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Concerns about crop insurance budget cuts

In response to a proposed $3 billion cut in crop insurance support as part of a larger budget deal, the American Soybean Association issued a strong defense of the nation’s farm program and called on Congress to oppose any reopening of the farm bill. ASA President Wade Cowan, a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas, noted that agriculture remains the only industry segment that has come forward and voluntarily accepted spending reductions, and urged lawmakers to seek cuts elsewhere.

“ASA absolutely opposes any effort by Congress to reopen any part of the farm bill as part of budget negotiations, and we implore lawmakers to reject any attempt to target crop insurance or any other farm bill programs for further cuts. Speaking frankly, our farm economy is simply not in the shape it was even three years ago when we began the process of writing the farm bill. Crop values are down almost 50 percent, and our farmers face volatile weather ranging from flooding in the Carolinas to drought in Texas and fires in California.… Continue reading

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Cercospora leaf blight and seed stain

Many times at harvest questions arise about the causes of discolored soybeans. One symptom sometimes observed is a purple staining of seeds (see the picture at top left). This purple staining is caused by a late-season soybean fungal disease that is called Cercospora leaf blight (CLB). When plants are infected by CLB, dark lesions can be observed on leaf surfaces and leaves can exhibit a puckered, leathery appearance. In addition to infection of the leaves, pods can also become infected causing a purple staining of the seed in infected pods.

Although CLB is fairly common, it usually develops too late in the season to cause significant damage or yield loss. For more pictures and information on managing Cercospora Leaf Blight, click here.… Continue reading

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U2U corn nitrogen management tool updated

The Purdue University-based Useful to Usable climate initiative is taking some of the guesswork out of crop nitrogen management for more farmers by expanding its Corn Split N tool to include all Corn Belt states.

The free tool helps farmers and advisers manage the application of in-field nitrogen to maximize crop yields and minimize environmental damage. Efficient nitrogen management is critical for earning a profit in present economic conditions, said Ray Massey, Extension professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Missouri, a partner in the initiative known as U2U.

“Studies indicate that Split N applications to corn can improve profitability as well as increase risk,” Massey said. “The Corn Split N tool helps farmers understand and manage the risk of Split N applications.”

Corn Split N integrates historical data on weather and fieldwork conditions with economic considerations to determine the feasibility and profitability of completing a post-planting nitrogen application for corn production.… Continue reading

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Fall tillage: Is it necessary?

It’s dry and we harvested early, so there is time to kill and diesel is cheap. I called Sjoerd Duiker, Soil management specialist at PennState on this one. He is a graduate of OSU and works close enough to understand our concerns. He supplied us with this for the mid-October C.O.R.N. newsletter: http://corn.osu.edu/c.o.r.n.-newsletter#3. Generally his message is: don’t overdo it.

  • When compaction has been caused, remedial action may be needed. This is especially the case if ruts have been created. If no ruts are seen it is probably not necessary to do tillage. Instead plant a cover crop to use the living root system to alleviate compaction.
  • Ruts need to be smoothed out to be able to plant the next crop successfully, however. If ruts are uniformly distributed across the whole field, some type of tillage may need to be done on the whole field. In many cases, however, ruts are localized and only need localized repair.
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What is the additional cost of road maintenance due to cellulosic feedstock delivery to a biorefinery?

Concerns over energy security and the environment, along with the federal policy mandating the production of 36 billion gallons/year (BGPY) of biofuels to blend into the fossil transportation fuels by 2022, have led to accelerated biofuels production in the U.S. Out of the 36 BGPY, 16 BGPY have to be cellulosic biofuels, derived from the lignocellulosic feedstock, such as forest residues, agricultural residues, and energy crops. Lignocellulosic biomass is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Current commercial U.S. based cellulosic biorefineries are primarily using corn stover as a major lignocellulosic feedstock source due to its immediate availability. Although corn stover is available in large quantities, it needs to be collected from a wide area and transported to the biorefinery. The frequent movement of a new fleet of heavy vehicles for feedstock transportation on the roads can cause surface deterioration, increasing the need for regular maintenance and best management practices.

