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Local food delivery service offers consumer convenience and market for farms

By Matt Reese

From bison and bacon to bok choy and baby food, consumers from around Ohio and the Midwest now have the chance to get quality, fresh, local foods delivered to their door courtesy of Green BEAN Delivery.

The BEAN acronym stands for Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture and Nutrition, but customers know the business better for its dependable delivery of local, often organic, foods to their door. Green BEAN owner Matt Ewer harnessed his passion for local and sustainable foods to find an effective and efficient way to help farmers capitalize on the true market value of their crops while conveniently providing customers in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Louisville and Ft. Wayne the local foods they want.

“We started our Midwest-based local food network in June of 2007 in Indianapolis and spread out since then. I grew up half in the city and half in the farm so I have always been connected to rural and urban areas,” Ewer said.

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USDA crop report reflects disastrous weather across the country

A challenging weather year for farmers and ranchers all across the country is clearly reflected in yesterday’s crop report released by the Agriculture Department with drops shown in production, stocks and acreage forecasts for corn compared to the May report.

And with the expected drops in both production and supply, USDA is forecasting record prices not only for corn but also for wheat and soybeans. Prices for all three commodities were moved upward from the May estimates due to weather challenges. The cotton price remained the same as the May estimate, but it is still a record.

“There is no doubt that the wild weather year we’re seeing is impacting all the crops farmers produce,” said Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Drought and floods are taking their toll on cotton, corn, wheat and other crops, and USDA’s newest numbers demonstrate just that.”

In its June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released today, USDA reduced planted corn acres by 1.5 million acres from its March planting intentions survey to 90.7 million acres.

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Fire up the grill for juicier pork

By Matt Reese

During the summer grilling season when meats aplenty and fire are united for top-notch seasonal dining, a favorite in the Reese house is slow-cooked pork tenderloin on the grill. While otherwise God-fearing law-abiding folks, the Reese family’s grilling techniques for pork tenderloin, though, have long been a dark secret due to our blatant disregard of federal government recommendations.

Three burners are required on the grill. The outside two burners are left on low and the middle is turned off, with the pork raised up slightly off the grill surface above the middle burner. The low temperature and slow cooking allow for apple wood smoke to penetrate the meat rubbed with ample seasonings.

The key, of course, is not over cooking the meat so it remains moist and tender. After about 45 minutes or so, the pork needs to be checked fairly regularly with a thermometer so it can be promptly removed from the grill when it is just under 145 degrees.

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It’s “sink or swim” week for Ohio’s corn growers

Drier weather in the past few days has Ohio’s farmers itching to get in their fields to get corn planted.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, only 19% of Ohio’s corn crop was planted as of Sunday, May 29. Normally, 93% of the crop is planted at this point. Indiana was in a better situation with 59% of corn planted as of Sunday, compared with an 87% average over the past five years.

“Luckily, the weather does seem to be turning,” said Greg LaBarge, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension. “The rain we were worried about Tuesday night missed Ohio, but a lot of folks still will need another few days to dry out to start planting. As soon as they can get in, they’ll be running nearly 24 hours a day to try to get the corn in.”

For every day that planting is delayed in late May and early June, corn growers can anticipate a loss in yield of up to two bushels per acre.

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It's "sink or swim" week for Ohio's corn growers

Drier weather in the past few days has Ohio’s farmers itching to get in their fields to get corn planted.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, only 19% of Ohio’s corn crop was planted as of Sunday, May 29. Normally, 93% of the crop is planted at this point. Indiana was in a better situation with 59% of corn planted as of Sunday, compared with an 87% average over the past five years.

“Luckily, the weather does seem to be turning,” said Greg LaBarge, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension. “The rain we were worried about Tuesday night missed Ohio, but a lot of folks still will need another few days to dry out to start planting. As soon as they can get in, they’ll be running nearly 24 hours a day to try to get the corn in.”

For every day that planting is delayed in late May and early June, corn growers can anticipate a loss in yield of up to two bushels per acre.

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Soggy May was tough on hay

By Matt Reese

Everyone knows that farmers love their tractors and equipment, but hay guys really love their equipment. Dependable, functional equipment is vital when making 180 acres of high dollar hay and 130 acres of straw a year, said Neall Weber as he speaks highly of his hay equipment sitting safely out of the persistent spring rains. He is quick to point out the Circle C Roller he uses makes the hay soft and palatable for horses and allows it to dry more quickly in the field.

“That roller buys us a day of drying for every cutting,” he said.

The Hesston baler has a long track record of dependability, which really counts when making hay.

“I don’t even know how to work on the balers because we’ve never had to,” he said with a proud gleam in his eyes. “We never have trouble with them. With hay, even 15 minutes or a half hour can make a big difference.

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Crop Insurance Question 3: Prevented Planting and Crop Options

By Troy Ross, Williamson Insurance Agency

Troy Ross, Williamson Insurance AgencyQuestion: If corn cannot be planted and prevented planting is employed, what alternative crop options are available and when can they be planted?

