Are higher commodity prices here to stay?

Higher commodity prices might be the rule rather than the exception in the coming years, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

While prices regularly rise and fall, they have trended upward in a way that suggests they’ve reached a plateau, said Mike Boehlje. He attributed much of the price movement to bullish export markets, weather-shortened supplies and the effect monetary policies have had on interest rates and investors.

“This higher level may be the new normal,” Boehlje said. “But volatility has increased significantly for agricultural prices, as well as for agricultural inputs. In terms of corn, for example, it’s not unusual in the futures markets to see prices moving 30 cents or more on a daily basis. And although prices may be higher, so are costs to producers. So margins are not likely to stay unusually high.”

Corn and wheat in recent weeks have been trading in the range of $6-$7 per bushel and soybeans above $13 a bushel, about double the prices five years ago.… Continue reading

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Cover crops and prevented planting

Farmers who were unable to plant their corn and soybeans because of bad weather might consider planting cover crops this summer to build soil quality and prevent erosion, a Purdue University Extension specialist says.

Cover crops usually are planted in the fall to protect soil over the winter and replaced with corn and soybeans in the spring. But an exceptionally cool and wet spring kept many farmers from planting, leaving fields fallow.

Because many fields were left bare by prevented planting, Purdue Extension soil scientist Eileen Kladivko recommended planting a cover crop to avoid soil erosion and build soil quality. Cover crops can increase a farm’s long-term productivity by loosening soil structure, reducing nitrate leaching and adding organic matter, Kladivko said. 

“There is no reason not to do something in the summer,” she said. “Soil quality increases by growing things in it.”

Ohio State University cover crop specialist Jim Hoorman said cover crop roots might create pore space, increasing the soil’s water storage capacity.… Continue reading

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Wheat yield and quality update

By Matt Reese

Dan Wagner farms in Hardin and Hancock Counties and started harvesting his wheat crop last week. He feared that both quality and yields would be poor this year. Though he is still disappointed with his wheat crop, it was not as bad as he initially feared.

“The wheat was off last year and this year the disease levels seem to be better, but the yields are worse,” Wagner said. “Wheat looked great coming into May, but then we started seeing the tile lines and I knew it was too wet. The water killed it in the low areas and in other places there was a head, but there was nothing in it. The yield monitor spiked up to 72 bushels in areas where it should’ve been 100.”

This year, fungicide again proved itself, but application at the proper time was also very challenging.

“We sprayed Prosaro, but I think we missed the ideal timing by about three days,” Wagner said.… Continue reading

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The Ohio Crop Progress Report – July 5th, 2011

Temperatures across the state were slightly above average for this time of year, and precipitation was below normal. Most field activities included winter wheat harvest, cutting hay, spraying herbicide and side-dressing corn. As expected, late planted corn is showing better stand counts than that of early planted acres. Reporters in the South Central district report that some stands of winter wheat are showing signs of head scab, the infection rate is low to moderate. Vegetable producers in the South East district have begun harvesting of tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers and sweet corn.

As of Sunday July 3rd, 95 percent of soybeans were emerged, two percent behind last year and four percent behind the five-year average. One percent of the soybeans were blooming, compared to 16 percent for both last year and the five-year average. Fifty-six percent of the winter wheat was ripe, 34 percent behind last year and 4 percent behind the five-year average.… Continue reading

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NightCrawler Gardens growing from love of growing

By Matt Reese

The love of growing plants is at the root of a growing business in Fairfield County.

“Whether it is corn, soybeans, or tomatoes, I love to grow things,” said Jason England, who owns and operates NightCrawler Gardens in Fairfield County with his wife, Sheri. “I just like sowing seeds and watching them come up.”

England grew up in Fairfield County growing strawberries on his family’s small farm and his love of plants led him to study plant biology at Ohio University in Athens. There he met his future wife Sheri, an artist, who found she had a knack for arranging the flowers that England loved to grow.

NightCrawler Gardens started with the young couple renting four acres for the production of field grown fresh-cut flowers near his parents’ home back in Fairfield County in the mid-1990s. They would make the trip up from Athens after classes on Friday to pick the flowers in the glow of their headlights to sell at the Worthington Farmers Market the next morning.… Continue reading

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Increase in corn acres a surprise to everyone

This year’s planting estimate numbers released by the USDA on June 30 show the dynamic capabilities of Ohio farmers. It also demonstrates the need for modern farming technology to get crops in the ground in record time.