Truck transportation

Current commercial cellulosic biorefineries have the capacity to produce 20 to 30 million gallons per year (MGPY) of cellulosic ethanol.… Continue reading

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GM food labeling bill still hotly debated

A hearing this week by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry on H.R. 1599 addressed the controversy surrounding food labeling, specifically foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

At the hearing the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) urged the Senate to act quickly to pass a uniform, national food labeling standard, highlighting the safety of genetically modified ingredients and the importance of biotechnology.

“NCGA and Congress agree: consumers should have access to food choices that are safe, nutritious, abundant and affordable,” said John Linder, Morrow County farmer and NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair. “Congress, and only Congress, can now prevent a costly and confusing patchwork of state labeling laws from taking effect next year. The Senate must act now to avoid the negative consequences inaction will surely bring for consumers and farmers across the country.”

At the hearing experts told the Committee that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that genetically modified organisms are safe for consumers and the environment.… Continue reading

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How to prepare for no-till soybeans

Corn residue management has become a “buzz” word of late due to higher plant densities, higher fertility usage, and fungicide applications that generate high amounts of residue per acre. This past year, many farmers experienced frustration in no-till situations where residue buildup made it extremely difficult to get their soybean seed into the ground at planting time. The no-till ground never really seemed to dry out to an ideal state.

The question becomes not just how do we manage corn residue, but how do we successfully prepare for soybeans the following year in a no-till situation? Each growing season, farmers evaluate the pros and cons of fall tillage. For some, the cost of conventional tillage (labor, fuel and equipment) do not outweigh the perceived benefits. But for others, fall tillage is a way to speed spring field operations, decrease herbicide costs, and manage residue.

Managing corn residue is a concern for both future soybean and corn crops.… Continue reading

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Time to sample for SCN

This year’s early harvest provides the perfect opportunity to take a look at the SCN populations in your fields.  We know that the state is now “polluted” with SCN, fortunately most of those fields are at very low levels – which is where they should be kept.  However, there are some surprising locations where individual fields are getting or have gotten into trouble with very high populations.  So let’s review the loss levels for SCN for the majority of soil types here.

Levels of SCN and concerns

SCN egg Count/100 cc Cyst countPopulation Level
0-400not detected
5000 & over15-20high


If your SCN report in the past has come back as:

  1. Not detected: this is not surprising.  Remember that SCN sits in pockets and can be quite variable (Figure 1).  Continue to monitor your fields.
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Considering one more cutting of alfalfa? Consider this.

The 2015 growing season was a tough season to get hay made. Finding a window of dry weather to get hay mowed, cured and baled up was a challenge and the wet weather also challenged yield this year with delayed cutting opportunities.

As the warm fall temperatures spur some late fall alfalfa growth, some farmers will be tempted to make one last cutting of that 16- to 20- inch hay. There are some considerations to make in order to keep root reserves at a premium for the start of the 2016 growing season.

“Making a late mowing in alfalfa is okay as long as we are within 200 heat units of a hard frost, which would be a low temperature of 24 to 26 degrees,” said Kyle Poling, a Field Agronomist with DuPont Pioneer. “If we stay within those parameters and minimize the regrowth to less than 2 to 3 inches, there will be enough root reserves left for next year.”

The most conservative approach to keeping the root reserves stable, according to Poling, is to make that last cutting right on top of, or right after, that last frost.… Continue reading

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How reliable will this year’s test plot data be?

Ohio’s corn and soybean crops experienced exceptional growing conditions in 2015, including record rainfall in June and July followed by a drier than normal August conditions in many areas. The persistent rains saturated soils and caused localized ponding and flooding. These conditions resulted in root damage and N loss that led to uneven crop growth and development between and within fields. Agronomists often question the value of test plot data when adverse growing conditions severely limit yield potential.

