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Do new drought tolerant hybrids have a niche in the Eastern Corn Belt?

Drought events are predicted to increase with rising global temperatures and altered rainfall patterns. It is important that agronomists investigate ways to maximize water use to help reduce grain yield losses from drought events. If Ohio corn yields had been reduced 10% in 2013 due to drought, then the economic loss for growers would have exceeded $250 million.

Ohio producers have begun using drought-tolerant corn hybrids that were developed for use in the Western Corn Belt to manage for drought events, but limited research has been conducted on these hybrids in the Eastern Corn Belt. Drought tolerance can be thought of as the ability of a plant to produce greater yields under water stress conditions when compared to other plants under the same conditions.

Since growing conditions are very different in Ohio than in the Western Corn Belt, the management practices that maximize grain yield and minimize environmental effects need to be determined for these corn hybrids.… Continue reading

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Using basis for good marketing decisions

grain

Corn

Grain elevators are complaining about lack of farmer movement since harvest (i.e. selling forward). Many elevators in the northern states didn’t fill up completely (which was unexpected). Increases in farm storage have been felt across the U.S. (USDA estimates 13 billion bushels of on farm storage currently). Many farmers are bullish. They believe that there will be a spring rally due to fewer corn acres next year. It’s doubtful this alone will support a rally because the export pace has been slowing. On the bright side, U.S. corn is competitive with the rest of the world, which may help reverse that trend. Can corn push through $4 on the CBOT?

 

Soybeans

In South America, 90% of growers have had good weather for soybean development and with an El Nino forming. Favorable weather there should continue. Interestingly, a large bank announced that they view soybeans as the worst agriculture commodity to invest in for 2015.… Continue reading

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Should we be using soybean maturity group as a tool for variety selection?

Over the last decade I have noticed a subtle shift across much of the northern soybean growing region towards planting later maturity group soybeans. This shift, either conscious or unconscious, may be attributed to earlier planting dates, relatively favorable fall harvest windows, and the drive for maximum yield as influenced by high commodity prices.

As with all trends sooner or later, we have a correction year: 2014 was that year for many farmers. As farmers, consultants, and the battered and bruised seed suppliers sort through the plethora of product offerings for 2015, a common question arises: “In 2015, how much weight should we really give to maturity group in these seed decisions?” For those of you with short attention spans like me, the short answer for soybean is not much. For the rest of you, please read on to understand my reasoning.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Soybean Research Program published an article in the journal Crop Management titled: “Optimal soybean maturity groups for seed yield and quality in Wisconsin” (Furseth et al, 2011).… Continue reading

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Exploring growth opportunities in the mature market of Japan

Japan is a mature market.

Traits of a mature market in Japan include:

• A high-income country with a stable and aging population, an excellent, high quality diet;

• A sophisticated food production and marketing system;

• And among the highest food safety standards in the world.

Mature markets like Japan create challenges in terms of expanding U.S. exports.

“A mature market is a challenge,” said Tommy Hamamoto, U.S. Grains Council director in Japan. “We work hard to serve our long-time, loyal customers, and Japan is still the top U.S. export market for corn. But we are also looking for new value-added products and new opportunities. We are discussing some of these new ideas with Japanese livestock producers, including expanded exports.”

While Japan has a well-deserved reputation for high quality and food safety, some other countries in the region are still struggling to raise standards. Two years ago, the Council collaborated with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) office in Tokyo on a study, “Food 2040,” that projected great potential for Japan as a production platform for other East Asian markets.… Continue reading

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Railroad report card: Grain shippers rate Union Pacific best railroad amid widespread frustration

The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) released its fifth annual Railroad Report Card this fall and Union Pacific reclaimed its position as the top performing railroad. The top ranked railroad in 2011 and 2012, Union Pacific finished second to CSX in 2013. Norfolk Southern Railway climbed to second place from its third place ranking in 2013. Survey respondents ranked Canadian Pacific in last place for the fourth year in a row.

