Early weed control, bumping seed rate could pay big dividends

By Dave Nanda, Ph.D., Director of Genetics for Seed Genetics Direct

Dave Nanda

I favor early planting if the ground is ready. However, earlier planting also requires early weed control. I saw several fields last year where weed control was not very effective, perhaps due to too much rain. Is early weed control necessary? Yes, because the micro-environment of each plant is very important for their ability to reach maximum yield potential. Plants sense early on if they have competition from weeds or other crop plants, and they start to react and plan their future accordingly. If growers can reduce pressure from weeds, it will encourage crops to produce more yield. 

It is especially important to control weeds early so herbicide-resistant weeds won’t get started. Many weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp, have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide because it was used on millions of acres of corn and soybeans. Genetic and chemical suppliers promoted the use of glyphosate in spite of warnings by many university scientists and crop consultants.… Continue reading

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Federal bills targeting carbon on farms

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

President Biden announced a major goal –— for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half over the next decade as compared to 2005 levels. Agriculture will play a key role in that reduction by “deploying cutting-edge tools to make the soil of our heartland the next frontier in carbon innovation,” according to President Biden. Several bills introduced in Congress recently could help agriculture fulfill that key role. The proposals offer incentives and assistance for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to engage in carbon sequestration practices. 

Here’s a summary of the bills that are receiving the most attention.

Growing Climate Solutions Act, S. 1251

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee passed S. 1251. The bipartisan proposal led by sponsors Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen.… Continue reading

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You need weather records to go along with those fertilizer application records

By Harold Watters and Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension

With planting under way, a couple of reminders. Keep fertilizer application records to confirm you are following your nutrient management plan and to keep tabs on changes that may occur in your soil nutrient levels. This is a reminder of several good sources of weather information that can be used as part of your fertilizer application records.

  • is the standard, and we have told you about this one in our fertilizer applicator certification meetings.
  • From the Ohio Department of Agriculture is the Ohio Applicator Forecast: This works for fertilizer or manure and gives a 12- and 24-hour forecast.
  • From OSU’s Byrd Polar & Climate Center: This may be the simplest tool to use. It gives you a prediction and a red-light or green-light indication if it is safe to apply fertilizer. It can also provide historical data.
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Dicamba training?

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Before applying approved formulations of dicamba, herbicide applicators are required to complete training. Bayer Crop Science is offering multiple options through the dicamba application season, including self-paced online training or guided webinar training.

“Dicamba training started in January and will run through end of June into July. We have seen really good participation in our weekly live webinars and also our online module, which is very convenient for an applicator. Over 18,000 have been trained, so that is really good,” said Mark Groth, North American commercial stewardship weed control manager for Bayer Crop Science. “You can sign up for the live webinars as well as the online module and do that at your own pace and whatever time you want. It is led by a Bayer weed science expert. The webinar is a two-hour slot but they typically run for an hour or an hour and a half and we want time left for people to engage.… Continue reading

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Assessing the damage from the late April snow

By Matt Reese

All types of farmers around the state are preparing to assess the damage from the snow and low temperatures this week.

Evan Hornyak from Geauga County has had some late nights trying to protect the Hornyak Farms u-pick peach crop near Chardon. They have been burning a handful of smudge pots and even built an air blast heater mounted on a tractor to run up and down the rows. 

“The past 48 hours we fought Mother Nature to try and protect our peach crop from the freezing weather, lighting 8 fires strategically placed around the orchard that we were feeding with excavators,” Hornyak said. “All this to just bump the orchard a few degrees and protect the vulnerable peach buds. We will find out in a couple of days by looking at the buds to see if our actions actually worked or not.” 

Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo toured a couple of Morrow County planted soybean fields with Golden Harvest agronomist Wayde Looker the day after the significant snow fall to assess the situation.… Continue reading

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New FactSheet on nutrient removal for field crops in Ohio

By Harold Watters, CPAg/CCA, Ohio State University Extension

An update for nutrient recommendations for Ohio’s major field crops (corn, soybean, wheat, and alfalfa) was published in November 2020 as the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and Alfalfa. The call came in shortly after suggesting that we grow several other crops in Ohio that were not included in this update.