The validity of test plot results depends primarily on whether effects of the varied stress conditions are uniform across test plots. If not, test plot data may be questionable. To be certain that effects of stress were fairly uniform, it would be necessary to monitor test plots on a regular basis to determine crop response to the various stresses as they occurred; however, such monitoring was probably unlikely in many test plot fields.… Continue reading

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Nutrient losses from burning of corn residues

There have been a number of combine fires reported around the state this fall, which can easily turn into larger fires in the dry fields.

When corn residue burns, how much nitrogen (N) just went up in smoke? N is volatilized and lost when plant material burns.

Phosphorus and K remain and return to the ground with ash. However, P and K could be lost if ash is blown away from the field during or after the fire. Fire damage in a field is usually variable in scale. Not all material is completely turned to ash, and rarely is the entire field burned (from one end to another). Understanding what was burned and how much area was affected has an impact on the total amount of N lost. The amount of N contained in corn residue has been well documented from the late 60s and clearly delineated by John Sawyer at Iowa State (http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2000/10-23-2000/dryfallfires.html).… Continue reading

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Considerations of reconditioning too-dry soybeans and other grain

Producers may want to recondition soybeans that were harvested at lower moisture contents to bring the moisture content up to the market standard of 13%. On a 40-bushel-per-acre yield, harvesting soybeans at 9% moisture content, rather than 13%, is equal to 1.8 bushels of lost weight per acre. At $9 per bushel, that is $16.20 per acre.

Just as grain is dried with bin fans, soybeans can be reconditioned by operating fans during periods with the desired air temperature and relative humidity. Reconditioning requires high airflow rates for several weeks using air with an average relative humidity of about 70% to recondition soybeans to 13% during normal fall temperatures of 30 to 60 F. Be aware that the air will be heated three to five degrees as it goes through the fan, which reduces the air relative humidity slightly.

A reconditioning zone develops and moves slowly through the bin in the direction of the airflow, which is similar to a drying zone in natural-air drying.… Continue reading

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Palmer amaranth update

During the past few years agronomists and university weed experts have been discussing the potential northern movement of an aggressive weed that can reduce yields and increase costs of weed control. The arrival of Palmer Amaranth, nicknamed “Pigweed on Steroids”, has been confirmed in multiple states across the Eastern Corn Belt. Seed Consultants’ customers and agronomists have already worked together this year to deal with new populations of Palmer that were discovered this spring. Palmer amaranth populations have recently been confirmed in several counties in Indiana, and are present in Michigan, isolated areas of Ohio, and areas of Western Kentucky.

Palmer amaranth is an aggressive plant that thrives in drought, can grow more than two inches a day, is resistant to multiple herbicide modes of action, and produces 100,000 or more seeds per plant. Many populations of this weed are resistant to multiple herbicide modes of action. The key to keeping Palmer Amaranth from establishing itself is implementing management practices to effectively eliminate seed production and hinder its ability to spread.… Continue reading

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Use caution when harvesting forages after frost

Several forage species can be extremely toxic soon after a frost because they contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. Others species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost, those are discussed at the end of this article.

Species that can develop toxic levels of prussic acid after frost include annual grasses in the sorghum family, Johnsongrass, shattercane, chokecherry, black cherry, indiangrass, and elderberry. It is always a good idea to check areas where wild cherry trees grow after a storm and pick up and discard any fallen limbs to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.


The potential toxicity after frost varies by species as follows:


·         Sudangrass varieties = low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential

·         Sudangrass hybrids = intermediate potential

·         Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums = intermediate to high

·         Grain sorghum = high to very high

·         Piper sudangrass = low prussic acid poisoning potential

·         Pearl millet and foxtail millet = rarely cause toxicity

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid.… Continue reading

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Higher western bean cutworm feeding may lead to mycotoxins

Although western bean cutworm (WBC) flight counts have been relatively stable compared to last year, several growers and extension educators have sent in pictures of western bean cutworm infestations and damage in corn. Obviously it is much too late to do much at this point, as the larvae are either still protected, or more likely, have dropped to the ground to overwinter.  However, the holes and damage that remain could lead to secondary infestations from mold and fungi, and some of these infestations may also be a 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. However, in other cases, damaged ears may be colonized by fungi such as Fusarium, Gibberella and Aspergillus that produce harmful mycotoxins. Some molds that are associated with mycotoxins are easy to detect based on the color of the damaged areas.… Continue reading

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Ohio Soybean Association to elect six trustees

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) Board of Trustee elections are open in six districts. To be eligible for a district position, you must live in a county in the districts listed below.

