Growing degree days and emergence timing

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

A great deal of field work has been done over the past few weeks. As corn is being planted across the eastern Corn Belt and another growing season has begun, it will be time to walk and scout fields. Once corn is planted, the next critical event will be uniform emergence. Many producers have read or heard that it takes about 100 to 120 Growing Degree Days (GDDs) for corn to emerge, but what does that mean?

A GDD (also referred to as Growing Degree Units) is a calculation based on daily high and low temperatures. This calculation helps to predict stages of growth in corn based on an accumulation of heat units or GDDs. The basic formula for calculating GDDs is: add the daily maximum temperature to the daily minimum, divide by 2, then subtract 50. The value calculated by this formula is the total number of GDDs accumulated in one day.… Continue reading

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Uniformity – Setting the stage for high corn yields

By Kyle Poling, Pioneer Hi-Bred Field Agronomist

“Variability” is not a word any farmer wants to use to describe one of their corn fields. While uniformity during the periods of germination, emergence, and nodal root formation is the goal, there are many management practices and environmental conditions that can impact this objective.

Corn germination is triggered by absorption of water. Corn kernels must absorb approximately 30% of their weight in water before the germination process begins. A seeding depth of 2 inches has often been found to provide the most consistent combination of moisture, temperature, and seed-to-soil contact for uniform germination and emergence. Inadequate seed-to-soil contact, a dry seedbed, or a rapidly drying seed zone may provide less than optimum absorption of water, causing the germination process to slow or stop completely. Additionally, corn kernels that absorb excessively cold water (less than 50 degrees F) during the first 24 to 48 hours of germination may experience serious injury or death, resulting in erratic emergence.… Continue reading

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Establishing new forage stands

By Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring.

  • Make sure soil pH and fertility are in the recommended ranges.  Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations (  Forages are more productive where soil pH is above 6.0, but for alfalfa it should be 6.5 – 6.8. Soil phosphorus should be at least 15 ppm for grasses and 25 ppm for legumes, while minimum soil potassium in ppm should be 75 plus 2.5 x soil CEC. If seedings are to include alfalfa, and soil pH is not at least 6.5, it would be best to apply lime now and delay establishing alfalfa until late summer (plant an annual grass forage in the interim).
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The PLFA soil health test

By Alan Sundermeier, CCA, Ohio State University Extension and Vinayak Shedekar, postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University

A diverse and active pool of micro and macro organisms is essential for a healthy soil. While the soil biology plays a key role in building healthy soils, it can also provide nutrients to crops and naturally control some soil-borne pests and diseases. However, it is difficult to assess the soil biological properties in a lab compared to traditional chemical soil testing.

Identifying and quantifying different soil organisms requires a range of sophisticated methods and instruments that most soil labs do not have. However, some labs offer a PLFA test that serves as a very good indicator of soil microbial communities.

PLFA are Phospholipid fatty acids found in the membranes of all active organisms. Certain fatty acids are used to indicate the bacteria, fungi, or other types of microbes, so quantifying the fatty acid content in a soil sample can indicate the size of a specific microbial group as well as the size of the entire microbial biomass.… Continue reading

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Work on year round E15 continues

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works towards allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline, ethanol proponents are watching closely with summer sales ban approaching.

“Farmers stand ready to work with the Administration to clear obstacles to higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and ensure a final rule works for the full ethanol and fuel supply chain,” said Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association first vice president. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1.”

Ross’s comments came during a hearing held as part of the rulemaking that would remove regulations requiring retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol approved for all vehicles 2001 and newer, during the summer months.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol.… Continue reading

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Pioneer Field Report: Wet fall, spring poses unique planting considerations

Pioneer Field Agronomist for southwest Ohio Brad Ott joins Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood for this week’s Pioneer Field Report. The wet fall and wet spring have brought some unique considerations for planting season, with farmers having to get a lot of catch-up work done in the fields in a short time.

“We didn’t have a very conducive fall to do much of anything last year,” said Ott. “So there’s a lot that has to get done this spring and maybe some changes to what our normal practices are due to not having that ability last fall.

“A lot of places didn’t get tillage done,” he said. A need to look at the right planting techniques could be the answer, according to Ott.

Seed quality is also an industry-wide concern this year.

“The big thing you need to have a discussion with your seed supplier about is what does that really mean.… Continue reading

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Plenty to ponder as planting progresses

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Fieldwork for much of Ohio finally returned the second week of April. Producers were aggressively applying fertilizer and spraying herbicides for corn and soybeans. In addition, repairing dreaded tile blowouts as well as installing new tile were in the mix of work being completed. Corn and soybean planting was taking place in very small amounts as evidenced by the April 9 weekly Crop Progress Report as it detailed planting progress across the country. This report had U.S. corn planted at just 2%, matching the five-year average. To no surprise, this report had zero corn planted in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The European and American weather models were in huge disagreement in their weather forecasts for the last half of April. The American model indicates a warmer and drier outlook. In sharp contrast, the European model has showers continuing for that timeframe for the Delta, central Midwest, and eastern Midwest.… Continue reading

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2019 Cab Cam | A unique kind of fieldwork in Logan County

Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood catches up with Skyler Foos of Integrated Ag Services as he’s out in the field doing some soil sampling in a Logan County field, near Rushsylvania. The two talk the unique equipment and the current status of Ohio farm fields in this video, sponsored by Homan Inc.

