Temperature swings can hurt wheat

Extreme changes in temperature are the biggest concern wheat producers have for the development of their crop this season, a Purdue Extension agronomist said.

Temperatures in recent weeks have risen to between 50 and 60 degrees and then dropped to single digits.

“The cycling of cold to warm temperatures is a great recipe for freezing, thawing and winter heaving,” Shaun Casteel said.

Winter heaving occurs when moisture in the soil expands as it freezes and then contracts as the ice thaws. The soil gets pushed up and down, shoving young plants higher out of the ground and exposing roots. The plants’ lack of access to soil moisture and soil contact could result in stand loss, Casteel said.

Another weather concern is that there has been little snow to protect wheat from extreme cold.

“A lot of wheat fields no longer have a blanket of snow for insulation, and they’re exposed to the cold weather,” Casteel said.… Continue reading

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Seed treatments linked to bee deaths

By Matt Reese

Bees are big business, pollinating $15 billion in crops per year including apples, cherries and berries.

The dollar figures involved are generating significant concern as pollinator populations continue to decline worldwide. More people are demanding answers about the factors behind the colony collapse disorder blamed for bee deaths.

“We saw a 3% loss in hives per year from 2007 to 2012 in the U.S.,” said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology at Purdue University. “More and more of the arrows are pointing to pesticides in a more convincing way as a part of colony collapse disorder.”

Mites, weather and other factors are certainly involved in the decline in bee populations, but Krupke has found fairly conclusive evidence that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in seed treatments for corn and soybeans is at least partially to blame in areas of production of those crops. Analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries over two years in Indiana showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides.… Continue reading

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Nematodes to be discussed at CTTC

Amid growing questions about the impact of nematodes on corn yields, researchers with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are in the midst of a multi-year project to sample soils in Ohio fields to determine whether the tiny, worm-like organisms are indeed damaging corn yields.

Using survey methods and advanced scouting techniques, researchers have spent the last three years conducting corn performance tests for nematodes to determine if the worms are causing problems for Ohio growers and whether seed-treatment nematicides are needed, said Greg LaBarge, field specialist in agronomic systems and one of the leaders of the OSU Agronomic Crops Team.

LaBarge, along with OSU Extension educator Alan Sundermeier, will present the most recent survey findings during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference March 5-6, offered by OSU Extension and OARDC.

The conference will feature some 60 presenters and include information on nutrient management, soil and water, “Corn University,” “Soybean School,” crop scouting, no-till and seeding technology.… Continue reading

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Yield contest boasts 75 entries beyond 300 bushels

Farmers participating in the National Corn Growers Association 2012 National Corn Yield Contest set a new record by submitting 75 entries that surpassed the 300 bushels-per-acre mark. Bucking trends and overcoming severe drought conditions, these entrants showed the incredible achievements that are possible in farming using advanced practices and state-of-the-art technology.

“NCGA’s corn yield contest continues to enjoy such popularity because it showcases what is possible for our industry moving forward,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor. “I applaud the level of achievement that this record number of entrants attained this year and thank them for their contribution to agriculture. Through knowledge acquired from entrants we learn practical techniques that can be applied on other farms thus enhancing our ability to continually improve as farmers.”

Despite higher average yields nationally among all farmers in 2011, only 10 entries achieved the 300 bushels-per-acre mark that year. Entries showing yields this high have not exceeded approximately 30 per year even under optimal weather conditions.… Continue reading

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Flexible cash farm leases: Are they worth a try?

By Barry Ward,
Department of Agricultural Environmental and Development Economics
Ohio State University Extension, Leader, Production Business Management

We have been preaching about flexible leases for years. Flexible cash leases are the answer to all problems plaguing farmers and landowners attempting to find an equitable cash lease each year. Right?! Well….OK maybe not. Flexible leases may not be for everyone, but they may be a tool you should at least consider as you try to manage the volatility in the crop sector these days.

