Controlling slugs and voles in cover crops

Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2023-04, By Paige Garrabrant and Rachel Cochran, OSU Extension Water Quality

The OSU Extension’s Water Quality Team launched their annual webinar series with a two-part webinar on cover crops. The team works closely with producers throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin to implement practices that not only improve growers’ operational efficiencies and profitability, but also to promote soil health and reduce nutrient and sediment loss. Several producers that the team works with have requested more education specifically on cover crops.

The webinar last week focused on cover crops with a handful of different speakers. Tim Reinbott, Director of Field Operations at the University of Missouri’s Agricultural Research Stations, provided listeners with some insight and advice on controlling slugs and voles, which are common in no-till and reduced-till situations. His goal is to help growers control pests while maintaining progress they have made toward conservation. It is no surprise that the benefits of reduced tillage cannot outweigh the loss of crops that results from a devastating slug or vole infestation.… Continue reading

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Warm winter weather and wheat

By Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension

Across Ohio, the average air temperature was 8 to 10 degrees F warmer in January through Feb. 12. Due to these warmer winter temperatures, wheat may appear greener than usual and also raises the question, “Will the vernalization requirement be met?”

Winter wheat has molecular regulation preventing the transition to reproductive growth until a certain threshold of cold days has been reached. This regulation is called “vernalization.” In winter wheat, the vernalization period protects plants from breaking dormancy too early. The vernalization requirement varies among wheat cultivars and is temperature and day length dependent. In a study conducted on one winter wheat cultivar, it took 40 days for plants to achieve vernalization at 52 degrees F while it took 70 days for plants to achieve vernalization at 34 degrees F. Temperatures above 64 degrees F were ineffective for vernalization. Although winter wheat is green and the winter temperatures have been above average, the vernalization requirement will be met.… Continue reading

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Agave program to enhance sustainability of energy markets

By Guil Signorini, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University

Brazil is frequently in the media spotlight to illustrate arguments on environmental issues and policies. The news often comes across as a set of bitter comments on weak institutions or the country’s inability to monitor and safeguard its forests. I put this conversation aside and invite the interested reader to focus on a positive analysis regarding energy supply and sustainable alternatives.

Applied economists, myself included, have published articles describing the history that led Brazil to hold one of the most sustainable energy mixes in the world. Despite challenges in revamping outdated macroeconomic policies and reducing the involvement of the central government in market matters in the past, citizens of the country today consume electricity that is 92% renewable. Hydroelectric plants have led the generation capacity charts since the 1980s, while more recently, windmills and biomass-based plants have increased their participation.… Continue reading

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Cover crops: Good and bad

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Farmers seem to either lover or hate cover crops.  Cover crops have many benefits, but they may be hard to see immediately.  First the bad or difficult things about cover crops will be discussed followed by the benefits.

Cover crops cost money for seed, planting, and sometimes termination.  It takes more knowledge and experience to plant cover crops and to use it with no-till (school of hard knocks), so its risky at first.  The timeliness factor, getting cover crops planted on time and established is difficult.  Herbicide carryover can be an issue and sometimes it requires different equipment (no-till, sprayers, spreaders) although less or no tillage equipment if used in a no-till system. 

Then there are the pests (slugs, voles, cutworms) that love a good feast.  Cover crop residue may have an allelopathic or negative growing effect on the grain crop.  It can be difficult to plant timely if soils stay cold and wet (sounds like a compaction problem) and sometimes planting is delayed and soil get hard and dry. … Continue reading

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Planting depth critical to high yields

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Soybean Lead/Field Agronomist, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Planting is one of the most critical management practices of the year because it sets the stage for the entire growing season. There are several key aspects of planting, one of which is planting depth. Invariably, every year Seed Consultants’ agronomists come across problems that are caused by variable and improper planting depth. Planting depth is critical because it impacts germination, seedling development, crop root development, emergence, and ultimately crop yields.

