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Veteran farming program offers heroes help

Bob Udeck gingerly uses his hands and feet to slowly steer his four-wheeled walker carefully through the dirt- and grass-covered field, adeptly maneuvering through the ruts, divets, mounds of dirt, rocks, and plants that line the path leading to the Heroes Garden.

The 74-year-old Vietnam veteran pulls up to a section of raised garden beds filled with rows of radish and pepper plants and smiles as he admires his handy work. Many of the plants have already begun bearing fruit, some of which were ripe and ready for picking.

“I used to farm when I was younger,” Udeck said, as he wistfully looked out over the plot that houses the Veteran Farming Program. “It feels really good to get your hands dirty again — planting something, nurturing it, and watching it produce.

“Not only does this garden keep me active, it’s also therapeutic — it keeps your mind busy, gets you outside, gives you a goal, and something to focus on.

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Fun at the Farm Science Review

Wow! What a fun Farm Science Review! The weather was the best we have had in recent years and we really enjoyed the chance to talk with so many of you who dropped in to see us. We got to lament the challenges of a difficult 2019 but celebrate the bright future of agriculture in Ohio too. We also had the chance to talk with many great guests who will be featured in upcoming broadcasts, podcasts, videos, and OCJ stories.

This year’s late harvest boosted attendance at the farm show, which attracted 114,590 people over three days. Typically at this time of the year, many farmers are driving combines. Instead, some were eyeing brand-new combines and tractors displayed at the show, taking pictures of their children and grandchildren behind the wheel at the Farm Science Review.

Under sunny skies and welcoming mild temperatures, visitors learned about the economics of producing malting barley, legal issues associated with growing hemp, the most common mistakes made by family-run farms, and tactics to reduce the risks of producing corn and soybeans, among other topics.

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Unplanted acres and unanswered questions about Lake Erie’s algal bloom

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

“So where is it coming from, and what more can we do?” This is a question many northwest Ohio farmers ask themselves, knowing they will likely be the ones to take the blame as the subject of the Lake Erie algal bloom regularly makes headlines in the paper and on the evening news. Considering the weather challenges faced during the planting season of 2019, many farmers are left perplexed.
According to Jason Williamson of the Williamson Insurance Agency, the question is valid. “Looking at the prevent plant numbers released by the USDA, 30% of the acres in the counties we cover in Northwest Ohio are prevent plant,” he said. “Wood County alone reported over 50% prevent plant.”

Those are acres where farmers did not get a crop in the ground, and the vast majority did not apply any fertilizer this spring or summer. With that being said, the lake is on track to have its fourth or fifth largest harmful algal bloom (HAB) on record.

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Details of the contract are crucial in a pleasant real estate closing

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

The very first real estate closing I attended for a client was over 25 years ago. I was fresh out of law school, and a friend of mine, who was a cosmetics sales associate at Marshall Field’s, was purchasing her first house. It was what lawyers refer to as a “roundtable closing” which meant that the buyer, the seller, their realtors and their lawyers all met around a conference table and signed documents and transferred payment. This event is forever embedded in my memory because, as a new lawyer, I proudly showed up in a nice dark suit. And literally every other person, which was notable because it was all female, was wearing a floral dress and lots of fragrance. Just thinking about it makes my sinuses hurt.

The closing went off without a hitch. But less than 24 hours later, my client was mad, really mad.

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Challenges continue in Northwest Ohio

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The challenges of the incredibly difficult planting season for northwest Ohio are spilling over into the harvest season.

With over 80% of his 2019 corn and soybean crops not getting planted, Glen Newcomer, an Ohio Soybean Association member from Williams County, said weed control and planting cover crops has become the next big issue in 2019.

“We sprayed all our acres early in the season to prevent them from going to seed, and to keep out any noxious weeds,” Newcomer said.

All their fields were sprayed, and they were able to go back and follow-up with tillage on several of them.

“We stopped planting soybeans on June 30. After that date, we knew the odds were not in our favor for getting a crop to maturity,” Newcomer said.

Once planting had ended, the next step was to develop a plan for how the remainder of the acres would be handled in preparation for the 2020 crop year.

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Don’t wait until the trip to the funeral home to discuss family farm transfers

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

It is so easy to put off tough questions about family farm transitions from one generation to the next, but those discussions are important to have before it is too late. Jolene Brown spoke at yesterday’s Farm Science Review (and will be talking at the event again today) about the importance of these  conversations prior to the trip to the funeral home.

“Everyone knows brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles or other people who aren’t talking to each other. That’s because people didn’t do things when the times were good to have the tools and means in place when we get tested. Then, because they don’t have things clarified in writing and because they didn’t operate like a business, we have this big explosion on the way to the funeral home,” Brown said.

Brown is a professional farm speaker and writes a column for Successful Farming and Pink Tractor.  

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A “dryer” soybean harvest

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The challenging wet weather this spring may lead to wet soybeans for harvest this fall around Ohio.

