Iowa small farms use teamwork to compete

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

There has been a recent trend in agriculture, to not only turn a profit in the industry but to just plain survive, and that is to go big or go home. For some small farms that may mean expanding their operations by leaps and bounds, for others that may require finding other means of income or changing careers altogether.

That is why a group of small farmers in rural Iowa who call themselves FUN, or Farmers United Network, have taken matters into their own hands by combining efforts to create an atmosphere that can compete in today’s marketplace. Chris Barron is one of the Iowa farmers involved in this venture and he said that more than the profits are shared in this network. He and neighboring farmers also share information, over 8,000 acres of land and equipment.

“We’ve discovered that our strategy really improves efficiency for everyone’s operation,” Barron said.… Continue reading

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Herbicide carryover after a dry year

This summer’s lack of rain has translated into the potential for summer-applied herbicides to carry over into winter wheat or even spring-planted corn and soybean crops — something growers need to be monitoring, two Purdue Extension weed scientists said.

In a normal year, soil moisture helps dissipate herbicide soil concentrations, but in a drought year, the lack of moisture slows that process. Some herbicides might carryover and exceed the labeled crop rotation restrictions meant to prevent injury to the next crop.

“The largest concern this year is the carryover of atrazine and subsequent injury on wheat,” Bill Johnson said. “It is off-label to plant any crop other than corn or sorghum during the same calendar year of an atrazine application.”

Labels vary on exact rotational restrictions, but most atrazine premix labels range 14 to 15 months.

Another herbicide with potential to injure wheat is fomesafen applied postemergence in soybeans. The wheat rotational restriction for fomesafen is four months after application, but in areas that saw the least rainfall, Johnson said the carryover could be longer.… Continue reading

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Wine workshop next month

Wine grape growers, commercial wine operators, and those interested in becoming either can learn the practical and essential skills to be successful at a Nov. 15 workshop held by Ohio State University horticulture, viticulture and enology experts.

The program is from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon.

The workshop is designed to help growers and winemakers, as well as to boost Ohio’s wine industry, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at OSU South Centers at Piketon.

“It’s good for grape growers to talk to winemakers, because you have to have good fruit in order to make good wine, so it’s good to get them together in the same classroom,” he said. “This workshop is great for people in the business or those who want to get into the business.”

Researchers with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) will conduct the workshop, which will include information on the basics of grapevine propagation techniques; vineyard management; sensory evaluation of wines; critical aspects of white and red wine production; and identification of new invasive pests in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Seed industry poised for change and growth

A conversation with…

John Soper, DuPont Pioneer Vice President of crop genetics and research development


OCJ: This is among the most exciting times in the history of the human cultivation of crops. From a broad industry perspective, what do the coming years hold in terms of seed and crop production technology?

John: We have an incredible challenge ahead of us as we strive to improve agricultural productivity by nearly two-fold between now and 2050 to feed the growing global population. In order the meet this goal, I believe that we will need both genetic improvement solutions as well as further improvements in agricultural production systems to create higher productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner. I envision that as time moves forward, we will see collaborations that result in a true systems approach that will combine elite genetic solutions with leading edge production system technologies.


OCJ: This year obviously highlighted the challenges associated with limited water availability.… Continue reading

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Harvest of the March 22 corn

The corn planted on March 22 is in the books. It fared roughly the same as most of the other corn on the farm and in the area in Fayette County. The clay ground and hills yielded very poorly, with some yields near or at zero, while the good black dirt produced yields ranging from 150 to 200 bushels. There were some problems with premature sprouting.

In hindsight, the 113-day corn planted in the field may have fared better if it had been a 108-day hybrid instead. But, overall, the March 22 corn finished in about the middle of the pack. Next year, the farmer will continue to push planting for his corn as early as possible.

On April 10, 2012 we reported on some of the first corn to come up in Ohio. It was planted on March 22, 2012 in Fayette County. We are going to follow that field along through to harvest. Continue reading

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SURE signup has started

Steve Maurer, State Executive Director for Ohio’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), announced the start of the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program.  “Any eligible producer who suffered losses during the 2011 crop year is encouraged to visit their local FSA office to learn more about the SURE program and how to apply,” Maurer said.

The SURE program is part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). Under the 2008 Farm Bill, SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and producers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011.  All eligible farmers and producers must sign-up for 2011 SURE benefits before the June 7, 2013 deadline.

To qualify for a SURE payment, the producer’s operation must be located in a county that was declared a disaster for 2011 and have at least a 10 percent production loss that affects one crop of economic significance.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – October 22nd, 2012


The average temperature for the State was 52.9 degrees, 1.5 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, October 21, 2012. Precipitation averaged 0.56 inches, 0.11 inches below normal. There were 40 modified growing degree days, 8 days below normal.

Reporters rated 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, October 19, 2012. Topsoil moisture was rated 7 percent very short, 22 percent short, 63 percent adequate, and 8 percent surplus.


