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Managing wheat for profitability

There is growing evidence reaffirming the important role the inclusion of wheat in the crop rotation can have on total farm productivity and water quality. This combined with strong grain and straw yields in 2016 may have more farmers thinking about wheat this fall. But, to maximize the benefits of wheat, it must be properly managed.

“Wheat is not a four-letter word, but you have to manage it. We spend a lot of time doing our own wheat research on varieties, seed treatments, fungicides, growth regulators and other factors,” said Jim Howe with Star of the West Milling Company based in Michigan. “Our most exciting plot went 145.7 bushels per acre for white wheat. In Ohio, you should be able to blow the doors off these yields. Mathematically, wheat can produce 400 bushels per acre. It is what we do or don’t do that can make a difference.”

The folks at Star of the West understand the frustrations that can accompany growing wheat and the financial struggles for farms to justify the crop.… Continue reading

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2016 Ohio Crop Tour Summary

AgroLiquid_PositiveThe 2016 growing season started wet and cool then turned hot and dry in many areas — a classic worst-case scenario for corn and soybeans. There were certainly some examples that showed up in fields on the 2016 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour displaying evidence of those challenging conditions. But, at the same time, we saw many more examples of how solid farm management practices made the most of some challenging weather situations and others capitalized on timely rains. The Tour was sponsored by AgroLiquid.

In the West, the I-75 group had an average corn yield over both days of the Ohio Crop Tour of 148 bushels. Rather than break it down by days, the group felt it would be more appropriate to break the yields up geographically with corn yields north of I-70 in some of the tougher growing conditions averaging 134 bushels per acre and yields south of I-70 (where there was generally more rain in July) averaging 180 bushels.… Continue reading

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The benefits of collecting good yield data

The sound of locusts in the evening and back-to-school advertisements on TV are a sure sign that August has arrived and summer is quickly coming to an end. Before you know it, corn and soybeans will be changing color and it will be time for harvest. During harvest, most farmers don’t think twice about making sure that their combine settings are fine-tuned. For example, if the sieves aren’t set correctly, there will either be grain left in the field or discounts at the elevator for grain that’s not clean. There is a clear gain in profitability by taking the time to set your combine correctly. The benefit of yield monitors and the maps they produce however can be more obscure, but are also important. Here are three ways that well-calibrated yield data can help make you more profitable.

1. Recordkeeping: Once harvest and fall fieldwork tasks are completed, the season of paperwork and planning will be in full swing.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress — August 15th, 2016

Some areas received varied amount of rainfall that benefitted the crops, while other areas continued to suffer from the dry conditions, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 5.5 days available for fieldwork for the week ending August 14th . According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 46 percent of the state was rated as in “moderate drought.” That area covered most of northern Ohio. Another 15 percent was rated in “severe drought”. That area spread from west central Ohio to northeast Ohio. Much of northern Ohio received some rainfall since the Drought Monitor was published, but the level of relief is not yet known. Corn condition continued to decline, as most of the rain fell during the latter half of the week. Many areas expect to start cutting silage soon. Oat harvest neared completion. Spraying was underway in some counties for spider mites in soybeans.… Continue reading

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Using a biological approach to restoring soil function

Farmers that are looking to find the balance between a lower cost of production and better nutrient placement while maintaining the health of their soils may consider a strip-tillage system.

Many thoughts and ideas about this type if farming were shared in early August at The National Strip-Tillage Conference in Bloomington, Illinois.

“Farmers need to understand ecological principals and how to make their soil function properly, using biological approaches before we use a physical and chemical approach to restore soil function,” said Ray Archuleta, NRCS regional soil health specialist. “It’s not about strip-till, it’s not about no-till and it’s not about conventional-till, but it’s about understanding the whole ecosystem processes and how the soil works and how the soil wants to be approached to stimulate nutrient cycling, water cycling and solar energy capturing to help reduce inputs and enhance soil function.”

A paradigm has been formed in recent years where farmers look at their soils from a chemical and physical perspective.… Continue reading

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Field day emphasizes nutrient management and water quality

Agricultural Conservation, Protecting Water: Keeping Soil and Nutrients in the Field — this is the theme of the Hardin County Field Day on Aug. 26.  This is the second year for this field day, cooperatively sponsored by the following partners: The Nature Conservancy, John Deere, Findlay Implement, Chris Kurt Farms, Randy Boose Farms, OSU Extension, Hardin & Putnam Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Farm Bureau/Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, Ohio Department of Agriculture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The event location will be approximately one mile south of Dunkirk, Ohio on US Route 68 and Township Road 50. Parking will be at Randy Boose’s property and participants will ride a wagon to Chris Kurt’s farm for sessions. Registration will begin at 8:15 am, with coffee and donuts provided by Ag Credit. The field day activities will begin at 9 a.m., following a welcome by Hardin SWCD Chairman Jerry McBride. … Continue reading

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Warm nights could be hurting corn yields

The warm, muggy summer nights that have made things generally unpleasant for people may have also had a detrimental impact on corn yields.

