Farmers on the lookout for aflatoxin as drought continues

The season-long drought and extreme heat have created conditions prime for Aspergillus ear rot to develop in corn, so growers should scout their fields and inspect their grain, a Purdue Extension plant pathologist said.

The fungus, which infects corn ears through the silks or wounds, produces aflatoxin, a toxic carcinogen that also can cause health problems for livestock that consume contaminated corn.

“Aspergillus ear rot is out there, but it varies greatly from field to field, mostly depending on planting time and environmental conditions at pollination,” Kiersten Wise said. “There is no field without some potential for the disease.”

Fields most at risk are those in which corn was planted in late March to early April, due to the high temperatures and drought stress that occurred when that corn was pollinating. Even if corn was planted later in April, it is still at risk if it was under extreme drought stress during pollination, planted in sandy soils or experienced insect and hail damage.… Continue reading

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Marketing system ensures safe corn

The challenging growing conditions have created the potential for and concern about aflatoxin in corn. Agronomists are pushing farmers to get corn out of the fields as quickly as possible to try to void problems that, so far, have not shown up in a significant way in Ohio.

The potential for aflatoxin in corn, though, has not been lost on those who import U.S. corn. It should be noted, however, that although growing conditions may vary from year to year, U.S. grades and safety standards for grain remain stable. The U.S. grain marketing system ensures that domestic and export buyers receive safe cargoes of corn based on buyer-seller contract terms and the minimum requirements of U.S. grain grades and standards. The U.S. Grains Council closely monitors aflatoxin levels in the United States so it can appropriately address the concerns of its global customers. The Council’s annual U.S. Corn Harvest Quality Report, set to be released at the end of November, will be a key tool in releasing this information.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – September 17th, 2012

The average temperature for the State was 64.2 degrees, 1.6 degrees below normal for the week ending Sunday, September 16, 2012. Precipitation averaged 0.07 inches, 0.77 inches below normal. There were 95 modified growing degree days, 20 days below normal.

Reporters rated 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, September 14, 2012. Topsoil moisture was rated 24 percent very short, 39 percent short, 36 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Recent rains have slowed maturing of corn and soybeans. Field activities for the week included tilling wheat stubble, applying fertilizer and manure, and baling hay. Corn and soybeans are being harvested in more parts of the state.
As of Sunday September 16th, corn dented was rated at 95 percent, compared to 63 percent last year and 82 percent for the five-year average.… Continue reading

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A timely corn harvest pays dividends

By Jeff Rectenwald, Monsanto Technical Agronomist

Ohio had long periods of above average temperatures and below average rainfall for the 2012 growing season. These weather extremes, along with an early planting date, in most counties have set the stage for an early start to corn harvest this season. In the last three years most growers have had the benefit of letting the corn crop dry in the field and have experienced very dry grain at harvest that could easily be taken to the local elevator or quickly dried in the bin with some forced air. In these years, growers have experienced grain moisture at harvest in the range of 15% to18%.

But what happens to the kernel after it reaches physiological maturity or “black layer” at 30% grain moisture? It has to dry by itself without much help from the plant. Once the Black Layer forms, the moisture and nutritional connection between the kernel and cob is broken.… Continue reading

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Soil health systems evolving

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

America’s Great Lakes — Erie, Michigan, Huron, Superior and Ontario — hold 21% of the world’s surface fresh water, host habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species of concern, and provide drinking water for more than 40 million people. Sport fishing, commercial fishing and Native American fishing are among the major industries that provide jobs in the Great Lakes region and impact its fragile ecosystem. Meanwhile, urban runoff and sprawl, sewage disposal, toxic industrial effluent and agriculture affect aquatic food chains, fish populations and human health.

Those issues were part of the conversation in Cleveland for Great Lakes Week in early September. This annual gathering of Great Lakes leaders showcases the challenges, urgency and successes of ecological restoration across the Great Lakes basin.

Agriculture agencies, including the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), have invested a lot of time and effort in the Great Lakes region.… Continue reading

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CCA of the Year Award nominations being accepted

The Ohio CCA Board is also pleased to announce the 2013 CCA of the Year Award. Nominations are now being accepted and CCAs can be nominated by a peer, employer or farmer client. The winner of this prestigious award will be announced at the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada in March 2013, and will receive a plaque, a $1,500 cash award from an agribusiness and industry recognition. Click here for the application, and be sure to nominate a deserving candidate. Last year’s winner was Mike Dailey, an independent consultant from Mt. Vernon.… Continue reading

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Post-harvest yield protection especially important in 2012

With drought-damaged grain yields expected to be poor this year, growers need to take extra care to ensure that every bushel they’re able to harvest is protected against mold, pests and other problems, says an Ohio State University Extension educator.

Drought and extreme heat have reduced topsoil moisture and lowered crop yield expectations, making it even more important for growers to make post-harvest grain protection a priority, said Curtis Young, who is also an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State.

“You don’t have money in the bank until you sell the grain,” Young said. “The protection of the grain doesn’t stop with harvest, so if you are storing the grain on your farm, you need to take care of it.

