Renewable fuel proponents speaking up as EPA decision draws near

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling has urged President Obama to reverse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard’s volume obligation and adhere to the statute of the law itself.

In a letter sent in mid-November, Bowling noted that the most recent estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast a larger than expected crop at 13.65 billion bushels, and lower projected price for corn — nearly a dollar per-bushel lower than the cost of production.

“Contrary to the erroneous criticism spread by the oil industry, biofuels have not driven up the price of food or fuel,” Bowling wrote. “Your administration’s proposed blending targets will decrease the availability of renewable fuels, further exacerbating already low corn prices, and causing further, significant, harm to the agriculture sector.”

Rural America cannot afford this, Bowling told the president.

“We urge you to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed reduction in the RVO and adhere to the statute.… Continue reading

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Stink bug damage in soybean fields

Stink bug damage is becoming a greater concern in Eastern Corn Belt soybean fields, especially with the presence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), a species that has moved into our sales footprint in recent years. While other stink bugs cause damage, the BMSB is of special concern because it is an invasive species from Asia that was introduced into the United States within the last 15 years.

First discovered in Allentown, Penn. in 2001, the BMSB has continued to move west. Over the last few years university experts and company agronomists have heard more reports of stink bug damage to soybeans.

Growers scouting their soybean fields around harvest time may have seen some pods that were shriveled and/or soybean seed that was very small or appeared to be missing. This damage may have been a result of stink bug feeding. Stink bugs prefer to feed on reproductive tissues, they have piercing mouthparts that allow them to feed on soybean seed in the pods of plants.… Continue reading

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Corn stover potential for biofuels could alter crop rotations

Making biofuel from corn stover could become economically viable for farmers with government support and, therefore, lead to a major shift in crop rotation practices favoring more continuous corn plantings, Purdue University researchers conclude.

The agricultural economists examined how the development of corn stover for cellulosic ethanol would affect corn and soybean markets and the traditional corn-soybean crop rotation in the United States.

Corn stover is considered a “second-generation” biofuel feedstock because it involves transforming the cellulosic material in the stover to biofuels instead of using the corn starch as in conventional corn ethanol.

“If second-generation biofuels became economically viable and a massive amount of biofuels were produced from agricultural residue, this could have a major impact on the agricultural commodity markets,” said energy policy specialist Wallace Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics and a co-author of the research report.

Also on the team were lead author Farzad Taheripour, a research associate professor, and graduate student Julie Fiegel.… Continue reading

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Managing ag data

The economics of today’s agriculture necessitate looking for ways to improve profit margins. Accurate data collected with our precision ag equipment can have tremendous value. Harvest data reveals the results of everything that happened in our fields in any given year. However, data collection is more than just making yield maps; it’s a yearlong process.


What type of Information can we collect?

Most, if not all, field operations throughout the year can be recorded. This will depend upon the software program but operations such as tillage, planting, chemical and fertilizer applications, scouting data, tile installation and of course harvest data can all be recorded.

Field notes and observations are an extremely vital part of the overall process. Keep a notebook containing the boundaries of each field in your truck. Use these maps to record important notes and observations on each trip to the field. Document specific sites for future follow-up visits or to serve as a reminder to check harvest data at these locations.… Continue reading

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Dry conditions left wheat a bit behind heading into winter

After being swamped by water all spring and into early summer, many parts of the state turned dry for the later stages of the growing season and into fall. This translated into great harvest conditions, but also some early struggles for the wheat crop in some areas.

The dry weather allowed Jeff Duling — who farms in Hancock, Putnam and Van Wert counties — to get harvest underway quickly and wheat planted in a timely manner. By mid-October the wheat was in the ground, but it didn’t emerge for quite some time.