The survey was completed anonymously by agricultural shippers of various sizes and scale of operations and has been comprised of the same 11 questions since the report card’s inception. Surveys were completed and submitted during September and October. The questions are categorized under: 1.) On Time Performance; 2.) Customer Service; and 3.) Costs. For most questions, participants were asked to rate each of the seven Class I railroads on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the highest and one being the lowest. … Continue reading

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Barge fee to improve waterways passes the House

As part of H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 404-17, a provision to increase the barge fuel fee to fund needed waterways infrastructure projects. American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser expressed ASA’s appreciation for the fee, which is supported by those in the waterways industry.

“The nine-cent increase in the per-gallon barge fuel fee is something that is supported not only by the nation’s soybean farmers, but also by the commercial barge and towing operators who pay it. We all support this as a way to dedicate funds to new waterways infrastructure construction and major rehabilitation of the inland waterways system through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. We are pleased that the House passed this provision, and we call on the Senate to quickly do the same.”

In response to the House passage of a short-term extension of several key tax credits, the ASA expressed both its appreciation for a fix in the near term, and disappointment in the absence of a longer-term solution.… Continue reading

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What did we learn from 2014 growing season?

I asked several farmers and Seed Consultant Reps what new things they learned from 2014 growing season. I will be discussing some of those ideas in these articles for next three weeks. It is difficult to learn new things every year but each growing season either teaches us some new ideas or reinforces what we are already know and are using. Some of the things we learned this year are given below:

• Tiling pays big dividends in the long run. We had lot of rains during early spring and fields with drainage tile had a clear advantage in getting planted early. It also emphasizes the value of good drainage for growing corn.

• Early planting pays-off again. The fields which were planted earlier this year pollinated during the cooler weather and were harvested earlier. These fields generally yielded higher and had higher test weight as compared to the same hybrid planted later and harvested at higher moisture.… Continue reading

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Federal judge blocks Maui GMO ban

In November, a federal judge said Maui County could not implement a new law that would ban the use of genetically modified crops. Voters approved the ballot initiative in early November and it was expected to go into effect after election results were verified.

According to “Truth About Trade & Technology,” Judge Barry Kurren said he would consider lawsuits against the new initative, and both sides of the issue agreed to postpone the date the law goes into effect.

Monsanto and Dow Chemical Co. then sued Maui County in efforts to stop the initiative and were joined by local businesses in the suit, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Maui County is home to extensive soybean, corn and other crop breeding and seed multiplication activities important to U.S. soybean growers.

Many agricultural organizations, including the American Soybean Association, stand with the Maui County Farm Bureau, the Molokai Farm Bureau, local farm employees and their families and other citizens of Maui, Molokai and Lanai who oppose this initiative.… Continue reading

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Ohio No-Till Council conference highlights profitable farming in an era of environmental scrutiny

It was again a full house at Der Dutchman in Plain City for yesterday’s Ohio No-Till Conference. A wide range of topics were covered at the event revolving around conservation tillage and its innumerable benefits.

Crop consultant Joe Nester outlined some key steps for maximizing yields moving forward with ever increasing environmental scrutiny on agriculture with (instead of 4Rs) four Ps: Prove, Plan, Prepare, and Prioritize.

“Prove what your nutrient inventory is in the fields you are working with. Don’t guess. The time for guessing has passed both economically and environmentally. With the budgets you have in raising crops today, the cost of a soil test is just a small part of that. Your soil test needs to be representative so you can prove what is there,” Nester said. “Then plan. Plan your nutrient requirement based on what you have proven in the soil. If you’re not using variable rate technology, I think you’re missing the boat.… Continue reading

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U2U tool helps farmers with nitrogen application decisions

The Purdue University-led Useful to Usable climate initiative is offering a new online tool to help farmers and farm advisers better manage the application of nitrogen fertilizer for maximum crop yields and minimum environmental damage.

The free tool, called Corn Split N, combines historical weather data and fieldwork conditions with economic considerations to determine the feasibility and profitability of completing a post-planting nitrogen application for corn production. Now available for use in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas, it will be expanded in 2015 to include seven North-Central states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan.