For corn, seed needs to be planted no shallower than 1.5 inches below the soil surface. Typically, the suggested range is 1.5 to 2 inches, however, some studies and growers have seen success at depths up to 3 inches. It is important to make sure that corn is planted into adequate soil moisture for germination. In addition, corn needs to be at least 1.5 inches deep for the proper early development the root system.… Continue reading

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NCGA submits comments to EPA on renewable fuels

Higher renewable fuel volumes over the next three years would go a long way in improving energy security, lowering gas prices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent comments the National Corn Growers Association submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, requires that U.S. transportation fuel contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel each year. NCGA’s comments were in response to EPA’s proposed volume requirements for 2023, 2024 and 2025.

“NCGA supports EPA’s proposal of annual increases in volumes, including an implied conventional biofuel volume of 15.25 billion gallons, and recognition that ethanol plays a critical role in cutting GHG emissions and our energy security,” said Tom Haag, NCGA president. “With continued pressure on energy security and costs, and the need to accelerate GHG emission reductions, however, biofuels can contribute even more. We ask EPA to continue working with us on complementary policies to advance higher ethanol blends, enabling ethanol to do more to cut emissions and costs.”… Continue reading

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SCN management and seed protection

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

With the increased price of soybean seed in recent years, the discussion about planting “naked seed” or cutting back some component of the seed treatment to lower the cost has become more common among soybean growers. The risk of this decision is if the wrong treatment is removed, the plant is at greater risk depending on the environment. “One area of my research is evaluating soybean seed treatments and evaluating different environments with a combination of different pathogens,” said Lopez-Nicora. “We have a complex of pathogens that can interact synergistically and cause more damage to the plant.  Researching SCN is an objective of my program, but also other organisms that are threatening our soybeans and how they interact with these different pathogens.”

“We know that soybean cyst nematode management is not just the use of one tool, but the integration of multiple management tools,” said Horacio Lopez-Nicora, OSU Extension Soybean Pathologist and Nematologist.… Continue reading

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Reduced ethanol demand leads to higher corn ending stocks

By Krista Swanson, the lead economist for the National Corn Growers Association.

Projected corn ethanol use for the 2022/23 marketing year declined by 25 million bushels from last month, according to this week’s UDSA World Agriculture Supply & Demand Estimates report. As the only change on the supply or demand side of the corn balance sheet, it resulted in a corresponding increase of 25 million bushels in projected corn ending stocks for the current marketing year.

Despite a return to the post-COVID normal in 2022, fuel ethanol produced using corn trailed the years leading up to the 2020 COVID disruptions. From 2017 to 2019, the average annual fuel ethanol production was 15.9 billion gallons, calculated using data from the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA). After dropping to 13.9 billion gallons in 2020 and recovering to 15.0 billion gallons in 2021, production in 2022 was 15.4 billion gallons. This is 88% of the 17.4 billion gallon per year total of U.S.… Continue reading

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Soybean Cyst Nematode Management Research (Part 2)

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

Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is the leading yield robber of soybeans in Ohio and across the nation. The challenge to SCN detection is that there are no above ground symptoms. “When we do our research, we always have different varieties and sources of resistance, and we go and we measure anything we can from these plants; height, branching, intensity of the color of the foliage,” said Lopez-Nicora. “We absolutely do not see any above ground symptomology when we have SCN. The nematode is reducing yield without any above ground symptoms.”

Lopez-Nicora reminds farmers to ask themselves if they know if they have SCN. “If the answer is no, then they should sample their fields for SCN to know if they have it or not. They should try to answer that question with data,” said Lopez-Nicora.… Continue reading

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Increasing Soybean Yields

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

There are an estimated 275,000 different plant species on earth.  Each contain thousands of unique chemical compounds, however, each individual plant with its own unique genetic background can also produce their own unique variations to these compounds.  A plant with one thousand plant chemicals can literally combine them a million different ways.  When you add diversity to a plant and soil microbial community, you can get significant changes to both the soil and the plant response with only minute changes.  The changes can be dramatic.

Many companies are now experimenting with using biologicals (microbes, plant extracts, etc) to stimulate plant growth and yield.  At the National No-till on the Plains conference, Wichita Kansas, a researcher (Chris Teachout) described a process he was investigating to promote higher soybean yields.  Chris was using a liquid compost worm extract that he applied directly to the soybean seed. … Continue reading

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Crop Tour recap!

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg

The statewide average estimates on the 2022 Ohio Crop Tour ended up pretty close to the final Ohio USDA numbers for the crop.

