More pesticide concerns with bees

By Ron Hammond and Andy Michel, Ohio State University Extension entomologists

Over the past decade we have discussed the need for growers to be careful when applying foliar insecticides to their crops because of the potential for harming bees that might be foraging for nectar if the crop or nearby plants are in bloom, and to manage their applications carefully to reduce the possibility of drift.

Recent articles in the popular press and newspapers, including Saturday in the Columbus Dispatch, bring up another possible concern, that being the use of a relatively new class of insecticides, neonicotinoids, which are related to nicotine found in tobacco.  In field crops, their main use is as seed treatments, and includes the insecticides clothianidin (Poncho), thiamethoxam (Cruiser), and imidacloprid. Recent studies out of Purdue and labs in Europe suggest that the use of clothianidin as a seed treatment might impact bees, either by causing mortality or more likely affecting their behavior and preventing bees from returning to their hives.… Continue reading

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E15 takes the next step

At a time when gas prices are on the rise, the approval today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of E15 blended fuel, with 15% ethanol, is a good milestone of progress for the industry and a boon to the U.S. economy, according to the National Corn Growers Association. EPA approved the first applications for registering ethanol for use in making E15; however, there are other steps that must be taken at the federal, state and local levels before it will be seen in gas stations.

“We’ve been working for a long time to make E15 a real choice for drivers, and we’re happy to see this step forward,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “We hope that within a matter of months we can get this important blend into vehicles to help decrease our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and help bring gas prices down.”

Click here for information from the EPA on E15 and an explanation of the thorough registration process.… Continue reading

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Ohio Crop Progess Report for April 2nd


The average temperature for the State was 48.6 degrees, 2.9 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, April 1, 2012. Precipitation averaged 0.30 inches, 0.46 inches below normal. There were 43 modified growing degree days, 11 days above normal.

Reporters rated 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, March 30, 2012. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 29 percent surplus.


Temperatures were above normal and precipitation below normal throughout the state; however a heavy freeze during the night of March 27 may negatively impact this year’s apple and peach crop. Other field activities for the week include field application of manure, anhydrous, and fertilizers. Fields are much drier than normal for this time of year, which allowed operators much earlier access to fields with farm machinery.… Continue reading

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Cover crops worth considering

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Associate Agronomist, Seed Consultants, Inc.

At a recent Conservation Tillage Conference, Dave Robison gave an interesting presentation about legume cover crops. While farmers are beginning to work with and see the benefits of cover crops, they may want to consider adding legumes into their mix of cover crops.

Legumes will fix N, can have a deep fibrous root system, and will cause an increase in soil biological activity. As one speaker at the conference said, cover crops can be like “giving your earthworms Red Bull.” For interesting information on the benefits of no-till and cover crops check out this article on Robison’s website.

Some legumes you may want to consider for cover crops are medium red clover, crimson clover, Austrian winter pea, cowpea, and hairy vetch. It is important for producers to select the right cover crops that will benefit their specific management practices. Below are some possible benefits of growing legume cover crops:

  • · Some legume cover crops can fix 90+ units of N
  • · Small top growth can still result in 20 to 30 in of root growth
  • · Deep fibrous root systems will improve soil quality and promote biological activity
  • · Other cover crops (such as radishes) will have better growth when planted along with a legume cover crop.
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Tips to maximize planting

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Planting corn is a race against time — trying to cover all of the acres in a very narrow window. Because of the time crunch, planting is often seen as just another operation that needs to be completed quickly, when in all actuality, planting is the single most important operation to achieve a bumper corn crop. Planting is not just about putting seed into the ground, planting is about providing the proper conditions to achieve an even stand with a quick and uniform emergence. The key to planting success is the corn planter.

Why is so much emphasis put on the planter? Because once a corn seed is planted, there is very little to nothing that can be done to fix the errors of planting. Therefore, properly planting the crop the first time is essential. The following is a list of some last minute tips to help get the corn crop off to a great start.… Continue reading

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Ohio intends to increase corn acres

Based on a March 1 prospective plantings survey, Ohio farmers intend to increase the amount of corn and oat acreage in 2012 while decreasing the wheat and hay acreage. Soybean and tobacco acreage remains the same as last year.

