Reading weeds to improve soil health

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Weeds often tell a story about how a farm is managed.  Most weeds grow really well in soils low in calcium with low humus.  Often potassium and/or magnesium levels are high, but not always. Many weeds act as collectors of minerals that are deficient in the soil.  When weeds die, they often improve the mineral nutrition of the soil.  If farmers can understand what the weeds are telling them, they can change their management to

Canada thistle

reduce weed populations.

Two problem weeds are giant foxtail and Canada thistle.  Both these weeds thrive in soils that are highly saturated, poorly drained, have low porosity, and have low humus. These soils have low oxygen levels and contain anaerobic bacteria which are generally harmful to crop health.  Low calcium and phosphorus are common problems in these soils. For Canada thistle, copper is also often low. Thistle roots can grow 20 feet deep and are a perennial plant, so they are trying to add humus and get oxygen deep into the soil. 

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Soybean Research and Information Network

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

The Soybean Research and Information Network (SRIN) is a source for information regarding soybean diseases, pests, diagnostic tools and more. The site contains summaries and highlights of the latest soybean research.

“The SRIN is a new project that is being developed by the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP),” said David Clark, Warren County farmer, and current Ohio Soybean Council member. “We are taking a lot of the research from the NCSRP as well as other collegiate research and bring everything together into a single resource to benefit farmers and researchers. The idea is that it will be a site that researchers can log into and view white papers from previous research to gain useful information to benefit their current and potentially new research efforts.”

A good deal of research related to soybeans has been conducted over the years, but there is no one single location where it is all referenced for easy use.

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Green stem syndrome

By Matt Hutcheson, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One issue that impacts soybean harvest in the eastern Corn Belt at some level each year is green stem syndrome. Green stem syndrome could be larger issue for the 2017 harvest because of latter planting dates in many areas. When green stem syndrome occurs, stems and leaves can remain green after pods have matured. As a result, while pods and seeds are mature and dry enough to be harvested, harvest operations can be slowed as combines have more difficulty dealing with stems and leaves that are still green. In addition to creating harvest delays, green stem syndrome can increase fuel consumption and result in shattering losses if growers delay harvest until stems have fully matured.

The occurrence of green stems varies from year-to-year and can be affected by several factors, such as: 
• Viral infections 
• Insect feeding 
• Late planting 
• Drought stress 
• Application of fungicides

Successful management of green stem syndrome requires management practices that include timely planting, establishing adequate plant stands, irrigation, and controlling insects/pests.… Continue reading

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Corn harvest on track, beans falling behind

A week punctuated by very wet weather slowed fieldwork, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Both topsoil and subsoil moisture levels increased last week as nearly all areas of Ohio received above average precipitation. The State averaged 2.12 inches of rain last week, 0.84 inches more than normal. Some areas received significantly more precipitation. Even though temperatures last week were more temperate, they were 3.1 degrees above normal. There were 2.8 days suitable for fieldwork.

Despite a rainy week, farmers were able to continue to harvest a few corn and soybean fields early in the week.
Farmers did not anticipate being kept out of fields for long as soil conditions prior to last week’s rains were dry. Corn
silage harvest continued to march towards finish; Eighty-three percent of the silage acres had been harvested to date. Hay and pasture regrowth will benefit from last week’s rain.… Continue reading

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Assessing pre-harvest challenges in corn

By Matt Reese

There is no question some combines around the state will be harvesting big corn yields this fall. Many areas of the state had excellent growing conditions to set the stage for great corn in 2021. Some, however, did not. 

“It definitely has been a year of variability again. We have areas that will have a really good corn crop across my geography. Unfortunately we have areas that have not gotten much rain and things are a little tough,” said Roy Ulrich, technical agronomist for Dekalb and Asgrow in southern Ohio. “We also have some guys who got way too much rain, either early on or here more recently, and it will impact this crop negatively. I think we have a lot of fields that are probably going to sit at trendline yield or just above and we are going to have some challenged areas as well.”

Ulrich was recently in one of those challenged fields.… Continue reading

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Predictions for another round of fall armyworm

By Andy MichelKelley TilmonCurtis Young, CCAMark SulcAaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

“Could Ohio really face another generation of fall armyworm in the next few weeks?” This has been the most frequent question from many of our stakeholders—and rightfully so given the damage we have already seen in forage and turf. Fall armyworm (FAW) is normally a tropical insect and can reproduce very fast in warm temperatures. In fact, our extension educators found fall armyworm egg masses in the field last week. Whether or not a new generation of caterpillars will cause damage largely depends on one factor: temperature.

A recent study compared fall armyworm development at different temperatures (see Higher temperatures result in faster growth — at a constant 78.8 degrees F, FAW can go from an egg to a damaging caterpillar (4th instar) in as little as 10 days.… Continue reading

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Life in a time of glyphosate scarcity

By Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-31 & 32

It’s been a strange couple of years with shortages and supply chain problems. And just when you think anything else couldn’t happen, the supply of glyphosate, which is usually way more abundant than water in the American West, has apparently become short. 