“We’ve dried soybeans before, and we can do it again,” said Mic Robertson, Branch Manager for The Jewell Grain Company.

The Jewell Grain Company has locations in both Defiance and Henry counties. For those crops that did get planted, the expectation is that harvest will be delayed, and a good deal of mechanical drying will be necessary. According to the USDA, more than 42% of the acres in Defiance County, more than 32% of the acres in Henry County, and more than 46% of the acres in Williams County did not get planted this year. Neil Nofzinger, manager of Stryker Farmers Exchange, a farmer owned cooperative in Williams County, is concerned especially about the soybean situation.

“Many of these soybeans were planted later than usual. In 2018 most of the soybeans were planted the first week of June.

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How long do we have for late planted soybeans to mature?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

In a typical year, by the time Farm Science Review rolls around, many of the soybeans in the state of Ohio have started to turn a bright fall yellow color and are quickly drying down. Some fields in the southern regions have even been harvested. But it has not been a typical year. In the southern part of the state much of the crop is on schedule, and the yield has already been determined. In the northern regions, many beans are still very green and filling pods. Soybeans found in the R4 to R5 growth stage are not uncommon in much of northern Ohio. The question among many growers is, “How long do we have to complete the grain fill period?”

According to the University of Missouri and Missouri Soybean Center, soybean yield is a product of the number of days of seed fill and rate at which the seeds fill.

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Rolling futures

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

The USDA reported the lowest ear counts in the last 7 years. Interestingly though in each of the last 6 years, final ear counts ultimately were lower than September estimates.

Ear weight estimates, on the other hand, were average compared to the last 6 years. In 4 of the last 6 years, final ear weights increased into the final January estimate as compared to September projections. They dropped in 2018 and were the same in 2014.

With this information, it seems reasonable that a national yield reduction is possible; however, widespread favorable weather over the last 4 weeks and upcoming good forecasts for the next 2 weeks may mean improved ear weights that offset some ear loss.

Many market participants still think harvested acre estimates could be trimmed by 1 to 2 million acres. However, it’s important to keep in mind that corn exports and ethanol grind have slowed.

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Crop progress continues, despite dry weather

Dry, warm conditions prevailed last week which aided crop progress, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 15.

Crops were progressing rapidly in warmer conditions. Producers started to harvest corn silage last week. Corn silking and soybeans blooming were complete. There was no improvement in corn and soybean conditions. Other hay second cutting was nearly complete. Alfalfa hay fourth cutting made a jump in progress last week but was still behind last year’s pace.

There was very little rain across the State last week and topsoil moisture levels continued to decrease. Crops were maturing well with warm temperatures but rain was needed to improve conditions and pasture regrowth. Dry conditions allowed more opportunities for fieldwork, including tillage, manure management, mowing and spraying.

The full report is available here.

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Latta listening session addressed impacts of a challenging 2019

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

The extensive prevented planting acres in Ohio and limited yield potential for many acres of late-planted crops have generated plenty of discussion about the impact to farmers, agribusiness, and rural communities.

United States Congressman Bob Latta represents the largest farm-income producing district in Ohio and recently participated in a listening session with farmers and agribusiness people in Williams County to learn about the details of the situation.

“Everyone in the chain is going to be impacted, such as the folks that sell the seed, fertilizer, herbicide, equipment parts. There is a whole line of people besides the farmers who will feel the impact,” Latta said. “It is really important that I hear from the farmers. This thing hasn’t really hit hard yet. I think people are going to start to feel it in about two more months. The farmers see it right now.

“I can’t tell you how many calls I have had with the undersecretary of agriculture to explain what’s happening here and keeping him updated, making sure his department was aware of just how bad it really is here in Northwest Ohio.

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The Dawes Arboretum: A haven for tree collection, evaluation, and research

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

What began as a successful, influential Ohio politician and businessman’s 140-acre rural retreat has grown over the past century to become a nearly 2,000 acre preserve highlighting a unique array of plant life at The Dawes Arboretum in Licking County.

Beman Dawes and his wife, Bertie, first purchased the original tract in 1917. By 1929, when Dawes Arboretum was established, the grounds had doubled in size and over 50,000 trees had been planted. In present times, the immense arboretum, home to an enormous index of different plant species, is one of only 20 fully accredited arboretums in North America.

The Dawes family obtained trees from across the globe that could thrive in central Ohio and planted them around the property. They established the arboretum to both educate and inspire.

When Beman and Bertie created the private foundation, they wanted “to encourage the planting of forest and ornamental trees…to give pleasure to the public and education to the youth.”

Luke Messinger, executive director of The Dawes Arboretum, said that the location was well-chosen for this purpose and that this collection of trees continues to grow and prosper over 100 years after the Dawes family’s initial purchase of their central Ohio grounds.