Ohio corn producers intend to plant 3.80 million acres this spring, up from 3.40 million acres last year. Ohio soybean acreage is forecasted at 4.55 million acres for 2012, the same as last year.

Winter wheat acreage for 2012 is estimated at 580,000 acres, down 300,000 acres from the previous year. The State’s oat acreage increased 5,000 acres from last year to 55,000 acres.

Ohio hay producers expect to harvest a total of 1.05 million acres, down 6% from the previous year. This includes alfalfa, grain, and all other types of hay. Burley tobacco acreage is forecasted at 1,600 acres in 2012, the same as 2011.

U.S. corn growers intend to plant 95.9 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2012, up 4% from last year and 9% higher than in 2010.

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USDA prospective planting report has corn acres up in 2012

By Matt Reese

USDA’s planting intentions report has corn up 4% from 2011

USDA expects a large acreage for corn in 2012 in the Prospective Plantings report that had traders scrambling prior to its release.

“The long awaited USDA planting intentions report and grain stock report has finally been released. In the days preceding the report, corn fell off 52 cents,” said Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile in Pickaway County.”Traders have been extremely nervous as they have been liquidating positions in an attempt to reduce risk heading into the March 30 reports.”

So far, the markets appear to be responding.

“Calls are all over the spectrum heading into the 10:30 opening,” Tenney said. “Corn is called 5-10 cents higher, other calls have corn 20-30 cents higher.

Soybeans are called 30-40 cents higher.”

Driven by favorable prices, U.S. farmers intend to plant 95.9 million acres of corn in 2012, up 4% from 2011, according to the report released today by the U.S.… Continue reading

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Farmers should still keep tillage passes to a minimum

Unseasonably warm weather might have farmers tilling their fields earlier than normal, but a Purdue Extension agronomist cautioned them against tilling more than necessary.

While there’s nothing wrong with early tillage, Tony Vyn said producers need to think ahead and not increase the total number of passes they’re making across their fields.

“From the soil, fuel and time conservation points of view, early tillage operations need to be considered as candidates for the final tillage operations farmers complete,” he said. “It’s important not to till now and then do it again later before planting. That means that when farmers are ready to plant, they should consider using a stale seedbed approach.”

Vyn also said that with long time gaps between tillage and planting, it is important to avoid the risks of excessive seedbed moisture loss if dry conditions prevail.

“Cloddy seedbed preparation several weeks before planting should not even be considered acceptable, and certainly not on high clay soils,” he said.… Continue reading

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Seed size and planter prep

A conversation with Jeff Rectenwald, DEKALB Asgrow agronomist.

OCJ: Jeff, you get questions every year about seed size and shape and how those factors relate to spring planting and yields. What are some important things growers need to remember about handling different seed sizes in their planters and how it can impact yield?

Jeff: Following manufacturers’ recommendations and considering tools to enhance plantability can help limit the risk of poor plantability. If plantability concerns related to seed size are managed properly, the effect of seed size should not significantly affect yield potential under most conditions.

Corn seed size or shape is not related to genetic yield potential. Research to evaluate the effect of corn seed size on yield potential has been conducted several times finding that seed size does not affect yield potential under normal planting conditions. There are always exceptions to normal conditions. To understand the effect seed size may or may not have on yield potential, it is important to: understand how seed size is determined, examine how it might affect emergence and early growth, understand the importance of proper planter settings, and know management techniques that may be used to help improve plantability of various seed sizes with different types of planters.… Continue reading

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Reclassification makes easier transport for corn gluten

Last week, a key working group of the International Maritime Organization recommended approval of a U.S. proposal that corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal be reclassified in the official IMO code to make transport of these quality feed ingredients simpler, by eliminating a requirement that these cargoes be loaded on vessels with specialized fire suppression equipment.

The proposal was based on the results of tests organized by the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, in cooperation with a number of U.S. producers, marketers and shippers of CGF and CGM.