Most Ohio farmers were delayed in planting due to one of the wettest springs in history.

Yet the USDA estimates farmers planted more corn this year than last year, with figures showing that Ohio’s farmers put 3.5 million acres of corn in the ground in 2011, up from last year’s 3.45 million planted corn acres.

“Thirty years ago this would not have been an option,” said Mark Wachtman, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers (OCWGA) president and Henry County farmer. “Technology such as using GPS to guide in planting, allows us to plant quickly and do it right the first time. Also, biotech seeds make it possible to have a shorter growing season under adverse weather conditions.”… Continue reading

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Nominate your favorite CCA for the CCA of the Year Award

By Tina Lust, Channel Seed Company, Marion, Ohio and Traci Bultemeier, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Ft. Wayne, IN

What is the CCA of the Year Award?

The Certified Crop Advisor of the Year Award is designed to recognize an outstanding individual in Ohio who is currently a practicing CCA in the field of agriculture.  The award will be presented on March 6, 2012 at the Ada Conservation Tillage Conference (CTC).  Nominations for the award are now being accepted from growers like you!

What is required of a CCA?

A certified crop advisor is required to pass an exam at the state and national level, acquire experience based on years of education they have received,  have a satisfactory referral from a client and employer, and agree to follow the code of ethics.  After becoming certified, CCA’s are required to complete continuing education credits by attending meetings, completing self-reported activities or on-line training courses to obtain 40 credits in a two-year cycle.… Continue reading

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USDA/NASS Acreage Report Full of Surprises

Ohio farmers planted an estimated 3.5 million acres of corn this past spring based on a June 1 Agricultural Survey conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio Field Office. This is up 50,000 acres from the previous year. Growers intend to harvest 3.32 million acres for grain, up 50,000 acres from 2010.

Soybean planted acreage for the Buckeye State is estimated at 4.7 million acres for 2011, up 100,000 last year. Harvested acreage is forecast at 4.68 million acres.

Winter wheat planted acreage is estimated at 890,000 acres, up 110,000 acres from the previous year. Harvested grain acreage is forecast at 860,000 acres, compared to the 750,000 acres harvested in 2010. Planted oat acreage is estimated at 50,000 for 2011, down 15,000 acres from the previous year. Growers intend to harvest 40,000 acres for grain.

Here is the complete areage report

And the latest stocks reportContinue reading

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New wholesale fertilizer company to serve region

Ag Distributors Inc. (ADI) and Waterway Ag Inc. have joined forces to form an LLC that will distribute wholesale fertilizer products in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio under the name Mid States Ag Sales. The new company will begin operations July 1.

ADI, headquartered near Nashville, Tenn., is a provider of bulk and bagged fertilizer to independent retailers across the Southeast. Waterway Ag Inc. is a wholesale fertilizer distributor that operates a river terminal in Metropolis, Ill. The newly formed Mid States Ag Sales will utilize the distribution system of both parent organizations along with other leased facilities.

“By working together, our two companies will be able to gain efficiencies, improve our distribution network, and expand our markets,” said Allen Aycock, operations manager for Mid States Ag Sales. “We are excited about the opportunities this partnership creates and the value we can bring to agricultural retailers and their customers.”

Mid States Ag Sales will service its trade territory with two dedicated salesmen, Jerry Purcell, who can be reached at (606) 679-5046 or

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Use care when harvesting wheat with vomitoxin

By Matt Reese

According to a recent Ohio State University Extension survey, 140 fields in 27 counties have been surveyed for head scab, and the incidence in untreated fields has ranged from 0.4% to 45%. A few fields in all parts of the state (southern, central, and northern) had greater than 25% incidence, while other fields had very low incidence. With vomitoxin again an issue in fields around the state and wheat harvest just getting started, it is important that farmers remember the dangers of inhaling the very small particles of the fungus.