“Dry soil has delayed wheat emergence. On Oct. 20, we travelled to the Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Wood County to do a wheat stand count. However, we didn’t find anything to count, and the wheat was planted on Oct. 1. Similar trends are being observed in other locations across the state — wheat is taking an unusually long time to emerge,” wrote Laura Lindsey and Pierce Paul, Ohio State University Extension, in a recent CORN Newsletter.… Continue reading

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SCI welcomes Beck

Seed Consultants, welcomes Brandon Beck as a new area seedsman covering Northwest Indiana. Brandon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Ball State University and has been working with farmers in Northwest Indiana for the last seven years.

“Brandon is focused on servicing the needs of his customers and has a strong passion for the seed industry,” said Brian George, Regional Sales Manager for SCI.… Continue reading

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Time for CCA of the Year nominations

Now is the time to nominate your favorite CCA, that’s certified crop adviser. Many producers may not know that they have a CCA at their local retailer, as their seed sales person or in the SWCD or NRCS office, or even at the county Extension office. But CCAs are almost everywhere in Ohio where crop growing advice is needed. The Ohio CCA Board has an annual program to highlight and give thanks to the best in the state. The CCA of the Year will also be recognized at the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada on March 2, 2016:

For information on the CCA of the Year Award and to see a list of past winners: Chuck Gates of Seed Consultants, Inc. was the winner last year. Nominations can come from growers or co-workers. The nomination form is a list of short-answer questions that we try to make easy for the submitter.… Continue reading

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Ohio well represented on NCGA action teams

Ohio growers chair three of NCGA’s six major teams and committees. Five additional Ohio growers and one Ohio Corn & Wheat staff member serve as members on NCGA’s committee.

“We are very proud of the strong representation of our members on the National Corn Board committees,” said Tadd Nicholson, Ohio Corn & Wheat executive director. “Ohio may not produce the most corn in the U.S., but we are leaders in the corn industry, nonetheless. I am proud of the way our Ohio Board members represent their fellow Ohio growers on the national level.”

“Every Ohio corn farmer benefits from this national exposure. It helps us make better decisions as an Ohio Corn & Wheat board on behalf of Ohio farmers,” Nicholson said.

Ohio’s leadership on NCGA’s major teams and committees are:

  • Ethanol Committee: Keith Truckor, member.
  • Grower Services Action Team: Patty Mann, chairwoman; Les Imboden, member.
  • Production and Stewardship Action Team: Brent Hostetler, chairman; member, Gail Lierer
  • Public Policy Action Team: Jed Bower, member.
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Ohio Small Grains Checkoff provides thousands for statewide nutritional campaign

Eleven Ohio FFA chapters were chosen to receive a $500 grant to participate in the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program’s (OSGMP) nutritional-awareness campaign, “Food for Thought Challenge.”

Introduced at the annual Farm Science Review, Food for Thought is a statewide competition among FFA chapters to increase awareness about the nutritional value of a diet with whole grains, among other healthy behavior changes, in their schools and communities. Participants will create a campaign that will promote small grains in any way they choose.

Participating FFA chapters submitted campaign entries in September and were selected in October based on the originality of their campaign ideas.

FFA chaptered selected to participate in the Food for Thought challenge include:

  • Cory-Rawson
  • Cedarville
  • Eaton-MVCTC
  • London
  • Madison-Plains
  • McComb
  • Mowrystown
  • North Union
  • Ridgedale
  • Riverdale.

The selected chapters met on Nov. 10 at the Ohio FFA center to kick off the contest. Participants met past winners who are serving on the Youth Advisory Board, learned about gluten, received their $500 checks and brainstormed creative ideas for this year’s contest.… Continue reading

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Transportation is key for the future of U.S. agriculture

Agriculture in the United States has long benefitted from having the best transportation infrastructure in the world.

There are a number of key transportation projects going on right now that can help build upon and secure this advantage in the future. One important current transportation infrastructure measure is the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 that would extend federal highway funding for the next six years.

The House and Senate are working to send the bill to the White House for a signature before federal transportation funding expires on Nov. 20.

