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Lightning Safety Awareness Week

In the annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, Governor John R. Kasich recognizes June 19-25, 2011 as Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and encourages all Ohioans to practice lightning and severe weather safety and preparedness during this week and throughout the summer.

According to the National Weather Service, the number of annual lightning-strike fatalities is decreasing. Twenty-nine people died of lightning strikes in 2010, including one Ohioan. In 2009, 34 people died.

This year, one person has died from a lightning strike. On May 23, a 31-year-old Missouri police officer was struck while performing search and rescue efforts after a massive tornado destroyed the town of Joplin, Mo. He was one of a dozen emergency responders from Kansas City who volunteered to help with recovery efforts. The tornado killed more than 130 people.

Ohio averages 30-50 days of thunderstorm activity annually. But this year, with the eastern half of the nation experiencing extreme severe storms, flooding and tornadoes, Ohio has already exceeded record rainfall for the months of March, April and May.… Continue reading

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Pork Leadership Institute Educates Youth

Erica and Andrew Wilson of Columbiana County, Ohio; Megan Reisinger of Clark County, Ohio; and Adam McFarland of Wayne County, New Hampshire recently participated in the 2011 Youth Pork Leadership Institute held in Columbus, Ohio. Sponsored by the Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) and the Ohio Soybean Council, the annual program gives high school and college youth hands-on experience in developing leadership, citizenship and communication skills.

“The Ohio Youth Pork Leadership Institute is a great opportunity for young pork enthusiasts to learn and experience all facets of the industry,” said Jennifer Keller, OPPC director of marketing and education. “From individual hog farms to local grocery stores, the program allows Ohio’s future leaders to learn about hog farmers’ commitment to providing safe, nutritious food for our consumers.”

During the three-day event, participants toured the Bob Evans Farms test kitchen and The Ohio State University (OSU) meat lab, where they learned about food service and pork quality, respectively.… Continue reading

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Officials working to find and eliminate Asian longhorned beetle in Ohio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announce that surveys are under way in Bethel, Ohio, after the June 9 detection and June 17 identification of the Asian longhorned beetle. Bethel is located 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

First discovered in the U.S. in 1996, Asian longhorned beetles attack several species of trees including maple, willow, horsechestnut, buckeye, and American elm. While in its larvae stage, the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) kills trees by tunneling into large branches and the trunk.

Ohio is the fifth state to detect ALB, which APHIS confirmed in Bethel after a citizen reported finding unusual damage in three maple trees to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry service forester. Previous infestations sites, where the beetles are being successfully contained, include Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

APHIS and ODA inspection crews are surveying the southern portion of Bethel and the surrounding area to determine the extent of the ALB infestation.… Continue reading

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Mead named Chief of Markets at ODA

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James Zehringer has appointed Janelle Teeters Mead chief of the department’s Markets Division.

In this capacity, she will oversee the department’s efforts to help Ohio agribusinesses market their products, provide Ohio’s Specialty Crop Block Grant payments to Ohio producers, and administer the department’s “Ag is Cool!” educational program for young Ohioans.  She adds these new duties to her role as agribusiness liaison for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Mead is a former Ohio Farm Bureau Federation organization director for Clinton, Fayette, Greene, Highland and Warren counties.  She also previously worked in communications for the Ohio State Alumni Association and Mycogen Seeds.  Mead is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in agricultural communications and grew up on a Fayette County farm.

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White wheat and floppy corn: Issues in the Eastern Corn Belt

By Ryan McAllister, CCA, Team Sales Agronomist, Beck’s Hybrids

In this agronomic update I want to take some time to discuss the two most common questions I am receiving from growers as of late. Those questions are…

1. Why are areas in my wheat field turning white?

2. Why is my corn leaning over? It looks like chemical injury.

First, there are several reasons why your wheat may be appearing to reach maturity early.

1. Nitrogen deficiency: with the abundant rainfall we received this spring, our wheat plants are running out of nitrogen. When a grass crop runs out of N it begins the process of cannibalization. It will cannibalize itself to make grain. Therefore, we are seeing wheat fields that are prematurely dying due to this nitrogen cannibalization.

2. Low areas or drowned out spots are dying sooner due to anaerobic conditions from waterlogged soils earlier in the season. These same areas also run out of nitrogen sooner as well.… Continue reading

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Spending measure puts ‘GIPSA Rule’ on hold

Livestock and poultry organizations praised House lawmakers for approving an agriculture funding bill that prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from finalizing its proposed regulation on livestock and poultry marketing contracts.

The House voted 217-203 to pass legislation that funds USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies for fiscal 2012, which begins Oct. 1, but denies money for USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to promulgate the livestock and poultry marketing regulation.

Known as the GIPSA rule, the regulation was prompted by the 2008 Farm Bill. But, as 147 House members recently pointed out in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the proposed rule goes well beyond the intent of Congress and includes provisions specifically rejected during debate on the Farm Bill. Lawmakers also criticized USDA’s failure to conduct an in-depth economic impact study of the proposal before it was published.

