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USDA announces buy-up coverage availability and new service fees for noninsured crop coverage policies

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that higher levels of coverage will be offered through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), a popular safety net program, beginning April 8, 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased service fees and made other changes to the program, including service fee waivers for qualified military veterans interested in obtaining NAP coverage.

“When other insurance coverage is not an option, NAP is a valuable risk mitigation tool for farmers and ranchers,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “In agriculture, losses from natural disasters are a matter of when, not if, and having a NAP policy provides a little peace of mind.”

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of commercial crops for which insurance coverage is not available in order to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevent crop planting.

NAP buy-up coverage option

The 2018 Farm Bill reinstates higher levels of coverage, from 50 to 65% of expected production in 5% increments, at 100% of the average market price.

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Wet fields and dampened prices heading into planting

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

March 29 was not a good day for producers as corn closed 17 cents lower. It came as a result of the USDA Quarterly Grain Stocks Report. Corn stocks were 335 million bushels higher than trade expectations. Corn fed to U.S. livestock was considerably below that seen in the previous year. Several analysts pointed out they were most surprised with corn demand in the second quarter much less than expected. This will be closely monitored in the months ahead as similar low corn usage numbers have taken place with the March Grain Stocks Report.

There was also a Prospective Plantings Report the same day. U.S. corn acres of 92.8 million acres for 2019 were higher than trade expectations by 1.5 million acres. Soybean acres were estimated to be 84.6 million acres and lower than expected. In 2018 U.S. corn acres were 89.129 million acres with soybean acres at 89.196 million acres.

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New protein for gene editing may improve disease treatment, crops, sustainable manufacturing

Gene editing has been a much sought after and controversial technology. Last month, part of the World Health Organization called for an international registry to track all research into editing the human genome.

Purdue University researchers have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached. NgAgo is programmed with guide DNA (red) to cut DNA (purple) at specific regions, enabling precise genetic modifications. (Image provided)

Purdue University researchers, including one who was inspired by the cancer death of a close friend, have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached in the future. The research team presents the work on April 4 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando.

One of the most widely used methods for gene editing is CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The method requires a certain sequence or motif for function that restricts modifications.

“CRISPR can be programmed to cut DNA at specific regions to make precise edits in an organism that can increase sustainable manufacturing, treat disease and even create better crops,” said Kevin Solomon, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who leads the Purdue research team.

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Delaware Co. farmer’s ingenuity brings Soilhawk sampling system to reality

Jim Case of Case Farms in Delaware Co. has been busy the last four years developing the Soilhawk automated soil sampling device. The machine, now ready for full production and fieldwork, utilizes multiple areas of ingenuity, including a top level scraper to clear away debris from a soil testing unit, multiple testing settings, and remote-controlled use, among other options.

“I got the idea because I went out and did manual hand sampling and it got pretty intense — it was a lot of work,” said Case. “We wanted a way to cover a lot of acres a lot faster and do a really good job getting random samples and not just take samples out of a middle of a two and a half acre grid.”

Case said the built-from-scratch project replicates what a farmer would physically do in the field.

“We designed a scraper that will actually remove the residue from or debris before we take a sample, because if you leave that in, your sample is skewed right to begin with,” he said.

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Uniform corn emergence

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Two aspects of stand establishment often discussed by agronomists are emergence and seed spacing. “Picket fence” spacing in corn helps plants grow efficiently and minimizes competition between them. Uniform spacing is an important part of stand establishment. More importantly, however, is uniform emergence. Plants that are just one leaf collar behind (due to uneven emergence) significantly reduce yield. 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.” To achieve uniform emergence, consistent planting depth is critical.

Field conditions, gauge wheel settings, unit down pressure, and planter speed all affect seeding depth. Set planter depth and check it regularly. A planter may have enough weight to apply the proper down force when full, but what about when it’s almost empty?

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Cover crop and fertilizer management tips for this spring

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Cover crop dos and don’ts

As I sit here writing it is cold and wet. I have seen several planters out in the barn lot for a check-up but no one is seriously talking about planting yet. I do know that many are wondering when to terminate their cover crop, even though we haven’t had much growth yet. I like Austrian pea, it is easy — just apply your normal burndown of glyphosate, atrazine and favorite pre-emergent grass product for corn. I also like oats and will often use them in the fall to give me some cover after soybeans — they die on their own, but some folks will pasture them into December. I just started a multi-year cover crop research trial that includes crimson clover after wheat harvest. We will go to corn this year with cereal rye following, then to soybeans and after that back to wheat.

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Returns for Ohio soybeans at risk management association projected prices

By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University, March 17, 2019

The month of February represents the price discovery period for Projected Prices of corn, soybeans, and spring wheat. The Projected Price for soybeans is the average of the February settlement prices for the November futures contract (ZSX2019). The subsequent Harvest Price is the average of the October settlement prices for the same November futures contract. The Projected Price and the Harvest Price are used to identify the guaranteed revenue for revenue based crop insurance products. However, neither price takes into account local cash basis.