With information from the Tri-State update, discussion with state specialists, and a review of the literature, a FactSheet was created to offer assistance for these other agronomic crops beyond corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa, titled “Nutrient Removal for Field Crops in Ohio”: found on OSU Extension’s OhioLine.

The current philosophy in Ohio for crop nutrient management is to apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilizer or manure equivalent at crop removal rates. Additionally, if soil test levels of P and K are below the critical level, then a “buildup” recommendation would be considered to increase soil test levels into the “maintenance” range. … Continue reading

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RFA, Growth Energy and NCGA defend year-round E15 in court

Last week the D.C. Circuit Court heard oral arguments in American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. vs. EPA, a case in which oil refiners challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 rulemaking that paved the way for the year-round sale of E15. As intervenors in the case, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association argued in support of upholding the E15 rule in court.

In a joint statement, RFA, Growth Energy and NCGA said, “Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access to a more affordable, lower-carbon fuel at the pump. Studies have repeatedly shown that the volatility of E15 is lower than that of E10. And other recent studies find that a nationwide switch from E10 to E15 would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions –equivalent to removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road. If the refiners had their way and this rule was overturned, both volatile emissions and greenhouse gas emissions would increase.… Continue reading

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Spring freeze and crop concerns

By Matt Reese

We all can reference weather forecasts that have been wrong in the past and Ohio collectively was hoping the forecasts including snow for this week would fall under that category. All hopes that winter was in the rear-view mirror, though, were dashed with the April 21 snowfall around the state. 

Fairfield County’s flowers were in trouble.

Meteorologist Ben Gelber with NBC 4 in Columbus reported 2.2 inches a full month after the first day of spring, noting this is the heaviest late snowfall in the area since April 23 through April 25 of 2005. Further north and west in Ohio got closer to 5 inches in some areas and there was snow accumulation of a couple of inches reported throughout much of southern Ohio as well.

There was plenty of the white stuff overnight in Henry County.

This leaves many questions for Ohio agriculture. One of the biggest concerns is for the exposed blossoms on fruit trees.… Continue reading

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Early weed control is best to lower yield losses

By Harold Watters and Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension

When maximizing yield is the goal, controlling early season weeds is critical. Managing weed competition is the one pest management decision we make each year in every field. Weeds compete with the crop for available water, nutrients, and light starting at crop emergence. The first bolded statement in the Ohio, Indiana and Illinois Weed Guide is “Years of research have shown that good weed control within the first 4 to 6 weeks after crops are planted is critical in order to avoid a yield reduction from weeds.” Sound advice.

Some work on soybean out of Michigan shows how weeds present at emergence cause season long yield loss even when removed. Their work showed for each day burndown herbicide application is delayed after soybean planting, a quarter bushel per acre per day yield loss accumulates. By delaying burn down treatment until a soybean plant’s unifoliate stage, the unrecoverable yield loss will total 8%.… Continue reading

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Corn germination and emergence

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 
As growers across the Eastern Corn Belt get ready to plant corn, it is important to review and understand what goes into corn the germination and emergence process. Uniform corn emergence is one of the most important aspects of stand establishment and producing high yielding corn. Understanding germination, emergence, and how environmental factors influence these processes is the first step toward ensure uniform emergence.


Germination begins in a corn seed when it has imbibed 30% of its weight in water. While corn can germinate when soil temperatures are 50 degrees F or higher, research has determined that the optimal temperature is 86 degrees F. Visual signs that corn germination is taking place are the appearance of the radicle root, coleoptile, and seminal roots. When temperatures are cooler, the germination process is slower and seedlings are more susceptible to disease, insects, and other damaging factors.… Continue reading

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Black cutworms and true armyworms arriving

By Andy MichelKelley TilmonCurtis Young, CCAClifton Martin, CCALee Beers, CCABeth ScheckelhoffEric Richer, CCAMark BadertscherCindy Wallace, Ohio State University Extension

We have begun collecting two important pest in our expanded trapping this year—true armyworm and black cutworm. True armyworms feed on wheat before moving on young (typically late-planted) corn. Black cutworm can feed on young corn and even completely cut plants. The moths of these pests migrate from the south and lay eggs in April and May.  True armyworms prefer to lay eggs in wheat or even grassy cover crops like rye whereas black cutworms tend to lay eggs in weedy fields, especially those with chickweed or purple deadnettle. However, infestations are really hard to predict, and the best way to prevent damage is by scouting.