“We are doing a high density soil sampling. We are out here in the field doing half acre grids,” said Foos.

He also contributed some thoughts as far as fieldwork progress.

“Down around where we’re from, the Urbana area, guys are getting out in the fields. I know they’ve been working a lot of ground and I even heard somebody planting some beans last week. Things are starting to come around — it’s going to get busy pretty soon.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers, Ohio Soybean Association support Gov. DeWine’s H2Ohio

The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) and Ohio Soybean Association Thursday expressed support for Gov. Mike DeWine’s approach to improve water quality and protect the long-term sustainability of family farms in Ohio. The administration’s proposed H2Ohio initiative includes significant resources for the implementation of best management practices, such as cover crops, buffer strips, equipment, and precision technology that will help farmers keep nutrients in the soil where they belong.

“Farmers want to be part of the solution and are already taking action to curb runoff and protect the health of our waterways,” said Scott Metzger, OSA president and Ross County grain farmer. “This funding will help us accelerate the adoption of best management practices.”

This move also demonstrates Gov. DeWine’s commitment to bringing all stakeholders to the table and finding long-term, science-based solutions.

“We don’t have to choose between the health of Lake Erie and the viability of Ohio farms, we will achieve both if we work together,” said Jon Miller, OCWGA president and Fairfield County grain farmer.… Continue reading

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Attack planting with a sound agronomic plan and timely decisions

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

As spring weather warms up and conditions are conducive to field work, Ohio’s growers will have to deal with several challenges in the coming weeks. Prioritization and timely management will be key to success in the spring of 2019.

The wet fall of 2018 resulted in an extended harvest and significant delays in field work. For many growers, harvest was not completed until December or later. As a result, very little fall tillage and/or fall herbicide applications were completed across the eastern Corn Belt. With a lack of tillage and herbicide applications, weeds, such as marestail, will be more prevalent in Ohio’s fields this spring. Making timely weed control actions this spring will be a critical part of achieving successful weed control this year. As always, follow herbicide labels, use correct rates, and apply under optimum conditions to effectively control weeds.

With additional field work needed to be performed after a wet fall, time management will be an especially important consideration this spring.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s 2018 county yields now available

By Bruce Clevenger, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

The 2018 Ohio county estimates for crop yields were recently published by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service. This annual report provides a look back to the previous production year and give an average of planted and harvested acres as well as the county yield in bushels per acre and a total estimated production for the county. The report additionally groups counties into nine reporting districts and provides an overall state yield estimate for corn and soybean. Ohio county estimates for the 2018 wheat crop were released back in December of 2018.

Western Ohio continues to lead the state in both corn and soybean yields and production. The counties leading the corn yield estimates were Greene, Clinton and Auglaize Counties reporting 214, 213 and 210 bushels per acre, respectively. The State corn yield estimate for Ohio is 187 bushels per acre with a total production estimate at 6.17 million bushels.… Continue reading

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Beans first starts a recipe for yield success

By Matt Reese

There is not a row crop farmer in Ohio who can avoid getting a bit antsy sitting idle as temperatures warm in April and conditions approach ideal. Yet, the early spring experience of many has shown the perils of getting a jump on planting the often-fickle corn crop. Cory Atley of Greene County, founder of Advanced Yield, has found a spring planting recipe for success, and he’s got impressive yield numbers to back it up. He plants soybeans first.

“We really want to plant when the conditions are fit. Normally we only really get 10 or 14 days of optimal conditions when things are right and we really try to take advantage of that. We have seen through a lot of different planting trials we have done on our own farm that the early-planted beans are the easiest way to pick up more bushels. Beans don’t mind some stress.… Continue reading

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Modified relay intercropping: Now is the time to make sure the plan will work

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

It is time for modified relay intercropping planting of soybeans into growing wheat. This is a very versatile system working across multiple row spacing’s and planting dates. Eighteen years of MRI soybean planting have been done in Bucyrus with wheat yields averaging 75 bushels per acre and soybean yields of 33 bushels per acre. Over the past 3 years we have had outstanding double crop soybeans, but MRI has out yielded them by about 10 bushels per acre averaging 42 bushels per acre. One challenge though is that straw cannot be baled in the MRI system but can be in double-cropping. The lower price of soybeans and higher price of straw is driving more producers to double-crop soybeans.

During these 18 years we have worked with multiple row spacing’s, seeding rates, and planting dates each with success and challenges. The easiest systems we have worked in is wide rows, either 15 inch or twin row wheat, wheat rows are 8 inches apart on 30-inch centers leaving a 22-inch gap.… Continue reading

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On-farm research, soil health and water quality

By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension (retired)

Forget about research plots 4 rows wide by 50 feet long. How about a plot 24 rows wide and a mile long?