“That extra care for grain storage is especially intensified this year because yields are going to be sub-optimal, so growers need to protect every penny that they can.”… Continue reading

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Ohioan working to boost soy demand in Afghanistan

A distance of 7,000 miles is just the start of the differences between the Brookville, Ohio farm where Steve Berk grew up raising soybeans as an FFA project and his current residence in Afghanistan. Yet, a new soybean processing factory creates a landmark link between states like Ohio and Afghan reconstruction efforts.

Berk is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Senior Representative at the U.S. Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif. He and U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Agriculture Minister Counselor Quintin Gray joined the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program at the unique soy processing business this summer.

“It’s great to see the Afghan and U.S. partners get this soybean processing facility up and operating,” Gray says. “It will help Afghanistan agriculture continue to develop.”

Through USDA’s Food for Progress Program, WISHH and its partners have established Afghanistan’s first commercial soybean value chain as part of the Soybeans in Agricultural Renewal of Afghanistan Initiative (SARAI).… Continue reading

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EPA announces increase in biodiesel requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an increase in the biodiesel volume requirement under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) from 1 billion gallons in 2012 to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013, a move welcomed by the American Soybean Association (ASA).

“More than half of all biodiesel produced in the United States comes from soybean oil, which expands a growing market for soybean farmers,” said ASA President Steve Wellman. “We congratulate the Environmental Protection Agency on today’s announcement as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary Vilsack for their continued strong support for the U.S. biodiesel industry. We look forward to helping the U.S. biodiesel industry hit the 1.28 billion gallon mark in 2013. By achieving the new requirement, we’ll help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and help increase soybean meal supplies to our valued partners in the livestock industry for use as feed.”

Wellman highlighted several benefits from biodiesel production that help U.S.… Continue reading

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This year can become a teachable moment

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

With the average age of an American farmer being 58, there is no doubt that many in Ohio agriculture have seen drought conditions like the ones being experienced this year. Many will refer to 1988 as a similar example of what farmers are dealing with in 2012. However, for

every three farmers that recall the harsh situations and dismal outcome of a quarter century ago, there is one that doesn’t have that experience under their belt. For those “young guns” of agriculture, this year’s Farm Science Review will be an opportunity to learn what to do to survive an extreme drought.

“This spring we had optimal anhydrous conditions along with nice soil conditions, adequate moisture and got off to some of the earliest planting dates we have ever had,” said Nate Douritas, Farm Science Review’s farm manager. “We started planting corn and soybeans on the 13th of April.… Continue reading

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U.S. farms serve as model for Ukrainian ag

A conversation with…

Harold Watters, OSU Extension agronomist who recently traveled to Ukraine as a crop consultant.


OCJ: First, could you provide a little background about the trip? How did this come about?

Harold: Working for Ohio State University and OSU Extension sometimes brings requests that are a little different. This was one of those — an acquaintance from the past, Tom Sachs, said he was coordinating a trip across Ohio for a group of Ukrainian farmers and asked if I could help. I have now hosted four of these visits to the U.S. with Tom, spending a day around Champaign County and western Ohio with each group. Apparently every group is asked what could make the trip more valuable, the October 2011 group of Ukrainian farmers said, “Bring Harold to Ukraine.” So I received a call in January with an invitation to come in late winter 2012.

Turns out the Ukrainians were here participating in a Farmer-to-Farmer program with support of the USDA and USAID.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – September 10th, 2012


The average temperature for the State was 73.3 degrees, 5.2 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, September 9, 2012. Precipitation averaged 1.95 inches, 1.31 inches above normal. There were 154 modified growing degree days, 26 days above normal.

Reporters rated 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, September 7, 2012. Topsoil moisture was rated 27 percent very short, 39 percent short, 33 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.


Rain showers and cooler temperatures at the end of the week helped improve crop conditions. Field activities for the week included spraying for weeds and spider mites, tilling wheat stubble, applying fertilizer, seeding cover crops, and installing drainage tile.

As of Sunday September 9th, corn dented was rated at 88 percent, compared to 51 percent last year and 69 percent for the five-year average.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-September 10

“We got about 100 acres of silage off and it is actually a little wetter than we’d like. But we’re averaging 25 tons to the acre with plenty of grain, so I feel pretty good about what is coming off the fields. We plant a heavy population and it did really well with the dry weather. We chop about 250 acres of silage-specific corn. I actually think we may not even need all of it. Another three or four good days of running and I think we’ll have it.

“As soon as we get done with corn silage, we’ll mow that fifth cutting down for alfalfa and a fourth cutting for sudangrass. If we continue to get rain and a little sunshine, we’ll be OK and we can stock up some forage. The more we can put in the bank, the easier it will be next year. I normally like to be able to feed the previous year’s feed all the way into January and that will not happen this year.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-September 10

“We’re planning on getting out and harvesting next week. It is pretty dry, so any rain this weekend will soak in pretty quickly. There really aren’t any beans ready yet, so anybody who is out next week will be in corn.