“Eighty percent of America’s corn crop is trucked to market, so this issue affects all of us,” said Chip Bowling, National Corn Growers Association president. “Safe roads and bridges allow us to get our products to market quickly, safely, and efficiently. When roads and bridges aren’t properly maintained, it’s not just a nuisance — it puts our safety at risk and hurts our bottom lines.”… Continue reading

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Safety net payments issued in Ohio

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Steven Maurer announced that as of Nov. 3 approximately 66,718 Ohio farms who enrolled in the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill have begun receiving financial assistance for the 2014 crop year.

Unlike the old direct payments program, which provided funds in good years and bad years, these new programs only provide financial assistance when prices or revenues drop below normal.  For example, nationwide, farms participating in ARC-County that are receiving payments experienced a $20 billion drop in revenues relative to the historical benchmark.

“Funds provided by the ARC-County program can vary from county to county,” Maurer said. 

The 2014 Farm Bill requires ARC-County payments to be calculated using the national average market year price (which does not vary by county), and the average county yield (which varies by county). This creates county-by-county differences in payment rates.… Continue reading

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Fall insects and diseases to watch for

They are getting worse. Maybe it was the dry fall, but as I was harvesting I saw more pod feeding that I have ever seen before. I don’t think we scout much after about mid-July so we probably missed the increasing levels of these late season insects on soybean. Late season insects I saw were grasshoppers, bean leaf beetle and (more widespread than I have ever seen) the brown marmorated stink bug.

Check these pictures of bean leaf beetle pod damage and of the adult brown marmorated stink bug to see if these images remind you of what you saw at or just before harvest. I had them crawling on the combine and on other surfaces around soybean harvest


Variety and hybrid selection matters — choose a variety with excellent protection from disease. Did you see frogeye in soybeans this year or gray leaf spot in corn? Comb through your company seed trail yield data and look through the seed catalogs.… Continue reading

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Fall herbicide application is part of the plan for 2016 soybean weed control

We are just compiling the Extension fall soybean weed surveys; it is bad again with marestail and giant ragweed leading the list of problem weeds. OSU Weed Specialist Mark Loux says to better manage resistant marestail:

  • Spray a fall treatment for next year’s no-till soybeans.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t bother with a residual in the fall, save those dollars for the spring application.
  • Timing that generally works well is late October into early November. Although I like to wait until after we have had a rain to settle the corn stalks and spruce up the weeds a little.

As for corn weed control, yes, it may not have been that great either. I saw many weeds, especially grasses, as we harvested our corn. Giant ragweed was also in more fields than I expected. It might have been bad timing or the excess water, but do make sure you use a pre-emergent residual herbicide for corn in 2016 (as well as for soybeans) and plan on an early post application, too.… Continue reading

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New OSA members get a chance to win MT600 Series Challenger

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) is once again partnering with Ohio Ag Equipment to offer new OSA members the chance to win 50 hours on an MT600 Series Challenger tractor. Kevin Kruger of Allen County won the contest in 2014 and received 50 hours with a Challenger tractor.

What do you have to do to win? Sign up at as a first time member by December 10th, 2015.

“The work that the Ohio Soybean Association does on behalf of Ohio soybean farmers is not possible without our members,” said Adam Graham, OSA president and Logan County soybean farmer. “It is vital that soybean farmers’ interests are represented at both the state and national level to promote effective policies. We ask that you help us continue that work by joining our organization as a new member and ensure your voice is heard.”

In addition to OSA’s partnership with Ohio Ag Equipment for new members, OSA offers a variety of membership incentives.… Continue reading

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Cover crops webinar

Growers who plant cover crops instead of tilling their soil will save money upfront and have healthier soils and better yields long-term, says a soil health and cover crops expert with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Farmers who add cover crops to their fields — such as oilseed radish, cereal rye, Austrian winter pea and crimson clover, among others — can also expect to reduce soil erosion, cut down on nutrient losses, cut input costs and improve water quality, said Jim Hoorman, an Ohio State University Extension educator and an assistant professor studying cover crops, soil health and water quality issues.