We’re not really ignoring small replicated plots on university research farms. But as Bob Nielsen of Purdue pointed out at the Conservation Tillage Conference on March 5, precision agriculture technologies enable researchers to design and conduct statistically sound field scale trials that minimize challenges for the farmer. Fields of 50 to 150 acres are ideal. Having different soil types can also add value to the results.

OSU Extension Ag Educators and State Specialists work with farmers doing a variety of on-farm research, with most results published in eFields. Reports from 2018 on-farm trials are online at:

Videos of most presentations at CTC are on the CTC website:

If you are on Facebook, you probably know we have a page for CTC (Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference) with over 700 followers, and one for no-till (Ohio NoTill Council).… Continue reading

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Corn ending stocks up, soybeans ending stocks down

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

The corn number was actually friendly due to feed usage not down as much as some had feared. However, corn exports and corn for ethanol were also reduced.

Typically the April Supply and Demand Report has been pretty boring. Traders view the May report more importantly as it provides the first supply and demand numbers for the upcoming 2019 crops.

Corn ending stocks increased 200 million bushels, due to cuts in ethanol, exports, and corn used for feed.

Traders will be closely watching export projections for corn, soybeans, and wheat and how that flows through to the bottom line. Soybean and wheat ending stocks are expected to see little changes in the U.S. tables. Corn captures plenty of attention to see how USDA views corn fed to livestock and the resulting ending stocks. Last month’s surprise of higher than expected corn stocks had corn closing 17 cents lower.… Continue reading

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Corn germination and emergence processes

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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USDA announces buy-up coverage availability and new service fees for noninsured crop coverage policies

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that higher levels of coverage will be offered through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), a popular safety net program, beginning April 8, 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased service fees and made other changes to the program, including service fee waivers for qualified military veterans interested in obtaining NAP coverage.

“When other insurance coverage is not an option, NAP is a valuable risk mitigation tool for farmers and ranchers,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “In agriculture, losses from natural disasters are a matter of when, not if, and having a NAP policy provides a little peace of mind.”

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of commercial crops for which insurance coverage is not available in order to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevent crop planting.

NAP buy-up coverage option

The 2018 Farm Bill reinstates higher levels of coverage, from 50 to 65% of expected production in 5% increments, at 100% of the average market price.… Continue reading

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Wet fields and dampened prices heading into planting

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

March 29 was not a good day for producers as corn closed 17 cents lower. It came as a result of the USDA Quarterly Grain Stocks Report. Corn stocks were 335 million bushels higher than trade expectations. Corn fed to U.S. livestock was considerably below that seen in the previous year. Several analysts pointed out they were most surprised with corn demand in the second quarter much less than expected. This will be closely monitored in the months ahead as similar low corn usage numbers have taken place with the March Grain Stocks Report.

There was also a Prospective Plantings Report the same day. U.S. corn acres of 92.8 million acres for 2019 were higher than trade expectations by 1.5 million acres. Soybean acres were estimated to be 84.6 million acres and lower than expected. In 2018 U.S. corn acres were 89.129 million acres with soybean acres at 89.196 million acres.… Continue reading

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New protein for gene editing may improve disease treatment, crops, sustainable manufacturing

Gene editing has been a much sought after and controversial technology. Last month, part of the World Health Organization called for an international registry to track all research into editing the human genome.

Purdue University researchers have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached. NgAgo is programmed with guide DNA (red) to cut DNA (purple) at specific regions, enabling precise genetic modifications. (Image provided)

Purdue University researchers, including one who was inspired by the cancer death of a close friend, have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached in the future. The research team presents the work on April 4 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando.

One of the most widely used methods for gene editing is CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The method requires a certain sequence or motif for function that restricts modifications.

“CRISPR can be programmed to cut DNA at specific regions to make precise edits in an organism that can increase sustainable manufacturing, treat disease and even create better crops,” said Kevin Solomon, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who leads the Purdue research team.… Continue reading

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Delaware Co. farmer’s ingenuity brings Soilhawk sampling system to reality

Jim Case of Case Farms in Delaware Co. has been busy the last four years developing the Soilhawk automated soil sampling device. The machine, now ready for full production and fieldwork, utilizes multiple areas of ingenuity, including a top level scraper to clear away debris from a soil testing unit, multiple testing settings, and remote-controlled use, among other options.

“I got the idea because I went out and did manual hand sampling and it got pretty intense — it was a lot of work,” said Case. “We wanted a way to cover a lot of acres a lot faster and do a really good job getting random samples and not just take samples out of a middle of a two and a half acre grid.”

Case said the built-from-scratch project replicates what a farmer would physically do in the field.

“We designed a scraper that will actually remove the residue from or debris before we take a sample, because if you leave that in, your sample is skewed right to begin with,” he said.… Continue reading

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