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The budget, HSUS and the future at ODA

A conversation with…

Jim Zehringer, the future director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

OCJ: First, could you share a little about your background in agriculture and your legislative career that has helped prepare you for this position?

Jim: I grew up in town, but in the 70s I started working with my father in-law operating Meiring Poultry farm. My wife and I took ownership of the farm in 1983 and we raised chickens and fish and grew corn and soybeans up until 1 year ago. In 2002 I was elected as a Mercer County Commissioner. Mercer County is one of the largest Ag producing counties in the State and working with farmers in the county prepared me to work with agriculture issues at the state level. I was appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2007 and I have been actively working on the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee as a member of the House.… Continue reading

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Taking stock of crop market fundamentals

Corn, soybean, and wheat prices dropped sharply following the spike on Nov. 9, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

December 2010 corn futures declined 96 cents from their high on Nov. 9 to their low on Nov. 23. January 2011 soybean futures dropped $1.45 by Nov. 19, and December 2010 wheat futures declined by $1.36 to their low on Nov. 16, he noted.

“Since the recent lows were established, prices have traded in a relatively narrow range. A number of factors have been cited as contributing to the wide swing in prices over the past three weeks. These include uncertainty about Chinese demand, fluctuating currency values, trading activity of commodity speculators, and the La Nina weather event. The market appears to be having some difficulty identifying value of commodities,” he said.

The value of the U.S. dollar is thought to have an impact on the demand for and/or prices of U.S.… Continue reading

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Deer gun season is almost here

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman

Deer hunters: break out the guns!

Each year about this time, as the popular deer gun season arrives, I am goaded by my 10-year-old son into telling about my first deer harvest, which he finds hilarious.

Me, not so much.

I was a late-blooming hunter, entering the fold as a 30-something nimrod who was quickly bitten by the sport. I was invited to hunt deer during my first season afield by a group of farmers about my age who met each morning of the hunt in a low-ceilinged, wood-stove-heated corner of a weathered pig barn. One had allowed me to hunt rabbits and pheasants earlier in the season, and invited me to join their daily deer drives during gun week.

I carried a Stevens side-by-side 12-gauge I had purchased new that autumn at the JC Penney Outlet in Columbus for $150, and wore a cheap cotton camo jumpsuit intended to hide me from waterfowl as well as whitetails.… Continue reading

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Thankfulness with the Country Chaplain

By Tim Reeves

Back in 1989, a movie was made starring Kevin Bacon called “The Big Picture.” Bacon played a young man named Nick Chapman who graduated from high school and made a short film, which won a special prize. The award gave Chapman a lot of publicity; enough publicity that he thought he could go to Hollywood, make a big splash and create the movie of his dreams. But when he got to Hollywood, he finds he has to begin making compromises and soon he becomes totally lost in the glitz and glamour of the movie industry. Rather quickly, his dreams of making “his” movie are swept away and lost.

Like the main character, the movie never made much of a splash, either. Produced at a cost of about $5 million, it barely generated $1 million in revenue.

Also, like the title of this movie and its main character, it is so easy to miss “the big picture” of life.… Continue reading

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Happy holiday snacking



By Jo Ellen Helmlinger

Visions of sugar plums, pumpkin pie, frosted cookies, latkes and cream cheese dips dance through our heads and across buffet tables during the holiday season. Even those who are strongly committed to healthy eating are tempted to over indulge in foods they don’t normally choose.

With a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy holiday eating now without feeling guilty in January. The most important tips are to eat moderate amounts and get plenty of exercise. Ideas to help you reinforce your good habits include:

• Time Out — Take time to read, exercise and just relax. Stress hormones have been tied to weight gain. Be sure you are getting plenty of sleep. This also keeps “hunger” hormones in check.

• Share the Load — Break big tasks down into smaller segments and delegate the work. Determine what’s important. Just because your grandmother baked 20 different cookies for the holidays doesn’t mean you need to do the same.… Continue reading

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Pesticide applicator alert

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

The state legislature and the Ohio Department of Agriculture have been busy since last winter; new updates have been made to your pesticide license. So any applicator who holds an Ohio Private Applicator License has just received an updated license – every private applicator in Ohio.