Answer: Every county in the state of Ohio can have different special provisions. Each grower should refer to the policy; special provisions your agent and the adjustor to make an informed decision on the best way to proceed.

For RP and YP policies, the final plant date for corn is June 5th. The policy contains a late plant period of 25 days after the final plant date. The late plant period starts June 6th and extends through June 30th.

To receive the full prevented planting payment for corn, the prevented corn acres must lay fallow and no subsequent crop can be planted. Complying with this will have no adverse affect on your production history (APH).  If any crop is planted during the late plant period, the prevented planting claim is withdrawn/denied and no corn prevent plant payment will be made.

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Crop insurance questions Day 2: Cover crops and group plans

By Matt Reese

Most everyone knows of the water quality challenges being faced in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed. Last summer and fall, farmers in the area decided to step up and do what they thought was best for improving water quality and soil conservation – plant cover crops.

“There are no silver bullets in the watershed but cover crops are as close to a silver bullet as there is. There are over 7000-plus acres of cover crops in Grand Lake St. Marys,” said Chris Gibbs, with the Mercer County Farm Service Agency. “But now it looks like there could be ramifications on the subsequent crop with regard to crop insurance. I would hate to see that get a black eye here with crop insurance.”

As soggy conditions have delayed field work this spring, cover crop management has not been possible in many situations, which can put preventative planting coverage in jeopardy in some situations.

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Crop insurance questions are emerging instead of crop-Part 1 of a 5 part series

This is Part 1 of a five part series to address crop insurance questions and concerns as they relate to late and preventative planting options. Check back over the next week to see questions addressed by local crop insurance agents.

By Matt Reese

With record-breaking rainfall totals for Ohio, planting efforts continue to be mired around the state as we near June. Each rain cloud that rolls in brings up more questions about crop insurance coverage and tough decisions that will have to be made in the next couple of weeks.

By May 23, things were dire in most of Ohio.

“We’ve got 5% of our corn and 2% of our beans planted,” said Roger Zeedyk, who farms in Defiance County. “The big talk around here now is not planting, it’s crop insurance. Preventative planting will be a big thing in this area this year unless things change soon. A lot of people are talking with their insurance reps.”

A number of questions are arising based on specific situations.

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Advice on choosing maturities for late-planted hybrids

As Indiana and Ohio corn growers continue to battle uncooperative spring planting weather, a Purdue Extension agronomist says they may need to consider faster-maturing corn hybrids.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, 49% of Indiana’s corn acreage and 11% of Ohio’s had been planted by May 23. While forecasters predict improving weather, corn planting has already been delayed enough that plant maturity could become an issue.

“One of the biggest agronomic concerns with severely delayed planting is the risk of the crop not reaching physiological maturity before a killing fall freeze and the yield losses that could result,” he said. “An economic concern with delayed planting is the risk of high grain moistures at harvest and the resulting costs incurred by drying the grain or price discounts by buyers.”

At http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/articles.11/SafeHybridMaturities-0517.html, Nielsen offers tables that list relative hybrid maturities for corn planted through June 10, based on heat unit requirements and anticipated “normal” accumulation of heat units between planting and an average date of a killing fall freeze.

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Between the Rows-May 23, 2011

“The big talk around here now is not planting, it’s crop insurance. We’ve got 5% of our corn and 2% of our beans planted. We’ve been able to spray for a burndown and that is about all we’ve been able to get done in terms of fieldwork. We’re mowing roadsides today. We’re just waiting to do something.

“We have to plant about 800 acres of corn for silage for the dairy, probably even up until June 15. We’re obligated to provide that silage. We will probably go to June 5 for the commercial corn. I am 100% sold on corn and beans, but that is not really driving any of my planting decisions. I was an optimist evidently. I can move some things around with the futures, and anything I’ve done with the elevator can be rolled out to the following year.

“Feeding the world is a concern and I’m not sure how this will work out.

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Craigslist: The New Agricultural Marketplace?

I was riding along with my brother, Ryan Vaubel one Saturday morning to pick up some bucket calves and he was telling my husband and I about the last few loads of calves he sold.

He was selling them all over the state and to some interesting characters. I was sitting there thinking how in the world is he getting connected to all these people?

So, I asked, “how are these people finding you?”

Ryan replied, “Craigslist.”

Huh.

I’ve heard of people buying and selling all kinds of consumer goods on there, but until then did not realize the potential to market and sell agricultural items and livestock.

Ryan had a friend mention it to him and first posted some calves he had for sale a couple of years ago. Not only did he find buyers, but many of those contacts have become repeat customers. In addition to calves, he has also sold a snowmobile along with hay and straw on the site.

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Seed treatments important as we don’t have time to plant twice

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension

Water molds are the plague of Ohio soils and we have plenty of them! Over the past eight years we have recovered 30 different species of Pythium that can infect and cause seedling blight and or root rot on soybeans and corn. In addition to Pythium, we have also recovered a Phytophthora that can infect both corn and soybeans. Don’t forget that in soybeans we also have a great diversity of Phytophthora sojae where now we have some isolates in the state that can infect plants with all of the Rps-genes, including Rps8. As a group, many of these Pythium and Phytophthora spp. survive in the soil as oospores.