According to USDA NASS, Great Lakes Regional Field Office, Ohio’s corn and soybean yields in 2022 were both down from 2021. Ohio’s 2022 average corn yield was 187 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from 2021. Growers harvested 3.18 million acres for grain, down 5% from 2021. Total production of corn for grain was 595 million bushels, down 8% from 2021. 

USDA NASS had Ohio’s average soybean yield for 2022 at 55.5 bushels per acre, down 1.5 bushels from 2021. Growers harvested 5.08 million acres, up 4% from 2021. Production, at 282 million bushels, was up 1% from 2021. 

Our 2022 Ohio Crop Tour (made possible by Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff) included both in-person and a virtual option.… Continue reading

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Virtual Corn College and Soybean School

By Laura LindseyAmanda Douridas, CCATaylor Dill, Ohio State University Extension

Due to popular demand, the AgCrops Team will host the 3rd annual virtual Corn College and Soybean School on Feb. 10, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring your OSU Extension state specialists and soil fertility guest speaker, Dr. Kurt Steinke, from Michigan State University. CCA CEUs will be available during the live presentations.

To register, please go to:  Please register by Feb. 9 at noon. There is a $10 registration fee for this event, which goes directly to support OSU AgCrops Team activities. 

Presentations will be recorded and uploaded to the AgCrops Team YouTube channel after the event ( However, CCA CEUs will not be available for the recorded presentations.


9:00-9:40            Osler Ortez                       Corn Management for 2023

9:50-10:30          Laura Lindsey                   Soybean Management for 2023

10:40-11:20       Kurt Steinke (MSU)         Soil Fertility

11:20-noon        Mark Loux                        Weed Management


1:00-1:40            Kelley Tilmon                   Soybean Insect Management

1:50-2:30            Andy Michel                     Corn Insect Management

2:40-3:20            Pierce Paul                       Corn Disease Management

3:20-4:00            Horacio Lopez-Nicora     Soybean Disease Management

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Soybean Cyst Nematode Management Research (Part 1)

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

Not all Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) are created equal. There are specific SCN populations that are more challenging than others. “The active way to manage SCN is with a soil sample,” said Horacio Lopez-Nicora, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist. “Hopefully farmers do not have SCN in their field, but if they do, then they need to know the numbers so they can plan a strategy to manage the SCN and reduce numbers to below the damage threshold.”

In addition to knowing if SCN are present and the numbers, it is also helpful to know the specific population of SCN. “Some SCN populations can easily be managed with any source of SCN resistance. Those populations are the 80 type zero, formerly known as Race 3,” said Lopez-Nicora. “Other populations that have adapted and reproduce on the most commonly used source of resistance that we have available in commercially produced soybeans, which is PI 88788.… Continue reading

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Soil Health Management Plans

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

USDA-NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) is promoting farmers to adapt a soil health management plan for their farms. NRCS defines soil health as “the continued capacity of a soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.”  There are several key concepts.  First, soil is alive and teaming with soil microbes and other biological life (earthworms, mites, springtails, etc.).  Second, soil has many functions that are critical to our life.   

Key essential soil functions include: 1) regulating water,  2) sustaining plant and animal life, 3) filtering and buffering potential pollutants, 4) cycling soil nutrients and 5) providing physical stability and support. Soil microbes mediate about 90% of all soil functions.  Microbes process all soil carbon and even breakdown rocks to make plant nutrients available. Also, soil microbes are the end-product of most soil organic matter (SOM).  Dead microbes become the long-term SOM.… Continue reading

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What is drainage water recycling?

By Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension

Ohio’s farmers know the value of managing water through surface and subsurface (tile) drainage. The economic return from increased yield and timely planting has been proven repeatedly. Yet, each year around corn pollination and soybean flowering, we often look for rain because it has gotten dry. Could we store the water we send to Lake Erie or the Ohio River for those dry July and August periods? That describes the thought behind drainage water recycling.