Farmers traditionally have applied nitrogen fertilizer to the soil in a single pass, either in the fall or in the spring before planting. But Ben Gramig, Corn Split N project team member and Purdue associate professor of agricultural economics, said agronomic recommendations are to “split-apply” the nitrogen twice — once in the spring at planting and then a second time after the corn plants have emerged from the ground so that they can use the fertilizer most effectively.… Continue reading

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Farm bill crop decision resources

Ohio State University agricultural economist Carl Zulauf recently launched a website to help farmers make decisions about the farm bill’s crop program options. The website offers a number of tools — including policy briefs, links to calculators and video presentations — covering all three crop-program options available through the bill.

The website focuses on the questions producers must consider when making their decisions and offers users a broad perspective based on Zulauf’s decades of farm policy research. The tools available on the website can be used in collaboration with existing resources, such as farm bill calculators, to help put the information into perspective, he said.

In his work at Ohio State, Zulauf specializes in commercial agricultural policy as well as commodity futures and options markets research. He spent most of 1985 on assignment with U.S. Sen. John Glenn’s staff during the writing of the 1985 farm bill.

Zulauf has also testified before Congress on farm policy and wrote a paper that laid out many of the principles that helped guide the development of the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) farm program enacted in the 2008 farm bill and the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program that is part of the 2014 farm bill.… Continue reading

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Key questions in the farm bill crop program decision

For the first time since the 2005 crop year, farm bill commodity programs could make significant payments for corn, soybeans and wheat, according to Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economics professor and farm policy expert with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

If payments do materialize, they could help farmers transition through the period of low crop prices.

“The potential for payments underscores the importance of the 2014 farm bill crop-program decisions,” Zulauf said. “Questions are more important than answers, because if you do not ask the right questions you cannot get the right answer.”

With this philosophy in mind, Zulauf shared some key farm bill crop program questions that farmers need to ask themselves in the next few months leading up to the farm bill deadlines.

 

Can I prove my yields if selected by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to verify them?

Farmers do have the opportunity to update their yields for the 2014 Farm Bill programs, but those yields are subject to an FSA audit some time before the 2018 crop year.… Continue reading

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Should we be using soybean maturity group as a tool for variety selection?

Over the last decade I have noticed a subtle shift across much of the northern soybean growing region towards planting later maturity group soybeans. This shift, either conscious or unconscious, may be attributed to earlier planting dates, relatively favorable fall harvest windows, and the drive for maximum yield as influenced by high commodity prices.

As with all trends sooner or later, we have a correction year: 2014 was that year for many farmers. As farmers, consultants, and the battered and bruised seed suppliers sort through the plethora of product offerings for 2015, a common question arises: “In 2015, how much weight should we really give to maturity group in these seed decisions?” For those of you with short attention spans like me, the short answer for soybean is not much. For the rest of you, please read on to understand my reasoning.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Soybean Research Program published an article in the journal Crop Management titled: “Optimal soybean maturity groups for seed yield and quality in Wisconsin” (Furseth et al, 2011).… Continue reading

Read More »

“Master gardener math”— it’s about managing fertilizer

To be fair perhaps I should say “gardener math,” as hopefully the Master Gardeners who assist homeowners in their garden preparations are already trained. So the question comes in, “How do I know what fertilizer to put on for my garden (read here also as corn crop, turf, etc. as you need).”

The first question I ask a homeowner, farmer, or golf course manager is, “what’s your soil test?” With homeowners I know to be a little careful. Because fertilizer is sold in 40 to 50 pound bags, and it’s relatively cheap, they can sometimes put on a little more than necessary. This drives the soil test results up, and may cause some strange relationships.

 

So here is the most recent scenario in question:

 

AnalysisResultOptimal (by the labs recommendations)
Soil pH7.26.0-6.5
Buffer pH
Organic Matter6.9%
CEC23.2
Phosphorus m3-ppm33740-60
Potassium   m3-ppm185220-330
Magnesium m3-ppm907290-470
Calcium       m3-ppm40863100-4300

 

I would love to have this as my farm soil, but I think it has been amended a bit too much.… Continue reading

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Cold weather and fall herbicides

It’s always amazing to see apparently still thriving winter annual weeds underneath the snow or following some really cold weather.  Even the dandelions in the lawn appeared healthy yesterday, although they can be one of the first weeds to turn purple following really cold weather. Their healthy appearance and lack of symptomology is actually somewhat disturbing since I treated them just prior to the recent deep freeze and had higher expectations.