Dry field conditions have enabled operators to rapidly progress with row crop harvests and winter wheat planting. The majority of hay producers are done cutting hay for the season. The tobacco harvest is completed; some tobacco has been taken down from the curing structures and stripped.

As of Sunday October 21st, fifty percent of the corn was harvested for grain, ahead of last year by 38 percent and the five-year average by fourteen percent.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas-October 22nd

“I’m waiting in line to dump corn right now. I would say 80% of the beans in the area are off and 25% to 30% of corn in the area is off. I planted wheat over a week ago, which has been good and it is coming up nicely. This little band that we live in here has been doing extremely well. My best field of beans averaged 75 or 76 bushels and our beans are averaging mid 50s to low 60s. The couple hundred acres of corn we have taken off so far are averaging in the 180- to 200-bushel range.

“We were lucky to be in just the right spot for phenomenal yields. You only have to go less than a mile before crops get not so good. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

“We have a long ways to go. The moisture on the corn is anywhere from 17% to 22.5%.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring-October 22nd

“I am just finishing up beans today. I should be done within the hour. I have most of the corn off. There are maybe 500 acres to go. We have things pretty well cornered.

The beans are doing pretty well. They are averaging around 50 bushels, or a little better, but as we went further north the yield was less. There was less rain there.

“Corn yields will end up in that 150- or 160-bushel range for an average. The yields are down 30 to 40 bushels from last year and the beans are probably five or 10 bushels off.

“The ears seem to be holding on well in the corn. I have heard reports of some varieties dropping, but I haven’t seen any of that. It seems to be standing well. With the rains we are getting, it has been keeping things wet and the beans don’t get too dried out.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden-October 22nd

“We’re cutting beans today. We didn’t get much rain over the weekend and things are fairly dry. We’re about three-quarters done with the corn and a third or so done on the beans, maybe close to half. We’re averaging 112 bushels on the corn and 60.5 bushels on the soybeans. I think we’ve run our worst soybeans and I know we’ve run our worst corn. I think we can still get to that 120 or 125 bushels on corn and hopefully keep it around 60 on the beans.

“The corn is standing well and we got our wheat in around the tenth. We usually are right there at the fly date putting it in. This week, with temperatures getting up into the 70s, it will really take off. Hopefully that will make up for the 10-day late planting,

“Our Vistive Gold soybeans have been yielding well for us. They are right there or better with all of our other beans.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius-October 22nd

Harvest has wrapped up for 2013. “Corn and soybean harvest has finished up on the farm. Soybean yields are in the mid-50s and corn is going to end up right around 100, which is pretty much what we thought it would be. I was a really happy with the soybean yields we had this year.“

Considering the extremely challenging conditions on the farm — most notably the lack of rainfall — the harvest went pretty well. “I was surprised that the corn held up as well as it did. We really did not see many problems with the ears falling off or standability. I am really pleased with my beans. The beans died off early then started to green back up when it started raining. There are some beans shattering on the hills, but it really was not that big of a deal.”

With harvest completed, the focus on the farm has turned to other autumn tasks.… Continue reading

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Japanese wheat imports rise

In September 2011, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries increased its quota for feed wheat in fiscal year 2012, from 446,000 metric tons (17.5 million bushels) to 1.21 million tons (47.2 million bushels). Japan’s feed wheat imports increased from October 2010 to August 2012, which demonstrates that imports have grown since late 2011.

High global corn prices will cause reaction in the industry with people trying to mitigate high feed costs. This substitution is an example of increasingly competitive situation facing U.S. corn. Once end-users and feed mixers become accustomed to a new ration, it can become a challenge to win back the market.… Continue reading

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Keep your eyes on dropping ears

By Matt Reese

As harvest wears on, some corn growers are seeing low yields get even lower as a result of ears falling off the plants prior to harvest.

“The corn yields we’re seeing are between 75 and 125 bushels per acre,” said Clarence Steiner, who farms in Wayne County. “Ears are dropping because the plants are stressed and they aren’t attached really well. The ears are out here dropping before we even get out there with the combine. You cans see them when you’re walking through the fields. I would say we’re losing an ear every 12 feet or so and, the sad thing is, that it is the biggest ears that are dropping because they are heavier.”

The worst problem he has seen is around Kidron and to the south down around Mt. Hope.  Steiner is about halfway done harvesting corn.

“Once guys see their ears dropping they get after harvest pretty fast,” he said.… Continue reading

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Slim but sweet apple crop

Consumers may find that while the apple pickings in Ohio may be slimmer this year, the apple crop’s overall quality will be more flavorful, an Ohio State University Extension expert said.

As a result of the extreme weather that the Buckeye state has experienced this year, including spring frosts, summer drought, extreme heat, high winds and hailstorms, the state’s apple crop this year is expected to be much smaller than in a typical year, said Diane Miller, an OSU Extension fruit-tree specialist.

That means that while Ohio apples are available at markets and grocery stores, consumer will likely find a higher price tag on the shelves, she said.