This is forcing decisions about where glyphosate has the most value. We have talked with suppliers who are already saving the glyphosate for spring/summer next year and going with other options for fall burndown for wheat and later fall applications for winter weeds. In the end, we have alternatives, but at increased cost or reduced effectiveness in certain situations. A continued shortage will cause more problems in next year’s crops than it does now though.

Mark Loux OSU Extension Weed Scientist
Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Scientist

Herbicide options for burndown of existing weeds prior to emergence of no-till wheat include glyphosate, Gramoxone, Sharpen, and dicamba.

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Soybean Cyst Nematodes

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off.

“Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is the most important nematode in soybeans because it causes the most damage. It is the number one yield robbing soybean pathogen in North America,” said Marisol Quintanilla, Michigan State University Extension Nematologist.

Marisol Quintanilla, Nematologist, Photo Credit, MSU

It is important for a farmer to know if they have SCN in their field, and at what level.

“A key in SCN management is to try to avoid getting it in the field. The first step is to sample and determine if it is present or not. Collect soil samples and know your numbers,” Quintanilla said. “Some labs can also determine the type of SCN present.”

If SCN is not present, then the goal is to keep it out. “SCN cannot spread on its own,” said Quintanilla. “SCN needs to be spread by something that moves soil, (such as tillage or planting equipment).”

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All things working together

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

To be successful in agriculture today folks need to work together, according to Darke County Farmer Greg McGlinch. Greg and his family operate Down Home Farms near Versailles.

“It started at a young age working with my Dad and Grandpa and Great Uncle, learning some of the old school methods and lessons. A lot of those still apply today,” McGlinch said. “This farm was purchased by my great grandfather in 1900, and for over 121 years we have been learning and sharing.”

Down Home Farms has diversified their crop production over the years raising corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, cereal rye, red clover, sorghum Sudan, and hops. They also have an orchard and raise pasture poultry. Recently they have expanded in cover crop seed production and seed cleaning.

“We started with cereal rye,” McGlinch said.… Continue reading

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Farm Science Review opportunities

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Amanda Douridas, Mary Griffith, Elizabeth Hawkins, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-31

Farm Science Review will be held September 21st – 23rd with lots of excitement in store for farmers young and old. There will be a lot of new equipment and technology to view as you walk around the show grounds and of course milk shakes and delicious sandwiches from the OSU student organizations. OSU also has some exciting areas for you to stop by and learn more about agricultural practices being studied at OSU and view some of the latest technology in action.

One major yield thief in both corn and soybeans is compaction. We will show how the utilization of tracks and various types of tires can affect your crop, especially in pinch row compaction. Very high flexation tires can decrease field compaction by lowering inflation pressure once in the field. Deflating after road travel will maximize the tire footprint.

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Assessing SDS and SCN

By Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

It’s another growing season in the great state of Ohio, and with that came another exceptionally wet spring. Among the many pathogens present, sudden death syndrome (SDS), is once again reminding us why it is in the top two most destructive soybean diseases in the U.S. The moisture, in combination with the cooler periods of weather, created prime periods for fungal infection. When environmental conditions are favorable, infection can occur early in the growing season. When exposed to these conditions, early planted soybeans are most susceptible to infection due to an extended infection period. Unfortunately, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most destructive soybean disease and is often found in conjunction with SDS. Though a quick cure does not currently exist, growers do not need to hit the panic button. Here are a few tips to help control SDS. 

Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

Growers will want to target soybean varieties with some partial resistance to SDS.… Continue reading

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Weed control in changing weather

Wetter springs and hotter, drier summers, already becoming the norm in the Corn Belt, put stress on corn during key reproductive stages, including silking and grain fill. But those same weather conditions can benefit the scrappy weeds that thrive in tough environments.

“Adverse weather and weeds are two stressors to crop production, but there’s been very little research into how the combination of those two factors influence crop yield. Computer models projecting corn yields into the future are assuming weed-free conditions,” said Marty Williams, USDA-Agricultural Research Service ecologist, affiliate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois. “That’s unlikely to be the case without a major transformation in the way we manage weeds.”

Complete weed control is rarely achieved in practice, especially considering herbicides — the single most common tool used to destroy weeds — are losing ground to resistant weeds. Several important weed species, including waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, can shrug off multiple herbicide modes of action.… Continue reading

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Fall SCN sampling

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

Fall is a great opportunity for soil testing. It is also an excellent opportunity to scout and soil test for soybean cyst nematodes (SCN). Soybean Cyst Nematode soil sample collecting can be done after soybean harvest, or in a non-host crop, or anytime during the season in the soybean crop root zone. Soybean Cyst Nematode is the number one contributor to yield loss in soybean crops nationwide, causing an estimated $1.2 billion dollars in damage annually. This pest has been detected in 71 of the 88 counties in Ohio, with the highest concentrations located in the northwestern part of the state.

