Crops



SCN sampling can be done in the spring

These fluctuating temperatures that we have had this spring where we go from snow days to short days provides some opportunities to get the crews out and enjoy some nice weather. Sampling for Soybean Cyst Nematode is fine to do in the spring, especially in years where the ground thaws early.

It is becoming increasingly important in Ohio to know your numbers. Sounds like a cholesterol warning doesn’t it? In the case of SCN, less than 500 eggs per cup of soil and keeping it under 1,000 is what we need to shoot for on some fields. Non-detectable levels are like gold.

If you haven’t tested in a while, here are some guidelines of fields to be sure to target:

1. Fields which are consistently low yielding, always below the county average

2. Continuous soybean fields

3. Fields with a healthy crop of purple dead nettle, shepherds purse, or planted to a legume cover crop.… Continue reading

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Assessing wheat progress

On March 16 and 17, we visited our wheat trials in Clark County and Pickaway County. Both locations were at Feekes growth stage 5 (leaf sheath erect). In northwest Ohio, wheat is at green-up to Feekes growth stage 4.

Generally, Feekes growth stage 6 occurs in southern Ohio during early April; however, with abnormally warm temperatures, Feekes growth stage 6 (jointing) may occur sooner. To evaluate wheat for growth stage 6 follow these steps:

1- Pull, or better yet, dig up, several clusters of tillers with roots and soil from multiple locations in the field;

2- Identify and select three to four primary tillers from each cluster – usually the largest tillers with the thickest stem, but size can be deceiving;

3- Strip away and remove all the lower leaves (usually small and yellowish or dead leaves), exposing the base of the stem;

4- Now look for the first node generally between 1 and 2 inches above the base of the stem.… Continue reading

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Will water quality politics turn the tide towards more ag regulation?

Earlier this week a University of Michigan Water Center study focused on the Maumee River Watershed was released and has caused more than a few ripples in the ongoing agriculture blame game with regard to Lake Erie water quality.

The study used computer modeling to look at different management and policy scenarios that could achieve the goals set to reduce phosphorus levels entering Lake Erie by 40%. The policy alternatives described as “most promising” by Jay Martin of Ohio State University (co-author of the study) included increased use of the existing best-management practices and conversion of croplands to switchgrass or other grasses. One possible scenario that the study determined could achieve the 40% reduction goal suggested removing nearly 30,000 acres in the watershed from agricultural crop production.

“The study really criticizes Ohio farmers for not implementing best management practices on managing the nutrients and fertilizer they put on the land. We’re really concerned about that.… Continue reading

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Early termination of cover crops

Cover crops provide multiple benefits with regards to protecting soil from erosion, improving soil health, and as a component of a nutrient management plan.  For those cover crops that over winter and resume growth in the spring, for example, cereal rye and annual ryegrass, an important question is when to terminate that cover crop.  That decision should consider the next crop, planting date of that next crop, the spring weather pattern and purpose of the cover crop.   For cover crops that have not been planted with the intention of providing a forage harvest, and that are on acres intended for corn grain production, this may be a year to consider early termination of that cover crop.

A driving factor for early termination of cover crops this year is the potential for a drier than average spring and summer.  On a recent OSU Extension Ag Crops team conference call, Jim Noel from the National Weather Service talked about weather patterns following an El Nino year. … Continue reading

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Addressing spring cover crop questions

I have had several questions through the winter on cover crop removal. I have experience with Austrian winter pea and annual ryegrass in some of my cover crop work at South Charleston at the OARDC Western Agricultural Research Station. Winter pea is easy — just apply your normal burndown of glyphosate, atrazine and favorite pre-emergent grass product for corn. My procedure was typically to plant, then immediately spray my burndown mixture, and this was very successful.

Annual ryegrass on the other hand was difficult. In reading the limited literature on control, it seems others have difficulty, too. The best nearby information I can find comes from the Weed Science group at Purdue University. I will quote below from a couple of their fact sheets.

From the Successful Cover Crop Termination with Herbicides bulletin, WS-50-W: www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ws/ws-50-w.pdf. Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) has become a very popular cover crop throughout the Midwest.… Continue reading

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Marestail problems expected in spring fields

A mild winter was just right to create conditions for a higher incidence of the marestail weed on farm fields this year, a Purdue University weed specialist says.

Farmers need to do what they can to gain control of it early in the planting season, said Travis Legleiter, weed science program specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

“As we go into spring, I think farmers need to be aware of how much marestail is in their fields,” Legleiter said. “I think this spring we may have more marestail, or marestail that’s further advanced in its growth stage, than we’ve had in the past.”

An effective burndown is the best method to control a marestail infestation, said Legleiter, who advises farmers to use herbicides other than 2,4-D and glyphosate.

Along with marestail, farmers should be aware of giant ragweed, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp.

Identification is key to fighting weed infestation.… Continue reading

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Big yields and a bright future for Smith of Huron County

With the 2016 growing season just getting started, it is worth taking one last look at the factors for success in a big yielding 2015 corn field.