Although we have found moths in our traps, the overall number is relatively low (14 total for armyworm and 17 for black cutworm).… Continue reading

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Weather issues and spring planting

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The warm weather this past week primed many farmers for spring planting.  Government weather forecasting had gotten better but the results are still variable.  According to the NOAA, the year 2020 was a year of extremes, with record temperatures, dry overall conditions, and forest fires in the West.  Northwest Ohio was dry last year with some rain coming later in the summer and fall.  This year, NOAA predicts slightly cooler temperatures as the weather moves away from a La Nina (80% probability) to a more neutral weather pattern.  The El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO measures how warm the Pacific tropical ocean water temperatures are with El Nino’s being warmer and La Nina’s being cooler.

NOAA predictions for the last half of April call for cooler than normal temperatures and possibly wetter than normal, depending on how quick the shift is from La Nina to neutral conditions. 

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Now is the time to fine tune your sprayer

By Erdal Ozkan

Pesticides need to be applied accurately and uniformly. Too little pesticide results in poor pest control and reduced yields, while too much injures the crop, wastes chemicals and money, and increases the risk of polluting the environment. Achieving satisfactory results from pesticides depends heavily on five major factors: 

  1. Positive identification of the pest. 
  2. Choosing the least persistent and lowest toxicity pesticide that will work. 
  3. Selecting the right equipment, particularly the right type and size of nozzle for the job. 
  4. Applying pesticides accurately at the right time. 
  5. Calibrating and maintaining equipment to make sure the amount recommended on the chemical label is applied.

Inspection of sprayers

Higher pesticide costs and new chemicals designed to be used in lower doses make accurate application more important than ever. There is no better time than early spring to take a closer look at your sprayer. Here are some of the things I would recommend you do this week if you don’t want to unexpectantly halt your spraying later in the season when you cannot afford delaying spraying and missing that most critical time to control weeds:

  • First, if you need new or one other type of nozzles on the boom this year, do not delay purchasing new nozzles.
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Good idea? Bad idea? Planting corn and soybeans in early April

By Alexander Lindsey and Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension

Planting when conditions are adequate (soil temperatures above 50°F and greater than 45% plant available water content) is recommended for corn and soybean. This year, these conditions are occurring sooner than normal. At a two-inch depth, average soil temperature ranged from 48 to 51°F between April 1 and April 7 (Table 1). In general, early planting helps increase yield potential of both corn and soybean. For soybean, each day delay in planting after May 1 results in a yield decrease of 0.25 to 1 bu/acre/day. Additionally, there is also the real observation of the last few years that if you don’t get planted early, rains in May could prevent planting all together (thinking of you, 2019). While there are benefits of early planting, there are also risks that should be considered (especially if the weather turns cool).

Soil Temperature from April 1 to April 7

Table 1. Average two-inch soil temperature from April 1 through April 7, 2021 and last freeze date (air temperature ≤32°F) for the past five years.… Continue reading

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Control of dandelion with spring/summer herbicide treatments

By Dr. Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension Weed Specialist, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-08

Dandelion seems to be on the increase in some fields, as we noted in a video last summer and  CORN article last fall.  Fall is the optimum time of year to reduce dandelion populations with herbicides, so we expect them to become more of a problem in fields that are not treated in the fall at least occasionally.  If history is any indicator, other causes can include oversimplification of herbicide programs in soybeans, omission of residual herbicides, and delaying burndown herbicides until later in spring.  All of these occurred during the first few years of RoundupReady soybeans, and we had some dense stands of dandelions that developed in late 1990’s.  We again have some very effective weed management platforms for soybeans, and the possibility of the same happening.  In addition, while POST applications of glufosinate have broad-spectrum activity on annual weeds, they are not that effective on dandelion and other perennials, which can allow some of these weeds to get more of a foothold.