They are very capable of surviving these long winters, and in many cases they do not germinate immediately in the spring. They require a period of time where the soils remain wet for at least two weeks.

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The soggy weather pattern is changing

By Jim Noel, the National Weather Service in Ohio

The weather pattern is beginning to change. As we had discussed since last summer, we had expected a very wet late winter into spring with La Nina and the negative North Atlantic Oscillation and we got it. Now, we expect La Nina to end by June but the effects will likely linger into at least early summer.

The rest of May will see improving conditions from what we saw in April and very early May. The outlook for the rest of May is as follows:

May 13-14 – Temperatures will average about 6 degrees above normal with rainfall near normal. Best chance for rain will be late week into the weekend. Covered will be more scattered and rainfall variability will be much higher than we have seen due to the warmer late spring weather pattern.

May 15-21-Temperatures will average near normal and rainfall above normal.

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Corn supply remains tight even with record crop projections

The Agriculture Department projects a record U.S. corn crop this year, but despite the expected increase in production, American Farm Bureau Federation economists emphasize that stocks are still tight and corn farmers will need strong yields to meet demand and build stocks to more comfortable levels.

USDA released its May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, which pegs U.S. corn production at 13.5 billion bushels in 2011. If realized, this would be the largest U.S. crop ever, outdoing the record 13.1 billion bushel corn crop in 2009.

“It’s important to remember that this is a preliminary estimate from USDA. A lot can change from now until harvest,” explained Todd Davis, AFBF crops economist. “We still don’t know the impact late planting in Corn Belt states east of the Mississippi will have on this year’s corn crop. We’re going to need a warm summer with timely rains to realize this 13.5 billion bushel corn crop.”

USDA projects U.S.

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4-H: A model for youth development

By Doc Sanders

I imagine that most of you are familiar with 4-H and may know that educator A. B. Graham, who was born in Champaign County and grew up near Lena, founded the youth organization in 1902. My kids actually completed their primary education at A.B. Graham Schools, which encompass all of western Champaign County, near Lena.

The 4-H program has changed many lives, as it teaches youth responsibility and offers them the opportunity to develop skills and interests through summer projects they prepare to exhibit at the county fair. Early on, 4-H concentrated on livestock, along with homemaking projects, such as cooking and sewing. Then, as society became less agrarian, other projects were added, such as electrical, woodworking, speech contests, pets, journalism … the list goes on and on.

Benefits, and then some …

The benefits of 4-H are far more wide-ranging than most adults realize. Of course, there are the obvious ones that come from being a member of a youth club.

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Between the Rows-May 9th

“I was wondering if we could use profanity in this or not. We would have been planting today if it hadn’t rained on Friday. It is encouraging to see that, while there is a chance of a shower every day, it is pretty low. We’re hoping to start spraying tomorrow, but there is no fieldwork going on around here, per se. If the weather holds like they say it might, we could be in the field planting by Thursday. They are talking about 70- or 80-degree temperatures. Maybe we are going to be jumping right into that summer weather we’ve been waiting for.

“It seems like the farther south you are, the wetter it is. North of us in Williams County, I was told that there was some planting going on. Until the tile lines get to where they almost aren’t running any more, you know you’re still saturated. They are still running, but it is less every day.

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Mockingbird Meadows sells a healthy lifestyle with no compromise

By Matt Reese

Dawn Combs wanted a quaint farmstead in the middle of 100 acres of herb gardens, grazing livestock and buzzing bees. Carson Combs wanted to rehab an old home in Italian Village in the heart of Columbus. Their marital compromise landed them just outside of Marysville on 3.5 acres with a population density somewhere in the middle of either extreme. The quality of the products on the resulting Mockingbird Meadows Honey and Herb Farm, though, is no compromise.

Their herb infused honeys are loved from coast-to-coast as the growing notoriety of the farm’s products has landed the couple in San Francisco to hand out samples and on the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

“It all started with a lie. I told him, ‘I just want to try bees for a hobby,’” Dawn said.

It did not take long for those first few bees on the farmstead to develop into a small business.

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State FFA Convention Coverage

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April (and May) showers, soccer and planting

By Matt Reese

My daughter has always been energetic and I was excited when we had the chance to harness some of that energy for something constructive when she started playing soccer at three years old. What I have since discovered in her (and her teammates’) exploits on the field of play is somewhat less than constructive, though certainly entertaining.

Last fall and this spring, her team took to the fields in epic battles of post-toddler soccer struggles. More often than not, multiple players from each team are sidelined due to crying, distractions or potty breaks. And, most generally, if the players stay on the field and reasonably engaged in the game, it is a great victory worthy of celebration with a post-game ice cream cone (a favorite for both daddy and daughter).

The season has wrapped up for the spring, and needless to say, this weather has been less than ideal for the mud-covered little kid soccer leagues due to the steady deluge of rain, brisk winds and cool temperatures.

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