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Repairing the soil after a record-setting 2019

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Field Leader

It is no secret that 2019 will go down in the history books as one of the most challenging years for production agriculture in much of the country. Flooding and frequent rain events delayed and, in many cases, prevented planting on millions of acres across the Corn Belt.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, this is a year for the record books,” said Joe Nester, a certified crop advisor from Williams County who has worked in agriculture for over 42 years and as an independent consultant at Nester Ag for the past 28 years. “We went into the season already wet, and then had rain every other day. Even the crops that were planted are not going to yield near what farmers typically expect.”

He estimates that of the acres they work on through Nester Ag, at least 65% were not planted. Statewide in Ohio there were 1,485,919 prevented planting acres in 2019, with the bulk of those in the northwestern part of the state, according to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

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Neutral corn and soybean yields, but higher than hoped for by producers

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

USDA estimated the U.S. corn yield at 168.2 bushels and the U.S. soybean yield at 47.9 bushels. Both were lowered but less than expected. Shortly after the noon report release corn was down 3 cents, soybeans up 18 cents, while wheat was up 1 cent. Minutes before the report corn was down one cent, soybeans up 15 cents, and wheat up one cent. Enthusiasm over a potential thaw in U.S./China trade talks had soybeans higher at the 9:30 a.m. grains restart.

Trader estimates for today’s report had corn and soybean yields dropping slightly compared to August. The average trade estimate for the U.S. corn yield is 167.2 bushels compared to 169.5 bushels last month. Meanwhile, the trade estimate for the U.S. soybean yield is 47.2 bushels with the August yield at 48.5 bushels. Any changes in corn or soybean acres will also be scrutinized.

USDA personnel have been in fields the last two weeks doing surveys for ear weights and pod counts.

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Nation’s first Exploring ag program starts in Seneca County

By Zach Parrott, OCJ field reporter

The Ohio State University Extension Office in Seneca County recently established the nation’s first Agricultural Exploring Post.

Exploring is a youth organization, serving 110,00 youth with the goal of teaching important life and career skills to young people from all backgrounds through immersive career experiences. Matt Kibler runs the Exploring program in 13 Ohio counties for the Black Swamp Area Council.

“The agricultural program is unique, because we are going to be taking students around Seneca County and neighboring counties to give them a hands-on experience in farm management,” Kibler said. “This also includes: soil and water conservation, aerial spraying or application, and the financial aspect of running a farm.”

Businesses including Kalmbach Feeds, POET, Sunrise Cooperative, The Mennel Milling Company, Ag Credit, Sunrise Cooperative, Andersons, ST Genetics, and USDA Farm Service Agency are all involved in teaching these young students how to budget and manage a farm.

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Understanding worker classification

By Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA, Partner at Holbrook & Manter, CPAs

For decades, worker classification has been a controversial topic between the IRS and taxpayers. According to the IRS, millions of workers are misclassified as independent contractors each year. The distinction is important because it determines if an employer must withhold income taxes and pay employer payroll taxes such as social security, Medicare, and unemployment. As the tax laws continue to change, we expect for the problem to continue to grow as businesses look for ways to reduce their tax bills. With an understanding of the worker classification rules, your business can develop policies and procedures to ensure that workers are properly treated as employees or independent contractors.

To determine how to classify a worker, the IRS provides three tests:

  1. Behavioral Control: A worker is considered to be an employee when the business has the right to direct and control the work performed by the worker.
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Markets watching the frost and Sept. 12

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Declining grain prices continued that trend into the first week of September. December 2019 CBOT corn made a new contract low of $3.53, over a dollar below the contract high of $4.73 from June 17. Kansas City wheat reached a 14-year low that same week. Chicago December CBOT wheat tumbled to $4.50 ½, well below its summer high reached in June of $5.65 ¾ and its contract high at $6.34 ½ established in August 2018. The contract low for December wheat was reached May 13 at $4.42 ¼. While U.S. corn and soybean production for this year falls below levels seen in 2017 and 2018, plentiful and ever-increasing world stocks of grains continues to keep prices on the defensive. U.S. grain exports face stiff and growing competition from other world suppliers. Early September, South American and Black Sea corn sale values were 15 to 45 cents per bushel below those from the U.S.

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Marketing in unusual times

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

While many farmers still doubt last month’s USDA numbers, the rest of the trade is going along with it. Export pace and ethanol grind are weakening, frost threats are declining, and 10-day forecasts are looking very good for the crops. At this point, a production surprise will be needed for a significant price rebound. Maybe a low ear weight will be identified in this week’s USDA report to give the market a boost?

Reports from elevator managers throughout the Midwest say most farmers didn’t sell very much during the recent rally, because they expected prices to go even higher. So, I’m not alone in wishing I would have sold more, but hindsight is always 20/20. Following provides details on three trades I made in the last 4 months. I’ve included my thoughts and rationale when I placed the trade to show context, as well as final outcomes.

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Lavy Cab Cam Corn Harvest 2019

Bart Johnson joins Blake Lavy in Miami County for the first Ohio /ag Net Corn Harvest Cab Cam of the year. Thanks to Homan Inc. for sponsoring these cab cams. Blake actually started harvesting corn the last week of August. Tune in and see what the yield is on this early planted corn.

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