What is drainage water recycling? The practice involves capturing water drained from fields for storage in a pond, a reservoir, or a drainage ditch, for use later in the season to irrigate crops. Additionally, the practice creates a closed system that reduces field nutrient loss by reducing drainage water released from a site. Reducing nutrient loss helps to improve downstream water quality. However, we will still release some water downstream when drainage water exceeds storage capacity.… Continue reading

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Spring nitrogen for winter wheat

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Soybean Lead/Field Agronomist, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Application timing and amount are key factors in achieving high winter wheat yields. While the amount of N required in the fall is relatively small, it is critical to promoting early development and tillering. With spring weather around the corner, winter wheat producers will be gearing up for spring topdress of their wheat crop. Timing and rates are critical in the spring as to maintain the high yield potential of winter wheat varieties.

Spring applications of N should be made after the plants break dormancy. Although in some situations field conditions may be favorable, nitrogen applied in the late winter before plants have broken dormancy is more likely to be lost before plants can utilize it. Spring N applications should not be made before wheat has broken dormancy and begins to green up. The University of Kentucky publication “A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky” recommends: “When making a single N fertilizer application the best time is when the crop growth stage is Feekes 4-5, (Zadoks 30, usually mid-March) just before the first joint appears on the main stem and when wheat starts growing rapidly.”… Continue reading

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Soy byproduct gets a boost from USDA funding

Late in 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced projects that will be funded through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Bioproduct Pilot Program, including a $9.5 million investment in sustainable U.S. bioproduct manufacturing to fund research and development of value-added products from agricultural commodities.

The innovative soy project, run by Soylei Innovations of Ames, Iowa, transforms high oleic soybean oil into thermoplastic rubber for pavements, and has had the support of ASA and its farmer leaders.

“This soy bioproduct has layers of potential, including extending how long road repairs for existing surfaces can last and providing a less costly paving solution nationwide — something even more important in rural communities where tax revenues for road paving and maintenance budgets are scant,” said Daryl Cates, American Soybean Association president. “We are very proud to have supported both development of the Bioproduct Pilot Program and this soy asphalt project, specifically.”

The NIFA Bioproduct Pilot Program is a two-year program that was authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.… Continue reading

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Ohio Field Leader Podcast 2-1-23 Episode 28, Ohio Soybean Check-off Funded Research Update

Ohio’s soybean farmers invest everyday in research to improve production and protect the environment. The Ohio Soybean Council, through the Soybean Check-off, funds numerous research projects taking place at The Ohio State University. On this episode, we will get an update from Dr. Kelley Tilmon, Dr. Scott Schearer, and Dr. Laura Lindsey. Dr. Tilmon will update us on the latest stink bug information. Dr. Schearer will provide an update on the use of ag drones to detect and treat for crop stress in soybean fields. Dr. Lindsey will share the results of a two year study looking at early soybean planting dates that the possible interaction with cover crops.… Continue reading

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Biological seed treatment, sulfur, nitrogen, and foliar research

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

The biological seed treatment market is expanding rapidly. Farmers obviously have questions about the role those biological treatments may play in soybean production and the claims made about the various products. OSU Extension State Small Grains and Soybean Specialist, Dr. Laura Lindsey is conducting research evaluating 9 different biological seed treatments with various active ingredients here in Ohio.

This evaluation is part of a larger research project being conducted by the North Central Soybean Research Program.

“The Ohio Soybean Council funds the Ohio based research through check-off dollars, and the other participating states do the same with their respective check-off money,” Lindsey said. “Overall there are 17 states and over 50 individual field locations involved. The research will continue next year. At the end of the trial, the hope is to have information about biological treatments from 100 locations across the country.”… Continue reading

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Bumper soybean crop starts pressuring prices in Brazil

By Daniele Siqueira, AgRural Commodities Agrícolas

January has come to an end with Brazil’s 2022/23 soybean harvest behind schedule. According to AgRural, 5.2% of the area had been harvested by Jan. 26, compared with 10.4% a year ago and 6.6% in the five-year average. That means that approximately 8 million metric tons had left the fields by the date, below the 14 million metric tons harvested in the same period last year, when production was smaller due to drought, but the harvest was progressing more quickly.

The delay is caused by constant rains in top producer Mato Grosso and slower-than-normal crop development due to overcast skies in late 2022 in other states, especially in Paraná, Brazil’s number two producer. Although Brazilian farmers can catch up as soon as the weather conditions allow them to do so, the harvest delay impacted the export pace in January and will probably cause logistical bottlenecks in February and March.… Continue reading

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