There are two ways to scout for SCN. The first is to dig the roots and specifically look for the female nematodes. In the late summer and fall they will appear as a “string of pearls” on the roots, which is the female nematode forming the cyst on the root as her body is filled with eggs.

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Improving photosynthetic potential

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers do not often think about how their management practices can influence the rate of photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis has always been assumed to be constant, but it is not. Photosynthesis does not occur at a constant rate, it varies each second, depending on light, carbon dioxide (CO2), water availability, temperature, leaf chlorophyll content, microbial impact on plant nutrient availability, and genetics. Some factors can be manipulated directly, others indirectly. Farmers can manage many of these factors, but not all, to improve yields.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

In a given year, water may be either limited or in excess supply while temperatures can also be extreme, either too cold or too hot.  These factors often reduce nutrient cycling, resulting in reduced plant growth and yield.  Soil compaction and poor soil structure can have a direct impact on microbial activity plant nutrition, water availability, soil temperature, and CO2 storage. 

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Cover crop field day

A Cover Crop Demonstration field day be held Thursday, Sept. 16 from 4-6 p.m. at 400-500 Block of CR 37 Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311 (across from Camp Wesley). The program will be hosted by Tim Lyden, Board Supervisor for the Logan Soil and Water Conservation District.  Light refreshments will be provided. Visitors will get to view several plots of cover crops (over 12 species available), ask questions, and learn how cover crops can work on their farms.

For more information email Mark Wilson at… Continue reading

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Soybean pests

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Many pests and diseases are rearing their ugly head this year.  Fall armyworm, aphids, soybean cyst nematodes (SCN), sudden death syndrome (SDS), and white mold are common problems. Weather and management play a key role in the severity of these pests.

Fall armyworm blow in from the south, most likely on tropical storms.  Each female moth lays 10-20 eggs up t 100 eggs which hatch in 5-7 days and live 7-21 days.  Eggs have been observed on fence posts, lawns, hayfields, corn, soybeans, and vegetable crops.  The eggs hatch and the hungry larvae or caterpillars tend to move in waves, consuming everything in sight, even sometimes their own kind. There are two natural predator wasps that help control fall armyworm.  Other options include bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which is a natural control, neem oil, and pyrethrin insecticides.

Aphids in soybeans are a problem especially during the reproductive stage (R5-R6) with an aphid threshold of 250 per soybean plant. 

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Nitrogen deficiency in corn

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

Due to heavy rainfall and saturated soils during the growing season, some growers may be seeing some signs of nitrogen deficiency showing up in corn fields across the eastern Corn Belt. Whether applied preplant or sidedress, patterns of heavy rainfall and wet soils increase the likelihood of nitrogen being lost. Because nitrogen is an essential nutrient for corn plant development and ultimately yield, losses will impact final yields this fall.

When saturated conditions persist, nitrogen can be lost though leaching or denitrification. Leaching (more likely to occur in course-textured soils) is the process where nitrogen is moved down through the soil profile and out of the root zone where it is not available to plants. The severity of nitrogen loss due to leaching is impacted the intensity and duration of rainfall. Denitrification is the process where soil nitrogen is biologically converted to gaseous nitrogen and lost to the atmosphere.… Continue reading

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Western Ohio cropland values for 2020-2021

By Barry Ward, Leader, Leader in Production Business Management at The Ohio State University

Ohio cropland varies significantly in its production capabilities and, consequently, cropland values and cash rents vary widely throughout the state. Generally, western Ohio cropland values and cash rents differ from much of southern and eastern Ohio cropland values and cash rents. The primary factors affecting these values and rents are land productivity and potential crop return, and the variability of those crop returns. Soils, fertility and drainage/irrigation capabilities are primary factors that most influence land productivity, crop return and variability of those crop returns.

Other factors impacting land values and cash rents may include field size and shape, field accessibility, market access, local market prices, field perimeter characteristics and potential for wildlife damage, buildings and grain storage, previous tillage system and crops, tolerant/resistant weed populations, USDA Program Yields, population density, and competition for the cropland in a region.… Continue reading

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Using electricity to assess soil health

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

A new break-through in soil health testing has occurred which may allow researchers and farmers to instantly measure soil health and microbial activity.  A group of Washington State University researchers are using small electrical currents to assess soil microbes and soil health impacts.  Soil microbes process 90% of the soil’s energy and nutrients.  Each microbe is like a soluble bag of fertilizer, supplying plant roots with nutrients, amino acids, proteins, and even whole enzymes.

Measuring soil health has been difficult.  Soil scientist, fertility specialist, and farmers have used soil chemistry and harsh chemicals to make nutrient analysis.  They also measure soil texture and pH to try to understand a soil’s chemical and physical properties. While chemical and physical measurements may be valuable, they do not always measure soil productivity directly.  Soil biology is extremely important  as well. Unfortunately, there has not been many good tests to measure both biological activity and soil productivity together.

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