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Spring planting decisions

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Last year, spring planting occurred during a cold dry spring, while this year conditions are warm and dry. Farmers have several planting options, depending on whether they are conventional tillage farmers or planting no-till with cover crops. What options farmers choose and their success may depend upon soil and moisture planting conditions.

First, the wheat crop is really green and uniform this year in Northwest Ohio. February snows protected the wheat from cold temperatures and most wheat did not drown out. Microbial levels are generally low after winter and start building as temperatures rise. The soil is a grave yard of dead microbial bodies which have abundant nutrients. During excessive snow melt and heavy spring rains, many soluble nutrients wash away. The dry spring kept soil nutrients around and plants are absorbing these abundant nutrients, promoting lush green plants.

Conventional tillage farmers may be tempted to do more spring tillage, but each tillage pass reduces soil moisture by 0.5-1.0 inch.

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Big yield potential for 2021 as Ohio’s Corn Warriors take to the fields

By Matt Reese

The weather was just not cooperating for planting in 2020. It was time to start filming Season 4 of the reality show Corn Warriors and Greene County farmer Cory Atley was preparing for potential failure on national television. 

Corn Warriors airs on RFD TV and features six farmers from around the country trying to grow record-setting corn yields. Atley (nicknamed “Beast” on the show) farms more than 8,000 acres of leased and family ground and has won the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest for Ohio numerous times. 

“I was nervous. I thought the first year being on Corn Warriors was going to be a complete flop. The weather just did not work with us. We were wet early and we planted until June 15, which is not common for us. The biggest chunk of the corn acres went in the last week of May and beans were planted after that,” Atley said.… Continue reading

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No-till field day highlights

By Randall Reeder, P.E., Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)

The virtual Ohio No-till field day held on April 7 is available now on our website: David Brandt hosted the virtual event, which wound up as a little over 2 hours, from the Brandt Farm in Fairfield County. The program begins with comments by Terry Cosby, Chief (Acting), NRCS-USDA.

For your information, another recent virtual program, the Conservation Tillage Conference, March 9-12, is available free at: It has 20 hours of information on managing crops, nutrients, and pesticides, plus improving soil health.

Economics of regenerative agriculture   

Eric Niemeyer, Delaware County, and David Brandt shared their experiences on the April 7 virtual program.      

Eric has been continuous no-tilling with cover crops since 2014. Most cover crop mixes have been seeded with a high-clearance seeder. For corn, he has seeded just after tassel and keeps experimenting with even earlier dates.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance and early planting dates

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

With near record warm temperatures for early April and ideal ground conditions, it is very enticing for farmers to start the 2021 planting season earlier than normal. Current research from Dr. Laura Lindsey, soybean and small grains specialist at The Ohio State University shows that planting date has the greatest impact on determining final soybean yields. But many farmers look at the calendar and also consider the crop insurance implications to getting this earlier than normal start to the season.

Jason Williamson, of Williamson Crop Insurance says that farmers are covered if they plant early, but the replant portion of their policy may not be.

“The most common question I have gotten this week is what is the earliest date I can plant with my crop insurance,” Williamson said. “There are actually two answers to that question.

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Cover crop benefits and the soybean microbiome (Part 2)

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Most discussions involving soybean yield and health typically center on the plant health. The DNA of the soybean microbiome is rarely a discussion point among farmers. That could be changing in the future as more emphasis is placed on raising cover crops and the potential benefit to soybean yields. Research funded by the Ohio Soybean check-off is being conducted to evaluate the impact from cover crops on the soil life. One such project focuses on the understanding of winter cover crops in a corn-soybean rotation, with emphasis on the soil microbiome and the resulting benefits to soybean health and yield.

A research study, identifying specific fungi associated with the soil microbiome is ongoing to measuring changes at numerous points during the specific crop rotations.

“The DNA of the fungi in the soil is analyzed,” said Soledad Benitez Ponce, Assistant professor, Phytobacteriology at The Ohio State University.

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