Districts up for election include:

  • District 1 — Fulton, Henry, Lucas, and Williams Counties
  • District 4 — Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert Counties
  • District 6 — Crawford, Seneca, and Wyandot Counties
  • District 8 — Champaign, Hardin, and Logan Counties
  • District 10 — Butler, Darke, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Preble Counties
  • District 12 — Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Franklin, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Knox, Licking, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Wayne Counties.

If interested, contact Adam Ward at 614-476-3100 or award@soyohio.org by Nov. 2.

Elections will take place at the OSA Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 2015 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium on December 17th at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center in Columbus.… Continue reading

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How is your corn drying?

Ohio started corn harvest on Sept. 18, two to three weeks ahead of the normal corn grain harvest date. In the last three years most growers have had the benefit of letting the corn crop dry in the field and have experienced very dry grain at harvest that could easily be taken to the local elevator or quickly dried in the bin with some forced air. In these past years, growers have experienced grain moisture at harvest in the range of 17% to 18%.

But what happens to the kernel after it reaches physiological maturity or “black layer” at 30% grain moisture? It has to dry by itself without much help from the plant. Once the black layer forms, the moisture and nutritional connection between the kernel and cob is broken. Therefore, the plant can no longer help the grain drying process. Field drying of mature corn grain is influenced primarily by weather factors like temperature and humidity.… Continue reading

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Downing family tree full of apple growers

When comparing apples to apples, sometimes it is best to consult an expert. For many folks near New Madison in Darke County the expert is Scott Downing, a seventh generation orchardist, at Downing Fruit Farm where the apples and cider produced from their own signature varieties are arguably second to none.

Downing Fruit Farm dates back to 1838 when John Downing and his family left South Carolina. They discovered spring water at the farm’s current location where John, who was already an orchardist, began to plant apple trees. As the current owner, Scott knows he is carrying on the 177-year-old legacy and takes great pride in maintaining the high standards and strong work ethic required to produce the highest quality crop possible each year.

“I want people to come to the farm because they want to get the best quality product that they can buy; because they know if they drive out here, they’re going home with the best,” Scott said.… Continue reading

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Wheat and water quality

While more farmers are thinking less about wheat in Ohio than they have in a very long time, the winter crop could be a factor in the water quality debate worth a bit more discussion. One important benefit of wheat is the crop rotation is a broader window for nutrient applications.

“If you look at the evolution of manure and fertilizer application, 50 years ago there was much more wheat grown in northwest Ohio and that was when most of the fertilizer was applied. As we have lost our wheat acreage that shifted most of our fertilizer application time and we are setting ourselves up for more nutrients on top of the ground in the fall. We have also had a lot more two-inch plus rain events. That number has doubled in the last 16 years. If you are going to have large rain events you are going to lose more nutrients off of your fields,” said Glen Arnold, a manure specialist with Ohio State University Extension.… Continue reading

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Ohio pumpkin crop down this year

Ohio farmers harvested fewer pumpkins this year compared with the 2014 crop, and the fruits are smaller than usual, according to experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Growers faced significant challenges during both ends of the growing season in 2015,” said Jim Jasinski, Ohio State University Extension educator and coordinator of the Integrated Pest Management program.

“A wet spring and early summer delayed seeding past the optimal planting window, which is early June to late June or early July,” he said. “Sporadic heavy rains flooded fields and drowned out many pumpkin seedlings around the state, and then most of the state experienced near drought-like conditions from mid-July through August.”

In addition to unfavorable weather conditions, the state’s pumpkin crop was also affected by downy mildew, a disease that destroyed a significant amount of pumpkin leaf canopy, according to Jasinski.

Finally, the lack of rain during the latter part of the growing season impacted the development of fruit.… Continue reading

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