Our best advice at this point on fall spraying is that once fields dry or freeze up enough to allow traffic again, there is still considerable benefit to applying herbicides for control of marestail and other weeds that persist through winter. We expect the rate of herbicide activity to slow considerably compared with application a month ago when it was warm.

We probably have not applied herbicides following a period of weather exactly like the one we just experienced, but we have in the past applied into late December during or following cold weather, and the herbicides still seem to eventually work.… Continue reading

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4R Certification 4U workshop Dec. 12

Farmers and nutrient service providers in the Western Lake Erie Basin interested in learning how to put the 4Rs into practice will have the opportunity to do so at a workshop put on by the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. “4R Certification 4U” will take place on Friday, Dec. 12 at the Holiday Inn – French Quarter in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Industry professionals and agricultural retailers already certified through the program will share their insights as to why the 4R practices are important and how they contribute to the goal of long-term improved profits and quality in the Lake Erie Basin.

“We’re really starting to see the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program come full circle,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, which serves as the administrator of the program. “Retailers that have already achieved the certified status are now sharing what they’ve learned through the program with other potential participants.”

The workshop will feature sessions and panels for both farmers and retailers led by speakers covering different aspects of the 4R principles, including: Lara Moody, director of stewardship and sustainability for The Fertilizer Institute; John Fritz with The Andersons, Inc., a certified retailer; Greg LaBarge with OSU Extension, who plays a role in auditing the criteria for the 4R Certification Program; and George and David Brand of Brand Dairy Farm, which was named a 4R Advocate this year.… Continue reading

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CCA prep course offered

Studying for the Certified Crop Adviser Exam might soon be a little easier thanks to a prep course offered by agronomists with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The study session is designed to prepare people to take the Certified Crop Adviser Exam by providing a two-day course that will touch on many of the topics covered in the exam, said Harold Watters, an Ohio State University Extension agronomy field specialist and coordinator of the university’s Agronomic Crops Team.

Taught by members of the university’s Agronomic Crops Team, this is not a “crash course” that covers all of the information that will be on the CCA exam, Watters said.

“Instead, the session can help participants gain confidence and tips to help better understand the principles necessary to become a certified crop adviser and to assist in preparation for the local and international CCA exams,” he said.… Continue reading

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2014 corn harvest wrap-up

In 2014, just about everywhere else in the state was left with less than ideal conditions for planting and holes in crop stands that would haunt them all season.

Some fields were replanted multiple times as the spring rains persisted, according to Peter Thomsion, Ohio State University Extension corn specialist.

“The crop did not necessarily go into the ground in stress free conditions. We were plagued with too much water and cooler temperatures early in the season. Then there was lot of discussion about to what extent these holes from planting would ultimately reduce yields at harvest,” Thomison said. “I think around 20% of the corn crop got planted the last week of May due to the persistent cool and wet conditions. And, there was probably some nitrogen loss in many cases with all of the moisture.”

But once the Ohio crop was up and growing, there was limited stress moving forward.… Continue reading

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U.S. agriculture discusses sustainability in the EU

A number of organizations within the agricultural industry have formed the Globally Based Initiative (GBI) alliance as part of ongoing efforts to boost awareness of sustainable production practices and engage European Union stakeholders.

In its first outreach mission, representatives from USSEC, ASMI, USDEC and USA Rice met with stakeholders in London, UK and Berlin, Germany, where the U.S. alliance representatives gave presentations, held discussions at well-attended workshops and met with officials and media.

American Soybean Association Vice President Ron Moore represented the U.S. Soybean Export Council on this mission. The alliance is led by USSEC on behalf of the American Soybean Association (ASA).

“The goal of the EU GBI mission was to share information about the US AG industry’s efforts on sustainability that many in the EU are not aware of. The dairy, soybean and seafood industries have developed extensive metrics that confirm that these products are produced very sustainably,” Moore said.… Continue reading

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