The projected price established by RMA for 2019 soybean revenue is $9.54 per bushel. This is down $0.62 per bushel from the 2018 projected price of $10.16 per bushel representing the drop in soybean prices from 2018 to 2019. Price volatility is considered when setting premium levels for insurance products.

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NCGA testifies in support of year-round E15

National Corn Growers Association First Vice President and Minden, Iowa, farmer Kevin Ross spoke in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to allow for year-round sales of E15 across the country.

“Farmers stand ready to work with the Administration to clear obstacles to higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and ensure a final rule works for the full ethanol and fuel supply chain,” Ross said. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1.”

Ross’s comments came during a hearing held as part of the rulemaking that would remove outdated regulations requiring retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol approved for all vehicles 2001 and newer, during the summer months.

Year-round E15 is a no-costs means for farmers to grow demand. It also saves drivers between 3 and 10 cents per gallon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

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Report negative corn and wheat, soybeans neutral

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Friday’s USDA Prospective Plantings report was negative with corn stocks 325 million bushels above trade estimates. This is still way too early to say this, but you have to wonder if the 2018 corn yield will move higher later this summer.

Corn stocks were 8.6 billion bushels, soybean stocks were 2.72 billion bushels, while wheat stocks were 1.59 billion bushels. Corn acres were 92.8 million acres, soybean acres were 84.6 million acres, and all wheat acres were 45.8 million acres.

Today is all about quarterly grain stocks in the US as of March 1 along with planting intentions for US grains in 2019. Traders will be paying more attention to grain stocks as they gauge demand and disappearance. US acres are in the mix today. They will be noted with a checkmark. Yes, they were released. Traders will easily answer, “Who cares?”

Just ahead of the report, grains were all lower with corn down 3 cents, soybeans down 2 cents, with wheat down 5 cents.

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Senate votes in favor of establishing an industrial hemp program for Ohio

State Senators Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) announced the unanimous Senate passage of their legislation that would create an industrial hemp program in Ohio administered by the Department of Agriculture.

Senate Bill 57 clarifies that hemp and hemp derived products, including CBD oil may be sold legally in Ohio.

“This an exciting opportunity for farmers to expand the crops they plant,” Hill said. “Farmers can rotate hemp to improve soil health while earning more profit than many traditional cover crops. I’m eager to see all the ways that Ohio will benefit from this legislation.”

With the recent passing of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, industrial hemp has been removed from the list of scheduled substances banned by the federal government and can now be grown as a commodity crop throughout the United States.

“It is important to understand that hemp is not marijuana, it is much more versatile and lacks an appreciable amount of THC to cause any psychotropic effects,” Huffman said.

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First time fertilizer certification class in Tuscarawas County on April

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension

Do you apply fertilizer (other than manure) to more than 50 acres of land on crops grown primarily for sale? If so, the Ohio Department of Agriculture requires that you complete a three-hour fertilizer certification training. Even if you apply fertilizer to less than 50 acres and/or feed all of your crops to livestock, you are encouraged to become certified. The Tuscarawas County office of Ohio State University Extension will conduct a fertilizer certification class for anyone who is not certified. This is NOT for recertification. The training will be held April 9 at 7 pm at the Community Center in the Village of Tuscarawas at 222 E. Cherry St.

Please contact the Tuscarawas County office of Ohio State University Extension at 330-339-2337 no later than April 5 to pre-register. Additional information is available at http://tuscarawas.osu.edu.

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Lessons learned from the farm help CCA serve others

By Matt Reese

It is not that books, research and coursework are unimportant for agriculture — they certainly are. The best agronomists, though, are able to combine those book smarts with real lessons learned from hands in the dirt on a working farm.

With nearly 40 years of crop advising service in the Hancock County area, agronomist Don Boehm combines knowledge gained while managing his own farm to best serve the customers he works with as the crop protection manager at Legacy Farmers Cooperative.

Boehm, from Findlay, was recently named the 2019 CCA of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Program at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference.

“The thing that has been the most rewarding to me is that God has blessed us with the opportunity to farm, so I get to use a lot of these same things I talk about on my own operation. I have learned a lot on my farm to help educate others.

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Ohio Corn and Wheat backing DeWine’s 18-cent gas tax increase

The Board of Directors for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association recently voted to unanimously support Governor Mike DeWine’s original proposal calling for an increase to Ohio’s Fuel User Fee.

Gov. DeWine proposed an 18-cent increase in the state’s gas tax which, if approved by lawmakers, would take Ohio’s tax to 46 cents a gallon. The governor’s tax proposal is estimated to generate an additional $1.2 billion annually for road and bridge projects, the bare minimum, he claims, the state can spend to ensure its transportation infrastructure remains safe. In addition, the plan also calls for revenue sharing with Ohio municipalities, counties and townships.