Adam Smith is a young farmer and does not farm a huge number of acres, but he carefully manages his corn ground to maximize productivity with the available resources of his nearly 800-acre Huron County farm. That is one reason he logged the highest verified Ohio yield in the National Corn Growers Association 2015 National Corn Yield Contest.

The south central Huron County field that produced the winning yield is right where he lives and fairly hilly.

“The dirt I farm behind my house that won the contest is fairly gravelly. It is drained well. There is good soil in pockets,” he said. “It is highly variable. The winning field is very sandy in the front, to almost a gumbo in the back.… Continue reading

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TEST Ohio Crop Progress Report

A few producers began soybean and corn harvest last week in Ohio, according to the USDA, NASS, Great Lakes Regional Office. There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending September 13th. Scattered showers helped alleviate the very dry conditions in some regions, while other regions noted very hot and humid conditions leading to crops progressing rapidly.

View this week’s Crop Progress Report for OhioContinue reading

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Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training will continue

We are still getting a lot of questions about Fertilizer Certification from farmers.

As a reminder, your legislators recently passed two laws regarding the application of fertilizer and manure. Remember, our legislators are in place to represent the voting public of the state of Ohio. Ohio State University is not a regulatory agency; our goal is to deliver unbiased, fact-based information. We were invited by the Ohio Department to conduct the training for your fertilizer certification. We have been delivering research-based information on managing nutrients for 100 years.

Before 2014 we had laws in place only for large animal feeding operations to set manure application limits, and for fertilizer we only counted the tons used in the state. Since 2014 we now have a law based on Senate Bill 150 outlining the requirement to be certified to apply fertilizer — fertilizer meaning nutrients with an analysis. In 2015 legislators passed SB 1 (apparently it was their first priority of the year) to limit fertilizer and manure applications in northwest Ohio.… Continue reading

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NCGA puts focus on building demand

At the recent Commodity Classic in New Orleans, the National Corn Growers Association finalized a new strategic plan that will focus NCGA’s work on a vision of sustainably feeding and fueling a growing world.
The new plan sets four major strategic priorities that reflect the concerns heard through listening to farmers and key stakeholders:
  • Increase Demand
  • Strengthen Customer and Consumer Trust
  • Enhance Productivity & Environmental Sustainability
  • Strive for Organizational Excellence
Increasing demand is vital, noted NCGA President Chip Bowling at a news conference held earlier this month.
“Most corn farmers are well past the point of prices being below the cost of production, and prices have been there for some time now,” Bowling said. “Facing this dramatic income drop, farmers have begun tightening their belts. We are already seeing the ripple effects of this on rural communities. Implement dealers are selling less equipment. Manufacturers are scaling back production. Agribusinesses have laid off employees.”
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Reminder about winter wheat management for spring of 2016

Wheat Feekes

With recent warm weather, winter wheat has broken dormancy and begun to green up. With wheat plants no longer dormant, scouting and management of wheat fields is critical to producing high yields. As discussed earlier in the year, now is the time to plan for N applications where field conditions allow. Below is an excerpt from and a previous newsletter with recommendations for nitrogen application and rates:

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.”

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Know what’s happening in your fields: Overcoming poor soil temperatures

It seems that the only thing to stay the same is that weather continues to change and present different challenges each year. I have probably paid more attention to weather this season than any season in the past, trying to understand and plan for shipping needs based on when conditions will be right for planting. I had a structural engineer ask me recently what the soil temperatures were because he knew that 50 degrees was considered a magic number for starting to get things going. I explained to him that in many places in the country right now, it looked like the calendar may override the soil temperatures and push people into the field more than in other years.

All that said, we are likely to have some crops in the field this year that are slow to start and may struggle at the first few stages of development. As most of you reading this will know, a good fertility program at planting time will be your greatest asset in cold, wet spring soils.… Continue reading

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Sheep industry leaders discuss priorities with USDA

U.S. lamb could be flowing into Japan by this summer. That was one of the top announcements received by the more than 50 American Sheep Industry Association attendees from 17 states who arrived in Washington, D.C., to discuss industry issues with multiple agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agricultural Research Services Associate Administrator Simon Liu, Ph.D., explained the past and current budget situation as well as gave a snapshot of the more than $1 billion intramural research agency’s staffing and scope.

Steven Kappes, Ph.D., deputy administrator, discussed some research outcomes from the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the Animal Disease Research Unit and the Meat Animal Research Center. Highlights included the development of selection tools to identify early sexual maturity in ewe lambs; genomic tools to control Ovine Progressive Pneumonia and scrapie; an infection response gene in bighorn sheep; a new Coxiella initiative; salmonella screening for antimicrobial resistance; and easy-care sheep.… Continue reading

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Proven practices for profitable corn

In the quest for high corn yields, considerable attention has been given to increasing various inputs, including seeding rates and fertilizers, narrowing row spacing, and making preventative applications of foliar fungicides, growth regulators and biological stimulants.  However, the significant drop in crop net returns that’s occurred in recent years warrants developing strategies to lower input costs. An input that might have paid for itself with $5.50 per bushel corn may not at $3.75 per bushel corn. A practical and economic approach to achieving high yields is to follow proven cultural practices that enhance corn performance.