“One of the issues of vomitoxin is that you can have contamination that doesn’t show up in obvious ways. Certainly, there may be issue because we’ve had an incredibly wet year, which promotes the growth of fungus,” said Mary Fleming, an Agricultural Health Nurse in the Hospital and Health Care industry with Kilbourne United Methodist Church. “One of the problems with respiratory exposure is that the particle size that causes damage is so small that it is not visible to the naked eye.… Continue reading

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Ethanol mandate means corn demand less responsive to price

Federal law that helped jump-start the ethanol industry in the United States also is shifting normal supply-and-demand forces within commodities markets, said a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Not quite four years after Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, markets are struggling to meet both the law’s renewable fuels standard and grain demands from the livestock, food and export sectors, said Wally Tyner, an energy policy specialist. About 27 percent of the nation’s corn crop must be devoted to ethanol this year to meet the federal mandate, leaving other corn users to compete for the remaining 73%.

“The renewable fuels standard requires 15 billion gallons of ethanol be consumed per year by 2015, regardless of what the price of corn is and regardless of what the price of crude oil is,” Tyner said. “Corn could be $2 a bushel or $10 a bushel, crude could be $50 a barrel or $100 a barrel and that 15 billion gallons has to be there.… Continue reading

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2011 rough on wheat

The significance of Ohio’s extremely wet spring is well documented in terms of corn and soybean production, but wheat fields also suffered considerably from the abundant precipitation.

“This has not been the best season for wheat,” said Pierce Paul, Ohio State Extension specialist and plant pathologist.

Farmers faced everything from flooded wheat fields, to disease issues and prevented spring nitrogen applications due to the severity of conditions, he said. Because of such conditions, yield estimates across the state range from as low as 25 bushels per acre to as high as 90.

Paul attributed the lower-yielding fields to a combination of flooding, missed nitrogen applications and disease pressure.

“The rains created moist, humid conditions,” he said. “Any time we have moist, humid conditions, we’ll have diseases.”

The most common diseases in Ohio fields this year included powdery mildew, Septoria, Stagonospora and a fairly significant appearance of head scab. But, Paul said, while the incidence of head scab is relatively high, it isn’t as bad as last year, based on his field surveys 145 fields.… Continue reading

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Time for scouting crops

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics & Technology, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One of the most difficult planting seasons is finally over. With high soil moisture and warm temperatures, crops could grow fast but the plant diseases will grow fast too. While scouting for insects, make sure to watch out for diseases also. This will not only help you in getting prepared for foliar fungicides if needed later, you might be able to take some control measures right away for certain pathogens.

Stewart’s wilt is one of those diseases that may be controlled if detected early. It is caused by bacteria carried by shiny black flea beetles, the size of a pin-head. The bacteria live the body of the beetles during winter and if the winters are mild, more beetles will survive. They cause bacterial wilt and leaf blight in the corn plants by feeding and injecting the bacteria into the plants.… Continue reading

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Progress toward cellulosic ethanol from corn stover

DDCE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DuPont, has entered into an agreement to purchase a parcel of land in Nevada, Iowa, adjacent to Lincolnway Energy LLC’s conventional ethanol plant. It is DDCE’s next step toward building one of the world’s first commercial-scale biorefineries to produce fuel-grade ethanol from cellulose, in this case stover-dried cobs, stalks and leaves left after grain harvesting.

DDCE is successfully producing cellulosic ethanol at its pre-commercial facility in Vonore, Tenn., and is scaling up the process to globally license its end-to-end production system. 

“We’re producing cellulosic ethanol sustainably and economically today, and the market is ready and interested to deploy large-scale biorefineries,” said Joe Skurla, CEO of DDCE. “We are purchasing the site next to Lincolnway because it will meet the business needs for our project, and provides potential economic and environmental synergies for both facilities.”

The DDCE process is designed to make fuel from a variety of cellulosic biomass.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows-June 27,2011

“We finished planting on June 8 with corn and beans both. We’re off to a very good start. We have near perfect stands in every field. They look beautiful, really, but they should since they were planted in June. The only kicker is that if it was three or four weeks earlier, we’d be sitting on top of the world right now. But for going in late, I guess we can’t complain. We’re close to that 8-inch mark on the corn that is at about the five-leaf stage. We should be close to knee high by the fourth of July.