Weather prognostication guru Elwynn Taylor from Iowa State University regularly gets a good estimate on the national yield by tracking the nighttime temperatures during the growing season.

“If we want a large yield, we like to see the nights being a little cooler than usual with normal daytime temperatures. Clear nights will make things cooler. If the nights are warmer than usual, it shortens the time for our crop to put on weight and we do not want to shorten that,” Taylor said. “From the first of July to the first of September, if the nights are cooler than usual, it is helping our yields. If they are warmer than usual it hurts them.”

With numerous uncomfortable nights in the books this summer in Ohio and around the Midwest, there is legitimate reason for concern about corn yields.… Continue reading

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What to do about the frogeye leaf spot showing up in southern Ohio

There are late reports of frogeye developing on susceptible cultivars in southern Ohio. So the next question is what to do. During 2005-2008, we were able to measure a mean difference in yield of five to 10 bushels per acre when soybeans were treated at R3 in fields where frogeye was present.  We have also been able to measure a greater yield difference on highly susceptible varieties when frogeye was present during the early flowering stages.  However, last year, when frogeye was less than one spot per 40 feet on a moderately susceptible variety, and the conditions were very dry and warm over the next two weeks, we could not measure any yield effect — although we could measure differences in the level of disease.

Conditions for frogeye leaf spot are cooler (below 80 degrees F), heavy dews, and frequent rains.  Frogeye has a long latent period of seven to 10 days, which is the time from infection to symptom development and sporulation.

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No-Till Summer Field Day

No-till farming sounds simple. Just don’t till the soil, right?

Farmers know better.

Adopting no-till requires understanding how it affects drainage, soil structure, organic matter, weed control, and the application of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, all of which influence both yields and environmental impacts, said Randall Reeder, retired agricultural engineering specialist with Ohio State University Extension and executive director of the Ohio No-Till Council.

That’s why the council offers a series of events throughout the year to support farmers interested in adopting no-till for its ability to control erosion, conserve soil moisture, minimize fuel and labor costs, and build soil structure and health. Done properly, no-till systems can meet or exceed conventional tilled crop yields while reducing fuel and equipment costs.

The next event, in cooperation with OSU Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and other sponsors, is the Ohio No-Till Summer Field Day, Aug. 31 on the Jan Layman Farm, 15238 Twp.… Continue reading

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More Bt resistance showing up in corn rootworm

Western corn rootworm is a highly adaptable insect, and it was just a matter of time before we saw resistance to Bt traits designed to protect against root damage.

In the Western Corn Belt, growers have noticed many field failures due to heavy rootworm feeding. Most of this research was led by Aaron Gassmann’s laboratory at Iowa State University. In 2011 they discovered resistance to Cry3Bb1 (which may be present in Yieldgard or Genuity traits). In 2014 they discovered resistance to mCry3A (which may be present in Agrisure traits). Now, in 2016, they have discovered resistance to Cry34/35Ab1 (which may be present in Herculex or Optimum traits). For a full list of Bt traits see: http://www.msuent.com/assets/pdf/28BtTraitTable2016.pdf.

Remember that Bt against rootworm has only been available since 2003, and, in just 13 years, most of our major tools have been compromised. Currently there is only one trait, eCry3.1Ab (present in Duracade traits), without any published reports of resistance.… Continue reading

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ODA pesticide disposal

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be sponsoring a collection for farmers wishing to dispose of unwanted pesticides on Aug. 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds, 335 Old National Road, Old Washington, OH 43768.

The pesticide collection and disposal service is free of charge, but only farm chemicals will be accepted.  Paint, antifreeze, solvents, and household or non-farm pesticides will not be accepted.

Pesticide collections are sponsored by the department in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  To pre-register, or for more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress — August 8th, 2016

Predominately hot and dry weather continued this past week, causing crop and livestock conditions to deteriorate across the State, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There were 6.6 days available for fieldwork for the week ending August 7th. Aside from sporadic shower activity on Friday, very few areas of the State received any rain during the week. Meanwhile, temperatures statewide remained about five degrees above normal for this time of the year. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 43 percent of the State was rated as in “moderate drought” while another 27 percent was rated “abnormally dry”. Soybeans were progressing, but showing stress due to lack of rain; there were reports of soybeans looking burned in southern counties. In northern counties, growers reported corn stalks starting to fire at the bottom and leaves curling, while hay fields were browning. Oat harvest was nearly complete across the State.… Continue reading

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EPA draft on atrazine

The National Corn Growers Association feels a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft report on atrazine ignores a large body of scientific evidence affirming the herbicide’s safety, setting a dangerous precedent for all crop protection tools, said Brent Hostetler, a farmer from Plain City, Ohio, and chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team.

“Federal law requires the EPA to base its decisions on science. And the science on this is pretty clear,” Hostetler said. “Atrazine is one of the safest and most effective crop management tools farmers have. It’s also one of the most studied pesticides in history-and more than 50 years’ worth of data show it is safe.”

EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for atrazine in June 2016. All pesticides sold or distributed in the U.S. must be registered by EPA and re-registered every 15 years. Ecological risk assessments are one step of that registration process. … Continue reading

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Brewing a new crop for Ohio

As interest in the craft beer industry continues to rise across Ohio, agriculture expert and educator Brad Bergefurd will discuss the phenomenon and profitability of growing hops throughout the state, at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 from 8 – 9:30 a.m.  The event is hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF).

The U.S. remains one of the largest beer producers in the world, brewing more than five billion gallons each year.

Bergefurd will explain the history of Ohio hops production, and his thoughts on the potential demand and profitability for growing this unique crop.  He will discuss research conducted on hop cultivars, innovative production techniques, insect and disease control methods, harvesting, processing and marketing techniques.

Arrive early, as breakfast and informal networking will start at 8 a.m., with the program to follow.  The cost is just $10 per person (cash or check at the door) which includes breakfast and networking opportunities.… Continue reading

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Spraying insecticides on soybeans and honey bees

Although soybean aphids remain at low levels in Ohio, we are aware that many growers are adding insecticides to spray tanks when applying fungicides for plant health purposes and even late applications of herbicides because: “Well, I’m going over the field anyway so I thought I’d add an insecticide for insurance purposes! The insecticide is relatively cheap and soybeans are worth so much!” As we have always stated, we do NOT recommend this practice, and feel an IPM approach is much better for everyone and everything, including the environment. We do NOT recommend an insecticide application unless there is a REAL need.

However, we realize that this is being done. What we need to address is an extremely important and related issue, and that is the need for growers and custom applicators to protect bees when spraying insecticides on soybeans (or any crop or insect pest for that matter). The need to do this is present whether the insecticide is being sprayed for an actual pest, or when being sprayed for “insurance purposes”!… Continue reading

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New products available for treating spider mites

With continued dry weather, the pest we’ve been getting the most calls about is the spider mite. This is just a reminder that vigilant scouting for this pest is a good idea right now.

It is also important to re-scout five days after treatment because many products will not kill the eggs, and populations can resurge. Any necessary follow-up treatment should be made with a product with a different mode of action to reduce resistance development. So, for example, if you used something with bifenthrin the first time, you might switch to Lorsban the second time, or vice versa.

There are two miticides that are newly labeled for spider mite management in soybean and/or some types of corn: Agri-Mek from Sygenta and Zeal from Valent. We at OSU have not tested these products yet, but are currently running trials with both of them in northwestern Ohio.

Economic thresholds based on the number of mites per plant have not been established for spider mites on soybeans.… Continue reading

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Wheat yield contest yields big results

Seed Consultants would like to congratulate the following winners of our 2016 Project 150 Wheat Yield Contest and recognize them for producing outstanding wheat yields through sound management practices on their farms:

•           1st Place: Ron Foor and Jim Cunningham, Washington Court House, Ohio:  SC 13S26; 140.81 bushels per acre

•           2nd Place: Lyle Burseik, Helena, Ohio:  SC 1325-15; 134.28 bushels per acre

•           3rd Place: Beiser Brothers, Somerville, Ohio:  SC 13S26; 133.35 bushels per acre

Seed Consultants would like to thank all of our customers who participated in the 2016 Project 150 Wheat Yield Contest.  For more information on entering SC Yield Contests contact your local seedsman or check out our website at www.seedconsultants.comContinue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress —August 1st, 2016

Rains Bypass Dry Areas

Isolated areas received varied amounts of rainfall, which helped corn and soybean progress, while other areas are still experiencing severe dry conditions, according to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 6.0 days available for fieldwork for the week ending July 31st. Oat harvest continued to progress well ahead of the five year average. Corn, soybeans, hay, and pasture conditions all declined from previous week. Concern for corn during pollination remained high. Livestock producers reported feeding hay, and noted that the prospects for the 2016 hay crop were declining.

Click here to see the full reportContinue reading

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Got waterhemp? Find out the herbicide resistance characteristics now

We have spent a lot of time educating and warning about Palmer amaranth, but while we were doing this, waterhemp has become a more widespread problem. Waterhemp is only a little less fun to deal with than Palmer amaranth, and has a tendency to fairly rapidly develop resistance to any new sites of action used repeatedly against it in POST treatments.

Submitted questions and photos to confirm identification of this weed increased substantially this summer over previous years. Waterhemp infestations can be found around the state, with a concentration in west central Ohio. We assume all waterhemp populations are resistant to site 2 herbicides (ALS), but in our screening so far, not all populations are resistant to glyphosate. Populations in western Ohio tend to be glyphosate-resistant at this point, but populations in other parts of Ohio not necessarily so. Some populations that are glyphosate-resistant appear to have developed at least a low level of resistance to site 14 (PPO) herbicides as well.… Continue reading

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