Why the new license? They actually have simplified the process, by reducing the categories from 13 to 7. And that means fewer tests, fewer categories to get recertified in, simpler. It is hard to believe, but this is one government function I am happy about. Everything is still covered it’s just been combined with similar categories.

For most of us across Ohio we have categories 1, 2 and CORE. Those cover Field Crops (1), Forage Crops and Livestock (2) – of course everyone has CORE that is the regulation, environment and safety area.

Category 1 now includes seed treatment, stored grain and noncrop in addition to weeds, insects and disease control for corn (all corn including sweet), soybeans and wheat.… Continue reading

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How high will corn go?

December 2010 corn futures moved above $5.00 in mid-September, moderated in early October, and then moved sharply higher following the USDA’s October Crop Production report. The month of November started with new highs for that contract, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

“Even though prices are at the highest level since July 2008, some analysts are projecting even higher prices, with $7.00 being a favorite target. The obvious question is: Why are higher prices needed?” he said.

The role of the corn market is twofold. First, corn has to be priced so that current supplies last until the next harvest. Second, corn prices have to motivate sufficient production in 2011 to meet needs during the 2011-12 marketing year, he said.

The second objective is met primarily by directing acreage decisions in 2011. Corn prices continue to adjust as the market’s assessment of the “right” price needed to meet these objectives changes.… Continue reading

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The science of pumpkin production

Ohio is one of the top producers of pumpkins in the U.S. Last year, the state’s farmers harvested 1.24 billion pounds of the fruit from 7,500 acres, with a farm value of $22.5 million.

To make sure Ohio remains a great pumpkin state, growers thrive, and consumers get a high-quality product, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are constantly involved in research and outreach activities that cover various aspect of pumpkin production.

“I would not be anywhere where I am now without the information I get from Ohio State,” said Jon Branstrator, owner of Branstrator Farms in Clarksville, halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. “I grow very good quality product, and that helps me sell it a lot better.”

Like many other growers around the state, Branstrator — who farms 250 acres, 60 of them dedicated to pumpkins and other specialty crops — has come to rely on the work of Ohio State experts to make important decisions that impact his operation.… Continue reading

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The competition for 2011 acres has started for corn and soybeans

There are three issues that are important for corn and soybeans as they compete for acreage in 2011, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“First, there’s the question of how many acres of these crops are needed to meet consumption needs at ‘reasonable’ prices. Second, how many acres are available for planting of all crops in 2011? Third, what is the likely strength of competition from other crops?” he said.

According to Good, planted acreage of corn in 2010 in the United States totaled 88.222 million acres, 1.74 million more than planted in 2009, but 5.305 million fewer than planted in 2007.  Planted acreage of soybeans in 2010 was a record 77.714 million, 263,000 more than planted in 2009.

“Acreage of all crops was about 2 million less than planted in 2009. Although the mix of crops changed from 2009 to 2010, the overall decline reflected a reduction of about 2.3 million acres of double-cropped soybeans.… Continue reading

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2010 candidates’ positions on Ohio agriculture

Editor’s note: With the 2010 election on our doorstep, Ohio’s Country Journal recently asked Ohio’s two leading candidates for governor and two leading candidates for U.S. Senate to answer the following question in 400 words or less: “Why should Ohio’s agricultural community vote for you?” Here are their responses.

Governor Ted Strickland

Growing up in rural Scioto County, I understand the vital role agriculture plays in Ohio. I am proud of my record as governor and the many accomplishments my administration has been able to achieve with the support of Ohio farmers and the agricultural community. These are tough times but together we’ve overseen the largest tax cut in Ohio history, continued to tighten the belt of state government by reducing its size and cost, and cut burdensome regulations so businesses and farms can grow and expand.
It is essential that the next generation of Ohioans have the skills they need to succeed, so we have made record investments in K-12 education and expanded access to affordable higher education.… Continue reading

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2010 candidates' positions on Ohio agriculture

Editor’s note: With the 2010 election on our doorstep, Ohio’s Country Journal recently asked Ohio’s two leading candidates for governor and two leading candidates for U.S. Senate to answer the following question in 400 words or less: “Why should Ohio’s agricultural community vote for you?” Here are their responses.