“Wheat is kind of a sore subject around here. It looks pretty tough as a general rule. There is head scab and other disease in it. In May, we were wet and had a couple of big rains that killed wheat in the low areas. Wheat is not going to be very good around here.… Continue reading

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ASA pushes for resources to keep inland waterways functioning

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has joined with the National Grain and Feed Association, other producer groups, processors, and input suppliers, alerting the Congressional Appropriations Committees about the urgent need for additional resources to dredge and repair inland waterways that have been damaged by historic high water levels.

“Agricultural producers, processors and exporters rely on the entire Mississippi River system and share concern about the impact recent floods in the Midwest will have on the river system,” said ASA First Vice President Steve Wellman, a soybean producer from Syracuse, Neb. “More than 60% of U.S. soybean exports moved to world markets through the Port of South Louisiana via the Mississippi River and its tributaries.”

A modern and efficient inland waterways transportation system is vital to maintaining U.S. agricultural competitiveness in the world market. As the U.S. system continues to face delays and closures attributable to low drafts and crumbling locks and dams, competitors are increasing expenditures on their own transport infrastructures, thereby eroding the competitive advantage long enjoyed by the United States.… Continue reading

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WISHH provides soy to Afghans in need

In May, 414 bags of Stine soybean seeds arrived at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Soybeans in Agricultural Renewal of Afghanistan (SarAi) project, launched by the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program in 2010. The seeds were loaded onto a truck and transported to the project site at Dashta-Qala, Takhar Province. On June 13, the farmers received the seeds, inoculum and fertilizer for planting their first cash crop.

The multi-faceted SarAi project uses soybeans to benefit Afghan farmers, food processors, and rural communities, as well as women and children. It provides a total of 240 metric tons of defatted soy flour, 13,750 metric tons of soybean oil and 6,000 metric tons of soybeans over three years. Over the life of the program and all of its activities, this project will benefit more than 405,000 Afghan people.… Continue reading

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No easy answers for some tough herbicide questions

By Matt Reese

It was a tough spring for weed control and herbicide experts like Mark Loux, with Ohio State University Extension, continue to get more questions about various issues.

A recent example is a commercially sprayed, long-term no-till Delaware County field (pictured). While some ragweed was killed, nearby plants were slowed, but not stopped, with a treatment of Roundup/Sharpen after 10 days. Monsanto recommended waiting until it greens back up and hitting it again with 44 ounces of Roundup. Was this an herbicide resistance issue or something else?

Here is Loux’s response to the situation and the photo:

One thing to keep in mind that, aside from glyphosate resistance issues, burndown treatments in no-till were applied a month or more later than they typically are, so we were dealing with bigger and older weeds. One consequence of this is certainly that burndown treatments that work well in late April or early May are being stretched to their limits when they are applied in June.… Continue reading

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Root zone wars can cause corn casualties

By Dervin Druist, Syngenta agronomist

Corn is developing quickly this time of year, and agronomists often get questions about nutrient deficiencies, herbicide concerns, and other plant growth related topics. On my recent service calls, I was reminded again of the importance of the root zone. Planting into optimum conditions was difficult this spring, and now the roots are battling the seed zone issues that we created mechanically, or by hydraulic compaction due to the very heavy rainfall we had at times.

Hydraulic surface compaction

As I sank my spade in fields across several states, it was obvious there was significant surface compaction in some areas this year. Many times, the top two inches of soil would come up like chunks of brick. What would you expect the corn plant to look like under those conditions? In one situation, a grower no-till planted at one-inch seed depth this year because he thought he needed quick emergence with the cold, rainy conditions.… Continue reading

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Custom rates for hay

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

All fall and winter I get questions in the Champaign County office about farm rental rates. Now that we are in the growing season, the calls are about farm custom rates for services that neighbors and farmers hire from each other. I actually use material for both from Barry Ward, the program lead for Production Business Management in the Ag Econ department at Ohio State University. The current calls are about cutting and baling hay, but installing tile and other calls will come in as well.

To compile the data, Barry conducts a survey to ask farmers what they charge their neighbors for this local custom work. He notes, “There is no assurance that the average rates reported in this publication will cover your total costs for performing the custom service or that you will be able to hire a custom operator for the average rate published here.… Continue reading

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