Crops



Glyphosate controversy continues

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Glyphosate, used in the weed killer Roundup, is in the news again. This time, the controversy surrounds the EPA’s decision in January 2020 to allow glyphosate to continue being used in the interim while the agency conducts its mandatory 15-year re-approval review.

Although EPA has yet to make its re-approval decision, two groups of plaintiffs have petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for an invalidation of the EPA’s decision allowing continued use in the interim. Plaintiffs argue that the decision violates both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act because the EPA has not gathered enough information to prove that glyphosate is safe for humans, the environment, and endangered species.… Continue reading

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Create a strong soybean weed control strategy

By John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Northern Ohio

Springtime in Ohio is an exciting time — color returns to fields, lawns, and landscapes, outdoor activities (with appropriate social distancing) can begin, and the sound of birds fills the early morning air. When it comes to fieldwork, spring is a pivotal time for setting corn and soybean yield potential.

While seed genetics, weather, planter calibration, and overall uniformity have a high impact on yield, it is important not to lose sight of the challenges of weeds to a grower’s operation.

The challenges that weeds pose to growing crops has increased drastically in recent years, and 2020 will bring even more challenges. Large amounts of prevent plant ground in 2019 allowed tough-to-control weeds such as marestail, ragweed, and waterhemp to produce enormous amounts of seeds. These seeds can very quickly be spread to new areas.

Waterhemp is the newest weed threat in many parts of the state, especially in soybean production.… Continue reading

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Nematologists eager to study a new soybean variety with SCN resistance

A new soybean variety with resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) derived from the breeding line PI 89772 is being released by Syngenta in small quantities in 2020. Syngenta is sharing seed with university researchers and farm cooperators now, and full commercial launch is expected in 2021. “We’re excited about a new soybean variety with a source of SCN resistance derived from breeding lines other than PI 88788 and Peking,” said Melissa Mitchum, molecular nematologist at the University of Georgia and co-leader of The SCN Coalition. “If the new variety has the right combination of resistance genes, it could offer a novel mode of action that shifts SCN populations in a different direction than the PI 88788 breeding line and possibly the Peking breeding line, too.”

USDA researchers originally discovered PI 89772 on an expedition in China back in 1930. Ninety years later, and after nearly 25 years of work by breeder Jose Aponte, Syngenta is releasing the variety under two brand names: Golden Harvest GH2329X and NK Brand S23-G5X.

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Be on the lookout for alfalfa weevil

Though it seems like spring has been slow to come this year, we have actually accumulated enough degree days to see potential outbreaks of alfalfa weevil in some locations. Ohio experienced its 5th warmest winter on record (1895-2020) and March temperatures averaged 2 to 8 degrees F above average. Overwintered adults begin laying eggs when temperatures exceed 48 degrees F. Peak larval activity and feeding damage occurs between 325 and 575 heat units (based on accumulation of heat units from January 1 with a base of 48 degrees F). Current (Jan. 1 – Apr. 11, 2020) heating units range from near 100 in far northeastern Ohio, 100 to 200 across much of northern Ohio, and 200 to 300 units across much of central, southwest, and southeast Ohio. South central Ohio has currently eclipsed 300 units as evident at OSU South Centers in Piketon.

In short, now is the time to start scouting.… Continue reading

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Crop Progress: Wheat jointing, Oats being planted

Rain fell and fields remained too wet for most equipment, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Temperatures averaged 4 degrees higher than historical normals and the entire State averaged about an inch of rain. There were 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 12. Oats planted progress jumped to 24 percent complete last week despite the short window for fieldwork. Other field activity was limited and ranged from manure hauling, spraying weeds, to tiling fields. Top dressing of winter wheat with nitrogen continued although consistent rain threatened to wash away application effectiveness. Hay fields and pastures continued to slowly green up even as soil moisture levels remained mostly surplus.… Continue reading

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Nitrogen and corn

By Harold Watters, CCA, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

We had some very good speakers again at the Conservation Tillage Conference in March. This year I led what I called the Crop College. We in the past had Corn University and Soybean College but there was a request to broaden those to more than just corn and soybean, so this year we did at least add wheat to the mix along with presentations on tillage and nutrient management.

Day two this year I had Jim Camberato from Purdue come to speak about nitrogen. He pointed out work that he participated in to re-evaluate the Maximum Return To Nitrogen (MRTN) economic model. While there are a lot of reasons why it shouldn’t work, it actually does pretty well to give us an N rate for corn. Ohio uses this economic model, housed at Iowa State University: http://cnrc.agron.iastate.edu. We are part of a group of seven states who developed the model and house our Ohio nitrogen rate yield data there to help in making recommendations.… Continue reading

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Controlling slugs

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Slug populations increase during mild winters and flourish during wet springs, especially in no-till or cover crop fields. Scouting shows that slug populations are increasing and may be an issue this year.  Slug control depends upon understanding slug biology, scouting, natural predators, and effective cultural practices.