Eleven proven practices for increasing corn yields and profits

  1. Know the yield potential of your fields, their yield history, and the soil type and its productivity.
  2. Choose high yielding, adapted hybrids. Pick hybrids that have produced consistently high yields across a number of locations or years. Select hybrids with high ratings for foliar and stalk rot diseases when planting no-till or with reduced tillage, especially after corn.
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What is limiting soybean yield?

As I travelled the state this winter, the same question came up, “What’s limiting soybean yield?  No matter what I do, I get the same soybean yield every year.”

With funding from the Ohio Soybean Council and North Central Soybean Research Program, I am embarking on a state-wide project aimed at generating some baseline producer data on current soybean management practices in Ohio’s production systems.  The project goal is to identify key factors that preclude the state soybean producers from obtaining yields that should be potentially possible on their respective individual farms.  The term used for the difference between what yield is possible on your farm each year and what yield you actually achieve is called a “Yield Gap.”

To participate in this research, please see the online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ohiosoybean

We are asking crop producers in Ohio to provide us with yield and other agronomic data specific to their soybean production fields.… Continue reading

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Soil Health Partnership Expands to 65 Farm Test Sites for 2016

Twenty-five more farms have joined a groundbreaking research effort that could change the way farmers take care of their land. The Soil Health Partnership announced the addition of the new test sites at the 2016 Commodity Classic, March 3 – 5 in New Orleans.
This spring, the organization begins in its third year identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve soil health. These include growing cover crops, practicing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till, and using sophisticated nutrient management techniques.
The program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line. They also have positive environmental benefits, like protecting water from nutrient runoff.
The new farm sites are located in eight Midwestern states.
“It’s exciting that so many farmers want to test and share the impact soil health can have on the environment and farm economics with their peers,” said Nick Goeser, SHP director.
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Examining factors behind long term corn and soybean prices

The recent decline in farm prices have underscored a question that has existed throughout the recent period of higher prices, has a new era of farm prices emerged? As is usual among economists, disagreement exists concerning a new era. This article joins the discussion by using market history to identify key factors that have helped shape current corn and soybean prices.

A key question confronting the outlook for U.S. corn and soybean prices is what is their long term equilibrium? In considering this question, it is important to acknowledge that U.S. corn and soybeans exist in the broader world grain and oilseed markets. These broader markets must be understood.

A review of world grain and oilseed supply and demand over the last 40 plus years suggests a key factor determining future corn and soybean prices will be which increases faster: world grain yield or world grain consumption? The answer will determine if more land is needed for grain production or if land in grains can be shifted to meet the growing demand for oilseeds.… Continue reading

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Lower U.S. wheat production has limited effect on global demand

This year, U.S. wheat planted area will fall to the lowest level since 1970, according to Mark Simone of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The USDA held its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum where Simone presented the 2016 Grain and Oilseeds outlook. USDA currently estimates 2016/17 (June to May) wheat acreage at 51 million acres, a 6% decrease from last year.

Winter wheat plantings are down 7% according to USDA, with the hard red winter (HRW) crop having the largest decrease. HRW plantings fell by 9% to 26.5 million acres. Soft red winter (SRW) plantings decreased by 400,000 acres to 6.7 million acres. USDA anticipates a 5% reduction in spring wheat plantings due to more favorable returns for other commodities. Currently, USDA’s spring wheat and durum acreage projection stands at 14.4 million acres, down from 15.1 million acres last year.

Due to the expected reduction in planted area, production will decrease for HRW, hard red spring (HRS) and durum despite a predicted increase in average wheat yields.… Continue reading

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Things to watch with corn emergence

Two aspects of stand establishment often discussed by agronomists are emergence and seed spacing. “Picket fence” spacing in corn helps plants grow efficiently and minimizes competition between them. Uniform spacing is an important part of stand establishment. More importantly, however, is uniform emergence. Plants that are just 1 leaf collar behind (due to uneven emergence) significantly reduce yield. According to Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Extension ag engineer, “When a plant develops ahead of its neighbor, it hurts yield dramatically. It’s going to vary somewhat from year to year, but a plant lagging behind those around it becomes a weed.” To achieve uniform emergence, consistent planting depth is critical.

Field conditions, gauge wheel settings, unit down pressure, and planter speed all affect seeding depth. Set planter depth and check it regularly. A planter may have enough weight to apply the proper down force when full, but what about when it’s almost empty?… Continue reading

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When is the best time to apply N to wheat?

For any N application the question to ask is, “When does the crop need N?” Wheat does not require large amounts of N until stem elongation/jointing (Feekes Growth Stage 6), which is the middle or the end of April depending on the location in the state and spring temperatures. Ohio research has shown no yield benefit from applications made prior to this time period. Soil organic matter and/or N applied at planting generally provide sufficient N for early growth until stem elongation.

Nitrogen applied prior to rapid utilization has the potential to be lost and unavailable for the crop. Nitrogen source will also affect the potential for loss. Urea-ammonium nitrate (28%) has the greatest potential for loss, ammonium sulfate the least, and urea would be somewhere between the two other sources.

Ohio research has shown that yield losses may occur from N applied prior to green-up regardless of the N source.… Continue reading

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