Landowners and farmers have found it increasingly hard to agree on an equitable cash rent as crop prices and input costs have experienced a fair bit of volatility over the last several years. Cash lease rates aren’t public knowledge and don’t have any public clearinghouse such as a futures exchange so information on rates is often sketchy. The local diner does not qualify as a reliable information clearinghouse!… Continue reading

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Winter snows recharging soil moisture

By Jeff Rectenwald, Asgrow/DEKALB Territory Agronomist

Winter in Ohio has been very good to growers who are wishing for re-charged sub soil moisture. The first big snowfall melted slowly and into ground that was not frozen. This was good for soil moisture accumulation. The very cold temperatures occurred while there was no snow cover. It was good to have one week of 10 degree temperatures at this time to gain a “cracking” of the soil profile. We get more fine cracks and benefits when the soil is fully loaded with water and then freezes. These “cracks” help with water infiltration and aeration during the growing season. They also provide the benefit of nutrient mineralization during the growing season by adding water and oxygen to the soil profile.

While we could have used another week of deep freezing temperatures, the last two snowfalls have been good for soil moisture accumulation and we are on our way to re-charging the soil from the 2012 summer drought.… Continue reading

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Do seed treatments pay for soybeans?

By Matt Reese

While 2012 offered ample challenges for farmers, it had its fair share of obstacles for plant pathologists as well. Drought conditions are just not conducive to most plant pathogens and led to limited results from research conducted by Ohio State University Extension plant pathologists. Last summer, Extension plant pathologist Anne Dorrance and company worked with 1,676 plots to evaluate material in 39 tests from 10 companies, in addition to other Extension field tests, at 11 field sites across 9 counties in Ohio.

One area of research was in the benefits and value of seed treatments in soybeans.

“There are a lot of seed treatment choices out there. I think as farmers are talking with their seed dealers, they are getting a lot of packages and they need to know what is in all of these packages. They have changed from the old days when there was just a little Captan and a little Metalaxyl,” Dorrance said.… Continue reading

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Cover crops and crop insurance still a concern

A coalition of farm and commodity groups recently met with USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Acting Administrator Brandon Willis and other top RMA officials. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss cover crop rules in federal crop insurance.

As farmers increasingly adopt cover crops, often with encouragement and technical assistance from other USDA agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a few have found their cover crops bring them into conflict with crop insurance rules. RMA staff stressed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s interest in expanding the use of cover crops, and innovations in cover crop usage including the planting of radishes and peas.

They also discussed the general rationale for cover crops, which is to get the maximum benefit for the cash crop from the farmer’s decisions on cover crops. RMA staff pointed out that they made changes in cover crop rules for 2010-11 and again in 2012-13; they will make more changes as they are needed.… Continue reading

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NCGA says RFS is a priority

In a panel presentation this week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman highlighted the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to help increase and guarantee a vibrant domestic renewable fuel market.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of the RFS,” Tolman said. “It cut imported oil and serves as the basis for investment in infrastructure growth. It’s the single biggest reason for the prosperity across all of agriculture since its inception. It also has lowered fuel costs for consumers and created hundreds of thousands of jobs across America.”

Tolman’s presentation, at the Renewable Fuel Association’s National Ethanol Conference, centered on five areas: the success of the RFS to-date, the importance of preserving the program, implementation challenges and opportunities, pathways to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and the future role of corn in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

NCGA is involved in several programs to protect the RFS and ethanol’s role in America’s fuel sector, such as the Fuels America coalition and the American Ethanol racing program with NASCAR, Tolman said.… Continue reading

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Biodiesel poised for a big 2013

By Matt Reese

Biodiesel is poised for a big year in 2013 as a number of important components have fallen into place for the industry in recent months. The renewal of the $1 tax credit, the increasing volume requirements of the renewable fuel standard and more marketplace integration have set biodiesel up for a good year.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum as we go into 2013. This industry is poised to produce more gallons of biodiesel. The renewable fuels standard has increased the base demand for us to 1.28 billion gallons and we’re looking forward to a very good year for biodiesel here in the U.S.,” said Gary Haer, Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. “We’re seeing the fuel become more available to customers and we’re seeing some markets doing very well, but it has been a long time coming and we still have a lot of work to do.”… Continue reading

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Glyphosate Resistant Weeds


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

Those of you who were able to attend our winter meetings heard from our Agronomy staff about the presence of glyphosate resistant marestail in Indiana and Ohio and how to control it. Listed below are some of the facts about glyphosate resistant weeds.