Biology: There are over 80,000 slug species, but the main pest is the Gray Garden Slug which lays over 500 eggs in the Spring and Fall. Offspring from one gray garden slug could produce over 90,000 grand-children and 27 million descendants, so slug populations can explode quickly.   Slugs mature in 5-6 months and may live 6-18 months with juveniles causing most crop damage, eating 2.5X their body weight daily.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Slugs can survive without food for several months during hot summers, with most crop damage in the spring or fall.  Slugs are dependent upon moisture, cool conditions, and lush vegetation for food and shelter.

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April 9 USDA numbers neutral

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Corn exports unchanged, soybean exports cut 50 million bushels, soybean crush increased 20 million bushels, wheat exports were reduced 15 million bushels.

Ahead of the report, many had expected it to be a non-bullish report for grains with traders looking for higher ending stocks for corn, soybeans, and wheat for the 2019-2020 marketing year. Next month USDA will publish their first supply and demand reports for the 2020-2021 marketing year.

Shortly after the USDA report was released, corn was up 2 cents, soybeans up 8 cents, and wheat up 7 cents. Just before the noon report, grains were mixed with corn unchanged, while soybeans and wheat were up 8 cents.

Corn not being used for ethanol has been huge in recent weeks as it dominated much discussion by grain merchants and producers alike. Shrinking demand has been major for the corn supply and demand table. Nearby corn basis in many Ohio locations the last two weeks has weakened 20 to 30 cents or even more.… Continue reading

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Soybean Genetics aided by CRISPR technology

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

It is often said that a soybean’s maximum yield potential is when it is still in the bag. Once that seed is planted, everything a farmer does is to help the plant maintain that yield potential. When Professor Feng Qu joined the faculty at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center over 11 years ago, his primary focus was plant pathology. Since that time, he has observed all the factors impacting soybean production.

“One thing I noticed every year was weeds were a farmer’s biggest challenge. As a pathologist I would look at the impact of soybean disease. Some years it was a concern, others it was not as much. Abiotic stress caused by drought would occur from time to time, usually in different places, but not every year across every acre. Even when it did, there is often very little a farmer can do about it,” Qu said.

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USDA NASS to re-survey operators with previously unharvested corn and soybeans

Later this month, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will contact survey respondents in Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin who previously reported unharvested corn and/or soybean acreage. If the newly collected data justifies any changes, NASS will update the Jan. 10 estimates in the May 12 Crop Production report. Stocks estimates are also subject to review since unharvested production is included in the estimate of on-farm stocks.

When NASS surveyed producers in December for the Crop Production 2019 Summary, there was significant unharvested acreage of corn in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin; and unharvested soybean acreage in Michigan, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. The unharvested area and expected production were included in the totals released on Jan. 10. NASS announced plans to re-survey producers in January; however, because it was unclear when producers would be able to complete harvest, we could not set a re-survey date until now. Since there is significant acreage still standing for harvest in North Dakota, producers in that state will be contacted at a later date.… Continue reading

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Agronomy Week 2020

Agronomy Week, a springtime tradition for farmers to show appreciation for the key support of their agronomic professionals, returns April 6 to 10, 2020. The DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine seed brands are offering the recognition program for the fourth year as an industrywide celebration.

During Agronomy Week, farmers can pay tribute to their agronomic team regardless of seed brand — including agronomists, seed dealers and crop consultants — by nominating up to three individuals at AgronomyWeek.com or by posting the professionals’ names on the DEKALB Asgrow Facebook page or Twitter with #AgronomyWeek and #contest.

Nominating farmers will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win daily prizes, as well as an Ultimate Field Day grand prize this summer if public health conditions permit. A baseball-themed video to help promote farmer participation in Agronomy Week will be featured on social media.

“Agronomy Week this spring will showcase the dreams so many American youth have, whether that’s taking the field in a Major League Baseball uniform or taking over the family farm,” said Pete Uitenbroek, DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brand lead.… Continue reading

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Funding and phosphorus reduction

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff.

Analyzing the cost benefit ratio is a regular management function in agriculture. As farmers make decisions regarding the implementation of best management practices and fertilizer application rates, there is an economic benefit analysis that must be considered. The same applies as the government makes decisions regarding the allocation of resources to phosphorus reduction in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The USEPA is working to develop alternative approaches to achieving nutrient reduction without regulation. Studies have been conducted in the smaller yet similar and more intensely monitored East Fork Watershed in Southern Ohio to develop modeling by conducting bioassessments to determine impact and target levels for excess nutrients.

Watershed action planning involves evaluating the cost of reduction of total phosphorus (TP) levels. “In the modeled watershed, to make the improvements to waste water treatment plants (WWTP), to achieve a 1% reduction in phosphorus (P) load it would cost $5.4 million dollars.

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Using P removal structures to treat tile drainage water

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Legacy phosphorus has been a buzzword among farmers and researchers concerned with the increased P loading recorded in water samples. Ongoing research has indicated that in spite of documented reductions in applied P, and the increased use of cover crops, the P loading in the water continues. The current thought is that particulate P is most often contained in surface run-off. Dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) primarily from legacy P is contained in water coming through the tile lines.