“For corn gluten to be loaded with these specifications, it would have significantly raised the cost of exporting U.S. corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal,” said Erick Erickson, USGC director of programs and planning. “This would reduce the attractiveness of these products to feed manufacturers.”

In 2010, the U.S. Grains Council organized an industry group to address this problem.… Continue reading

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Is there enough seed for a replant?

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

It is unprecedented that Ohio farmers start rolling corn planters during the third week of March, but that was exactly what some did, getting 2012 off to a really early start.

So what is the advantage? According to Steve Prochaska, Ohio State Extension agronomy field Specialist, there isn’t one.

“We have 6 more weeks to plant corn and still be at 100% of yield,” said Prochaska pointing out that yields in 2011 were remarkably high considering a planting date as late as June 1.

Prochaska said sowing corn that early is quite a gamble and there are many factors that farmers will have to look at if they have already shown their hand for this planting season, including their stand by planting date and uneven seedling emergence.

“What we have found through the years is that we really want corn to come up very evenly,” Prochaska said.… Continue reading

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Will there be a shift to soybeans?

Although decisions on what to plant essentially took place last summer or fall when farmers ordered seed and other inputs, now is the time many consider tweaking those plans, says an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist.

Barry Ward, production business management leader for OSU Extension, said both corn and soybean prices have been up and down since harvest.

“Farmers usually look at those signals as they fine-tune plans for planting,” Ward said. “They have the ability to make changes as long as they haven’t done any kind of field activity, like applying anhydrous ammonia or pre-emergent herbicides, that would prohibit them from switching. And, every year we have different weather considerations — last year, some farmers switched from corn to soybeans because of all that rainfall and the lateness of planting.”

This year, corn prices remain strong despite the fluctuations since fall, but recently soybean prices have strengthened in comparison, Ward said.… Continue reading

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Urea up $200 a ton in Ohio

By Heather Hetterick, Ohio Ag Net

Talk about sticker shock. When farmers go to buy fertilizer they may be taken aback by the price of urea that has jumped upwards of $200 per ton since February.

“You have farmers that were very slow to commit to their needs for the upcoming season,”  said Phil Altstaetter, Crop Nutrient Manager for Trupointe.

Two or three years ago, people owned fertilizer positions and farmers said we aren’t going to buy. People like Altstaetter held those positions as they devalued tremendously in 2008 and 2009 and then they took smaller positions than traditionally. Now, when farmers are ready to buy there are fewer tons available.

Also, he says the values were too low over the winter. That sent nitrogen to markets outside the U.S. Then in February, concern over having enough nitrogen for all the corn acres foretasted drove bids higher to get imports to the U.S.… Continue reading

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NAWG seeks to stop federal ag research cuts

Wheat farmers, researchers, millers and bakers are in Washington, D.C. to deliver a simple message to Members of Congress: there is no more to cut from federal funding for agriculture research. 

The 35 wheat industry visitors, including a dozen growers and 10 milling and baking representatives, are spreading that message as part of an annual fly-in focusing on wheat research, sponsored by the National Wheat Improvement Committee, a group of wheat scientists and stakeholders, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), the North American Millers’ Association and the American Bakers Association.

Key facts they are sharing with policy makers on Capitol Hill key include:

  • Funding for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will be down 12% since the federal government’s 2010 fiscal year, assuming modest increases proposed in the Obama Administration’s FY2013 budget are adopted.
  • In FY2011 alone, $180 million was cut and not restored due to the elimination of earmarked spending.
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Get corn plants off to a good start

By Kirk Reese, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

When considering corn planting for 2012, one certainty is that the growing season will be different than past growing seasons. However, there are some tactics, including planting at the proper depth, that will help overcome weather challenges in the crop.