• Glyphosate resistant crops were introduced in 1996. It was a good technology which needed good stewardship to extend the use of this herbicide. It was adopted by the growers and quickly became popular because of the dramatic price decrease and ease of weed control in corn and soybeans.

• University Extension personnel and Crop Consultants advised the farmers against continuous use of glyphosate resistant corn and soybeans.

• However, trait, chemical and some seed companies were promoting it; growers liked the easy and cheap weed control system and everyone was trying to make quick buck.… Continue reading

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Corn yield progress depends on new practices

Increasing plant population density will be critical to growing yields in U.S. corn production, but increasing this density will be dependent on the economics farmers face as they seek to increase yields, according to a new report released today by researchers at the Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group. The report, titled “Crowding The Fields,” finds it likely we’ll see one to two years of stagnant plant population growth due to high input costs and dry soils in the U.S.

“Corn Yield growth in U.S. is reaching a key milestone as the trend of increasing plant population per acre is challenged by limitations of the current production processes,” said Sterling Liddell, Vice President with the Rabobank FAR. “We know the confines of current equipment and production techniques will eventually challenge the ability of U.S. farmers to sustain historic yield growth trends. Trends our global population is demanding.… Continue reading

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FDA seeking comment on produce safety standards

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  released proposed standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce on farm. Now farmers and other stakeholders are encouraged to review and comment upon the proposed rules.

FDA spokesman Samir Assar said the agency is seeking informed and thoughtful critique of the proposed FDA rules.

“We really need your specific feedback through informed comments. This is not a done deal and it doesn’t happen overnight. We are asking questions about what directions we should go with these proposed regulations,” Assar said. “We will continue to do outreach and let people know what is happening. We are committed to doing public meetings. We can’t do this on our own. We need help from this broad stakeholder set.”

In developing the rules, the FDA held 500 meetings around the U.S., including four meetings in Ohio, and met with agencies outside the U.S. The massive document outlining the rules includes justification for how the rules were determined.… Continue reading

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Winter markets turn attention to South American soybeans

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

All eyes are focused squarely on the upcoming soybean harvest in South America. In the first few minutes of the Jan. 11 report day when USDA released many reports, March CME soybeans dropped to $13.51. Sellers quickly lost control as no one joined them to press prices lower. After that, they moved up to $14.84 the last week of January.

Since mid-January, soybean prices have been moving almost exclusively upon short bursts of information from weather forecasters in the U.S. and around the world. Phrases such as, “little rain, “more rain than expected,” and “hot and dry,” can move prices twenty cents or more in just thirty minutes or less. Demand for soybeans continues to be strong around the world. Following last year’s unprecedented drought, reduced soybean crops in both the U.S. and South America, end users have been scrambling to source loadings at a price and time to their liking.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Produce Marketing Agreement moving forward

By Matt Reese

While millions of people enjoy multiple delicious, high quality meals every day across the country, it is an unfortunate fact that the very small percentage of bad meals people eat are by far the most memorable.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), between 1996 and 2010, approximately 131 produce-related outbreaks were reported, resulting in 14,132 illnesses, 1,360 hospitalizations and 27 deaths. When people get sick and die from their food, it is not soon forgotten by consumers and policy makers. With food safety concerns a hot political topic the FDA was required to develop standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce on farms with passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in January of 2011.