“Apple crops in Indiana, Michigan and northern Ohio are smaller this year,” Miller said. “No one has a really heavy crop.”

Apple production in Ohio is expected to be down some 46% this year, said Bill Dodd, president of the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association.… Continue reading

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Bird’s eye view of big yielding beans

By Matt Reese

Dale Minyo and I got a bird’s eye harvest view of Louie Rehm’s bin busting soybean field in Wayne County via a helicopter ride just outside of Orrville.

I will confess that I did have some initial reservations about riding in the doorless circa 1970s helicopter used for sightseeing and aerial crop pesticide application. But, once in the air — despite the fact that only a ragged seatbelt separated me from a high speed plummet to Wayne County — I could not help but dangle myself out the side with my camera to capture some beautiful shots.

Ultimately, the helicopter was really fun, but only a periphery distraction from the story of the day — incredible soybean yields. Boosted by a new drainage system that held water in the tile lines throughout the dry summer, the combine’s yield monitor in the field held pretty tightly to 100 bushels through most of the field planted with Northrup King soybeans.… Continue reading

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New app lets you report invasive species

Now there’s a new tool for fighting alien invasions.

Your smart phone.

Ohio State University Extension has released a new app for spotting and tracking invasive species — non-native organisms such as Asian carps, purple loosestrife and Asian longhorned beetle — to try to keep them from setting up beachheads and hurting the economy and environment.

By using the free Great Lakes Early Detection Network app, a person can take pictures of suspected invasive species — whether of farm, woods or water — and upload the pictures and locations for verification.

Based on this early warning, scientists can send out alerts, map the spread and figure out a battle plan.

“Early detection gives us a greater chance of being able to handle infestations before they become so large that eradicating them isn’t possible or feasible,” said Kathy Smith, forestry program director for Ohio State University Extension and a co-developer of the app.… Continue reading

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Summer weather may take some terror from Halloween

By Matt Reese

Everyone loves a giant Halloween pumpkin to terrify the neighbors and the trick-or-treaters that come a knocking, but there will not be quite as much terror to go around this year, courtesy of a challenging growing season.

Bob Sage’s important autumn pumpkin crop was little off in 2012 on his Geauga County farm. The pumpkins are on trickle tape irrigation, which is crucial for providing moisture to the plants prior to vining. The summer heat did not hurt the numerous types of specialty gourds or pie pumpkins they produce, but did reduce the size of the largest pumpkins.

“Our large pumpkins are just not quite as large,” Sage said. “Our pumpkin crop was OK. Disease control is the challenge with pumpkins, and downy mildew does just as well in a dry year as in a wet year.”

Those largest pumpkins command the highest prices and have the highest demand for Sage, and at many pumpkin patches around the state.… Continue reading

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Time to nominate your favorite CCA

Harold Watters, CPAg/CCA, OSU Extension

Now is the time to nominate your Certified Crop Adviser for honors. If your CCA got you through another difficult year then consider nominating her or him for this honor. The application is found on the Agronomic Crops Team website ( under Links or at the go address:

The Ohio Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Program is sponsoring one state award titled “Ohio Certified Crop Adviser of the Year“. The award program is designed to recognize an individual who is highly motivated, delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agricultural industry in Ohio.

Last year’s deserving winner, Mike Dailey, was awarded the honor in March – and the winner for this year will receive the award on March 5th at the 2013 Conservation Tillage Conference.… Continue reading

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SCN plant resistance gets a boost

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) does hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year. Matt Hudson and Brian Diers, crop sciences researchers at the University of Illinois and Andrew Bent at the University of Wisconsin, think they may have found a way to strengthen plant resistance. The research has just been published in Science Express.

Diers and Hudson, with researchers at Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska, have been studying an area on chromosome 18 called Rhg1 (Resistance to H. glycines) that is known to be the location of the main source of SCN resistance. Rhg1 disrupts the formation and maintenance of potential nematode-feeding sites on plant roots.

Most SCN-resistant soybeans in the Midwest are bred to contain Rhg1, but no one knew the DNA sequence of the gene that was responsible for the resistance. Diers wanted to find it.

“You could say it’s a billion-dollar gene because it’s in many varieties, it’s widely used, and it’s protecting varieties against these nematodes,” he said.… Continue reading

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Dandelions, cash crop for Ohio?

By Fred Michel, Associate Professor of Biosystems Engineering in the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University’s OARDC campus

Natural rubber is a critical renewable resource used for countless products including hoses, car parts and tires. Natural rubber has properties superior to those of synthetic rubber and is required for the most demanding uses, such as airplane and truck tires. Currently, the United States is totally dependent on natural rubber derived from rubber trees grown in Southeast Asia. Growing international demand for natural rubber has led to steep price increases and even shortages. While Ohio is the home to many multinational rubber corporations and rubber production and manufacturing facilities, these companies lack a domestic source for their most important feedstock.

Research at the Ohio State University OARDC is addressing this issue by developing a new crop that can be grown in Ohio and other Northern states to supply rubber.… Continue reading

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