“I think it would be wise this year to keep the harvest moving before the corn falls down. I did talk to the grain buyer over at Greenville yesterday and they haven’t had any quality problems yet with toxins. Rain could start causing quality problems though.

“The corn moisture is getting down there. It is anywhere between 20% and 30% moisture and that was within 100 feet. I have a contract in early September and they are down to no drying costs and only half shrink up to 25%. If you have any concerns about toxins or standability, that is the way to go. Just get it out of there.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-September 10

“We could be in the fields today but we’re trying to finish up some projects. We’re planning on starting on Monday morning. We took some corn moisture readings and some of it is 25% and some is 21%, so it’s going to be all over the board. I just want to get into it and see what is out there. I don’t trust this corn standing a really long time. There is no problem right now, but these shanks on the ears are pretty small and I don’t want them to drop off to the ground.

“We’ll have some beans ready by the end of next week. We’ll probably run corn for three or four days and then switch over to beans maybe next weekend.

“We got 2.5 inches this week and I heard that places north of Buckeye Lake got nine inches of rain and others got six inches. But west of here toward Circleville, they only got five or six tenths.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring- September 10

“I would expect that we will be in the fields in a week or 10 days. We plan to start with the beans and do most of our beans before corn. It looks like the hybrids are standing pretty well. The corn moisture is still in the mid to high 20% range. If we do start seeing issues with the stalks or the ears, we’ll switch to corn sooner. I don’t expect ear molds to be much of a problem because it has been so dry.”

Harvest has gotten started on a few farms in the area, but has been very limited so far. “Some of the guys that had early beans out are running and the fields with early corn hybrids that were planted early have been harvested too.”

The hurricane remnants that reached Ohio provided some long-overdue rains. “We got close to 2.5 inches this week, but I think it was too late to do much good.… Continue reading

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Palmer amaranth breaching Ohio’s borders

By Matt Reese

Farmers have read about the horrors of hiring hand-weeding crews to clean up fields where herbicide resistant weeds have run rampant. They have heard the stories of failed crop fields due to weed pressure and there are plenty of tales of woe from the South about weed nightmares.

While there are many seedy weed characters behind these scary stories, there is one that rules them all. A dark general of weeds that can seize ahold of fields and rule with an indomitable iron fist that can wipe out farm profitability and productivity, glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth has breached Ohio’s southern border on its destructive march to the north. Earlier this summer, this nightmare weed was spotted in a large field near Portsmouth in extreme southern Ohio. The weed, which has typically been prevalent in Southern states, is moving north, with several other suspected cases statewide. New infestations of Palmer amaranth have also been found farther north, in Michigan and Indiana.… Continue reading

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Steps for profitable wheat

By Laura Lindsey, Pierce Paul, Ed Lentz, Ron Hammond, and Dennis Mills, Ohio State University Extension

As growers make preparations for planting wheat, we would like to remind them of a few management decisions that are important for a successful crop. Nearly every farm in Ohio has a field or two that could benefit from planting wheat, if for no other reason than to help reduce problems associated with continuous planting of soybeans and corn. Consistent high yields can be achieved by following a few important management guidelines. Below are listed the most important management decisions that Ohio wheat producers need to make at fall planting time to produce a crop with satisfactory economic returns.

1. Select high-yielding varieties with high test weight, good straw strength and adequate disease resistance. Do not jeopardize your investment by planting anything but the best yielding varieties that also have resistance to the important diseases in your area. … Continue reading

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State offering drought meetings

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio State University Extension and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will host a series of meetings throughout the state in September to provide crop and livestock farmers with information on farming in a drought and on accessing available relief resources.

In July, Governor John R. Kasich signed Executive Order 2012-11K, instructing state agencies to work with Ohio’s farmers to minimize the potential environmental and economic impact of an agricultural drought. As part of the order, ODA was instructed to hold a series of educational meetings to discuss forage management, water availability, heat stress on livestock, mitigation strategies and other drought-related topics.

The meetings will include officials from ODA, Ohio State University Extension and FSA. The public will have the opportunity to talk with experts and ask questions at the following meetings:


September  10, 2012 5:30pm – 8:00 p.m., Ohio Department of Agriculture – Bromfield Administration Building (Auditorium), 8995 East Main St.,… Continue reading

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Monsanto and Pioneer continue court battles

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth, Mercer County attorney

A huge agricultural case recently made the news. After over three weeks of jury trial, Monsanto was awarded $1 billion in damages for patent infringement by DuPont Pioneer. Eight jurors in U.S. District Court in St. Louis deliberated for less than an hour.

All I know about the case is what I was able to obtain from some on-line research. And I am no expert in patent law. But I would have loved to have spent a short time listening to dark suited litigators argue about stacking. There’s nothing funnier than a common farm term being discussed to death by legal orators and experts.

Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, both distinguished companies, together share about two-thirds of the North American corn and soybean seed markets. As rivals, they are more like a biotech version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, only the weapons of choice are experts, money and attorneys and the fight is over Roundup Ready technology.… Continue reading

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