Hoorman will discuss “Economics of Planting Cover Crops” during a Nov. 20 webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. The webinar is offered in conjunction with the Midwest Cover Crops Council and Michigan State University Extension. The Cover Crops Council includes researchers and educators from several universities, including Ohio State, Hoorman said.

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NAWG addressing declining wheat acreage

After watching U.S. wheat acreage and production slide steadily for 18 years, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has had quite enough and is coming out swinging.

The counteroffensive, called simply the Wheat Action Plan, “right now is conceptual,” said NAWG President Brett Blankenship, a grower in eastern Washington State. “We’re reaching out to all parts of the industry,” he says. “The idea is … to raise productivity so that wheat no longer loses acreage to corn and soybeans.”

Blankenship points to Norman Borlaug’s work in the mid-20th Century to improve wheat yield and disease resistance.

“We had the first Green Revolution, and it revolutionized the production of wheat. We need another one. We need another step forward, and the Wheat Action Plan is the attempt to invigorate the investment we need … to go to the next level for wheat,” Blankenship said.

That task is broad, but he said it means, first, improving on-farm productivity so that wheat is a more attractive crop economically.… Continue reading

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Advice from Grandpa keeping many farms in business

There are a number of reasons farmland will change hands over the next few years.

After seeing a windfall in agriculture prices in recent years, many young farmers who tried their hand in the unforgiving industry may have to move on to other ventures as the ag economy calms. For that same reason, many older farmers may also be thinking it is high time to call it a career as well.

On the other hand, one invaluable reason that some farms will remain operational over the next few challenging years will be the wisdom of that older generation, who wouldn’t wish what they had to endure in the mid 1980’s on their worst enemy.

For Niese Farms in Richland and Crawford Counties having the experience of three generations is paying dividends as the farm navigates these challenging times. The elder farmer Jerry, his son Rick and his grandson Casey each bring important perspectives to the table for the farm.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance cuts stopped (maybe)

The U.S. House and the Senate have come to an agreement that would avoid the $3 billion in cuts to the nation’s crop insurance program as part of the budget package. The agreement follows a  fight over the bill’s inclusion of the proposal that would have accomplished the cuts by reducing the rate of return for crop insurance companies from 14% to 8.9%.

The cut remains in the version of the budget passed by the House and currently before the Senate, but House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership met with Congressional leaders and secured an agreement to eliminate the cuts as part of an omnibus spending bill later this year.

The American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association continue to monitor the situation closely.… Continue reading

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Ad campaign focused on environmental benefits of renewable fuels

Fuels America launched a seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign is the Beltway to highlight the environmental benefits of renewable fuels over petroleum. The campaign targets efforts of the oil industry to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“It’s absurd that oil companies are feigning concern over America’s climate after over a century of oil spills, pollution, and harm to our environment and public health,” said Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “The truth is that slashing the amount of clean, domestic renewable fuel in our motor fuel supply would dramatically increase pollution and carbon emissions, while strengthening the RFS and building on the progress of the past 10 years would help in our efforts to combat climate change.”

The 30-second TV spot and digital ads in the campaign follow aggressive attempts by oil industry-funded special interest groups API and Smarter Fuel Future to discredit the climate benefits of renewable fuel-and as usual, their claims are false and wholly unsupported. … Continue reading

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Rail disruption avoided with PTC extension

Railroad companies have warned of potential service disruptions if the Dec. 31, 2015 statutory deadline for implementing positive train control (PTC) was not extended by Congress.

PTC is a GPS-based train electronic system designed to prevent collisions and over-speed derailments. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated that railroads implement PTC systems by Jan.  1, 2016 on lines that carry “toxic by inhalation” (TIH) materials, including anhydrous ammonia and chlorine, lines carrying 5 million or more gross tons every year, or any lines with “regularly scheduled intercity passenger or commuter rail services.”

None of the railroads were going to meet the Dec. 31 deadline and they made statements that absent an extension of the PTC deadline, they would not transport TIH materials after Dec. 31. Some of their statements have suggested they would also cease any grain shipments and possibly all train movements.

President Obama signed H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, into law Oct.Continue reading

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