With looming action from the FDA, and the rise of other marketing agreements around the country that did not fit Ohio’s diverse group of fruit and vegetable growers, Ohio leaders saw the writing on the wall and took proactive measures by starting the process to develop the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement (OPMA).… Continue reading

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Farm bill extension means decisions for farmers

By Chris Bruynis, Ohio State University Assistant Professor and Extension Educator

In 2008 when farmers were first provided the choice between the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP) and the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE) questions arose about what would happen if the 2008 Farm Bill was extended. Since the original rules required farmers that elected ACRE to remain in that program until the Farm Bill expired the question surfaced again when The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill).

USDA’s Farm Services Agency recently released the following information:

The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013 or may re-enroll in ACRE in 2013 (and vice versa).… Continue reading

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Drought is still a problem in some areas

While the drought no longer dominates headlines, it remains a serious concern for farmers across the U.S. Plains and western Midwest. Dry weather conditions persist and, with only light showers and snowfall on the immediate horizon for many, farmers may encounter fields suffering from depleted subsoil moisture when planting begins across the central United States in about 10 weeks.

“Once temperatures drop, public attention shifts away from the drought conditions that persist,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “News stories have begun speaking of the drought of 2012 as if it were in the past. But, for many farmers, the drought has not ended and there is no relief in sight. While facing the possibility of another dry year, farmers must focus on advocating for the risk management tools that they need by pushing their legislators to pass a new five-year farm bill.”

Forecasts from a variety of sources indicate that the drought may impact many farmers for the foreseeable future.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer, soil pH and Cation Exchange Capacity

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics and Technology 
for Seed Consultants, Inc.

Soil pH, and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) — how are they related and do they affect fertilizer inputs? Some of the facts below should clarify their relationship.

• Soils are made up of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. The CEC of a soil tells us about the texture of the soil. Soils with higher clay and organic matter content have higher CEC values. The CEC value of the soil in a field is fairly constant but can be changed over time with the addition of organic matter, through the use of cover crops and manure, for example.

• Positively charged particles are called cations and negatively charged particles are called anions. The CEC is the measure of how many negatively charged sites are available in the soil.

• According to David Mengel of Purdue University, most common soil cations are calcium, magnesium, potassium, ammonium, hydrogen and sodium.… Continue reading

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Produce industry gathers at OPGMA Congress

Nearly 800 attended the 2013 OPGMA Congress this week in Sandusky, Ohio. This 2.5-day convention and marketplace brought together produce growers and marketers to share ideas, find products and services to help their business, and network with colleagues.

Industry suppliers from across the country exhibited at the 100-booth trade show to showcase the latest in produce varieties, equipment, products, and services. Attendees saw some of the latest innovations designed to help businesses grow and become more profitable.

Food safety and our industry’s responsibility to ensuring safe food was a priority at this year’s OPGMA Congress. Ten sessions were offered that shared GAP best practices, common food safety issues and farm deficiencies, environmental testing, managing listeria survival in agriculture environments, certification through the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement, and an update from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) representatives on the proposed food safety rules that will affect the industry.

In addition, 40 sessions were offered on topics like tree fruit, vegetable production, pest and disease management, small fruit, merchandising and marketing strategies, and business management.… Continue reading

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Early focus on the size of the 2013 U.S. corn crop

The drought-reduced U.S. corn crop of 2012 suggested that corn prices might behave in a pattern generally described as “short crops have long tails,” said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

“This phrase depicts the expectation of rapidly rising prices that peak near harvest time, decline in an unspecified pattern over the next several months, and return to pre-drought levels as early as the following marketing year. The decline in prices is expected as a result of a slowdown in consumption and a return to normal production,” said Darrel Good.

Corn prices this year have generally followed the expected short-crop pattern as the anticipated consumption and supply responses continue to unfold. The pace of consumption of U.S. corn so far in the 2012-13 marketing year has been slower than last year.  However, the slowdown has been modest and has come primarily in the export market and in the production of ethanol rather than in the domestic feed market as was earlier expected, he said.… Continue reading

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