Governor Ted Strickland

Growing up in rural Scioto County, I understand the vital role agriculture plays in Ohio. I am proud of my record as governor and the many accomplishments my administration has been able to achieve with the support of Ohio farmers and the agricultural community. These are tough times but together we’ve overseen the largest tax cut in Ohio history, continued to tighten the belt of state government by reducing its size and cost, and cut burdensome regulations so businesses and farms can grow and expand.
It is essential that the next generation of Ohioans have the skills they need to succeed, so we have made record investments in K-12 education and expanded access to affordable higher education.… Continue reading

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The great pumpkin shortage of 2010: Reality or rumor

By Matt Reese

Rumors are flying that have bakers in a panic. Anxious homemakers are nervously flitting among grocery aisles only to have their hopes dashed. Dark tales are being told in the backrooms of bakeries. Could it be true? Is there a great pie pumpkin shortage of 2010?
Whether real or perceived, there has been a fair amount of discussion in some pumpkin-loving circles about a short crop of pie pumpkins in 2009 resulting in a limited supply of canned pumpkin for 2010. Does this mean no pumpkin doughnuts, no pumpkin rolls no (heaven forbid) pumpkin pies this fall?
Though she had heard the rumors, Linda Ballou, who is on the Baked Goods Committee for the famous Circleville Pumpkin Show this week, said there was plenty of pumpkin for her purposes this year. Entries of pumpkin baked items were off a bit at the 2010 Pumpkin Show, but not likely due to a lack of pumpkins.… Continue reading

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Brown marmorated stink bug making an unpleasant appearance in Ohio

A bug named for its stench and marbled, streaky appearance has made its way to Ohio, potentially becoming a serious pest — the brown marmorated stink bug. This odiferous pest is moving eastward from the Atlantic Coast into the eastern Corn Belt becoming a pest in Ohio on soybeans and other crops, but can be a more serious problem in fruit crops, ornamental plants and irritated homeowners.
“To add insult to injury, these stink bugs then tend to move into people’s homes in late fall looking for overwintering sites in numbers reaching the hundreds and even thousands. And as the name implies, the insect can release a characteristic pungent acid odor that many people find offensive; in other words, these insects can ‘stink!’” wrote Ron Hammond, Andy Michel and Bruce Eisley, Ohio State University Extension entomologists in a recent CORN Newsletter. “We received a number of reports of homes in Ohio being invaded by this insect.… Continue reading

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Watch stored corn for mold development

Ohio farmers are encouraged to diligently monitor their stored corn grain to prevent mold development.

Ohio State University Extension plant pathologists said that keeping an eye on stored grain in the bins early in the season can help producers avoid problems that too often go unnoticed or are discovered too late in the game to really do anything about.

“Even in years when there is little or no ear rot problems in the fields (a leading cause of mold development), mold may still develop in the grain bins if storage temperature and moisture conditions are favorable,” said Pierce Paul, an OSU Extension plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Paul said that there have been some reports of field-dried corn producing molds in storage. Moldy kernels may contain toxins harmful to livestock if ingested in large enough amounts.

“Corn is dryer than average and much dryer than last year coming out of the field.… Continue reading

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Corn residue management post-harvest

By Steve Butzen, Clyde Tiffany and Darren Goebel, Pioneer agronomists

Stover production by corn plants is roughly equal to the weight of grain produced. This means when corn yields exceed 200 bushels per acre, stover yields may reach 12,000 to 16,000 pounds per acre. That’s over twice the residue produced by most other crops and over twice the residue necessary to provide 100% soil cover. If residue is not managed properly, it can lead to stand and yield reductions caused by excess residue. Research suggests that corn yields may be reduced when fields have 90 percent residue cover within 2 inches of the seed furrow.