The livestock and poultry groups expressed strong support for the House action:

“The National Pork Producers Council is grateful that the House is requiring USDA to take a timeout on the GIPSA rule, which as proposed is bad for farmers and ranchers, bad for consumers and bad for rural America,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf.… Continue reading

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U.S. Senate votes to repeal VEETC

The U.S. Senate voted to pass the Feinstein/Coburn amendment that repeals the 45-cent per gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and the 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol is a giant step toward leveling the playing field for a bushel of corn. It was a 73-27 vote on the legislation introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

“The VEETC and the tariff on imported ethanol have put cattlemen and other end-users of corn at a competitive disadvantage to the corn-based ethanol industry when it comes time to buy a bushel of corn. Repealing the VEETC and the import tariff are important steps to fully leveling the playing field. We commend the 73 U.S. Senators who supported the Feinstein/Coburn amendment,” said Bill Donald, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president. “Cattlemen aren’t opposed to ethanol. In fact, we support our nation’s commitment to reducing our dependence on foreign oil.… Continue reading

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Bill to close a permitting loophole

By Matt Reese

Ohio Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) recently introduced a bill (229) to close a loophole used by local governments to block the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) permitting process for a poultry facility.

“We recently denied a permit for the Hi-Q egg facility permit. The current law says there has to be a meeting between the local government jurisdiction, township or county, and the company to discuss issues like traffic and roadways,” said Rocky Black, ODA deputy director. “In this case, the township refused to send the letter back to the company after that meeting. Effectively, they pocket vetoed the facility.”

The inaction from the township forced the State to deny the permit.

“Following a thorough review of the hearing officer’s report and recommendations regarding the Hi-Q permits, I’ve concluded that the Department of Agriculture has no other viable option but to deny the West Mansfield permits due to an incomplete application,” said Jim Zehringer, ODA Director.… Continue reading

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Tips for renovating strawberries

Strawberries, particularly the June-bearing types, tend to produce a lot of runners and daughter plants in a patch. This leads to overcrowded plants that compete for light, moisture, and mineral nutrients and leads to a reduction in the amount of berries produced in a strawberry patch, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

“In order to minimize competition among plants and maintain a productive June-bearing strawberry patch over an extended period of time, the patch needs to be renovated immediately at the end of harvesting season every year,” said Maurice Ogutu. “The patch can be renovated until the plants have had three to four fruitings or until the plants are not performing optimally. The plants that are not performing optimally may be destroyed and a new strawberry planting established on a different location,” he said.

Ogutu described renovation as the removal of the higher percentage of old strawberry plants from established plantings to allow natural replacement with new daughter plants that will produce more fruit.… Continue reading

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Ohio family featured In national campaign

Many Ohioans in agriculture are familiar with the Harbage family in Clark County and now, residents of Washington, D.C. will be getting to know them as well.

The Ohio farm family is featured in an ad campaign as part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program that debuts at Union Station, an important venue for reaching policymakers inside “The Beltway.” This is the third year for the program highlighting U.S. corn growers.

“Even in the 21st Century, corn farming remains a family operation,” said Kansas Corn Commission Chairman Mike Brzon, a farmer from Courtland, Kan. “In many cases, such as mine, this vocation goes back multiple generations. The family farmer growing corn for a hungry world isn’t a myth, but a critical economic engine for our country and it’s important that policymakers and influencers realize this.”

Corn farmers from 14 states and the National Corn Growers Association are supporting the Corn Farmers Coalition program to introduce a foundation of facts seen as essential to decision making, rather than directly influencing legislation and regulation.… Continue reading

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National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO in hot water

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO, Tom Ramey, was recently reprimanded by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Executive Committee for secretly listening in on National Cattlemen’s Beef Association conference calls.

Though he has not be asked to resign, Ramey is required to provide a written apology and has a 6-month employment probation period.

“Mr. Ramey has assured the CBB Executive Committee that he recognizes that his actions were improper and a breach of ethical standards and has promised to never do it again,” attorney Richard Rossier wrote in a letter to NCBA President Bill Donald in response to a number of allegations NCBA made against Ramey and other CBB officials.… Continue reading

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USDA announces projects to provide increased renewable energy production, reduce reliance on foreign oil

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the establishment of four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas to promote the cultivation of crops that can be processed into renewable energy. Acreage in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be designated to grow giant miscanthus, a sterile hybrid warm-season grass that can be converted into energy to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products.

“Renewable, home-grown, clean energy from American producers is vital to our country’s energy future because it reduces our reliance on foreign oil and creates good-paying production jobs that cannot be exported,” said Vilsack. “Today’s announcement will make a significant contribution to rural America and create nearly 4,000 jobs, demonstrating the great economic potential the production of renewable energy holds for our rural communities.”

It is estimated that each of the four project areas and conversion facilities would earn about $50 million per year. According to industry estimates, a large number of biorefinery, agriculture and support jobs will be created in each area.… Continue reading

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June is the time to test for nematodes in corn

There are no good ways to control nematodes in corn once the crop is planted. Votivo has proven effective as a nematicide when applied as a seed treatment. However, because it adds cost, not everyone chose to add it. Companies varied in their policies for adding and charging for treatments.

