio State will host the daylong event — a series of six demonstrations — on Monday Sept. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the Columbus campus. The event is free but registration is required.… Continue reading

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Western bean cutworm issues

Reports of ear feeding by western bean cutworm (WBC) have come in at a steady pace over the last few weeks. This is the third consecutive year that we have seen a fair amount of feeding, some of it likely has led to an economic loss. The heaviest feeding has occurred in the Northwest and Northeast corners of Ohio.

While it is too late to spray or control at this point (since most larvae are protected in the ear and are getting ready to pupate anyway), growers may need to watch for the development of ear rots. WBC can leave entry or exit holes in the corn husk, which can then provide a nice wound for pathogens like Fusarium and Gibberella.  Some of these organisms can then be a further source for mycotoxins, including Fumonisins and deoxynivalenol, AKA vomitoxin.

In some cases, damaged kernels will likely be colonized by opportunistic molds, meaning that the mold-causing fungi are just there because they gain easy access to the grain.… Continue reading

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New corn disease confirmed in the western Corn Belt

The presence of Xanthomonas bacterial leaf streak disease has been recently confirmed in Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. Although the disease has only been found in western Corn Belt states, pathologists are conducting surveys to determine if it is more widely spread.

Until recently, this disease has not been observed in the United States. Bacterial leaf streak causes typical leaf disease symptoms on corn such as elongated lesions that run with the leaf’s vasculature, water-soaked margins of the lesions, and lesions that turn tan to brown as tissue becomes necrotic.

It is important to remember that because this new disease is caused by bacterial infection (like Goss’ Wilt), fungicides will not be effective at controlling it.

Ongoing research will be conducted to determine the impact Xanthomonas bacterial leaf streak will have on corn yields, however, it is important to note that throughout the observation of this disease over the past several years, no yield loss has been documented.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – September 6th, 2016

Areas around the state had a break from the humidity and heat as crops approached harvest, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.9 days available for fieldwork for the week ending September 4th. Some rain showers at the beginning of the week reduced the moderate drought percentage on the U. S. Drought Monitor. A string of dry days that arrived mid-week provided opportunity for hay harvest. Mature corn was reported to be drying quickly and dropping ears. Corn silage harvest began to pick up. There were some reports of wind and rain damage to corn fields in Southwestern counties. Soybeans are improving but experiencing some yellowing. While hay, corn, and pasture conditions haven’t changed much, most remain in average shape across the state.

Click here for a look at the full reportContinue reading

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Two Ohio Soybean Council funded technologies named 2016 R&D 100 awards finalists

Two technologies recently developed through Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff collaborations have achieved “finalist” designations for the R&D 100 Awards, with winners to be announced in November. Both technologies, Soy-PK Resin and Bio-YIELD bioreactor, leverage the natural properties of soybeans to increase the sustainability and improve health in modern industries.

Since the early 1990s, OSC has engaged in public and private collaborations that encourage rapid commercialization of new commercial and industrial uses of soybeans.

“It’s important that we continue to explore new ways to utilize our soybeans,” said Nathan Eckel, OSC Research Committee chair and soybean farmer from Wood County. “Seeing technologies that we’ve helped develop with some amazing partners receive this kind of recognition is fantastic.”


Soy-PK Resin

A finalist in the R&D 100 Materials category and Green Tech Special Recognition (i.e., innovations that help make our environment greener and our goal towards energy reduction closer), Soy-PK offers a safe alternative to epoxy resins containing bisphenol-A (BPA).… Continue reading

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Organic research highlighted at event

The Ohio State University’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program will hold a free public field day featuring new findings and projects related to certified organic research.

The event is from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 8 starting at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s West Badger farm in northeast Ohio.

The tour will then proceed to additional organic research plots located at OARDC’s Fry Farm and Horticulture Unit 1, which together represent more than 75 acres of certified organic research land.

OFFER and OARDC are both part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The field day will highlight various aspects of agronomic, specialty and cover crops. A featured topic will be soil management using the soil balancing philosophy, an idea described by William Albrecht in The Albrecht Papers which says that ideal soils contain 60 to 75% calcium, 10 to 20% magnesium and 2 to 5% potassium on their exchange sites, leaving them “balanced,” said Doug Doohan, acting director of the OFFER program.… Continue reading

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OSU Pumpkin Field night

Just in time for the upcoming fall harvest, pumpkin growers can learn more about 70 varieties of jack-o’-lanterns, colored pumpkins, pie pumpkins and specialty pumpkin cultivars during a Sept. 15 field night offered by horticultural experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Ohio State University South Centers, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, the Pumpkin Field Day will also offer growers the newest research on pumpkin pest and disease control, said Charissa Gardner, program assistant with South Centers.

“The workshop is designed for anyone that grows pumpkins currently, or anyone that is interested in starting to grow them,” Gardner said. “In addition to offering information on pumpkin crop management, we’ll also offer growers information on pumpkin disease screening for resistance to powdery mildew, downy mildew, anthracnose and white speck.”

Brad Bergefurd, an Ohio State University Extension educator, will lead the field night.… Continue reading

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Using cover crops with fall manure applications

Livestock producers will soon be applying manure as corn silage harvest starts. Both soybean and corn harvest will be about normal this year. To best capture the nutrients in manure, livestock producers should incorporate fall applied manure and also consider using cover crops.

Fall cover crops have been planted in Ohio for many years. While primarily used to help control soil erosion, cover crops can also recapture nutrients in livestock manure and keep these nutrients from escaping into lakes, streams and rivers.

The most common cover crops used with livestock manure are cereal ryegrass, oats and radishes. However, farmers have also used wheat, clover, annual ryegrass, or almost anything they are comfortable growing.

  • Cereal ryegrass is the best cool-season grass for capturing excess nitrogen. Because rye over-winters, research has shown it can capture and hold 25 to 50 pounds of nitrogen (organic form). It germinates at lower temperatures than oats so may be planted later, but less nitrogen will be recycled the later the rye is seeded.
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Farmer-led movement for soil health receives $4 million boost

A revolutionary effort to support on-farm conservation has added a new partner representing major agricultural companies, food companies and environmental groups. The new collaboration will accelerate the Soil Health Partnership‘s leadership in helping farmers adopt practices that protect natural resources while potentially increasing profits.
At the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, the industry-leading companies and environmental organizations today announced the launch of the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative. Its goal is to support, enhance and accelerate the use of environmentally preferable agricultural practices.
The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative’s founding members include Cargill, the Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund.  The overall shared goal is to help achieve a 45% nutrient loss reduction by 2035 across the Upper Mississippi River Basin – chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus.
As part of this effort, the Collaborative has committed to raise $4 million over five years to augment the Soil Health Partnership, a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Association established in 2014.
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