“The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association Board has reviewed the various plans that have been announced and we back the proposal from the governor and the Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure. Money the state receives through the fee on motor fuel hasn’t kept pace with maintenance and construction needs to keep Ohio roadways in good condition.

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Corn planting date considerations

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

For much of the Eastern Corn Belt it is widely understood that the optimal planting period is between April 20 and May 10. Research has proven that corn loses yield potential daily when planted after the beginning of May.

For the Central Corn Belt, the declines in yield potential due to planting delays vary from about 0.3% per day early in May to about 1% per day by the end of May (Nielsen, 2013). Knowing that this is true, it can be frustrating during a wet spring or when field work is delayed for one reason or another. Planting is a critical component of a successful crop as it sets the stage for the entire growing season. However, it is important to keep in mind that early planting is just one of many factors that contribute to high yield potential. Planting early favors high yields, but it does not guarantee them and growers should not focus entirely on the calendar.

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Ways to make a buck on soybeans for 2019

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Planting date was the biggie. We had our annual Soybean School at the Conservation Tillage Conference recently. Three of our speakers said that planting date was the most important item that growers could change to improve yield. Plant in April if possible or early May if not.

Last year in this column I noted that Fred Below crop physiologist from the University of Illinois at Commodity Classic said the number one influence on soybean yields is the weather. I do have to agree with that — just look at 2018 and you will see how great this influence is.

Variety selection? From Fred’s list of last year, I think genetics is number two (although he did not put it at the same ranking). In looking over the soybean varieties entered in Ohio’s 2018 Soybean Performance trials (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/soy2018/) — there are big swings. Averaged across two sites from 2018 at central Ohio trials for late maturity the highest yielder is 61.7 bushels per acre and the low is 44.8.

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Returns for Ohio corn at RMA projected prices

By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

The month of February represents the price discovery period for projected price of corn. The projected price represents the Risk Management Associations (RMA) baseline for establishing federally sponsored corn insurance products for 2019. The projected price for corn is the average of the February settlement prices for the December futures contract. The subsequent harvest price is the average of the October settlement prices for the same December futures contract. The projected price and the harvest price are used to identify the guaranteed revenue for revenue based crop insurance products. However, neither price takes into account local cash basis.

The projected price established by RMA for 2019 corn revenue is $4 per bushel. This is up $0.04 per bushel from the 2018 and 2017 projected prices of $3.96 per bushel representing the increase in corn prices during the last few months of 2018 after a drop during the summer months.

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Late season rains impacted seed quality

By Anne Dorrance and Felipe F. Sartori, Ohio State University Department of Plant Pathology

We have received many calls and samples concerning seed quality and I’ve also heard about the rejections at the elevators. I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago with my colleagues (soybean pathologists) from across the country and Ontario, Canada and we are not alone. We were not the only state where soybeans had plentiful rains through and after grain fill with some of the crop still out in the fields.

 

What is causing all of the low germination?

From the samples we have received, we are culturing the expected seed borne pathogens: Phomopsis, Diaporthe, Fusarium, and Cercospora spp. All of these will affect seed and seedling health if the seed is not treated with a fungicide that can control true fungi.

 

What types of fungicides are there?

On the seed, there are materials to control the watermolds (Pythium and Phytophthora), insects, SCN, and the true fungi Phomopsis and Fusarium.

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Spring tips for managing SCN

By Matt Reese

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) continues to rob soybeans of yield and numbers are climbing in some Ohio fields.

Ohio State University Extension plant pathologists received soil samples from 238 Ohio fields for SCN testing in 2018. Of those samples, 37.4% had none, 24.4% were at trace levels, another 24.4% had low levels of 200 to 2,000 SCN eggs per 100 cubic centimeters (cc) of soil, 9.2% had moderate populations of 2,000 to 5,000 eggs per 100 cc of soil, and 4.6% had high levels over 5,000. The highest counts found to date are approximately 15,000 eggs per 100 cc of soil.

“There are fields throughout the Midwest where not only are SCN numbers creeping up to economic levels but also the reproduction factor, which is the ability to reproduce on the one source of resistance (PI 88788) is also creeping up,” said Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University plant pathologist.

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Prepare for 2019 spring fertilizer applications

By John Fulton and Trey Colley, Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

We are moving into spring work quickly here in 2019, including the application of fertilizer. Whether fixed- or variable-rate fertilizer application, it is important that proper maintenance, setup and calibration of spreaders is carried out. Annual calibration is necessary for accurate and uniform application of fertilizers.

While technology on spreaders, especially variable-rate technology (VRT) spreaders, has significantly increased in the last 10 years, the technology being adopted does not directly correlate to accurate field performance. Crop yield can potentially be impacted if incorrect rates are applied or non-uniform application occurs. There are a number of variables that impact the quality of dry fertilizer application, which includes the operator, fertilizer source properties, applicator and conditions during application. Here are a few notes to consider as we approach spring with work related to making sure the right source is accurately placed at the right rate.

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