Nematodes have traditionally been thought of as soybean pests – the soybean cyst nematode. In recent years, though, it became apparent that other nematodes attack corn, particularly in lighter soils. What’s not known is how widespread nematode infestation might be.

The way to see if there is a corn nematode problem is to do soil samples in June, said Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants. Obviously, you’ve already made your decisions for the year as whether to apply the nematicide or not. What you’re looking for by testing in June is looking ahead to making the most economical decisions next year.… Continue reading

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Ohio family featured in national corn coalition campaign

For the third year in a row, our nation’s capital will learn about the U.S. family farmers who produce corn, our nation’s top crop, as part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program that debuts today at Union Station, an important venue for reaching policymakers inside “The Beltway.”

“Even in the 21st Century, corn farming remains a family operation,” said Kansas Corn Commission Chairman Mike Brzon, a farmer from Courtland, Kan. “In many cases, such as mine, this vocation goes back multiple generations. The family farmer growing corn for a hungry world isn’t a myth, but a critical economic engine for our country and it’s important that policy makers and influencers realize this.”

Corn farmers from 14 states and the National Corn Growers Association are supporting the Corn Farmers Coalition program to introduce a foundation of facts seen as essential to decision making, rather than directly influencing legislation and regulation.

“Once again, we’re putting a face on today’s family farmers to showcase the productivity and environmental advances being made in the industry and to provide factual information on how innovative and high-tech corn farmers have become,” said Brzon.… Continue reading

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Head scab is not the only cause of bleached wheat heads

By Pierce Paul and Dennis Mills, Ohio State University Extension

We have received several reports of bleached wheat heads in fields across the state. The distribution of symptoms in the affected fields ranges from individual bleached heads scattered throughout the field to huge sections of fields or entire fields with bleached heads. Timing of symptom development ranges from one to three weeks after flowering. In some instances, bleached heads are empty (blank). Such a wide variety of patterns and symptom characteristics is causing considerable confusion among producers as to whether they are dealing with head scab or some other problem. Scab does indeed cause bleached heads, but it is not the only cause of this type of head disorder. Along with head scab, take-all, hail, frost, flooding, and injuries caused by insects (wheat stem maggot) may all lead to bleached or white discoloration of wheat heads.

Useful information to help you determine whether you are dealing with scab include 1) the weather condition shortly before and during flowering, 2) the timing of symptom development after flowering, 3) the bleaching pattern on the head and the plant, and 4) the distribution of affected heads in the field.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Genome offers clue to functions of destructive wheat fungus

One of the world’s most destructive wheat pathogens is genetically built to evade detection before infecting its host, according to a study that mapped the genome of the fungus.

Stephen Goodwin, a Purdue and U.S. Department of Agriculture research plant pathologist, was the principal author on the effort to sequence the genome of the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola, which causes septoria tritici blotch, a disease that greatly reduces yield and quality in wheat. Surprisingly, Goodwin said, the fungus had fewer genes related to production of enzymes that many other fungi use to penetrate and digest surfaces of plants while infecting them.

“We’re guessing that the low number of enzymes is to avoid detection by plant defenses,” said Goodwin, whose findings were published in the early online edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Enzymes often break down plant cell walls and begin removing nutrients, leading to the plant’s death. M. graminicola, however, enters the plant through stomata, small pores in the surface of leaves that allow for exchange of gases and water.… Continue reading

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Attention shifting from acreage to corn and soybean yields

In the monthly report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) reduced the forecast of U.S. planted and harvested acreage of corn and rice. Forecasts for the other major crops were not changed from the forecasts in the March Prospective Plantings report, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“Analysts lowered the corn planted acreage forecast due to planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt and northern Plains. In contrast, some increase in acreage is expected in the western Corn Belt and central Plains where planting was more  timely,” he said.

USDA judges that planted acreage will total 90.7 million acres, 1.5 million fewer than revealed in the March survey of planting intentions, he said.

According to Good, area harvested for grain is projected at 83.2 million acres, 1.9 million below the May forecast. The large reduction reflects expectations that some planted acreage was lost to flooding in the lower Ohio, lower Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.… Continue reading

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Can small weeds hurt yield?

By Dave Nanda, Ph. D. 
Director of Genetics & Technology 
Seed Consultants, Inc.

When the developers of technology for Roundup resistance and Liberty (Ignite) resistance released these products for marketing to the farmers, they were recommending that farmers let the weeds grow until the corn and soybeans are fairly tall to form a canopy and then spray their weeds and kill them all in one pass. Well, it was a good salesmanship and many farmers bought into it as a way to save money on weed control. Little did they realize that the smaller weeds also hurt the yield potential of the crops.

Studies conducted by several universities and my own observations have indicated that smaller weeds do reduce the yield potential of the crops. When the infra-red light is reflected from the chlorophyll of the neighboring plants, whether crop plants or weeds, each individual plant, because of its micro- environment, “decides” early on how many ears and the seeds on the ears or how many beans it will try to produce.… Continue reading

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