Chad Penn is a USDA–ARS National Soil Erosion Researcher in Indiana. He is investigating various phosphorus removal structures and their ability to remove dissolved P from tile drainage water.

Chad Penn, USDA-ARS

“We have a lot of BMPs to reduce particulate P. Most any practice to reduce erosion will also reduce particulate P,” Penn said. “One big problem with legacy P is that it takes a long time to draw down.”

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Addressing 2019’s lingering challenges

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Following a wet growing season in 2019, some of the issues facing growers in 2020 are lingering from the previous growing season.

Due to the excessively wet weather in the spring of 2019, many fields have compaction that will impact crop development and yields for years to come. Growers should alleviate compaction when conditions allow. Tillage should be performed only when soil conditions are favorable. Tillage under wet or “marginal” conditions will only make compaction problems worse. Compaction is a huge yield killer, as Randall Reeder and Alan Sundermeier wrote in a recent C.O.R.N. Newsletter: “Years of OSU Extension research on Hoytville silty clay loam showed that through compaction, 10% to 15% of the potential crop yield was being left in the field.” Farmers should plan to alleviate compaction when possible and avoid traffic on wet soil this spring.

Weed control in soybeans will continue to be a challenge between herbicide tolerant weeds and the plethora of soybean herbicide traits available to growers.… Continue reading

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Pollinators and honey bees

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

A good deal of attention has been given to honey bees and other pollinators the last several years. Honey bees first began to draw notice back in 2006 when concerns over Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) first emerged. CCD is defined by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service as a dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies, but with a live queen, honey and immature bees. More recently, attention has been given to habitat for other pollinators as well. The USDA has looked at existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in a Mid-Contract Management (MCM) process to address growing pollinator habitat concerns. Along with reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, CRP aims to ensure plant diversity and wildlife benefits as well. Several producers with CRP contracts for grass filter strips received letters from the FSA offices notifying them of recent revisions to the MCM process that require all CRP contracts undertake a MCM activity.… Continue reading

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Beware of lackluster seed germ in 2020

When Seed Genetics Direct, a family-owned seed company in Jeffersonville began offering free carry-over soybean germination testing to farmers, they weren’t sure what to expect. What they got was a mixed bag of results, the worst of which are very bad.

“So far, we have tested 22 seed samples across Indiana and Ohio through Indiana Crop Improvement,” said Chris Jeffries, CCA, president of Seed Genetics Direct. “The germ from the tags of all seed samples was 80 or above, with an average of 86. After testing, only 12 came back with at least 70% germ; only five were above 80. The lowest two were in the 30s. That’s a pretty wide spread and very worrisome.”

Although SGD isn’t releasing identities out of respect to farmers and competitors, farmers submitted seed from six different seed companies for testing. Farmers did not submit Seed Genetics Direct seed for testing because the company moved beans for 95% of customers and is standing behind replant guarantees for any farmers who have SGD beans.… Continue reading

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Bearish news for corn

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Corn stocks less than expected but acres of 97 million acres were above the high end of expected.

The March 31 reports included quarterly grain stocks and U.S. acres estimates for 2020. It did NOT have supply and demand tables for grains. Those will be out with the April 9 WASDE Report.

Shortly after the USDA report was released, corn was down 7 cents, soybeans down 3 cents, and wheat down 3 cents. Just before the noon report, grains were mixed with corn down 1 cent, soybeans up 3 cents, and wheat up 3 cents.

Quarterly grain stocks will be the focus today as corn stocks easily captured the most attention. For months various industry and producer reports indicated last year’s corn quality was below average as numerous areas harvested light test weight corn. There is above average concern holding corn with questionable quality could be treacherous into the summer months.… Continue reading

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Against all odds and sensationalist headlines

It’s been just a week since I wrote my last column. But it feels much longer. Although all days seem the same when we forcefully work from home, so many things have happened and so many battles have been fought – most of them on our social media timelines – that a week feels like a month.

Last week, the coronavirus pandemic, of course, remained as the number one trending topic here in Brazil, especially because our President, Jair Bolsonaro, has questioned the lockdown. For those who work in agriculture, like me, it was also an intense period of work and mismatch between reality and some news headlines.

Fake news x biased and lazy journalism
Although I have worked as a market analyst for most of my life, I am also a journalist. And, as such, I often find myself thinking about how the fake news phenomenon affects everybody’s lives. But there is one thing that I consider even worse than fake news.… Continue reading

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Factors that influence nutrient loss

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Identifying factors that influence flow and nutrient loss was the topic of a presentation by Brittany Hanrahan, research biologist with the ARS Soil Drainage Research Unit in Ohio at the Conservation Tillage Conference.

“We know that storms can contribute disproportionately to cumulative annual phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) losses during the year,” Hanrahan said. “The big picture is that excess P and N fuel algal blooms and have negative impacts. Excess P and N fertilize the algal blooms which eventually die and decompose stripping oxygen from the water causing hypoxic zones. There are over 400 different hypoxic zones found in the world today.”

Data collected in the edge of field studies show that peaks in water discharge coincide with peaks in precipitation events. Surface runoff levels of P and N differ from tile discharge levels.

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