Fall tillage
Corn residue is more resistant to decomposition than that of many crops, which can compound the problem of excess residue. Residue that is not incorporated in the fall will remain largely intact in the spring because the decomposition process is slowed even more without soil contact.… Continue reading

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Winter wheat needs a clean seedbed

The most important thing farmers can do to control weeds in the 2011 wheat crop is to provide a clean, weed-free seedbed before planting, Purdue Extension weed scientist Bill Johnson says. Few herbicides are available for wheat, so getting rid of weeds before the seed hits the ground will help eliminate crop injury and problems with yields. “If wheat seedlings are emerging and they are competing with standing, live weeds in the fall, we run the risk of wheat not tillering,” Johnson said. “If wheat doesn’t tiller as well in the fall, we will have fewer plants in the spring to crowd out other weeds and ultimately fewer grain heads for production.” Minimizing or eliminating the competition from weeds in the fall will give wheat the chance to take up moisture and soil nutrients and to absorb as much sunlight as possible, Johnson said. In addition to a clean seedbed, Johnson said wheat farmers should wait to plant wheat until after the average Hessian fly-free date for their area.… Continue reading

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Wineries work together for individual success

By Matt Reese

From sweet corn to pumpkins, farms that market directly to customers have long competed with their products for consumer dollars. The result of such competition, more often than not, tends to be detrimental for the farms involved and beneficial for the consumer.

The wine industry, however, has done quite the opposite. As the number of wineries around Ohio has exploded like an uncorked bottle of Champagne in recent years, many of the individual businesses have thrived rather than suffered from the increased competition

“The only way this industry got off of the ground in Ohio was all of the cooperation,” said Lee Wyse, who owns Rainbow Hills Winery in Coshocton County with his wife, Joy.

Wyse was the 36th licensed winery in the state and the first one in his region of the state when he started his business 23 years ago. As new wineries have come to the area, his business has benefited significantly.… Continue reading

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The Hessian fly-safe date is not only about Hessian fly

By Pierce Paul, Ron Hammond, Ohio State University Extension

For years, a very standard recommendation for profitable wheat production in Ohio has been to plant wheat after the Hessian fly-safe date. This recommendation is based on the fact that at the dates indicated on the map, Hessian fly adults would no longer be alive.   Adults emerge in later summer, mate, and then oviposit in different types of grasses.   Adult life span is extremely short, perhaps only a week, during which time they do not even feed.  After this short time span, adults die off.   The fly-free date is set at a time when it is expected that the adults have died and are no longer around the area.  As a result, damage caused by this insect will likely much less if wheat if planted after the specific date fly-free date in your area.

However, in Ohio the Hessian fly-safe date is not only about the Hessian fly.… Continue reading

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Harvest running ahead

The recent National Agricultural Statistics Service report confirms what farmers already know – the 2010 harvest is well ahead of schedule.

National corn harvest jumped 7% this week to 18% harvested, which is 8% ahead of the 5-year average. Soybeans are 8% harvested which is just 2% ahead of the average pace.

Ohio farmers have 11% harvested of both corn and soybeans, which is 10% ahead for the corn and 8% ahead for the soybeans.

Just over 70% of Ohio’s corn crop is mature, 40% ahead of the average, and soybeans are 42% mature, which is 25% ahead of normal. Winter wheat planting in Ohio is at 2% while average is 1%.

At Farm Science Review, the first corn yields are running from 170 bushels to 190 bushels. For other yields from around the state visit: http://ocj.com/2010-yield-data/.

Be sure to take a break from the fields to visit the Farm Science Review.… Continue reading

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Good yields, what about all that residue?

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

Thankfully, with an early harvest underway, we should have the time this fall to complete tillage operations that we were unable to do last year. In some cases, a deep tillage pass may be necessary to break up some compaction layers. In other cases, simply a leveling pass will be required.

Possibly just as important as leveling and ripping this year will be attempting to answer the million-dollar question, “What am I going to do with all of this residue?” Genetics have changed. We all know that. Some yield reports coming in for April planted corn are simply mind-boggling considering the saturated conditions early followed by the hot and dry conditions late. With improved genetics, in terms of yield and plant health, come challenges in terms of managing all of the residue.

Some of those challenges include uneven moisture and temperature throughout a field.… Continue reading

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