Corn planting depth is easily measured shortly after emergence. Taking care to dig up as much of the plant as possible, the distance between the growing point, also known as the first node or crown, and the soil surface is usually three-quarters of an inch deep when planted at recommended planting depths. Measuring the mesocotyl, the area between the seed and the growing point, then adding three-quarters inch, will determine planting depth in the soil. Under ideal conditions, corn can emerge in a week to 10 days. Under more stressful conditions, such as wet soils or extended periods of temperatures below 50 degrees, corn may take up to three weeks to emerge.… Continue reading

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Mark Dowden, March 26

“I farm 2,000 acres with dad, mostly corn and beans, but always a little wheat. We wean to finish two groups of 2,500 contract hogs a year. We have black bottom-ground and some rolling ground from Urbana to north of West Liberty all the way out to DeGraff. We are spread out far enough that we can often go somewhere when it rained somewhere else. We breezed through our anhydrous in about 6 days in beautiful weather. It was 80 degrees and short sleeves.

“There was maybe 200 or 300 acres of corn planted last week down around Urbana west of town in the Mad River Valley on the west side of the river. That is pushing it pretty early. We thought about planting a little last Friday. We finished our anhydrous and we thought maybe we’d try a field just to see what it would do, but then it rained.… Continue reading

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Jim Herring, March 26

There has been an early start for 2012 and no shortage of excitement about the months ahead. “I think there is a lot of optimism out there, but the input costs are catching up with the prices pretty quickly. My planters are all out and ready to go. I just need to dump seed in them. We had the anhydrous bar out and I put a little on just to get ready and try things out.”

Like most farms, there is plenty of soil variation, from the rich river-bottom ground that produced the second and third highest yielding corn yields in the country in NCGA’s 2011 Corn Yield Contest, to heavier clay ground that can offer significant planting challenges. “I will hold off planting until April, watch the long-term forecast and go from there. We run two planters and, if conditions are right, we may start on both corn and soybeans at the same time.… Continue reading

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Billy Pontius, March 26

The nice conditions in March allowed for some early spring productivity on the 2,900-acre farm based in southern Fairfield County. “We’ve gotten some field work done. We sprayed some bean ground last week and we ran about 500 acres with tillage too. We’re putting residual down when we burn it down. That residual will last 2 or 3 months and that will hopefully hold us until June when we’ll need to get out and spray anyway. We’re trying to get ahead of these weeds. I am also going to play it safe and put insecticide down on my corn ground when I spray.

“I know west of here towards Washington Courthouse, there were a few guys out planting. I knew a cold snap was going to hit and I’m glad I didn’t plant anything yet. I am going to try and wait until at least April 6 for crop insurance reasons.… Continue reading

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Mark Thomas, March 26

“We milk 400 cows and farm 2,000 acres. Around 75% of the crops go for the cattle, whether it is corn silage, alfalfa or wheat for straw. We sell the wheat grain, soybeans and some of the corn. We typically have around 650 acres of corn, 650 of soybeans, 300 of wheat, and 350 acres of hay. We also grow some sudangrass for cattle feed. We don’t have set numbers, but we try to make a solid rotation based on what the year throws at us.

“Our wheat is going to be a 75% to 80% crop this year. I have a field that will go for crop insurance. Where it is nice it is beautiful, where it is not, there is nothing. I got the N on in March and the fertilizer and the warm weather have it looking nice.

“It looks like in another two weeks we could be making first cutting alfalfa.… Continue reading

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Anhydrous injury in corn

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Each year, many corn growers that use spring applied, preplant ammonia find some degree of anhydrous ammonia injury within their corn fields. Severe injury can cause significant germination problems or root pruning, which leads to stand loss or uneven stands, which can ultimately lead to significant yield losses.  

As the spring of 2012 begins, much of the Corn Belt has found itself putting on a lot of ammonia and considering planting very soon. This means that the time between anhydrous ammonia applications and planting will most likely be very minimal in many cases. Injury from anhydrous ammonia can be easy to diagnose but somewhat difficult to prevent. Below are some precautions and preventative measures to take to avoid anhydrous injury in corn.

The first step in preventing anhydrous ammonia injury in corn is to understand how anhydrous moves in the soil. When anhydrous ammonia is applied to the soil, it can disperse approximately 3 to 4 inches away from the injection point. … Continue reading

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